My patience is generally pretty good, at least I dont show if I’m impatient and I mostly keep my composure. What really challenged my in Vietnam is lack of respect for personal space. On a tour bus travelling back from Ba Na Hills a lady sat beside me, child in her arms, and sprawled out. She casually rested half of her 3-4yo sleeping child on my lap. IT was at least 33 degrees, the aircon was struggling and she didn’t make eye contact. I moved across with a bit of a huff, trying to signal that I wasn’t happy about this. In Australia, that would have been a very obvious non-verbal cue that I wanted more space and was annoyed. What did this woman do? She took the extra space! God. Do you think I could get it back? Nope. She didn’t speak English and seemingly could not care less that she. Wass taking up 1.5 seats.
How hard is it? Go to the back of the line and wait your turn. This applies at the airport for taxis, customs, hotel lobbys, cafes etc. At first, when I noticed people were moving ahead of me I assumed their family was up ahead. Nope. They just lack the social etiquette I’ve come to expect.
Earlier today I was in the Border security queue of about 150 people trying to leave HCMC. I had waited 25minutes, it was hot, my feet were sore and I just wanted to pee. Finally, I was 3rd in the queue and feeling happy about it when an Asian family appeared in front of me. 2 adults, 3 kids. There was not a chance they were going first (I’d had enough of this behaviour the night before at 1am in the taxi queue). I asked the guy what (the bloody hell)he thought he was doing as his wife just looked around as though nothing was going on. I told him to go to the back of the line and as I looked back I saw other families and individuals doing the same, just cutting the queue. I think people get away with this behaviour because no one speaks up. People don’t want to cause a fuss. Well, I was as polite as required and in case you’re wondering, they weren’t running late. They were just rude.
So, there is a social Hierarchy in Asia. Singaporeans are at the top, followed by Hong Kong, Mainland China and then….well who cares. The point is that Vietnamese, Thai, Laos, Phillipinos and any other developing country doesn’t get a look in when deciding one’s importance. The next thing to look at is the whiteness of skin (desirable in Asia), clothing and posture. Western Caucaseans don’t get a look in. I had a Singaporean lady explain this to me recently when she jumped the queue (Yes, I was about to have a go at her) She gave me a ‘cultural lesson’ That in Asia, us (also white skinned)Westerers, although guests in their country need to make way for this social hierarchy and class system that they have.
While I don’t find it particularly difficult to tell Thai, Phillipino, Malaysians, Singaporeans apart, many people do. And quite honestly, when queueing up in Western fashion, they don’t care. I couldn’t care less about the hierarchy, so I’ll continue to hold my ground in western-queue fashion