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Expats revel in Ha Noi trivia

Update: June, 28/2012 - 09:50

by Tran Quynh Hoa

 

The haul: The winning team of Aussie, British and Canadian flavours show off their Ho Chi Minh trophies. — VNS Photo Kristin Kropidlowski
HA NOI— The cruel summer heat and northern humidity could not prevent nearly 100 expats and Vietnamese from having fun, laughing and putting their heads together during a quiz at Ha Noi's Cinematheque last Saturday night.

Air-conditioners and fans struggled to relegate the tense atmosphere at the Ultimate Hanoi Social Quiz where participants competed for a Ho Chi Minh trophy.

"The quiz was so much fun," said Madeleine Macdonald, leader of the night's winning team. "The questions were very funny and clever!"

Macdonald, who has been working for a Canadian non-governmental organisation in Ha Noi since 2009, together with four team-mates from the UK and Australia, beat 14 other teams to top the quiz and win prizes from the Hanoi Cooking Centre and Bookworm store.

"Loads of work goes into putting the quiz together. It shows how much the quizmasters love the city," said Kat Birch, a British member of the winning team. "It is a great reflection of life as an expat in Ha Noi."

Nearly 100 questions had been prepared over two months by Belgian hosts Ewout Stoefs, 26, and Miguel Coulier, 28, before their third quiz night – a follow-up (and probably the last one as Stoefs is leaving) of the first two successful Hanoi Social Quiz events in 2011 and last February.

Coulier, who has been working for the United Nations Development Programme on disaster risk management and climate change since 2009, said the idea came after he got too irritated by the Anglo-Saxon focus of existing trivia nights in the city.

"We wanted to give the concept of trivia a new and more exciting interpretation, away from its ‘nerdy' image," Coulier said.

The other quizmaster, Stoefs from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), also wanted to do "something that has not existed yet in Ha Noi and for a wider audience".

"No questions on who scored the winning goal in the Irish Rugby Leage final in 1963 – but on things everyone knows, or can know, just by living in Ha Noi," he said.

Whether the quizzes challenged participants' memory of Ha Noi as reviewed in Lonely Planet or local beer brand experiences, the final goal, according to the Belgians, was "to bring people together, both expats and Vietnamese, in a fun way and test their knowledge on the trivialities of life in Viet Nam, and laugh with the cliches of our common experience."

Lotta Sylwander, the UNICEF Viet Nam Representative, joined all three quiz nights and found the questions really fun.

"I actually learned a lot about Viet Nam and Ha Noi and got to know a few new people. It was a good mix of foreigners and Vietnamese," she smiled, sweat running down her face.

However, the Vietnamese participants – who were the minority (in their own country) on the night, were even more excited about the quizzes – something very new to the local lifestyle.

"It's interesting and educational. Why don't we learn from them [expats] and encourage that type of entertainment?" said Vu Quang Hien. Like many other local participants, he was looking forward to the new culture being spread across the city. — VNS

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