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Twins working out 31 August 2011

Posted by uggclogs in Happiness, Height.
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Oh… I know I am inviting a whole host of creepy Google searches to land on my blog with that title… Let’s see if it can outdo “IKEA in Hanoi”, which has been my most frequent Google search redirection for almost a year now.

But to what I was planning on writing – Canberra has a whole bunch of gyms. They have sprouted like wild flowers after rain since we have been away, and there is one on every second corner of our local shops and nodes.

I have also signed back up with “my” gym (the same one I used to be a member of three years ago) and am trying to use it relatively often.

There are many reasons for using the gym. Get fit and healthy, and people watching are probably my top two reasons for going. I know, I know, you are not supposed to look at what others are doing to avoid people geting self-conscious and thereby not caming back, but I need something to do to keep my mind occupied. Most of the time, I like listening in on the personal trainers talking to their trainees, to see if I can pick up some extra training tips and advice.

I am the lingering creepy woman.

But it’s all good natured, and I try not to make people uncomfortable. Much.

This week, I saw the twins.

Imagine the twins from The Social Network (the delightful movie from 2010 about Facebook and its origins, which, apparently, at least got the t-shirts of Zuckerberg right). You know, the ones that have the most redonkulous line (referring to hiring the Sopranos to beat someone up): “We can do that ourselves. I’m 6’5″, 220, and there’s two of me.”

Again, whether it is true that they said that or not might be debatable (it makes for a memorable movie quote all the same), but it was the line that flew into my head when I saw the twins at the gym.

They were tall (not quite 6’5, but what the heck – for this yarn, they can be), blond, muscly and, above all, identical. It was creepy and mesmorising, and I am sure they knew that. They were strutting their stuff walking into the weightslifting area, and everyone did a double take (literally). They were not exactly good looking, but it felt as if I had been sucked into a Hollywood universe.

Two ginourmous, scandinavian-looking, gym-going, identical men lifting weights? Comic gold!

I wonder how many other gym goers were trying to remember the above quote at the same time as me!

Foot in Mouth Disease 4 September 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Travelling.
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I sometimes forget that not everyone has a mental block, and some people just speak before they think. This is probably the weirdest, yet one of the funniest conversations I have had about my height.

Standing in line at the airport in Sydney, waiting to board my flight, I hear a female voice behind me go;

“You two would have really tall children!”

Choosing to ignore the comment, seeing that this is the last leg of a rather long journey, I smell and I am tired, so in no mood to engage, smile and nod, I don’t even turn around. Some days it’s just not on.

She awkwardly adds;

“Unless you are related!?”

This one being new, we both turn around and start laughing. The person the lady is with is cracking up, and sort of apologetically shakes his head. We laugh, and turn forward again. She, however is on a roll;

“Are you related?”

We laugh some more, and tell her no.

“So you would have tall babies! … Not that you have to have babies or anything…”

Laughingly, we go through to our seats, incredulous. Yet as she walks past to go to her seat, she yet again talks to us, saying;

“Sorry, I wasn’t trying to be rude, I just meant that you were both tall and if you were to have children, they would also be…”

At which stage the guy she was with, still laughing, coaxed her onwards down the aisle away from us.

I’ve never met anyone quite that insistent on telling me I am tall before.

Surprising cat-call 17 May 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Vietnam.
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I recently told a friend of mine that I had had the pleasure of being cat called while back in the UK in March. And I say that completely without sarcasm, it was in fact a pleasure, because it never happens to me.

You see, being a 1m88 (6’2) tall woman in a country where the average height for women is 1m53 (5’0) and for men is 1m65 (5’5), and being told daily that I am so fat, I am not exactly the measurements that most men find attractive in Vietnam. Luckily, I am here with the most wonderful partner, so I am not in the market for male attention.

But imagine my surprise this Saturday.

I was walking along a main street in the French Quarter trying to hail a taxi, after having had a few drinks after the big performance at the Opera House.

