A Song in a Van to Hoi Chi Minh City Bus Terminal

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  • A Song in a Van to Hoi Chi Minh City Bus Terminal 00:00
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This is a recording of a van I took to Saigon bus terminal. That afternoon, I was with a group of women who talked to each other. Like busses in Indonesia, the driver plays Vietnamese music that is broadcasted through loudspeakers in the van. I was also happy to be able to listen to Vietnam pop music along the way. Although I do not understand the lyrics, I like how the melody of the music is very sentimental. These types of entertainment is not found in Japan, since Japanese people enjoys peace and quiet during in public transportation. On the other hand, busses that drive along the Northern Java shore (Pantura: pantai utara Jawa) usually plays dangdut music in a really high volume.

One of the song that was played in the van really touched me. There was this deep emotion that I cannot explain. Of course hearing this felt personal. In addition, I was doing this research alone. I looked outside the van whilst recording this. Music kept playing along with the conversation of the women and the occasional honk of the horn. The low frequency sound of the van’s engine is also audible

Before writing this part, I asked my friend from Vietnam, Ye Ni Chao, regarding the title of the song. I was told that this song was popular in the old generation, in 70’s. Phượng Buồn is the title. Phuong is a tree which the flowers bloom in the summer. These trees are usually placed in schools to symbolize happiness. However, the second word in the title means sadness. This title is a paradox. Before knowing the meaning behind the title and lyrics, the song contains a sentimental value in its melody and arrangement. Cam Ly was the version being played in the van. The lyric goes:

Anh đến với em vào một ngày trời đẹp nắng
Một ngày phượng hồng thắm trong đôi mắt buồn xa xăm
Phượng hay bâng khuâng tưởng chừng như cô đơn
Nên khi hè xuống thấy vấn vương tâm hồn.
 
Anh có biết không hè về phượng hồng đẹp lắm
Tình mình càng nồng thắm cho bao ước vọng cao dâng
Ngàn năm trong tôi tình này không phai phôi
Xuân qua hè tới ta nhớ nhau luôn phượng ơi
 
Lòng vẫn hay buồn
Vì đời thay đen đổi trắng, người dối gian
Dẫu là đem vui, cho những người nhiều tình yêu
Càng xót xa nhiềụ
 
The meaning of the lyric:  
I came to you on a sunny day
A day of pink flamingos in sad distant eyes
Phuong seemed to be lonely
So when the summer came to see lingering soul.

Do you know that summer is beautiful and beautiful phoenix
The love I am passionate for so many desires
Thousands of years I have not faded into this love
Spring through summer to remember each other
 
Still sad heart
Because life changes black and white, people cheat
Although it is fun, for those who love much
How much mercy

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