‘Post A Letter’ Brings Back The Forgotten Joy Of Writing Letters

Published on Jutland Station on Apr 4, 2017.

http://www.jutlandstation.dk/post-a-letter-aarhus/

‘Post A Letter’ brings back the forgotten joy of writing letters

If you are a snail-mail lover, you are not alone in Aarhus. Every first Monday of the month you can meet with a group of aficionados to send letters and postcards to your friends and family.

Have you ever written a letter to your loved ones?

Many years ago, it could be foolish to ask this question. Obvious even. Letters were the only medium of communication, so billions of them were sent and received all over the world. However, nowadays if you ask this question, many will say no, especially youngsters who are more familiar with and prefer communicating via SMS, e-mail and messaging apps.

The habit of writing letters seems to be fading more and more in modern life. It’s a pity because the charm of receiving a letter in the post is a good feeling. The expectancy, the surprise. Fortunately, Caroline Schouboe Deleuran and Olivia Boe Mortensen decided to relive the habit and put it into fashion again, here in Aarhus, with their monthly ‘Post A Letter’ pop-up event.

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Bringing old-school back into the game
‘Post A Letter’ (PAL) started in 2012 by a student on exchange in Aarhus. Today it is run by Deleuran and Mortensen, both 20-years-old. Close friends from their school days, they teamed up after falling in love with the event when writing their first letter back in 2014. They began supporting the previous organisers, but in January 2016 officially took over the position of main organisers.

“I just really love it. I love it so much, I wanted to keep it going, and I thought Olivia and I could do good things with this activity. And we think that we are doing quite well,” recalls Deleuran about her motivation when they took over the responsibility.

Caroline and Olivia, the girls behind the project.

PAL takes place every first Monday of the month at Café Smaglos in Aarhus. Anybody can stop by between 19:00 and 22:00, pick their paper and write letters or postcards to their loved ones. All stationery is sponsored by Post Nord, the joint postal service of Denmark and Sweden, and every participant receives three free stamps to send their letters to anywhere in the world.

Adding some creativity
Deleuran and Mortensen are in all the details. Days before the event, they go shopping to buy the stationery, including papers, pencils, glue and stickers, making creative envelopes from old magazines to save money and uphold a sustainable approach to the project.

When PAL is over the two collect, sort and count the letters. The addresses and stamps on each letter are carefully checked so that they don’t get lost before being taken to the postal service and sent on their way.

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The biggest PAL in Denmark
Though PAL Aarhus has its sister in Copenhagen, organised on the first Tuesday of every month, Deleuran considers Aarhus to be the biggest letter-writing event in Denmark. There are usually 50-100 participants per event, which means the number of mails and postcards she and Mortensen collect can be up to 300.

PAL is definitely  growing. When Deleuran joined the event three years ago, there were only 20-25 attendees. The atmosphere was more relaxed, and at that time she could write as many letters as she wanted. More and more people now attend, which means the girls are quite busy. In the beginning it was mostly Danes who attended, but now the nationalities are diverse.

Showing up early and reserving your seat is a good idea these days.

Keeping the joy alive
Mortensen expresses that organising PAL means she can help people use their time to do something meaningful for their loved ones. Deleuran also mentions how they can share the joy of writing letters to other people, which is why the duo keeps this going. But they are not alone: they receive plenty of good feedback from participants expressing their joy at having been a part of the event.

PAL was even made into a short film by some multimedia students. And the event produces some curious stories – one attendee wanted only to write a letter to the White House to express her anger to President Trump.

The concept of writing a letter is an amazing thing. When you sit down, think, get creative and use your hands to write what you think, it means much more than a simple text message. And it doesn’t have to be a long letter; it can simply be a small drawing, but when sent to your dearest ones, it can mean a lot. It is a way of connecting with people that seems to be forgotten very easily nowadays.

If you are still in love with snail-mails, why not give ‘Post A Letter’ a try at their next event?

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It was a different New Year in Hungary

Chia sẻ bên bàn ăn

Someone used to tell me that in Western society, Christmastime is for family and New Year time is for friends. When Barni, my Hungarian friend, invited me to his home for this New Year, I got the chance to see a Western New Year with my own eyes.

