Friday, July 23, 2010

Vietnamese Ninjas

You will notice in Hanoi that when the sun comes out a particular type of fashion for women follows. The Vietnamese, especially the women, as in many other Asian countries don't like their skin to brown. It is exactly the opposite to Western countries who go to great lengths, often expensive and quite bad for you, to have a brown of tanned complexion. In Vietnam a lot of the sun cream is whitening so for foreigners visiting, I suggest you read the bottle before you buy it; otherwise you will end up whiter than when you started.

When the sun comes out the women are prepared. They all have specially designed shirts which protects any part of their upper body that comes into contact with the sun. I say specially designed because these shirts are made just for this purpose. They have a special bit of fabric at the wrist that flaps over the top of your hand while you ride (see picture). I have heard of other ones that pretty much have a glove at the end of the shirt - protecting each of your fingers and hand.

I take my hat off to these women because when I am peeling off the clothes they are putting them on. It often feels like a sauna when you step outside and the thought of wearing these types of clothes is painful. They have a hoodie to cover their neck and head and often wear a mask to cover their face. When I asked one of my classes about this they said that they are the Vietnamese Ninjas. I liked this comparison but I think they could be more accurately called the Flower Ninjas for every shirt is some flower or multi-coloured pattern. I don't know what the fashion police would say about them back home but all things considered they serve there purpose.

It is interesting to see the different views from different cultures. After a holiday away catching the rays and coming back feeling good with a nice tan (this is Celine I am talking about - it is physically impossible for my skin to brown) the Vietnamese will say quite bluntly:

"What did you do? You are so brown? Now you are ugly".


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