sobota, 14 marca 2009

The unique engagement experience

What a wonderful feeling to wake up and to see the sun shining outside!!! It’s been the first time since we arrived to Hai Phong that we were enjoying such a beautiful day. A minus of our stay here is that we came during the rainy season and unfortunately almost every day it rains.
And regarding this weekend we decided to stay in Hai Phong due to some earlier arrangements, planned meetings and community activities.

The first one was the visit of IBM Vietnam General Manager Mr. Vo Tan Long to get overview of our assignments and to see if there is anything we need support on. It was very interesting to share our experiences and to get more light on some of the issues we have been facing as well to enrich our knowledge of Vietnamese business environment, culture. We may still meet again at the end of our stay in Vietnam visiting the IBM office in Hanoi.

The afternoon was supposed to be without any particular plans, rather lazy one but I have already learnt during my stay here “state without plans” can be really short one. And the became valid for this afternoon as well:-) Monica has received from the client (Mr Phuong ) invitation to another wedding and she didn’t have to persuade me for a long to join her. (not that I‘m fan of weddings but my intuition was seeing it as another unique experience, and I was right:-)!!!). This time the event took place outside Hai Phong, in the province and we were told that the celebrations would be rather modest. So we took a taxi and our excited journey started:-) Our taxi driver even though he had received all the indications with the address and detailed directions as soon as we left the city kept on stopping every 5 minutes asking casual people about the way but finally he succeeded and we arrived to bride’s house.
The preparation started shortly before our arrival and it turned out that we were going to attend engagement party. At the beginning there were only a few people and everyone was surprised to see two western women but quickly we were introduced by Mr Phuong (sister of his girlfriend was getting married) and so many people welcomed us very cordially. Especially the elder women from the bride’s family were so much eager to talk to us but the language barrier make it pretty impossible but still with help of our hands, constant smile and translations of Mr Phuong we managed to have very exciting “conversations” learning more about Vietnamese wedding tradition. So the ceremony we were attending was engagement party, where elders of the groom’s family will meet elders from bride’s family in order to exchange gifts and secure the authorization from both families to have their son/daughter married.
Earlier a fortune teller was consulted to set a date and time for the wedding, a good day” was chosen based on the lunar calendar and young couple’s astrological signs.

During the ceremony, we could observe many colorful, interesting rituals, among which was the boy’s relatives set off in procession to visit their future in-laws, bearing symbolic gifts in special red lacquered boxes. Furthermore we took part in the ride on the motorcycles from the bride’s house to the groom’s house. (Mr Phuong was kind to take us both on one motorbike:-).

We got along so well with family that we were also invited to stay over for a dinner and having no other plans for the rest of the day we accepted the invitation without foreseen that it would be continuation of unique experience as well as incredibly challenging culinary one. We were asked to sit down with the closest family, including two grandmothers and it was fine until we saw dishes prepared. Generally during my travels I’m very keen on learning new things, trying new things but this time I didn’t have enough courage. Very quickly we have realized that we would not be able to eat half of the meals as it was too extreme for us, some specialties: pork liver mixed with blood, some raw meat prepared only with lemon and other internal parts of different animals. We were simply terrified and had big dilemma what to do, how not to offend our host. Fortunately two grandmothers were very kind and didn’t force too much to eat things were not fond of and it was our choice what to pick up.
Even though one of grandmother insisted very much on our stay over there we decided to come back to Hai Phong and our 30-kilometer-journey on the motorcycles (this time we two motorcycles:-) was also very exciting.

I have to say that this engagement party was probably the most unique and moving experience of our stay in Vietnam.

2 komentarze:

  1. Hello Gosia,

    I look at your blog (and the other teammembers) evry day. I find it very intresting to see en read what your been doing at this assignmint in Vietnam. I find the pictures beautiful. When i read your blog i see that the food is a problem somethimes. After i receved the photo from Arjan whit the cooked dog i think i can not eat anyting they served for meal.

    I wish you a nice stay for the next 2 weeks.

    Greetings, Tineke

  2. Hello Tineke,
    indeed food can be pretty challenging sometimes:-)especially when you are invited by local people, they are so hospitable for you and you get food that you know that there is no way to eat it. What to do in order not to offend them? But fortunately so far I've managed to find solution:-)
    But at the same time the variety of food is really impressive so generally is good to be willing to try new things.