Dating in Vietnam: Is it Really That Different?

Valentine’s Day in Vietnam means that young people are selling roses to make a little extra money.

The parks will be full of couples cuddling behind their parked motorbikes.

And, of course, all of the hotels and restaurants are trying to capitalize on the day by offering specials targeted at couples.

The courtship that led to my marriage to a Vietnamese woman started a few weeks before Valentine’s Day several years ago, and at this time of year I often find myself thinking back to then.

When Ngân – my wife – and I first met each other, we lived in the Mekong Delta, in the city of Long Xuyen.

Relatively speaking, Long Xuyen is a tiny town, especially when compared to Ho Chi Minh City.

Both of us knew a lot of people in the area, but of course wanted privacy when we were hanging out, as newly dating couples tend to.

This is where the motorbike came in.

When Ngân and I wanted to talk comfortable and privately, we’d hop on a motorbike and drive around town, sometimes for hours.

I’m sure that some couples in Vietnam extend their rides much longer than we did.

In Long Xuyen three years ago, there were not many options for proper dates.

Without a movie theatre and avoiding restaurants (I always seemed to run into my drinking buddies), the only options were: đi vòng vòng (drive around), go for coffee or have a snack.

Now, I am not a person who particularly likes going to coffee shops in the evening, so that was usually out of the question.

Going for little snacks opened my world to a ton of new street food (bột chiên, cháo trắng, etc.) and was surprisingly healthy.

But we’d still end up “đi vòng vòng” almost every night.

It’s easy to contrast the differences in dating inVietnamand theU.S., but if you step back, the activities I mentioned – getting a bite to eat, driving around to enjoy each other’s company – are not that different from dating in the U.S.

However, Long Xuyen is a more rural community than Ho Chi Minh City, and it is much more conservative.

This meant that there were next to no public displays of affection.

I remember feeling like a rebel the first time that we walked a couple blocks holding hands in Long Xuyen.

The lack of displays of affection led to an interesting exchange as Ngân and I were preparing for our wedding ceremony.

My father, who is a pastor, was in Long Xuyen and was preparing Ngân and I for the ceremony.

He told us that at the end of the ceremony, he would say:

“You may kiss the bride.”

But we learned that this would not be proper because Ngân’s grandmother would be present at the ceremony, and this level of public affection would not be appropriate.

The dating experience in Vietnam, especially in smaller towns, was definitely different for an American like me.

Despite all the cultural differences, Ngân and I have reached a point where we are comfortable with the small cultural gap between us.

There are still some differences that arise, but hey, it keeps things interesting.

By ERIC  BURDETTE

 Source: Tuoi Tre Online

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