Rona & Aaron’s Excellent Adventure, Part 9

To learn what came before this, go here

After the market in Bac Ha, we went to a village named Pho. No, not Pho. Pho? What? You’re confused? Welcome to Vietnam.

You see, Chinese (yes, I mean Chinese– bear with me) is a tonal language. People who try to learn it have difficulty with the fact that the same one-syllable word can have 4 completely different meanings depending on the tone used to say it. There is a flat tone, a rising tone, a falling tone, and one that goes up and down. Still with me?

OK, if you think Chinese is difficult, try Vietnamese. They have 6 tones. That same one syllable (the one they always use to illustrate it in both countries is “ma”) means six different things in Vietnamese, depending on the tone. So when we came to the village and I read the sign Pho (foe), our guide said “what?” and I said, “The name of the village.” And she said, “no, the name of THIS village (as if she had no idea of what I was talking about) is Pho (foe?)” And yes, the question mark is the best way to explain how the tone needed to say Pho is pronounced. So if you said, “Can we go to Pho?” she would understand. But if you said, “This is Pho” she would have no idea what you were talking about.

Anyway, this is Pho

Pho

Pho

This was my second time visiting Pho. The first time we were invited to visit the home of the mayor of the town. He was a wiry, happy old man who offered the men liquor and danced around his home with them. This time we went into the home of one of the villagers. To give you an idea of the cooking facilities in Pho, here is a picture from the kitchen.

kitchen in Pho

kitchen in Pho

Outside we were able to see the laundry hanging, drying in the clear mountain air.

Drying laundry

Drying laundry

More laundry

More laundry

The scenery around Pho was very beautiful. We saw little black Vietnamese pigs and lots of chickens and ducks. However, most beautiful of all were the people.

Women returning from Market

Women returning from Market

Children in Pho

Children in Pho

With agriculture being the primary source of income, children become very wise in the practical aspects of farming. This little boy, leading his water buffalo who was hauling a large log, gave new meaning to the phrase “…and a little child shall lead them…”

Leading the water buffalo

Leading the water buffalo

Pho was lovely. We enjoyed a wonderful day, returned to Lao Cai for dinner, after a short visit to the Chinese border, and the boarded the overnight train for Hanoi.

Next time we answer these questions: How long should one stay on Halong Bay? How does the cook on the boat respond when I answer his question as to where I am from? and What do Vietnamese think of the knives we use in the the west?

Continue the adventure here




Comments

  1. Very interesting! Beautiful country–I don’t remember seeing any pictures of it since the Vietnam war except here and on another blog.
    Thanks for the language lesson!

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