I just want to know what vietnamese people think.

First time when I come to vietnam, I think they is nice and friendly when I walk alone. but for some month I living here. I just learn about vietnamese. just one think, I don't understand about vietnamese people attitude. I think they very nasty when see asian people hold hand when walk on street with west men (especially for asian women if have relationship with west men). even we walk not hold hand, i feel they still nasty.

Many times when I walk with my men, they say something in vietnamese language. I don't understand what they say, but I think they say something bad about us, because I can see how they look at us. when we walk pass and back in same way, every they see us they say something.

sometimes i don't feel comfort, when we eat in resto and they look at us. one time, when we have lunch in small com resto, one old men look at me like he don't like me, when i look him back, he doesn't move from looking me. it not just one time happen, it's many times happen.

I don't understand about they attitude, if the young vietnamese people sometimes not problem to do same thing like us. Hold hand when walk together or sometimes they do more than us. hug they boyfriend or girlfriend on street and kissed. I living in distric 1, close with zoo and river. there have garden side the river every evening I see some couple get hug on top motorcyle and kissed they partner. but not one vietnamese people have complain to them.

when I visited zoo, it's same too. I see much vietnamese couple visit there, they hold hand, sometimes hug they partner. and one time i just sit and come two couple vietnamese sit front of me, one couple they don't have problem when kissing front the other people.

Yep, we get it too - I am from England, my wife is from Vietnam. But not everyone is like that. For each person who makes bad comments or has a bad attitude, we know ten who are our friends or who treat us with the same respect that we treat them and others.

Generally speaking it is the uneducated people who behave in a bad way. And there are still plenty of them in Vietnam.

Who cares what people think....

as long as you are happy.. ( THE HELL WITH THEIR ATTITUDE AND THEIR SMALL MEDULLA OBLONGATA )

Hi Bawindayak,

I am sorry to hear some Vietnamese people bothering you and your fiance that way. Yes, I believe this happens sometimes not only with you but also the other Asian-Western couples as well.

As a Vietnamese, I'd like to reason this phenomenon under a historical perspective so that you may understand a bit more about its nature. As you might know, Vietnam had gone through wars from year to year in the past. Under the French/American colony time, some Vietnamese women who coupled with Westerner soldiers /officers were received very bad and scornful prejudices from the local community. This bias was so popular that it gradually became a cultural trait to be accepted as a common norm among the Vietnamese society. Though Vietnamese people are more open-minded today, but it will need some more time to completely overcome that bad bias still. Hope this somewhat answers your question now.

P.s. Things will be more comfortable for you to lead your life with your fiance in Vietnam if your face was not "too Vietnamese" like that :)

Hi OP

Vietnamese are very curious when they see something strange. Even I was Vietnamese, my ex is Vietnamese too. But he is shortter than me. Sometimes we walked together, many people saw us as if the first time they saw a couple like that ;)!
Just ignore them...

Hi,

I think it is because you look like a Vietnamese. Actually looking a young Vietnamese going with an Old western man or a black boy captures my view. I feel teased for those Vietnamese girls.

Regards,

General speaking, everyboby has a special character  In everycountry, for example: foreigner is very natural manner and freedom but our vietnamese is curious about stranger things. so you and your friend go ahead, they see many times, they dont feel strange and it is habit, then they will be good friend.

Maybe you look like a Vietnamese girl. So they thought you are a Vietnamese girl and don't like to see you going with foreigner . Every time Vnese people see a young girl going shopping with a foreigner they will think that girl is from a bar ..blah blah something like that or even worse.

Even when I'm chatting with a foreigner friend, people around will have a strange look.

Forget them, as long as you 're happy. Who cares !?  :par:

virgoks must be smoking something in his comment that the war is a reason why people stare. People in every country, city and neighborhood stare at people who are different. Every single Caucasian foreigner lives with it every day all day when not at home. There are indeed people who are socially backward and uneducated who will comment or who stare pointedly but in Vietnam the old world exists shoulder to shoulder with the new world. My Vietnamese girl friends say they know what the whispers are about and they don't care. Some of the whisperers say that girl is a bar girl and some say that girl is very lucky to have a foreigner.

