One of my students grandmothers told me that I am going to have a wonderful future because I have small, lady-like, soft hands…sometimes I love Asia.
My Canadian is incredibly good at noticing little things about people’s behaviors. Two things he’s pointed out to me are particularly interesting:
1) When shaking hands with someone, Vietnamese people often place one hand on the inside of their elbow as a sign of respect
2) When handing money to each other, the Vietnamese use two hands, not one.
This is true. (via taekim)
This happened to me about 50 times in Ghana but there haven’t been that many times I’ve been “stranded” in Vietnam. One moment does come to mind, however. I was on my way to work and my moto just completely broke down. I was standing there by the side of the road fiddling about, trying to figure out what to do when two men pop out of the Vespa store in front of me. They look at me as if to ask “can I help?” and I nod gratefully, gesturing to my bike and giving a quizzical shrug. They set to work, first trying to restart it with the kick start. When that fails, to my horror, they begin to disassemble my moto where the engine is. They say something to each other in rapid Vietnamese and seem to agree on whats wrong. They gesture for me to wait and a moment later they come back with some odd-looking spray can. My guess, as to what they did and how they tried to point out what was wrong, a lot of mud had gotten through the cracks of my bike and into the engine over the previous few rainy days. They put the engine bits back together, try to start it and lo! success!! They pat the bike happily with a satisfied look on their faces and smile at me. I reach for my wallet but they wave me off and go back to their shop. Strangers can be truly wonderful.
A few weeks ago one of my classes took my Canadian and I out for dinner at a restaurant serving traditional foods from Hue (the ancient Vietnamese capital). They proceeded to order almost everything on the menu and helped us try a bit of it all.
There were spicy soups, noodles, and do-it-yourself spring rolls. It was delicious and entirely overwhelming…