Thursday, June 28, 2007

Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh: May 30 - June 3

I had no idea what to expect when we got to Ho Chi Minh. I tried to call my dad in Singapore to find out if my uncles even knew that Liz and I were coming but the payphone wouldn't connect so we just had to hope for the best.

When we came out of the airport, I had the feeling of being a celebrity because there were so many people sitting and standing and watching us while waiting for the arrivals to come out. Some people even brought their own little stools so it really seemed like they were in an audience and we were on the stage. Anyways, I scanned through the swarm of people not really knowing what to look for since I have never met any of my family members in Vietnam and all of a sudden I saw a sign with my name on it - the only English name in the vicinity. That was very exciting. I pointed to the sign and then at me and that's how I met two of my cousins, Khanh and LeeLee (English name Ruby).

Liz and I met many of my relatives and it took us a long time to remember who was who. It was pretty interesting. My aunt from New York was there and it was so good to see her again. Even though I've never met my other aunts and uncles before, they all treated me like they knew me my whole life. They definitely took good care of Liz and I but it got a little bit confusing when one uncle calls me up to tell me to get ready so that he could take us out and another uncle shows up at our door telling us that he'll take us out. My two aunts and one uncle from Calgary flew in a couple days after us too and it didn't feel like I haven't seen them for months. It was kind of neat. A thing about my family is that not everyone can speak Chinese, especially the wives of my uncles and also their children.

Now the reason why Liz and I were (and a few other relatives) in Ho Chi Minh was because my cousin MiMi was getting married. Only my parents and my grandma were missing. My parents are hard workers and spend money to go anywhere far and my grandma was just there a month before to celebrate her 80th birthday. Anyways, everyone was preparing for the wedding but someone was still always available to babysit Liz and I. My cousin Hoa took us for some sightseeing like the President's House which gave a different perspective on what happened in Vietnam War, which someone told me is called the American war there. One of my uncles took us out to his bar and then a nightclub. I thought that was really funny but it was a fun night because Liz and I got to ride on motobikes in this city that has really crazy traffic. My cousin Khanh took me out to a nightclub one night and I realized how cool it was to have cousins the same age. Ruby would also take us out a lot with her friends. They even took us to the Cu Chi tunnels , which were used during the war to defeat the US. The people lived in these narrow tunnels that had many levels and rooms underground. Unless you were the size of Liz and I, you would not fit through the opening.

Back to the wedding. On the wedding day, everyone was so busy trying to get ready that they all forgot about Liz and I so we had one day of freedom to ourselves...kind of. In the morning, the groom and his party would come to the our house but in order for them to gain access, they had to give a red pocket full of money to the bride's party. There would be some negotiating and teasing but once that is done, everyone goes into the house and the newly weds have to bow to the ancestor table, exchange rings, offer tea to the parents, grandparents and anyone else in the family that has a higher "rank" than the newlyweds. Then the bride leaves to go to the grooms residence to prepare for the banquet at night.

At the banquet, the bride and groom get to pour champagne down a pyramid of glasses, offer wine to the parents, cut the cake and take a lot of pictures with the guests. Also, the bride changes her dress a couple of times during the evening. The people would just show up, eat, sing some karaoke and the evening would be over before 10pm. Liz and I found it weird that the party would end so early but that's just what we are used to I guess.

I really miss my relatives now. I want to know more about them since they know so much about me. I can't wait to go back in August to see them again. Also, they know where all the best food is in Ho Chi Minh!

Wedding Pictures:

Sightseeing Pictures:


At 10:57 AM, Blogger cyclichx said...

looks like a fun wedding

At 1:14 PM, Blogger RennyBA said...

Hi Diana! I'm here as new in the Team on International Blog of Food - nice to meet you!

Your blog is great read and this post was just lovely. I haven't been in Vietnam, but my daughter has and told me a lot about a lovely country.
Coming from Norway it's very exotic you know.


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