Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Vietnamese Proverbs

Eating is much but accommodating is little
An nhieu, o may
Eating as in the North; clothing as in the South
An Bac, mac nam
You eat slowly, that is good for stomach; you plough deeply, that is good for fields
An ky no lau, cay sau tot lua
When having a party, go first; when walking in the water, go after
An co di truoc, loi nuoc theo sau
( = He that comes first to the hill may sit where he will = the early bird catches the worm)
One worm may damage the whole cooking soup
Con sau bo dau noi canh
Eating and sitting without labor
An khong ngoi roi
(= to be at the loose end)
Eeating nothing but saying yes
An khong noi co
( = to slander)
It depends on how much of rice you eat the sauce
Lieu com gap mam
( = cut your coat according to your cloth according to your means)
Try to seize the bowl of rice but forget the whole table of food
Tham bat bo mam
One piece of food while hungry equals a big box of food while full
Mot mieng khi doi bang mot goi khi no
The husband eats hamburger; the wife eats spring roll
Ong an cha ba an nem
The man show a pig leg, the woman show a bottle of wine
Ong gio chan gio; ba tho chai ruou [Or: Ong dua chan gio, ba tho chai ruou]
( = scratch my back and I shall scratch yours)
Eats as strongly as elephant
An khoe nhu voi
Eat as small as a cat
An nhu meo
Looks as monkey eats ginger
Nhu khi an gung
The good leaves protect the worn-out leaves
La lanh dum la rach
All chili is hot; all women are jealous
Ot nao ma ot chang cay, gai nao ma gai chang hay ghen chong
Good wine must drink together with good friend
Ruou ngon phai co ban hien
We fence (or protect) the tree that gives us fruits
An cay nao, rao cay ay
When eating chew well, think before speaking
An co nhai, noi co nghi
When eating choose the place, when playing choose your friends
An chon noi, choi chon ba.n
(= be fastidious)
Eat the plum (given as a gift) but give back a peach
An man tra dao
(= Return gift to gift)
It's better to eat salty food and speak the truth than to eat vegetarian and
tell lies
An man noi ngay hon an chay noi doi
(= Better to eat meat and speak truth than to fast and tell lies)
When you eat, it's vegetable, when you are sick, it's medicine
Com thi rau, dau thi thuoc
Pay first and then get what you have paid for
Tien trao chao muc
The student tried to steal the cooking fish
The teacher found out. The student says Oh forgive me
I just opened the fish container.
If you were a bit later, I would have taken the whole fish container.
Hoc tro an vung ca kho
Thay do bat duoc, oi a con chua
Thua thay co moi mo vung
Thay cham ti nua con bung ca noi
When you eat, check the pots and pans; When you sit, check the direction.
An trong noi, ngoi trong huong
(Discreetly check the kitchen so that you don't put your foot in your mouth like asking for another serving when there is barely enough food for all guests, bragging about your preference of seafood when the host is about to serve chicken, etc. Check the direction when you sit -- for example facing South should be reserved for the guest of honor, avoid turning your back to the host's ancestral altar, turning your back to the guest of honor or the host, sitting at better seat than your own elders, sitting at the same level as people of higher ranks in society or in the family, etc.)
A - - A -
Ac gia, ac bao As the call, so the echo
Ai lam nay chiu Who breaks, pays
An chac mac ben Comfort is better than pride
An co nhai, noi co nghi Think today and speak tomorrow
An may doi xoi gac Beggars can't be choosers
An mieng tra mieng Tit for tat
An den oan tra An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth

- B - - B -
Ba nghe ba tri, vi chi ba lap Jack of all trades is master of none
Ban be hieu nhau khi hoan nan A friend in need is a friend indeed
Banh it di, banh qui lai One good turn deserves another
Bat ca hai tay Between two stools, you fall to the ground
Ban cung sinh dao tac Necessity knows no laws
Bat di nhan phe ngon A fool may sometimes give a wise man counsel
Bung doi tai diec Hungry bellies have no ears
But chua nha khong thieng No man is a hero to his valet

- C - - C -
Ca vang bung bo A fair face may hide a foul heart
Cai net danh chet cai dep Beauty is but skin-deep
Cau nhin chin cau lanh Better a lean peace than a fat victory
Cay ngay khong so chet dung A clean hand wants no washing
Cha chung khong ai khoc Everybody's business is nobody's business
Cha me sinh con, troi sinh tinh Many a good father has but a bad son
Chin nguoi, muoi y So many men, so many minds
Cho cay gan nha, ga cay gan chuong Every dog is a lion at home
Cho cui ve rung To carry coals to Newcastle
Choi cho, cho liem mat Familiarity breeds contempt
Chua do ong nghe da de hang tong Catch the bear before you sell his skin
Chua khoi vong da cong duoi Do not halloo till you are out of the wood
Chung nao tat nay The leopard cannot change its spots
Co chi lam quan, co gan lam giau Fortune favours the brave
Co cong mai sat co ngay nen kim A mouse in time may bite in two a cable
Cai kho lo cai khon Adversity brings wisdom
Co kho moi co mieng an No sweet without sweat
Co qua co lai moi toai long nhau Scratch my back; I'll scratch yours
Co thuc moi vuc duoc dao Fine words butter no parsnips
Co tien mua tien cung duoc Money makes the mare go
Con ga tot ma ve long, rang den ve thuoc, ruou nong ve men
Fine feathers make fine birds
Con sau lam rau noi canh
One scabby sheep is enough to spoil the whole flock
Cuoi nguoi hom truoc hom sau nguoi cuoi He laughs best who laughs last

