What are some things that are very Vietnamese?

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What are some things that are very “Vietnamese”?

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Defusing a bomb, Vietnamese style. Vietnamese are so careless with human lives. Perhaps that's why we beat the Americans.

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For every article or video showing how to pronounce Vietnamese/cook Pho/celebrate traditional holidays, there will be like a hundred of comments from Northerners telling how you did it all wrong/I've never seen anything like this in my life/I appreciate your effort but still you did it wrong… Followed by thousands of other Northerners clicking the like button to show the world how those American/Australian born Vietnamese did it all wrong because their families are from the South and they follow the Southern ways…

It does not matter what you do, as long as you are a Southerner doing it in a Southern way, well, it's wrong and we are gonna show you the more proper way, because the North is the golden standard. I'll try to be polite and tolerant of differences, but deep down inside I believe you are giving the world a very bad impression on how our language should sound like or how our food should taste…

Or maybe I won't watch the video, I'm just gonna scroll down and like all the comments by Northerners. I don't like Pho and obviously I don't know how to cook it, but who cares, you are a Southener and you're doing it all wrong.

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What are some things that are very “Vietnamese”?

These don’t apply to every Vietnamese, but to a lot of them from my own experience. I know many people will be offended by this because the Vietnamese have a hard time accepting criticisms, but I have been in Vietnam for 4 years and I have seen and heard things from my friends and students so these observations don’t only come from me, but from a variety of different people:

Waking up very early to do exercise.

Waking up early for pretty much everything actually!

Having soup or a sandwich for breakfast.

The food in general is very special/typical and contains a lot different ingredients (fish sauce, shrimp paste, morning glory, intestines, chicken feet, pig brain, duck fetus, a variety of different herbs, and more)

Being allowed to bring take-away food inside a shop that doesn’t sell food (coffee shops especially)

Doing photo-shoots with your Ao Dai every year.

Taking selfies next to random things.

Being super friendly with foreigners in order to practice English even though you don’t know where they are from and whether they can even speak English or not.

Listening to and singing some incredibly loud karaoke songs all day long while getting drunk.

Not minding your own business and gossiping about your neighbours and friends and ruining their reputation because your own life sucks.

Making your children go to extra classes for almost every subject.

Talking shit about Chinese people.

Being very polite and respectful towards older people even if they don’t deserve it.

Covering your entire body with clothes when it’s hot outside because you don’t want to look like the hardest working people in the country (farmers, construction workers, landscapers, etc.) and have brown skin, ew!

Saying “Hello” to every foreigner you see because you think it’s funny. And then talking shit in their backs.

Being weirdly proud of successful Vietnamese overseas who have never set foot in Vietnam and therefore haven’t been influenced by your culture much.

Being super proud of your U23 football team when they win, driving for hours in a loop and honking like crazy people.

Burning a lot of different colored paper to pay tribute to your ancestors and polluting the air just because “it’s tradition” while trying to convince the youth that they should respect the environment.

Blindly obeying your parents even if they sometimes/often have no idea what they are talking about.

Acting like you care about your children, but actually bullying them into going to the USA to earn money so they can send it back to you so you can live rich without having done anything to deserve it.

Literally kicking your kids out of the house if they don’t do what you tell them. (e.g. get married, study to be a doctor, follow traditions, etc.)

Making fun of people who don’t look or act like a “typical Vietnamese” (e.g. having long hair as a man, short hair as a woman, being gay, having a different skin color, dressing in an unconventional way, being slightly open-minded to different philosophies).

Being terrible drivers because the police doesn’t enforce any of the rules (e.g. driving in the wrong direction, standing in the right lane to turn left, making u-turns without looking over your shoulder, changing lanes without looking if there is someone there, burning red lights, not staying in the right lane when you are driving slowly, checking your phone while driving or driving super drunk and putting everyone’s life at risk, not making your children wear helmets while riding your motorbike, and on and on).

Lying in order not to lose face, but then losing face when the person realizes you were lying.

Gambling large sums of money and then having to jump off a bridge because you can’t repay your debt.

Being unable to accept criticism.

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it is fish sauce (Nước mắm), a traditional sauce of Vietnamese people. It is also related to Vietnam's salt making skills.

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In Vietnam there is a joke for Viet Kieu and foreigners that use fish sauce so you speak Vietnamese better

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There are quite a few but here are my favorities:

Vietnamese sandwiches

Pho for breakfast

Pho for late evening snack

Seven kinds of beef (thit bo bay mon)

Quiting jobs to spend “Tet” with family

Evey woman is a singer

A family of eight can fit on a motorcycle

Regionalism (I studied Northern and speak Southern so I am caught between)

“Ao dai” on women

Riding a motorcycle makes me “immortal”.

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Actually dog dish or mouse dish can be found very widely in Vietnam and they are very Vietnamese.

See for more dishes: Vietnam's 10 Strangest Dishes! OneMoreDestination

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The most important thing you should know is never travel to Vietnamese for vacation on TET, especially two biggest industrial cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh.

You will never find it bustling and entertaining like usual, because everyone will visit their big family, which have grandpa, grandma, all the relatives and cousins in the other town. There will be just a few staying at the city.

Go to the city near the beach instead, like Da Nang, Ha Long Bay, Nha Trang,... there will be festival or something to celebrate this biggest holiday.

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Vietnam is one of our neighbors, but we don’t seem to understand them. Vietnam may be a place where you can enjoy a wonderful holiday: comfortable hotels, unique attractions and local cuisine, which will leave an indelible mark on the soul of any foodie. However, when going to Vietnam, it is necessary to understand the characteristics of some countries. Although they constitute a local flavor, it may make an unprepared foreigner uncomfortable.

