Expat from the West Surprised by Vibrant Atmosphere of Hanoi

Having experienced harsh winters in Russia, Timur Finov still cannot get used to the cold every time the monsoon overflows to Hanoi.

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Timur Finov, 26, is a photo model and English teacher in Hanoi. (Photo: VN Express)

Timur Finov, 26, is a photo model and English teacher in Hanoi. Originally from Russia, Timur has experienced harsh winters in his home country, but the winter in Vietnam’s capital came as a surprise. Four years ago, Timur started a new life in Vietnam, packing only summer clothes. When the cold air arrived in Hanoi, Timur realized that he had underestimated the winter in a tropical country.

“I woke up in my room early in the morning. And you know what? My breath looked like smoke! That’s something I have never experienced indoors while living in Russia. I remember at that time the temperature dropped to around 6-7 Celsius degrees. For me, this was a shock that I underestimated the winter in Hanoi,” expressed the Russian man.

During that first winter in Hanoi, Timur only had two long-sleeved shirts and decided not to buy more warm clothes since he was planning to stay in Hanoi for only a few months. “I didn’t think the winter here would be that cold, even though the temperature usually stays around 18-20 degrees Celsius, similar to the summer temperature in my country,” Timur said.

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People gathering to keep warm during the cold New Year’s Day 2021. (Photo: VN Express)

During the summer in Russia, with an average temperature of about 18-20 degrees Celsius, Timur would typically wear a long-sleeved shirt and a thick coat. However, in Hanoi, he has to layer his clothing, wearing a shirt, a vest, and a cape during the cold season. “Winter in Hanoi is as cold as Russia. In Hanoi, I feel a sharp cold that makes my whole body tremble. In Russia, sometimes the cold turns my hands red, but I don’t feel much,” he mentioned.

Timur also noted that the winter in Russia doesn’t feel as cold as in Vietnam, despite the average temperature being -4 to -3 degrees Celsius, due to the heating systems in each apartment and carpeted floors that keep the feet warm. On the other hand, many houses in Vietnam lack heating or carpets and are often tiled with ceramic or stone, except for office buildings. Therefore, Timur sometimes finds it colder indoors than outdoors, and riding a motorbike in winter can be quite chilling.

Some may attribute Timur’s different perceptions to the difference in air humidity, as Western countries are usually drier than Vietnam. However, Timur doesn’t entirely agree, as the air humidity in the city of Saint Petersburg is always higher than 80% in winter.