Random observations

There are a number of things that strike me unusual about Vietnam, and I thought I might comment and possibly petition your observations.

You don't need a wallet in Vietnam, you need a filing cabinet.

Vietnamese LOVE their soccer and remind me of 1970s American football. I find it refreshing it hasn't been spoiled by all the PC and agenda-driven nonsense.

Am I crazy or are the horns becoming more civilized?

So many people wearing jackets while riding motorcycles in 90-degree weather.

A drop-dead gorgeous woman dressed to the nines sitting in the pharmacy area of the hospital, not one bit interested in the pharmacy but on prominent display to the whole area.

Most everyone everywhere is polite.

One-hour shampoo, facial, shave, manicure, pedicure, and haircut, done by a beautiful woman for $7.50.

The incredible traffic.

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     ..trust you to notice the details that make it all worthwhile...     :cool:

     Most (Western mindset) expats are too busy inflicting their values
    onto the unsuspecting population.   But yes, capitalism is creeping in...

      Flooding in, more than evident...      :idontagree:
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Jim-Minh :

So many people wearing jackets while riding motorcycles in 90-degree weather.

Every inch of the body needs to be well protected against the sun, thus the jacket.  And the hood or hat to cover the ears, hair, and head (helmet goes over the hood/hat when riding).  And the face mask (not only against pollution, but also against the sun).  And the gloves (all the way to upper arms if wearing short sleeved top).  And the socks with toes.  And a wrap from waist to ankles.  The goal for a great majority of Vietnamese women is to have "da trắng mịn như bông bưởi" (skin as white and silky as the pomelo flowers), and that doesn't stop at facial skin.  Rich or poor, Vietnamese women spend a lot of time, money, and effort to pamper their skin, almost to the point of obsession.

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Ciambella :
Jim-Minh :

So many people wearing jackets while riding motorcycles in 90-degree weather.

Every inch of the body needs to be well protected against the sun, thus the jacket.  And the hood or hat to cover the ears, hair, and head (helmet goes over the hood/hat when riding).  And the face mask (not only against pollution, but also against the sun).  And the gloves (all the way to upper arms if wearing short sleeved top).  And the socks with toes.  And a wrap from waist to ankles.  The goal for a great majority of Vietnamese women is to have "da trắng mịn như bông bưởi" (skin as white and silky as the pomelo flowers), and that doesn't stop at facial skin.  Rich or poor, Vietnamese women spend a lot of time, money, and effort to pamper their skin, almost to the point of obsession.

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         ..and completely opposite for the mere males..?

   ..who I notice wearing T-shirt, shorts, bare feet & no helmet whilst riding
   (any) motorbike with blappy exhaust (at breakneck speed)...

     But yes, I see the shelves are overloaded with whitening creams in shops,
     while western girls wear micro shorts, see-thru tops & sunnies, almost a
     de rigueur 'uniform'?    ..almost everywhere you go...

               Urk!   ..Ok, I'm biased...   

                 ..while happily Wintering in Ha Noi...    :happy:
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Ciambella :
Jim-Minh :

So many people wearing jackets while riding motorcycles in 90-degree weather.

Rich or poor, Vietnamese women spend a lot of time, money, and effort to pamper their skin, almost to the point of obsession.

Okay, that explains the women. And the jackets will provide protection against road rash in case of an accident.

Jim-Minh :
Ciambella :
Jim-Minh :

So many people wearing jackets while riding motorcycles in 90-degree weather.

Rich or poor, Vietnamese women spend a lot of time, money, and effort to pamper their skin, almost to the point of obsession.

Okay, that explains the women. And the jackets will provide protection against road rash in case of an accident.

That’s the way I see it.

Wadey

More observations....

Is all meat in Vietnam tough?

10,000 tons of trash and not a trashcan to be found.

The uses and varieties and beauty of Vietnamese architectural glass is amazing.

The term "boneless meat" in Vietnam is an oxymoron - even my hospital fish had bones.

Sidewalks are streets too.

Food prep in Vietnam is started by the cook and finished by the customer. The cook hacks the meat and veggies into large chunks. The customer cuts the chunks into edible sizes and removes the bones and fragments.

Except for drinks and candy almost no foods are sweet, even most deserts.

Everything is wrapped and sold and served in layers of plastic which becomes trash almost immediately.

Vietnamese fruit is incredible in quality and variety.

My adopted daughter came from Vietnam and drove using Saigon rules until she encountered someone who didn't know Saigon rules.

Again, the traffic....

Jim-Minh :

More observations....

Is all meat in Vietnam tough?

10,000 tons of trash and not a trashcan to be found.
Why do you need a trash can when you can burn the trash?