- D - - D -
Di doc tri doc Like cures like
Di hoa vi qui A bad compromise is better than a good lawsuit
Duc toc bat dat Haste makes waste
Dau xuoi duoi lot A good beginning is half the battle
Dep de pho ra, xau xa day lai It's best to wash one's soiled linen at home
Di voi but mac ao ca sa, di voi ma mac ao giay
Who keeps company with the wolf will learn to howl
Doi dau goi phai bo Hunger brings the wolf to the fold
Doi an muoi cung ngon Hunger finds no fault with cookery
Dong tay vo nen keu Many hands make light work
Dong thanh tuong ung, dong khi tuong cau Likes draws to like
Duc nuoc beo co To fish in troubled waters
Duoc dang chan, lan dang dau Give him an inch and he will take a yard
Duong di hay toi, noi doi hay cung Lies have short legs
Duong di o mieng He that has a tongue in his head may find his way anywhere
Dung boi rac len ma ngui Don't trouble trouble until trouble troubles you
Dung dua voi lua Fire is a good servant but a bad master

Saturday, 27 December 2008

The story of Watermelon

Mai An Tiem was an adopted son of 17th King Hung. He was talented and that was why he was highly considered by people and received many favors from the king. Once he said " Present means worry, gift means dept" and that provoked his father's anger. In spite of many pieces of advice from the whole court officials, there was an order that An Tiem and his family had to be deported to an isolated island in the far, far ocean without any belongings.

Fade came to those unlucky people. An Tiem's family was left in the island with nothing but a blunt sword, a clay pot and food that was only enough for them in five days. The wife sunk in sorrows and sobbed while the husband were releasing her and manly declared that they could make everything by their hands.

Life in remove place was so hard that both young and adult in the unfortunate family had to catch fish, oyster and also wild greens to remain life. Later the fruit was out of the season, fish in the sea could not be caught without net, bird was watchful over the trap. What they owned at this time was just some wild greens cultivated by the husband.

One early morning, An Tiem heard the sounds of birds in a distance then he just walked out to see the scene but the birds were frighten and flew high above in confusion and left a small piece of melon with bright red pulp and black tiny seeds. " It was absolutely good for birds. It must be the same for Man" he thought " Why don't I do something with those tiny seeds?" Its fresh and sweet taste seemed to make him believe that his decision was right. With a blunt sword he ploughed a small piece of land and sowed it with the seeds.

Time passed by; the man now was look happy and hopeful when travelling his eyes over the verdant and luxuriant plants sprawling on the sand. All people in the family looked for the coming day that their lianas bear fruit and the fruit got bigger and bigger... One morning the family was woke by the sounds of bird. An Tiem came out into the sand and found one of the melon was half-eaten and showing the bright red color of its pulp. He brought it home then and cut a small piece to each person in the family. The melon taste was so good that everyone liked it but the rest of it was only consumed at noon when they felt that what they had eaten in the morning was unharmful to them.

Thank to this kind of fruit, life in the island now was much better. Melon was cultivated, harvested season by season. Every time An Tiem himself also dropped some fruits with his name curved over their skin into the ocean for the desire of sharing the happiness and looking for a way to the mainland.

Later there were some merchants who got into the island and asked for exchanging tools as well as food for the kind of fruit they had picked up in the sea.
Hung king somewhat felt regretful that he had put his son a death until the day he was offered a melon and broken the news that An Tiem and his family weren't only alive but also cultivated a precious melon in the island. After that a favor was granted to bring An Tiem and his family back to the court as an honor to the country.

From that time on this kind of fruit - Watermelon - was commonly planted but it was said that those melons from Nga Son Island where An Tiem first cultivated it were the best ones.

Friday, 26 December 2008

The golden star fruit tree

Once upon a time, there was a very rich man who lived in a village. When he died, he left his two sons a huge fortune. But the two brothers were entirely different. The elder was greedy, but the younger was very kind. So after the parents' death, the elder claimed the fortune and left his younger brother only star fruit tree. (A very productive tree that gives sour fruit.) The younger brother took good care of his tree, watering it every day and hoping that it would give him a lot of fruit so that he could make a living by selling it. The elder brother, on the other hand, was so happy with his inheritance that he had nothing to worry about.

Unfortunately for the younger brother, when the fruit was ripe, a raven flew by and stopped in the tree to eat it. He was very sad to see this happen every day, but he did not know what to do. So one day, he decided to stand beneath the tree an speak to the raven: "Raven, please don't eat my fruit." he called. "This fruit tree is my only fortune. If you eat the fruit, my family will starve."

"Don't worry," the raven answered. "I'll pay you back in gold. Go and make yourself a bag 60 centimeters long to keep the gold."

