Monday, December 18 2017

VietNamNews

Tourists get into the heart of a book

Update: February, 08/2015 - 12:00

People who love books can now take an interesting tour.

It is to the village where the author Nam Cao found ideas for his famous book, Chi Pheo.

People who take the tour can see the houses in which people in the book would have lived and eat the food they would have eaten.

That way they will understand the book a lot better.

Time capsule: Ba Kien's house, an old house recognised by the State as a relic to be protected because it represents the traditional architecture of Vietnamese homes in the north.
Time capsule: Ba Kien's house, an old house recognised by the State as a relic to be protected because it represents the traditional architecture of Vietnamese homes in the north. -  Photo dulichvudai.vn

by Minh Thu

When I visited Nhan Hau Village, I felt I was walking into the pages of Chi Pheo, the Vietnamese literature classic about northern farmers in colonial-feudal society.

Just as author Nam Cao (1915-51) found inspiration in the lives of villagers to write the story, the writer inspired contemporary tour operators to launch a tour for people to discover the local life and understand the story more deeply.

Chi Pheo takes place in Vu Dai Village, which is modeled after Nhan Hau Village, previously known as Dai Hoang Village. The village is located in Hoa Hau Commune in the northern province of Ha Nam, 40km from Ha Noi.

The village appeared in front of our eyes with tiled roofs hiding among green bamboo leaves.

Tour operator Hoang Thi Thu Dieu from Khat Vong Viet Company led us to old houses that belonged to writer Nam Cao and Ba Kien, a character in Chi Pheo. There we had a chance to learn about the story's context thanks to Tran Huu Vinh, the keeper of writer Nam Cao's memorial house, who is also the writer's nephew.

Based on the lives of some people living in the village, the novel focuses on Chi Pheo, a good farmer imprisoned because of tyrant landlord Ba Kien. After going to prison, Chi is deprived of his human appearance and his life becomes tragic. He turns into a desperate drunken man reacting to life with curses.

Then the scoundrel excluded from society falls in love with Thi No, the ugliest woman in the village, who kindly cooks him a bowl of onion rice soup when he is sick. The action touches Chi's heart and he seems to be reunited with his true good nature. However, the couple and their love aren't recognised and once again Chi falls into despair. He kills Ba Kien for revenge and then commits suicide.

In real life, Ba Kien died due to old age. However, Vinh told us about the stormy lives of some people living in Dai Hoang Village at the end of the 19th century, which inspired the writer to create the story.

The State has had a policy to protect Ba Kien's house since 1988, as it represents the traditional architecture of houses in the northern region with a tiled roof, three partitions, two wings and 16 pillars carved in sophisticated style.

After the tour, tourists get the chance to enjoy the famous speciality of Nhan Hau Village, braised fish, and learn how to cook it.

Tran Ba Luan, owner of Tran Luan braised fish company, claims to serve the most delicious fish in Viet Nam.

"We select fresh black pikes for the dish and cook them in a terracotta pot for 24 hours," he said.

We were guided to chop firewood from the longan tree and prepare the fire with straw. Luan also helped us make the sauce from lemon, ginger, chili, pepper, onion and crab extract, which created the wonderful taste and fragrance for the dish.

Cooking the fish was the most memorable moment for us, as we were accustomed to using gas stoves and had never cooked with straw and firewood.

The Nhan Hau Village banana gardens where Chi Pheo and Thi No dated are filled with king bananas, a special variety with small yellow fruits, thin skin, sweet taste and lingering scent. We were told that the banana was once an offering to the king.

Nam Khanh from Ha Noi and his wife tried on clothes of Thi No and Chi Pheo and took photos in the banana garden with their two children.

"The couple didn't have a happy ending. Now happy couples and families can join the tour and write a different end for the story," he said.

As a literature lover, he drew pleasure from touching Ba Kien's house and walking on roads where Chi Pheo walked. He suggested that the tour would be good for students who were reading Chi Pheo's story at school.

"Like me, they would feel the story and characters' lives thoroughly," he said.

The idea for the tour came from Nguyen Thi Thu Hanh, director of the Scientific Union for Sustainable Tourism Development.

"This is the first literary tour in Viet Nam," she said. "It will help tourists understand more about satirical literature of Viet Nam in the 19th century, its value and meaning, as well as the life of Vietnamese farmers in the era."

Hoa Hau Commune Party Committee Secretary Tran Duc Huy said local people had been waiting for such a project for a long time.

"The project takes advantage of local resources," he said. "Developing tourism helps improve the local economy so people can have a chance to sell their specialities such as braised fish, banana and seedless persimmon."

He's right. We left the village with not just memorable experiences, but also pots of braised fish. — VNS

GLOSSARY

When I visited Nhan Hau Village, I felt I was walking into the pages of Chi Pheo, the Vietnamese literature classic about northern farmers in colonial-feudal society.

Literature means poems, books and other high quality writing. Classics are those of such quality they remain popular for many, many years.

Colonial-feudal society is the type of community that would have existed during the times when people lived both under local traditional ways and under French rule.

