vietnam’s happy house

cycling in vietnamWhat in life makes you really happy? A deep and meaningful question that in Vietnam has a very simple answer, as Intrepid Leader John Kirk discovered…

“Let’s face it – when you’ve gotta go, you have just got to go. It doesn’t matter what name you give it, uppermost in your mind is how far away it is and will you make it – that is your concern. Oh, and does anybody have any spare toilet paper?

Travellers have a fascination with toilets – toilet talk occupies rather too much conversation space on most overseas tours. Alas, sometimes for good reason. But when you need to go, language can often be a hindrance when seconds count. What is “toilet” in Vietnamese or German or Mandarin?

The toilet is often politely referred to as the smallest room in the house, the bathroom, the restroom, WC, lavatory, the men’s room, the ladies room, the little boy’s room – call it what you will and that’s just some of the English names! In Australia, we have a few local variations – the lav, the loo, the dunny, the bog, pee tree, lava tree, the crapper, and probably lots more.

When I was leading trips in Vietnam, I just loved the straightforward way that the Vietnamese handled the toilet thing – they just called it ‘The Happy House’. Why ‘Happy House’? Very simple, according to one local guide, just take a look at the excruciating grimace on the face of someone desperate to go and barely holding on. Then watch the complete transformation that occurs when they make it in the nick of time and emerge, smiling with palpable relief – what joy, what happiness! So when you go travelling in Vietnam, forget all the fancy English names for the toilet – go with the local Vietnamese-English – it’s ‘The Happy House’!”

Tour Vietnam with Intrepid on trips like these great small group adventures:
Colours of Vietnam – 20 days Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi
The Reunification Express – 15 days Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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2 comments

Christian Friborg / Reply

Good idea. This made my day, hahaha. Can’t wait to visit Vietnam and try saying this to the locals!

Hahaha!!!! I know the feeling well and I know what to call it now if I need to go!!!

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