Hearing those words, he was very excited and told his wife to make a bag of 60 centimeters. The next day, the raven came as he had promised. He landed by the gate, let the younger brother sit on his back, and took off for a place filled with gold. There the younger brother filled the bag with gold. Then he flew back home on the raven's back. And so he became very rich. But he still loved and respected his elder brother.

So one day he told his wife to prepare a good meal for his brother and his family. But when he invited his brother, the latter refused to come at first. The brother only accepted after he had begged him again and again. When the older brother arrived at his house, he was surprised to see it all changed. It was no longer the poor house that he had seen before. So he asked his younger brother the reason. The latter told him everything that happened. After he heard it all, he offered to trade all his fortune for the fruit-tree. The kind brother gladly accepted the offer.

The raven came as usual. The greedy brother spoke to the raven the same words as his brother and received the same answer from the raven. But he was so greedy that he made a much larger bag instead of a 60 centimeter bag. The next day, the raven came to take him to place of gold. After he had filled the bag, he filled all his pockets, too, before he climbed onto the raven's back to go home. But the load was so heavy that when they flew over the sea, the raven tilted his tired wings and dropped him off into the sea.

His wife and younger brother waited and waited but did not see him come back. So they decided to ask the raven and learn all the facts.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

The moon boy - Cuoi

Long, long time ago there was a clever boy whose name was Cuoi. He did nothing with his cleverness but to play trick on people around him. He lived with his uncle and aunt who were usually suffered from his cheats.
Once day Cuoi came to the field and broke the bad new to the uncle that his wife had fell down from the ladder and bled. The man was so frighten that he ran to his home without saying a word. Cuoi at that time reached the house before his poor uncle by a short cut then broke another bad new to his aunt that her husband was collided by the buffalo and was going to died. The poor woman was scared and immediately ran out to the field. Suddenly she bumped to a man and recognized that it was her husband who was panting and sweating like her. The poor couple came back with anger and decided to imprison him into a bamboo cage then drifted him in the river.
In the afternoon when Cuoi was carried to the river's bank, he regretfully said sorry to them and asked them to come back home to bring him a book hidden behind the basket of rice that taught him telling lie as the last favour. They both agreed and returned home to satisfy their curiosity without saying a word.
After that Cuoi saw a blind man passed by. He then asked the man to untight the cage if he wanted to have his eyes cured. At last Cuoi was free and hid himself in a bamboo grave and luckily found a jar of gold. He came back and gave it to his uncle and his aunt to atone for faults while the poor blind man was waiting for his eyes treated.
Later Cuoi got married with a girl in the village and went on pulling people's leg.

Once morning he came into the forest and saw a tiger mother picking leaves from a kind of tree to cure her son's wound. Immediately the wound was recovered and the tiger baby could follow his mother to continue their trip.

Cuoi grasped the opportunity to uproot the tree and rose it in the garden behind his house. He called the tree Banyan and took good care to it. He always reminded his wife that the tree was magic one so it was impossible to pour dirty water or dump the garbage at its root otherwise it would fly to the heaven. His poor wife sometimes envied with the tree so she dumped garbage at the tree root once day.

When Cuoi came home he found the tree was shaking and flying higher and higher in the sky. He tried to hold its root to pull it back but he couldn't.

The tree actually pulled him farther and farther from the earth until it reached the moon.

It is said that there is still image of Cuoi sitting at the root of Banyan tree and looking down to see the world and there is also a Vietnamese saying " lie as Cuoi".

Poem - Myself, don't give up (Trinh Cong Son)

Don't give up, myself don't give up
Autumn leaves why fell in winter
Don't give up, honey, don't give up
You are mine and I'm also yours
Flying kite like whose soul chearless
Down a kite that gulf get more grieved

Who I were, shedding tears myself
Who I am, why exists in world
who am I, then who, and who
So much love the life

Don't give give, myself don't give up
Lost sunshine like my own story
Don't give up honey dont give up
You refresh and u get sunrise
Farther road and late sun quiet
Those whose soul now tiptoes sadden

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

The Wait-For- Husband Stone


Once upon a time, there was a poor couple who had 2 children: an 11-year-old son and a 6- year-old daughter. They often leave their children at home when they worked in the field or go. One day, the mother gave the children one sugar cane and told the boy to cut it for his sister to eat and took her out for some fun. She often said:

- Don't make her cry or else our father will hit you hard.

The boy took his sister to the front yard and they broke branches off a tree to build a house with their neighbour's friends. After playing, he took his sister home and looked for a knife to cut the sugar cane. When he cut the sugar cane, the knife blade suddenly slipped from knife handle and hit his sister on the head. She fell down and fainted, blood was spilled on the ground.

He was very scared and ran away. He ran and ran and ran. He didn't know where he was running, how many houses he was there to have lunches and dinners for 15 years. Until the last one, a fisherman who lived in Binh Dinh seaside adopted him. Fishing kept him over there. The days went by. Then he married a girl.

