Two Things I’ve Never Heard Before

Over this past weekend, I was speaking to two different Vietnamese strangers, and heard two things that I’ve never heard in Vietnamese before. Both times I was surprised in a good way.

On Friday evening, Ngân and I went to eat seafood at one of our favorite sidewalk places. When we were leaving and went to get the motorbike, the parking attendant, thinking that I didn’t speak Vietnamese, said something in pidgin English like: “You! Moto?” I replied in Vietnamese, “Xe đó, số 67” (That bike, number 67, referring to the first two digits of my license plate).

The parking attendant immediately gave me a sheepish look and said, “Xin lỗi anh, em không biết anh nói tiếng Việt” (I’m sorry, I didn’t know you spoke Vietnamese). I told him it was no problem as I got my bike and then thanked him. That was the first time a Vietnamese person apologized to me for assuming that I didn’t speak Vietnamese.

Then on Sunday morning, Ngân and I went to have some brunch downtown. Again, my interaction was with a motorbike parking attendant. As I was taking the ticket to retrieve my bike, I asked the man, in Vietnamese, if I needed to pay before or afterwards. He was a little taken aback, but then asked: “Quê em ở đâu?” (Where’s your hometown?). This was another question that no Vietnamese person had asked me before. Usually, Vietnamese people see a white guy with blue eyes as ask “Anh là người nước nào?” (What country are you from?). But this parking lot attendant used a very Vietnamese phrase to ask where I was from. It was a first for me and made my day.

So after more than six years in the country, I’m still hearing new things, from motorbike parking attendants of all people.



7 thoughts on “Two Things I’ve Never Heard Before”

    1. Hey Alicia, I’ve been meaning to contact you about my running. I twisted my foot (non-running related) like two weeks ago, and basically I couldn’t run for two solid weeks because of the pain. But it’s gone now and I just did 4.5km a couple days ago. My goal is to do 5k before my birthday on Friday. I’m enjoying this running stuff! 😉

  1. Eric that is wonderful. Amazing job to you! Even if you don’t run that 5k by your birthday you will run it very soon, I am confident of that

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