Vietnam – Misc. Notes Part 5

Can’t find an expat who has anything bad to say about living here. Closest is no more long term visas and the need to be street smart. This suburban bred white boy has never been accused of being street smart. In Vietnam I’ve been getting plenty of practice at dealing with being pushed around.

Sat down for a meal and noticed the menu had different prices than the one on the stand out front. Complained then she apologized that I’d been given the ‘wrong menu’.

Returned to a breakfast place, was the only customer. The day before I’d experienced the woman running the restaurant spoke good English and liked to chat with customers. Asked her a few questions about Nha Trang then got to ordering. Her tone of voice and body language changed when she said there were no small water (500 ml) available. This wasn’t conversation, it was negotiation – as in ‘that’s my final offer’. I just stared at her and thought ‘You’d fuck with a return customer over 4000 VND ($.20 USD) gross when you have half a dozen competitors within 50 yards?’. I left.

Got out of my assigned aisle seat on the Dalat to Nha Trang bus to let in the Vietnamese guy with the window seat. As he went by I wondered why he didn’t put his daypack in the overhead. There was plenty of room. Dropped his pack on the floor against the side of the bus, splayed his legs to the left of the pack, well into my territory. I sat down with momentum, pushing his legs out of my space. He gave me a WTF? look, I used sign language to show he had his space and I had mine. After a half hour of pressing our knees against each other he gave up and shifted positions. Was one of us an asshole? Who? Or did we both show a trivial application of the culture’s ‘Me First’ prime directive?

Got off the bus in Nha Trang then walked into the slot between buses to get my bag. Was the first foreigner in. We foreigners arranged ourselves against the sides of the two buses, alternating so one had a clear but zig zag path to and from the bags. A Vietnamese woman bustled in and stood in front of me. Bags and people came and went then my bag appeared. The front of the zig zag path was occupied by a man getting his pack. Got the woman’s attention, pointed to the pack at her feet and indicated it was mine. She gave me a blank expression and turned away. Tried to get her attention again but she didn’t acknowledge me. Put one hand on her shoulder, pulled back to rotate her enough to squeeze around, then pushed past her on my way out. When in Rome …

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One Response to Vietnam – Misc. Notes Part 5

  1. Bruce Kehl says:

    haha re the courtesies of Viet people … as they are indochinese, the less palatable of their courtesy cocktail must have come from the ‘chinese’ suffix of the name. After a year or so in Taiwan, I tried to get used to the bad mannered Taiwanese chinese: after 2 years couldn’t wait to get the hell out of the bad-mannered place. Oh yes, the Tw chinese complain vehemently about the Shanghai chinese. So in an ascending order of non-appreciation, perhaps it is better to stay in southeast asia….?

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