I was probably looking quite dainty in my full length evening gown, which I was hitching up to prevent it from dragging along the dusty streets of Hanoi. It is elegant with a rather plunging neck line.

A truck driver passing by startis honking his horn, but if you’ve ever been to Hanoi, the sound of honking is part of the soundscape, and I did not even flinch. Then, he hangs our of his cab, starts whisteling, hooting, and generally making lots of noise towards me.

Which makes the entire street turn around.

And join in! I consequently had about ten men hooting and whisteling at me! It was a most surreal experience!

I did what I always do when nervous – hold my head up high, hurry on, and hail the next best taxi that comes along.

Lost in Translation – Vietnamese version 19 April 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Travelling, Vietnam.
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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.

Tall reflections 4 June 2009

Posted by uggclogs in Height, Life, Philosophy.
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Something I read last Friday struck a personal chord with me.  In a recent edition of VOGUE (made somewhat less recent by its travels across the world from the printers in America to the casual reading stand in a small hairdressing shop in Hanoi) a young woman was musing on her life as a tall person.  At 6 foot 3, there were both similarities in our experiences growing up (never finding a cocktail dress, shoes or a dancing partner) and significant differences (having a mother who was highly uncomfortable with her own height, and seriously considering estrogen treatment to stunt her growth).

She also recalled something her mother had told her when she was younger; you can be whatever you want to be.  Something a lot of parents find themselves saying to their children.  However, her musings over this was what now merits this blog entry (and I paraphrase due to my significant lack of photographic memory):

For a tall person, there is one thing you never can be, and that is unseen.

Unseen.  The word struck something in me.  I never really stopped to think about this before.  I have personally never (at least not since after puberty had finished raging) really wanted to be unseen.  That is, unseen in terms of being Invisible.  Miss Cellophane, so to speak.  Why would anyone want to be unseen?  Wouldn’t being unseen make you insignificant?  Unnecessary?  Unremarkable?  A nobody?

And of course I have sometimes wished to be less visible (in the sense of not being the tallest person around), less talked about, and I certainly have never sought out publicity in the sense of getting up to speak or theatre.  But all of that is perfectly different from being unseen.

There have been moments where I have lamented the extra inches, but I have come to terms with being tall.  In fact, I rather like it. 

Even objectively speaking, when push comes to shove, being taller than average can be of benefit (figuratively and literally).  Apart from the obvious advantages when playing certain sports such as basketball, netball and volleyball (if one is lucky enough to be able to coordinate the long limbs), there are more obscure benefits, as well.

In a recent research paper, Andrew Leigh, an economic professor at the Australian National University, found that people that are taller earn more.  Unfortunately, this ‘income premium’ is more pronounced for tall men than for tall women.

How random. 

So do not aim for being unseen, but revel in the premiums your height may bring your way.

Just to say hello 12 November 2008

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Originally posted on 12 November 2008 (edited)

My story this month is by no means as impressive and action filled as those I have written about in the past, so I will keep it short. It is more a way of saying hello to you all this month, thank you for your lovely reactions to my previous posts.

After my cousin’s visit, we had about one week to ourselves before my partner’s cousin, and her friend, stopped by to say hello.  By this stage I was all touristed out, so I was glad that they had each other to explore the region.  It was great to see them, though, and we did take them out for a few dinners and even to a Regurgitator concert. Go figures, you come all the way to Vietnam, and then you see an Australian band play in Hanoi.

But we did travel a bit: We made our first trip to Bangkok in October.  It was nice, but it made me realise that I am so lucky to be in a country where I can at least read the script. It is a little unsettling when you cannot even identify streetnames on a map.  We did loads of shopping, but ended up with little to show for it.  Who knew that even Thailand cannot do my size in shoes and clothing!   I know I am gargantuan, but I had not expected this.  But I am sure we will be back, and the food we had was great.  Always nice to try something new!

I still don’t have an actual job either, but there are some possibles in the pipelines, so all that crossing of fingers that you have all been doing for me is finally paying off (hopefully.) I hope to be able to say for certain that I have a job before Christmas.