Chivalry Is Not Dead … At The Ho Chi Minh City Flower Market

Something pokes my arm and I half-scream half-squawk and jump back.

This is a wet market in Ho Chi Minh City. And there are rats, you know.

(And I’m an arachnophobe from Australia. There are always big heavy hairy spiders, you know.)

I snap around to see a young guy with a long stem of lilies, who looks like he also leapt in the air when I screamed.

“For you,” he says in lovely English, needing only a split-second to recover. He prods me with the flower stem again.

Wow. It takes me several long painful seconds to realise that I can’t find the words to say “you made my day” in Vietnamese.

I smile instead.

Then I create several more awkward seconds as I reach for half-remembered Vietnamese words and I tell this lovely young man that lilies “give me the sneeze”.

I can’t explain that I can’t hold these beautiful flowers and my camera and my notebook and my backpack. I can’t explain that I’m only here to take photos in Ho Chi Minh City’s colorful flower market. I can’t explain that I’ll probably need both my hands when the ominous dark clouds that are making 10am seem like 6pm finally burst.

I can’t explain that on top of all this, lilies also make me sneeze. But if I had a free hand I would accept this romantic chivalrous gift.

I can’t explain so I just ask if I can take his photo. And sweet lovely man that he is, he says yes, and then poses with his flowers.

Ho Chi Minh City Flower Market

Then I meet a cat. And a guy who loves the cat. And they pose for photos too.

Ho Chi Minh City flower market

A few moments later Darling Man roars up on the motorbike and Miss M asks me what I’ve been doing while they were at the cafe.

Before I can answer, the clouds end the suspense and dump buckets and buckets of rain.

There must be something in the water. Or the air. Because Darling Man, who like most Vietnamese people hates getting wet, announces he’ll still drive me round to a bunch of temples in spite of the downpour. Miss M, hidden under the huge motorbike-sized rain poncho, doesn’t object.

And off we go.

I really do love Vietnam.


*Ho Chi Minh City’s flower market is in Ho Thi Ky in District 10.

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5 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. That’s such a cute story Barbara, I can just imagine you hanging onto backpack, camera & trying to explain …… Gawd, I’m with you on the whole hairy spiders thing…. seriously? Do they just lurk around in Vietnam or just in market places?
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