2 Housewarmings, 1 Wedding & a Funeral

Friday 6th January must be considered an auspicious day in Phong Nha because we were invited to three parties all on the same day, some of which overlapped slightly.
The first party was for a house warming just round the corner from us for one of our Vietnamese friends who has had a new 2 bedroom house built. Captain Caveman and I were the first to arrive at 10.30am (they do like to start celebrations early over here) and we had a look around and went up on to the flat roof where the views are lovely. As the other guests arrived we moved down in to the front room where the westerners were given seats and a table full of delicious food with beers while the Vietnamese guests sat on a floor mat with a hotpot style dish. We all enjoyed doing cheers (chuc suc khoe, in Vietnamese) with our generous host, Hoan and her father Mr Nguyen before having to make our apologies to leave as we had been due at a wedding across the street at 11am.
The wedding was huge and the brightly coloured venue was already filled with lots of guests and the loud dance music was pumping out. Bang and Yen looked great and they had very generously filled the tables with food and provided lots of beer. Half way through the frivolities a South African man was planted beside us at our table and he was plied with food and beer for about an hour before he mentioned that he had just arrived with his wife and she might be wondering where he was. I managed to dance quite a lot, mainly with a couple of the Vietnamese men who really know how to dance well. The Vietnamese women are usually much more shy and reserved at weddings so it was no surprise to see that it was just me and men on the dance floor, until Captain Caveman managed to drag a couple of passing tourists in to join us. By 2pm we were pretty merry and were conscious we were already late for Mr Hung’s house warming, which was a ten minute cycle ride towards the town. As we were getting ready to leave the wedding a big procession of really brightly dressed local people came walking towards us, filling the width of the road. It was a funeral and so we stopped dancing and just watched them go by unaware of who had died.
Captain Caveman and I arrived after all the other westerners in our party and had been saved a space at an overflowing table of food and yes, more beers. We were immediately welcomed and given food directly into our bowls, as is the Vietnamese way at parties like this, with a few rounds of cheers.
Despite being already drunk we managed to give the party a good go and I even did cheers with an elderly local woman who looked like she was tasting beer for the first time – she left the party straight after which was also our cue to leave. I needed an early night as the next day we were heading three hours north for another special celebration.

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