Sunday, January 24, 2010

Are You Serious?

(PICTURE: A garbage can in the stands.)

I've mentioned on my blog before that the Vietnamese like to throw garbage on the ground. It is just what they do here whether it be on the street or in a restaurant. It's part of the culture. You're in a restaurant and blow your nose in a napkin, chuck it to the ground. You're on the street and finished with your water bottle, toss it on the curb. This is the hardest part of the culture here for me to adapt to. I've gotten more than a few looks when I've kept a dirty napkin on top of the table rather than chucking it on the ground where it belongs.

Well, at the soccer stadium I got a taste of my own medicine. When we went to the Vietnam vs. China soccer game, Huyen and I had bought some roasted nuts outside of the stadium and brought them into the game with us. After I shelled a nut I threw the shell under my seat -- you know how we do it in America. I immediately heard a gasp to the right of me followed by, "What are you doing?!" Huyen was appalled that I would throw the shell on the ground. I actually wasn't sure if she was serious and brilliantly asked, "Are you serious?" She said yes and told me to put the shells in the garbage. Sure enough, there was a garbage a few feet in front of us. If only there were garbage cans on the streets in Hanoi...

By the way, one thing I found really interesting about the soccer stadium was that they made an announcement banning smoking at the stadium. Smoking isn't banned anywhere in Vietnam. To me this was a huge progressive step forward for the country...that is until seemingly every male lit up a cigarette at halftime (not in the stands but in the corridors, bathrooms, refreshment area, etc). Even worse than people smoking though was that the vendors were selling cigarettes despite the ban. One step forward, two steps back.