His wife was good at knitting fish net. When his boat landed, she brought his fish to market to sell. After 2 years, they had a son and were very happy. One day, he was at home mending the net because of the stormy sea. After lunch, his wife flowed down her hair and had him caught louses. He was so surprised to see the big round scar on her right ear. He asked her about it. She told him happily:

- 20 years ago, my elder brother cut sugar cane and that harmful knife blade hit my head. I fainted at that time. Later, I just knew my brother went away because he was fearful. My parents looked for him everywhere but there wasn't any news about him. Since then, my parents were so upset that they passed away because of their sadness. As for me, nobody raised me and they sold me to a business boat. I hadn't settled down anywhere till I met you.

Behind her back, his face was paler and paler when he knew he married his own sister. His heart was broken by her words. But he tried to repress his feelings and didn't let her know about them. His boat set sail, furrowed the waves and headed for the high sea again but he never came back to her anymore. She was waiting for him at home. Every afternoon, she took her child to the mountain at sea mouth, watching the horizon for her husband coming back. Days passed by, she still climbed the mountain to look for her husband although her eyes were dry because of much crying. Later, she and her child turned into a stone, it becomes a symbol of wife's faith.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Truong Chi's Obsessive Love

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful girl who was named My Nuong. She was a daughter of a King's first minister. She lived in a mansion near the river. A young fisherman often cast his net at that part of the river. His name was Truong Chi, and he had a sweet voice. He often sang when he was rowing his small boat. The songs and the voice were so attractive that My Nuong was addicted to listening to them every day. One day the young fisherman did not come to cast his net and this made My Nuong feel sad. Then he appeared again. My Nuong was so happy to open her window, and to look down and listen to his sweet songs. Gradually, those songs and his magic voice entered her heart. It made her lovesick, and no medicine could cure her sickness. Her family was very worried because her sickness became ever more serious. Her father asked her about what was making her so ill and after learning about her feelings, he called Truong Chi to come in the mansion to meet her. Truong Chi extracted the essence of some herbs by simmering them and sang lovely songs for her. But sadly, when she saw his very ugly face, all of her sickness disappeared and she didn't want to see him again. But Truong Chi had fallen in love with her. He was so pained that his heart would no longer beat, and he died of lovesickness. Three years after his burial, his family exhumed his body to move his remains to another place. When they opened the coffin hey found a crystal ball – his obsessive love that it was impossible to dispel. The mandarin came to hear about the remarkable crystal ball, and Truong Chi's obsessive love. He bought the ball one day when he was passing by and he had a turner to make a teacup from it. When the cup was filled with tea, people could see in it that young man rowing his boat on the river, as he had done before. My Nuong took the cup, and remembering the old story, tears welled in her eyes. But as her tears splashed into the cup, it melted into water.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Lizard Story

Long, long ago, a poor man was called lizard. He and his fife were beggars. They saved amount of money then inter their money in a corner of their house. One day he saw 2 buffaloes wade from water and fight to death. He guessed it would have a big flood. So he used his money to buy rice. Of course, there was a big flood and he sold rice with an expensive price. He became rich and used their money to lend on interest. He became a billionaire and he would be arrogant so much. One day, he met another billionaire, they talked about their riches. Gradually they bet who would be the richest. First, he asked that man "Do you have coral?" That man gave a coral was a few meters long. That man asked him " Do you have rhino?" He gave a set tea cup which was made of horns of rhino. They showed many things. At last a man whispered that man and he asked "Do you have soil pot? Lizard man was trembled and told his servants to find it but he didn't have because that pot was often in poor family. He lost and all his property belonged to that man. He was sorry for him and died. He turned into house lizard and often made sound like his name.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Nam Xuong Lady


A long, long time ago, there lived in Nam Xuong village a girl called Vu Thi Thiet, she was not only beautiful but also well mannered. She got married to Truong Sinh who lived in the same village. Truong Sinh was a so jealous person. He often found her fault but she kept rule of behaviour and there was nothing happened.

They lived in happiness when the war happened at the frontier. He had to say goodbye to his mother and his wife to join the army as mandarin ordered. His wife was pregnant at that time. The goodbye was full of reluctance. The mother wished her son to have hard feet and soft stones, the husband advised his wife to try to take care of their old mother and bring up their child.

After he went to the frontier, she gave birth to a son; she named her child Dan. The child was light-hearted and healthy when his grandmother was sick because of her long fondly to see Truong Sinh.

His wife took care of his mother and invited good doctors to cure her but her sickness became more seriously and she passed away soon. Thanks to neighbourhood, organization her mother in law’s funeral was completed.

Some falls passed, the wife was waiting for the return of her husband. She saw to her household chores, took care of the child and to farm-work as well. There were some nights she had to light oil lamp to sew, mend clothes and played with her son. When the child cried, she often showed him her shadow on the wall and said:

"Don’t cry. Your father comes home, there, there."

The child looked at the shadow and didn’t cry anymore.

Since that, it became a habit. The child often asked to meet his father before going to bed. The black shadow on the wall was like the close person with both of mother and child.

Then the war ended, the frontier was peaceful. Soldiers returned to their home. Truong Sinh was one of them. Their reunion was both sad and happy. He was sad because his mother passed away but he was happy to have a cute son. The child was 3 years old and began to speak.