What’s there at New Year in Hungary?

Đốt pháo hoa năm mới

Like other European cultures, New Year is the time for parties, mostly house parties. I followed Barni to a few house parties hosted by his friends. These parties often have around 10 people, only for close friends or those who are important to the host. Guests often come with small presents for the host along a bottle of wine or champagne. In these parties, people usually have dinner, drink wine and talk. The parties normally last till midnight, especially on New Year’s Eve there is also time for firecrackers and fireworks. In many European countries, people are allowed to buy firecrackers and fireworks during New Year time for celebration. Coming from a place where firecrackers were prohibited long time ago and fireworks are only available for the state, it was an exciting experience for me to light the fireworks and see them lighting up the sky. Unlike our 15-minute firework show back home, stepping into New Year in Europe is to watch the fireworks set by your neighbors, your friends or any people in town for over 1 hour from all around. Families went out, with children getting excited with those light and sound, greeting their neighbors in smiles while saying “Boldog új évet” (Happy New Year in Hungarian). Since it is so easy to travel throughout Europe, many people welcome their New Year in other countries with their friend, like Alicja, my Polish friend who traveled from her hometown near the border of Poland and Czech Republic to Frankfurt in Germany to enjoy her New Year joy with friends whom she met during her exchange in France.

Bóc quà năm mới

Another New Year’s Day

On the first day of New Year, Barni told me to get dressed and follow his family to a New Year party. We drove for around 1 hour to Tahitótfalu, a small town outside Budapest. At first, I thought it was just a family visit as usual, but then it turned out to be different when we arrived. It was an annual gathering of life-long friends. Barni’s parents had some close friends since when they lived together in a same dorm. After graduation, they gather every year on the first day of New Year. The reunion hence becomes a tradition for over 30 years. Every year, they drive to Tahitótfalu, where Mrs.Márti, a friend of Barni’s parents lives, enjoy lencsefozelék (or lentils stew, made from lentils, stewed pork, beef or rabbit with yoghurt and onion). Hungarians believe that eating lencsefozelék New Year’s Day will bring them happiness, luck, health, sucess and love for a whole year. Especially, this lencsefozelék was made with rabbit hunted by Mr.Kecsi, another friend among them. He went hunting a few days before the day then brought the meat to Mrs.Márti to cook. After meal, everybody gathered in the living room, enjoyed desserts made by Mrs.Mária, another member, with tea and coffee. For this reunion, stories are essential, and seem to be endless too. People shared everything with each other, about life, work or interesting journeys over the past year. Sometiems, Mrs.Márti made some games for everyone, like a game when each person had to pick 3 cards from her deck to describe their own year, including what they expected last year, how their last year turned out and what they look forward to in this year. During the day I am here, there was never such a lack of laughter.

Món lencsefozelék
The delicious lencsefozelék

When Barni and his brother were born, they were brought to the reunion along with their parents, and their friends did the same. Therefore, Barni and their children have been friends since their childhood. Another F2 generation have grown up together in the friendship of their parents, being good friends for over 20 years. They might not see each other often but they help each other al ot in life, for example Barni’s job was introduced by one of his parents’ friend in the group. Or the F2 are helping one member of them to move to Budapest without the help of their parents.

Trò chơi mô tả năm qua bằng 3 tấm hình của bác Márti
How I told about my 2017 and my expectation for 2018

“They are like my 2nd family, though we don’t have any blood relation. For some people here, this reunion is the only chance to see each other in a year so though they may live far away from here or they may be busy, people still make time for this day and try to spend a whole day here”, said Barni. This year, due to family issue, one member could not come, he called to every single person to send greetings.

Mọi người quây quần chia sẻ với nhau

When people left, Mrs.Márti invited her friends to join her idea that everyday, each person will write what they are grateful for in life and drop it into a jar till the next year’s reunion when they open the jar and read this to everyone.

Nhóm bạn cùng gia đình ngày họp mặt

Though only being here as a guest, I could feel the warmth and hospitality from everyone. That made a different beginning for my 2018. On the way home, I somehow thought of stereotypes about Western society, about relationships, about friendship, about family. I just realized it is only a few weeks to Tet, Vietnamese Lunar New Year, which is the time for reunion.