1. Name

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When you first learn about local people, you may think that you hear the same name. why? Because there are about 40% of the Vietnamese population surnamed Nguyen (Nguyen), the other 11% surnamed Chen (TRAN).

2. Personal space

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In public transportation, Vietnamese will definitely sit next to existing passengers. They will never occupy the vacancies in the next row.

In a multi-family apartment building, the door of the apartment is open, and this is normal. If you close the door, the neighbors will worry and ask if you are in trouble.

Large private houses are equipped with windows, but no curtains or blinds at all.

Moreover, no one will observe the distance when communicating. Your Vietnamese interlocutor will be very close to you as if he wanted to tell you some personal secrets.

If you are queuing, you have to be careful to step on the toes of the person behind you or squeeze them together.

3. Inconvenient problems

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On the day of the first meeting, ask how old you are and your income. This is the standard for a polite Vietnamese conversation. All in all, the Vietnamese people sincerely believe that these issues make the dialogue full of passion and show a sincere interest in you.

4. Always say "yes"

Vietnamese do not like to say "no". Moreover, if the request you make is incomprehensible to your interlocutor, you will get nothing but "yes". In this case, the best advice is to pay close attention to each other’s reactions, but remember to be polite. After all, this is their culture and their place.

5. Time

Punctuality is not a national feature of Vietnam. If the local residents have promised to do something for you "within 5 minutes" or "tomorrow", then it may be postponed indefinitely.

6. Garbage

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When you come to Vietnam, you must be mentally prepared, because in many small street stalls, garbage is thrown directly under the table. Recently, in order to combat this phenomenon, the owners of the stalls started to install special trash cans.

Some Vietnamese men have to cope with small needs (urination) almost anywhere on the street, which often shocks tourists.

7. Black teeth

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However, about 100 years ago, the main part of the beauty of Vietnamese women was black teeth. The reason is that it is generally believed that teeth are protected from evil and harm, and that white teeth are rude.

8. Skin

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Like our country and many Asian countries, Vietnamese women think that white skin is very attractive. This is why, with the arrival of sunny days, women block themselves in various ways. Long skirts, long gloves, face masks, and long sleeves are usually worn on clothes, even if the street has unbearable heat. And the mask performs a more important function: it is dustproof when moving on a motorcycle.

9. Nails

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If the nails are very long, the person cannot work in the field or other low-income jobs. Many people in Vietnam try to show their status in such a simple way. There is usually a long fingernail on the little finger, but it is rare that all the nails on the arm are very long.

10. Kitchen

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Vietnam eats almost any animal: bats, mice and lizards, as well as crocodiles, turtles, snakes, stings and dysplastic egg embryos. However, the most common food is still rice in various cooking methods.

At the same time, Vietnamese people love sweetness, and almost all dishes are added with sugar, from milk to meat.

11. Money

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In 2003, cotton banknotes were replaced with synthetic polymers. With these banknotes, you don’t even have to worry about putting it in water.

12. Sports

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Vietnamese people like sports very much. Especially popular are football and foot volleyball, or sepak takraw. ball.

13. Entertainment

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Similar to ours, usually one hour from 12 pm to 1 pm is the noon rest time in Vietnam and does not count towards 8 working hours per day. Most shops are closed, and office workers doze off in armchairs or lie in sleeping bags on the floor. It is worth noting that most Vietnamese people wake up at 5-6 in the morning and have time to do many things before dinner.

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Let me try to make a list of “Vietnamese” things which differentiate us from other people.

The whole world calls it “Chinese New Year”, we call it “Vietnamese New Year” or in short, “Tet”. It has been debatable for years and frustrated lots of Vietnamese when foreigners keep mentioning about “Chinese new year” when talking about holidays in Vietnam. We have our own!

It’s funny when we call the turbulent period from 1954–1975 “American War”, but (Probably) the whole world terms it “Vietnam War” (I can even search Vietnam War in Wikipedia but seemingly, there is nothing called American War in Wikipedia, isnt it?)

toothpick after meals, u got ya.

Women fully covered from top to toe on the burning days in both Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. They are conventionally term “Ninja lead” (even it seems sexist)

You are still grounded even you are over 20; is it too Vietnamese or Asian in general?

Only in Vietnam could you find something quirky like blood pudding, dog meats (rarely) or the widespread of using fish sauce on a daily basis

The gossipy neighbors to the worst extent! Hardly can they be found elsewhere in the world

No matter how crazy traffic is, we still know the way to get through safe and sound! You can master your driving skills after one ride in Hanoi or HCM city.

What your parents concern the most when you graduate from university is your salary, your marriage status: “How much can you earn?”, “Your Salary must be high?”, “When will you get married, you have GF/BF?”. So do the stranger when they first know a person.

But to me, the most Vietnamese thing is our skin color, our language, our philosophy of thoughts, our family-oriented way of thinking. Ask Vietnamese few questions and you will realize how Vietnamese they are.

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Top ten things that reveal your Vietnamese-root in a blink of an eye:

1- You eat Phở for breakfast.

2- You crave for boiled vegetables and dip them into fish sauce (nước mắm)

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3- That dish tastes bland ? More fish sauce! And put away that salt grinder, just no!

4- Salt + pepper + lime = the ultimate dipping sauce for almost anything. Chilly to taste.

5- No retro-mirror on your bike! Have two? Which countryside do you come from?

6- A student with a piggy rice cooker

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7- Cover your whole body during sunny weather

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8- Eat fruit with spicy-salty sauce:

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9- Hotpot for every feast, especially if you are student

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10- You hate football, but cheer for the National Football team with passion

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Photo courtesy of Google.

The vegetable ones are mine. They come from a typical Vietnamese back yard.

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