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Expats name annoying habits in Vietnam

Sunday, October 28, 2018, 07:36 GMT+7

Tuoi Tre News asked expats living in Vietnam to name habits that have annoyed them in the country.

Need for severe punishment

The traffic in my country is worse than in Vietnam but we try to avoid honking the horn, unlike Vietnam, where this seems to be very common. Thailand is home to the third most congested traffic in the world, but we try to be as quiet on the road as possible because we do not want to make it worse by adding unnecessary unpleasant noises. 

Another habit that affects others is leaving motorbikes on sidewalks instead of properly parking them. This has a bad impact on mostly pedestrians and aesthetics of the urban landscape. 

The Vietnamese are very nice, friendly, generous, and kind people, but their actions are sometimes selfish because they are not aware that their actions might affect others. Hence, these problems mostly result from people’s attitude rather than improper law implementation. 

I think the best solution to this problem would be a combination of education and strict laws. Strict laws would be a short term solution as I believe severe punishments will prevent people from acting that way. With the combination of various campaigns and education in schools, especially for children, people would understand the reason for these laws.

Jeerachart Jongsomchai from Thailand

Common courtesy

The noisy and loud neighbors are definitely present in many countries but maybe it is not as prevalent as it is here. 

In London, where I lived, there are many people who play instruments, or building work, and this can be a bit of an issue. When I lived in an apartment I usually could hear people from upstairs or hear a loud television. If it was very bad, then we would just talk to each other. If people had guests over we usually might warn neighbors that we may be making noise and ask them if it would be okay. It was more courteous to let other people know.

Michael Dolan in a photo provided to Tuoi Tre News
Michael Dolan in a photo provided to Tuoi Tre News

There are many different ways that we can deal with noise. We can file a noise complaint to the landlord or owner of the property. We can call the police or we can talk to the local council. We are not really educated on these things but we know that it is common courtesy.

Every culture has bad habits so no one is perfect. I guess maybe the one I dislike most is the littering. That really boils my blood. The amount of plastic that is destroying beautiful places in Vietnam is quite sad. I think that people should be prosecuted like in my country for littering. And I also do not like the spitting culture. That is quite disgusting to see.

If you litter or make noise that really disturbs your neighbors in my country, you can be fined or even imprisoned if you offend multiple times. Maybe the same can be done here or simply, people should be educated and the youths should change their habits by peer education.

Michael Dolan from Ireland

Not dare to complain

I have been living in Vietnam for nearly four years but there are two things that bother me the most: taking up roads and people’s behavior on the roads. 

Vongthaisith Song in a photo provided to Tuoi Tre News
Vongthaisith Song in a photo provided to Tuoi Tre News

I am renting a house in a local area. Almost every week there are one to two events nearby, which always include singing karaoke and loud music from morning until late night. During these events, the hosts would put the chairs and tables on the road for their guests, which severely affect the traffic since the motorbikes’ driveway is blocked. 

One time, my neighbor was holding a party and blocked the entrance from my house. Hence, I asked them to clear out the way so that I could pass. Unfortunately, instead of giving way to me, they became aggressive and violent towards me. Ever since, I have tried not to complain unless it is unavoidable. 

Another issue that most foreigners find upsetting is that no one seems to care about traffic laws. This bad habit seems to have already become a part of Vietnamese culture, so I do not think it will be changed any time soon.

Vongthaisith Song from Laos

Severe noise pollution 

My experience of Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam in general has been one of constant noise. Construction seems to be one of the biggest sources, and the whole country seems to be under construction. Along with construction and the din of motorbikes, buses, trucks, and cars, people’s voices in Saigon are often incredibly loud, surely because to be heard over the ambient noise of the city, one has to practically shout. Hence, I believe the authorities should manage to at least control the noise level of vehicles and public areas like other places including Thailand and Taiwan. 

Loudly clearing throats and spitting in the street, flinging still burning cigarette butts off of motorbikes at high speed, throwing trash off motorbikes while driving, urinating in the streets, all show a certain disrespect for public spaces and civic life. These habits are certainly left over from a very recent time when most of Vietnam was rural and one could do what one wanted in the country. The problem is that when they come to the city, they ruin the quality of life for everyone.

The government could encourage businesses to use renewable straws and cups (made from bamboo, metal, or recycled materials) instead of using so much plastic. Children should be educated about the dire effects that plastic pollution has on Vietnam’s nature spots (waterfalls, mountains, forests, beaches, islands). Schools need to play a big part in this. They should also get children to participate in neighborhood cleanups and educating their parents and older generations who may not be aware of the problems.

Rob Watson from America

“Get on with it"

I haven't found anything particularly annoying here. Different strokes for different folks. I personally don't like anything about Karaoke from hearing myself sing to confining a night out to a single dark room with only people I already know. It just isn't my thing. That said I've lived here long enough to have tuned it out or avoided staying anywhere that has too much noise pollution. 

But I did poll my friends and put together a list such as no show/ no call. It means when my cleaners/work staff take a day off they don't call to let anyone know. Others are clearing throat and spitting, touching feet at the table, and especially “rubber time.” If I'm making any time-sensitive plan, I need to set the start time about 45 minutes before the actual start time and tell everyone đừng xài giờ dây thun nha (don't use “elastic time” please! – don’t be late, please!) 

Thomas Bissell in a photo provided to Tuoi Tre News
Thomas Bissell in a photo provided to Tuoi Tre News

To deal with those problems? I will politely say something or get over it. One habit I love about the Vietnamese is a "get on with it" attitude. As a guest in another country I think it’s important to recognize some things may be different and we may not like them but that's the way it is and it’s better for me to get on with it then change everyone else. It doesn't hurt to scout a neighborhood first before we move into it. Make a good first impression. We only get one first impression. If we want respect we much show it first. 

A lot of companies here use a clock-in system at the office that automatically deducts salary for truancy. While this is effective, I believe there are better ways to engage ones employees/colleagues. Incentives and positive reinforcement have a greater effect than any fine. Rewarding a good employee is better use of time than punishing a bad employee. 

Canada is a multicultural country. We identify as a place made up of many peoples and customs. We have a government that is clear about the rules (anyone can use the .gov website to find out almost anything and many services are available online) . These policies create an environment of trust which creates mutual respect. For the most part people treat each other how they would want to be treated. 

Thomas Bissell from Canada

Ha My - Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News

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