Bizarre Sights of Vietnam

Posted by - September 25, 2011 | Category: Peculiarities

Since I blogged about the Sounds of Vietnam, I thought it only fitting that I devote some time to the Sights of Vietnam as well.  The slightly odd ones that is…

Helmets on Buses

helmets on buses

Lady in the middle — obvious helmet.  Lady to the left of her — helmet, wrapped in a jaunty beret. 

Some Vietnamese harbour a fondness for boarding the bus sporting protective headgear.  It makes me wonder.  Was their motorbike nicked?  It is being shipped via slow boat?   Or is it a requirement of the dim-witted in these parts perhaps?  I’d like to believe it’s an extreme form of visualization – “I may not have a motorbike now, but if I wear this helmet long enough, the universe will certainly deliver.”  But I’m not sure.

Pantyhose and Flip Flops

Pantyhose with toe separator


Pioneered by the Germans, the socks and sandals combo is tops among pet peeves.  This is my first encounter with the pantyhose and flip flips phenomena however.  I’m not sure how (or why) this came about, but I lay the blame squarely on Germany.  Where open footwear is present, German-inspired hosiery can’t be far behind.  The sad thing is, I’ve even seen some band-wagoning tourists embrace the trend.  Perhaps they confused flights to Hanover with flights to Hanoi.

Electrical Wonders

electrical wiring in Ho Chi Minh

power outlet in Phu Quoc

The Vietnamese like their power, but not necessarily their safety.  They seem to have mastered not only the art of the horn, but hold dominion over the properties of electricity as well.  Wires run as randomly as the noodles in your pho, and oftentimes are equally as soggy.

Pyjamas as Daywear

Woman in pyjamas in Hue, Vietnam

Women in pyjamas, Rach Gia, Vietnam

Woman in pyjamas weighing cardboard

When I see this many women in pyjamas, I’m half expecting a pillow fight to break out.  It’s hard to tell who’s dressed for work, and who’s about to lay down for a nap.  The first time I saw it, I was certain the poor woman was sleep-walking.  Then she spat and lit a smoke, so I figured she was at least partially in control of her senses.

Not the most professional look for your average career woman, but I guess comfort accounts for something.  I’d like to see a female lawyer’s office while I’m here, At home I’m used to see male criminal lawyer as Matthew Gould, so that would make a change.  Would she be donning business suits, sitting around a conference table discussing the finer points of torts?  Or in her PJ’s, snuggled up to beanbag chairs watching a Legally Blonde marathon?  Would the attire lean more towards Ann Taylor or OshKosh B’Gosh.  Who’s to say.  In any case, it’s still bizarre every time I see it.

What bizarre sights have you seen in Asia?

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58 comments - add one
  1. Pantyhose with ANYthing is horrid! I’d rather freeze. You know, I never actually knew how to spell pantyhose! Ok, now I never want to say that word again.

  2. funny post 🙂 I definitely know what you are talking about as far as the electrical engineering goes. I made a song called ‘power line vines speaker flowers’ and it was partly inspired by walking around and noticing those insane clusters of wires on every corner.

  3. And here I thought I was weird for taking pictures of some scary wiring in a bar/coffee shop I went into in Costa Rica. I guess we north Americans get used to not having to watch out for electrical dangers because of electrical codes and inspections.

    So Ray, how did you get close-up shot of the sandal/pantyhose shot? LOL!

    1. Damn North American! What with their “codes” and “rules” and “lawsuits”.

      The first one I took on an overnight train when lady down below stretched out her gams. The second one is from “Tohos” — purveyors of the finest pantyhose for flip flops on the market. 🙂

  4. Haha, regarding the pantyhose and flip flops, I actually see a lot of Japanese ladies wearing pantyhose and sandals also. x_X

    Seeing helmets in buses made me think…..does that mean bus accidents happen a lot there? O_O (scared..)

    Interesting post with interesting views ^_^

  5. Wow, pantyhose and flip flops! YIKES! I have to admit I don’t like people’s feet as it is much less with pantyhose. Maybe it’s a way to wear open toed shoes while keeping your feet warm?

  6. Loving the wall socket. If you ever get the chance to see their electrical workers on the street, stop and watch – they work w/out hardhats, gloves or anything that looks like grounding wires. Crazy!

    1. That electrical socket photo was in my bungalow in Phu Quoc. My lamp broke so the guy rigged up a bulb with that contraption. The worst part is I had to take the wires out whenever I wanted to turn out the light. Good thing I left my oily rags at home. 🙂

  7. Thanks for making us laugh.

    Love your writing style and humour.

    Nylons inside sandals and pyjamas to work, ok then.

    Yes, we would be curious to see a Lawyers dress as well. 🙂

    Nancy & Shawn

  8. Haha, love it! I am always amazed with the amazing array of electrical wires that they put together. It a wonder that more people aren’t electrocuted. when we were there it was a few years ago (2004) and the wiring that was above the shower to heat the water always severely worried me:-) Fun post!

    1. Shit. I just had to go to the loo to check the water heater. Same set up. If this is my last post, then the secret that I’ve been holding onto, the secret to life, is BZZZZZZTT…

  9. I grew up in a time when knee-high socks and flip flops with shorts were in fashion. Maybe its just a phase like those pantyhose and open-toe shoes. Who knows? Asia and their PJs – after being in Shanghai for a while, I totally get why they’d wear it in public.

  10. The electrical nightmares and the pantyhose and thongs (not those thongs, pervert) are very reminiscent of my time in Korea. Helmets on buses is a new one though.

  11. as much as the ‘pyjamas’ look funny to us Westerners…come on, you can’t really expect them to wear denim in that heat. This type of clothing is as normal for them as the Sari is to Indians and it’s a way of coping with the climate. Personally, I don’t think there’s anything funny in that…

  12. This craziness is my favorite part of travel. In Paraguay I regularly see people chasing barn animals, or even barn animals chasing humans. SO EPIC!

  13. A lady doctor (from Hanoi) in our travel group was wearing hair curlers the whole time we were in Mekong Delta. She was wearing curlers for several days!

  14. ha ha ha. enjoyed your writing. women in pajamas, indeed. that is also very asian, though you won’t find much here in Manila. i joined an Asian cruise once and was shocked to have pj-clad men and women enjoying the breakfast buffet. i felt sleepy just looking at them!

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  16. I agree, love the sights in Asia. I remember seeing a guy painting 6 stories off the ground with a ladder TIED at the top. It was quite windy and the ladders swinging, he was holding on with one hand, and painting with the other. He was using the swinging in the wind to cover more area.

    Not too mention dropping a lot of paint on unsuspecting pedestrians and bikes below.

  17. It was classic after I got back to Oz, working in a modern mine, I gave a photo of this guy to one of my mates working in safety. He’s been using it in all his safety courses ever since!

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  19. really innovative. Your post is unique. Bizarre post loved by many people. Good pics to see & please tell government about open wire to save people from it if it will be danger.

  20. Hi!
    Pantyhose topic revisited.

    I live in Vancouver, Canada and I have a Vietnamese friend here.

    I went to visit her and I was pantyhose. I asked her for slippers, but she offered me flip flops. Turns out that this is what they do, regardless whether the sock or pantyhose are designed for flip flops or not.

    I asked her about it and she said “Oh yeah, that’s how we wear it.”


  21. The picture and your comment on that woman is very hilarious. Some elders in our country wear helmet on a car is just want to be safe. But i don’t know why the helmet will protect you from what though :))
    And for the electricity line plug in, we will everything we can to take the most of usable stuffs. That’s the way it is


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