What’s in Your Wallet?


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That’s the tag line for a bank in the US. I’m not that curious about what everyone carries everyday, but common knowledge in Vietnam is that whatever you have on you can be mất trộm. Read below for tips against trộm cắp.

1. túi, bao any kind of bag (handbag, groceries bag, shopping bag)
2. wallet, purse
3. tiền money
4. thẻ tín dụng credit or debit card
5. thẻ học sinh / thẻ sinh viên high school / university student card
6. bằng lái xe driver’s license (“permit drive vehicle”)
7. chứng minh nhân dân, commonly abbreviated CMND – the Vietnamese state-issued ID card
8. hộ chiếu passport
9. thị thực visa – people just say “visa” as well
10. đồng hồ clock, watch
11. máy ảnh, máy chụp hình camera (“machine picture”)

One word of caution: if you travel in Vietnam, anything on you can be (bị) mất (trộm) (to lose, to get stolen). Ví, tiền, bằng lái xe, điện thoại di động are the most common.

Anh bị mất gì? Anh bị mất tiền
You get stolen what? I get stolen money

You can also bị cướp (get robbed) or bị lừa mất (get swindled and lose something).
It’s really that bad, and công an (the police) will never help you recover anything (from my personal experience).

When in Vietnam, I usually stuff just a couple of bills and bằng lái xe into a pant or shirt pocket. Putting everything in or túi makes it convenient to lose credit cards, cash, and driver’s license all at once.
I also make photocopy of all my IDs (passport, visa, etc) and hide them somewhere safe for the day I become yet another theft victim and have to reapply for everything.

Bonus: makeup is mỹ phẩm or đồ trang điểm.
Lipstick is son môi. Sunscreen is kem chống nắng (“cream against sunlight”). Sunglasses are kính râm.
Women skincare products are usually called kem dưỡng da (literally “cream to preserve skin”).

Last but not least, if you ride a scooter in Vietnam, mũ bảo hiểm (helmet) is a must-have. Don’t have one? Traffic police will gladly slap you with a hefty fine and the inconvenience of confiscating your ride. No kidding, traffic in Vietnam gets worse every year, but traffic laws get ridiculous even faster.


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