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In the early 1950s in my house, as well as in every other family’s in Hanoi, there used to be a few glass bottles of boiled water. The boiled water was the water that had been taken from the faucet and boiled up to a very high temperature. [ more... ]
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It was the most beautiful village of the Bahnar I had ever seen, and gloomiest. No smoke from kitchens, laughter of innocent children or sound of women pounding rice with mortar and pestle. Nothing, at noon, except a rooster crowing. [ more... ]
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Công Dồn Village of the Cơ Tu tribe in Zuôih Commune of Nam Giang District in the Southern Central Vietnam province of Quang Nam is in a narrow valley on the Vietnam-Laos border. The stilt houses with the roofs in the shape of a mango. [ more... ]
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It was a couple of years since I had visited Kim Quy Pagoda, the Pagoda of the Golden Tortoise in the rural outskirts of Hanoi. Thay Nhan, the monk, had invited me back there over the phone many times, but I had been reluctant to return, after learning he was knocking the old temple down. [ more... ]
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Vietnamese fishermen, especially those of southern Central Vietnam, respect and are grateful to the whale, which they call ‘Ông’, ‘Mr’. They say the whale is a transformation of the frock of an Avalokitesvara bodhisattva, which was thrown into the sea as a lifesaver. [ more... ]
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In many places in Vietnam, there has been a Tết commerce in which the goods and prices are not the point and good luck is, according to Discovering the Vietnamese Culture by Tran Ngoc Them. It is believed that if transactions are carried out smoothly and in good spirit they bring in good luck in the new year. [ more... ]
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T ết was approaching. We were not expecting it. My grandmother had died that year. There were only my aunt and me in the family. The house had been left unfinished since my grandmother had fallen sick. The money my aunt had borrowed for the funeral had not yet been repaid. [ more... ]
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When I was at primary school, the school and village organized a tree-planting day at the beginning of the year. It was a really festive day. Every student planted a tree, and tended it from then on. Nowadays the campaign does not exist. Instead people dig up and cut plants in the forests to bring home, especially at New Year. [ more... ]
An old Vietnamese saying goes ‘Đầu năm mua muối, cuối năm mua vôi’, at the beginning of the year buy salt, at the end quicklime powder. During the first days of the new year, salt is hawked in small bags sometimes colourfully decorated. [ more... ]
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Legend has it that hundreds of years before Christ the Vietnamese made two kinds of cakes, bánh chưng and bánh _dầy, for Tết. Bánh chưng is a square cake that would fit on a dinner plate. [ more... ]
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The special thing about Huong Canh is its blue clay, the raw material used to make its famous products. This clay is found in the swampy areas, 3-10m ...
A short while ago, I was asked if the Vietnamese fondness for eating snails were a consequence of the former French presence here.
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