Just as author Nam Cao (1915-51) found inspiration in the lives of villagers to write the story, the writer inspired contemporary tour operators to launch a tour for people to discover the local life and understand the story more deeply.

Inspiration happens to someone when they are so impressed with something, or somebody, that it causes them to want to go out and do something creative and positive.

Contemporary tour operators are people who are modern-day tour operators, doing that job in the present times.

Tour operator Hoang Thi Thu Dieu from Khat Vong Viet Company led us to old houses that belonged to writer Nam Cao and Ba Kien, a character in Chi Pheo.

A character is a person in a story.

There we had a chance to learn about the story's context thanks to Tran Huu Vinh, the keeper of writer Nam Cao's memorial house, who is also the writer's nephew.

The context of the story means the surroundings and circumstances in which the story takes place. Knowing these will make one understand the story better.

Based on the lives of some people living in the village, the novel focuses on Chi Pheo, a good farmer imprisoned because of tyrant landlord Ba Kien.

A novel is a story that is not a real life story.

A landlord is someone who owns land on which people live and pay him money to be able to do so. A tyrant landlord is one who is cruel.

After going to prison, Chi is deprived of his human appearance and his life becomes tragic.

To be deprived of something means to have it taken away from you.

A life that is tragic is sad and unfortunate.

He turns into a desperate drunken man reacting to life with curses.

Curses are supernatural, evil spells.

Then the scoundrel excluded from society falls in love with Thi No, the ugliest woman in the village, who kindly cooks him a bowl of onion rice soup when he is sick.

A scoundrel is a good-for-nothing person.

If someone is excluded from society, people do not want to have anything to do with that person and he is unable to live a normal life. He is "taken out" of the community. Words in English that begin with "ex" often mean something to do with "taking something out".

However, the couple and their love aren't recognised and once again Chi falls into despair.

If people do not recognise their love, they do not accept it.

If you fall into despair, it means that you feel that there is no longer any hope for you.

He kills Ba Kien for revenge and then commits suicide.

Revenge is a feeling that makes you want to harm someone who has hurt you.

To commit suicide is to take your own life. In other words, to kill yourself.

The State has had a policy to protect Ba Kien's house since 1988, as it represents the traditional architecture of houses in the northern region with a tiled roof, three partitions, two wings and 16 pillars carved in sophisticated style.

Architecture means the way in which houses are designed.

After the tour, tourists get the chance to enjoy the famous speciality of Nhan Hau Village, braised fish, and learn how to cook it.

If fish is braised it is fried a bit and then stewed in a closed container.

Luan also helped us make the sauce from lemon, ginger, chili, pepper, onion and crab extract, which created the wonderful taste and fragrance for the dish.

Crab extract is something that comes out of a crab. Again, words in English that begin with "ex" often mean something to do with "taking something out".

Cooking the fish was the most memorable moment for us, as we were accustomed to using gas stoves and had never cooked with straw and firewood.

People who are accustomed to using gas stoves are used to using them.

The Nhan Hau Village banana gardens where Chi Pheo and Thi No dated are filled with king bananas, a special variety with small yellow fruits, thin skin, sweet taste and lingering scent.

To date means to meet someone to get to know them better with the idea of becoming a romantic couple.

A special variety of banana is a special type of banana.

"This is the first literary tour in Viet Nam," she said.

A literary tour is a tour with a literature theme. In other words, about books.

"It will help tourists understand more about satirical literature of Viet Nam in the 19th century, its value and meaning, as well as the life of Vietnamese farmers in the era."

Satirical literature is made up of writing that is done in satire. Satire is a way of writing that makes fun of people who are in power.

WORKSHEET

See if you can find words that mean the following in the Word Search:

1.      A way that fish can be cooked.

2.      A European country that once ruled Viet Nam.

3.      A type of fuel used to burn on a stove.

4.      A fruit grown in a garden where Thi No and Chi Pheo used to meet in the novel, Chi Pheo.

5.      A tree that supplied firewood in the area around Nhan Hau Village.

 

u

r

e

d

o

l

y

h

i

n

s

i

u

l

k

n

r

h

l

r

r

e

r

e

s

i

d

e

n

t

e

v

f

e

t

e

a

p

m

a

g

r

i

d

b

l

c

c

r

a

e

s

s

e

b

a

n

a

n

a

p

u

b

r

a

i

s

e

d

t

s

i

u

n

f

g

o

o

a

d

n

u

u

n

d

g

m

a

g

f

l

a

b

c

t

i

c

a

l

a

g

o

k

e

a

o

t

e

o

l

m

m

e

r

a

o

s

n

a

l

n

a

r

t

t

k

a

c

h

i

n

i

i

g

O

g

o

a

f

r

i

m

d

r

k

e

t

r

i

m

a

u

o

e

o

n

r

l

a

i

t

d

a

h

k

n

b

u

m

o

t

o

r

b

w

k

e

r

l

i

t

f

v

o

t

o

d

e

v

e

l

o

p

e

d

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2015






















































 1. Braised; 2. France; 3. Gas; 4. Banana; 5. Longan.

Send Us Your Comments:

See also: