Tuesday, January 15, 2008

My Second Presentation

We started a bit late after the cocktail tasting seminar....but it went amazingly well. About 65 people trickled in and I did a shorter talk portion ( about 12 mins) and then we reviewed the 3 moves from the previous lecture for the last 45 mins. They were very receptive and picked it up quite well. Mostly everyone was able to stand for the whole class, there were a few who had to sit, but again no one left till the end! The round room was really tight so I taught them the moves on the spot rather than trying to get foot work in. That worked out well. I had a ball and everyone seemed to enjoy it! The nicest part of speaking on a cruise is meeting people from all over. Several people came up at the end to say how they enjoyed the presentation, and that was very gratifiying.

Ha Long Bay

Short video of Ha Long Bay http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/672/video

South of Hanoi, woke to see this magical view

Later took a junk ride to the caves

Hoi An Ancient Village with French Influence

We marveled at our bus driver’s skill and as we descended the mountain the sky began to clear. Our guide Sun, was very warm and spoke quite well. She talked the whole 2.5 hours to DaNang. We stopped at a sculpture factory near the marble mountain. They made everything from traditional dragons to the 7 dwarves. The unique thing about this mountain is that the colours vary from pure white to green/brown/grey white mix. The men do the basic carving and the women do the sanding. Everyone in this small town is either a stone carver or a farmer. There were hundreds of such places along the road. It was kind of a strange garden of marble. One of my favourites was two big fish destined to be a fountain of some kind with holes in their mouths for the water spout.

Next stop, a silk embroidery factory. We saw how the silkworms were propagated.
And the women were doing such beautiful work, Identical on front and back of the sheer silk canvas. You could put a piece on a room divider and it looked perfect on both sides. Simply amazing. Some pieces were 2 years in the making and in the thousands of US dollars.

Everywhere in Vietnam, women are cooking food on the street, some for sale. We didn’t try anything as the conditions are quite dirty and primitive, but it was interesting to see.

Once in DaNang we turned our big bus down a really small road. Then we had to back up and wait for a police jeep to come through. There was a moment that we weren’t sure we were allowed to go that way, but then on we went. Arriving at Hoi An an ancient village near DaNang, the roads got worse and our bus seemed strangely out of place. This was the first time people really stared at us and the bus. I think this was a fairly new phenomenon for them.

We visited a Champa merchant family home. It was large and old and quite a mix of Japanese French and Vietnamese architecture. Lots of wood, inside the family served us tea and told us about their heritage. They are a very old sect of this area, do not intermarry as they prefer to maintain their customs. Yet, our guide said there is no discrimination, just acknowledgement of uniqueness. They were selling crafts that were all made by the extended family and seemed quite proud of their history.

The whole village looked like we stepped back in time . We were invited to a farmer’s home, not a museum a real home. There were about 30 of us in the bus and though fascinating, It felt like we were invading their privacy, even though they were paid for us to see it. The people in this village were subsistence farmers. They each had a well in the back and one square rice paddie, about an acre. All had motorbikes. It was very Spartan, clean but old and could have been 300 years ago, There were no modern amenities , even the toilet was a septic kind of arrangement. Water was brought in from the well in the backyard, and the kitchen was a mess of pots and pans and a fire pit. No refrigeration or electricity in this house. In the middle of the reception room was the family altar. Most of the people do ancestor worship at home and some are also Buddhists.
Some had ducks, and some had water buffalo to plow.
A very little old lady sat slumped and cross legged on the porch, not really noticing us. It was like she was waiting to go back in after we left. The house was very sparse and old, the walls were dirty stucco. In the centre of the house was a family ancestor altar. On the left of the altar was the man’s room with wooden bed with a mat, and on the right the woman’s. Children slept in a separate addition on the side of the house. The kitchen was very dark and dingy. This also provided the heat for the house during the cold season. The woman of the home was holding one of her two little dogs. They looked well taken care of and sort of like lhasa apsos.Most of the dogs we see here look like small akitas, with a flat brown coat.

Next we walked through the village to a different kind of temple. Not affiliated with any religion it was a meeting place and a place to honour the ancestors. Sort of a community centre with a huge open public square in the middle.
This region is subject to floods fairly regularly so all the lower 1.5 ft of construction is stone or marble and the wood is higher up so it won’t rot due to the moisture. We wandered along the main street ducking into pretty souvenir shops and cafes, along the way. Next we visited another Buddhist temple, with spiral incense that burned for 20 days. People wrote new year (tet) wishes on a yellow card which hung from the red spiral. It all made for a very colourful view, in the Chinese style temple. Bright paintings and statues were all around.
Last stop for lunch. Wow what a place, and idyllic 5 star beach resort, one of the most beautiful I have ever seen. Hope to stay there someday~

The pool was a 150 meters long with an infinity edge so when you were swimming it looked like you were in the ocean! And stretched across the perfectly groomed beach. Palm trees and huts dotted the 7 km beach, it was sparsely populated with sun worshippers, the day was gorgeous. We had a lovely buffet lunch in an indoor/outdoor dining room & met a great couple Syd and Donna from Australia, just a perfect end to the day.R & L