He let his father carry him but he was cold, The next day, Truong Sinh asked where his mother’ s grave was and carried his child to visit. When coming to the field, the child cried a lot, Truong Sinh soothed:

"Don’t cry, I love you. Then I will buy you presents and snacks."

The child answered right away:
"No, you’re not my father. My father was another one. He only comes home at night."

Truong Sinh felt his heart broken to hear that. He looked at his child and asked his child fast:
"How is your father like? Tell me about that."

The child said to his father:

"My father comes home every night…. My mother goes, he goes, my mother sits, he sits… He never holds me in his arms…."

The child’s unintentional sayings made Truong Sinh believed that his wife adulterous. There was no doubt anymore. Thinking of his wife was in other man’s arms, his jealousy was burst out. He mumbled:

"Everything is so clear. It can’t imagine when I was miserable so much…"

When coming home, he scolded his wife very badly:

"I don’t think you are faithful woman. The mother died, your husband was away, and you invited man to come home every night…"

He continued to scold her but he didn’t tell her about what the child said. His wife insisted to argue:
"Being cut off for 3 years, I have been faithful to you and never been spoilt as you said. Please don’t doubt me badly."

The more she argued, the more he was angry. He began to use brute ways to torture her.

Their neighbours heard about that so they came and tried to stop him not to torture her but they couldn’t stop him beating her at all. He assumed that she was well spoken so they defended her against him. In indignation at his bad behaviour, she held the child and sobbed hard then she ran straight to the Yellow River and jumped into the river when her husband went to the next-door neighbour.

When Truong Sinh came home, he didn’t see her anywhere. Feeling that there was an unlucky thing, he ran to the river but it was late. He couldn't find her anymore. When the night came, the child cried a lot. He lit an oil lamp to soothe him calm. Suddenly the child yelled happily:

"Oh, my father came here."

Truong Sinh was surprised and asked:

"Where was he?"

His son showed Truong Sinh's shadow appear on the wall and said:

"There, there…"

Truong Sinh remembered what the child said when they visited his mother’s grave. He knew his terrible fault and he understood that his wife had to suffer a terrible thing by his jealousy. How could he redeem his big offence anymore?

He only knew to hold his son in his arms, looking down to the river and cried every day. Since then, he was single to bring up his son. Later, people built a temple in Yellow River's bank to worship Vu Thi Thiet; it was called Truong’s wife temple.

Translated by Mai Anh Tuyet

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Story of the betel leaf and the areca nut

There were two twin brothers of the Cao family. Their names were Tan for the eldest brother, and Lang for the youngest one.

They got schooling with a Taoist named Chu Chu who lived with his eighteen-year old daughter. He then married her to Tan, and the young couple lived their conjugal life happily.

But, Lang found out that his brother treated him less intimately since he got married. In fact, Lang left the house wandering around the country. He reached a larger river and couldn't cross it.

Not even a small boat was in the vicinity to transport him to the other side of the river. He was so sad that he kept on weeping till death and was transformed into a lime-stone lying by the river side.

Troubled by the long absence of his brother, Tan went out to look for him. When he reached the riverside he sat on the lime-stone and died by exhaustion and weariness. He was transformed into an areca tree.

The young woman in turn was upset by the long absence of her husband and got out for a search. She reached the same place where the areca tree had grown, leaned against the tree and died, transformed into a plant with large piquant leaves climbing on the areca tree. Hearing of this tragic love story, local inhabitants in the area set up a temple to their memory.

One day, King Hung went by the site and gained knowledge of this story from local people. He ordered his men to take and ground together a leaf of betel, an areca nut and a piece of lime. A juice as red as human blood was squeezed out from the melange. He tasted the juice and found it delicious. Then he recommended the use of betel chewed along with areca nut and lime at every marital ceremony. From this time on, chewing betel became a custom for Vietnamese, and very often they began their conversation with a quid of betel.

Thach Sanh - Ly Thong - Vietnamese legends

Long time ago there was a kind and old but childless couple. They had to cut wood in the forest for rice. God felt moved then sent his crown prince to them so the old woman was pregnant for years. After the husband died, she gave birth a son.
The child was named Thach Sanh and became parentless some years later. He lived lonely in a shabby cottage under the old Banyan tree. He owned nothing except a hammer inherited from the father. When he was able to use the hammer, he was taught all kinds of kungfu and magic power by angles from heaven.
Once day there was an alcohol seller called Ly Thong passed by. He saw Thach Sanh carrying a heavy load of firewood. He knew there would be considerable benefits if he could persuade the young man to live under his roof. He did it. Thach Sanh was pleased and hoped that he would never be alone again.

