- What kind of flowers do you know?
- I don’t know much about flowers, but I can name some. The first one, which is also one of the most commonly seen in Vietnam, is the lotus. This is a beautiful species of aquatic flowers. Another one is roses which symbolize love and romance. I often see people send bouquets of red roses to their significant other on Valentine’s day.
- Are there any flowers that have special meanings in Vietnam?
- Yes, the lotus, as I mentioned earlier, is a meaningful kind of flower. Despite growing in muddy ponds, lotus flowers rise to reach sunlight and bloom gracefully, without being defiled by the dirty environment. This is also a sacred flower species that is often displayed on the altar next to other offerings to those up above, like the Buddha.
- Have you planted any flowers yourself?
- No, I haven’t. Actually, I am not so into flowers. To me, flowers simply stand for weakness and outward appearance that doesn’t last long or possibly prove anything. I mean, technically, they are important because of being the reproductive organ of plants, but they are not something that I would like to spend time on.
- Have you sent flowers to anyone
- Yes, at my friend’s wedding anniversary, I sent her a wreath of peonies, brilliantly coloured and sweet-scented. At first, I was about to give her artificial flowers, hoping that her marriage would last long, but then the florist advised me to buy real ones which represent real love, fragile yet worthwhile. So I changed my mind.
- Aquatic flower: hoa thuỷ sinh
- Bouquet (n): bó hoa (được gói, bọc đẹp đẽ)
- Significant other: nửa kia, vợ, chồng, người yêu
- Defile (v): làm ô uế
- Sacred (a): linh thiêng
- Altar (n): bàn thờ
- Offering (n): đồ cúng, lễ vật
- Those up above: bề trên
- Reproductive organ: cơ quan sinh sản
- A wreath of peonies: một vòng hoa mẫu đơn
- Florist (n): chủ tiệm hoa
- Fragile (a): mong manh, dễ vỡ
- Do you like watching TV programs about wild animals?
- Yes, sometimes. I often watch them on Netflix. There is a TV show called Wild Animal Babies, which is highly recommended for wildlife enthusiasts like me. Last weekend, after a long project that I even thought would never be finished, I binge-watched the entire season of that show, which was kinda stress-relieving.
- Do you learn something about wild animals from school?
- Not really. Honestly, I did have biology classes where I was supposed to gain deeper insights of the flora and fauna on earth, but what I got was cramming and theoretical lessons. So, the more I studied, the less I could actually remember. I wish I had had practical field trips to the zoo or some nature reserve to learn more about wildlife.
- Where can you see wild animals?
- There is a place called Saigon Zoo and botanical garden, or the zoo for short, right in the heart of the city. It boasts hundreds of rare species from mammals to birds or even reptiles. Rarely do I go there, though. I can literally sense misery and sorrow from their eyes. I mean, who on earth could feel happy being imprisoned like that.
- In which country do you think you can see many wild animals?
- Right here, in Vietnam. You know, we have a magnificent mountain range called Truong Son which houses a wide range of wild animals. Some of them thrive here but others are suffering from population declines as a result of deforestation. You know, poaching or illegal hunting is not something easy to control.
- Wildlife enthusiast: người đam mê động vật hoang dã.
- Binge-watch: xem ngấu nghiến.
- Flora and fauna: thảm thực vật động vật.
- Field trip: chuyến đi thực tế.
- Nature reserve: khu bảo tồn thiên nhiên.
- Boast (v): có (một cách tự hào).
- Reptile (n): bò sát.
- Misery (n): sự đau buồn.
- Imprison (v): cầm tù.
- Magnificent (a): hùng vĩ.
- House (v): cung cấp chỗ ở cho, là nhà của.
- Thrive (v): phát triển mạnh mẽ.
Describe an art and craft activity (e.g. painting, woodwork, etc.) that you had.
A couple of years ago, during my field trip to Hanoi, I had a chance to pay a visit to Bat Trang Pottery village, one of the most well-known traditional handicraft villages in Vietnam. I wandered around the village before stopping by a small shop where lots of visitors were allowed to produce their own ceramic products. I came inside and saw lots of craftsmen meticulously taking care of their artwork. One of them approached me and It was very kind of her to teach me to make one for myself.
That was an unforgettable experience. You know, never had I tried doing anything like that before. I was taught to shape a flower pot out of clay and much to my surprise, it wasn’t as hard as I had expected. Then, the shop owner, Ms. Hoa, instructed me to draw a stylized lotus flower on the pot after telling me that this is a sacred flower species in the local culture. Most ceramics in the village are decorated with this kind of aquatic flower since it always tries to rise to reach sunlight and bloom gracefully, despite growing in dirty, muddy ponds
Following her instructions, I could finally draw some lotus flowers on my pot before putting it into the kiln where it was heated and hardened. After several hours, I took it out and felt so happy about its appearance. Had it not been for Ms. Hoa, I could have never made such a good-looking work of art. Then, I sent this pot to one of my friends, Anna, a florist who always needs a lot of flower pots in her flower shop. So, I guess that’s everything I wanna talk about a craft activity that I took part in.
- Pottery (n): đồ gốm.
- Handicraft village: làng nghề thủ công.
- Wander (v): đi dạo.
- Craftsman (n): thợ thủ công.
- Meticulously (adv): một cách tỉ mỉ.
- Artwork (n): tác phẩm nghệ thuật.
- Stylized (a): cách điệu.
- Kiln (n): lò nung.
- Bloom gracefully: nở những đóa hoa duyên dáng.
- Much to my surprise: ngạc nhiên thay.
- What traditional handicrafts are popular in Vietnam?
In my country, the most popular traditional handicraft is the making of the palm-leaf conical hat which is also the symbol of Vietnam. Legend has it that the invention of conical hats dates back to ancient times, around 3000 years ago, and it is still very common to see Vietnamese people, especially those living in the countryside, wear conical hats. There are thousands of handicraft villages across Vietnam attempting to preserve this beautiful traditional artisanal handicraft, so tourists can easily buy this kind of hat in literally every corner of Vietnam.
2. Do people in your country send handicrafts as a gift?
Well, not very often, they mostly sell handicrafts as souvenirs rather than giving them as gifts. You know, it may take an experienced craftsman days or even weeks to produce a single handcrafted product, so it wouldn’t come so cheap that they would give each other such a present. I mean, I understand how valuable it is as well as how much effort the maker has put into producing one, so personally, I would rather pay for it than receiving it free-of-charge.
3. What do young people think of traditional handcrafts?
It’s kinda hard to say for sure because each person has their own viewpoint of stuff that has carried such a long history and traditional values. Some may find it a waste of effort because in this tech era, innovations mean a lot to humankind, so anything that hasn’t undergone much development wouldn’t have a place in society. Other young people, by contrast, are highly appreciative of the preservation of handicrafts as this is a good way for them to envisage how life in the past actually looked like and what their ancestors daily used. I love handicrafts so I belong to the latter group.
- Palm-leaf conical hats: nón lá.
- Date back to: có từ thờian artisanal handicraft = a handcrafted product: đồ thủ công mỹ nghệ.
- Have a place in society: có chỗ đứng trong xã hội.
- Tech era: kỷ nguyên công nghệ.