Those Vietnamese – how they are: my point of view

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After spending one month in Vietnam, I had quite an opportunity to observe local people, their habits and manners. Here are few things about Vietnamese people I noticed during my traveling.

1. Smoking
Vietnamese people smoke a lot, and I mean A LOT! Especially the male part of the population. They smoke a cigarette in the morning with their coffee, they smoke after lunch, during dinner, after dinner, while talking… Basically everywhere and there is always at least one person smoking next to you. However, I have not seen many women smoking.

2. Drinking coffee
Vietnamese like coffee, they have great coffee and they know how to serve it best. They mostly drink their coffee cold, that is hot coffee with ice cubes mixed in a long glass. There are plenty of cafes that serve only coffee and no food. And you see lots of Vietnamese people (mostly men again) sitting there and drinking their morning coffee with a cigarette. They always serve green tea for free along with the coffee. Double the energy effect, I guess.

3. Drinking beer
Vietnamese like beer. Same as with coffee, you see people sitting in street cafes and restaurants with Saigon or Tiger beer. By the way, those street cafes are very popular in Vietnam, mostly with tiny small red or blue chairs and small tables next to them. I have also seen locals drinking beer at noon.

4. Women with long hair
Most of grown up women have long hair. Of course I have seen women with short hair as well, but 95% of all Vietnamese women wear long hair. The most fashionable and nicely dressed ladies I have seen were in Hue, of course with long hair.

5. Bikes/scooters – they all drive them, age doesn’t matter
Such a large number of scooters and bikes as in Vietnamese cities I have not seen anywhere else. The traffic is insane, red light means nothing (only in Hanoi I have seen people actually stopping at a red light), people decide for themselves whether to stop or keep on driving. They make U-turns in the middle of a busy road, start driving on the opposite side, stop to chat with a friend… No rules, but no accidents as well. At least, I have not seen any. The craziest traffic I saw was in Ho Chi Minh City, where crossing a road would get your adrenaline levels pretty high.

6. Masks
Many Vietnamese people wear mouth/nose masks to protect from traffic pollution. Bigger cities are quite polluted from large number of cars and scooters, and you see locals driving or walking around with face masks. You can find mouth masks with different designs, for example with Burberry or Louis Vuitton pattern. They also sell smaller versions for kids, also with different designs.

7. Exercising in parks and other public places
I have seen it in Ho Chi Minh City, I have seen it in Hanoi, I have seen it in smaller cities. People get together, play music, and do aerobics in the park. I have also seen Vietnamese people doing some exercising in front of their houses. It does not matter whether it is 5 o’clock in the morning or 9 in the evening, you can always see some individuals exercising outside. However, I mostly saw older people exercising in public spaces.

8. Whitening cosmetic products
If at some point you need to buy a cream or deodorant in Vietnam, be aware that 99% of all cosmetic products sold are with whitening effect. People from Vietnam want to get their skin white. It is a bit ironic for us, as we use products for the opposite effect: get our skin to look darker. You see many girls covered up from toes to head, so no sun can touch the skin. They even have special socks in nude skin-alike color to wear with flip-flips and jackets with longer sleeves to cover the palms.

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