At that time there was a man - eating ogress. No one could kill the evil so people had to make it a temple and offer it a man annually.
Unfortunately, once day it was Ly Thong's turn to come to the evil's temple. He and his mother thought that the only way to keep his destiny is to ask his adopted brother for help. This evening when Thach Sanh came home he was offered a big meal then asked for nothing but just simply guarding the temple for a night. The kind fellow accepted.
At mid-night when Thach Sanh was having half-closed eyes from sleepiness in the temple, the ogress appeared and was about to catch him with its sharp claws. Without humming and hawing he fought back bravely with the hammer handed down from his father and finally split the rival into parts and took its head and golden bow and arrows back. Hearing the voice of Thach Sanh in the front door Ly Thong and his mother were so afraid because they thought that it was only the soul of the victim coming back to revenge. Thach Sanh got into the house and told them what had happened and once again he was told that the ogress he had killed was the king's. The fellow was so frightened and was advised to return to the old cottage while Ly Thong brought the evil's head to the court for award and was conferred as a duke.

The king at that time had a graceful and nubile princess, many neighboring princes who wanted to ask for her hand. Once day when walking in the royal garden, she was caught by a huge eagle. Luckily Thach Sanh saw the eagle when it was flying by the Banyan tree with the claws carrying a young lady so he shot the eagle a golden arrow and traced to its cave by the bloody mark on the surface.

At this time Ly Thong was in the charge to find the princess, he didn't know what to do but came to see Thach Sanh for another help. Thach Sanh was once again honestly told Ly Thong what he had done and then took him as well as his escorts to the eagle's cave. He crept into the cave by a string, had a drastic fight with the evil eagle and finally saved the princess. He tightened her with the string and made a signal for the escorts to pull the princess out of the den.

After that the cave became darker and darker, he knew that its mouth was filled so he got deeper in the cave to find the exit. On the way to be out of the cave he saved the sea king's son who was captured by the eagle long ago. He was invited to visit his palace in the sea and offered treasures before he came back to the land but he only suggested for a guitar and a small pot.

Because of being defeated by Thach Sanh, souls of the ogress and the evil eagle were roaming and accidentally they met each other once day. They stole the king's gold and hid it in their enemy's cottage to accuse him of theft.

Thach Sanh was thrown in jail for long. Once day he began playing the guitar to kill sadness, actually melodies from the guitar resounded to the king's palace, the princess who was so sad after being saved life by an unknown young man that she lived without smiling or saying began speaking and smiling happily. Thach Sanh after that was invited to the court. There he retold to all the court what had happened to him and how he had saved the princess's life. Everything was made clear then. Thach Sanh was asked to judge lives of Ly Thong and his mother. However, they were freed to return to their hometown for Thach Sanh's kindness but they both were killed by thunderer on the way home and turned to Dor-beetles.

The wedding of Thach Sanh and the princess was celebrated so magnificent that made all the princes of the neighboring countries who had failed for asking the princess's hand. They rose army of 18 countries for war. Thach Sanh asked the king for going to the battle where he did not fight but play the guitar and made the enthusiasm of princes' army damped by melodious sounds. They all put off their amours and gave up. Thach Sanh offered all the princes and their army a meal but brought out a small pot of cooked rice only. They felt strange when they found that it was impossible for them to eat all the cooked rice in the small pot. The pot was filled again and again whenever cooked rice was taken out. After that they showed their deep gratitude to Thach Sanh and returned to their countries.

The king had no son so he ceded the throne to Thach Sanh.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

The Story of Tam and Cam - Vietnamese fairy tale

The Story of Tấm and Cám (Vietnamese: Tấm Cám) is a Vietnamese fairy tale collected by L. T. Bach-Lan in Vietnamese Legends.
Once upon a time there was a young girl named Tấm, whose mother died early and so her father remarried. Soon after, her stepmother gave birth to a daughter named Cám. When Tấm's father died, stepmother began to abuse Tấm and forced her to do all the housework, while Cám lived luxuriously. Stepmother's hatred of Tam was intensified by the fact that Tam was much more beautiful and fair than her own daughter Cám, even though Tấm was forced to do all the laboring under the sun.
One day, stepmother sent Tấm and Cám to fish, promising to reward the girl who caught the most fish with a new, red silk Áo yếm. Cám knew her mother would never punish her and so played carelessly while Tấm worked hard fishing. When Cám noticed all the fish Tấm had caught, Cám advised Tấm to wash the mud out of her hair or else she would be scolded by mother. As Tấm washed her hair, Cám poured all the fish Tấm had caught into her own basket and ran home.

Upon discovering she had been tricked, Tấm sobbed until the Goddess of Mercy (or in some versions, the Buddha) appeared to her and comforted her. She told Tám to look into her basket to discover the one remaining little carp. She told Tam to take the carp home and put it into the well at the back of the house, reciting a special poem/greeting whenever she came to feed it.
Everyday, Tấm would come out to the well a few times to feed the carp, always reciting the greeting beforehand so that the carp would come up from the water. The carp grew fatter everyday that Tấm fed it, and stepmother began to suspect Tấm's behavior. One day, stepmother sneaked out close to where Tấm was feeding the fish. She waited until Tấm was gone, and went over to the well, finding nothing. Stepmother repeated the greeting she had heard Tam reciting and to her delight, saw the carp come up from the water. Stepmother caught and killed it to put in her rice porridge.

