Close

How do you adjust to the vietnamese people when they keep on staring?

Hi I'm a viet also but I live in the U.S. I always go and visit my family and saigon but when I go out with them I come upon staring vietnamese people. I have all the respect and love for vietnam and culture and its people but it makes me feel scared because I dont know whether they are friendly or going to cause trouble. I was just wondering how do you adjust to the staring? thanks

Also I find it hard to have fun and be myself when everyone is looking.

It's OK if people treat you different ,it's because you are different . J ust learn to be OK with with that and relax,cause it's OK.

Stare back and smile.  Then move on.  It's common for people in Vietnam to stare so it's usually nothing to worry about.

If it's late in a dark alley in the wrong part of town, okay, worry a little.  But usually if you stare back a bit and smile it shows you've noticed and could potentially recognize the person and they will probably look for a different target.

I have 4 ways of dealing with that.

1.)  Ignore it.  They're just curious.  This is probably the best advice.

2.)  Give them a loud "XIN CHAO!"

3.)  Pull out the video camera and document the occasion.

4.)  Start singing "Yesterday Once More".  90 percent of the populace loves the song, so I figure "What the hell, might as well give them a show!"

lmao WA.

Personally I ignore it and rarely notice it now. On the odd occasion when I do, I just smile and nod to them :-) It works well enough.

But do admit it was a little off putting when i first arrived, but you soon get used to it. The funniest thing for me is strangers patting my belly (its a little larger than I'd like) as "you have baby?" (I'm male!) I just lol and say yes elephant :-) And people like my beard too... Makes them smile so I'm happy. People here are a lot more tactile than in the west and that takes some getting used to as well :-)

When I first got here I thought they all hated me the way they looked at me. After a while I realized its only curiosity. When I smile they beam back at me with a smile. I have found that many times they are wanting to talk to me and are either shy or not confident enough in Engish. But, there is no need to worry too much about it. Its all part of being different in a land where they have not known much else other than other Vietnamese.
Cheers

Fordy7 :

I have found that many times they are wanting to talk to me and are either shy or not confident enough in Engish.

Yep go sit in some of the parks and I often find people wnat to talk (particularly students) so they can practice there english.

I enjoy it and am more than happy to do so, i even try to get them to teach me a little VN, but lack the ability to pick it up well lol

Fordy and Laidback are right on with their responses. Curosity more than anything else I think. That being said, you don't by any chance have orange dyed hair and have rings and studs hanging off your ears and nose. That sometimes get people staring in any country.

lol @ no. 4, WideAawake :D personally ive never noticed people staring at me much.. although ive heard lot of people (foreigners) talking about it. i think ignoring it or just smiling back is the only way :)

KennyNguyen :

Hi I'm a viet also but I live in the U.S. I always go and visit my family and saigon but when I go out with them I come upon staring vietnamese people. I have all the respect and love for vietnam and culture and its people but it makes me feel scared because I dont know whether they are friendly or going to cause trouble. I was just wondering how do you adjust to the staring? thanks

Also I find it hard to have fun and be myself when everyone is looking.

Hi Kenny,

You are Vietnamese right? Or I can say that you're Viet kieu.
First I wanna say you're are very nice when saying good things about Vietnamse also culture,,. I think what made you uncomfortable as you said maybe some of reasons: :)

- Maybe you're very handsome so that they wanna look at you :)
- Vietnamese or others are very curious
- Or your style is different, or sth...
...

Anyway, you just do what you like that make you happy and comfortable or ignore this as many people said..
Most of vietnamese are very friendly and helpful, :):) so you try to find them :)

good luck !!

I just smile and wave. I just laugh or ignore the rude ones.  I am 6' 1" and bald, so I get a lot of looks.