You just happen to meet the conservative people, for me and many Vietnamese people, it's normal for a girl holding hand with her boyfriends on street, no matter where they from, just don't do anything too much private in a public place( on street with many people) like a deep kiss, or hug, desert park is Ok....Just be calm and cool, enjoy your time with your boyfriend.  nothing serious, those people with their attitude no matter good or bad have nothing to do with your own life.

Thanks all for reply for me,
every vietnamese people think I look vietnamese, it's be a problem for me too. some people try to talk with vietnamese language. some people can understand when I say I am not vietnamese and I tell where I come from and they think I like action not as vietnamese people. but I not feel it's strange like the other problem.

normally vietnamese people, some people from indonesia (my country), philippines, malaysia and thailand they have same face.
I from central of borneo, indonesia and original from dayak tribe there. and my fiance is from england.

what they do to us make stress full. we always walk in same way everyday when go to office, and go to same resto everyday to get lunch together. never use motor bike even we place to work is so far. because me and my fiance think ride in ho chi minh is not good idea.

we hold hand because cross road, my fiance need to protecting me when cross road. I get phobia can stop in the middle road, if feel scared. when walk on street we just walk side by side not hold hand. when they see we holding hand they will screaming to us say something in vietnamese language, even what my fiance do just for protect me. I think everybody on street can see how scared me when cross road.

I have reason to scared, on my hometown very quiet for car or motor bike not have crazy traffic. here hard to find save way, even on sidewalk, vietnamese people will ride there. I get two moment with my fiance when we walk get dinner in night time vietnamese men come from behind us and want to crash him, lucky I quick to grab him on my side. and the vietnamese men say something in vietnamese language and laugh when pass away us. second moment, we get in the morning time when we go to gym together, someone with motor bike come from behind us and this time want to crash me, and my fiance push me.

@Virgoks : I still can't understanding if war make impact for this all. how long american and france make a clonials in here? the experience in my country spanyol and portugis ever come to my country make a colonial for some years. and after them dutch and japan. we have war in 350 year with dutch in my country. Now my country after celebrate 69 year freedom from colonial. but in my country people not really have bad impact like in here. if have some people in my country don't like foreingners because jealous about money. if foreigner come to my country for work they have big salary from us, indonesia salary just have 25% from foreigner salary. but doesn't mind the foreigner is rich in we country. more people in my country know, not all foreigner is rich from us. because they have high living cost from indonesia people. they salary same not enough for they self. because can't have properti, land, car or motorbike.
what vietnamese people already open minded for this time, why I feel not?
we always walk in same way, don't kissing and hugging in public area, but every we walk in same way, meet same people, they like intimidate us. until this time i am not tell anything to they. because even i say something, they can't understand.

the other stories, every morning we walk go to gym together. one men ride motor bike, he always following us and with angry face he look at us and say something in vietnamese language. the other guy he is security in the bank building, close with we place. he ever screaming to me and my fiance when we walk pass they office not just for one time.

Well

ít depends...

However, just as long as you are happy, don't worry about what they are doing.

bawindayak :

Thanks all for reply for me,
every vietnamese people think I look vietnamese, it's be a problem for me too. some people try to talk with vietnamese language. some people can understand when I say I am not vietnamese and I tell where I come from and they think I like action not as vietnamese people. but I not feel it's strange like the other problem.

normally vietnamese people, some people from indonesia (my country), philippines, malaysia and thailand they have same face.
I from central of borneo, indonesia and original from dayak tribe there. and my fiance is from england.

what they do to us make stress full. we always walk in same way everyday when go to office, and go to same resto everyday to get lunch together. never use motor bike even we place to work is so far. because me and my fiance think ride in ho chi minh is not good idea.

we hold hand because cross road, my fiance need to protecting me when cross road. I get phobia can stop in the middle road, if feel scared. when walk on street we just walk side by side not hold hand. when they see we holding hand they will screaming to us say something in vietnamese language, even what my fiance do just for protect me. I think everybody on street can see how scared me when cross road.

