Food is pretty cheap here. Conversion is 20,000 VND (Vietnamese dong) for every USD. You can get drinks (tall glasses, by the way) for 25 cents. Dishes come out to be between $1-3 per plate/bowl.

As such, the kids are able to treat me to snacks and things every once in the while. On this sunny afternoon, we walk out to a drinks place, just across the street. There is a little plastic table and chairs there (like those kiddy ones you put in the backyard).

Typical seating for a meal or drinks

Typical seating for a meal or drinks

We look at the menu on the whiteboard to select drinks. After a few minutes of debating (“I want that one! … No, wait, that one!), we each take a seat.

Ming Xi (age 6) calls, “Ah Yee! (Aunty!) We’d like to order!” An older lady steps out, asking what we would like. We place our orders; saleslady says it’s 5,000 dong per glass.

Ming Xi looks through her wallet (or rather, the little white pouch she always straps to her waist). She has 7000 dong (a.k.a. 35 cents). She tries to barter with the saleslady: “Ah Yee, can we get a little bit less for 3000 dong?” Aunty says no, it’s a fixed price. Ming Xi and I decide to split a glass.

While waiting for the drinks, Ling Ling goes to the store beside, to buy a bag of chips. Ming Xi fiddles with her straw. She bends it out of shape until it is a cracked, unrecognizable piece of plastic. “Ah Yee! Can I switch this for a new straw?” Aunty says that the straw is messed up now, I don’t want it, here just take a new straw.

Our glasses are done. Ling Ling gets a sweet coffee drink. Me and Ming Xi get a glass of lemonade.

The salespeople here must think I’m poor, being treated to drinks by a 6-year old and 10-year-old.

Oh well, I’ll take it.

Ever traveled abroad and noticed it’s the small things which are always different from home? Any interesting stories about even just getting a snack or grabbing a coffee?
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