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. IMG_20160305_104230The 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.IMG_20160305_151524IMG_20160305_152335

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. IMG_20160305_154516It’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!

One comment

  1. Aok Bhattacharya

    Very nice and illuminating writeup of the real people (human)I had experienced such hospitality at the Sunderbans in Bengal bordering Bangladesh. In 1970 I resigned my job as I did not have much work to do (numerous strikes by Communist led trade unions) and the M D told me to go on paid holiday for a week and then decide.
    So I left for Sundarbans South of Kolkatta Reached a petty river harbour plying sail boats and we crossed several islands all small an green some thickly wooded.This is the abode of tigers wild boars bees deers and many other wild animals.
    The place was not at all developed, no power, shops hospitals or dispensaries or medical shops.Salt and edible oil too was a gift from heaven (I carried some to give as gifts).
    In the evening we reached an Island and was told to remain at the island for the night and take another boat foe further journey.While traveling a local farmer inquired about my journey and he then told me that there were no hotels to live in and offered me to stay in his home (a hut with a chair made of Bamboo and coir rope) which I readily accepted (a heavenly sent boon).
    On reaching his wife made the bed with clean sheets, prepared dinner, rice, fish fry and curry and vegetables(potato and cauliflower). We had dinner together (his wife later) gossiped about life in the city and his daily life. Came to know that tigers are good swimmers and that they generally attack from behind. So they wear a human mask, the mask facing the rear side of the face when they enter the forest to collect honey,wood and herbs. At night had their local brew made from fermenting rice.
    Next morning was served (neera fresh juice collected from palm trees overnight in earthen pots) then caught fish which was then cooked and by afternoon a boat arrived for my onward journey.This trip and the hospitality shown by the illiterate villagers who have a heart bigger than we the literate city dwelers.

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