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Halloween is spooky in Vietnam 

Halloween is spooky in Vietnam 

Sunday, October 29, 2017, 10:28 GMT+7

I’ve got a kitchen god in the house watching my every move who reports to heaven; however, I’m not afraid of ghosts. Most of the strange noises I hear during the night are the locals coming home late and my furniture stays in the right place except when my dog gets hungry. Mind you, there’s the mystery of how my beer is completely gone in the morning but I’m sure there’s a rational explanation for that…

It’s funny how just after the Vietnamese kid’s festival where the youngsters banged drums, wore scary masks (which are for good luck and symbols for fairies and fiction characters) and made a lot of noise to scare away the bad spirits and ghosts, we Westerners celebrate Halloween in much the same manner; except more expensively and we don’t invade other people’s houses and restaurants.

One great advantage of Halloween as a party theme is you don’t have to be beautiful or handsome to participate in the fun. Since both you and your potential next love partner are covered in blood, this tends to level the playing field, giving everyone a few chances at wooing the vampire of their dreams.

Other bonuses include theme possibilities. APEC might be a pleasant diversion from the atypical ‘tropical bat night.’ I’ve always thought that blood-spattered Vietnamese girls in tight nurse’s uniforms are quite attractive really.

To help the beleaguered expat in the difficult circumstance of Halloween shopping, I’ve included some useful phrases.

A child wears a facemask to celebrate Halloween in Ho Chi Minh City in this file Tuoi Tre photo.
A child wears a facemask to celebrate Halloween in Ho Chi Minh City in this file Tuoi Tre photo.

For example:

- “Have you got…?” = "Ở đây có ________ không?"

“Have you got Donald Trump-style wigs here? = “Ở đây có tóc giả kiểu Donald Trump không?” (tóc giả = wig)

“Have you got vampire costumes here?” = “Ở đây có trang phục ma cà rồng không?” (ma cà rồng = vampire; trang phục = costume)

- “I want to look like… “ = Tôi muốn làm…  

“I want to look like Frankenstein.” = “Tôi muốn làm Frankenstein.”

“I want to look like a zombie badass.” = “Tôi muốn làm thây ma thật ngầu.”

Now…you’ll need to remember your street traffic etiquette. Tuck your cape under you so you don’t get caught up in the back wheel…although that might win you the ‘best costume’ prize. Never try to text while adjusting your vampire teeth in the side mirror. Finally, have your Werewolf craws handy if the taxi driver tries to rip you off. 

Remember! Don’t drink and drive…there are enough of those ghosts around already!

Face painting is getting very artistic nowadays so you can leave that until you arrive at the venue. Keep in mind that blood under ultraviolet light tends to appear pale; however, blue comes out looking very spooky! Also the rain down south may threaten that perfect look of horror you’ve created so be prepared.

Young people have Halloween fun in Ho Chi Minh City in this file Tuoi Tre photo.
Young people have Halloween fun in Ho Chi Minh City in this file Tuoi Tre photo.

Homemade rice whisky might be the ultimate Halloween drink; however, I’d stay away from that; for the same reason, cheap, dodgy sugarcane juice. Yes, it can have a positive impact on the spooky factor but your dance partner might object to the contents of your stomach being too close for romantic wiggling.

One thing both cultures have in common is the lanterns. Not sure how easy it is to get big pumpkins at this time of year but they are a quintessential part of the décor as are bats, spiders and skeletons. If you’ve misplaced your helmet at the end of the night, you can always recycle a pumpkin which will probably give you more protection than the local plastic caps that pass for safety helmets.

Be careful, however! Some Vietnamese women are witches and you males could end up feeling like mummies after a heavy night of generosity and flirting. On the other hand, other women on the night might save your soul!

But how do you avoid dressing the same as the person next to you? Easy! Just add something Vietnamese to the costume. For example, nón lá (conical hats) is a great addition to the modern Halloween tradition or facemasks. Wearing customary pajamas could be good too!

Anyway, it’s shaping up as a very spooky year anyway so we might as well have some fun. Happy Halloween everyone!

Stivi Cooke

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