A few days ago, I read the article “East meets West” of young artist Yang Liu, a Chinese who has been living in Germany from over 10 years ago. The article explores major differences between Eastern and Western culture, especially beneficial for Western tourists on their first visit to Vietnam. Today, I’d like to develop on that topic, exploring Western – Vietnamese cultural differences.
Few days ago, i read an article 15 interesting things about Vietnam tourismof blogger Tara Vargas. She said:
“I traveled to Vietnam in 2007 and wanted to share with you the knowledge that I have been to Vietnam, especially the Saigon Tourist. My thoughts may be right, may be wrong but that’s the experience I want to share with you!”
The most of info that she shared are right, but few are not totally and I want to add few things. This’s not a rejection to her experiences, but I just want to add few things and explain them for more complete.
With Vietnamese people, traditional meal (or family meal) are always very important. It’s not only about the food or the dining but also importantly family time. Therefore, family meal in Vietnam are highly appreciated, usually very cozy that many Western tourists want to experience when visitting Vietnam.
However, the differences in dining cultures are very big. So you need to know what you should do and what you should not do in our family meals.
The dishes in Vietnam’s meals are divided into 4 types: rice – most important, main dish(es) – often rich in protein, side dish(es) – vegetables and soups, and fruits – eaten in end of the meals. We use small bowls for individual eating rice, big bowls for shared soups and plates for others. And lastly, CHOPSTICK!
I love coffee, which i have to drink 2 cups, in morning and evening, everyday to work effectively. Majority of vietnamese also like coffee but their ways of enjoying aren’t same. From my trips in 3 regions of Vietnam, i saw very big differences in coffee cultures.
To compare the differences, i will take 3 cities, 3 centers of culture in Vietnam: Hanoi, Hue and Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). Coffee cultures of Hanoi and Hue are quite same so i could easily adapt. However, Saigon is too different, i even got shocked when saw them “enjoying”.
Coffee culture of Hue can be described in 3 words: concentrated, subtle and slow, like their personality. Because there’re not many amusement parks while too much free time, so they can enjoy coffee at anytime of the day. In the hot summer, you will see the cafes along Huong river are always crowded.