KHANH | HANOI

PORTRAITS

KHANH, NAM & HOA

Khanh lives with her husband and their daughter Hoa in the Southwest of Hanoi, a residential area far away from the busy and touristic city centre. Khan works as an english-vietnames translator, a job which leaves her enough sparetime to take care of her daughter after school. Her family is a typical Hanoian family, living in the area since generations, while her husband’s parents are from the central region of Vietnam. Nam, her husband, works as a cameraman for a national TV station and has long working hours, sometimes even during the weekends. He met Khan through a cousin when she was an university student. Today, they are married for over 9 years and have a beautiful 7 year old daughter called Hoa. Hoa was named after a doctor who saved her live. When Khan was 2 month pregnant, she suffered from Rubella virus and the doctors in the public hospital pushed her to have an abortion. Luckily, one doctor named Hoa advised her, after a complete medical check, not to do that. Thanks to this competent doctor, the baby girl was born healthy and named after the doctor.

How does your typical family day looks like?

Normally, my husband and I have breakfast near our companies, but my daughter has breakfast at home so I get up early to prepare her breakfast. My husband or I take her to school which is close to our house. We have lunch at our work and we take turns to pick up our daughter from school depending on our schedule. Usually we cook dinner at home and sometimes eat out for a change or on special occasions. After dinner, I help my daughter with her homework. At weekends, we normally go out to a nice cafe or park near our home to spend the day with friends.

How do you spend your free time as a family?

My husband usually works one of the two days of weekends. When he doesn’t work we spend the week-end together and usually take our daughter to a splayground or a park.  Sometimes we go to my husbands hometown in the countryside to visit his family and relatives. There is a very nice beach called Cửa Lò. 

As a parent, how do you see your children in 15/20 years? What do you wish for them?

As a mother, I really want my daughter to have a good education both at home and at school. Particularly, I wish her to live a healthy life and be strong. Therefore, I usually take her to the swimming pool in summer and find modern dance class for her in winter. I hope she will become a kind person with a good heart. I also wish she would go to University to get a good job in the future. The university education is not free in Vietnam, but it is reasonable/affordable for most of people. For poor family, they can get loans from the Government for university education with lower interests.

Tell me more about the food in your region/country. Who is preparing the food? What is the typical dish in your country/city?

In terms of food, every region has its own speciality. My husband comes from Nghe An, a province in the central of Vietnam while I am from Hanoi, in the north of Vietnam. Food in these 2 regions are very different. My husband likes salty food, fish sauce, spicy, fried food while I like steamed food, vegetables, beef. Our daughter is a fussy eater, I always have to cook special dish for her like salmon, beef without spicy, and she usually eats before my husband and I as she spends hours before finishing her dish. Therefore, in my family’s dish, we have many kinds of different food. I am not always the cook in the family, sometimes my husband cooks too when he does not go to work.

In western countries, we have to learn our kids to reduce screen time. Kids today have easily access to smartphones, computers and TVs. How is this in your country?

It’s similar in Vietnam now.  Many kids use smartphones, computers and TVs. My daughter used to spend hours watching youtube on Ipad, She was really addicted to it. So we decided to set some rules to control her screen time. Sometimes when she has good marks, I will let her access to the Ipad for limited time.

Now, my daughter plays more with her toys and we spend a lot of time outside. It is really important to reduce screen time for kids. I think this is a global problem as all this gadgets are now available everywhere.

By the way, we have a nice game which kids usually play, it’s called Ô ăn quan. It is a traditional Vietnamese children’s board game enhancing calculating ability. My daughter also loves drawing and painting. She sticks her works all over the walls in our house. 

How does a normal couple live and share work/life? Are they both working? If yes, is there any maternity leave? How long?

There is still a separation in work life and family life. Nowadays in Vietnam, it is normal that both work to generate income to support the family. But when it comes to family life, women have still do the housework.

We have 6 months of maternity leave, this is only for women. I heard that in some countries they also have a paternity leave which we don’t have here in Vietnam.

Can you recommend us some good food places in Hanoi?

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. As travellers, when exploring Vietnam, you should enjoy the local ways and and street food is a great place to experience it. If you stay in the old quarter of Hanoi, there are a few places that you can go for street food: bun cha (grilled pork with rice noodles) at Bún chả Đắc Kim, egg coffee at Giang Cafe, phơ at Phở Lý Quốc Sư… At a higher level, you can try a big menu of food at Quán ăn ngon, or Hanoi specialty “cha cá” at Chả cá Thăng Long…

We ask each family we interview to share a typical recipe of her region/country. Find below Khanh’s recipe for Nem Dan:

What are the nicest places to visit in Hanoi?

Basically, in terms of architecture, Hanoi can be divided into 4 areas: the Old Quarter, the Citadel Area, French Quarter and Newer Area. Normally tourists stay in the Old Quarters, the center of Hanoi’s old town where the most attractions are situated. These are nice places near the Old Quarter you can visit when in Hanoi: Hoan Kiem Lake, the Saint Joseph Cathedral, the Opera House, Hoa Lo Prision, Temple of Literature, Train Track Street. It is very nice just walking through the small narrow streets of the Old Quarter or visit the weekend night market. Outside the Old Quarter you can find the Museum of Ethnology where the different ethnic groups of Vietnamare are displayed and explained. If you are into arts, the Museum of Fine Arts is a good place to go.

Hanoi is definitely a nice place to discover and a good start when you travel through Vietnam.

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