Vietnamese bird club culture is one that’s overlooked by travellers, but it’s extremely interesting and there’s more to it than just sitting and drinking coffee. While wandering around the streets of Saigon, or any town in Vietnam, you’ll notice an abundance of classic bird cages with delightfully chirping birds inside. These birds are more than just pets, they’re a hobby. They’re a lifestyle.
Every morning, bird club enthusiasts like Lam in the video above go to the park, birds in hand. These enthusiasts, typically older men, hang up their bird cages and grab a coffee. It’s common for these enthusiasts to have many birds, and bring different birds each day. Lam has 24 birds, and on this specific day, he brought along 3 to enjoy the park. Lam goes every morning unless he’s extra busy.
These clubs give the birds time to socialize and sing together. If you go to a morning bird club, you’ll feel total relaxation- even in the hustle & bustle of Saigon. The beautiful bird melodies and serene environment provide the perfect way to start a day, read the morning paper, and drink a cup of coffee.
Like most clubs, Vietnamese bird club culture involves a little bit of competition. At this specific park in Saigon, there are 3 bird competitions per year- April 30th, December 2nd, and Vietnamese New Year. The umpire council judges the birds on main 4 criteria:
- How well the bird can sing.
- How beautiful the bird is.
- The shape of the bird.
- The duration the bird can sing – the longer, the more impressive.
The birds are judged from head to toe, and the winner is rewarded with money and, of course, pride. But in the end, these birds are not solely for competition. As Lam explains in our interview, these birds are very meaningful in the enthusiasts’ lives. These bird clubs are an opportunity for people to get in touch with nature and soothes their minds. Listening to the beautiful songs of the birds acts as a stress reducer. Taking care of these birds brings care and joy into these enthusiasts’ lives as well, and helps older people feel young again.