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11 Weird Facts About Vietnam You Never Knew

Weird Facts About Vietnam
Vietnamese Clothing photo: Pinterest

Vietnam is a country in Southeastern Asia.  It is bordering the Gulf of Thailand, Gulf of Tonkin. It is also bordering South China Sea along China, Laos, and Cambodia.  The climate of Vietnam is tropical in the south and monsoonal in the north.

Those are a few generally known facts.  But see if you knew any of the following: what do Vietnamese refer to as "face"?  How can you give someone "face"?  Why are Vietnamese most times in groups?  What part of a person's body must you never touch?  How do they view standing akimbo?

The answers to all these and more are in the following 11 weird facts about Vietnam. Enjoy!

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Capital:                         Hanoi

Population:                   93,421,835 (2014 Estimate)

Currency:                      Vietnamese Dong

Government:                 Unitary Marxist-Leninist One-Party State

Language:                     Vietnamese

President:                     Tran Dai Quang

Weird Facts About Vietnam

1. Family Means a Lot

The Vietnamese life revolves around the family.  They have the nuclear as well as the extended family.  And weird as it may seem, it is usual to see large extended families of up to three generations to live together under the same roof.  Family means a lot to the Vietnamese society.

2. The Concept of "Face"

Like all Asian countries, the concept of face is extremely important to the Vietnamese. "Face" is a bit dodgy to explain in English.  But loosely, it is represents a person's dignity, reputation, and prestige.  Face can be given, lost, and/or saved.

3. Watch Your Deeds/Utterances

As a visitor whose home society or custom knows nothing of the face concept, be advised that it is easy to cause a loss of face to someone here.  Therefore it is very important to watch what you say and do all through the duration of your visit.  Talk about weird!

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4. Aspire to Give Face

You should aspire to give "face" to people whenever you happen to be in the orient.  You can easily give "face" by complimenting people for their hospitality or business acumen.  But never cause them loss of face by criticizing or scolding them in public.

5. Collectivist Society

In case you are expecting to meet with an individual and you find a group waiting or arriving, do not be alarmed.  The reason is that Vietnamese are collectivists.  To them, the individual is secondary; the group comes first and serves as their base.  Is that weird or what?

6. "Don'ts" You Must Keep

Here are a good number of other don'ts you must try your best to observe when in Vietnam:

  • Never touch anyone's head
  • Never point at someone with a finger; use the whole hand
  • Never stand akimbo
  • Never cross your hands on the chest.

Wow!  If these are not weird, then what is?!

7. A Hierarchical Society

The Vietnamese society is hierarchical.  This may derive from their most dominant religion, Confucianism which emphasis a social order where everyone has a distinct place and role in the society.  As a clear example, the eldest in every group has the greatest respect.

8. No PDA

The Vietnamese would take strong exceptions to you if you dare to display affection in public.  Holding or even touching persons of the opposite sex in public places would elicit frowns, glares, and/or quickly looking away by people.  Have that in mind all the time.

9. Another Set of "Don'ts"

Here is another number of other don'ts you must do your best to observe:

  • Do not pass anything over someone's head
  • Do not touch anyone on the shoulder
  • Do not wear shorts except on the beach
  • Do not pass things with one hand; use both hands

10. Gifts to not Give

As gifts, do not give handkerchiefs.  This is because handkerchiefs are believed to be unlucky.  Also, do not give anything black, any yellow flowers, or chrysanthemum.  Give anything else, but avoid these things or you would definitely put someone in a bad mood.

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11. Use of Chopstics

The most common eating utensils are the chopsticks.  While using them, here is the weird part: it is usually okay to hold the small plate containing the food close to your mouth!  However, it is the norm to place the chopsticks on the table or chopsticks rest after every few mouthfuls.

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