Phat; Dong; Dinh; Water puppets

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Dec 23 11:25:40 UTC 1999

TOWERS OF HANOI (continued)

   Thanks for that info on "Towers of Hanoi."  I thought that might have been the case (an Americanism!?), but I'm here anyway and thought I'd ask about any real, historical, or imaginary towers.


  There are several family names of "Phat" here.  Maybe some LA rapper got the idea for this after eating Vietnamese takeout?


  This is from HERITAGE (Vietnam Airlines magazine), Nov/Dec 1999, pg. 16, col. 1:

  A communal house is a type of _dinh_, the literal translation of which is "a vast, empty spece."  Ngo THi Nham, a famous 18th century scholar, wrote: "Heaven uses _dinh_ as a means to feed all living creatures, Earth uses them to contain the latter, and Man uses _dinh_ as places to assemble purpose."
(Pg. 17, col. 1)
  To put it more simply, a _dinh_ is any government-built structure that is open to the public.  In ancient times, _dinh_ were highly specialised in style and function.  Rest houses were built along the nation's frontiers and roads to accommodate foreign and Vietnamese travellers.  _Giang dinh_ (riverside rest houses) stood beside wharves and _kieu dinh_ were built on bridges.  _Phuong dinh_ (square pavilions) stood in gardens or surrounded by pagodas and temples.


  In Mexico, my tour guide called rest stops "technical stops," for people having technical difficulties.  No other tour guide used this, so I thought it was his.
  Now, in Vietnam, my tour guide here used "technical stop" today.  He told me that he hadn't heard it before and he thought he coined it.
  I'll have to check Nexis and Dow Jones when I get back.


  The currency of Vietnam is the Dong.  I don't have the RHHDAS handy, so I can't say if the slang name for the male part is related to this.  Probably not.
  When I got off the plane, my tour guide told me:  "This is a good place to get some Dong."


  No time for food recipes.  I'm seeing water puppets tonight, right after dinner.
  "Water puppets" go back to 11th century Vietnamese culture.  They were re-intoduced in 1986, after the "doi moi" allowed investment and tourism from the West.
  I haven't checked "water puppets" in OED.

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