Do I look Vietnamese? By Wan Phing Lim

Strange and funny things always happen to me when I travel, but I never foresaw that my trip to Ho Chi Minh City would begin with one.

On my first night, I stood in the dark outside my childhood friend’s apartment waiting for him to let me in. As he did, the apartment security guard shouted at us rudely in Vietnamese, but none of us could understand him.

“No Vietnam! No Vietnam!” my friend shouted back. The security guard continued at the top of his voice, and we hurried in.

“What was that all about?” I asked.

“Give me your passport,” he said.

“What? Why?” I demanded to know.

“Just hand it over,” he replied.

I obediently followed, and later heard him scurrying out to his neighbour across the hall.

“Tell the security guard downstairs that my friend is not a Vietnamese!” He shouted at a small woman in her mid-thirties, who took my passport and went away.

“Do I look Vietnamese?” I asked him quietly later.

“Nah,” he replied, not wanting to answer.

“Is it because I’m tanned?” I persisted.

“They just don’t like you bringing local girls home,” he replied.

“But... I’m not a local...” I trailed off. And then it hit me.

“The security guard thinks I’m a prostitute??” I doubled over in laughter.

But my friend didn’t think it was funny. So I decided to stop laughing, and not judge his private life.

in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam


Wan Phing is the online editor at Born in Penang, Malaysia, she currently resides in Singapore and loves travel, photography and discovering new trends.

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