Wednesday, April 18, 2007

My Favorite Conversation so Far This Week

I held my breath as I came back to the greenhouse, hoping the plants would not all be dead. They were not. However there was a potato plant growing out of the worm bin and a large family of fruit flies. Despite instructions not to touch the worms, the overzealous waterers had removed the lid making it a tad dry for the red wigglers while providing plenty of air and sun to sprout a new potato. We planted the potato plant in soil, added some wet newspaper and the world's greatest pet(s) survived like true champions. While trying to resuscitate...

Leeka: Can worms eat cheese?
Me: No, no cheese. Only fruits and vegetables. And egg shells and coffee grounds.
Leeka: Is that because worms are lactose intolerant?


Monday, April 16, 2007

Highlights of a Trip to Vietnam

After 30 hours of travel I am happily back home from Vietnam. The country was beautiful and it's amazing to travel across the globe and realize how many ways life is the same for people everywhere. The commonalities seem to outweigh the differences. I made it through my first day back at school with only a normal dose of coffee so I believe I'm triumphing over the jet lag.

The Streets of Hanoi

Crossing the street is pretty treacherous. There are motor bikes everywhere and very few street lights. The traffic never stops. After a day or two of this, we discovered that it's kind of like Frogger. There seems to be this mutual trust that everyone is watching out for each other...but I did hear multiple stories of pedestrians getting hit so it may not be fool proof.

Sap Pa

We took a twelve hour, overnight train ride to a small village of H'mong people called Sap pa, up near the border of China. This was probably the greatest fiasco of the trip only because it was extremely cold and I had only brought t-shirts and a sweatshirt. Also, it sounds great to go see how the ethnic minorities live, but once I got there it felt uncomfortable and zoo-like. I had a similar experience when going to a reservation in New Mexico (I left before visiting). My new personal rule, no visiting of native people or ethnic minorities. It's too complicated. And it's not worth a 12 hour train ride to buy handicrafts.

Floating Villages

Another side trip was to Ha Long Bay in the the Gulf of Tonkin. There are huge, magical boulders jutting up from the water and a filmy mist hovering over everything. Even more intriguing was the water culture. There are floating villages and fishing huts. There is even a floating school. People live on the water full time. There is an impressive entrepreneurial spirit in Vietnam as evidenced by the fruit selling out on the water. I'm not sure how the fruit got there but it was offered in abundance.

The Market

The food, the food, the food! Delicious food! I was able to take a Vietnamese cooking class one morning. We wandered through the market before learning how to make spring rolls, royal rice, and a grilled fish wrapped in rice paper.

Does life get any better than this?