Thursday, May 20, 2010

Field Trip!

Last week Hanoi University took us on a field trip to Bac Ninh, a city only about 15 kilometers outside of Hanoi. We had a great time and learned a lot about traditional Vietnamese culture.

The first stop along the way was to the house of a family who supported themselves through the trade of making Wedding Cakes. I say "making" rather than "baking" because ovens are few and far between in Vietnam. Rather, these doughy patties of rice, papaya, and lotus seeds, are boiled to perfection, all the while wrapped inside of nature's original cellophane, the banana leaf. The eating of the cake also takes a different form, too. After the two sets of parents have agreed to the matrimonial match of their children, they eat the cakes to signify their consent.

After the cake making, in true field trip spirit, we brown bagged our lunch and bought a round of sugarcane juice from a stand situated under a bright blue tarp. Once lunch had settled, we meandered around the neighborhood to take in a bit of the local scenery.

Lastly we came to the famed Den Do Temple, the main event of the trip. This was the home of Ly Thai To, the king who moved Vietnam's capital from Ninh Binh to Hanoi through an historic edict that will celebrate it's 1,000 year anniversary this October. Since then, the Vietnamese people have preserved this historic site and it now serves as a shrine to him and his lineage of seven subsequent monarchs who carried on the Ly Dynasty.

In keeping with this spirit of preserving the past, we also had the chance to listen to some famous folk songs that had originated in the area. We even tried accompanying the performers on one of the tunes. We were nervous at first, but you'd be surprised how much confidence a really big hat can provide.

And of course, no excursion is complete without the group pic.

Thanks for reading! We can't thank you enough for your love and partnership!

-Will and Kristin

Saturday, May 1, 2010

2 months in

2 months in Hanoi, and we love it here. With its tight alleyways and helmet-clad traffic, it's an easy city to love. But honestly, to feel this good about our surroundings, we've had to undergo some noteworthy adjustments. In some ways, every mundane activity is relearned to fit the question, "How would a Vietnamese person do this?" And because our goal for the next three years is to become a little Vietnamese ourselves, we take joy in sharing with you the ways we've adapted to our new home.

A New Way to Eat:

A New Way to Travel:

A New Way to Celebrate: