We are family, I’ve got my mother, brother, sister, second cousin and his wife with me!

My friend Linh, who is kindly and freely teaching me Vietnamese has extended her loveliness further by taking me to her friend’s mum who is a tailor. I want two dresses made but wanted to avoid the tourist tailors that’ll charge more.

We drove out of District 1 and District 3, which is sort of the centre, with the most tourist attractions, big shops,most westerners and is where I live and work, and towards her friend’s house.  It was nice to get into real Vietnamese neighbourhoods! When we arrived they were doing some sort of Buddhist prayer ritual. It’s a daily thing involving ringing bells, incense and praying to some statues and pictures. I’m not going to pretend to understand because Vietnamese Buddhism seems very different to the Buddhism I’ve studied.  None of the family spoke English which forced me to practice my Vietnamese and demonstrated that my Vietnamese language skills are still awful, no one understood me! Especially when at one point Linh left to get something and so we lost our translator! They were really kind, friendly and welcoming though. I can’t wait until the dresses are ready, I will upload photos.

After this we went to Linh’s house. It’s pretty darn cool, she lives in one tall house, in the next house her aunty and uncle live, in the house next to this her grandmother lives, and the next one her uncle and so on and on and on. Her grandmother bought a plot of land 50 years ago and now when one of her children get married, they get to build a house there. It was so funny, I walked in and was introduced to her parents, brother, brother’s wife, cousins, father, uncle, aunty, grandparents etc etc etc. Her brother had gotten married the day before so his wife had just moved in. They sat me down, offered me various fruits I’d never seen before and had no idea how to eat and showed me the wedding photos and told me about various traditions. I managed to remember how to say ‘congratulations’ and then the only other adjectives I could remember in Vietnamese were ‘beautiful’ and ‘handsome’ so I proceeded to say this to every photo, alternating with the odd ‘Oooo’ or ‘aaahh’ to mix it up a bit. They also told me I was very beautiful, which I can assure you didn’t influence my opinion of them. Although they are clearly extremely wise and honest people.

I’m going to go round again soon. 2 days a month lots of Vietnamese people are vegetarian, according to the lunar calender. I think it’s the start of the lunar month and then at the full moon. Anyway, her grandmother cooks a huge vegetarian meal for everyone and I’ve been invited to join. How exciting!

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