I have reason to scared, on my hometown very quiet for car or motor bike not have crazy traffic. here hard to find save way, even on sidewalk, vietnamese people will ride there. I get two moment with my fiance when we walk get dinner in night time vietnamese men come from behind us and want to crash him, lucky I quick to grab him on my side. and the vietnamese men say something in vietnamese language and laugh when pass away us. second moment, we get in the morning time when we go to gym together, someone with motor bike come from behind us and this time want to crash me, and my fiance push me.

@Virgoks : I still can't understanding if war make impact for this all. how long american and france make a clonials in here? the experience in my country spanyol and portugis ever come to my country make a colonial for some years. and after them dutch and japan. we have war in 350 year with dutch in my country. Now my country after celebrate 69 year freedom from colonial. but in my country people not really have bad impact like in here. if have some people in my country don't like foreingners because jealous about money. if foreigner come to my country for work they have big salary from us, indonesia salary just have 25% from foreigner salary. but doesn't mind the foreigner is rich in we country. more people in my country know, not all foreigner is rich from us. because they have high living cost from indonesia people. they salary same not enough for they self. because can't have properti, land, car or motorbike.
what vietnamese people already open minded for this time, why I feel not?
we always walk in same way, don't kissing and hugging in public area, but every we walk in same way, meet same people, they like intimidate us. until this time i am not tell anything to they. because even i say something, they can't understand.

the other stories, every morning we walk go to gym together. one men ride motor bike, he always following us and with angry face he look at us and say something in vietnamese language. the other guy he is security in the bank building, close with we place. he ever screaming to me and my fiance when we walk pass they office not just for one time.

We have had similar circumstances. As far as the bank guard is concerned you can walk into the bank and complain to the manager.

If you see the man on the motorbike following you, see if you can take his number and just take it to your local police station or to your local policeman - there is a policeman for every residential area. My wife has the phone number of our local policeman and he is not a bad guy, quite helpful in fact.

And on the matter of people thinking you are Vietnamese, just answer them in your own language when they speak to you.My wife had the same problem in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. People would chatter away in their respective languages to her and some would get annoyed when she didn't answer, thinking she was arrogant or something. But when she answered them in Vietnamese they understood. So give that a try.

Incidentally I get really fed up with being accosted by touts on the street in Hong Kong selling shirts, suits and fake watches. I get rid of them quickly by speaking in German to them.  ;)

I feel sorry for what you've passed, Bawindayak. There are still lots of cultured people in Vietnam. Just look at their daily behaviors like riding motorbike on the pavement, no queuing, littering garbage everywhere  ... Actually we grow up from very different environments and each of us have different acknowledge. As I said I one in my old post , when I was younger, I did hate to see a foreigner hand in hand with a Vietnamese girl. But everything has changed now, my mind has opened :D

There are always good and bad people. You just ignore the bad ones, no need to care about them.

Hello Bawindayak!

Can I ask you where you got all those? I'm a little bit surprised cause if you were in tourist area, people (even un-educated people) don't stare that much enough to scare foreigners like you described. They are used to anything related cause they see this everyday.

I may guess they look at you because you are expressing your feeling (happiness e.g.) while walking with your fiance too clearly. Vietnamese people tend to hide their emotion of love and save it for home area. :) Or maybe you're shining besides your fiance, you look great in your strange (to Vietnamese people) outfit.

People whom you saw in the zoo are young people/students who don't have enough money to afford a hotel room. Just ignore them like most of us, except for their parents! :)

I don't agree with Virgoks about the impact of war. War is far way passed. If there's anyone or anything to be blamed, I blame VN government for corruption & bad policies that impact education, health care,..., those that make many Vietnamese people considered uneducated.

However, please don't be worry!
They stare at you because you look strange to them and they want to show their admiration to you someway but they don't know how else but just staring at you. That doesn't hurt, unless you're too sensitive.
Let's me guess! They have the same faces like people in Indonesia but they don't just ignore you like them. It's just like you expect they do the same but they don't. It makes you nervous.

