Thursday, March 4, 2010

Sights and Sounds

I had hoped to start posting some pictures with my blog, but it's proving to be more complicated than my meager skills can manage. After I return home I'll see about posting a photo album here.

Just imagine this one: On our first day in Tinh Khe, we check into our hotel and are standing on the balcony looking out to the sea. We're seeing a beautiful row of shady pines and ambling through them a small herd of the beautiful brown cows here. Beyond them is the soft, powdery sand, then the ocean, looking a little rough.

Here's another one: The local fishermen use large round woven basket-boats, something like the Irish coracle (did I spell that correctly?). Early in the mornings we'll see them bobbing on the waves, fishing for shrimp or very small fish--maybe anchovies or smelt. As Marjorie noted, they're quite good in Quang Ngai sushi. There are other, larger boats that go out at night with very strong lights to attract the squid to the surface.

We haven't tried to go swimming. The sea has been rough every day, and I'm not a very strong swimmer. I think in other seasons it might be possible, but not now.

I told Marjorie and Tinh this morning that I usually lose weight when I travel, but I don't think it will happen this year. Our English teachers from the Tinh Khe Middle School must think we're hungry all the time, because they keep bringing us food. Not that we're complaining! One day it was banh xeo for our dinner, a kind of pancake made with rice flour, shrimp, onion and other seasonings, wrapped in a special kind of rice paper and dipped in a special sauce. Another time it was banh beo, a different kind of rice "porridge" that had been allowed to set in small bowls. Then another delicious seafood sauce is poured in and mixed with the rice. Also we've been given some wonderful homemade cookies and ginger candy, special for Tet (Lunar New Year). And I can't forget the banh Tet, sticky rice with a filling of sweet mung beans, wrapped in banana leaves and steamed, with pork marinated in nuoc mam (fish sauce) to eat with it. It's really past the time for banh Tet, but our teacher didn't want us to miss this special treat. When we aren't feasting on these goodies, we have dinner at the seaside restaurant across the street. Seafood is a specialty all around here, and we're three very happy ladies. Today Marjorie and I got our new pairs of quan (Vietnamese pants). They're very comfortable, and fortunately they have lots of room for expansion!

Everyone at the school has been so kind and welcoming! The teachers are very friendly and eager to have our help with things like proper pronunciation. They will ask us to read the day's passage to the class, and later, in the teachers' break room over Vietnamese green tea, they'll gather around and have us help them with their listening and pronunciation. This is exactly the kind of thing we're here for, so although we're having a wonderful time and enjoying ourselves, we're also so happy to feel we're really being useful.


  1. Hi, Margaret...Just caught up on reading your & Marjorie's blog. Good reading -- absolutely delightful! Thanks so much to both of you for taking the time to share your wonderful journey. Take care and enjoy every moment. Love, Retha

  2. Yes, I've caught up with you today as well. It's really wonderful to read about what you're experiencing, and relish your "word photos", too!

    love to you both,