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Today at the market at 3:15 pm

IBefore going out, I drank a lot. My silk shirt showed wet patches on my belly. A woman in her 50s talked angrily, approaching and then touching my shirt.

What was that all about?

Saying that I was a disgrace, allowing the "human cooling system" to function in public?

There's no way to explain what's going on without knowing what she said to you, or at least guessing what she said if you can at least repeat it phonetically. 

Your interpretation of her gesture could have been way off the mark.  For what we know, maybe she asked why you didn't hang your shirt dry before putting it on, or maybe she thought you were inebriated and fell face first into a puddle.  :/

Oh, okay. Touching strange men's bellies & fondling their shirts is okay though? Am just very surprised!

If she's old, then yes, it's okay.  Old/older women believe they have earned the right to do anything.  (She may look only in her 50s to you, but she could have been over 60s or even 70s.  My sis is almost 74 but looks 15 - 20 years younger.  Asian women wear their age very well.)

Touching someone's clothing is not a faux pas in Vietnam.  It's used at times to show admiration -- in this case, for the shirt, not the wearer :rolleyes:

Since you wore a silk shirt with blotchy water stains at the time, she might have been upset because you didn't treat silk with the respect it deserved.

KruChris :

Oh, okay. Touching strange men's bellies & fondling their shirts is okay though? Am just very surprised!

Yes. Vietnamese men fondle foreign mens (protruding) stomachs all the time. Also if you are wearing gold jewellery they will rub it to attract some of your luck away from you.

I have lost a lot of weight over the last 18 months so it doesn't happen to me so much now, but it used to happen to me on an almost daily basis. Some stranger would sidle up to me and start stroking my stomach. Anonymous hands used to do it in crowded lifts and people would walk by and touch me in supermarkets and other public places.

It used to piss me off and occasionally I would be able to grab the hand that was touching me and twist it before the owner could escape.

On one occasion in Q2, I was waiting for my wife in the An Phu apartment block. I was leaning on the balcony railings upstairs, watching for her motorbike to appear, when without any warning I was grabbed from behind by two arms encircling my waist and holding me very tight. I reacted instinctively by swivelling first right and elbowing my attacker in the solar plexus, followed by rapidly swivelling to the left and delivering my left elbow to the same area of his body. There was a gasp and the arms let go as I continued swivelling to the left to face my attacker and deliver a "heel hand" strike to the face of my assailant. This can be a deadly blow if done just right and I stopped just in time as I saw that the person attaching me was a middle aged Vietnamese man who was collapsing as he couldn't breathe from the effects of my two elbow strikes into his midriff.

As he hit the deck gasping for air, a Vietnamese girl of about 15 ran up and shouted in English "why did you hit my father". I said that he had unexpectedly attacked me from behind and she replied "he just wanted to feel your stomach".

Just then my wife arrived and after listening to what happened she told the family (by now Mum and young son had arrived too), that her husband (me) was not a public utility and it was utterly stupid of their father to approach without warning and grab a stranger from behind. By now the man was on his feet again breathing heavily. He collected his family and they departed without a word of apology.

More recently I visited a temple near the Cambodian border, with my wife and some neighbours. We had to queue for 20 minutes to get in. Whilst we slowly shuffled forwards, a lady of about 30 years old behind be kept on nudging into me from behind and kept so close as to be touching me most of the time. I stepped back without warning onto her toes but it didn't deter her and she kept on rubbing herself on my back until my wife told he to back off or she would report the woman for harassment. The woman's male companion told my wife that the lady was simply trying to "collect some luck" by touching me.

In the market in Bao Loc, I was approached by a Vietnamese lady market stall holder, herself of pneumatic build, who insisted in touching me, pinching me and slapping me all over - none too gently - until my wife, who is highly educated and normally very diplomatic and having tried unsuccessfully to reason with the woman and get her to desist, told the lady something which contained the Vietnamese words that begin with D. M. M. Which in in Vietnamese is very rude indeed.

So yes, it does happen and not as rarely as people would have you believe.

There was a gasp and the arms let go as I continued swivelling to the left to face my attacker and deliver a "heel hand" strike to the face of my assailant. This can be a deadly blow if done just right and I stopped just in time

The funniest thing I've seen all day!

Funny story.  I am pretty slim but get touched all the time. If you drink with men out in the smaller towns, sometimes after a while they will grab your parts and just hold on.  I understand it to be not sexual at all; simply a next step in a developing friendship within a group of men.  Either way, it did not bother me much (after the first time, where my reaction was immediate and perhaps a little rude) and now I am used to the constant touching.  The concept of personal space does not exist in SEAsia, in my view.

tsshapiro :

There was a gasp and the arms let go as I continued swivelling to the left to face my attacker and deliver a "heel hand" strike to the face of my assailant. This can be a deadly blow if done just right and I stopped just in time

The funniest thing I've seen all day!

Glad you like it. I'm here all week. Try the chickens feet in Nuoc Mam sauce.

RCrash :

Funny story.  I am pretty slim but get touched all the time. If you drink with men out in the smaller towns, sometimes after a while they will grab your parts and just hold on.  I understand it to be not sexual at all; simply a next step in a developing friendship within a group of men.  Either way, it did not bother me much (after the first time, where my reaction was immediate and perhaps a little rude) and now I am used to the constant touching.  The concept of personal space does not exist in SEAsia, in my view.

Are you hung like a horse?

RCrash :

Funny story.  I am pretty slim but get touched all the time. If you drink with men out in the smaller towns, sometimes after a while they will grab your parts and just hold on.  I understand it to be not sexual at all; simply a next step in a developing friendship within a group of men.  Either way, it did not bother me much (after the first time, where my reaction was immediate and perhaps a little rude) and now I am used to the constant touching.  The concept of personal space does not exist in SEAsia, in my view.

Sounds like the lads at that bar are a friendly crew.

Yogi has a question....When it's time to take a pee,...which one of you gets to shake it.?

But, as Matt may have suggested , and your hung like a horse , you could just tap it with your foot. 😆

eodmatt :
RCrash :

Funny story.  I am pretty slim but .......

Are you hung like a horse?

Haha haaaaaaaaa! No, but I don't think it matters much ;)   What matters I think is friendliness and... bia hoi!

Yogi007 :

Yogi has a question....When it's time to take a pee,...which one of you gets to shake it.?
But, as Matt may have suggested , and your hung like a horse , you could just tap it with your foot. 😆

Love it.  Sometimes I just leave it outside to dry off, while I go back in and grab a beer!    ;)    Haaaaaa kidding!  ;)  :huh:  :gloria

RCrash :
eodmatt :
RCrash :

Funny story.  I am pretty slim but .......

Are you hung like a horse?

Haha haaaaaaaaa! No, but I don't think it matters much ;)   What matters I think is friendliness and... bia hoi!

Mmm Bia Hoi!

Not many places that you can buy good fresh Bia Hoi these days. There once was a time when Bia Hoi and Bia Om went together like peaches and cream.

I love a good beer hug.

I have a German beer mug from Munich....

I can see beer hug as the English version of bia ôm, but how does German beer mug fit into the picture?  I'm curious, because spouse has been collecting beer steins (stoneware and pewter, mostly German) forever.  Should I worry?  :unsure

I cannot say as I am only 9 months in-country.  I have not found a good place in Saigon, but I live mostly in Ha Noi where there are a LOT of choices.   In my 'hood in Van Mieu there are 3 within 200 metres.  Which is good, because you do not want to walk very far to get home after bia hoi.

I think we have successfully turned this post into a bia hoi excursion.  I found this stream also http://www.expat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=215641  Good article!

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