Upon landing in Hanoi, Vietnam the first time last year, a very friendly hotel employee name Hue assisted in my travel plans throughout Vietnam. Being a total newbie here, I only had notions of where I wanted to go but nothing set in stone. By the time I left Vietnam, I got to know the country fairly well, all with Hue’s help. She also said if you ever come back to Vietnam, you are welcome to stay with me and my husband at our farm house in the province of Hoa Binh, about 70 kms SW from Hanoi. Well, how do you refuse that invitation? You don’t..so I took her up on it, and spent 1 ½ culturally fun filled days in their farm house.
Such a nice family, a very extended family of uncles, aunts, cousins, nieces and Hue & David’s two year old daughter Bong, just about the cutest kid on the planet. The country side is about as Vietnam’ish as you’d expect, pastoral farm houses, rice paddies, surrounded by mountains, ladies in their conical hats tending their rice paddies, water buffalo, chickens, pigs, dogs, kids..all running free.
During the day, we drank tea, I was even coerced into a little vodka, then karaoke, a lot of talk all in Vietnamese. I got by with hand gestures a lot of agreeing. There were many poignant moments but one that stands out is one of the uncles made some hand gestures that seemed significant. I asked David what he said keeping in mind I was in the north of Vietnam: “we were enemies and now we’re friends”. I couldn’t agree more. I also explained I did not agree about this war, nor did millions of other American’s and I would have gone to Canada had not been for a very lucky high draft lottery number..and the war wasn’t my fault!
Beyond all that, it was a wonderful time well spent as I ate their delicious and fresh home cooked meals, spirited conversation, and even some yoga sessions with the kids. It’s one thing to visit a country like this and harbor in your hotel room, and only come out for meals. It’s another to get to know the people at their core, and that’s what this experience was all about!