Saturday, November 28, 2009

Friendly Vietnamese

I had 30 minutes free before I had to meet Celine so what better way than to enjoy a beer. I found a Bia Hoi place near her school off the main road. This was full of locals with not a tourist in sight. There were no free tables so I went to sit down on one of the small plastic seats that are typical at any kind of street vendor. The old lady who worked there wasn’t having any of that and told me to sit at a table with another guy. He didn’t seem at all bothered that I was now sitting opposite him and we both said our hellos. I ordered a beer and within a minute two of his friends arrived to a table which could at best seat three. There was no look of irritation from any of them and as quick as they arrived they managed to squeeze a spot around the undersized table. They each smiled at me and then chatted away with each other. I couldn’t help but think that in Australia I probably wouldn’t have been as warmly welcomed.

It wasn’t long before they tried to make conversation with me using the few English words they knew. Despite the strong language barriers we were able to have a conversation and all enjoyed a laugh. They offered me some of their food, liver and fermented pork, as well as invite me to play pool. After some explaining they understood that I had to go and pick up my wife and on leaving wouldn’t let me pay a cent. In the space of twenty minutes I had gone from gatecrashing a table to having my bill completely covered. I have seen again and again the friendliness and generosity shown by the Vietnamese since arriving in Vietnam. This is very much a part of their culture and their general way of life. The end result is a great time and a fatter wallet :)

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