"bắt đầu từ tối nay" this phrase summed up all I know about Vietnamese before I met Anthony . It was part of a radio announcement to the refugees from Vietnam. Now I know it means " beginning tonight". After getting married to a Vietnamese descent husband, I surprised myself by taking on the challenge to learn the language. To be honest it is not a pretty language with very nasal and rough throat sounds, but gradually my ears adjusted and sometimes even find it melodic. As part of my field trip and a reward for this language challenge we decided to visit this exotic land.
One of the reasons we went was to better understand the culture. I find that the Vietnamese are people of vibrant contrast. People start diligently setting up their food stands and businesses at sun rise and work late into the night, yet men would spend three hours drinking ice coffee. They treasure hard work yet they don't forget about being human and enjoy the moment. They can be brutally honest , yet very loving at the same time. On the last day staying in Vietnam, Di Jin ( Aunt Nine) found out that I was not feeling well. She told me to lay down on her bed and massaged my back with her blistered hands so powerfully that I can hard breathe. I needed to use my limited Vietnamese to tell her to go more gentle. Later, I found out her hand was damaged due to peeling pineapples for a living. It always touched my heart listening to their survival stories. Knowing how they have survived the brutal treatments and learned to be merciful yet fearless and resilient people, made me respect them more. The blending of cultures between the French and Vietnamese also adds interest to this flavour. There is nothing more unique to me than to eat pho at a French mansion.
Like any good journey , it will lead you onto another journey. This time we only went to Saigon, Hanoi , Ha Long Bay, and Ninh Binh. We will definitely return one day planning to go to Mui Ne, Hoi An, Phuong Dao. Vietnam has such a rich variety of natural sceneries and story it will take time to savour and appreciate. I really recommend trying out French Restaurant such as The Green Tangerine, and Ngon Villa. We also love Pizza of P's to remind us of home for a while and escape the heat of Vietnam. Another must see is the water puppet show in Ha Noi near the Ho Huan Kim Lake. When history can be replicated in form of art and music it will always find its way to my heart.