(part 2 of 3)
4. Language: so, we have established one thing, which will come as no surprise, which is that my Vietnamese pronunciation sucks, and the more towards the centre we moved, the less I could make myself understood. I could sort of fake it in Hội An (to the point that when I asked for the bill it was presented to me in Vietnamese, cueing a “er, how much is ba mươi hai in English/French/convenient other language” ), but Huế was markedly worse. Thank God, we didn’t go any further North… Also, I can’t really understand people (I catch words here and there, mainly from context and especially in the South), but that’s about it. But I have a dictionary now–and a book of Vietnamese fairytales! (don’t laugh. I figured that. a. vocabulary was going to be simple. b. I knew a lot of them and could hook up the wagons as I was reading c. they’re illustrated, which helps immensely).
5. Food, language and East meets West: we have also been able to indulge in an experiment in restaurants, which is the difference in treatment when you order in Vietnamese. Basically, whenever we did that, we got chopsticks and bowls, as if it speaking the language automatically meant you could deal with the eating habits (yes, I know. I actually could deal with the eating habits since childhood, long before I could mumble any word of the language, but it was nice not having to ask). The H watched the other (Western) tourists eat for a while, and said, “you know, when you look at them from the point of view of someone who’s always eaten Asian-style… not only do they seem very greedy by not sharing the contents of their plates, but they’re also eating from the serving dishes”. I had to fight very hard at that point not to spit the entire content of my mouth while laughing…
 Thirty-two thousand dong, in case you’re wondering (well, literally thirty-two, but no one bothers with the thousand anymore).