Progress, and travel plans


Hue Imperial City

So… My understanding of written Vietnamese is definitely improving (in the new lesson, I understood what they were saying to each other with just a few well-placed explanations from Mom); my pronunciation still kind of sucks. Let’s not speak of my spelling, which has got Mom going into fits semi-regularly. She’ll say a word, and I’ll write it down, and know that I got it wrong. The “this pronunciation translates to this accent” isn’t happening so well right now, whereas the “this accent translates into this pronunciation” is a little bit better ingrained. I can repeat fairly accurately; I can’t really manage unprompted unless it’s very simple things (“hello”, “thank you”, “please give me a bowl of phở” *g*). Not surprising: I’ve always been more visual than auditive (yup, writer. Why do you ask?) As I was saying to Mom, the main thing where I’ve improved is that I’m reasonably sure that I can read and understand a Vietnamese menu with close to no help (barring the odd unknown vegetable, though Vietnamese is very kind by providing classifiers: “rau” for herbs, “cây” for leafy things, “trái” for fruit, “củ” for tubers…). I *might* possibly be able to order, if I steel myself not to follow the path of least resistance and speak English.

Why does this matter, you ask? Weeelll… The first two weeks of February, the H and I will be traipsing through Vietnam. Specifically, through Huể (high time I visited the imperial capital, or what’s left of it), Hội An, Sài Gòn, and the South around Sài Gòn (yes, I know it’s HCMV now. Never quite got used to it). I’m down to two people warning me the accents of the Centre are horrible–that I should be more than adequately equipped to handle Southerners, might possibly manage to understand Northerners, but that the Centre is a law onto itself. Given that I can barely make myself understood by Southerners, I can’t help but think that the Huể/Hội An section of the trip is going to be so much fun… (Sài Gòn will be better, both because, hey, Southerners, and also because Grandma/the uncles will be around)

Three more lessons to go before we leave. Ouch.


  1. I shouldn’t be the one giving Vietnam travel advice, but I will say that we really enjoyed Hue when we went. It was a nice respite from Saigon, which is intense. (Esp. with a two year old in tow.) I can’t speak to the language though, I never made it past “Com” meaning a place for food.

  2. He, thanks! Saigon is probably going to be intense (I suspect family visits all over the place). But I can find food places, no problem…
    (“cơm” actually means “rice”, and by extension places that serve food advertise this feature–hence the deformation I presume…)

  3. That’s what my wife told me, and since she knows far more about Asia than I do, I believed her. The “Com” were our favorite places to eat. My wife would purposefully pick the rattiest looking ones, where even the regulars eyed the silverware suspiciously before wiping it off and the corrugated tin walls were about to fall over, and just point to people’s plates to order. Much better tasting and cheaper than the places geared towards tourists, even if I have no idea what we ate.

  4. :=) We ate much better in non-touristy places than elsewhere, especially when you’re already familiar with the food, and everything in the tourist places feels–off in a way that’s hard to pinpoint.

  5. I went to Vietnam for my honeymoon. We traveled South to north in 2 weeks. It was not your normal Honeymoon but memorable. i was only thinking the other day about it.. really want to go back.

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