jump to navigation

Lost in Translation – Vietnamese version 19 April 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Travelling, Vietnam.
Tags: , , ,

So, as you may already know if you read this blog regularly, the delights of communication (or attempts thereof) between myself and the Vietnamese has caused many a funny moment. But I have never quite ever let the conversations run their course, because I sometimes conveniently feign a lack of understanding (in particular when already married taxi drivers are asking whether I would like a Vietnamese boyfriend).

This weekend, though, finding myself in a good (read: not frail) state of mind, I thought I should be brave it and see how far the Vietnamese are willing to take a conversation!

Here is a rough translation of the conversation that I had with four ladies  (I would guess in their 40-50s.)

One of them: “Wow, look at her! She is so tall!”

me: *benevolent smile in their direction*

*giggles* “I bet she is two metres tall! She is SO tall!”

“Not true. I am 1m88”



*fill in lots of talking through each other and very fast, no idea what they are saying*

One of them gets up, and stands next to me, to show her friends how much taller I am.

She then takes the lead: “Your Vietnamese is very good”

“Thank you”

“How long have you been in Vietnam?”

“One and a half years”

*Approving nod*

“Are you married?”

*Lies*: “Yes.” (It is just too hard to explain commitment in non-married terms in Vietnam, so I don’t even bother anymore. You are just not serious until you are married. And being single at my age? Don’t even bother.)

“Do you have children?”

“No” *correcting myself (culturally very important): * “Not yet”.

“Oh… How long have you been married?” *disapproval spreading over her face*

*I lie again*: “Two Years”

*disapproving clicking of tongue*: “tsk, tsk”

“Your husband is Vietnamese, or Westerner?”


“VIETNAMESE???” *clucking and cackling*

“No, no! He is Western.”


“Is your husband tall?”


More clucking and fluttering when I tell them just how tall.

“How old are you?”



*big argument ensues where the lady asking the questions is defending my apparent barrenness to the other three – I apparently still have time for children, I am still young… phew…*

“And what do you do?”

Words escape me, as usual, so I say: “I work with children.”

“Ah, teacher!”

“No… With children… who… *what was the word for disadvantaged again? Oh, I know!* who are poor.”

“Ah!” *approving nods* (finally)

“And how much do you weigh?”

“Excuse me?”

“How many kilos?” *point at me*

*I tell her*


Fifty five?”

“No…” *I spell it out for them, even write it on my hand*


The lady next to me now starts uncrossing my arms, feeling my waist, touching my arms, running her hands down my bum, twirling me around and inspecting me. She just could not believe that I could possibly weigh that much! At least she thought I was significantly lighter than what I am, I suppose.

Next she starts touching my hair and asking me something about it (I suspect she was asking whether it was my own hair colour?)

I was beginning to believe that she would inspect my teeth next (what had I got myself into?) when some guy (clearly working with them) walks up to us. He says “Hello”, and within a minute he’s got the full run down of my size, weight, height, social status.

Then, all of a sudden, they were called away to do some actual work. And not a moment too soon… That is the last time I let curiosity get the better of me! Although I should have known. I really should have.


1. Only in Vietnam #6 « Uggclogs' Blog - 19 April 2010

[…] Only in Vietnam #6 19 April 2010 Posted by uggclogs in Travelling, Vietnam. Tags: Only trackback And this is why I should have known better than to engage in an all out social status conversation with a group of Vietnamese ladies: […]

2. lizeth - 23 April 2010

But….if you had not…..a great experience would have been missed….I can imagine how it was, but still 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: