Small Demon
Jul 272012
 

Hanoi shop keepers — because their goods spill out onto the sidewalk — have a seemingly infallible sixth sense about when it is going to rain. When you see them putting up their awnings or moving things indoors, take cover because it will rain soon (mưa sớm).

 Posted by at 7:15 am
Jul 272012
 

It’s common in Vietnam to be asked your age, even by people you don’t know very well. In the little restaurant I’ve been going to on Lư Quốc Sư, the woman who owns the place has been kind enough to tolerate my halting Vietnamese & I have achieved the status of a regular customer. So the other evening, as she was cleaning up my table, she asked, “Ông bao nhiêu tuổi?” and when I replied “Sáu mười một” (sixty-one), she replied, “Khỏe!” which means “healthy,” but in this context meant something more like, “Wow! Not bad for an old guy!”

 Posted by at 3:05 am
Jul 272012
 

As noted in the previous post, I’m trying to figure out how to include tiếng Việt quốc ngữ characters in my blog posts. Because a Vietnamese name or term, say, for a particular kind of food, is either meaningless of means something else when stripped of its diacritical marks, I have been reluctant to write much that required such names or terms. It looks now as if I am part-way to a solution. Stay tuned.

Hmm . . . the words I was having trouble with in the previous post were t?i c? — let’s see what happens here. Still no good. Characters with two diacritical marks seem to display just fine — those with a single mark do not display correctly.

Just changed the wp-config.php file. Let’s see if I can now write tôi có viết Tiếng Việt. Đúng rồi! Fixed.

 Posted by at 1:18 am
Jul 272012
 

I had been planning to post a lot more about Vietnam over the last couple of weeks but have been pulling my hair out trying to get WordPress to properly display Vietnamese characters written in the romanized script, quốc ngữ. Now, after going round & round with my hosting company & looking online to see how other people have solved the problem, I think I have it figured out. At first I was feeling pretty frustrated with Bluehost, but once I got to “level III” tech support, they kept working with me until between us we got the problem solved. I think. Later, I’ll post a complete rundown of the problem & its solution, but for now I want to get back to writing about Vietnam, which is very hard to do if you cannot use properly displayed Vietnamese text.

Update: Almost fixed, apparently. When I write T?i c? . . . (I can . . .) in the blog entry title, it mangles it, but then gets the res of the sentence right.

 Posted by at 1:07 am
Jul 172012
 

I walk past this woman’s house every morning. I saw the rice on the sidewalk & figured someone was leaving it out for the sparrows, but I didn’t know it was such a longstanding practice. The Vietnamese are great bird-lovers, but they have a very long tradition of expressing that love by capturing birds & keeping them in cages. It’s a hobby, I’m told, that old men especially go in for, but I’ve seen younger men tending their birds too. And they do tend them, keeping the cages spotless, providing shade, misting them with water in the heat of the day. The only cruelty is the caging itself.

Bird cages with flags

 Posted by at 10:22 pm