Vietnam Week To Continue Next Week

Travel logistics means I’m not sure when I’ll have access to the internet over the next few days, so Vietnam Week will go into recess.

I still have several topics to post to answer your questions about Vietnam but I need a bit of time on the internet to get everything organised.

Vietnam Week will resume on The Dropout Diaries sometime next week with a few more posts. (And, err, it seems that Vietnam Week will be longer than a week.)

Still to come is a list of the top 10 Vietnamese dishes as voted by my panel of experts. The panel includes an assortment of inlaws and friends, who are at this stage still amending their votes every few days.

Ho Chi Minh City street food

I’ll also try to answer some of the questions I posed at the start of Vietnam Week, including the ice in the urinal question. I tried to get a photo of this but the restaurant where I remember seeing it here in Ho Chi Minh City is gone, replaced by a shiny new outlet of The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf cafe chain.

The mysterious long fingernail phenomenon will also be examined. Again … getting a photo has proved difficult. But I’m on the case, people.

Ho Chi Minh City balloon seller

And I’ve also got a recommendation for a children’s book about Vietnam. Stay tuned!

Our very short visit to Vietnam for Tet really has renewed my love for this wild and crazy country.

Darling Man and I have both been blown away by how much Ho Chi Minh City has changed since we left in May 2010. There’s brand-spanking new highways and bridges, and scaffolding that hid vast sections of the city for years has been taken down to reveal strangely tidy and organised places.

We are both really looking forward to returning to Vietnam later this year for the next stage of our adventure, which will involve lots and lots of fabulous Vietnamese street food.

Miss M, of course, charmed everyone she met during our stay, including her extended Vietnamese family. She has proved to have a better memory for names than me, calling her array of aunts and uncles by name and asking where they were when they weren’t in the same room as her.

This is an astounding feat for several reasons. One, most Vietnamese people have a “house name” which is different to any of their given names. (And people have three or more given names as well as a family name.) Two, rather than just tacking a straightforward “aunt” or “uncle” onto aunts’ and uncles’ names, you need to use a term that acknowledges whether the uncle or aunt is younger or older than your parent. And the third reason it’s astounding is that Miss M is only two, and just learning to speak in phrases.

And as you would expect, Miss M LOVED her Vietnamese grandmother’s cooking, eating a prodigious amount and making me look like an idiot for claiming that the baby doesn’t eat.

Catch you in a few days.

Leave any last-minute questions about Vietnam in the comments below and I’ll try my best to answer them for you, even if it’s only to direct you to a guide book.
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11 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. well. it seems that her heritage is speaking loud and clear – GIVE her vietnamese food!! 🙂

    my question – where would your local informants take someone who loves books and reading? libraries, bookstores, author houses, etc.?
    wandering educators recently posted..Foodie Finds: Cleveland’s West Side Market

    • Barbara says:

      There are a few bookshops in Vietnam. I remember a GREAT second-hand bookshop in Hanoi a few years ago. I was so excited about buying four fantastic books that I (damn-well) left my purchases on the counter. 🙁

      In the backpacker district of Ho Chi Minh City, there are many many ladies who walk around carrying huge stacks of photocopied books. If you are interested in books they will show you an album of the covers they have available. The books are pretty cheap but the problem is that sometimes (usually in the most exciting bit of the book) there are pages missing or blurred or ripped, which is very disappointing.

      This may be a sweeping generalisation, but in my experience, apart from comics, Vietnamese people don’t really read for pleasure. So there is not a whole lot for book lovers in Vietnam. Best to arrive prepared for this.

  2. Aledys Ver says:

    Wow it sounds like you have a very smart kid! And so sweet! Good for Miss M.
    It sounds rather daunting indeed to have to remember house names plus the way to address your aunts and uncles… I’m getting a headache just by thinking about it! 😀
    Aledys Ver recently posted..Groetjes uit Zwolle:Terminator Mike

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