When Tấm discovered this, she broke into sobs. The Goddess of Mercy again appeared to Tấm and consoled her, and instructed her to salvage the bones of the carp and bury them in four separate jars underneath each corner of her bed.
A short while later, the king hosted a large celebration. Tấm pleaded to go along with Cám and stepmother, but stepmother schemed to keep Tấm at home. Stepmother mixed together countless black and green beans and ordered Tấm to sort them out before she was allowed to go (adding that Tấm did not have any decent clothes to attend the event anyway).

Tấm waited until Cám and stepmother had gone for a while and called out to the Goddess of Mercy, who appeared and turned the nearby flies into sparrows that sorted the beans for Tấm. Tấm was then told to dig up the four jars from the corners of her bed, and found extravagant treasures in each, including a beautiful silk dress, jewelry, golden slippers and even a horse! Tấm dressed herself splendidly and made her way to the celebration, but in her excitement she dropped a single slipper into the river.

The slipper flowed along the river until it was picked up by one of the king's attendants. The king marveled at the beautiful slipper and proclaimed that any maiden at the celebration whose foot fit the slipper would be made into his first wife. Every eligible lady at the celebration tried on the slipper, including Cám, but all to no avail. Suddenly, a beautiful young girl dressed in a magnificent silk gown appeared whose foot fit perfectly into the slipper (not to mention on her other foot was adorned the corresponding slipper of the same make). Stepmother and Cám were shocked to discover the mysterious lady was no other than Tấm! Tấm was immediately brought on the royal palanquin into the imperial palace for a grand wedding celebration, right in front of her seething stepmother and stepsister.
On Tấm's father's death anniversary, Tấm proved her filial duty and made a short visit home to honor the anniversary with her family, despite the abuse she had suffered at the hands of stepmother.

Stepmother asked Tấm to climb an areca tree and gather its betel nuts for her late father's altar. Tấm obeyed and as she climbed to the top of the tree, stepmother took an axe and chopped the tree down, so that Tấm fell to her death. Cám put on her sister's royal garb and entered the palace in her place. Tấm had reincarnated into a nightingale and followed her sister into the palace.
The king remained despondent and dearly missed his late wife, while Cám tried hard to please him. One day, a palace maid hung out the king's dragon robe to the sun, when the nightingale appeared to sing a song to remind the maid to be careful with her husband's gown. The bird's song captivated everyone who listened to it, and even drew the attention of the king. The king called out to the nightingale to land in the wide sleeves of his robe if it really was the spirit of his late wife. The nightingale did exactly as the king had asked and ever since then, it was put into a golden cage where the king spent most of his days as it sang songs to him. Cám became increasingly incensed and asked her mother what she should do. Her mother instructed her to catch the bird and eat it. Cám did as she was told and after skinning it, threw the feathers over the gate of the palace.

From the feathers rose a tree bearing a single, magnificent fruit. A poor old woman who worked as a water vendor walked by one day and saw it, begging it to fall to her, and promising that she would not to eat it, only admire it. Indeed it fell to her, and she did not eat it. The next day, the old woman found that when she came home from her errands, the housework was done while she was gone and there was a hot meal waiting for her. The next day she pretended to leave but stayed back to spy, when she saw Tấm emerge from the fruit and begin to do the household chores. The old woman emerged and tore up the peel so Tấm could no longer turn back.
One day, the king, lost while hunting, stopped by the hut. The old woman offered him betel, and when the king saw how the betel had been prepared, in the peculiar special way his late queen had always prepared it; he inquired as to whom had prepared the betel. The old woman told him her daughter had done it, and the king made her produce the daughter, and saw it was Tấm. He was overjoyed and Tấm was brought back into the palace as the king's first wife.

Cám was distressed and saw that Tam was as beautiful and pale as ever. She begged Tấm to reveal her secret of how she was so beautiful and fair-skinned, and that she would do anything to be as fair. Tấm told her it was simple and that she would just have to jump into a basin of boiling water. Cám did and died a horrible death.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Father's advice - Vietnamese joke

In a village, there was a man who used to listen to his parents but people felt it strange that after his father's death, he became an alcoholic, a gambler and even a thief. They asked him why he had, and he answered sadly:

Before my father died, he said "Don't drink tea, drink alcohol my son! Don't rob, steal my son . Don't play chess, gamble my son."

Well, before his father breathed his last gasp, his advice was abruptly interpreted by his son who understood the meaning according to that interruption.
His father's advice was: "Don't drink tea, alcohol! Don't rob, steal! Don't play chess, gamble."

Translated by maisnow02

If you feel my translation bad, please correct it :) Thanks. snow

Sunday, 23 November 2008

What do you think about Vietnam?

