1. You visit fortune-tellers when you are planning engagements, weddings, start-ups or any other important move in your life.
They will tell you what to do to avoid the bad luck and attract good fortune, so if the fortune-teller says, “jump,” you ask how high… In Vietnam, we trust prestige fortune-tellers so much that, in some cases, they even pick our life-partners for us.
2. You love local ice coffee and egg coffee.
You are familiar with Starbucks, but local ice coffee and egg coffee are much more preferred. You acknowledge that egg coffee is, well, an acquired taste… but you are convinced that anyone can get addicted to it in time.
3. Nước mắm (fish sauce) is like a religion to you.
You believe Vietnamese famous dishes, like Nem rán (Spring roll), Nem cuốn (Rice paper roll), Phở (Noodle) and Bánh mì (Vietnamese Baguette) are not complete until you add fish sauce. Foreigners might complain about the strong smell of it, but your reply to them is always “you haven’t really tried Vietnamese food until you’ve had it with fish sauce”.
4. You shop everyday in the open-air market.
Us Vietnamese continue to refuse processed and frozen foods. If we can get fresh veggies and other foods in the small markets, why go with less flavour and larger prices of industrial foods? We tend to do our shopping early in the day, but if you are not a morning person, don’t worry: markets are opened all day long.
5. “Making breakfast” is a foreign concept to you.
You have breakfast outside, in the aforementioned market. With such diversity around you, why would you bother cooking?
6. You drive motorbikes video-game style… sometimes even without helmets.
Motorbikes are the most common means of transport in Vietnam: you will see thousands of them at peak hour. And yes, we ride as if we were playing video games and our lives were not at stake. We also prefer to feel the wind in our faces, so many don’t wear a helmet despite being mandatory practice now. Scary? Well, only if you’ve known differently.
7. You associate New Year with apricot and peach flowers.
These two types blossom right before New Year, so markets are filled with them. People want them in their houses not only because they are a New Year tradition, but also because they mean the gorgeous spring season is coming.
8. To you, snow is romantic and exotic.
During wintertime, you stay alert to the weather forecast in case Sapa has some snow. Who cares about the freezing temperature? You make sure to take pictures so your Facebook friends can be rightfully jealous of you.
9. You keep your kissing private.
You might do it to avoid making older people uncomfortable, or younger people too enthusiastic, but you do it nonetheless. The further you get in public is holding hands, and that almost feels as PDA (exaggerated public demonstration of affection).
10. You can’t start eating until you’ve stated outloud an invitation to your elders
You say “I invite you to have foods” in the most respectful tone that you can master, to show gratitude to your elders for everything on your plate. If you go against the tradition, you know your mom will be the first one to be judged for overindulging you… and that would mean shame for the family. For the same reason, you also make sure your guests do not leave the house without a full stomach.
11. You jaywalk as if you are blind to stop signs…
12. But you are definitely not blind to street food carts.
Thing is, the crowds around them make them visible. The larger the crowd, the better the food so you choose your street food shops of the day by assessing the number of fans.