Up early and off the overnight train we barely got to our hotel when we were wisked off on an exciting journey into the past while skirting the present as we held on tight to our motorcycle drivers with our hair in complete disarray and the wind on our smiling faces.
Our motorcycle drivers were phenomenal, to say the least, as they navigated the city traffic and took us on a mystic journey down back-roads, along rice paddies, and through people’s small lane-way villages, stopping along the way with our guide Von to tell us the stories that make this country so fascinating.
Our fist stop was educational as we learned how rice was harvested, hulled, and polished, as well as made into flour and food. Our local guide for the rice demonstration was a vibrant lady who captured our attention and stole our hearts. She explained everything (translated by Von) clearly and let us participate as well in the processes. My husband ended up being a water buffalo.
We also learned about how the locals fished with hand made baskets. A very old lady showed us the basics and had us reeling with laughter as she ‘caught’ her shoe the same way they catch fish! Delightful is an understatement.
Next we were enthralled by the beautiful colors of the local market. Every ingredient I can think of was for sale and lots of it too. This land is so plentiful as the water lasts all year round and many crops are harvested a number of times a year. Green is the only word I can use for Viet Nam!
I love incense, and now I know how it is made, and may try this at home. Naw, not really…but it was a beautiful thought. Incense is made with a sticky paste where a powdered scent is added (lemon grass, cinnamon, sandal wood etc.) as it is rolled onto the stick. This was fascinating for me to watch and a couple of members of our group actually tried it. A professional can roll 5000 per day!
The last stop was a workshop where a lady who was afflicted by ‘agent orange’ made beautiful conical hats. She wove them with one full hand and an arm stump. Watching her was amazing and she can make 3 hats with beautiful stenciled pictures (you can see the picture when you hod the hat to the light) each day. A number of our group bought her hats and were so happy to have this hand made craft item to take home.
Wow! We were so impressed by the whole tour and the amount we learned of the culture of the people we visited.
Highly recommended for the awe value!