a trip to a Vietnamese traditional mat-weaving village

Vietnamese traditional craft_Indiechine-2

Vietnamese traditional craft_Indiechine

A reed mat (chiếu) used to be a must-have item in Vietnamese households when I was small. My family ate around a big round tray on a mat on the floor. One of my chores was to roll out the mat before meals and to neatly roll it back again after. In addition to using these mats as places to eat, we slept on mats instead of sleeping on a mattress. On hot summer nights when there was no power, my grandmother would put a mat on our roof top so we could lie there in the cool(er) air and I would fall asleep listening to her telling folk tales.

I found out about Cam Ne mat village last month when researching traditional handicraft villages in Hoi An bigger area. The village has been around since the 15th century and they used to weave mats for kings of the Nguyen Dynasty in Hue, which is about 100km from there. Obviously if the kings were sending for mats from so far away, they had some pretty good skills. I have always wanted to buy a couple of mats for our house because of my childhood nostalgia about them, and I was curious about seeing them made in the traditional method. So off we drove on our blue scooter to Cam Ne on a burning hot day.

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Beautiful Hội An | My Favorite Arts & Crafts Houses

I adore the houses in the old town of Hoi An! They’re uniform in their antiquity but individually unique. They look ill-tended with their old paint and rustic wood shutters but charming because of that look. They’re zen but lively, simple but sophisticated. And because of that, I decided to have a series on this blog named Beautiful Hội An to share this town’s beautiful places that have inspired me.
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A Saigon Office Apartment

And so we moved back to Vietnam in late June and Saigon was our first stop. On our first day there, we met up with my good friend Trong, who’s a copywriter and partner of an advertising agency. He took us to a small street noodle store where we had the best crab noodles in the world, then he asked if we wanted to have coffee at his office, which is an apartment in a small old building in downtown area.

I’d love to work in an office like his. It’s both traditionally Vietnamese and urban at the same time. Here are some pictures to illustrate what I’m talking about.

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My grandfather used to have a couch like this back in the 80s.

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