Vietnamese Cosmetics

One of the first things I do when arriving in a foreign country is to hit the nearest supermarket and check out the toiletries aisle. To me this is the very best kind of sightseeing - a genuine insight into the everyday lives of people.
I LOVE Vietnamese toiletries and cosmetics because they are cheap and heavily perfumed, two aspects that appeal to my essentially trashy character.
I had to rush out and get som sun cream because I was becoming quite dark very fast. Now to most Australians this would be a good thing, but in Vietnam white skin rules. It doesn't matter how otherwise ugly you may be, if you possess light skin you are pretty much at the top of the pyramid of desirability. So I bought 2 different bottles. One for home, because it encourages me to be "Out-Going"
The other I keep in my bag, because it promises to make me white. I am already very white, so my application of this in public areas always causes a great deal of merriment.
I also keep in my bag a bottle of cheap perfume, which allegedly smells like a herb garden. For emergencies.
I also have to hand an intriguing product I've only seen here. It is a skin refresher that contains mentholated oils that tingle and burn and it smells like baby powder. It is said to reduce the size of one's pores, and one can never have small enough pores. So this baby travels with me everywhere. I don't wanna be caught out with big pores.Finally, when I get home I normally have a throbbing headache, and so I apply lashings of Truong Son white oil to my neck and temples. Feels like I'm on fire. I love it.I also have a secret weapon in these little bottles of massage oil that I buy from the Benedictine monks in Thu Duc. For those of you who read Vietnamese I know the label reads "Bear Gall" but please rest assured that no animals were killed in the production of these oils! At $1.20 a bottle there are not even homeopathic amounts of bear gall in these babies. The name is more symbolic of the healing properties of the product. A rather unfortunate piece of symbolism, I'll admit, but animal welfare hasn't really hit Vietnam in a big way.

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