Women’s Day Vietnamese Style

Andy wasn’t thrilled to be getting up at 7am for our Sunday session at the further coffee shop. I, on the other hand, was hoping that this would be the same group of 19-24 year olds so Andy would have a similar nice day with them too.

As we arrived there were bags of fruit on each table and loads of happy faces. As we took our seats, the number of happy faces kept increasing until there were around 40 of them. At this point we didn’t bother asking each other what was going on because we weren’t even able to hear our own thoughts. God, kids can be loud!

Their course teacher arrived and told us that it was women’s day in Vietnam and we were going to eat fruit, sing songs and be jolly! We thought, “yes we can manage that”. As there were so many of them, Steph (Western teacher), Andy and I, each had a group around 12-15 learners.

Initially we were asked to have a chat with our groups about the significance of the day and feedback to the whole class.

My group was lovely. I asked them each to tell me what they would do to celebrate women’s day. One of the guys said he’d treat his girlfriend a nice dinner. Some of the girls went “oooooowww”… Most girls said they’d take their mum shopping or at least phone if they are far from home. A popular women’s day gift seemed to be lipstick among my group members. One of the guys said that it was a terrible day for men in Vietnam because they’d be spending money and having to do nice things for women!

When Andy was making his feedback speech, he said that his group had asked him if women’s day was celebrated in the UK and he said that he simply couldn’t remember. I shouted “yes it is celebrated on March the 8th”. He said “oh I see but I don’t think we give it much importance, do we?” I couldn’t help myself and shouted again saying “No, I don’t think we do since you never got me any fruit or lipstick!”

The main task was to pick some songs to sing on stage (still the dinosaur’s mouth). As well as the group, the teachers were meant to sing individually as well. I didn’t want these kids to be scarred for life so I said I would only sing with my group but Andy was warming up for his next karaoke experience already trying to pick a meaningful song. Steph’s Sinatra impression went on so long, we never got to the king this time unfortunately.

By this point the lovely fruit was peeled and we were discussing the English names for these rather interesting fruit some of which we’d never seen before. My favourite was a small green fruit that had a peppery nutty taste.

Their course teacher had bought loads of lovely bracelets to give to the ladies as a souvenir. All the guys were coming to the stage and giving the bracelet to their chosen ladies. When Andy gave a bracelet to his translator and another to a lovely girl from his team, the teacher gave him a nudge and said “one to your wife maybe?”. I was called to the stage to receive my bracelet amongst the chantings of “kiss, kiss, kiss”… Andy presented my bracelet skilfully and we shared a little royal kiss followed by an uproar of clapping! When I got back to my seat, one of the GUYS from my team asked me “how do you feel?” Erm….fine?!

My group didn’t do terribly well in the singing part but who cares, it was just a bit of fun. When we finished the session there were a lot of picture requests from our friends. We did enjoy our time with them but admittedly the amount of noise was giving us a headache.

After leaving the building, we went across the road and sat down at a very modest place drawn by the gorgeous bbq smell. Andy had the bbq pork chops which was the source of the lovely smell with rice and green beans, and I had fish with rice and green beans. We were also served a bowl of broth and a bowl of chilli sauce. All for £1.70…!!!

Happily, we made our way back to rest our tired selves. The same evening, we went for a quick coffee followed by a meal in a place that was impossible to find. Good things come to those who keep going round trying to find the entrance though. This lovely cafe is on top of a narrow but tall building with a rooftop view of the city. As soon as we sat down, I was offered a complementary cocktail in a flute for women’s day. Of course I really liked the gesture and took full advantage of their still continuing happy hour to test as many of their cocktails as one can possibly do in an hour!

They seriously make a big deal of the women’s day here and I urge all women across the world to swarm into Vietnam on this day to be spoilt rotten for a whole day.

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