Archives for December 2008

The Mekong Delta

Today we visited the Mekong Delta. Last year, we also visited the Mekong Delta, but we went to different places. This is not all that surprising as the Mekong Delta is three times the area of the State of Israel. The route we took today provided a series of experiences. We very much enjoyed seeing the puffing of rice– an amazing process whereby the rice is heated in black sand in a very large wok over an open flame. The rice pops very quickly. The sand is then shaken out of the rice and voila! Then we saw the making of coconut candy- fascinating! and of rice bars (like granola bars) and rice paper like what is used to make spring rolls (what most Americans call egg rolls). Chinese egg rolls have a thick covering, spring rolls have a delicate rice paper covering that is also deep fried.

We also went cruising along the small waterways, saw the floating market, ate some new fruits (jack fruit and rose apples), and attended a performance of Vietnamese music. We had a pleasant, relaxing day.

Tomorrow, we go to Cu Chi where the Viet Cong hid out in tunnels during the war. From there we will go to a Cao Dai Temple. Cao Dai is a new religion that has elements of Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam (among others.) Their rites and rituals are very colorful and interesting.

This part of the trip is running by very quickly. Before we know it, we’ll be heading home. It’s hard to believe.

Pictures when I return.


An early morning flight brought us to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City -HCMC). It is a bustling city- colorful and busy. One of our first stops was to the Notre Dame Cathedral, a brick cathedral built by the French in the style of Notre Dame in Paris. Across the street is the post office- a huge building that looks like nothing so much as a train station.

While visiting those two places, we saw two brides and grooms dressed in Western clothing. Then we saw a bride and groom in traditional garb. One of the people in our large group recognized that the groom did not look Vietnamese and began speaking with his mother. She responded in Yiddish, being a Jewish woman who currently lives in New York! The groom’s family and friends had flown over for the ceremony. People looked happy. I don’t know. I think that cultural differences are very difficult for couples to deal with – even among Anglos who have different backgrounds. In this case, it is two different societies.

Shopping was interesting. I went to the huge market not far from the hotel. My older daughter had asked me to keep my eyes peeled for a specific product. I did find it, but it was an imitation. I bought it anyway. Someone will use it, at least I hope so.

Hello from HoiAn

Vietnam is so full of amazing scenes that it sometimes feels as if I am on a movie set. From the gorgeous little children (some of them are breathtaking) to the wizened old men and women, they are an enormously photogenic people.

Today on our train from Lao Cai to Hanoi, we saw flooded fields in which people were working- weeding, draining– all in their pointed straw hats. The train sped by and the pictures remain in my memory only, but there are many many pictures to share as well.

Today we are in Hoi An, an ancient port city with Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese art and architecture. It is truly a feast for the eyes. Tomorrow, we are on to Hue, the capital of Vietnam in the !9th and early 20th century. We will cruise on the Perfume River and visit the Forbidden City!