Hungary, 2018 Jan.

Tác giả chụp ảnh cùng với gia đình

Trẻ trâu hay là tự do ngôn luận?

Báo The Local của Đan Mạch hôm nay đưa một tin chấn động:

“Biểu tượng Nàng tiên cá của Copenhagen bị phá hoại để phản đối việc đánh bắt cá voi”

Chấn động thật, khi bức ảnh đăng kèm cùng bài báo là hình ảnh bức tượng Nàng tiên cá bị bôi bẩn bằng sơn đỏ, kèm với lời nhắn của thủ phạm “Đan Mạch, hãy bảo vệ những chú cá voi của quần đảo Faroe”.

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Nói thêm về bức tượng Nàng tiên cá, hay được gọi là “Little Mermaid”. Đây là biểu tượng của thành phố Copenhagen và Đan Mạch, giống như Merlion của Singapore hay Manneken Pis (chú bé đi tè) của Brussels vậy. Little Mermaid thường được xem là địa điểm phải đến mỗi khi đi du lịch đến Copenhagen, dù từ trung tâm đi bộ ra mất khoảng … 20-30 phút. Bức tượng là đóng góp của Carl Jacobsen cho thành phố để tỏ lòng tri ân tới Hans Christian Andersen sau khi thưởng thức vở ballet Nàng tiên cá dựng từ câu chuyện cùng tên của ông. Thường du khách khi đến thăm bức tượng sẽ hay … thất vọng vì bức tượng nhỏ quá, chỉ cao khoảng 1.25m và nặng tầm 175 kg, lại xám xịt và đứng cô đơn trên một tảng đá, nói chung là … không được hoành tráng theo tiêu chuẩn biểu tượng cho lắm.

Chắc hẳn hành động này, theo như lời nhắn, là để phản đối việc săn bắt cá voi trên quần đảo Faroe, một vùng lãnh thổ tự trị thuộc Đan Mạch, dù việc săn bắt này vốn là truyền thống lâu đời của dân trên đảo.

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Cảnh sát Copenhagen hiện đã bắt tay điều tra vụ việc. Đây không phải là lần đầu tiên bức tượng này bị phá hoại. Ngoài việc bị sơn bậy lên nhiều lần, đầu của bức tượng đã bị … đánh cắp hai lần vào năm 1964 và 1998, trong khi một cánh tay đã từng bị bẻ trộm vào năm 1984. Ngoài ra, Nàng tiên cá còn bị ném xuống biển vài lần. Thậm chí, để phản đối Thổ Nhĩ Kỳ gia nhập EU vào năm 2004, ai đó là trùm khăn burqa (khăn trùm đầu của Hồi giáo) lên đầu của Nàng tiên cá. Hai năm sau đó, vào ngày 8/3/2006 ai đó lại nhét vào tay nàng một cái … dương vật giả, đổ sơn xanh và ghi chữ “March 8” như để chào mừng ngày Quốc tế Phụ nữ vậy. Có vẻ như Nàng tiên cá bé nhỏ đang ngày càng trở thành mục tiêu ưa thích cho các hoạt động phá hoại, một số nhằm vào mục đích chính trị.

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Dĩ nhiên, người dân và chính quyền Copenhagen rất bất bình. Một di sản quốc gia như bức tượng Nàng tiên cá thì không thể bị xâm phạm lố bịch như vậy. Sau khi kiểm tra camera an ninh, hi vọng cảnh sát sẽ tìm được thủ phạm.

Tuy nhiên, tại sao sau bao nhiêu lần bị phá hoại, người ta vẫn chưa có biện pháp bảo vệ Nàng tiên cá cho phù hợp?