Some people said that they only know Vietnam through Vietnam War. Some said Vietnam is a wonderful country with fantastic places to see - Hue, Sapa , Hanoi, Saigon, Ha Long Bay. Fantastic food... Vietnamese people are nice and friendly but you know - like people everywhere, some are nice, some are not...
Some people answered:
- It's one of the best countries I have ever visited. The people are very friendly and welcoming. It's great to travel round by bus especially the night buses as they have beds and save on accommodation fees. Loads of things to do and see, Can't wait to go back.
- The people are very friendly, it's very lovely there. The whether is hot. But it's a chance for you to go swimming. The air is very clean. Everything is great there!
- I feel like I am in heaven when I visit Vietnam. People who sincerely want to know you. There is no selfishness. There are eager to learn about other cultures. They go out of their way to help you.
- The countryside... it is gorgeous... so many different attributes... occasional snow in the far north west, tropical humidity in the south, desert regions, coastal beauty, grass plains, mountains, it is all there.
- It is so very cheap to live, eat and get around.
- I have thought about going to Vietnam, my dad served there and told me it was beautiful. My neighbors are Vietnamese and are great people, very polite (unlike my other neighbors). They have showed me pictures of where they used to live in Vietnam (can't remember the name of the town) and it was very beautiful.
- Vietnam is a wonderful country which has more than 4000 years of Civilization. It's endured numerous major political conflicts.Vietnamese people have hard-working ethics. Saigon was once known as "The Pearl of the Far East". I hope some day, Vietnam would be economically reckoned as one of the "Dragons of Asia".
- Every time I think about Vietnam, I think of the memories I was growing up with:
The people. Most of whom are poor but have great hospitality.
The foods - simply prepared but exceptionally aromatic & delicious.
The atmosphere of "Tết" - the new clothes, the sound of firecrackers & the red envelopes of "lì xì".
My unforgettable first love.
Hanging around w/ my dearest friends.
Running half-naked in "xà lỏn" under the falling rain.
Playing soccer with my pals in a nearby Buddhist temple's ground.
Roaming slowly around the city on a bicycle in a nice breeze.
The passing-by female students with long silky hair, gracious gait in beautiful elegant white "áo dài".
The everyday chaos & transquility.
The contant transformation of the country as a whole towards a more hopeful future.
I've always longed to be back there.

.. and you? What do you think about Vietnam?
It would be nice to hear from you...

Sunday, 16 November 2008

The tongue

One day, the master says to his servant:
Go and catch a pig, kill it and choose the best piece and bring it to me.
The servant obeys his master. He goes and kills the pig and bring the tongue to his master.
A few days after, the master, wants to put his servant's intelligence to the best, orders him to go and kill another pig and says that:
"Search for the worst part of the pig and give it to me".
After that, he offers again the tongue to his master.
The master asks him "How insolent you are! Why do you bring to me the tongue like the first time"?
The servant replies sedately:
"- Sir, there is nothing as good as the tongue when we are good, but when we wicked, there's nothing as bad as the tongue".

Friday, 7 November 2008

The Mekong Delta

The Mekong River is one of the great rivers of the world. Taking its source from Tibet plateau, the roof of the world. It twists and turns for about 4,900 kilometers - flowing through the mountainous South-western China, between Laos and Myanmar (formerly Burma), through the jungles of Laos, between Thailand and Laos, traversing Cambodia and finally fanning out across the delta in Vietnam before splaying into the South China Sea.
Beginning from Tan An (Long An province), the Mekong Delta spreads over the territory of nine provinces from north to south: Long An, Tien Giang, Ben Tre, An Giang. Cuu Long, Kien Giang, Can Tho and Minh Hai. Two main channels of the Mekong River: the Tien Giang (the mainstream of Mekong) and the Hau Giang (or Bassac River) flow through the 3,723,189 hectares of the delta. Before reaching the sea, they have fanned out into nine branches - which accounts for its name of Cuu Long (Nine Dragons) in Vietnam.
The Mekong Delta is the richest agricultural region in Vietnam and it is usually called 'the rice bowl of Vietnam". Thanks to the area's great natural reservoir, Cambodia's Tonle Sap, this Mekong alluvium-deposited plain never gets dry, and the ebb and flow of the water levels are moderate all the year round. Since ancient times, water on the delta has been controlled by a useful network of canals. Rice, sugarcane, fruit and coconuts are the main crops. Shrimps and fish of various kinds are bountiful. The delta people consequently enjoy a rather standard of living.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

One - Pillar Pagoda

Hanoi capital has "The One - Pillar Pagoda" which was built in the Ly dynasty in the early eleventh century. Ho Chi Minh City has "The One-Pillar Pagoda" located on Dang Van Bi street in Thu Duc. The One - Pillar Pagoda in HCMC was founded and built by senior monk Thich Tri Dung. The great supporter is Mrs. Do Thi Vinh. Both of them are in charge of the total expenses of construction. The work was started on April 8, 1958 and it was completed in 1977.
The Southern One - Pillar Pagoda is modeled exactly after that of Hanoi, highlighting the dream of the Ly dynasty kings. They built this pagoda with a view to helping the Southern Buddhist faithful to pay tribute to the Buddha recalling the origin of our ancestors and nourishing the hope for the people's welfare and the nation's prosperity.
The pillar of the pagoda is made of reinforced concrete. The pagoda has curved tiled roofs like those of Hanoi's. Around the pagoda is a square lake called Long Nhan Lake. (In the lake there are tortoise and multicoloured ornamental fish abound in the lake). The compounds of the pagoda are vast and shady thanks to the belt of century - old trees. The Buddhist faithful and foreign tourists from all part of the country often frequent pay a visit to the pagoda.