Vietnam visit is child’s play
My heart starts pounding in my chest. Where is she? She was here a second ago. The waitress was playing peek-aboo with her and now I can’t see her.I stand up quickly, spilling my glass of water, and scan the room.
My husband is attempting to convince our 3½ -yearold that spring rolls are edible. The people at the table next to us are deep in conversation. Why aren’t they looking worried?
I open my mouth to shout, “Help, the waitress stole my baby!”, and then my eyes fall to the piano in the corner, a few metres away.
I spot my 11-month-old baby girl, sitting on the waitress’s lap, bashing the piano with her chubby fists in the way that young children do. She looks over at me, smiles and continues her assault on the piano. Nobody seems to mind the awful noise she is making.
Although this is the first time, it certainly isn’t the last occasion a Vietnamese waitress steals my baby. A little confronting initially, it is not uncommon for Vietnamese people to reach out to young children. In fact, it seems the norm here to go out of your way to make baby talk with a stranger’s child, or interact with them. If your child is happy enough, like ours, they will indeed pick her up and walk around the restaurant introducing her to all the other staff and customers.
Children are not only welcome in Vietnam, but are treated like VIPs, especially foreign kids. If you stroll near a group of local women, it is unlikely you will make it past without at least one squeeze of baby’s thighs, or some very serious baby talk and fits of giggles when baby smiles back at them.
This warm welcome, combined with great food, good public transport and luxury accommodation at affordable prices, ensures that Vietnam is a strong contender for one of the easiest places to take holidays with your family.
My advice is to give in to the welcoming nature of the locals. By the end of your travels, this “it takes a village” culture will have become a breath of fresh air.
Where else in the world would you receive such a warm welcome with young kids in a restaurant? Send your 400-word contribution to Follow the Reader: travel@ theaustralian.com.au. Columnists will receive a Cross Tech3 MultiFunction Pen that neatly switches between a black and red pen, pencil, eraser and a stylus for use on smartphone or other touchscreen device; $89.95. More: luxurypens.net.au.