25.11.09

splitting the bill can break a friendship

Railway Story is one of my favourite TV shows. The series last week was about Vietnam Railway; reportage throughout 40h trip from Sai Gon to Ha Noi.

Not to mention that the content was satisfying but I was rather paying attention to the staff members' list shown at the ending of the programme.

My eyes spotted at 'Hop Tac Xa ... Vietnam' which seemed a familiar name to me.

Hop Tac Xa = 合作社 (Hop=合 Tac=作 Xa=社)

The real meaning of the term is 'Corporative' where everything is shared and split evenly.

Then after a while I realized it was a slang in Vietnamese which means:

'to split the bill'.

If you stay in Vietnam for a certain time, you might realize at restaurants, that the bill is almost never shared among friends. It is usually payed by the most rich in the group or by someone who just had an income.

It is actually rude to share the bill, which can mean you won't accept the friendship in that group. So, you never 'Hop Tac Xa' with friends in Vietnam.

However if you are not comfortable with letting someone pay the bill, you can just say:

'Hop Tac Xa di!'

A very casual and frank way to suggest, and would surprise your Vietnamese friends of using this term as an etranger!

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