I've lived in Vietnam for 5 years and never noticed it before I read this thread but now everywhere I go they're staring at me! IT's FREAKING ME OUT!!

cheeha :

I've lived in Vietnam for 5 years and never noticed it before I read this thread but now everywhere I go they're staring at me! IT's FREAKING ME OUT!!

lol dont worry about it cheeha, soon you will stop noticing it again :-)

Hi every body,

As a Vietnamese, I find this thread very interesting. It not only talks about our look at you as foreigners but also discovers that we seem to be more curious than you may think about us.

However, I absolutely agree with the people who response to this topic. I may say that we, Vietnameses, just want to look at other persons who are different in apperance, especially other culture in order to find out what are the differences. I think it may be true for looking at other Vietnamese people, not only the foreigners.

Moreover, we are always friendly and ready to help others, particularly the foreigners in order for making friends, talking about each country culture, or maybe even practicing English (or other languages).

For me, I am very ready to talk to or to help you all understand more about Vietnamese language, culture or tradition. I specially like drinking Hanoi beer; if you find interesting, call me :)

I am married to a wonderful and beautiful Vietnamese woman.  She also laughs how some of the Vietnamese stare.  My Mother in law, who now lives in the States, will act like she is poking and pulling their eyes out with her finger if they are rude about it. Where we live in Vietnam it is very busy, and I like to sit out front and watch everything.  Like I said earlier, I just smile and wave when being stared at. 99.9% of the time they smile and wave back. Sometimes they will stop and talk.  Then when they see me next time, they are very happy to smile and wave at me before I do.

Congratulations! krazeekalvin :)

KennyNguyen :

Hi I'm a viet also but I live in the U.S. I always go and visit my family and saigon but when I go out with them I come upon staring vietnamese people. I have all the respect and love for vietnam and culture and its people but it makes me feel scared because I dont know whether they are friendly or going to cause trouble. I was just wondering how do you adjust to the staring? thanks

Also I find it hard to have fun and be myself when everyone is looking.

I know exactly how you feel, especially if youre abit out of center of town then everybody gives you a stare with no emotions and it can really feel like people dislike you.

Smiles doesnt seem to be something you start out with here, people are much more stonefaced whereever you look, coming from thailand it felt really unfriendly here.

But i bet you, put up a smile and you will get it returned, nomatter if its a girl on a street looking at you ( ok maybe not if shes hi-so type ) or a security guard or a police officer, it almost never fails.

But you have to smile first, rarely you just get a warming smile, it still annoys me sometimes because it feels abit rude to do the staring and having someone eyeballing you with no expressions at all would be "fronting another person" back home, but just smile.

Try if youre in a taxi looking out and just give a big smile back then you most likely will see the result.

Do like the Thai way better though, and if youre in a less good mood here it can affect you abit with the staring and all the sour looking faces, but if you put up the initiative then you get it back.

I wouldnt be worried so much about bad intentions from people, never feels unsafe here compared to ex. any other european cities and never had any vietnamese behaving violent or similar against me, only experiences with that has been drunk expats actually.

So - SMILE - vietnamese in saigon and hanoi dont seem to give out smiles for free but i doubt there is any real bad intentions behind it.

cheeha :

I've lived in Vietnam for 5 years and never noticed it before I read this thread but now everywhere I go they're staring at me! IT's FREAKING ME OUT!!

Hahahahahaha, u'r so funny =))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

STARING:  Welcome to Vietnam dude !  The land of staring people !  Hahaha!

Seriously dude, just learn to ignore it.  I been through it all before too, I even been rude (well, I was P'd off) and said "what the F^&* you staring at"  which Viets don't take kindly to and argue back saying "we were born with eyes to stare" ?????  huh??????

People here are friendly.  Just smile and move on.

I know the feeling. :lol: I just give them a ;) and run away or just ignore it.  :P

STARING ????   Is that all you're worried about ?

I've been living here in Sai Gon for 10 months now and don't even notice if some do stare at me any more. ;)

Sometimes I've had a little kid come up to me in one of the shopping centers - joint at my oversized western stomach, and say " BHUDDA" :lol::lol:

Just smile and move on - the VN people I've met so far have been wonderful, friendly and very helpful.

