Why the morally suspicious behaviour of some Vietnamese people?

I've had this question for a long time but it's very subtle and not easy to correctly express. I don't want the question to sound like "Why are so many Vietnamese people morally corrupt?" because it's not really want I want to say. So here's a recent example:

I started having private Vietnamese lessons with a local woman in Rach Gia who's a primary school teacher and also English teacher on evenings and week-ends. We have a deal for private lessons, I pay her 1M for 8 hours a month. In Rach Gia, that's quite a good "salary". Today, she asked me if her best female friend, a Westerner, could join me in classes. She did not offer to lower the price or extend the hours, so this meant that I'd end up with this total beginner (knows zero word of Vietnamese) in a one hour class which was supposed to be private.

When I told her "no", she said "Okay, I knew you've paid for these private lessons so I wanted to ask you first".

Well, from her answer, I knew the reason was not because she was clueless about the lack of "etiquette" such behaviour has. She knew it was not something that was "okay" but she asked anyway. I am 100% confident that if it was a Vietnamese citizen paying for their kid's lesson, she would never even have entertaining asking to have that class shared with someone without at least compensating somehow.

I know most Vietnamese people know right from wrong. Why is it that they'll sometimes try to pull off something like this? Is it because as a Westerner I'm supposed to be "so nice" that I wont' dare say no? Because she's a beautiful woman and she thinks I'll only think with my other head? Maybe because I simply look so stupid? Heck, truth hurts but I'm ready to accept it  :lol:

It’s all part of the game Willy.   Opportunity knocks, nothing ventured /nothing gained.

WillyBaldy :

I've had this question for a long time but it's very subtle and not easy to correctly express. I don't want the question to sound like "Why are so many Vietnamese people morally corrupt?" because it's not really want I want to say. So here's a recent example:

I started having private Vietnamese lessons with a local woman in Rach Gia who's a primary school teacher and also English teacher on evenings and week-ends. We have a deal for private lessons, I pay her 1M for 8 hours a month. In Rach Gia, that's quite a good "salary". Today, she asked me if her best female friend, a Westerner, could join me in classes. She did not offer to lower the price or extend the hours, so this meant that I'd end up with this total beginner (knows zero word of Vietnamese) in a one hour class which was supposed to be private.

When I told her "no", she said "Okay, I knew you've paid for these private lessons so I wanted to ask you first".

Well, from her answer, I knew the reason was not because she was clueless about the lack of "etiquette" such behaviour has. She knew it was not something that was "okay" but she asked anyway. I am 100% confident that if it was a Vietnamese citizen paying for their kid's lesson, she would never even have entertaining asking to have that class shared with someone without at least compensating somehow.

I know most Vietnamese people know right from wrong. Why is it that they'll sometimes try to pull off something like this? Is it because as a Westerner I'm supposed to be "so nice" that I wont' dare say no? Because she's a beautiful woman and she thinks I'll only think with my other head? Maybe because I simply look so stupid? Heck, truth hurts but I'm ready to accept it  :lol:

Me being "devil's advocate":

I'm assuming you engaged her as a teacher because of her ability to speak English well enough for you to understand.

Perhaps it also impressed you that she is an educator professionally.

You are paying her 125,000 Vietnam Dong per 1 hour private lesson; currently about $5.38 USD an hour.

In Hanoi, the best rate I was able to find among teachers for foreign businessmen was $20.00 per private hour/$10.00 USD for 1 hour of group instruction.

I know you are in Rach Gia where prices are not as inflated, but you definitely were getting a good deal if the teacher is well qualified.

She likely knows this.

However, it's not as if you got through a lesson or two and then she told you to pay more money for her to complete the series of lessons.

THAT would definitely be considered wrong by honorable Vietnamese citizens, I think.

Instead, I'm guessing she saw an opportunity to teach another student but has limited time available.

By coming to you in the manner she did, it's not as if she tried to extort more money.

I would say she "reopened negotiations".

Of course, you were totally within your rights to say no.

However, you could have replied in a number of other ways too:

"If I can now have 20 lessons, yes"

"If you refund half of my money, yes"

Or whatever.

Also, perhaps remember that Vietnamese people do not have the same sense of "privacy" that we do in the west.

In her mind, she might have thought "the more the merrier"

It sounds as if you didn't get too much into her thinking or justification for asking you the question, and in the end, she affirmed your right to continue your arrangement as agreed.

All of that to say, I don't see anything "morally suspicious" about her inquiry.

But I also fully understand you feeling the need to say no.

Cheers!

OceanBeach92107 :

All of that to say, I don't see anything "morally suspicious" about her inquiry.

But I also fully understand you feeling the need to say no.

Cheers!

Thanks for your input! I guess it's a different, valid way of looking at this. The reason why I did not make any counter offer is that I don't really care about money refund but mostly about time efficiency. So even if she did offer to extend offers I would have refused, as two hours a week is pretty much all I can put into right now, especially if I want to have some extra time to actually practice.

