Vietnam is on the shores of the South China Sea and has many neighbors both on land and sea: the country shares land borders with China, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia, and it is possible to see Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Taiwan from its shores. This geography has also marked Vietnam’s place in world history. Although the country was occupied by the French in the 19th century, it declared its independence after World War II and was under French colonial rule until 1954. Vietnam gained independence after 1954 and become one of the key countries of the bipolar world. In the same way, the Vietnam War (1955-1975) went down in history as one of the most important political and military events of recent times, and gave inspiration and scope to popular culture.
Despite all the political activity, the Vietnamese people have a simple daily life -and bamboo is certainly an important part of this. Vietnamese use bamboo in every aspect of their lives. Hats known as nón lá (meaning “leaf hat”) used by fishermen and farmers for protection from the sun and rain are the most stylish version of the daily use of bamboo. These conical hats are made by binding palm leaves together with bamboo sticks. Their most important feature is that they are all handmade.
Bamboo is used in every aspect of life in Vietnam ranging from decoration to kitchen equipment, from architecture to music instruments. In the dance called Mua Sap (bamboo dance), couples display their skills by jumping between bamboo sticks.
Today, it is even possible to see bamboo bicycles in the streets of cities like Ho Chi Minh, Can Tho, or Da Nang. It is not really surprising to learn that bamboo has a special place in Vietnamese cuisine. In addition to dried or canned bamboo, you can also eat bamboo boiled in meat stock or fried in coconut oil.