Today, we had our last outing together with our English club. This morning, we have arranged to meet to go on motorcycles to the silk village in Ha Dong. Ha Dong is to the South of Hanoi and is famous for their silk product and of course the very famous movie “ Ao Lua Ha Dong”( The silk dress of Ha Dong). Daniel and I had watched it last month and it was really good. Daniel liked it especially for he love the traditional silk dress also known as ao dai. But this movie is good for celebrated the tenacity of Vietnamese women. I think everyone should watch it really. : 0
Daniel and I were surprised that none of them have been to the silk village before. This was actually my third time here. Ironically, it was me who showed them the way to the village. The journey passed by our school. I realized that most of them have never really been out of Hanoi before, I think that is because of the price of fuel. So I am really glad that they had agreed to go to the silk village. We got lost someway while already in Van Phuc so we asked around for directions. Before hitting the shops that many tourists and Vietnamese bought silk products, we wanted to see the silk making process.
Most of the workers inside the silk factory were middle aged and old ladies. They were either tidying the raw silk so that they could be used as threads. The smell was suffocating as they have to keep oiling the raw silk to make it smooth. In another corner, someone was spinning a cloth from silk on the loom. Some tourists were busying snapping pictures away. However, they don't seem to pay attention to what their guide was explaining. I talked through the club members and understood from them that most of the youngsters in the silk village had abandoned the traditional craft for other economical opportunities in the cities. The silk craft used to be enough to sustain the village, but now with the cheaper imports from China, it was difficult to match the price of the goods from China. Furthermore, the village stopped making top notched products as it was not profitable, few tourists buy them as they were too pricey as it took a lot of time to produce. All of us felt sorry to hear that and we were not so sure now if the things selling in the shops were actually from Vietnam or China anymore. However, we were quite sure that those silk bags with embroideries on them are from Vietnam as they are really local designs.
We were very excited to see the mulberry leaves and of course the silk worms themselves. We tried carrying them and feel them crawling. But we were sorry when the guide explained that after the silk worms ate to their fullest, they will then sleep and formed a cocoon. Where they were inside, they transformed and attempt to break out of the cocoon. However, to prevent them from spoiling the silk, this is the time that they have to be dropped into hot water so as to retrieve the raw silk! Ouch, so how many silkworms have had die for me later when i go get my silk scarfs?
Goods on sale in Lang Lua Van Phuc ( Silk Village Van Phuc)
I realized that the club members were more excited then me to see the shops as this was their first time here. They walked up and down the streets and went into every single shop. While I would say that everyone of the shops look essentially the same, they seemed to discover something different each time. I would have prefer that they speak in Vietnamese so that the shop keeper would not have raised the price, thinking we were all foreigners. But it was the last chance that they could practice their English so we spoke in English. I tried to speak my best Vietnamese to convince the shopkeepers that I am a student in Vietnam so I should be given the local rates : ) haha, but of course, it is still easier watching how my friends do it. It was really fun seeing them bargaining, getting very unimaginably low prices but walking away with the 2 sides all feeling satisfied.
I was feeling hungrier earlier than normal as the weather was turning cold. Finally spending close to 4 hours at the silk village, we decided to go for a late lunch. However, as it was the last time we would go around Hanoi together, they decided to take me on a tour around Hanoi, so we ended up going around the different streets that we have had much memories together. When we finally stopped at a little shop to have lunch, everyone was so hungry that we have 2 sets of lunch each. Even though it was only the usual fares such as my xao ( fried maggi mee), com rang (fried rice) or pho bo (beef noodles). It was still very good. They told us they were sharing with us their favourite hang out when they were junior college students as it was near to most of their colleges. It was cheaper than most stalls too as it catered to students.
We chatted away last time in English and drew a lot of curious stares from other people in the shop. It was the last time I could help them with their English, telling them how to say this and that and helping them to express themselves. One of the Has asked me (there were 3 Has in the club), “how do you say you are super hungry?”. I told them I usually said “ I am so hungry that I can eat a cow!” and everyone was laughing until some of them practically fall off their seats. We ended up talking about dentistry and the importance of having good health care system as Ha is a student in the University of Dentistry. Half of the time I couldn't understand the technical terms but at least I knew that it was possible to have teeth braced. I felt really at ease with them as we could just chat like friends on all possible topics. : )
It was really hard to say goodbye after the lunch. They promised to teach me to ride a motorbike the next time I come to Hanoi. I told them that I would really like to so that I could get around Hanoi easily. They joked that once I learn how to ride a motorbike, I would not ask them out anymore. But I told them that would never happen, course when I came back and learn how to ride a bike, I would ask them out to race down the streets of Hanoi with me : 0
Till then, let's just take care and hope to see again!