I took her out to a few dinners and I'm taking her to the cinema tonight so I guess I'm paying in different ways than the actual lesson fees :lol:

WillyBaldy :
OceanBeach92107 :

All of that to say, I don't see anything "morally suspicious" about her inquiry.

But I also fully understand you feeling the need to say no.

Cheers!

Thanks for your input! I guess it's a different, valid way of looking at this. The reason why I did not make any counter offer is that I don't really care about money refund but mostly about time efficiency. So even if she did offer to extend offers I would have refused, as two hours a week is pretty much all I can put into right now, especially if I want to have some extra time to actually practice.

I took her out to a few dinners and I'm taking her to the cinema tonight so I guess I'm paying in different ways than the actual lesson fees :lol:

Well...I had also wondered if you were feeling a bit resentful of having your private time with the beautiful woman interrupted.

I mean, if you really value the private time with her, and then she says, let's let somebody else be in this class, Maybe it's disappointing that she doesn't want to continue the classes with only you?

You definitely wouldn't be the first man to have mixed motivations.

OceanBeach92107 :

Well...I had also wondered if you were feeling a bit resentful of having your private time with the beautiful woman interrupted.

I mean, if you really value the private time with her, and then she says, let's let somebody else be in this class, Maybe it's disappointing that she doesn't want to continue the classes with only you?

You definitely wouldn't be the first man to have mixed motivations.

I actually wish it were for such a noble reason  :lol:

Have you met this "western" woman? She may be very attractive but not obsessed with getting married. Possibly, a lost opportunity to meet someone a little less repressed...

Or, perhaps your teacher fears being alone with you and needs to bring a friend along similar to your dates?

johnross23 :

Have you met this "western" woman? She may be very attractive but not obsessed with getting married. Possibly, a lost opportunity to meet someone a little less repressed...

Or, perhaps your teacher fears being alone with you and needs to bring a friend along similar to your dates?

Yeah, met that Western woman, I don't think there's any potential there ;) I really doubt the teacher is "afraid" to be alone with me, the first class went well and it's in her house where her parents wander around.

OceanBeach92107 :

You are paying her 125,000 Vietnam Dong per 1 hour private lesson; currently about $5.38 USD an hour.

In Hanoi, the best rate I was able to find among teachers for foreign businessmen was $20.00 per private hour/$10.00 USD for 1 hour of group instruction.

From my experience at a real language school in Saigon where I paid $7/private lesson hour, $20 is highway robbery.

WillyBaldy :

... Today, she asked me if her best female friend, a Westerner, could join me in classes. She did not offer to lower the price or extend the hours, so this meant that I'd end up with this total beginner (knows zero word of Vietnamese) in a one hour class which was supposed to be private.

No most definitely not an example of moral corruptitude (word? if not, it should be)
Consider:
1. Vietnamese are always negotiating, but I don't think that's what she was doing.
2. She wasn't asking you for money
3. She was helping the lady for free (nice) and thought it might be fun or less boring for you (nice)
4. Vietnamese are social, more people the better.
5. She showed her respect to you by asking if it would be ok. She could have just invited the lady.
6. It didn't cross her mind that you would feel cheated.
7. Ok, she was a little thoughtless or naive because of #6.
8. Anyway, it was fine that you said no. Perhaps she feels complimented that your time with her is valuable to you.

You know the 1990s movie Office Space? Your reaction, analyzing how you will receive x% less instruction per hour, reminded me of the scene where the secretary is cutting pieces of birthday cake and worried Milton mumbles "the ratio of people to cake is too high".

Office Space (1999) - Milton Cake Scene
https://pixen.netlify.com/pix/Milton-Cake-Scene.jpg
I really enjoy your stories, you have an interesting life down there. More please!

Hang on a mo...

A woman who you believe is morally corrupt wants to bring another woman to your house and you're complaining?
I'd agree and hope like hell the new one was morally corrupt as well.

Fred :

Hang on a mo...

A woman who you believe is morally corrupt wants to bring another woman to your house and you're complaining?
I'd agree and hope like hell the new one was morally corrupt as well.

You missed the part where it's actually at *her* house with both her parents downstairs. Even morally corrupt won't lead to much bed action, I sadly believe  :lol: But seriously "morally corrupt" is an overstatement.

On a positive note, she told me "thank you" by text after our movie night, which is a rare occasion I ever got a "thank you" after inviting a Vietnamese woman out.

gobot :

1. Vietnamese are always negotiating, but I don't think that's what she was doing.
2. She wasn't asking you for money
3. She was helping the lady for free (nice) and thought it might be fun or less boring for you (nice)
4. Vietnamese are social, more people the better.
5. She showed her respect to you by asking if it would be ok. She could have just invited the lady.
6. It didn't cross her mind that you would feel cheated.
7. Ok, she was a little thoughtless or naive because of #6.
8. Anyway, it was fine that you said no. Perhaps she feels complimented that your time with her is valuable to you.
You know the 1990s movie Office Space? Your reaction, analyzing how you will receive x% less instruction per hour, reminded me of the scene where the secretary is cutting pieces of birthday cake and worried Milton mumbles "the ratio of people to cake is too high".

