A Russian Woman Has Been Living in Vietnam for 6 Years, and She Has a Lot to Tell Us About the Country
Vietnam is one of those countries that hasn't yet been walked backward and forward by tourists from all over the world. However, the country has everything you need for a great vacation: comfortable hotels, unique sights, and local cuisine that would leave an indelible mark on the heart of a real foodie. But before going to Vietnam, you should learn about national particularities that might turn into unpleasant surprises for unprepared foreigners. Most of them, however, are part of the local charm.
Bright Side gathered the most valuable facts about Vietnam for you that might come in handy for every traveler.
Snezhana, a Russian woman who's been living in Vietnam for 6 years, helped us figure out what we should know about the country. In her blog, she shares every little thing that might interest those who want to get to know this beautiful country.
When you first meet local people, it might seem that you hear the same last name over and over again. It's not a mistake - 40% of the country's population bears the last name Nguyễn, and almost 11% - Trần.
"Forget about your personal space in Vietnam," Snezhana told us.
- On public transportation, the Vietnamese always take a seat next to another passenger, and they never take a separate seat in an empty adjacent row.
- In apartment buildings, wide open entrance doors are the norm. If you close them, your neighbors might get worried and start asking if you're ok.
- Big, private houses usually have large floor-to-ceiling windows with the complete absence of curtains or shutters.
- No one respects your personal space when they're talking to you. A person you're talking to will stand as close as possible to you as if he or she is about to tell you a secret.
- If you're waiting in a line, your "neighbors" will step on your toes or lean with their bodies against your back. And one more thing, waiting in lines is a very vague concept. Everyone here wants to get as close to their goal as possible.
Talking about your age or the amount of money that you make for a living are both absolutely normal topics for a polite Vietnamese conversation. The thing is, local people sincerely believe that these topics can liven up the conversation and show that your opponent is interested in you and your life.
Always say "yes"
The Vietnamese don't like to answer "no" to people. And if your request isn't clear to your opponent, he'll nod along and keep repeating "yes" as an answer. That's all. The best advice in these situations is to pay close attention to the person's reaction. Usually, a weird smile instantly indicates that there is a misunderstanding.
In Vietnam punctuality is surely not a part of the national character. If a local promised to do something for you "in 5 minutes" or "tomorrow," it's likely that the fulfilling of the promise will be indefinitely postponed.
When you arrive in Vietnam, prepare yourself for the fact that people in many street cafes throw garbage under their tables or right on the street. Recently, many cafe owners set special garbage cans to deal with these people. Many tourists are often shocked by the local men's behavior when they urinate in almost any place on the street.
A mere 100 years ago, pitch-black teeth were one of the main beauty features of Vietnamese women. The reason for this was a widespread belief that the blackening of one's teeth can protect against curses and dispel evil eyes. It was quite inappropriate to have white teeth. Even today you will still meet elderly Vietnamese women with unusual-looking pitch-black teeth.
Just like in many countries in Asia, Vietnamese women consider pale skin to be very attractive. That's why they hide from the sun in whatever way they can. Even if it's really hot outside, they usually wear an apron-like skirt on top of their clothes, long gloves, masks, and long-sleeved shirts. These masks also fulfill another important function: they protect people from dust while driving motorcycles or bicycles.
If a man has long nails, it means that he can afford to not work in the fields or at another low-paying job. Many men in Vietnam use this simple method to demonstrate their social status. Usually, they grow a long pinky nail, but there are exceptions to the rule, and you can see a man with long nails on all fingers. Domestic chores (including the ability to hold a spoon) usually become a wife's responsibility.
- The Vietnamese eat almost everything that moves: bats, dogs, rats and mice, crocodiles, turtles, snakes, stingrays, and even developing duck embryos. However, the most widespread food is rice cooked in many different ways.
- They also have the biggest sweet tooth and add sugar to almost every meal (including milk and meat).
- Don't forget about the special soy sauce called Nuoc Mam that is made from fish left in the sun for 9 months.
- A Vietnamese snake wine won't leave anyone indifferent. It is produced by pickling a snake in rice wine and grain alcohol.
- Many people who've been to this country at least once love their warm cup of coffee with condensed milk.
In 2003, synthetic polymer banknotes replaced cotton banknotes. You can get wet and not worry about your money. Vietnam demonstrates its good relationship with the countries of the former Soviet Union on different banknotes: 10-dong bill (1976) depicts a tractor produced in Onega tractor plant, Russia; 200-dong bill (1987) depicts the "Belarus" tractor.
The Vietnamese have a great love for sports. Football and volleyball are particularly popular with them. Local volleyball is also called pepak takraw which is similar to classic volleyball with only one exception - you have to play with your legs.
"How do you relax? I don't get restless," - this is a great way to describe a Vietnamese way of life. Judge for yourself: at 12 PM a 3-hour-long siesta begins in Vietnam. Most of the shops are closed, office workers nap in their chair or in sleeping bags right on the floor. It's worth mentioning that very often the Vietnamese wake up at 5-6 AM and manage to do a lot of work before noon.
They also take care of those who had to take hour-long bus rides. The inter-city public transport has special sleeper buses equipped with bunk beds.
In spite of all the weird differences between the Western world and Vietnam, it will definitely leave an indelible image in anyone's heart. Have you ever been to Vietnam? Share your opinion with us in the comments.