over the moon

September 12th was the Mid-Autumn Festival (Tết Trung thu) in Vietnam.  It is also known as the Moon, Mooncake, Children’s or Lantern Festival.  It is always held on the 15th day of the eighth month of the Lunar Calendar (September 12th this year) when the moon is at its fullest. It is kind of like a combination of Halloween and Thanksgiving. The festival day is celebrated with bright lanterns, dance, and Vietnamese parents sharing fairy tales and serving mooncakes under a full moon.

A salted yolk from a duck egg symbolizes the “moon” in a traditional mooncake.

Mooncakes (bánh trung thu) come in all shapes, sizes, flavors and colors.  Most have Chinese characters meaning longevity or harmony embossed on the top. They can be filled with nuts, lotus seeds, beans and fruit. Weeks before the festival day, mooncakes are sold everywhere….in bakeries, on the street, restaurants, and hotels.  They are given as gifts to family, friends and business associates. Cakes are packaged as a single wrapped in cellophane, a half dozen in an elaborate lacquered box and everything in between.

Lantern shopping with Tutor Lan

During Tết Trung thu children parade on the streets, while singing and carrying colorful lanterns. Some of the popular shapes include fish, stars, and butterflies. Tutor Lan took me to meet some of her friends in Cholon, the Chinatown district of Ho Chi Minh City, to see the “lantern street”. It was was truly a sight to behold! Hoping you get a small taste of the festivities in my little harvest moon video:

Originally, this Mid-Autumn Festival came at the end of the harvest season as a way to make up lost time with children after being away so many hours. Today, in addition to celebrating time with children, the festival also promotes education, dance and crafts. And what better time than under a full moon which represents the fullness and prosperity of life? Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa

i can speak vietnamese…

…a little!  I am strongly suggesting to Paul and my tutor, Lan, that they refrain from watching this video as the “cringe factor” may be too great.  I KNOW I am butchering many of the words!  Anyway, the rest of you won’t have a clue.  This is my Vietnamese lessons mid-term progress report:

Saigon LOVE to all, Lisa

saigon lessons

A combination of blogger’s block, a tiny bit of jet lag and being busy has delayed new blog posts longer than I planned since returning to Saigon earlier this week. Among the many things happening are lessons that are starting and being scheduled. I had my first Vietnamese language session with my new tutor, Lan. Isn’t she too cute? AND she is very smart!

Here, I think I am saying “my name is Lisa”:

And Tuesday, I start tennis lessons (been over 30 years since I have played!) at the Rex Hotel which was made popular and famous by American troops when they held their daily press conferences there during the Vietnam war.  It is one of the most well known landmarks in Saigon.

This is the Rex Hotel rooftop tennis court  where I hope to one day soon kick some Pablo butt…

Also coming up:  salsa, mah jong and maybe bridge lessons! Here is a sneak peek at my sure-to-be blockbuster film being released this summer which documents this learning time in my life.

Warning: This film may contain images that are disturbing and all about ME!

Back in the Saigon saddle. LOVE to all, Lisa

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