The uses and varieties and beauty of Vietnamese architectural glass is amazing.

The term "boneless meat" in Vietnam is an oxymoron - even my hospital fish had bones.
I miss butchers in Vietnam.

Sidewalks are streets too.

Food prep in Vietnam is started by the cook and finished by the customer. The cook hacks the meat and veggies into large chunks. The customer cuts the chunks into edible sizes and removes the bones and fragments.

Except for drinks and candy almost no foods are sweet, even most deserts.
You're kidding, right?
Yesterday my wife brought rice soup from the street food stall.  We had to throw it away.  She was inedible over-sugared.


Everything is wrapped and sold and served in layers of plastic which becomes trash almost immediately.

Vietnamese fruit is incredible in quality and variety.
In variety but not really in quality.

My adopted daughter came from Vietnam and drove using Saigon rules until she encountered someone who didn't know Saigon rules.

Again, the traffic....
Again agreed.

Is all meat in Vietnam tough?

The term "boneless meat" in Vietnam is an oxymoron - even my hospital fish had bones.

Try Bò lúc lắc or Bò Né.  Bò bít tết is usually a disappointment.

10,000 tons of trash and not a trashcan to be found.

VIetnam employs streetsweepers. You must have seen them. This is why people leave garbage in the gutters. Littering creates jobs.

The uses and varieties and beauty of Vietnamese architectural glass is amazing.

This is an intriguing statement. Please explain.

Vietnamese fruit is incredible in quality and variety.

Well, it's tropical fruit. All of the countries throughout the regions of Southeast Asia and South Asia have this. Yes, it's great if you shop carefully, and best of all, it's available all year round. I have mangos, bananas, longan and papaya in my fridge now, plus imported kiwi, both green and golden.

My adopted daughter came from Vietnam and drove using Saigon rules until she encountered someone who didn't know Saigon rules.

Again, the traffic....

Hope she's OK. Motorbike accidents are very common and a major cause of death. Rituals to improve one's luck should be performed. It will only get worse as will the air quality. Plan to move soon.

Anyway, focus on the positives and keep an eye on your caffeine intake. Otherwise, you may become a raving lunatic. Believe me, I've been there before...  :D

The uses and varieties and beauty of Vietnamese architectural glass is amazing.
This is an intriguing statement. Please explain.

Using glass for walls, dividers, doors and other applications for residential construction is something I have never seen before. At least I haven't seen it to the degree I have seen in Vietnam. I think it is beautiful, durable, and highly functional. It can also be etched with beautiful artwork and it is highly decorative. It can be the ultimate "personal touch".

Jim-Minh :

So many people wearing jackets while riding motorcycles in 90-degree weather.

A drop-dead gorgeous woman dressed to the nines sitting in the pharmacy area of the hospital, not one bit interested in the pharmacy but on prominent display to the whole area.

Most everyone everywhere is polite.

One-hour shampoo, facial, shave, manicure, pedicure, and haircut, done by a beautiful woman for $7.50.

The incredible traffic.

1. motobikes and clothing - yes, the women are obsessed with their skin as ciambella stated.  I am fine with it as my wife as the most lovely skin in the world.

2. Women and dressing - based on what I have experienced, not just VN, but many countries outside the western world, women take a lot of pride in looking good when they are in public, no matter if it is the pharmacy or going to the grocery.  I remember when my wife attended her first university class here in the USA and she was shocked to see women wearing sweat pants, boxers etc. 

3. Everyone is polite?  You must not understand Vietnamese or you don't get out much.  No, they are not.  But what they are, brutally honest in telling you what they think.

4. Haircut etc.  that is not a random observation, it is normal everyday life in VN.

5. Traffic?  I don't see it, it is much better than the USA.  I love the fact I can take my motobike just about anywhere 2 wheels will take me, on or off road.

I keep forgetting to mention the 50 cent 10 block xe om. What a deal.

*** I remember when my wife attended her first university class here in the USA and she was shocked to see women wearing sweat pants, boxers etc. ***

Most American women don't have much to show off.

*** Everyone is polite?  You must not understand Vietnamese or you don't get out much.  No, they are not.  But what they are, brutally honest in telling you what they think.***

A smile will melt that gruff facade in a second.

I'm surprised no one has commented about the smoking yet.

LOL, smoking, drinking, gambling, and carousing...
Nothing new there.
My Viet friends in the U.S. were mostly ex-military.

On the other hand, Grab Food has to be the world's greatest deal.

Riding a moto.

