Andrea and Anna get back on their bikes with Journeys Within guides from Central Vietnam…
By: Michelle Nguyen- Vietnam Country Director
Across Southeast Asia, 8 March is celebrated as International Women’s Day. In Vietnam, this means that men and children throughout the country take over the chores for the day, give the women in their lives (from teachers to wives and mothers) gifts and generally pamper them to show them their respect, love and thanks. All the florists are bursting with amazing flowers and fragrant bouquets and flower sellers are seen along the streets to remind passers-by that it is a special day.
It is also common for school children to take a small gift to their female teachers and bring home something handmade from their day at school.
Here’s a peek into how some of our staff celebrate this special day:
This year my husband and I just took some time out of our busy lives simply to have a walk in the park and relax at a coffee shop, just the two of us without kids in tow. My 4 year old daughter brought home a beautiful paper flower she had made and decorated at school for me and in the evening my husband treated my daughters, mother-in-law and I to a meal out so we didn’t have to cook. Wonderful!
Around the city the coffee shops all have special occasion treats on offer and restaurants or hotels host events too.
Mrs. Binh is one of our amazing guides and such a gentle woman with a wonderful sense of humour. She told me her young sons bought her some flowers and that they visited her husband’s village to spend some time and take a gift to his mother. In the city of Hue itself there were music and dance shows performed by students.
Mrs. Thuong is one of the stars in our team. She works very hard behind the scenes with us to give you the special holidays you ask for. This year she spent her day celebrating with the team in Hanoi and in the evening she went out for dinner with some friends and her family.
I learnt something new this year- Mrs. Thuong let me know that in addition to the public music shows, normally, if you are a member of women’s organisation, you will be invited to join in a meeting and music show at the city cultural hall for a few hours.
So it goes to show that there is always another layer of this culture to peel back and discover, no matter how long you are here…
Want to see more pictures of how Women’s Day was celebrated at our office? Click here
By: Toby Ross
Hue, Vietnam, a university city and historic capital, provided the perfect setting for our personal insight into the life of one multi-generational Vietnamese family. We arrived at the old house of Princess Ngoc Son, which was located very close to the Citadel. We were met by Mr Phan Thuan An, the family patriarch and an internationally recognized historian and author. He introduced himself explaining he had been a professor of Vietnamese history at the university in Hue until 1975, when he began a second career preserving Vietnam’s historic monuments. He led our family on a tour of his garden, explaining the purpose and meaning to his family of the various features. The orientation of the house and the garden reflected the principals of feng shui…the symmetry, the use of water and the arrangement of natural and man-made components were calculated to achieve harmony. We returned to the house to meet one of his daughters who also lives with her husband and their two small children in the home. She is an expert on ancient musical instruments and works for the government conserving Vietnam’s musical heritage. We continued our tour in the large central room. Here we see the family alter in the most prominent position. Next to it a display case with ancient family artifacts, including a 500-year-old porcelain bowl. He proudly showed us some old family photographs of his father, who was a mandarin to the king. In back of the case, his study was lined with old documents and other materials related to his research.
He is fluent in Chinese, which is essential to his work because most early scholarly documents about Vietnam are written in Chinese. At the back of the room, directly opposite the alter, was the dining room table beautifully set for our family’s dinner. The ancient furniture included a massive tabletop made from a single board, which swiveled on its huge base.
The traditional ambience granted an air of significance to the meal. Mr An excused himself, leaving us in the capable hands of his daughter. She presented an array of artistically presented courses prepared from old family recipes. The children in our group particularly liked the skewered prawns, so a second plate was delivered. The whole dinner appeared to be a collaboration between the mother and the daughter. The dinner was capped by a light dessert and green tea.
We left shortly afterward to take our grandchildren to bed and to allow our hosts to regain the tranquility of their home. We are so grateful to our hosts for making this such an exceptional experience and for truly opening their door to us. Being here brought to life this amazing historical city and all the places we visited and history we heard became even more alive as we dined with the descendants. We are so thankful to Andrea and Brandon and Journeys Within for finding this amazing experience and allowing us to take part in it.
Dinner at the Ancient House is an exclusive Journeys Within Tour. If you’re interested please contact firstname.lastname@example.org