Cultural faux pas. Contrasting world views. Preconceived ideas. Here are all those things that people in Vietnam don’t understand about Westerners.
1) Why are you so precise when it come to money?
In most of supermarket, or public buses, they would not return you the small change such as 1000 vnd or below simply because the amount is too small (about 5 cent usd). They would give you a little candy instead. Most foreigners would be a bit surprised or uncomfortable with it when they first come to Vietnam.
2) Why won’t you tell me your age?
In Vietnam people need to know your age not because they are curious, but because they want to have a proper way to start a conversation with you. Let say if you are older, he would pronounced himself differently than if you are younger. This is routed in the Vietnamese language.
3) Why do you eat cheese and wine for dessert?
Most Vietnamese don’t eat cheese and drink wine for dessert (may be some of them do if they have been living abroad). Dessert for Vietnamese usually mean something sweet or fruits, so they find it a little bit unusual.
4) Why are Western guys into tanned girls?
Most Vietnamese don’t understand why Western guys are attracted to tanned girls. In Asia, tanned skin is associated with lower classes who have to work outside, and the same was true in the West until the 1920s. The middle and upper classes went to great lengths to maintain their pale skin as a mark of status. The French fashion designer Coco Chanel is credited with making tanned skin fashionable after she accidentally got a suntan whilst visiting the French Riviera in 1923. So we guess, Western men find tanned skin attractive because of Coco Chanel, or?
5) Why won’t you tell me how much you earn?
You might be asked by a Vietnamese how much you earned. They know salary is only something you discuss with close friends or family, not with strangers. They asked the question not because they want to be too curious about your personal information, but because they want to be a close friend of you. If you are not comfortable with the true answer, you might want to tell them whatever number you have in mind. They would be comfortable with it. Or instead of giving the direct answer, you might want to say: “I worked hard for a year just to save enough money for a trip to Vietnam! You might guess how much I made.” In Vietnam, refusing to answer a question frankly could be considered rude in some way.
6) What’s the deal with bachelor parties?
Sure, Vietnamese guys meet up for a get-together before one of them gets married, but Westerners take this practice to a whole different level of hangover-esque debauchery. Vietnamese guys find Western bachelor parties hilarious, but also vaguely terrifying.
7) Why won’t you tell me how much you weigh?
In Vietnam it’s normal to ask someone about his weight. Don’t be surprised when you are asked about it.
8) Why you really believe Western values are the best values there are?
Vietnamese don’t really believe Western values are the best there are in the world. In term of food and products, they like Japanese spirit a lot. In term of entertainment, they love Korean movie so much. In term of national pride, they are so proud of themselves kicking the Chinese, the French and the American out of their country.
9) Why do you get angry when somebody cuts you off in traffic?
When in Rome…
10) Why do Western women smoke and travel alone so much more?
Rarely you find Vietnamese woman smoke and travel alone, still some do, but most don’t. This isn’t true of all Western women, but if you’re French or Italian, it’s more unusual if you don’t smoke. Most Vietnamese woman tend to travel alone only when they need some serious escape of their current situation.
11) You’re 35 and not married yet? Why?
Just a question to ask.
12) Why can’t I touch your skin/breasts/hairy legs?
Just a question to ask.
13) Why don’t you guys learn Vietnamese?
Just another question to ask.
14) Why do you guys have such big egos and love personalized things?
Why it has to be a private beach that you can really enjoy. Why it has to be a private restaurant when you organize your birthday party. That’s something most Vietnamese would not understand.
15) Why are you so impressed by our attitude?
Most Westerner respect the hardships Vietnam has suffered, and they are amazed how well the Vietnamese have pulled through. It blows them away every time. No other country on earth has managed to succeed against all odds like Vietnam has. Yet for most Vietnamese, they have been living with it. Vietnamese always believe they are the happiest people in the world. And it is the truth, believe it or not. Here is proof http://happyplanetindex.org/countries/vietnam in which Vietnamese is among top 5 happiest people in the world.
16) Why do you think we all hate Americans?
It is amazing for some Westerner that America isn’t public enemy number one here. And for a Vietnamese, they wonder why even ask the question. The war is history now.