I wish I could say that I am not going start each of my blog entries with something like “OMG… the food here is amazing” but I just can’t promise that because OMG the food here IS amazing. If you don’t want to read about my culinary delights then I suggest you skip to paragraph 3. Dinner last night consisted of wontons and a chicken chilli, coriander, lemongrass and rice dish that was incredible. It was however so hot that it needed to be washed down with a couple of Tiger beers.
Today after a 4km walk to the beach, lunch consisted of (I told you paragraph 3 if you wanted to avoid the food convo) – vietnamese spring rolls filled with banana and shrimp and dipped in chilli and soya sauce.
I need to tell you, 4km in Vietnam is completely different to 4km in Australia. I reckon it is about twice as far. This may have something to do with me being stupid, thinking that starting this particular walk at 11am without a hat was a good idea. At least I took a bottle of water. It wasn’t until three local Vietnamese motorcyclists stopped to offer me a lift (to which I smiled, thanked them and said no I like to walk) and numerous other smiled broadly at me as they flew past on their bikes that it dawned on me that maybe I was a little crazy. In hindsight I don’t think they were smiling at me so much as laughing at this silly white woman who was walking along the road in the middle of the day. I am however a quick learner and on the way back I went up to a group of young men and asked where I could get a lift back to Hoi An. There was no way I was making that trek back again – a girl can only be laughed at so many times in one day. One of them offered me a life on the back of their motorbike – only $2.50 and some more adventure to go with it as I saw other bikes and trucks flying past us. Feeling very alive right now let me tell you!!
While at the beach I ended up talking to 2 beautiful local women and of course to avoid breaking either of their hearts (as one had put it to me) I purchased 8 bracelets and 1 necklace. The second woman I purchased from was Sen, a young mother with one 21 month old son and a second due in July. I can’t believe how hard these women work. It is a hot day and she will be on her feet all day selling. This is her own business and she makes a lot of the bracelets herself so I am inspired to support her and her business. She gave me a bracelet as a gift as well and wished me good health and a long life. We also got talking about the other tourists on the beach who were all sunbaking trying to get brown. I commented that I only go pink then back to white. She talked about how we always want what we don’t have, and how silly that is because we can’t change it anyway. Thank you to the universe for sending her to give me that message because it was one that I have been needing to hear (again). She also said that next time I come back to the beach she would be happy to just chat to me and that I didn’t have to buy anything. I will make another trip over the next week or two to do just that. I would like to take some photos of Sen and find out more about her life. And most likely, I will buy something else. So watch out everyone at home, your upcoming birthday and christmas presents are likely to be handmade bracelets from the beautiful Sen!!!!
When I got back to Hoi An, another woman Twee (that is my spelling, I am sure not hers) ride beside me as I was walking back to the hotel. She asked me where I was from and how old I was. On telling her I was 43 she said, ‘ahhhh no, you do not look over 40’. I laughed to myself and would like to think that she had said ‘over 30’, not 40 but either is good. Twee of course wanted to take me to her sisters clothes shop and while I was hot, very sweaty and really just wanted to jump in the pool, I couldn’t resist the charm and commitment of this woman. It was the same at the beach. There was a road (but no cars can go on it) coming right up to the beach and a restaurant on each side. Both consisted of tables and chairs outside on the grass then grass umbrellas and banana lounges on the beach. I wanted two woman, one from each of the two restaurants try to coax a large group of tourists to their side. They were friendly, good humoured and nice about it but they were also fierce, I mean this is their livelihood and every person makes a difference. I wonder what it would be like if we took that gentle fierceness into our own businesses. Imagine what we would achieve.
So back to Twee and her sister’s clothes shop. I went of course and met Su, her sister, found out they both have one daughter each and are from a family of 7 children. They sat me down, gave me some cold water and bombarded me with pattern books and pictures of clothes I could get made. Twee also gave me letters from other Aussies who have had their clothes made there and of course had been thrilled with the quality and end results. But today was not the day for me, the pool was calling and after promising to return on Tuesday (and I nearly had to do the whole cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye speech) before Twee would let me leave. She then kindly showed me back to my hotel, warning me against the other clothes shop owners that would try and cajole me into their shops over the next couple of days or even as I was walking back to their shop on Tuesday. She kept saying – ‘Now, remember, just say NO, you don’t need any clothes. Don’t let them talk you into it. You understand don’t you’. I told her I did and I will keep my promise and go back there on Tuesday to get some clothes made. I have experienced this sort of determination in other countries that I have travelled in but without the kindness and care that comes with the Vietnamese. They truly are a beautiful people who, yes, are trying to get my business but without the aggression and feeling of ‘you owe us’ that I have seen elsewhere. No wonder I love this place so much.
As for the pool, I did finally make it there and it was as refreshing as I had hoped. Swim, followed by meditation in the sun, another swim and then back to my room to Skype Jordan in Thailand and my crazy boys at home. And yes, they really are crazy. They look like they are having a ball together and seem to be more like great mates now than father and son. I love seeing them like this and feel grateful that we are all getting to experience a month out of the norm, Jordan in Chiang Mai, me here and the boys without us at home.
I am in love with the life that we have all created and that each of us is getting to live our dreams. There is total love and connection between all of us – I guess that is what joy is!!!
More soon and YES, paragraph 1 and 2 will probably be food based.