By Ha Tieu My
This year has treated us so nicely with an unexpected experience which can be summarized in only one word “Amazing”!
Luckily chosen as one of the Vietnam members to join the Heritage Tourism Project this year, I have never thought that this opportunity would change my life so much since that moment. Together with our wonderful companions coming from five different countries: Japan, Thailand, Laos, Indonesia and Malaysia, we had spent more than a week to discover the charming beauty of the two former capitals – Chiang Mai (Thailand) and Luang Prabang (Laos). Believe me! From the first moment we arrived at the airport, we have immediately fallen in love with these places.
Our trip started with Chiang Mai – the Northern capital of Thailand and wow, it was beautiful! Everything seemed so perfect! The weather was so nice, the atmosphere was super clean, and you guess what? No traffic jam! How cool was that?!
The rest of the journey was spent for getting acquaintance, socializing and conveying our research together. Never in my life could I forget how hospitable and friendly our new friends and the local were. Everyone we met in both countries welcomed us with the warmest smile which made us feel like we are home. Even some of Laos people could speak Vietnamese so well! I was touched by our local friends in all five countries. They were so nice, so helpful, and so generous. Not only acting as amazing translators, they were our professional tour guides also. I’m so grateful for all their sharing, their time and their love that they offered us through the journey we had together.
Discovering Thailand and Laos traditional cuisine are completely a whole new inspiration for me. It combined the various ingredients, the diverse method of cooking, the typical ways to eat of each different cultures but not only about the taste of the food. What an interesting topic for HTRC this year!
Thailand dishes are well-known for being the master in spicy, sour and sweet usage, in which Khao Soi is the most outstanding one in Chiang Mai. This is my most favorite dish and I can be sure that many people share the same opinion with me. A large number of fresh plants, herbs and fermented fish sauce are used to create a beautiful combination of taste as well as texture and color. Yummy and nice!
It might be just theory for me if I didn’t have chance to cook myself a Chiang Mai’s three- best- dish combo. Basil, lemon grass, palm sugar and coconut could be recognized as indispensable ingredients in almost Thai’s dishes; and oh my god! I was one hundred percent in love with that unique smell and flavor!
We ended the first part of the project with the amazing Laos cuisine. I was amazed by the cuisine in here. Although you can feel the dishes share some common characteristics with Thai and Vietnam cuisine, it still has its own way to show its own authenticity and win the heart of every tourist.
Similarly to Vietnam people, rice and products made from rice could be seen in all Laos meals. That could be count as one reason why we were so fond of Laos dishes. We were quite astonished by the way our Laos friends did with rice. They showed us how to eat like a local and it was super amusing. Instead of using bowl or chopsticks, rice was supposed to be eaten with bare hands by taking a small lump. You cannot know that interesting way of eating unless you travel here, can you?
This journey is so marvelous. I cannot expect more. I guess for me, heritage is now more than a theory subject, it lives inside me. I appreciate all the lessons, all the cultures, all the friendships that I have gained from this trip. I am so grateful for the precious opportunity that Kyoto foundation has offered us. I will live all my life with the energy and enthusiasm that HTRC 2017 has offered me and try my best to come back to discover more about the beauty inside these historic cities. Thanks for all.