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.
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. Read more
We’re having a two-week vacation in Europe. Our first stop is Paris and this is our fourth day here. I didn’t bring my computer so I’ll just quickly jot down some updates.
– The weather is really cold, or maybe it just feels cold because we walk outside for ten hours straight (25 km) everyday. The plus side is that we get to enjoy a quiet Paris and that there’s no line to our favorite bakery.
– On the second day here Craig said he craved a bowl of pho. It flattered me that my American husband dreamt of Vietnamese food when visiting Paris.
– Most shops and restaurants are closed today (it’s Sunday). I expected that but was still upset to find out that even bathrooms in malls are closed. We were taking a miserable walk home after a failed attempt for breakfast when we ran into a farmer’s market with an authentic Vietnamese food stand. We had some of the best crispy fried spring rolls we’d ever had, and Craig got to show off his Vietnamese to the Vietnamese-French sellers.
– Last night I met up with my high school roommate (I went to boarding school) whom I hadn’t met for twelve years. Twelve years ago, we were eating half-hedged eggs in a small room in a small Northern town of Vietnam. Last night we were eating Josselin crepes in Paris. Life is good!
I didn’t bring my camera since I wanted to have a real vacation, meaning not having to focus on or making a fuzz about taking good, high resolution pictures. Below are some random iPhone snaps if you’re interested.