If you're still in Ho Chi Minh City, I would love to treat you a cup of coffee to show you another faces of Vietnam. I bet you will like them. ;-)

Have a nice day! :)

Hi Bawindayak,

Good evening to you. Im a foreigner too, everytime i went some places like malls, park, parking lots or even at the gym or even just waljing and roaming around here un Vietnam like you. They always thought that I am Vietnamese but same as you or the others Im sorry I am not vietnamese.  So far I didn't encountered likw what had happened to you together with your fiance there in hochiminh. I am a bit afraid now on what I read to your blog coz I have plan to visit saigon this coming friday. I am here in hanoi as they said its more traffic and hars to pass on the street there in hochiminh. I dont have anybody there, just wanna see hoxhimin and planning to visit cambodia..

But im hoping that you will never encounter again the way people in saigon treated you. Im hoping also that it will not happen to me coz i am totally alone.

I still believe that Vietnamese people are kind hearted and still kind to others like us (foreigners).

Hi Bawindayak,

Good evening to you. Im a foreigner too, everytime i went some places like malls, park, parking lots or even at the gym or even just waljing and roaming around here un Vietnam like you. They always thought that I am Vietnamese but same as you or the others Im sorry I am not vietnamese.  So far I didn't encountered likw what had happened to you together with your fiance there in hochiminh. I am a bit afraid now on what I read to your blog coz I have plan to visit saigon this coming friday. I am here in hanoi as they said its more traffic and hars to pass on the street there in hochiminh. I dont have anybody there, just wanna see hoxhimin and planning to visit cambodia..

But im hoping that you will never encounter again the way people in saigon treated you. Im hoping also that it will not happen to me coz i am totally alone.

I still believe that Vietnamese people are kind hearted and still kind to others like us (foreigners).

Lol I'm sure no one really cares that much. You sound really insecure, people tends to look at things that are strange to them.

I thought so much about all the post of OP here. I was little worried. So today when I went out with my foreign student, I tried to observe someone around me. I saw they only looked at her about 2 - 3seconds.

I dont know your finance, but if he is older than you much, maybe it's problem. Because you are like Vietnamese, and Vietnamese are always curious about young girls love old men. Many people don't like that, because they always think the young girl loves that man because of money. And nowadays, many Vietnamese women love foreigners, and they always said many good things about their husbands, and some women even decry Viet men so much. Maybe some Viet (mean) men will hate foreigners :D. I guess so, I hope I was wrong.

hi scarlet
thanks a lot
before I living in distric 3, but 3 month ago I move to nguyen thi minh khai distric 1, very close with zoo. Front my apartement is zoo, there is tourism area.
because this problem, i just feel worry to have vietnamese friends. I just have 1 vietnamese friend, but she is open minded. I think because she got study outside country.
I hope can meet some good friend in here. when this happen make me feel shock cultured.
I happy if can have a good friend in here, and know still have some good people can have good talk to me.
yes we can have time go out together, but i can't go out in night time. my fiance not leave me go in night time, because he say very dangerous. i just can go if he accompany me and he have responsible to my parents to take care of me.

regrads

thanks a lot for advice eodmatt

yeah one time when i go to resto, when the waitter talk to me with vietnamese language, i say to him. I am indonesia, can't speak in vietnamese. he still try to talk with me in vietnamese. and then last time I talk in dayak langueage. stop to talk and feel confused for what I say. my fiance laugh to see him face. :)  :top:

thanks a lot emmy.
:)

thanks a lot for advice eodmatt

yeah one time when i go to resto, when the waitter talk to me with vietnamese language, i say to him. I am indonesia, can't speak in vietnamese. he still try to talk with me in vietnamese. and then last time I talk in dayak langueage. stop to talk and feel confused for what I say. my fiance laugh to see him face. :)  :top:

thanks for the enlightenment

this tell me about the other experience. when I was 18 year I make my first trip living in some city. same big city, lots people, high mobility and same problem with environments. but the problem, may i can complain to them face to face to say I don't like what they do. but in here is hard to say, because I feel they not feel wrong if did something like ride motorbike on trotoar. But don't you can angry to them, but they will angry to you. it's like don't have respect with each others. I don't like fighting with people, even just talk something a rude. it's make me shock in culture. I hope people in ho chi minh can have enlightenment to change. and I hope in time they really can change they mindset like you.

