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Even though it has been over 40 years, many people around the world still snap to images of war when they think about Vietnam. But the common sentiment of the Vietnamese is that although they’re proud of their hard-fought independence, they’d rather prosper in peace. This enduring optimism is just one of many reasons why we love them. Here are 11 more.
The professionals hide it by taking two hours for lunch, while workers just hang a hammock off a tree or lay down anywhere they can find shade. Vietnamese love to siesta. When it’s too hot outside, or if the rain is coming down like crazy, kick back and snooze.
When foreigners make innocent mistakes, Vietnamese people forgive them. If you leave your shoes on after walking by the pile of them at the door, Vietnamese won’t fly into a rage. If you mispronounce their names, it’s no problem. If you make a wrong turn and accidentally cut a few people off on your motorbike, nobody is going to fight you over it. Small things are always forgivable in Vietnam.
The family unit is incredibly strong in Vietnam. They practice Confucian family values, where experience is respected. Vietnam is a young country these days, but the youth are still taught to practice good manners and humility, especially around those older than them. Even as Vietnam modernizes and changes at an unbelievable pace, families are still the integral unit of this society. You’ll never hear a child back-talking to a parent here.
This is a country full of hustle. People work multiple jobs and put in long hours. There is a lot happening here at the moment and everyone is doing whatever they can to have a better future for both themselves and their families. Vietnamese people started 110,000 new businesses in 2016. That’s a lot of change and potential.
It’s not uncommon for groups of tourists to get invited into homes or businesses to join a meal. When it’s time to celebrate, people go all out in Vietnam, with enormous (and delicious) meals, and parties that can go well into the night. Even in day-to-day life, you’ll also encounter many selfless acts. People often go out of their way to give foreigners a good impression of Vietnam.
After listening to Vietnamese music for a while, you start to wonder why it all sounds so sad. It seems like every songwriter in the country is living through an endless stream of breakups and unrequited love. It’s because Vietnamese people love to listen to stories about love. Even when you merely mention that you have a partner, reactions will range from happy nods to giddy squeals. Children are the only things Vietnamese people love more than love itself.
Vietnamese people take education very seriously. They’ll tell you that getting an education is an investment in future generations. They know that future prosperity comes from yesterday’s hard work. When you speak to students and ask about their social lives, you learn just how much time they spend studying. It can be a bit disheartening, but it’s also commendable how hard they work to make it into top universities. And once they’re in, they work even harder to be top of their class.
Just about everyone in Vietnam is hustling to get ahead. The job market is hyper-competitive, and so is the marketplace. Businesses open and close at a crazy pace in Vietnam. There’s a lot of opportunities here, but you’ve got to be relentless if you want any chance of making it. Vietnamese people are busting their hides to succeed.
It’s no secret that Vietnamese food is great, and one of the real pleasures of traveling or living in Vietnam is trying new dishes you’ve never had before. There’s actually an impressive variety to Vietnamese food, and chefs are creating new variations on the classics all the time. Just about every meal in Vietnam is another reason to love them.
In terms of export tonnage, Vietnam is the second largest producer of coffee in the world. For such a tiny country, geographically, that’s really quite a feat. The mountainous rain forests of central Vietnam are perfect for growing the Robusta strain of coffee beans. Anyone who has had Vietnamese coffee can attest to its potency. Leaving Vietnam sends many into vicious caffeine withdrawal.
You can see it in the sheet steel shacks around construction sites, where communities grow to support the people working nearby. You can hear it in the stories of people who’ve moved hundreds or even thousands of kilometers to find work, sending money back home to support relatives. But the older generation is the best example of them all. They lived through war and extreme poverty. Nowadays, they’re just happy to see their children and grandchildren succeeding in a peaceful country. That’s their reward.