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There's another reason text messaging is preferred; it's cheaper.Each text message costs only around 300 dong (less than 2 cents) or less, while a cell call can cost up to three or four times per minute what a text message does, depending on the distance.Minh Nguyen, a 25-year-old student I met online through family prior to this trip (and no relation to Hien Nguyen), often decorates her sentences with multiple emoticons.

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Unlike in the States, where couples tend to move in together, people in Vietnam generally only live together once married.

In between, they rely on cell phones and the Internet to stay close. It doesn't take much to see how frequently people send text messages here.

I can choose my words carefully." I can sort of relate to this.

Sometimes it's much less nerve-racking to send a text message than even to leave a voicemail.

Hien Nguyen, a 27-year-old newspaper reporter, told me the difference between dating in Vietnam now and just five years ago.