I wanted to give a follow up on my post about the Deal Kids getting Culture Shock in Hanoi and let you know how I handled our time there. I hope it will be helpful if you find your kids overwhelmed in their travels.
Thanks to Trevor who offered some great advice about how he and his wife managed Delhi- an overwhelming city, to be sure. He suggested hiring a private driver instead of visiting sites on our own.
I took a version of his advice by taking walking out of the equation: crossing the crowded, unpaved, at times 12 deep motorbike and taxi filled streets was a major source of stress for the Deal Kids. So I went taxi door to door, even if our site was close enough to walk to in a normal situation. Cabs in Hanoi start at 30 cents, so this was a decision I could make easily.
I also cut my expectations WAY back: I put one cultural activity on the agenda for the morning and one for the evening. In the morning we visited the Temple of Literature, which at almost 1000 years old and as the first University in Vietnam I thought would have the most impact on the Deal Kids. It did- they especially noticed how different the architecture at the temple was from those in Japan. We also got to talk a bit about Confucius. Progress.
The evening activity was a no-brainer: the Thang Long Puppet Theater. The entire show is performed in waist deep water and is unlike anything I’ve seen anywhere else. Must do, even if you don’t have kids. Tip: Buy tix direct from box office for 75% less than tour companies charge. After the show, we enjoyed homemade gelato in the shop next door. I recommend the Hibiscus.
And the afternoon? Well, we revisited the Hotel Metropole Cafe since it was already a hit (and I’m a fan of colonial architecture), we swam, and we one-upped the Deal Kids’ friends by seeing the Minions movie a day early.
Did I expect to see the Minions in Hanoi? No. But it helped smooth out the edges, gave us all something to laugh at, and the cab ride over, where the driver successfully navigated a (and I’m not joking here) 1 centimeter gap gave us a good story.
I guess my strategy here is: find the source of the most pain and cut it out as much as possible, then fit in what you can while adding in a bit of home.
And I was surprised to hear both Deal Kids disagree with me when I said Hanoi was a bit of a bust: Deal Girl immediately mentioned the Puppets and Deal Kid the Temple. So I guess I’m glad we came-and I am glad they had to stretch themselves a bit.
Deal Kid visibly relaxed as soon as we arrived in much quieter Hoi An-right about the time Deal Girl spiked a fever. The joys of family travel! Hopefully she’ll be ready to get out today- the pool here in Hoi An beckons.
How have your helped your kids over the culture shock hurdle? Please share in the comments.
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