The Bai Choi nights have become familiar to the people in Hoi An; on Saturday evenings the people gather on the town common near the Hoai river (also called the Bach Dang river) to enjoy interesting activities during their weekends.
No one knows exactly when “Bai Choi” appeared. It is said this game was played during every Spring Festival in Thua Thien Hue Province around 400 years ago. Then “Bai Choi” lost its popularity and was almost forgotten, until the festival was revived after the former Feudal capital Hue and the historic town Hoi An in Quang Nam Province were recognized as world cultural heritage sites. Now, thanks to Hoi An authorities, who decided to preserve and introduce Bai Choi to visitors, the game is played for all to see and admire.
The Bai Choi nights have become familiar to the people in Hoi An; on Saturday evenings the people gather on the town common near the Hoai river (also called the Bach Dang river) to enjoy interesting activities during their weekends. The audience often gets involved, and sometimes one can hear the excitement when fans shout out with the bamboo bar show out in their hand and are excited to receive a yellow flag from the dealer. This game always brings about an effervescent atmosphere and makes the town more lively, while at the same time keeping its specific quietness – the festal evenings of Bai Choi not only bring the warm breath of the modern life, but also revive the gentle, charming and meaningful characteristics of the traditional culture.
Most lyrics express the openhearted and reconciliatory nature of Vietnamese people. They convey human emotions and are highly educational, differentiating “Bai Choi” from other games. The lyrics usually praise patriotism, parental and conjugal affection and good human nature, and criticise social evils and outdated customs and habits.
The prizes given to the winners in Bai Choi game aren’t very big, having very little material value. At the end of the game, the winners usually get a lantern, “a speciality” of Hoi An. But the most important thing for the partners is that they have an especially attractive and exciting cultural game.