Today our group met went first to the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry building, where we met with our interpreters and then waited to meet the respective directors of each company we’re assigned to help. My guy was last, since his business is one of the furthest from VCCI, and it turned out that the director couldn’t make it, since he was away in Hong Kong. His son, the vice-director, showed up instead. We then drove back in a black Chevy SUV.
The company is called Toan My Company Ltd. The Ltd is in part to distinguish it from the much better-known Toan My Company. They gave me a tour of their pretty impressive administrative office building, which was a cozy 3 minutes, and said they would give me a tour of the factory tomorrow, which is a few hundred yards from the other building. Then the vice director sort of apologized for not being prepared since it sounded like his dad may have just dumped the “project” in his lap until he gets back from Hong Kong.
So after the brief tours and some pseudo-business discussion, we went for a 2-hour or so lunch at the most authentic Vietnamese restaurant I’ve been to thus far. We had some dish which included fried goat meat, rice, and chicken, followed by really strong Vietnamese tea. Me, the translator, the vice director, and the vice-director’s driver got to know each other a little better, by doing what Vietnamese are well known to do on first introductions, which is to ask the most personal questions possible of the new acquaintance. Age, marital status, number and ages of children, other family details, and work-details are all fair game.
They asked me if I wanted to try goat’s blood. I said yes, but then the translator said (before translating) that she didn’t think that would be a good idea so I took her word for it. I guess we’ll save that for next time. The inevitable conversation about whether or not I’ve ever tried dog meat (not kidding) came up, and I said no. Men here eat it pretty regularly. I asked my translator, whose name is Anh (pronounced “Ein”) whether or not she’d ever tried it, and she said yes a couple of times. I asked what it tasted like and she said she didn’t know, “like … dog”.