Suitcase full of memories

04/27/09

This time we are saying hello to you from the airport in Hanoi. It is the end of our vacation. For the way from Hoi An to here we opted against the sleeper bus (once was enough…) and chose to take a plane.

Now I am spending the time waiting for the connecting flight to Bangkok and I find myself almost too tired to sort all my memories. But surely some Vietnam coffee will do the job… It is my favorite coffee around here – a little metal filter placed on a glass into which this fine, deep black coffee with a taste of cocoa is slowly dripping. Even Jens can wait for it…

And now join us on our motorbike ride. There are always 3 to 4 people on one bike, I am holding on to Tam after asking him if that was ok, and then off we go. It is 34 °C by now so the air stream is very refreshing. Both of our guides drive carefully and whenever – as so often – the road becomes very narrow I trustingly close my eyes thinking Tam knows what he’s doing…
We drive up into the central highlands, through the mountains, thousands of bends, and jungle like vegetation everywhere: The tallest trees, the biggest ferns, loud whistling and buzzing and Tu “answers” every time in the respective “language”… Small villages, single huts and time and again an ever so friendly “Hello”. Thus I must take my hands off Tam’s hips to wave back…

Then, Tu is leading us across a very instable suspension bridge, bravely I am crossing it… A “minority village” which I could report a lot of misery on – and this I don’t want. I prefer to remember the many laughing, often teethless yet so beautiful faces inside the dark huts – a smile can lighten things up so much… And ever so often Jens was asked to take pictures and they laughed about the results on the camera’s display…

The inhabitants know our driver and are happy about his visit. This is not a village intended for touristic visits, we realize this at once. You can see an 86-year-old woman knitting, stitch after stitch, rather staidly. And by now there is quite a herd of children following us around, they touch us and ask the three questions they know in English: “How are you”, “What’s your name” and “Where are you from”… Finally we arrived at the congregation house by the rice fields, next to it there is a sports ground and people are playing volleyball. Jens and Tu cannot be kept away from this. Jens is lifting the ball over the net without even jumping and thus everyone is laughing again at the sight of this giant. In the end everybody is lying on the ground surrounding Jens, having their picture taken and laughing about the results…

One quick look at the congregation house: The walls and ground are made from braided bast fibers built on pillars and inside you can see several awards hanging on the walls for a good family planning: no more than 2 to 3 children…

Nobody is bothered by the heavy rainstorm with lightening and thunder… We say goodbye and still get caught up in the heavy rain. It didn’t really matter though, as the Hue riders provided for everything and are not very easily unsettled. And after a short while the sun is breaking through again, thus the waterfall is a very welcome stop to take a little bath…

The most diverse and agreeable scents still in our noses and a little dizzy from all the bends we reach our hotel. We are given a candle in case the emergency power generator is going to cut out at night. Only now and then there is “power” (as they say here) in the village at night and so it is also dark here tonight, except for the light of some candles.

The same goes for the little restaurant Tam and Tu are taking us to. Let me tell you, we had such a delicious and very romantic dinner (by now we also manage to eat with chopsticks in the dark…) and the glory of the starry sky was just incredibly impressive…
By now, night is falling here in Hanoi, too, time flies while I am telling you about our experiences and I have to come to an end!

Maybe I will tell you about Hoi An from home…
Without hesitation I can say that this journey has been so impressive and fascinating as none before it. So three weeks are just fine – I couldn’t even take more, and Jens agrees…
We are going to check in now and hopefully we’ll arrive safely early on Tuesday morning…

Thus sending you especially warm greetings one last time from Vietnam,

Hanne and Jens

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