5.30am… The rooster screams “Good morning!“…
His friend, a pheasant-looking bird, answers: “You call this a good morning?!“
Or… That’s what I make of it…
Next to me in bed, the 10-year old Huy and Nu turn around to get a couple of minutes more sleep.
The mosquito tent I’m sleeping in, gives an interesting real-life instagram filter on the room.
Downstairs, I hear the sound of a starting motorbike and a Vietnamese tv-show.
I’m definitely not staying in a hostel, but with the wonderful family of my Vietnamese/American friend Anh (but I’ll use her Vietnamese name Mi).
Đức Trọng is located about 1 hour by bus from Dalat, and is not used to have foreigners in town. It’s the hometown of Mi and her family, my host for the next days.
Once again, I was getting lots of smiles and stares from the local people. It immediately felt like staying in Sei Silau again! Locals who are interested in my story and wondering why a foreigner would come to a place like Duc Trong.
Everyone was motivated to make me discover the Vietnamese culture: if it wasn’t by feeding my five dishes/day, it was by inviting me for a coffee or by bringing me to nice places in the area.
I was staying at the house from Di (=aunt) tranh and Cau (=uncle) Lun, who are living together with their oldest son Dang, his wife Phuong and their three-month old son Ri. Huy and Nu, two cousins, were also staying a couple of nights at the house so they could hang out more with Mi.
Since she’s four, Mi has been living in North-Carolina but was born in Duc Trong and has a big part of her family here.
And when I say a big part, I’m talking about a big amount of people! I kind of lost track of who’s a cousin, aunt or a nephew. Similar to Indonesian habits, they have certain titles for each other with different “ranks“. For example, the title for your grandmother from your mother’s side will be different than the one from your father’s side. Greeting adults with the proper title when you enter or leave a place is also really important!
Mi has lots of younger cousins and were always around us! We often went for food, played chess or watched tv-shows together.
They were really motivated to learn some Kung Fu moves, which I enjoyed teaching them.
As it was the first time spending Christmas away from my family, I couldn’t imagine a better Christmas then the one I had in Duc Trong. Mi’s family is Christian, Christian and Missionary Alliance specifically.
As I went to a Catholic primary school, I still remember some things about Christianity. I haven’t been to church in a long time but this weekend we went four times!
My trip should be sacred now.
Different from the Catholic Mass, is that there is much more singing and it isn’t as formal.
Kids are running around, people are talking in the back and enjoying taking pictures together.
- 23/12-8pm: Day before Christmas Eve, in a big tent
More orientated for children
Children were playing the Christmas story and a Vietnamese Santa Claus shared presents.
- 24/12-7pm: Christmas eve, in a big tent
The Christmas story was presented again with more songs.
At the end everyone had diner together
- 25/12-7am: Christmas, in a church with wooden interior
Christmas songs accompanied with a Christmas speech from the priest
- 25/12-8pm: Christmas, big church in Dalat
More Christmas songs and speeches in a really nice church.
But during this Mass, I tried beating a high score in Subway surfers.
On Christmas day, we all went to Thac Pongour, a beautiful waterfall close by Duc Trong.
Add this place to your todo-list when you come to Dalat. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic with some beers.
When you’re drinking beers with Vietnamese, you have to toast everyone before you drink. This way everyone drinks together.
This is a habit I will remember 😉
Uncle Dac and aunt Bao
After the last Mass, we staid with aunt Bao and uncle Dac for the night. Uncle Dac showed me some certifications from his father, who served under the French army during the French occupation.
We talked a lot about the Vietnamese war and watched some documentaries. They were around 15 years old when the Vietnam war ended. Hearing about their experiences during the war, still gives me goosebumps!
Today, they have their own coffee plantation and offered me a pack of their coffee for the road!
We explored a few nice places in Dalat together and thanks to photographer Mi, we have some nice pictures.
I’m still waiting for your bill, Mi 😉
Mi, thank you so much for introducing me to your family, being an amazing translator and sharing the Vietnamese culture with me! Give a big hug to the kids and your family!
Hopefully we’ll meet again in America or somewhere else in the world 😉
Next up: New years eve in Hoi An or Hue!