I've been riding motorcycles for 40 years and I can't believe I've been doing it all wrong all this time.  I now know that the standard procedure for a right turn is to not stop, not even slow down and darn well better not even sneak a look at the oncoming traffic but to just barrel into the lane.  Just hug the shoulder and you will be (hopefully) fine. 

For a left turn it's just as easy - simply turn short and start down the oncoming lane, weaving through the oncoming traffic until it is reasonably safe to merge into the correct lane.  Why didn't I ever think of this before?

That said, when I first got here I thought it was a total disaster.  Now I view it as "organized chaos".  I've yet to see even the slightest of mishaps .  And while there is a lot of honking it now somehow seems appropriate.  Most to let someone know you are coming behind or a warning.  Yes, some are obsessed with the horn but it's actually funny now instead of irritating. 

I also haven't seen even the slightest road rage even when a truck or car completely cuts off the entire lane of motos when turning left or a u-turn.  They just slow, stop and let it pass.

So well said Stein, great description. Agree with everything you said. I saw road rage once in all the time I've been here. A guy on a bicycle ran into a guy on a motorcycle. There was full eye contact, it was blatant, avoidable, and stupid. The guy on the motorcycle got off and chased the bicycle the wrong way up a one-way street until they were out of sight.
Unrelated to road rage but hilarious as well was another incident. I went to Ha Tien in '98 with a group of Viet Kieu. One guy who had almost no bike experience tried to drive a little automatic scooter. He gave it a little gas and the acceleration pulled him back which cranked in full throttle. He and his girlfriend shot across the street and right through the door of a restaurant across the street. Fortunately, there was no damage done and no one was hurt except for a bruised ego.
I have a 922 cc Honda Kamikaze at home and have driven many places in Vietnam. But I'm afraid to drive in Saigon. I'll gen up the courage to do that someday. But of one thing I am certain. If you increased the average speed by only two miles per hour there would be mass carnage. Everyone out there is operating at the very edge of their reaction times and abilities.
To keep this on topic, I did see some amazing things in Ha Tien. There were tons and tons of shrimp drying along the roadside. The shoulders of the road were orange with shrimp. That's where I learned what a marvelous soup base dried shrimp makes. I use a coffee grinder at home to powder the shrimp. Added to water, the sand and shells settle out and you pour the delicious shrimp broth off the top.
I also picked a bunch of black pepper and walked on it later, not unlike pressing grapes, to separate the peppercorns from the stems.
And another surprise. The guy that was cultivating the pepper was splitting tropical hardwood logs that appeared to be mahogany to stake up his pepper plants. The wood was probably worth more than his pepper in the proper market.

SteinNebraska :

Riding a moto.

I've been riding motorcycles for 40 years and I can't believe I've been doing it all wrong all this time.  I now know that the standard procedure for a right turn is to not stop, not even slow down and darn well better not even sneak a look at the oncoming traffic but to just barrel into the lane.  Just hug the shoulder and you will be (hopefully) fine. 

For a left turn it's just as easy - simply turn short and start down the oncoming lane, weaving through the oncoming traffic until it is reasonably safe to merge into the correct lane.  Why didn't I ever think of this before?

That said, when I first got here I thought it was a total disaster.  Now I view it as "organized chaos".  I've yet to see even the slightest of mishaps .  And while there is a lot of honking it now somehow seems appropriate.  Most to let someone know you are coming behind or a warning.  Yes, some are obsessed with the horn but it's actually funny now instead of irritating. 

I also haven't seen even the slightest road rage even when a truck or car completely cuts off the entire lane of motos when turning left or a u-turn.  They just slow, stop and let it pass.

Every day I see motorbikes touching each other.
And I've also seen a lot of accidents.

But by motorbike everything is much easier than by car.

The most important thing is that you don't insist on your rights.
If I would insist on my right I would have 20 accidents through no fault of my own every day.
You simply don't have to expect anything logical from the other road users and be prepared for everything imaginable.

And bring a lot of patience with you. At rush hours, if you want to leave a driveway or you want to take bridge driveway, you think you will never succeed for thread into traffic. You just have to drive forward cm by cm. From the last ones that squeeze through before you, you will get angry looks, but no one would stop voluntarily and give you right of way.

But many expat bikers love Vietnam for the fact that they have almost fool's freedom in traffic.  Don't obey laws (the others don't), open exhaust (noise doesn't interest anyone anyway) and at full throttle over the dense roads.
Every time it sounds again like on the race track it is clear that again an expat with a pimped motorbike lives out his lower drives.

Brainless driving is not just a Vietnamese phenomenon.  :lol:

Deleted.

