For the last week I have allowed myself to become a tourist again. There has been a shift from “work” to more “play” and I am glad for it. But all the “play” is against the sharp background of what was seen and experienced in Quang Tri Providence.
After Dong Ha we set our compasses south to Hue and Hoi An and changed the pace (which is clearly evident in my lack of blog posts). The “work” we came to do was behind us and so I immersed myself in the beauty of this country and its people. My camera has not stopped snapping and there seems that the missed opportunities still outweigh those that have been captured.
In Hue, we toured the Imperial Palace and saw elaphants at work helping to keep the grounds of this ancient place, almost completely distroyed in the war, mystical and beautiful. We also toured two tombs built by Vietnamese Emporers. They are elaborate, sprawling and down-right ritzy, they are a sharp contrast to the wooden beam homes of the ethnic minorities worked with in the prior week.
We had the rare and wonderful opportunity to witness Buddhist Monks celebrating their evening prayers. It was a powerful moment to witness someone intimately immersed in their faith and in contrast, very disturbing to see others flashing photos and talking noisily during the rituals.
After two days we crossed through the mountains and entered the beautiful but touristy town of Hoi An. Still filled with authentic Vietnamese sights, sounds and smells, you find more tourist that speak French than English and more Cuacasians than Asians.
To get back to the Vietnamese culture we love, we took an agricultural and fishing Eco-tour. After biking through rice patties, we met Madam Xiem who maintains a beautiful organic garden. She showed off her gardening techniques that had me seriously reconsidering my approach.
After riding a Water Buffalo, we took a boat to a fishing village where we learned to throw a fishing net and paddle basket boats. The day was concluded with a meal prepared with the fish we caught and the veggies we harvested.