Hỏi Ăn—Bursting with Authenticity as well as Tourists

As we walk historic streets steeped in history and culture we hear Gordon Lightfoot’s Sundown on the left, Prince’s Purple Rain on the right and we see KJU (Kim Jong Un) portrayed on T-shirts in the likeness of Colonel Saunders. It’s a real East meets West vibe. The epicentre of tourist activity is along the river, cram-packed with people, and vendors hustling for sales—greeting cards, sunglasses, and whirly-light-emitting-spinny-things. It feels like the CNE.

But turn the corner and it’s a whole other world. Children are playing with each other, practising badminton, leaping & laughing with each other and puddle-jumping on bikes. There are a lot of splendid children here and it appears they entertain themselves the old-school way—playing games in the street till bedtime.

Yesterday we noticed a yellow tent-like structure had appeared outside of a home on our street with an increasing number of people mingling around wearing white headbands & overclothes. Occasionally a few large gongs and a large, deep sounding drum are sounded. Chanting is heard in the background and we noticed an altar inside appears to be central to the activity. There are a few black & white flags flying. Our hotel hostess confirmed our suspicion, that it was some sort of ritual to honour the life of someone who passed away yesterday. Traditional Vietnamese funerals are multi-day events and involve elaborate rituals. Further reading on the subject proved fascinating, not the least of which:

“When a Vietnamese person passes away, it is believed that one’s life does not end but that the afterlife begins. The afterlife requires basic necessities, such as food, clothing, and money, all of which a family must provide for its deceased loved ones.”

It’s truly a cup-half-full way of processing life & death.

This afternoon we planted ourselves again in front of a family owned restaurant sipping drinks. The owner’s little girl, quite an engaging extrovert, was practicing her drawing skills on the hands and arms of another guest. Thrilled and delighted with her artistic expertise, Randy also offered up his own hand for her to decorate. Her English skills were splendid, her laugh was infectious, and she’ll never know how much joy she spread around today. Memories for us, just another day for her.

Dog. Napping, of course.

Preparing for the afterlife.

Posted in Vietnam 2024.


  1. Fabulous ! Thanks for sharing.. lots of interesting moments and big smiles ! Hoping you had outfits made for yourselves !!!

  2. I’m sure you would agree that the best way to see a country like Vietnam is best done by bike. Wish, again, that I cold do it…maybe by a little motorbike? I would also like a more adventurous spirit in terms of food.

  3. I’m happy your adventures have taken a turn for the better. Your pictures capture the essence of the land. Thanks for taking us along ☺️

  4. That little girl is really adorable. Loved those fruits and all the small stalls selling all kinds of things.

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