Để giải thích điều này, mình nghĩ có thể dựa vào việc Đan Mạch là một xã hội tự do tư tưởng (liberal), mọi người đều có thể biểu đạt suy nghĩ và tư tưởng của mình. Tự do tư tưởng ở Đan Mạch lớn đến mức biến quốc gia này trở thành nơi nảy sinh rất nhiều ý tưởng cho thế giới, ví dụ như Đan Mạch là quốc gia đầu tiên cho phép hôn nhân đồng giới vào năm 1989, quốc gia đầu tiên có “đại sứ kĩ thuật số” (Digital Ambassador – một chức vụ chuyên làm công tác ngoại giao với các tập đoàn công nghệ). Ở Đan Mạch, tự do ngôn luận được đảm bảo tối đa, miễn là có chứng cứ hoặc lập luận thuyết phục, người ta có thể chỉ trích cả Hoàng gia Đan Mạch (vậy nên vài lần mình thấy gia đình hoàng gia … lên báo lá cải). Mức độ tự do tư tưởng cho phép người dân Đan Mạch có thể nói bất kì điều gì mình suy nghĩ, miễn là dựa trên nền tảng tôn trọng lẫn nhau. Và sự tự do này cho phép xã hội Đan Mạch có những “thử nghiệm xã hội” (social experiment) mà tiêu biểu là Christiania Town (mình sẽ viết thêm về nơi này khi có thời gian).

Nhưng đôi khi người ta tự do quá lại không phân biệt được ranh giới giữa việc phá hoại và việc thể hiện quan điểm. Mình thì nghĩ với những di sản quốc gia hoặc biểu tượng văn hóa của một cộng đồng thì không nên xâm phạm như thế. Nhưng có lẽ ở Đan Mạch người ta vẫn còn đang tranh cãi đâu là giới hạn của việc tự do tư tưởng nên trong tương lại việc bức tượng Nàng tiên cá bị phá hoại chắc sẽ còn tái diễn.

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Thế nên coi việc phá hoại bức tượng Nàng tiên cá là trẻ trâu hay là tự do ngôn luận thì … còn phải tùy góc nhìn, và còn phải tranh luận nữa. Theo đúng tinh thần của xứ ĐM đấy.

Trộm nghĩ cái này mà xảy ra ở xứ Đông Lào thì xác định…

Nguồn ảnh: thelocal.dk

Bangkok: Nothing dangerous

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In the recent months, life in Bangkok has been noisier than usual. Protests (yup, again) continued after a short peaceful time. Perhaps Thais never feel satisfied with everything, even their beautiful PM Yingluck, so they (just a few but they are powerful VIPs) ousted her from office. In a few days, a martial law, a military coup, some detainments and then a curfew were imposed. Well, that may worry people, especially tourists. That’s why tours to Thailand have been increasingly cancelled, including my brother’s plan. No one wants to travel to a place filled with political instabilities.

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However, I was in Bangkok 2 days ago and spent my little time to see how Bangkok is these days. I walked for a whole morning from the Grand Palace to Democracy Monument, where protesters had camped for a long time, then strolled along to Siam area where roads had been blocked by protests to have an overview of what was happening. The result was: nothing dangerous. To be honest, not as severe as people think. No more protesters on streets, no more bad traffic caused by movements. Everything is in control. I could see Bangkokians living their daily life as if there was nothing had happened: women watched comedies on streets, drivers waited for a ride, vendors yawned by their stalls or teenagers enjoyed shopping time in Siam, and traffic jam was heavy as usual. That’s why I still saw tourists getting busy with their shopping in MBK.

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So, nothing to worry to travel to Thailand now. Maybe my TPY fellows are true by telling me that I was coming to Bangkok in the right time because at around 10, I can enjoy a night walk with some fresh air on empty pavements. At that time, people hurried for home and stores closed before restricted time. Bangkok was quieter than it always is. For me, it was such a right time.

When a custom officer asked me why I came to Thailand in this messy time, I just smiled and paid her a joke.

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However, because of the curfew, specifically an early restricted time at 10. I missed a walk in Bangkok 🙂

Một người Đà Nẵng đích thực

Ảnh

Tối hôm nọ, khi trông thấy anh lái một chiếc Lead đỏ chạy ven sông Hàn, bạn anh bảo anh giờ nhìn giống một người Đà Nẵng điển hình, đó là hình ảnh của một người đàn ông mập mạp, chạy một chiếc Lead đỏ chầm chậm, vẻ mặt trông rất hạnh phúc. Quả thật lúc ấy, anh vừa bước ra từ quán bánh xèo sau một bữa ăn linh đình nên bụng anh có to, mặt anh sướng vì bữa ăn ngon còn chạy xe Lead là … xe mượn.

