You Those Stereotypical Asian Face Masks?

There's a reason... 

I have heard a lot of different explanations as to why Asians stereotypically wear masks over their faces. I had been told that Asian people only wear them when they are sick for the sake of those around them. One Vietnamese person told me it is because Asians are always falling asleep in public with their mouth gaping open so the masks serve primarily as a precaution to cover that up. (That was a joke). Well it seems that the real reason, here in Vietnam at least, is because of the pollution.

During rush hour I spend as much as an hour at a time weaving through the insane Vietnamese traffic, all the while breathing in exhaust and all sorts of nasty chemicals. It wasn’t long before my virgin immune system succumbed to the advances of all these noxious gases and I got sick. What does it feel like to get sick from pollution? It really just feels like cold / deep cough. I have had it twice now. I'm not sure that the Asian mask I've been wearing has made a huge difference but it's my only hope.

What do you do in Vietnam when you get sick?

Well, in this case, it isn’t go to the doctor. No. Here in Vietnam, you bypass the doctor and go straight to your local pharmacy. Vietnamese pharmacists hold true to their sacred mantra, “No prescription, no problem”. I told them my symptoms and after rummaging through various boxes that were nearly all only half full of pills, they assigned me a pretty aggressive medication regiment, no questions asked. Vietnam is the new Canada. 

I had 3 different kinds of pills that I took 2 to 3 times a day. I had never heard of any of these pills or received medication so easily but I shrugged and followed the instructions. I woke up the next day feeling perfect. Absolutely perfect. And all I could think is 'what the HELL is wrong with America that for such ridiculous healthcare costs they can’t get rid of my stupid cold but in Vietnam it's no problem?!'


Fast-forward about a month and my French roommate had a friend visiting as a pit stop during her travels around Southeast Asia. She had just finished medical school in Paris. Some of these ‘miracle’ pills were randomly sitting around one day when she was eating lunch with us. She began to examine the box. Long story short – these pills make you feel so amazing because they literally shut down your immune system. You are still just as sick, but your body is no longer fighting the illness so you feel fine.

Clearly I'm still alive so it can't have been that terrible for my body, but next time I got sick I chose to just ride it out and weather the storm au naturel. It was a bad week but I feel pretty good about it.

As an epilogue to this post, I'd like to add that I have made the controversial decision to switch from the Asian mask to the cowboy bandana. It's more comfortable AND it's way cooler.

I feel cool at least.

And that's the dream.