hi uolam3579,

just need becareful when you will visited saigon, don't be easy to talk with people you just to know. don't bring much money when go outside, just how much you need. better not used jelwery, show gadged or smartphone especially when you walk alone or in night time.
first day I come ho chi minh city. I get two couple use motor bike want to stolen my smartphone,after me and my fiance back from dinner, walk on street. but lucky I throw.
my fiance have parents, ever have plant to visit us in hcmc. but they cancel, because they hearing about they friend stories if they friend get phone is someone stolen, but nothing one can help her.
it's okay if you alone, and they think you vietnamese. you still have confidence to walk go anywhere you want. when you go alone they not really bothering you. some people they maybe come to you and try to talk with you. what I do just smile, action like i can't speak.   :)
may when you want to visit saigon, can contact me.

ngatt:
hi my fiance not really old and have big belly, he will sad if know someone think he is old.
but the bad think, he is not have baby face like me.   :D
we just have different age for some year.
he have friend old three year from him, but he look old from his friend. maybe effect not like salon.
:D  :)

bawindayak :

ngatt:
hi my fiance not really old and have big belly, he will sad if know someone think he is old.
but the bad think, he is not have baby face like me.   :D
we just have different age for some year.
he have friend old three year from him, but he look old from his friend. maybe effect not like salon.
:D  :)

Well, I am quite a bit older than my wife and I am a big man, used to play rugby and do weight lifting and all that. My wife by contrast is 30 something - she wouldnt thank me for publishing her real age on here  :)

But look, I have had plenty of racial and other comments since I started living here and, because I have a bit of a belly too, other men and children keep on trying to touch my stomach. The first time it happened was when I was waiting for a lift and a man came up behind me and put his arms around me. I had no idea what was going on, but instinctively i gave him the hard elbow and turned fast to adopt the position of defence so that I could deal with him.

When I turned I saw that he was no threat as he couldn't breathe and was purple in the face. His family came running up and asked me why I had hit him - his daughter was about 14 years old then and speaks good English. I told her that he had grabbed me from behind without warning and that was why I had reacted by elbowing him in the solar plexus - which is a disabling move rather than a damaging move. The family saw sense and after that we became friends.

One guy  a xe om driver in  D2 (An Phu) had seen me with my wife on several occasions and would come and stand close to me if I was waiting outside for my wife to join me. He would just look at me and curse in Vietnamese. I wont say on here what he said to me. After a few weeks he would follow me on my morning exercise and try to get closer and closer to me as he passed on his motor bike. to the point where I would stumble and one morning fell onto the edge of the road. Whenever he stood near me it was always too close and when my wife joined me he would melt away, but one day she saw him and asked me what we were talking about. I replied that we were not talking, and told her what he said to me in Vietnamese.

My wife weighs all of 40 kg and she walked over and launched into the guy with a steam of rapid-fire Vietnamese that made him flinch and try to get on his bike and ride away but she blocked him and with her finger in his face ridiculed him in front of the other xe om blokes who were hugely enjoying his roasting.

We still have experiences with uneducated idiots, but on the other side of the coin, we have many, many friends here, some working as security guards, some as teachers and many as lawyers as well as managers and business people. The good people here by far outweigh the creeps and low educated idiots.

Ignore the idiots, or if they worry you report them. Usually a quiet word from someone in authority is enough to make them desist.

Vietnam is a beautiful country full of wonderful people don't let the occasional creep or drunk spoil it for you.

hi, if you want to understand what vietnamese say or think, we can be friend after you ask something, i explain for you. So i myself want to understand about foreigner. we can discuss together. Do you agree with me? besides i can practise English fluently. May you help me? You can contact me this address: anhtuan19832003[at]yahoo.com or call me this number: 0918.333.743. My name is Tuan.

