Saigon Stories – Vietnamese vs. French people

Another glorious day here in Saigon. I just got back from Parkson (best department store in Saigon) where I go to get Gatorade for only 85 cents per bottle. Those other damn stores charge up to 4 dollars a bottle and so I make it a habit to get to Parksons at least once a week.

Their grocery store is actually like something you would find in the USA. All the fruit is ripe, vegetables not decaying and the staff is actually working! However, one typical Vietnamese custom still pervades there and that is the habit of not wanting to wait in line if you only have one item. I had 8 items and therefore could be in the fast lane if I was in the USA but unfortunately an older woman of about 50 years old only had one ice cream box and did the old “Ditch everyone in line at the grocery store routine cause it’s tradition in Nam.” I’m a pretty laid back guy but sometimes this tradition would peeve me just the slightest bit but being in an entire culture of line-ditchers I guess I would just have to adapt.

I used to believe it was communism that made people forget how to wait in line and cause massive amounts of people to simply push and shove each other to be first. But today in the store it hit me like a bolt of lightning.


And there we have it! The French influenced Vietnam quite a bit and must have taught them how to not stand in line and that pushing and shoving is a much better solution than the queue. I know! Let’s do a compare France and Vietnam.. Wouldn’t that be fun!

1. Sometimes Vietnamese don’t like to work very hard. The French petition the government and change the damn law to make sure they don’t have to work hard.

2. Vietnamese people are friendly and smile. Parisians are a pain in the ass, sourpusses who might be a little nicer if you speak to them in French first, but if not they will be downright unpleasant because maybe they cannot understand English so well. Many Vietnamese cannot understand English very well either but they always smile and will talk to you for as long as you want in Vietnamese even though you don’t understand a damn word. Our maids talk to me almost daily and I’ve never understood a single thing!

3. French people usually only go out with other French people. In this case they are like the Japanese who stick to their own group. Vietnamese aren’t afraid of foreigners as history has shown and will engage in conversation with anyone even if no understanding between the two parties is taking place.

4. Here most French can speak English. I can speak French OK, but when I try with French people they insist to speak English. Yet, they still insist their language is better. Therefore, it makes no damn sense that they want the world to use French, but never speak to non-french people in French! I wonder if I can push some of this useless language out of my brain and replace it with Chinese?

5. It is harder to rent an apartment in France than in Saigon and they have even more paperwork in Paris than the Communist Bureaucracy here in Saigon!!!! hahahahahahaha.

Ok, I’m done picking on the French for today. I feel the urge for some Freedom Fries for dinner.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! \(^.^)/


  1. It warms my conservative heart to see you making fun of France – it’s actually one of my hobbies. Though, oddly enough, since the announcement of the Oil for Food scandal and the re-election of Pres. Bush, they seem to have just shut up.
    hmmm – surrender monkeys, anyone?
    disclaimer time: I have no issue with French people in general. I do have a huge issue with their leadership, however.

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