Thanks for your input, you make real good points and I'm pretty sure you're right, I'm again making too much of a big deal of it... but the part about calculating % of what I'm going to lose, it's not really about that. It's just that my time is precious and sharing that private class with a complete beginner will cut my learning time by 50%, that's kind of a lot when all you got is 8 hours a month, it makes a big difference.

She is like MOST people - she was seeing how far she could go. I've had this with long-time professional business people - ALL OF THE TIME. They try to get something for nothing - or very little. IMO...  it's the way of the world.

johnross23 :

Have you met this "western" woman? She may be very attractive but not obsessed with getting married. Possibly, a lost opportunity to meet someone a little less repressed...

Or, perhaps your teacher fears being alone with you and needs to bring a friend along similar to your dates?

Perhaps she is looking at setting up a threesome?

WillyBaldy :

On a positive note, she told me "thank you" by text after our movie night, which is a rare occasion I ever got a "thank you" after inviting a Vietnamese woman out.

Since childhood, 99% of Vietnamese have never taught to use the word "thank you" unless in special occasions or to their elders.  They would compliment the food cooked and served by the hostess but they never actually say thanks.  Little things being done for them by their families and friends are taken for granted, without a word of appreciation.

Vendors have asked me repeatedly why I thanked them when they were the ones who benefit from the transactions.  Ten times out of ten, when they hear me saying thanks to my husband for the littlest things he does for me, they would say, "You're so polite / formal."

Among the English speaking professional Vietnamese, the "yes'' is rarely accompanied by "please", and the "no" never precedes "thanks".

This careless attitude is among the hot topics on Vietnamese online newspapers.

Ciambella :

Among the English speaking professional Vietnamese, the "yes'' is rarely accompanied by "please", and the "no" never precedes "thanks".

This careless attitude is among the hot topics on Vietnamese online newspapers.

But from your point of view, do you think Vietnamese people should learn to be more "polite" ? It should start with school at a younger age...

WillyBaldy :
Ciambella :

Among the English speaking professional Vietnamese, the "yes'' is rarely accompanied by "please", and the "no" never precedes "thanks".

This careless attitude is among the hot topics on Vietnamese online newspapers.

But from your point of view, do you think Vietnamese people should learn to be more "polite" ? It should start with school at a younger age...

To paraphrase a popular meme, Let's not 'should' on the Vietnamese... 😉

WillyBaldy :

But from your point of view, do you think Vietnamese people should learn to be more "polite" ? It should start with school at a younger age...

Yes, they should. They should also learn not to litter, not to dig for gold, not to pull up their shirts to the chests to expose their bellies, not to spit, etc.  Vietnamese media have been after them for a long while now.  Will those behaviours ever end?  Not in my life time.

Sorry to say, but the "morally suspicious" behavior seems to be the person paying for English lessons to get a date.

Ciambella :
WillyBaldy :

But from your point of view, do you think Vietnamese people should learn to be more "polite" ? It should start with school at a younger age...

Yes, they should. They should also learn not to litter, not to dig for gold, not to pull up their shirts to the chests to expose their bellies, not to spit, etc.  Vietnamese media have been after them for a long while now.  Will those behaviours ever end?  Not in my life time.

I was watching the movie "chi chi em em" recently in Rach Gia CGV and people were literally speaking on their phone WHILE the movie was playing. I was tempted to say something but then I told myself it was not my country, so suck it up... but it's very annoying because they even have advertisement at the beginning of the movie that tells people NOT to use their phone, what gives?

I remember 10 years ago, when watching movies in Saigon you'd have this advertisement at the beginning of some local 'tribes' from the North of Vietnam acting like 'monkeys' and then they'd tell the audience not to act like then... First of all I thought it was very racist, but second of all it didn't seem to work well...

726dbr :

Sorry to say, but the "morally suspicious" behavior seems to be the person paying for English lessons to get a date.

:lol: Are you referencing me? I'm actually paying for Vietnamese lessons, and certainly don't need lessons here to get dates. I do want to learn Vietnamese though.

Ciambella :
WillyBaldy :

On a positive note, she told me "thank you" by text after our movie night, which is a rare occasion I ever got a "thank you" after inviting a Vietnamese woman out.

Since childhood, 99% of Vietnamese have never taught to use the word "thank you" unless in special occasions or to their elders.  They would compliment the food cooked and served by the hostess but they never actually say thanks.  Little things being done for them by their families and friends are taken for granted, without a word of appreciation.

Vendors have asked me repeatedly why I thanked them when they were the ones who benefit from the transactions.  Ten times out of ten, when they hear me saying thanks to my husband for the littlest things he does for me, they would say, "You're so polite / formal."

Among the English speaking professional Vietnamese, the "yes'' is rarely accompanied by "please", and the "no" never precedes "thanks".

This careless attitude is among the hot topics on Vietnamese online newspapers.

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