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Sleeping Vietnamese

by Tatsuru Kimura


Vietnamese sleep well.  To be accurate, I often see sleeping women everywhere in the daytime.  As much as people in Hong Kong are eager to find good foods, Vietnamese are eager to have a good amount of sleep.

At Ben Thanh market in Ho Chi Minh City, I could observe so many ways to sleep.  Some lie on the floor, some lean against the wall or goods.  They tend each other’s store while their neighbor is sleeping.  In The limit of Vietnamese Consumer Market, Elizabeth F. Vann explains that Vietnamese do not appreciate the authentity of merchandise: they would just as soon buy “mimic goods” that imitate the original but at a cheaper price.  In and around Ben Thanh market, I also could observe that people sell knock-offs openly.  However, I think that sometimes people do not attribute any special value to brand marks because some were sleeping on merchandise with brand marks. 

At Can Toh market in the Mekong Delta where people mainly sell fresh foods, some old women sling hammocks between pillars.  If you look into a house from a street, you may see sleeping women and dogs.  This does not mean that women are lazy in Vietnam at all.  They wake up so early in the morning and evening.  Especially working in the marketplace requires getting up early.  I guess, they save their energy in the humid and hot daytime.  I think in hot regions people often take naps more than people in cold regions.  It may depend on seasons.  Upon seeing so many sleeping Vietnamese, I remembered that my mother often scolded me for taking a daytime nap in the winter but not so much in the summer.  I felt it unreasonable, but it might make some sense if I had the perspective of working women.  Of course, not only woman takes a nap, man does, and tourist does too.  There are several hammocks at the dining room of where we stayed in the Mekong Delta, and they are so comfortable.  For Vietnamese, a hammock serves as a couch or more than that. 

Ho Chi Minh is an active and noisy city and souvenir sellers are so aggressive, but I felt it a somewhat peaceful atmosphere.  This is partly because I could see so many sleeping people in busy markets.  I guess that Vietnamese can sleep well even in front of strangers because they assume that they are safe.  I did not see so many sleeping people in other countries.

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