A curtain of humidity and heat greeted me in Saigon when I finally exited the airport. We were off through the streets of Saigon. My estimates were spot on, many more cars were on the roads. Saigon is indeed more developed than four years ago. The most obvious testament, crafted of gleaming glass and steel, is Saigon's brand new skyscraper. Lit up at night it is a spectacular sight-- helicopter pad and all (photo in my Flickr photostream link to the right).
Thursday nite was dinner with the nieces and nephews in Saigon. It was great to catch up with the vibrant youth of Vietnam. All doing well.
Friday we were off, via bumpy taxi ride, to Ba Ria (coastal town east of Saigon) where Si's sister lives. Her son Duy's wedding preparations were in full swing when we arrived. Flowers everywhere! Hair and makeup too! Today was the first ceremony at the local Catholic church. The wedding mass was beautiful.
Following the mass we all returned to the house where a great dinner was served. The arrival of the bride's family signaled the start of the feast. Laughter, spring rolls, and beer (can after can) cemented the family bonding. The formal wedding events were done.
Saturday was reserved for the festivities. In the morning both families joined together to pay homage to The Groom's ancestors. This formal ceremony involved the Bride and Groom, both dressed in traditional garb, facing the shrine of the ancestors and lighting incense. Requests are made to the departed for their blessings on the marriage. Flame turns to smoke and it is time for drinking and celebrations.
The afternoon reception, at a local banquet hall, was beautifully executed, with beer, scotch, and vodka flowing. The seven courses of food was delicious. "Xo!" ("bottoms up") was the cheers heard for the remains of the day; the hangovers were for another day.
Duy and Uyen, "Tram Nam Hanh Phuc" ("100 Years of Happiness for you both!")