Anh nghe như vậy cũng tập quan sát. Có lẽ hình ảnh của người Đà Nẵng điển hình đúng là như vậy thật. Anh thấy rất nhiều những người đàn ông chạy xe tay ga, ngoài Lead còn có nhiều loại xe khác như Nouvo, AB hay Spacy, SH thì hầu như không thấy. Những người đàn ông ấy, dù không phải ai cũng mập mạp nhưng vẻ mặt họ thường trông hạnh phúc, dù có chở theo gia đình hay đi một mình. Bạn anh kể thêm vì Đà Nẵng đường sá rộng rãi, người Đà Nẵng thường có xu hướng chọn xe to, cốp rộng để chứa được nhiều đồ và ngồi cũng thoải mái. Anh chắc mẩm các hãng bán tay ga chắc sẽ kiếm được bộn tiền ở đây.

Cái thành phố này đúng là một nơi đáng sống, dù chưa biết tương lai như thế nào. Anh cảm thấy ở đây sự thoải mái, ung dung trong cuộc sống hàng ngày, không bon chen, xô bồ như ở SG. Ở một thời gian, anh lại có cảm giác mình giống như người địa phương ở đây vậy.

Nhưng rồi anh cũng phải quay lại SG để tiếp tục làm người nông dân vì nỗi lo về an ninh lương thực lúc nào cũng ám ảnh, dù cho anh có ở Đà Nẵng đi nữa.

A moving year

At the very last day of the year of Snake, I take a little time creating a flashback of this year.

Looking back this 2013, it was a very busy year with tons of experiences tried, lots of new friends made and many places arrived. I discovered some new things about myself, learned to see the world through many lens and perhaps found the road of my life.

It’s great to sit down and think about what I have done so far, compare myself to that one last year and reminisce every precious moments I’ve got. I’d like to call 2013 is a “moving year”, a nonstop moving year when I lived the best of my youth.

Below is a series of photos. Every photo tells a story, every story is a piece which makes my moving year.

I captured this man at Angkor Wat temple, Cambodia. He seemed to be thinking about something. (1/2013)

A nice moment captured in a performance show named “The Kingdom of Wonder” in Siem Reap, Cambodia (1/2013)

A man was kissing his son while going on a local bus-boat in Bangkok, Thailand (1/2013)

Student of B11 class, Nguyen Thuong Hien high school, showed their cheerfulness when acknowledged that they had won the first prize in group dance contest at their traditional school festival. HCMC, Vietnam. (1/2013)

Breaktime of two public cleaners at Nguyen Hue Flower Street, HCMC in Tet 2013. (2/2013)

A barge at the sea of Vung Tau, Vietnam. (2/2013) 

Volunteers were cooperating to hang a banner which promoted Earth Hour Campaign 2013. HCMC, Vietnam. (3/2013)

Uyen Linh was performing in “clean light” (produced from sunlight energy) during Earth Hour 2013. HCMC, Vietnam. (3/2013)

Hung and Vi in the photoshoot for their 1-year anniversary. They are one of couples that I often think of. HCMC, Vietnam. (4/2013)

A Tay kid (Tay is an ethnic group in Vietnam). His mom was buying food at a grocery store in Lung Cu, Vietnam’s northernmost point. Ha Giang, Vietnam. (4/2013)

Inside a bike garage in Ba Be, Bac Kan, Vietnam. (4/2013)

A moment captured in Contemporary Ballet Introductory Show, co-organized by HCMC Youth Union and HCMC Ballet Symphony Orchestra and Opera. HCMC, Vietnam. (4/2013)

Scoring moment in the basketball match between the school team and the ex-students’ team in Nguyen Thuong Hien High School. HCMC, Vietnam. (5/2013)

Entrance to IR Faculty, in my last day at school. HCMC, Vietnam. (5/2013)

Walking in bamboo forest in Madagui, Lam Dong, Vietnam. (5/2013)

Hanoi, in a summer night of June. (6/2013)

Employees went home after work, at a corner of Shinjuku district, Tokyo, Japan. (6/2013)

Students went to school in the rain. One of my favorite photo this year. Kyoto, Japan. (6/2013)

In a clinic. I got digestive disorders during my journey in Japan so I was brought here for treatment. Kyoto, Japan. (6/2013)

