Yesterday I was asked how heavy people are treated here. Well, I can personally tell you from my own experience. The first time I came to Vietnam I weighed a whopping 265 pounds and was a size 46 in waist. Back then I spoke no Vietnamese so I was not able to recognize any taunting or insults. I did however, hear some repetitive words that stuck in my memory, and until this day, 12 years later, remember. Back then being large did attract attention. There was not an overweight person to be seen anywhere, therefore, being an overweight westerner really made me stick out. Back then they had seen very few westerners. I have to say that there was a lot of hostility. I am not sure if it was because of my size or where I was from. My large size did not seem to bother the women too much as I probably represented wealth if I was able to afford so much food to be this way. In fact, many times my family members had to chase women off that were trying to cast love spells on me. Well, maybe some of those spells are still with me
today, because I still find it hard not to fall in love with all of them. Anyway…….. The men and kids were different. The kids would yell out the normal child like taunts of mâ?p or be?o b??, the men however would shake their heads or glare angrily at me. I noticed in 2006 that there was a big change in the peoples attitudes. More foreigners were roaming the streets and it seemed that the local population had come to terms that everybody could come in different shapes and sizes. Funny though, even after all the weight loss, I was still called be?o b?? which translates to chubby baby. In 2009 and now, I have noticed the biggest change. Not only are larger people wandering around without being harassed, but there are plenty of overweight Vietnamese. I had never seen this before. I especially noticed this with the younger teenagers. The introduction of fast foods in the cities
has probably a big thing to do with it. Most off the population are still slim and sexy, but there is a large enough population of heavier people that one does not attract too much attention. Since I have been back I have gained about 30 pounds, and still people refer to me as looking healthy or adorable ( blush ). Soooo…. Do not worry too much about your size or shape here. Unless you are spending time in the country where there is very little tourism, you will encounter very little in the way of criticism… Even if you did, you would not know it anyway. Most Vietnamese are scared and respectful of us and will do nothing to offend us.
I have to chuckle… I am now looking at episodes of Xena Princess Warrior on Vietnamese TV. It has all the action and sound effects of the original, but they have mixed the English to a low volume. In it’s place is a almost
monotone like narrative of what is being said. I have no idea how anybody can enjoy a program presented in this way, but I have seen people glued to their sets. I should clarify that this is on a Vietnamese station, and not one of the many stations available in English…..
Speaking about that….. I have no idea of where and how, but there are a lot of prime channels available here over the air for free HBO… Showtime…Discovery… Animal planet, and others. This is truly a wireless country. All channels offer excellent reception and I have never hear of a dropped call or a bad signal on a cell phone. I guess that is to be expected since when you look on to the horizon, it is almost impossible to not see a relay station of some sort. The cell phone companies will pay a person 300 USD a month to have a cell tower on their property. That is a fortune to many here and so you will see many houses that are located in the right locale boasting a giant antennae on the roof. Coverage is everywhere!!