Friday, November 18, 2011

Dear Jeanne, Welcome to Viet Nam (part two)

Dear Jeanne,

Welcome to Viet Nam.

I cannot believe that you and your family are moving to Viet Nam. I have been reflecting on my years there. Of course, it was ages ago and it was during the war years . . . so much will have changed . . . but the culture will still be the same.

Here are some random thoughts . . .

1. Vietnamese food is awesome. We ate it several times a week in our home. You will love it.

2. Southeast Asia has amazing fruit. Fresh papaya with lime was a regular breakfast treat. We enjoyed so many other fruits I had never even heard of before, that became favorites.

3. You will enjoy the French influence (not exactly Paris, but a strong presence.) We had a tradition of picking up fresh baguettes every Sunday evening, which we ate with peanut butter (that we ground ourselves.) The beauty salons and photography shops also had a French flair.

4. Get use to sweat (glow) and a lot of it. It is oh so, HOT. That Southeast Asian heat and humidity is something else. (This will be an adjustment from England.)

5. The Vietnamese people are so lovely and friendly. They loved being in our home and often invited us into theirs. They are very hospitable.

6. The holiday of Tet is very fun and all about visiting in homes, gifts, really good food and candied coconut. (yum)

7. Whenever you have "had it" with the heat and noise of the city, you can escape upcountry to the beautiful highland city of Dalat.  (which is were we lived for four years.) It is 70 degrees year round, pine trees, wonderful hotels and restaurants, fun open markets and gigantic strawberries. A great holiday location.

8. The open markets are wonderful . . . flowers, fruits and veggies, clothes etc. You will enjoy shopping there.

7. The traffic is wild and crazy. I understand that what was thousands of bicycles are now thousands of motorbikes. (and yes, I would take your bike)

8. The language is both hard and fun. There are six tones . . . so every word has six meanings, depending on the tone you use. It makes the language very musical but hard to learn. It also makes for great stories. You may think you are giving a proper hello to an older honored woman, but you are really saying "hello cow," or "hello number three." But you will have some fun trying.

Well, I could go on and on . . . Vietnamese coffee, the tea plantations, the beautiful national dress for women, the wonderful tailor shops, etc. but I do not want to overwhelm you.

I am excited for you, Jeanne. This will be a very interesting expat experience and I am praying for your family in the transition.


Ps. You will be glad if you know how to use chopsticks.


  1. This was fun, Glenda! Jeanne will be so happy for all the coincidences and useful advice.

  2. This makes me want to visit Viet Nam! I didn't know about the French influence, that is interesting. My favorite part, "Hello, number 3." So funny!

  3. Your comment on the heat reminded me of my Gramma. If I said I was "sweaty" she would instruct me with - "horses sweat, men perspire, and women glow." a now fun memory!

  4. Oh, I love this!
    I'd forgotten how very much I want to visit Viet Nam.

  5. I want to go there now! When did you live there, Glenda? Such lovely photos--thanks for this travel show for a Friday afternoon in cold Illinois!

  6. That was fun! Fruit looks amazing....never tried Vietnamese food but I will take your word that it's good!

    Have a wonderful week-end.


  7. What an amazing life you've lived, Glenda. LOVED reading this and getting a glimpse into some of what you've experienced. You are surely one of the kindest people on the planet to introduce your friend to this fascinating country. Thanks.

  8. Wow Glenda, I love all the things you have mentioned here! I am so touched by this post. I had to laugh about the language...I was not blessed with the gift for languages. This is going to be very interesting. I have always loved Vietnamese food and can't wait to enjoy the flavors first hand. That traffic.. Yikes!
    Thanks for the travel tip.. Looks like the perfect spot.. Thanks again Glenda for thinking of me:)
    Jeanne xx

  9. Interesting to learn of other cultures. I've always thought of Viet Nam as being a steamy jungle. I had no idea it had places in the mountains with pleasant temps year round. The fresh fruit sounds wonderful.


  10. Wow, what great pictures (the fruit!) and such a cool list. I particularly like #8 -- I had no idea about the language, that every word has 6 nuances. That's sounds like quite the challenge!


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