When I get lost in the city - an almost daily thing whenever I venture too far from home, just sit on the bike trying to figure out where you are on your map and sooner or later, someone will try and help you out. Just point to th nearest street sign then to your map and 99% of the time they will point out exactly where you are - lauguage is easy to over come - they talk to you in VN - you talk back in whatever your native languge happens to be.

I love it here in VN - especially in Sai Gon itself !
Enjoy yourself and be thankful you have the good fortune of being in a country of wounderful, friendly people ! :D

I think it show's the culture of the Vietnamese people. I am a brown skin foreigner, living in Ho Chi Minh for 3 years now. Yes, staring is a big problem in Vietnam. Mostly, when you walk by alleys and open coffee shops, some of them stare at you without any smile. Even if you smile and say "xin chao", they look at your with hate! This is not a welcoming sign for any country to accept foreigners in their land. There should be a National drive to educate these Vietnamese people to be friendly with all types of foreigners and make them feel comfortable to adjust with the Vietnamese lifestyle. I don't think this situation will improve in Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh any time soon :-(

msujoy007 :

some of them stare at you without any smile. Even if you smile and say "xin chao", they look at your with hate! This is not a welcoming sign for any country to accept foreigners in their land. ..I don't think this situation will improve in Vietnam, especially Ho Chi Minh any time soon :-(

My spouse has never received any stare that wasn't followed by a smile, and we live in a VERY local area in Saigon.

Being looked at with hate?  That's the first I've ever heard of.  He's stared at by a few, but he's accepted by the thousands of people we came across (I'm not exaggerating about the number.)   

At the bank, ATM machines, and in the stores, people stepped back to let him advance first.  When he couldn't get the attention of a store clerk, other shoppers called out on his behalf, and twice, a woman shopper scolded the clerk for not being attentive to "ông Tây khách hàng".

They thanked him when he opened the door for them (and he always opens the door for other people, that's the way he was raised.) 

In front of Tous Les Jours one day, seeing him with his handful of coffee and bags of pastry, a young man stepped off the motorbike to open an umbrella for him (it was raining and the umbrella was sticking out of the pocket of his shorts), then bowed and walked away without saying one word.

He's an honorary "uncle" to the adults and "grandpa" to the children in this ward and several neighbouring ones.  People say hi or simply nod when he walks by.

Saigon doesn't know about acceptance and hate foreigners?  It's not even in the realms of possibility.

I have lived in Vietnam for almost 8 years now.  Yes, many people stare at me just like many Americans stare at others that are a bit different from them.  I can't say I've ever felt the emotions of hate from anyone here towards me.  In fact, I have many people ask to take a photo of them with me.  I enjoy the attention.

I have never felt hate from anyone here - well, actually 2 occasions but they were minor: Once in a lift with my wife's nephew who was six at the time. A man in the lift said something very rude about foreigners and my little nephew squared up to him and said "don't you say bad things about my uncle".

The other incident was a bit worse and I have mentioned it on here before. It involved a man on a motorcycle who used to follow me around when I was doing my morning exercise walks. He would just sit on his motorbike and stare at me. When I started walking he would try to get as close to me as possible with his motorbike and on one occasion caused me to stumble and fall.

Apart from that, the staring is just rudeness, generally from the uneducated and occasionally from drunks.

eodmatt :

Apart from that, the staring is just rudeness, generally from the uneducated and occasionally from drunks.

Agree.

When I worked in China at rural province (Shanxi) for some months in 2005, the men there (only the men not the women) pointed their finger at us and laughed at us. And the men there were really uneducated.

Here in Vietnam, it is mainly the men who are bored sitting on their bikes or hang out in a coffee, which follow with their eyes each foreigner (and generally all women) with a silly smile. All of them looks also not that educated. But this counts for all countries where the men behave like “machos”.

After my wife visited Thailand the first time, even she said that many Vietnamese in HCMC (especially from the D1) are much ruder, in contrast to the Thai people.

New topic