I have many nice memories with customers from leading a large number of groups travelling in Vietnam, but some memories are quite embarrassing, mostly caused by misunderstandings with language. You aren’t to know that some words you use daily in English that are ‘forbidden’ words or ones rarely used in Vietnamese.
I took a group from Australia to visit a local family for dinner (that is part of the V V T ‘Local Tours’ that experience local activity) that was beautiful group. They bought flowers and presented them to the local family. The owner also called all children back home to host my group. After a few Hanoi beers we sat down for dinner with all members of the family. Before the meal I tried to explain a couple of rules on English to customers on the dining code in Vietnam. Everything had gone fine until the owner came over (she was busy with her last cooked course) and ask in Vietnamese, “Do you like our food?” I translated. All the Australians replied, “Yum, yum!” and kept repeating “yum, yum” over and over. I saw the owner’s face getting red, but she acted with a smile and shot back to the kitchen. The visitors did not know that ‘yum, yum’ sounds very close to ‘break wind’ in Vietnamese! I followed the owner into the kitchen and explained to her the different meaning of those words to an Australian. Party ended up perfectly.
That was my most embarrassing memory though. So, be careful when you speak to Vietnamese. Some of the English words so far I know below may sound very funny to Vietnamese too:
– Loan: Never ever speak this word to Vietnamese, especially to girls. You know what I mean
– Alone: Speak it quickly and try not to repeat it often. That is also sounded like ‘a female’s stuff’
– Among: sounds very much like ‘bum, butt or ass’ in Vietnamese (people are still very shy talking about it)
– Still in thinking…