A Blog to help all those moving to hectic Hanoi, wanting to learn about the culture in Vietnam or simply interested in the opinions of an adventurous expatriate teenager!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Sapa Round 2

After describing the length of the hike, the burning muscles and the sun beating down on my neck to the rest of my family they decided that it was a great idea to take the weekend train down to Sapa AGAIN!
This time though we brought along a tour guide and I learnt a lot about death and marriage rituals. Warning: The information on death is truly shocking!

Note - The pictures are completely unrelated but I love them anyway.
The most important things for a man in Sapa are:

  1. A House
  2. A Wife
  3. A Buffalo

I predict that in the first world people would more likely say:
  1.  A house
  2.  A bank account full of money
  3.  A car/ ipod/ television or another consumerist item.


There is a dancing and singing ritual where the men dance to music and the women sing in response, the couple get closer to one another until they can see each other's faces. If they like what they see then they carry on going for one hour (if not then the music dramatically stops and one partner runs away, which I suppose is very unfortunate if you're very ugly). After one hour they escape to the mountains to talk till the early hours about their lives, hopes dreams etc. and agree to meet again 3 times.

I own no rights to this adorable baby - I'm only 15

 Once they have met three times the man will describe the woman to his family and they must go and kidnap her from the market and keep her in his house for three days. This sounds rather unnecessary to me but maybe it adds a little adventure into their lives? If she chooses to stay with the husband's family for three days then one month later the couple will marry. So if you're like me and can't dance to save your life you would have no hope of finding a partner.


The dead are taken to a fortune teller who bathes them in spiritual water and leaves collected from high up in the mountains. Then the body is suspended from the ceiling of the  family's house and lowered each day according to how old they were. So if you're 80 you hang 8 days, being lowered by 10cm each day.
Once the body reaches the floor the strongest men in the village must run with the body down a long and winding path so the spirit will not remember the way home as the family doesn't want to be haunted.
What is most interesting is that this tradition is the opposite in the rest of Vietnam where people want their dead relative watching over them.

Snake guts really do look appetizing don't they?

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