April 9th is King Hung Day in Vietnam. It is a national holiday recognizing a line of rulers from Vietnam's past. My students taught me about a myth they were told about King Hung as children. Apparently, the original King Hung was the first born child of the God of the Sea and the Goddess of the Mountains. There were 100 children born in total, but he was the first, and since lineage is very important to Vietnamese culture, King Hung was the most important descendant.
The story goes that King Hung was the very first Vietnamese person and all other Vietnamese people are his descendants. It has some similarities to the Christian story about Adam and Eve. I loved hearing my students talk about their culture and heritage. Apparently there is a temple in Northern Vietnam where the original King Hung was supposedly laid to rest and many Vietnamese make a pilgrimage there each year.
To the Swanson Family, King Hung Day meant an extra day off in the middle of the work week. It was like getting a planned snow day. Only the weather was gorgeous and it didn't mess up my lesson plans.
Our family started the day by walking through the neighborhood to our local market to buy ingredients for lunch and supper. On the way, we met the monkey that Oliver feeds a bit of fruit to on Tuesdays and Thursdays when he doesn't go to preschool. I'm going to put the sentence "Grab two slices of water apple to feed the monkey on our way to the market please." under the category of Things I Never Thought I Would Say.
Derek and I had never been to the local market because, well, we work full time, so we relied on the boys to get us there. Oliver knew exactly how he wanted to get there and get home. He directed us to the monkey (a pet, chained to a tree, at a cafe we hadn't known existed). The monkey delicately took the water apple pieces from the boys which solicited many giggles from the dudes.
The market itself was larger than I thought it would be. There were several stalls selling produce, some selling fresh caught (read: still moving) fish, and even stalls selling undergarments and kids' clothing. There were lots of eggs, a variety of rice and other grains, and even a huge selection of beans! It was especially fun because the boys were able to act as tour guides.
We bought a kilo of avocados for about a dollar, a huge bunch of fresh basil (a quarter), vine ripe tomatoes (another quarter), brown rice (fifty cents), and coconuts (a quarter each). I ended up making tortillas from scratch, and we had delicious tacos for dinner.
After the market, we met up with all the other teacher families that live in our complex and had a huge swimming play-date. We spent two hours splashing around with our expat friends. Then we had quesadillas for lunch and the boys took an awesome nap. After nap, Owen picked up yet another friend from his class. We met up with all the teacher families again at the indoor (air-conditioned) playground and let the kids have a free-for-all. It was great to be around so many friends and spend so much wonderful time with the dudes. Having Wednesdays off is pretty awesome.