Practicing English around Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi – don’t be the guy that says no

So was out reading today at the lake in Hanoi. There are lots of graduation ceremonies and kids out wanting to practice english. You may ask why practice english and I asked one chemical engineering major at the Hanoi University. To her, english is the language of science and business. To be able to address the global stage, find success, and understand how the world works, english is required. If you think that this is limited to Hanoi, I have heard this on Japanese subways many times and on the streets of Shinjuku. Japanese school kids asking to practice english.

I have gotten a kick out of helping people speak english around the Lake. You learn that they value your experience and want to understand what it is you have done. Its not just the questions and answers folks. Its them. Its the kids who walk the lake being told that English is important. Don’t be that guy that won’t give 5 minutes to help them.

i will say again. English to them is important. A group of young college students and I went on past the questions to my life, my daughter, what is important to me as a solo traveler. Its not just the questions they write on paper. Those won’t help them speak english at all. Its the act of speaking it to someone else.

The unwritten questions are the most valid and they are the ones that are asked when the discussion goes past what is written down. I got the most value today in listening to these kids and their lives in college, learning their names, and their candid appreciation of the beauty of my daughter. One remarked he already loved her just from her picture and another was amazed at her hair color.

So why not share the wealth? Are you so caught up in your treats and food on that bench guy sitting next to me you have nothing to share? Shame on you. You cast a bad light on how people learn and experience other cultures. I will say the Vietnamese people have it all over the european and american tourists here. Seriously folks, a friendly nod or hello on the street or bar or restaurant won’t kill you. I don’t understand the attitude.

Today was good though…

For pictures! The sky was blue and temperatures were warm. Beautiful day for a novice photographer on the streets recording the whatever moments in life.


i wandered down a few streets that were close to streets I had walked before but I also found these wide avenues with few people on them and the beautiful architecture that Hanoi has. Its just a beautiful city when you venture out. The old quarter is interesting with the shops and bazaars and touristy things; but getting away I don’t see that many tourists.

Its been really good for me for walking as well. My app on my iPhone tells me I am going most days over 12k steps and almost 6 miles. Its different than the hour and twenty minutes or two hours on Fridays I did. This is more consistent walking and I do it every day. I may have slimmed down a bit but that’s a side result. My main interest is seeing the city, feeling good each day about what I do, and being able to move my life forward a step or two. Hanoi on a longer visa has been just great. Its the way to do things since you an settle into a routine and find the normal maintenance things like laundry and barber service, places to eat, things to see and repeat that on some one week visit you may not be able to.

Consider the slow travel if you can folks. It makes things much more worthwhile. Park benches become known qualities. Places can be seen in different conditions. Experiencing the life in a place like Vietnam is meant for that six month tourist visa.

Give it a shot and slow your pace down. You don’t need to do 60 countries in 90 days. How about just one country that you can say you have seen?

Author: Michael Perry

I've been blogging for over 20 years and now am living in Southeast Asia. The blog is about my slow vagabonding wherever I want to go. My home base is in Cambodia but I'm rarely there.