Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Crickets and Beatles

Today has been a day of two halves. The first half involved a trip to the market to do some shopping. The second half was dinner and karaoke with one of our clients.

We’ve been to a few markets since arriving in Vietnam, as they seem to be everywhere. Most people do a daily food shop at the street market, rather than a weekly shop at the supermarket, so today my language lesson got practical and off we went on the scooters to try out some of my Vietnamese. As I have been bombarded with vocab today, I have lots of new words to share and it actually gave me an insight into how complicated and tonal this language actually is.

Qưa (sounds like qwa) means fruit and is put in front of the name of the fruit itself, for example, qưa xoài (sounds like qwa swy – tone going down) means mango, qưa dưá (sounds like qwa zooa – tone going up) means pineapple. But, qưa dưà (sounds also like qwa zooa – tone going down) means coconut. The word nươć (sounds like neug and is the same as water) put in front of the name of the fruit, means juice. This I discovered when we ordered nươć dưà, coconut juice, from a street vendor. (Unfortunately, depending on your computer the Vietnamese symbols may appear as squares)

Interestingly, dương (sounds like doo-ung) is the same word for street and sugar. The way they can tell which one you are referring to, is through the context of the conversation, apparently. So you could, in theory, get handed a bag of sugar while asking for directions.

Most prices are negotiable in Vietnam so haggling is common place. Phrases, which sound like cuy (tone going up) nuy (tone going down) zaa bow neuw? Meaning how much is this? and cuy nuy daat qwa (tone going up), meaning this is too expensive can come in handy.

We spent the evening sat on cushions, on the floor, while we were served numerous traditional Vietnamese dishes. One of them was… yes you’ve guessed it from this blog title – crickets (legs, shells and all). If I’m honest, they don’t really taste of very much, so all those contestants on I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here are really kicking up a fuss for nothing. The rest of the dishes were also delicious with a few minor exceptions. I think it has probably been the best meal we’ve had in Vietnam so far and I’m pleased to report that there was no beer involved. We followed the meal with singing (if you can call it that) in a private karaoke booth with our hosts, where the IBM team attempted the Beatles’ classics Let it be and Yesterday (as these seemed to be two of the few English songs choices that we knew). There is video evidence, but I think for the sake of public health we may have to keep that to ourselves ;-)

1 comment:

  1. Hello Jo,

    You are not yet forgotten that I am allowed to watch arjan his karaoke. I look very forward to the video. Especially now that I've seen the photos ;-)

    Greetings, Tineke