@Matt: some Vietnamese people here are not open-minded, they don't accept the difference, even they are educated. If you are not their friend, they don't know about you much, and you are more special, they will "take care" you so much :D.

Some years ago, when I took some weeding photos. My ex always took care me so much, he always tried to do the best things. The photographer suddenly said to me: now I know why you get married with him... Hmmm, I really don't know why he said so, very surprise. Just guess, maybe I look very tall, stylist like a city girl (we both are from countryside)...

Another time, not long time ago, I have a foreign friend, he is bigger than me so much. My friend (very well-educated) said: I don't think you will love him, right? He is much bigger than you (twice). You are still young...

Still have some other stories about that, but I think it's enough now :P. I always have some problems like that with men :D. I don't know why people always care about someone near me so much: how look he is, how tall he is, how old he is, how weigh he is :(; even I never care, never talk about that. That's why I always ignore something/someone make me confuse.

ngattt :

@Matt: some Vietnamese people here are not open-minded, they don't accept the difference, even they are educated. If you are not their friend, they don't know about you much, and you are more special, they will "take care" you so much :D.

Some years ago, when I took some weeding photos. My ex always took care me so much, he always tried to do the best things. The photographer suddenly said to me: now I know why you get married with him... Hmmm, I really don't know why he said so, very surprise. Just guess, maybe I look very tall, stylist like a city girl (we both are from countryside)...

Another time, not long time ago, I have a foreign friend, he is bigger than me so much. My friend (very well-educated) said: I don't think you will love him, right? He is much bigger than you (twice). You are still young...

Still have some other stories about that, but I think it's enough now :P. I always have some problems like that with men :D. I don't know why people always care about someone near me so much: how look he is, how tall he is, how old he is, how weigh he is :(; even I never care, never talk about that. That's why I always ignore something/someone make me confuse.

Yeah but that's the Vietnam way. I remember when I first came to Vietnam in 1999 or 2000 the kids would come up and say "Hello, what your name, where you come from, how old you?" The bar girls had a similar script but their last question was "are you married?"   :lol: .

eodmatt :

Yeah but that's the Vietnam way. I remember when I first came to Vietnam in 1999 or 2000 the kids would come up and say "Hello, what your name, where you come from, how old you?" The bar girls had a similar script but their last question was "are you married?"   :lol: .

Haha, last week, a foreign student and I talked to my Vietnamese students. They always asked her these questions: "how old are you?", "are you married?". I asked them "why you always ask those questions with foreigner, they don't like them ;). They said "because I don't know how to speak English" hic hic :(.
And I must try to explain with foreign student, that's Vietnamese culture :D, she said she knew already :D.

BaWinDayak, If you haven't been to Phan Rang or Phan Thiet, I suggest you take the opportunity to visit.  It would be interesting to see if any languages you speak match the Cham spoken there. Usually you can identify the Cham women by their preference for long skirts, though some now wear the Vietnamese style pants. There are mosques there, and that might be a good place to try your Dayak out. Across from Chau Doc, on Tan Chau island, there is also a Cham community. You can see the onion shaped minarets from the Ferry landing on the Chau Doc side. The Cham there used to make silk, but I am unsure if they still do.

The Cham are divided into two religions: Islam and Hindu. But I've seen mixed groups of both, so there seems to be no problem between them. Supposedly, when Minh Mang expelled the Cham in 1830 or so, some groups went to Borneo, while others settled in Cambodia, Thailand, and various points in the Malay islands and Peninsula.

My wife is VN and I am clearly a foreigner. We live in District 11 where people are not used to seeing white guys walking down the alley. Most mornings we also eat at street restaurants, so there are a lot of people walking past while we eat on the street that would have an opportunity to give us a nasty look or make a negative comment if they wanted. I haven't noticed very many negative comments. When people talk to us, most people just want to know where I am from, what I am doing in the area, how long I have been here, etc. I get a lot of people who glance at me while walking down the street and then turn back to look quickly one more time, but it is very rare for people to stare at my wife and I. Then again, we are roughly the same age; she is a little older, but it would be difficult to know that from appearances. If your fiance looks much older than you, I would imagine that would be the cause. Even in the US, if an old guy walked down the street with a much younger fiance, they should expect some people to take a second look and talk behind their back simply because that is not the cultural norm.

