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Old 02 Mar 12, 03:04
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Sal, I love picking on Phieu when he deserves it, but I think he missed one point, and you missed his.

Vietnamese-Vietnamese means Kinh , i.e., ethnic Vietnamese which is 85% of their national population. Under the RVN, you could be a Vietnamese national, but not a Vietnamese citizen, i.e. not subject to the draft, or allowed to exit the country except under certain conditions. Nowadays, everyone is a Vietnamese 'citizen', and you don't really have to worry about elections anyway.

Phieu refers to Vietnamese-Chinese. Actually, several types exist. Chinese have been coming into Vietnam for over 2,000 years. Often refugees from Chinese upheavals, and often arriving in armed bands, they settled in among the locals, married into local families, and over a thousand years created today's sinicized Vietnamese culture, most of which developed during the T'ang dynasty (700s-800s-into 900s AD). This separated the 'Vietnamese' from their Northern Vietnamese Highland tribal relatives, the Muong (capital Hoa Binh). A coup and political rivalries between the Trinh and Nguyen clans pushed the Nguyen south, where modern Vietnam might have ended at Phan Thiet except for a Ming Chinese refugee living in Lower Cambodia (at today's Ha Tien) who called for help in keeping the Thais out of the province he had been given to rule by Phnom Penh.

Chinese-Vietnamese are Vietnamese who are taught Chinese culture and language in the home, and who belong to Chinese associations who maintain their own rosters on membership. The oldest were the Hoa, which included Ming and earlier dynastic refugees, with the Qing (Ching) being the later arrivals from China. What makes one "Chinese" is membership in these associations. In Can Tho, the oldest religious building in town is the Chua Ong (Ong Temple) which doubles as the Kuang-Tsao (Association) Assembly Hall. It dates to the 1890s, and is the temple down on the waterfront across from the Nien Kieu park. Most tourists confuse it for Buddhist, but it is in fact Confucian, built to worship the Kuang-Kung deity, though a Buddha representing the Kul-Am Buddha is on the left side of the temple in respect to local traditions. It was built by Chinese who emigrated in from Kwang-Cheou and the Tsao-Hung districts of Kuang-Tong (Canton?). There were other Chinese associations in Can Tho, and they likewise built and maintained temples and associations halls. One former such hall looks like a mosque, which it may have been if the Chinese there came from Yunnan, but it wasn't open and I couldn't ask the question.

The Tet dragon dances we see in large Vietnamese cities are usually performed by Chinese temple associations, who maintain the tradition. Of course, many local 'dragon dance' groups pop up at Tet, since the tradition is to put up real money for the dragon to devour, but the best I've seen are from Chinese associations in Cholon and Can Tho.

Most of these Chinese immigrants married Vietnamese women, and sometimes several, leading to situations where the first wife's children were raised as "Chinese", i.e. being educated as such, but other wives children were raised an Vietnamese. The point being that "Chinese" in such families were such in cultural terms only.

We referred to them all as "Nungs" in our day. That was incorrect as the true Nung are a Sinicized Thai people from Southern China and the North Vietnam highland border area. Mr. Long, who had commanded the "Nung" company in the II Corps Mike Force, had served in the Chinese Nationalist Army, whose southern armies included at least one division of people born in Vietnam, and likely more. When Nationalist China collapsed in 1949, several divisions crossed over into Vietnam, where the French rounded up all they could find and sent them off to Taiwan. But many of those born and raised in Vietnam managed to return home.

As to Vietnamese-Vietnamese food, Mr. Phieu presumes too much. In 1982 I ate at a "Chinese" restaurant in Casper (or Sheridan?) Wyoming whose very name tipped me off. It was the "Mekong". The owner was pure Vietnamese. But as he explained it, he only served Vietnamese fare on weekends because everyone in town expected Chinese fare, and that was what they were willing to pay for. To the public, Vietnamese was too exotic, but "Chinese" was something they knew and expected. Egg rolls, fried rice, and lots of sweet sauces for dipping. Alas, the American public is not into 100 year old duck eggs, ...yet.

Hope this wan't a rant, I've still getting over 20 hours in the air, not including stop-overs.

And Boomer, I ate those snails about a week ago in Chau Doc. They had not been properly soaked, so I bit down on a lot of sand. In general, food in Chau Doc really sucks. I don't think the town has recovered from its recent record floods. Maybe the Victoria would have been worth the money, but I judge Vietnam by its street food stalls, which in most places are pretty good..
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Last edited by lirelou; 02 Mar 12 at 03:11..
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