A few weeks ago I traveled to Hanoi to join our Hanoi company party and chaperone the North sales team on their reward trip for kicking arse in 2009. This pic was taken in a small village in the mountains about 5 hours from Hanoi at the minority tribe guest house where we stayed.
The team joked that I was the "Đại gia" [pronounced "day za"] and they were the "Chân dài" [pronounced "chun zai"]. "Đại gia" translates loosely to the American slang "sugar daddy" while "Chân dài" literally means "long legs" or, more generally, pretty girls hanging around the Đại gia. Needless to say I've gotten a lot of mileage out of this word because it's a joke that never gets old. I think it's especially funny to hear a foreigner say "Đại gia" in my funny accent.
I had a ball during the weekend. On display were many of the Vietnamese characteristics I admire and enjoy -- the closeness in a group, the joking and fun, the zeal and enthusiasm with which they engage in fun activities. We climbed a few hundred meters up the side of a mountain to visit a big cave. One girl insisted on doing it in her 7cm purple pumps. I asked why. She replied with a smile "Because I like them! And it's a challenge!" At one point they taught me a card game that's kinda like the American drinking game "President" but with some rule variations. They ran rings around me. The loser had to have a charcoal mark put on their face and they had a blast with me.
One of those cultural differences you never expect emerged during the weekend too. The first time our bus stopped for a toilet break, about 1/3 of the team got off the bus and promptly hurled their breakfasts on the pavement. It turns out that car sickness is very common, especially in Hanoi. Makes sense -- they didn't grow up riding in cars or buses.
All in all, a great weekend. I love spending time with the North team. Their "mau lua" -- fire in the blood -- energizes and inspires me.
You can see the photos from the trip above. The first half is our company party, the second half from the weekend trip [look closely for the purple pumps.] The costumes you see are worn by our directors for our show. We played characters from a Chinese TV serial that's very famous in Vietnam, "Journey to the West." The team loved it! I was the evil general and was vanquished by the good Monkey. Each team put on a show, including a "Sexy Show" [yes Virginia, there's no such thing as political correctness in Vietnam]. Good times, good times....