LaxFogo :

Lol I'm sure no one really cares that much. You sound really insecure, people tends to look at things that are strange to them.

Well, I’m a foreigner in Vietnam and I’m not insecure but I can tell you that I get tired of people staring at me. They don’t look they stare rudely.

My Vietnamese wife tells me to ignore  them as they are uneducated. But by the bicycles of the bearded kings of Babylon it does get boring.

eodmat I share the same feelings regarding the relentless staring.

ngattt :
eodmatt :

Yeah but that's the Vietnam way. I remember when I first came to Vietnam in 1999 or 2000 the kids would come up and say "Hello, what your name, where you come from, how old you?" The bar girls had a similar script but their last question was "are you married?"   :lol: .

Haha, last week, a foreign student and I talked to my Vietnamese students. They always asked her these questions: "how old are you?", "are you married?". I asked them "why you always ask those questions with foreigner, they don't like them ;). They said "because I don't know how to speak English" hic hic :(.
And I must try to explain with foreign student, that's Vietnamese culture :D, she said she knew already :D.

I missed this response, but cant resist answering albeit some month late. On one occasion in Vung Tau a kid asked me the usual string of questions unpunctuated by taking breath: "Hellohowyouwhatyournamewhereyoucomefromhowoldyou?"

I replied: "HelloI'mfinethankshowyoumynameMattIcomefromEnglandIm60yearsold."

To which the kid replied: "Ohveryoldsoondie."

However in Mozambique just before the end of the war there, I was walking past the newly refurbished cinema in Maputo when the doors opened and a hoard of kids came barrelling out at high speed. One of them ran into me and I said, "watch outI"

The kid came to an abrupt halt, obviously, when he hit me and, upon peeling himself off me, his six year old shiny black face with startlingly white eyeballs stared up at me and he uttered the only English words he knew (obviously learned from the American action film he had just watched):

He said: "Doanfknmove!"

And then dashed away as fast as his little legs could carry him.

Also in those days  in Mozambique, the kids would sometimes challenge you with the only English words they knew which were the names of English foot ball teams  or famous footballers of yesteryear, so you were were constantly being greeted with the words: "Manchester United", or "Arsenal" and sometimes "Bobby Charlton".

Mark Tat :

eodmat I share the same feelings regarding the relentless staring.

And if you stare back, as I sometimes do, they eventually look behind themselves to see what you are looking at.

When adult Vietnamese ask how old you are it is more than just idle curiosity.  Unless the age difference is large, they need to know so that they will know what is the proper term of address.  In English we have only Mr/Mrs/Ms with no distinction for relative age.  In the US, and I imagine most of Europe, it is considered somewhat rude to ask someones age, but it is actually somewhat necessary in Vietnam. 

On the other hand, Americans routinely ask new acquaintances the question "What do you do?"  I am sure most ESL teachers have taught this idiom.  If you think about it, it is a way of determining ones social standing relative to the person being asked.  Vietnamese don't ask this question because standing is based on age rather than income or occupational status.

THIGV is absolutely correct. 

Without knowing my age, how would the other person know how to address me and him/herself?  It's a requirement for a civilized conversation. 

I knew the reason behind the question, so when an adult asked,  I simply answered.  With young children, however, I've been replying the same way, "You don't need to know my age, but you should call me grandma and my husband grandpa because we're older than your grandparents."  That's it.  My words, since I'm so incredibly old in their eyes, were taken as law.

Ciambella :

THIGV is absolutely correct. 

Without knowing my age, how would the other person know how to address me and him/herself?  It's a requirement for a civilized conversation.

Except that in many countries, asking a woman her age is considered impolite.

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