Some Things Are Easier Here!

Trip Start Oct 14, 2009
Trip End Dec 31, 2016

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Flag of Vietnam  , Quảng Ninh,
Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some things are just harder here. In the cities, Hanoi and Hong Gai, the air is very bad. Mostly, the problem is the fumes from the many motorbikes (and cars too). You may notice some of the people in my photos are wearing masks. The water is not potable. Using bottled water is not a problem, but it creates a lot of plastic waste. Bathroom facilities are rarely comfortable.

I have found alot of food I like. But I am very careful to eat cooked foods or fruit that can be peeled. I eat only vegetarian or seafood anyway. The seafood is so fresh that I am certainly not going hungry. Today, Mr. Dung invited Tuyen and I to lunch along with Ms. Trang from the Hanoi Indochina Junk office. We went to a lovely local restaurant. The dishes were brought to the table in steaming water. That is the first time I had seen that!

I had a very adventuresome meal. I tried my best to taste everything to be polite. So I ate "wormfish" which is the fat wormlike fish that lives among mangroves. I ate jellyfish (cooked), and squid too. The jellyfish was served with thin rice wrappers and leaves and sauces. The fresh leaves tasted like delicate herbs. But they were flavors I had never tasted before. A Vietnamese meal is different from Thai meals. At the Vietnamese table, everyone eats from a small bowl and uses chopsticks. The food is served in many courses, so don't fill up at the beginning, because there will be 5 or 6 or more tasty dishes to follow. Most people eat rice with their meal. Traditionally though, one would complete the meal with white rice with some soup or broth on it. That's my understanding of it anyway.

It was a lovely afternoon and I appreciated Mr. Dung again taking time from his busy workday to entertain me.

Later, Tuyen and I went off to find a print shop that could print the certificates for the teachers, and the poster that Nguyet and her team created in Hanoi for us. We had to go to more than 4 shops to find a good one with a color printer. But when we found it, wow. Some things are just easier here. The shop produced our poster and certificates while we waited! The computer assistant that helped us was so very good. He had to manipulate the colors and photo layout and size the print to fit the sizes we wanted too. In the US, this job would have taken a long time and been quite costly, comparatively.

Today I noticed something very curious on the Hong Gai streets. I saw not one but two barber shops on the street. I really mean, on the street and not inside a shop. I love the photos I took of these!

I hope you can tell that although I am working hard for this volunteer project, I am totally enjoying it here.

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