What Season Is This Anyway?

It’s that time of year when the women of Vietnam bundle up with hats, scarves, face masks, opera-length gloves, heavy socks, slacks and denim jackets. Colorful Christmas lights festoon the thatched-roofed bars and medleys of traditional Christmas songs waft along behind the pedal-powered vending carts. Is Christmas approaching? Sorry, no. If it were, the fifty-foot tall Christmas tree constructed entirely of dark green Heineken beer bottles would still be standing in front of the supermarket on Le Duan Street in Da Nang and Santa would still be flying in a reindeer-drawn Heineken bottle over the streets of Hanoi. If it were New Year’s, we would still have an orange tree standing in the middle of our living room, next to the motorbike. It isn’t Halloween either, although the sight of gangs of Vietnamese women dressed up like gunslingers from the American Wild West might give you that impression.
 Summer has arrived in Vietnam. And all prudent women who care about preserving their pale good looks will stop at nothing to protect their skin against the intensified rays of the tropical sun as they travel about on their motorbikes. Ironically, many of these same women balk at wearing a motorbike helmet to protect themselves against possible death and disability from head injury because they think helmets look too strange!