A Return to Tam Coc and Our New Friends
Trip Start Nov 08, 2006
260Trip End Ongoing
Felix, a tour guide in Vietnam from Denmark, had been our companion to the day before. It was great that he's worked in Vietnam for years but said that our trip the day before was his greatest day ever in the country
First we went to a temple we saw during our boat ride. It was on top of the mountain overlooking the river. It was a bit of a climb (my guess is 43,000 steps), but the view was pretty stunning. It was cloudy and the light sucked, so the pics aren't very impressive. But you'll just have to trust me that's it's a hell of a view. We didn't stay long because we were in a hurry to get back to the kids' house before we had to get to Hanoi for our flight.
We arrived with perfect timing. The kids were leaving the dirt road where we met them. The two girls were on their way back to school for the afternoon, but they were happy to see us and quickly led us back to their house. When we arrived, the mother who we didn't get to meet on our first visit emerged smiling from the house waving the thank-you letter we had written for the girls. She was beaming and said "Lindsey, Dane, America!" or something along those lines. She knew who we were and the girls had obviously told her all about our meeting and adventure. She welcomed us in and after we gave the girls and the boys who had arrived their gifts, they hurried off to school
For the next two hours we all sat around talking in broken phrases and laughing at ourselves. No one felt awkward or uncomfortable at our incredibly simple communication. We managed to exchange names and ages and nationalities. We drank tons of tea and ate pounds of sugarcane. We even smoked some outrageously strong Vietnamese tobacco. Our hosts were very amused at how small puffs of smoke about put us on our asses. It really was tobacco and not weed, but it was strong enough that Felix and I almost fell off of our stools. I'm posting a video of Felix's second effort.
They showed us the girls' school pictures and shared all they had in their home. The woman showed us her embroidery and gave us a small wooden boat she made. Handicrafts are the primary trade in the village as fishing and agriculture become secondary. By the end of our time together, perhaps from the sweets, smoke and smiles, we were all best friends
When we left, the woman gave us the boat and we really wished we had something to offer them since we had given everything to the kids. So Felix started looking through his bag to grab something and I wanted to give them anything, everything we had. It's such an awesome feeling of kinship and you just want to do something nice for people that awesome, especially when they were giving us things when they obviously had so little. They even gave Lindsey a class picture of one of the little girls. One of just a few they kept in a special envelope in a place of honor on their shelf. It was awesome. So we ended up handing over pens and flashlights and a jacket and beanie. It's cold there, and the father put my jacket and beanie on as soon as I handed them over. It was just great how casual and not awkward the exchange was.
Definitely check out the video of going from inside their house to the front porch. It's a simple home and doesn't even have a front door, but check out that view. I know I'd trade Tivo and espresso machines and all our other gadgets for a view like that.