The Phuc Dat Culture Shock Cure

The cure for culture shock appears to be a witch’s brew involving laughter, the Phuc Dat Hotel in Vung Tau and a two-headed raincoat.

Imagine two super-sexy witchy-ladies dancing around a cauldron. One has short blonde hair, the other wild brown curls. They each have a beer in one hand and a Vietnamese iced coffee in the other. They are cackling as they dance around with a grinning two-year-old singing “shake-a-bum-bum, shake-a-bum-bum”.

Into the cauldron they throw …

Longans, bought from a wandering vendor on the beach at Vung Tau.

Weighing longans on the beach at Vung Tau

Some of Vietnam’s tastiest street food.

Banh khot, a Vung Tau specialty

A wasabi oyster duel in a seafood shack.

Blinking through the wasabi oyster tears

Funny Vietnamese advertising signs.

Saigon Beer (with ice).

And three girls driving through the rain in a two-headed raincoat.

This is not three girls in a two-headed raincoat. Obviously. But it is a two-headed raincoat, which one little person is taking far too seriously.

(Actually, the witchy-ladies must have three arms each if they can hold a beer and an iced coffee and throw things into a cauldron. Perhaps they have a man-slave. Darling Man wouldn’t be happy if I had a man-slave, so the witchy-lady with the curls will have to have the man-slave. A devastatingly handsome and well-spoken man-slave, of course.)

Ah, if only I could cook up some of this witch’s brew so I could take a nip of it when Vietnam gets me down.

The real cure for my culture shock, I think, was all the laughter involved in a four-day frenzy with my online stalker-y friend, the Bloggie award-winning Sally from Unbrave Girl, who is now an in-real-life (IRL) friend.

Because when you’re in a place as crazy as Vietnam with someone whose sense of humour is as warped as your own, nearly everything is funny. And the things that actually are funny to lesser beings made us crazy girls laugh so much that we snorted and slapped our knees and held our bellies in a supremely unladylike manner.

I lured Sally to Vietnam by telling her it had a giant Jesus statue, coffee with condensed milk, ladies who wear socks under their stilettos and evening-length gloves during the day, 33-flavour ice cream tasting platters, safety pins used as cutlery and hotels with names like Dic Star and Phuc Dat. You know, all the things Vietnam is famous for.

Naturally, she could not stay away.

She bravely made arrangements to stay with someone she met online. Then she bravely did and ate everything I told her to. Including riding on the back of a motorbike, eating snails and taking advantage of every single photo opportunity. Her camera is full of photos of cans of Saxi, hotels with rude names and glasses of iced coffee. My camera, unfortunately, spent a lot of time in my pocket as I ordered Sally about.

We took the ferry from Ho Chi Minh City to Vung Tau, hired two motorbikes and drove around looking at all the Vung Tau craziness, including the giant Jesus statue. We drank lots of iced coffee, a few beers and ate lots and lots of fabulous food.

Saigon street food, which makes hands move too fast for a cheap camera to capture

We stayed at the Phuc Dat Hotel, which made Sally’s visit just that little bit more special. And in all the excitement, I didn’t even get around to taking a photo of the hotel!

We drove three-on-a-bike, with Miss M in her baby seat on the front and Sally on the back, after Darling Man’s motorbike had a blow-out and he took a detour to get a new tyre. Then we got caught in the rain, so we shared the two-headed raincoat.

In short, we had an absolute blast!

Iced coffee on the Vung Tau ferry

And just for the record Phuc and Dat are both boy’s names. And Phuc is pronounced “foop”, not how you’ve probably been reading it in your head.

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Tune in tomorrow for more pictures of our wasabi oyster duel!

8 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. Sally says:

    Ahhh, memories! That was such an awesome trip. And not only was it a perfect cure for your culture shock, it was also a perfect cure for my omigod-am-I-really-moving-home freak out.
    Hope to be back in Vietnam sooner rather than later!
    Sally recently posted..A Not-So-Hard Day’s Night: Taking the Sleeper Train in China

  2. Wish i was there! you two girls are too funny. what a glorious time! FOOP, indeed!
    wandering educators recently posted..Foodie Finds: Michael’s Chicago-Style Red Hots

  3. Aaahhhh….two of my favourite funny ladies together at last!!! Love these pics! And yes I was reading those boys names wrong!!

  4. Home (Or says:

    […] the way, guys, I went to Vietnam! I know. I totally meant to tell you all about it on this here blog. But, you see, the funny thing […]

  5. Amy says:

    I guess this is another one of those names that a native English speaker should have been involved in. Is the Phuc Dat hotel any good?
    Amy recently posted..Capture the Colour

  6. Michi says:

    It’s great seeing two bloggers you read in the blogging world hang out!
    I might have to try a similar version of this culture shock cure. 🙂

    • Barbara says:

      Sally and I had sooooooo much fun together. I highly recommend a crazy weekend getaway … even if you don’t have culture shock. It just blows away the cobwebs and give you time to breathe and smile.

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