The Art of Being Vietnamese

In a short while, we will be subjected to 2012 “lists”.  Top Ten Celebrity Gossip of the Year.  Most Popular Boy’s Name.  Worst Dressed Politician.

All of the above, and more.

Inspired by a meeting with an elderly Vietnamese monk last month, here, in the spirit of such things (ie for fun, rather than for anything more meaningful) are my “Top Things Learnt about the Vietnamese in 2012”.

Anyone is welcome to add more to these or, indeed, share with me their own SE Asian (or elsewhere…who cares!) versions – I expect to add to this myself in the future, however I only had a short window at Singapore airport earlier to reel these off…

1. Face protection – “one life, one face” is up there as a life motto for most Vietnamese.  No matter what the scenario, saving face in all situations is paramount.

Granted, face saving is not specific to Vietnam, however they do it so well over here! Continue reading


Model parenting

When I am not travelling with my job, (I like to think) I play a key role in the “getting up and getting ready” part of our family’s day, as well as offer some well-timed interventions at the “winding down, it’s time for sleep now” part.

However, at weekends I get the chance to experience the full effects of being in charge of both our children for longer than about two hours at a time.  With Lou out shopping yesterday for our upcoming trip back to the UK, up stepped Mr Model Dad, on hand to ensure a day of quality food and entertainment lay ahead for everyone.  I realised though, on reflection later in the evening, that I may still have a way to go. Continue reading

The Year of the Dragon

Around about this time in January the UK press tend put out articles naming the year’s official most depressing day.

Their logic cites a combination of things such as the dreary winter weather, or the inevitable financial whiplash of Christmas spending.  More often than not the offending day in question is January 23rd (which is unfortunate in our household as this is, and has always been, Lou’s birthday.)

This year in Vietnam will be a quite different affair though, as 23rd January is Chinese New Year and subsequently, due to Vietnam being one of the many countries embracing the lunar calendar, local life in Saigon over the past weeks has been 100% focused on celebrating the beginning of Tễt (the official name for the New Year here) and the 4 days of public holidays which accompany this.

As previously described in this blog, December here was wall-to-wall Christmas eye candy.  On every street you’d find precariously hung fairy lights, young Vietnamese men dressed as Santa and smoking cigarettes, shops and restaurants blaring out festive carols on a 24/7 loop. Continue reading