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Monday, 26 January 2009

Non Non Non La

This picture, taken on Nguyen Hue on Lunar New Year's Day is interesting for a number of reasons. Firstly, and most benignly, it shows how a perfectly ordinary roundabout has been extended to produced a giant planting area. But secondly it shows one of my pet hates, a tourist in a little non la!!!!

Tourist on Nguyen Hue

You might want to click on the picture which will take you to Flickr, there you can select the largest size available so you too can share my ire.

See what she's done? Removed a perfectly sensible stetson style hat to pose for her picture in a "local" hat. If you look very carefully you can see another Wally in the background also wearing one.

Why does it annoy me? I'm not entirely sure but every time I see it I grit my teeth. It might have something to do with the self imposed rule of never wearing anything on holiday that I wouldn't wear at home. Why should I impose these rules on other people and who am I to say that this lovely lady won't happily walk down the streets of her home town on a sunny day wearing a tourist version of a non la? Who knows but to preserve my molars, if you visit, please don't wear one.

I leave you with a previously posted image to further dissuade. Enjoy.

Cropped cone man

Family in Ao Dai on Nguyen Hue for Tet

I was blithely going to post this as nothing more than a cute example of family doing the compulsory posed pictures for Tet then I happened to read the comments on a picture on Saigon Today blog which made me realise that to many my title would be meaningless at worst and confusing at best.

So first the cute picture.
Ao Dai Family on Nguyen Hue

Now my poor attempt at a translation and even poorer attempts at phonetics - my Vietnamese teacher despairs of me. Before I start I know there should be diacritics on most of the Vietnamese words, I even know what most of them should be but I also know that most people reading this just see them as boxes as in Nguyễn Huệ.

Ao Dai - pronounced Aow Zha or Aow Yha depending on where you come from because it's a "soft d" so doesn't sound like a "d" as I know it at all. The traditional dress of Vietnam usually only worn on special days or if you have to for your work or in some schools or probably for a hundred other reasons that I haven't discovered yet. Definition - long garment or tunic.

Nguyen Hue - is a road in central Saigon as well as in many other towns and cities, also a celebrated general of the 1700s. Pronounced very roughly Win Way. No, I can't work out that one either, I'll need to ask my Vietnamese teacher why Nguyen is Win because not all "ng's" are "w's".

Tet - Lunar New Year maybe more commonly known as Chinese New Year

So a cute family posing on a road called Nguyen Hue wearing traditional Vietnamese dress for Lunar New Year. My original title is snappier.

On a side note it looks like the girl in red has spotted the missing anatomy on the bull/ox/water buffalo.

Happy New Year

Last night we climbed onto our roof via the chrome spiral staircase mentioned in earlier posts to watch the firework displays along the river. Very spectacular, and today we ventured uptown to take advantage of quiet, by Saigon standards, roads and join the promenade up and down Nguyen Hue.

Nguyen Hue Tet flower display

The entire four lane road has been blocked off and planting extends from the central reservations right out onto the roads.

As always the main attraction is posing in front of displays for photo opportunities and as always I sneak up and take pictures of other people taking pictures. This trio is outside the Kinh Do Conference Centre. Kinh Do is the confectionary king of HCMC.

Three photographees

Of course it's year of the Ox so we have lots of bulls to see, these ones are cunningly formed in concrete and lack certain features only noticeable from behind. You're getting the front view as it's more attractive.

Year of the Ox Statue

More posing, but this time look carefully. You see the security person in the background? He has two jobs; to make sure people keep to the one way system - very successfully done and to stop people sitting on the temporary walls. The latter is not so well enforced, they tend to give people enough time to snap the all important picture before very politely requesting them to move on.

Breaking the law

Clearly it's an exhausting job.

Security resting

All this was played out to a background of recorded birdsong and latin classics. I like Tet!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Tet decorations

As we enter the year of the Ox or Bull I notice that unlike the pig and the mouse it's not the easiest animal to cute up.

Tet Oxen Decoration

I've also spotted that a lot of the blossoms are not all they seem to be.
Tet artificial flowers
It's a great time of year for taking pictures and rest assured, there will be lots more of them soon.

Suburban Saigon

What do you do when you get to build your own house and are limited only by the size of your plot?

Well this is an option:

Lime green

Something a little more deco?
Double deco

Fulfill your Barbie House fantasies?

Use up all the end of line paint in the shop?

Multi level/colour/purpose

Or go wild with stars, stripes and blocks of yellow:

Stars and stripes and blocks of yellow

Mine is a very restrained grey and white but maybe I could talk the landlord into a paint job. Tangerine and torquoise perhaps?

Sunday, 4 January 2009

Strange Rains

Strange rains

The wet season should have stopped by now but it's making a return visit. We've had rain midafternoon almost every day since Christmas. On the upside it cools things down a bit and usually doesn't last long.