Palao – The Cham word for ‘letting go’. When a large ship is about to leave shore, young adults leave home to find their fate. Cham people ‘palao’.
I had no idea what the show we were going to see was. I thought it was probably Vietnamese folk singing and dancing. But it wasn’t. It was 20 young artists singing and dancing – palao ing. Perhaps one of the most haunting dance pieces I will ever see. The show concept is:
Once a distinct nation suffering much loss in history, Cham ethnicity contributed a significant part in Vietnamese culture. Palao artists, the children of mixed Cham and Kinh ethnicities, now share the same stage, breath, laugh and cry the same tears. In Palao spirit, they let go of the past and let the future set sails of hope for all, for humanity.
This was the highlight of yesterday. And so much light. Hoi An magically lit up with lanterns as we wander through the night market and stumble upon dinner at Mango Mango. ‘The best food I’ve eaten since we came to Vietnam’ said Martin tucking into his ‘Hunt for Red Snapper’. I feasted on Buddha Boogies, tofu with seasonal vegetables and hummus in tamarind. Smoked aubergine that tasted like dusk, and a bright zesty banana leaf salad. The food felt alive, vital, so fresh, as if it too could have danced its way off the plate.
I am relaxed and happy and feel a sense of belonging, partly due to everyone here asking me if I am Vietnamese. The daily massages and yoga are working their magic. I hope when the time comes I’m able to Palao.