I remember having a conversation on Facebook with some friends/readers in which we talked about the connections in the 1960s between Hawaii and Saigon. In particular, we were talking about how there were many engineers, architects, etc., who had been working in Hawaii in the 1950s and early 1960s, who then went to Saigon. Through their work they then created a connection between the “built environments” of Saigon and places in the Hawaiian islands like Honolulu.


So I started to think about what things would have looked like if that relationship had developed further. What, for instance, would Vietnam be like today if Hawaiian music had taken hold as well, and if there were Hawaiian bands and Hawaiian songs about Vietnam?

Well, to help imagine what that might have looked like, I created a song called “The Vietnam Hula,” and I also created an imaginary “soundscape” of an imaginary band, “Kavika Trần and the Thanh Hóa Tiki Torchers” playing in an imaginary place, the Saigon Hawaiian Palace, accompanied by the dancing of an imaginary woman, Melia Nguyễn.

Here is the song.

And here are the lyrics:

If you go to Vietnam,

No matter where you stay,

You’ll see that Vietnam hula,

Done in the Vietnam way.


Out on a boat in Ha Long Bay,

Under the sweet moonlight,

You’ll see those Ha Long beauties,

It’s an unforgettable sight.


Along the Perfume River,

In the old capital of Hue,

The girls sing and dance all night,

And eat bún bò all day.


Down on the streets of Saigon,

The ladies with their áo dàis,

Flowing in the tropical breeze,

It’s like a lullaby.


Up in the city of Hanoi,

The phở gà is a real treat,

And the ladies selling it,

Well they’re all so sweet.


That’s the Vietnam hula,

Done in the Vietnam way,

So if you go to Vietnam,

I’m sure you’re gonna stay.