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Published: March 20th 2008
In the canals
Canal about 12 feet in width, muddy water, canopy of mangrove trees (roots above ground), palms and fruit trees
Another day trip today -- into the Mekong Delta to Unicorn Island. Uncle Bin (he's been upgraded from Mister) took us down there by bus. We met up with a woman named Danh who took us by small motor boat down one of the canals where we then got onto smaller boats to go through a skinny natural canal onto the island. This area is intended for tourists -- I imagine our trip next week into the far south to dedicate the school will be much different. We were treated to amazing fruit which they served with chili salt (intended to balance the sweetness and create proper Yin and Yang). Local people played instruments and sang for us. We were guided through displays of locally made items -- embroidery, coconut wood utensils etc etc. This was hard -- not wanting to feel like an American tourist who comes to a foreign country solely to shop -- but also knowing that these people were making their living by selling these items. I think pictures tell this story better -- because there were just so many beautiful sights...
In the end -- the part that was most enlightening was talking with our
guide Danh -- who was so sweet and warm. Telling us how she handles the money in her house -- so her husband doesn't overspend. Talking about the fact that she would love more children -- but is only allowed 2 -- if she has more her government salary is cut in half. She loved our kids -- getting a kick out of Helen's spunk and Will's "seriousness". She kept saying -- "and now, Helen comes home with me." I think Helen would have gone too.
Uncle Bin took us out to dinner to an old French home -- the food was beautiful -- but we were just so full (or at least the kids and I were). I think our bodies are just a little startled by the food -- not sick, but overwhelmed. I've come to realize after spending an evening with Uncle Bin -- that I totally oversimplified his war experience in my last blog. He was actually an officer in the US military -- and "lost everything" once the war was over. During his re-education -- his brothers and sisters all fled the country as boat people, his family home was taken over by the
government, and he was unable to get work because of being mistrusted by his government. Again -- I am still completely oversimplifying. I hope he does get to write his book in retirement -- a story that deserves a lot more than I can offer here.
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