Saturday, July 17, 2010


Across Asia karaoke is ubiquitous. Vietnam is not immune to the great attractions of communal singing, and those who have read Destination Saigon will know that I too have been known to succumb to its lure.
Back in my undergrad days, while doing Asian studies, I actually spent quite a bit of time looking at the academic study of karaoke (confined, for the most part, to Japan and Korea), and so I find it not only socially attractive, but intellectually fascinating.
This is a pic of my good friend Thien, who is in fact an industry insider. He is head waiter at a karaoke palace in the suburbs of Ho Chi Minh City, and was always packed full of good karaoke gossip whenever we met. The things that go on in karaoke bars in Vietnam would make your hair curl.
He would also book a room for us on a slow afternoon and invite the entire waiting staff to join us for an afternoon's revel (beer paid for by me, naturally).
My advice to anyone planning to spend any time in Asia is to work out a karaoke repertoire now - you will almost certainly be called upon to sing in public. Best to be prepared.

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