A few months ago, a buddy invited me to take a ride outside of Da Lat in the hills about 300 kilometers north of Ho Chi Minh City. He mentioned that a friend owns a restaurant and had recently started a craft brewery so we went to check it out. We were greeted in Langbiang (about 14 kilometers north of Da Lat) by James Reelick, originally from Connecticut in the USA. Fed up with the madness and fast pace of life back home, James stuck a pin in the map seven years ago and headed for Ho Chi Minh City. James filled us in on his first trip: “I came originally for three months in 2011, starting out in Ho Chi Minh City, but soon set sail for Da Lat and it’s cooler weather. During those first three months I studied and documented the economic status and outlook of Vietnam and was impressed with progress and projections.” James returned to his contracting work in the USA later that year but came back to Vietnam several times over the next two years, then married and … [Read more...] about Craft beer and BBQ in the mountains in Vietnam
I’ve never been beaten up in a restaurant with a selfie stick but I guess there’s a first time for everything. Vietnamese’s reactions to situations they object to can be fascinating; particularly when it turns violent in a ridiculous manner. Recently reported incidents of a customer beaten up in a restaurant for writing an imagined but unproven negative review of the place while still in the eatery and a handful of locals attacking the police over a daytime karaoke party noise complaint might give you the impression that life is slightly bonkers here. Indeed, the Vietnamese may go down in history as the first nationality to use selfie sticks as weapons in a commercial food outlet. My introduction to this almost comical silent movie form of fracas occurred less than an hour after getting off the plane on my first visit to Vietnam in 2006. Two gaudily dressed nouveau rich middle-aged Vietnamese women were fighting over who got the taxi, screaming at the taxi driver to … [Read more...] about Vietnamese-style objection
Some people make a choice to live in the present – “carpe diem” (seize the day) as they called it in the Latin language during Roman times – because that’s how they want to live. No big future plans or aspirations, no sky-high objectives. One day at a time – no tomorrows. Nguyen Van Phuoc is such a person and he’s made a fantastic career as a professional photographer in Da Lat without ever putting together long-term strategies or career plans. Nicknamed “MPK” (Michel Phuoc Khung – Happy Crazy Man) during his wild younger days, he’s now a well-known photographer around the country, settled with a wife and young child. Michel is 61 years old but looks a lot younger, he explains to me that for him the beauty of life is in its spontaneity and natural state, not in design or planning. “Things have always come naturally to me at the right time in life,” he states over a coffee. “When I was in my mid-20s … [Read more...] about Renowned photographer lives for the day in Da Lat
A number of men, including some married to Vietnamese women, shared their thoughts on women and their role in the family with Tuoi Tre News on the occasion of International Women’s Day, March 8. Women are to be cherished and loved My Vietnamese wife and I have been married for 3 years. In my opinion, the wife plays an equally important role in the family as her husband. She provides a soft loving touch while the husband generally handles the more physically demanding work and major issues such as property and finance. My eleven-month-old baby cries for my wife when he's hungry or not feeling well. He comes to me when he wants to play. This shows me that babies also know the roles of their parents. I believe that women should be treated equally to men. They should be free to pursue their interest and goals. Why should a very capable woman be confined to her house? With better education, job opportunities, and greater financial freedom, the role of Asian women is beginning to … [Read more...] about Women are the foundation for a strong family
An article published just before Tet by a local contributor about eating dog meat stirred up quite a few feelings among the expats and foreigners who responded to the story on both Facebook and the Tuoi Tre news website. More than a few of my Vietnamese friends were upset and outraged by some of the reactions expressed by foreign readers. There were demands for the story to be withdrawn and lots of derogatory, plain nasty generalizations about the Vietnamese thrown as well. But do the Vietnamese also have the right to express their point of view without getting shouted at by the foreigners in text? And are they really such barbarians in the traffic, super polluters and insensitive noisy, smelly neighbors? Now, there are no surprises that the issue of eating dog meat arouses such passions between locals who see it as part of their way of life and Westerners who see it as a horrible thing to do. Frequent culture shock when two groups rub up against each other’s lifestyles and … [Read more...] about Vietnam: Get used to it!