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Archive for September, 2012

Luang Prabang – Phou Si mountain

If there is a place that I choose to come back in South East Asia, it will be Luang Prabang. The little town up North of Laos, beside its history, beauty, the quietness, calmness, there is one more thing that I couldn’t pass: The Grilled Fish. It is naturally – becomes a signature dish along the Mekong river.

Grilled Mekong fishes in local market – Luang Prabang

Some people may say yes, you can eat the Mekong grilled fishes the same style anywhere in Cambodia, Thailand too. But no, it tastes so different with the way Laotian make it. And Luang Prabang is the place that I can eat grilled fishes anywhere, from fancy restaurants to small vendors in the markets, it all tastes wonderfully.

I am no connoisseur, but that is my true love to Luang Prabang, behind the desire of taking the extraodinary photos by the river banks or sunsets, food is the love of my life. I don’t eat to live, never want to, I eat to live and enjoy life – fortunately, until now, I am still be able to do so.

If you ask me what I would suggest when visiting Luang Prabang, my ideal trip will be staying on the wood lodge by the riverside, walking distance to the main streets, strolling the night market at night, eating in a cute garden/riverside restaurant or in local market, sipping an icey lemon mint shakes, sitting on one of the balconies bars on main streest for people watching. And I can do all those things for days without getting bored. Luang Prabang is the sanctuary for my soul to get calm, a remedy for my never-stop life. It stops there, in Luang Prabang.

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Written by Tim Lee

Wherever you set your foot in Vietnam, from the young urbanized city of Can Tho, the bustling city of Saigon, the quiet and small city feel of Hue or the age-old quarter Hanoi, there is always a question come to mind: why the heck those Vietnamese men sitting around there? Where are their women? Why are they not at work at the working hours?

Tea-stand in the 80s in Hanoi

This kind of questions were repeatedly given to me in my old day guiding job, say it came out of 99 people on every 100. Did I feel embarrassed with these? No, definitely not but then I had to take the explanation roundabout in order to provide the best convincible answers. Let’s view this from the below points:

Historically speaking, Confucianism influence plays a major role on this matter. The philosophy once dominated the whole Asia as: man is centre, man is superior to woman, man should taking care of “greater work” other than ‘little work”, man is decision maker in the family have somewhat badly given impact on the  men’s behaviours of this modern society. While the women work hard in the offices, factories, shops, restaurants, brick kilns, out in the fields and then get home with ton of chores awaited, men think they could stay up late in the street-side restaurants, emptying one after another glass of beer and blah blah blah with all other guys, killing time by the coffee table and chit chat many of the nonsense topics or pampering themselves in sauna and massage parlours. In the past, those were totally sole intention and action by men regardless an agreement or disagreement from their women but in this integrated world, trending with women equalization and freedom, the men loop holes and are trickier with plenty of nice reasons to call home to advise the family that they would be late to discuss business or join a party hosted by work mate, meeting an old friend, visiting an ill relative… on and on. Big liars!! In fact they are at some favourite corners with bunch of guys and drinks. This help to explain why most of the beer places in every parts of Vietnam are filled with men during and after work hours. A recent Tuoi Tre Newspaper titled “The Vietnamese men are lazy and just love gathering and drinking” is undeniably part of what I’m trying to explain.

Hang out “session”

Why are the Vietnamese women that tolerant and enduring? Growing in this Confucius influenced society, the women shaped their nature with teaching and principles handed down from older generation that they should support by all means to the husband and children, sacrifice time and energy to doing the house works, raising the kids then leaving the peace of mind for the men to do “greater work”. I hate such kind of teaching and actually have no idea of what is the greater work as in this modern society, all women works and seem getting equal to men, some even has a higher paid job than their husbands. To the most explanations heard, “greater work” is building house, finding a good school for kids, being a head in all family’s internal and external affairs etc.etc.etc…. sounds a vague idea to me while I visually found “little work” including with house chores, caring the parents and/or great grandparents, raising kids after office are so huge and stressful job.  Culturally speaking, the Vietnamese women don’t drink and they consider the gathering and drinking is man’s thing. I know the majority of them pleased with this thinking and find the happiness in doing the chores and be around the kids, tutoring the kids with homework other than demanding for the right to have fun and relax time like their men. They comfort themselves that the men just have drinks and fun together in beer house or street side tea vendors close by without being involved in any girl which is easy leading to problem (aka adultery threat). To them, this is the most vulnerable and intolerable problem as like women to the rest of the world, they will never share their man to any other woman.

This blog is beyond my ability and time to make it a nice and more informative post but I’m pretty sure that you now having a general answer if you have ever had a question as this blog title is. This helps to explain a whole bunch of young men sitting around a little street side tea shop is having a “great work” to discuss LOL or most of the “bia hoi” corners are filled crowdedly with men since the early noon every day.

I’m glad if any of you might cross this blog post, find the interest in it and feel free to exchange your comments. If you don’t find my answer in 12 hours, then it would be 24 hours as I may happen to meet an old friend and decide that we should station in a beer place somewhere J

Happy finding and travelling!

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