I've been doing most of my learning on the  back of my Fiance's moto and a couple of grab bikes a day to and from one of the factories.  My new visa will be here after Tet, then I can get an A2 license.  Going to kill me to only have 200cc (getting a KTM Duke 200) but I can't see spending much more when I'm getting a car in a few months.  I have a Triumph Tiger 800 at home so the supermoto 200 is as close as I can get within reason.  I can get a KTM 390 but they want 165,000,000 for a sub-400cc  bike.  That's stupid money right there.  Almost as stupid of money to make me not buy a car.  BMW money at home to buy a Toyota Corolla here.

SteinNebraska :

I've been doing most of my learning on the  back of my Fiance's moto and a couple of grab bikes a day to and from one of the factories.  My new visa will be here after Tet, then I can get an A2 license.  Going to kill me to only have 200cc (getting a KTM Duke 200) but I can't see spending much more when I'm getting a car in a few months.  I have a Triumph Tiger 800 at home so the supermoto 200 is as close as I can get within reason.  I can get a KTM 390 but they want 165,000,000 for a sub-400cc  bike.  That's stupid money right there.  Almost as stupid of money to make me not buy a car.  BMW money at home to buy a Toyota Corolla here.

Have you visited the Ducati dealership in Saigon?  I would love to know what bikes they sell and the costs.  I have sent emails from the USA, but they never respond, surprise, surprise.

Jim-Minh :

More observations....

Is all meat in Vietnam tough?Skip the Wagyu.[/b]

10,000 tons of trash and not a trashcan to be found.
There could be something of value in that pile

The uses and varieties and beauty of Vietnamese architectural glass is amazing.

The term "boneless meat" in Vietnam is an oxymoron - even my hospital fish had bones.
VN believe bones have health benefits.  I eat the duck, wifey eats the bones :-)

Sidewalks are streets too.

Food prep in Vietnam is started by the cook and finished by the customer. The cook hacks the meat and veggies into large chunks. The customer cuts the chunks into edible sizes and removes the bones and fragments.

Except for drinks and candy almost no foods are sweet, even most deserts.
That is vastly different in the Mekong.  Every requires 'them duong', and it hurts my teeth.

Everything is wrapped and sold and served in layers of plastic which becomes trash almost immediately.

Vietnamese fruit is incredible in quality and variety.

My adopted daughter came from Vietnam and drove using Saigon rules until she encountered someone who didn't know Saigon rules.

Again, the traffic....

SteinNebraska :

Riding a moto.

I've been riding motorcycles for 40 years and I can't believe I've been doing it all wrong all this time.  I now know that the standard procedure for a right turn is to not stop, not even slow down and darn well better not even sneak a look at the oncoming traffic but to just barrel into the lane.  Just hug the shoulder and you will be (hopefully) fine. 

For a left turn it's just as easy - simply turn short and start down the oncoming lane, weaving through the oncoming traffic until it is reasonably safe to merge into the correct lane.  Why didn't I ever think of this before?

That said, when I first got here I thought it was a total disaster.  Now I view it as "organized chaos".  I've yet to see even the slightest of mishaps .  And while there is a lot of honking it now somehow seems appropriate.  Most to let someone know you are coming behind or a warning.  Yes, some are obsessed with the horn but it's actually funny now instead of irritating. 

I also haven't seen even the slightest road rage even when a truck or car completely cuts off the entire lane of motos when turning left or a u-turn.  They just slow, stop and let it pass.

When the truck driver who was high on meth and heroin and killed 15+ ppl, injured 30 others, he was jailed instantly for his own protection.  The public at large is starting to get sick of such mayhem.

They are about 2x the US price.  I bought a BMW GS1200 for about $50k.

"
I also haven't seen even the slightest road rage even when a truck or car completely cuts off the entire lane of motos when turning left or a u-turn.  They just slow, stop and let it pass."

Trust me it does exist and many times it's fatal. Many locals carry knives and they will use it. Saw a guy stab 3 people dead, all because their bike touched in traffic.

vndreamer :

Have you visited the Ducati dealership in Saigon?  I would love to know what bikes they sell and the costs.  I have sent emails from the USA, but they never respond, surprise, surprise.

I haven't visited them.  I'm scared to.  They only show two available right now on their website.  A Super Sport and Super Sport S for 514,000,000 and 571,000,000.  Prices for anything over 150cc are so out of hand it's ridiculous.

GuidoVN :

When the truck driver who was high on meth and heroin and killed 15+ ppl, injured 30 others, he was jailed instantly for his own protection.  The public at large is starting to get sick of such mayhem.

I saw that video.  Terrible.

One of the strangest observations - I completely don't understand.
Why do Viets leave the manufacturers advertising stickers on the products they buy ???
I knew a Viet family in the U.S. that watched TV for years through the label still glued to the screen.

Jim-Minh :

One of the strangest observations - I completely don't understand.
Why do Viets leave the manufacturers advertising stickers on the products they buy ???
I knew a Viet family in the U.S. that watched TV for years through the label still glued to the screen.

I find Vietnamese have a tendency to follow others. Someone starts doing something and many follow. An example of this is the net they put over a kids head on a motorbike,and the wrap around skirt you see women using whilst wearing jeans. Both seem to be done because that is what others are doing.

There's a reason for the wrap around skirt while riding: modesty.  Men don't have that problem so it would be indelicate for me to explain.

The practice was suggested and advised in women magazines in open terms.

Ciambella :

There's a reason for the wrap around skirt while riding: modesty.  Men don't have that problem so it would be indelicate for me to explain.

The practice was suggested and advised in women magazines in open terms.

I get that, Im talking about women wearing pants and jeans using it. Its basically a trend.

Jim-Minh :

One of the strangest observations - I completely don't understand.
Why do Viets leave the manufacturers advertising stickers on the products they buy ???
I knew a Viet family in the U.S. that watched TV for years through the label still glued to the screen.

The house we are renting has them plastered on the refrigerator, TV and washing machine.  I started to take them off and my fiance went ballistic.

It is the women who seem paranoid of the sun. Their mamas have been telling them since they were born "to never let the sun touch your skin or you will turn black and never get a husband." As a result At least in the part of VN where I hang out flu and colds are regarded as  women's maladies because sunshine is the preventative and antidote to respiratory viruses and men, especially those who work out of doors don't get sick much at all while some women have flu or colds all the time.  I have talked a number of married female friends into making a point of going out with bare arms for part of every day and they stopped getting sick. In the US and EU those viruses are winter sickness because everyone covers up from the cold and the sun is at a low angle in those higher latitudes. In the summer all wear short sleeves and short pants or skirts. Vitamin D3 supplement will sub for the sunshine where you can get it.

It keeps the road spray off their clothes. Considering how most women dress at all times, modesty is not a consideration. They are covered from head to toe while riding, or even walking.

Anything over, I think, 110 cc is taxed at progressive rates. The government uses the tax code to limit the larger displacement bikes and especially automobiles. There is not sufficient roadway for the cars. It is a measure of the prosperity that is blossoming in VN that there are many more cars on the streets and highways now than just a couple of years ago. In 2011 there were no traffic jams. thousands upon thousands of bikes on the streets looked awfully crowded but they never stop. Add a few hundred cars to the mix and that situation deteriorates fast.

Unless you are planning on road trips anything over 125 cc in VN is just wasting gasoline and showing off. This from someone who drove nothing but large motorcycles for 30 years in the USA.

Vietnamese, Southerners anyway, are acclimated to a much warmer range of temperatures than almost all Westerners. They are comfortable completely covered in 90 degrees F. and freezing at 70 degrees F.

That trash.

Western packaging flooded into Việt Nam when there was no capacity to deal with it.  Bit by bit the system is catching up. Go to Dà lạt and see what people are capable of. It is kept absolutely free of trash. In the rest of the country there are no landfills, no incinerators and the people know enough not to burn the plastic- which is most of the packaging- in their yards due to the toxic fumes. Every year, though there are more and more garbage trucks on the city streets. Garbage collection has been done privately by folks who buy the garbage and sort it and sell the usable portions but on the road between towns the only thing to be done with the wrapping is toss it. It will be dealt with by and by but it mounts very fast and the capacity to deal with it develops less rapidly.

I thought I could never drive in that traffic, then in Đồng Nai my host asked me to pick up his motorbike at the fixit-it shop and drive it back to him. I did that. It was amazingly easier than i had a thought it would be. Everyone signals every move, every change, that's what all the tooting is about. There is much much less inattention displayed by VN scoot drivers than drivers in the USA.

A one-item observation: OSHA would have a field day in Vietnam.

cafengocmy :

I thought I could never drive in that traffic, then in Đồng Nai my host asked me to pick up his motorbike at the fixit-it shop and drive it back to him. I did that. It was amazingly easier than i had a thought it would be. Everyone signals every move, every change, that's what all the tooting is about. There is much much less inattention displayed by VN scoot drivers than drivers in the USA.

It seems good for the forum that you are an active poster here.

I'm personally having trouble connecting your comments in this and other threads to earlier posts in the thread(s).

If you aren't aware, the "quote" function is located by clicking on the three dots (•••) next to the word "Reply".

Reading your comments in context with the quoted post to which you are replying would be a big help, at least to me.

Cheers!

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