When we first arrived at the Chuong Village there were many people lined up on the street with fresh fruits, vegetables, meat, and spices. I was overwhelmed by how much food was there. Motorbikes kept whizzing in and out of the street through the market and kids were running all over the place.
Eventually we found an open area where we could play some games and meet one another on the trip. After playing some games we were split into groups and had to ask the villagers about the process of making the conical hats. My group went up to 3 different people that were laying out the palm leaves to be dried in the sun. These people talked about how intensive the process is and all the hard work that is required.
After hearing about the process we then walked through the whole process and worked on building our own conical hats. After the palm leaves were left outside to dry they then get mixed with sand to get their brown color. I did not know that sand helped the leaves become the right color for the hats. Once the leaves turned brown, they were then stretched apart and straightened by an iron.
We then took a break from building our conical hats to eat a traditional Vietnamese meal. The meal consisted of chicken, pork, fish, noodles, rice, soup, vegetables, and fruit. There was so much food prepared that we did not come close to finishing it. No forks were provided so it was good practice for me to learn how to use chopsticks. After lunch I learned multiple card games that are popular in Vietnam and continued to connect with people on the trip. It was cool meeting another university student who studies accounting, just like me, and hear the similarities and differences of the curriculum.
After playing some games we got back into making our conical hats. We had to build the frame for the hats. This process was very difficult for me. When doing this you had to make sure the frame was built precisely or else it would ruin the hat. I struggled tying and cutting the bamboo the correct size for the hats and got a local villager to help. Once the frames were constructed the villagers would then weave the leaves around the frame completing the hat.
This was an amazing learning experience and made me more aware of all the hard work it takes to construct these hats. The conical hats are a symbol of Vietnamese culture and it was awesome to learn more about the culture here.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]