A little dash of magic

Trip Start Feb 19, 2010
Trip End Mar 08, 2010

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Flag of Vietnam  ,
Monday, March 1, 2010

This morning we start out at 8am. It's actually hard to leave this lovely little garden of a hotel. Luckily, we'll be still be staying here at the end of the day. We breakfast on the second floor- open to a view of the river. Lovely breeze-not too hot yet.

Our first stop is a silk factory. We're walked through the life cycle of the silk worm. They have a basket full of the pale little worms and mulberry leaves. In the next basket, just a few weeks older, they've grown quite a bit and are getting fat. We're told they don't sleep at all in this stage- just stuff themselves preparing for cocoon time. After they're all wrapped up, most begin the process of becoming silk threads- by dunking into boiling water and then slowly pulling the tiny strands out onto a spool. All that's left is the tiny chrysalis which would have held the moth. Our guide tells us they eat the worms at this stage- and Don demonstrates by popping one into his mouth like a piece of candy. I thought that Mark was going to faint. Everyone kept checking with Don to see if he felt okay. They also showed us some of the moths that they allowed to emerge. They quickly mate, lay eggs and then die.  The eggs are then hatched into the worms and the process begins again. A very short life span of about one month.

The most amazing part of the factory though was the photo embroidery. These are pinpoint artists copying photos with embroidery. At a distance the samples hung on the walls actually look like complex photos- they've captured shadows and texture through the use of different colored thread. I pick out a cute picture of a black and a white cat- looking like yin and yang. Of course, they also have table cloths, bedding and ---ta da--clothing made from the silk threads. Next door, they even have a unit making paper and fabric lanterns. A bit of shopping then occurs.....

It starting to get hot already as we walk down to a cafe where we're met by a guide from the Red Bridge cooking school. She takes us on a tour of the local market- naming some very unusual fruits and veggies for us. We also spot quite a variety of fish and eels. A little bitty worm-like eel is spotted on the pavement trying to make a break for it. Good luck!

The guide leads us down to the pier where we get on a small boat and start the slow chug-chug (pocket-ta-ta-pocket-ta?) down the river and then up a small tributary. We generate a very pleasant breeze. We finally pull in to a small pier and arrive at the open air school. Class is already in session- we're late- and have to pick up instructions as we go. The chef is a real hoot- trying out his schtick on us. Our first dish is spring rolls- steaming up the rice batter to make the rice paper and then rolling up the goodies. We dip in the peanut sauce and snack away. The next item is a Hoi An pancake. It's actually more like an thin omelet. We get to wrap this up in rice paper too...and then snack time. I'm really getting a kick out of this. The next dish is a little more complex- eggplant in a clay pot. They trust us with a somewhat sharp knife to cut up our eggplant, lemon grass, garlic,tomato and onion. It all goes into the clay pot to simmer away while we go on to the next lesson- how to make those decorative roses etc. This doesn't go so well- it must be the knife.  Then the eggplant is ready to go. We carry it off to the little restaurant where it will be part of our meal, though we're not all that hungry after eating our appetizers already.

The little boat takes us back to the hotel instead of downtown. We have the rest of the afternoon off and dinner on our own. I spend the time uploading photos in our lovely little home while J goes shopping just up the street. We actually go out for dinner then at a beautiful Brothers restaurant up the road- it's owned by the same outfit as the restaurant in Hanoi. Set right on the river, little white lights in the trees, small garden setting with bridge over ponds- a a couple frogs croaking at each other. A little pricey, I guess but we both loved the setting. And then a stroll through town before turning in.
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