Did you know that Vietnamese artist Lê Phổ (1907 – 2001), a graduate of the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, is largely responsible for popularising the modern ao dai? We hope you enjoy this selection of his ao dai paintings.
If you’ve been living in Ha Noi for a few months of more, chances are you’re already familiar with Ba Dinh Square and/or Ba Dinh Square. There’s an interesting story behind the name, Ba Dinh, which means ‘3 communal houses’.
Over 130 years ago in Nga Son district, Thanh Ho province, 3 villages turned their communal houses into guerilla bases, from which they attacked the French colonialists who ruled Vietnam at the time. The fighting raged for 32 days and nights and the incident became known and celebrated as the Ba Dinh Uprising.
When President Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence from France in 1945, he chose to do so from Ha Noi’s Ba Dinh Square, giving a nod to the rural men and women who bravely rose up against the colonial oppressors back in 1886.
You know that Autumn has finally arrived when you see cốm for sale on the streets of Hanoi’s old quarter. Cốm is young rice, harvested early, pounded within an inch of its life, and served in a lotus leaf. Much tastier, sweeter and chewier than conventional rice, cốm is best eaten slowly and, believe it or not, tastes great when eaten with ripe bananas.
One of the easiest ways to feel connected to Hanoi & meet some people outside your workplace is to join a volunteer organisation. We recommend starting at this website: http://www.ngocentre.org.vn/ The site contains an up-to-date Vietnam-wide database, in alphabetical order, of NGOs in the country together with the email addresses of their offices. (The site also lists paid employment opportunities if you’re looking for a job change) This website is not comprehensive, though – we noticed that Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation is not listed there, and this is an excellent organisation that relies on volunteer input to keep its vital anti-human trafficking programs in place. Blue Dragon can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Koto is another favorite with expats, offering volunteering opportunities for people with hospitality experience and/or English teaching qualifications. You can read about the Koto story here
One of the easiest aspects of learning Vietnamese is the spelling of words – it’s very predictable and most words follow the spelling rules, but remembering the tones? That’s another story. One of the easiest ways to memorise the tones on the vocabulary you acquire is to use the words immediately, by texting or emailing your Vietnamese friends. Here’s the keyboard guide to Vietnamese tones:
Type these letters at the end of a word and the correct tone will appear: