7 January 2011:
A quick note from yesterday. Whilst being attended to by the beautiful Nhum at the tailor, the inevitable measuring process had to be undertaken. She took me next door to see another lady who clearly is the measuring queen. This lady's young son had come in from school, still wearing his delightful uniform. The school uniforms in Vietnam are just lovely and look very professional. The little boy would have been about 8 years old and he was the cutest little thing. He is clearly very used to living his life surrounded by tourists having clothes made. He took it upon himself to look at the pictures of all the outfits I'm having done, and started looking me up and down and comparing me to the picture. The brazen confidence of this boy's appraisal was fabulous. As his mother is measuring me, she started running her hands over me and was feeling up my breasts and my bottom. Vietnamese women are very, very slender and generally have figures like adolescent boys. They are fascinated by Western women who have a bit of meat on them and they're also fascinated by pale skin. Although they think we look like ghosts, they find it alluring and exotic. I wish I had a dollar for every time someone came up to me and touched my face or my arm. As the tailor is measuring me and feeling me up, she remarked, "you have big bum. I like. I like. I no bum!!!" At this point, the little boy, evidently bored to sobs by now, decided to start singsong to me "bigbum bigbum bigbum" over and over. This caused a great deal of amusement to all the women in the shop and they were in bits laughing until they spied the look of unadulterated horror on my face. The mother moved with lightning speed to reach over and cuff the boy sharply over the back of the head.
Fearing that I was going to turn tail and disappear out of the shop faster than Brendan Fevola's football career, instant sobriety was adopted and apologies were made by all the ladies. I was actually fine with it and could see the funny side. Although I'm carrying a bit more weight than I would like, I'm still a size 8 and so in the greater scheme of things in life, my bum isn't that big compared to many others out there. Besides, how fortunate are we in the west to have enough food to eat so that we can get a big bum in the first place? Food sources are a constant crisis for so many of the world's people. Vietnamese people don't have big bums, but they do have the most delightful sense of humour.
Rule number 1: unless she is Beyonce, never, ever, ever, under any circumstances whatsoever tell a western woman she has a big bum if you want her to be your friend or buy something from you!!!