Some stories are short and sweet.
Saigon, 1970s. Dao is 17 and her aunt wants her to marry. She tells her about a very handsome man living in the country side who graduated top of his class and is currently running his grandfather’s business. Dao is intrigued, so her aunt travels to the country side and tells the handsome man, Tuan, about her lovely niece who lives in the city. As explained to me, matchmaking is a serious business in Vietnam – everyone is involved in the process and Tuan’s parents go to ensure it is a proper match. Tuan’s older brother is not so pleased. As the eldest sibling, he feels that he should have the opportunity to meet Dao first, but her aunt is adamant – Dao and Tuan are a perfect match. Tuan is more cautious. One day, he sneaks away on his motorbike to catch a glimpse of Dao at the café. Tuan falls in love on the spot, Dao follows suit shortly after.
Rule breaking – what happens next: Tuan and Dao marry right away. After the birth of their daughter, Tuan escapes for Malaysia on a boat, eventually making it to Canada with the promise of sending money to fly Dao and their daughter to join him. As Dao was concerned for her parents, she couldn’t leave right away but was desperate to meet Tuan. Unable to wait any longer, Dao and her 2-year old daughter flee for Malaysia only to be detained for 2 months. Eventually, the family reunites in Canada.
Vietnam, 2012. (Amazing photos provided by Nikola from his most recent trip to Asia – thanks!!)