Friday, January 22, 2010

Be Careful of What You Wish for

In the spirit of making use of every second I have, I hired a private care to take me to a Thursday Market 2.5 hrs away before departing on the night train back to Hanoi.  A very small market but an opportunity to see the colorful Flower H’mong ethnic minority and several other Hill Tribe  people Warm weather and a touch of sun was in my favor.

The usual fare of people doing their weekly shopping. More unique were the horse drawn carts that some used, and the piglets that arrived to market in sacks with leashes on squealing the whole time. Despite being a meat eater myself, it is still disturbing to hear. I had previously seen dogs on their way to market in Laos and China, this time I got to seem them weigh the dog in. You know he wasn’t being sold as a house pet.

Then on to the train station for a 5 hr wait for my night train back to Hanoi and further south to Hoi An via an airplane. I had been taking a better class train, only 4 to a berth. 2 Europeans and I Vietnamese in my carriage. During my last hotel re-pack, I had thought to myself that I had brought perhaps 1 pair too many socks. No problem, my friendly bunk mate took care of that. Gone to the bathroom on the train for less than 5 minutes and so were my socks that were lying on my bed.

A relatively inexpensive reminder, NEVER LET YOURT GUARD DOWN. I hope that the people of Vietnam are a lot gentler in the South.

More to come soon,
Carpe Diem,
Lorrie Dallek

They Found the Water Buffalo - Sa Pa

The next day I spent the morning working on my logistics for the next city. When I came down for breakfast, I was informed that Dave the owner of the photo gallery was looking for me. Usually a good sign. Still in my sleepwear (not PJ’s), I ran down the hill – never let an opportunity slip through your fingers was what I was thinking to myself. Sure enough Dave told me that his employee, Cu, a Black H’mong woman and her village had located her long lost Water Buffalo.  Cause for a party. Did I want to come? You know the answer. A quick shower and breakfast and off we went on a motorcycle.

The found Water Buffalo

When I asked Cu how she knew this was her water buffalo, she said that she could just tell. Maybe its special long eye lashes??? What do I know about water buffalo anyhow :)

By 11 am the rice wine was out and all the guests were getting shit faced. Home made rice wine, pig, morning glory and rice. I limited the rice wine intake, shot some images and miraculously escaped getting sick from this experience. All and all a fun day.

More to come soon,
Carpe Diem,
 My “2 H’mong Walking Sticks” - Sa Pa

Several weeks ago when I was thinking of going to SaPa, someone mentioned “it’s great if you have 2 H’mong walking sticks. I looked at them curiously not understanding what they were saying.  It sounded a bit disrespectful but I let it go at the time.

I arrived in Sa Pa, north of Hanoi, home to many different Hill Tribe People. The owner of my hotel mentioned that there was a Photo Gallery down the street. I did not waste any time and went right over. The photographer was an ex-pat from Denver Colorado. After covering all the photo basics he suggested that I spend the day going into one of the Hill Tribe Communities in the area. He was took it upon himself to walk me to the park and introduce me to a guide.

After negotiating a price, my Guide, Zi and I agreed that we would take the easier trip today to her home village.
Zi my guide
As we headed out, I felt like the Pied piper with 3 additional women in tow. All spoke English reasonably well so we covered the basics, starting with our respective age, marital status and # of children. Perhaps 1 Km out of town, Zi asked if I wanted to take the seldom taken route to her village – sure sounds like fun. This is when I learned the definition of “2 H’mong walking sticks”. Steep hills, tons of rocks and small quasi ledges to be negotiated. 2 of these 3 tiny woman, one on each side, wearing plastic sandals helped hold up and balance the big American lady wearing her super technical hiking boots. Oh, I forgot to mention that both of these ladies are in their 40’s. The 3rd woman was carrying a 2 month old baby on her back.

My 2 H'mong Walking Sticks

Both of my new 'best friends", each came up to about my shoulder

More to come soon,
Carpe Diem,