Walking in the road of Torii, Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto, Japan. (6/2013)

Fresh flowers brought to Quang Ba flower market at 3 a.m for sale in the morning. Hanoi, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Rest time of a Dao guy after he has finished coating his family’s rice to keep it away from the rain. Bac Giang, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Rowing to go fishing in the afternoon in Lang Co. Hue, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Early morning at Da Nang beach. Da Nang, Vietnam. (7/2013)

A farmer was watering his vegetables before harvesting in Tra Que vegetable village. Quang Nam, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Hoi An market, in a summer afternoon. Quang Nam, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Raw coffee beans were being tested at a coffee factory in Buon Me Thuot. Dak Lak, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Dalat smile. My most favorite photo of the year. A result of patience and catching the moment at the right time. Lam Dong, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Uncle Ba Moi, a grape farmer in Phan Rang. This photo was taken during his talk about work with us. Ninh Thuan, Vietnam. (7/2013)

Cao Lanh ferry run across Tien River. Dong Thap, Vietnam. (7/2013)

A member from DRD (Disability Research & Capacity Development Center) was captured during his playtime with SEALNet Project members. HCMC, Vietnam. (8/2013)

A written movie ad in Hoi An, which reminded movie ads in the old days. Quang Nam, Vietnam. (8/2013)

Afternoon coffee at Long Café, one of the most popular coffee shops in Da Nang, Vietnam. (8/2013)

On the horseback, coming down from Taal volcano. Tagaytay, the Philippines. (8/2013)

A man was capturing sunset moments on the beach of Boracay, the Philippines. (8/2013)

Twilight time in Kalibo, a small town in the Philippines. (8/2013)

Sightseeing time in Intramuros, an ancient quarter in Manila, by pedicab. Manila, the Philippines. (8/2013)

Saigon, a rainy afternoon. (9/2013)

Dawn at Ke Ga sea, Phan Thiet. Binh Thuan, Vietnam. (9/2013)

Ripen rice field. It was harvesting time in An Giang, Vietnam. (9/2013)

A corner in Hanoi University. The sign said: “Parking is not allowed here”. Hanoi, Vietnam. (10/2013)

Waiting in a Tokyo afternoon. (10/2013)

Elementary students cleaned their utensils after lunch at Asamadai Elementary School in Shinagawa, Tokyo, Japan. (10/2013)

A train station in late Sunday afternoon. Nara, Japan. (11/2013)

MS.Nippon Maru, where one of the most wonderful periods in my life stays. HCMC, Vietnam. (11/2013)

Mr.Onn, a saxophonist I met at Chatuchak night market, Bangkok, Thailand. (11/2013)

Vietnam flag in Flag hoisting ceremony on the Ship for South East Asian Youth Program. (11/2013)

Uncle and auntie Lim, my host family for my homestay in Singapore. (12/2013)

Watching the sunset when MS.Nippon Maru left Manila, the Philippines. (12/2013)

An old condominium in Hanoi, Vietnam. (12/2013)

An old man was reading a paper used for Buddha worshiping at Keo pagoda. Thai Binh, Vietnam. (12/2013)

And that is my moving 2013 🙂

Hope for a 2014 of moving more, moving further.

Happy New Year!

Rước dâu – Taking the bride home

Tôi cứ nghĩ đám cưới mà rước dâu bằng xe máy chắc chỉ có ở trong truyện Năm Sài Gòn của Bùi Chí Vinh. Không ngờ hôm nay được chứng kiến một đám cưới rước dâu bằng xe máy thật sự ở tận miền Tây. Chú rể và đoàn bưng quả đi xe máy qua nhà cô dâu làm lễ rồi sau đó chở cô dâu về nhà, làm cả con đường quê nhỏ xíu rộn ràng.

Lãng mạn kiểu miệt vườn 

Trà Vinh, 26/1/14

(I’ve never thought that motorcycles can be used to bring offerings and take the bride home in a Vietnamese wedding. But today, for the first time I saw a groom, with his family, using their motorcycles to bring his bride home in their wedding.

They made the day of their small town. And that’s what I call “romance in countryside” 

Tra Vinh, 26/1/14)