I spent the last two days on a boat trip through Ha Long Bay. Ha Long Bay is well known for its stunning emerald green waters with approximatley 2000 islands scattered throughout. Legend has it that the mighty Dragon Mother has descended down in this mystical bay.

Being on the water was a nice reprieve from the bustle of Hanoi- kayaking, swimming, exploring caves, visiting an oyster farm where they harvest pearls.

Even a cooking lesson by our guide Minh. Minh explained to us that in Vietnamese culture one learns from an early age how to cook-that a large percentage of Vietnamese people are peasants. The parents go to work in the farm very early and arrive home very late; the children must learn to prepare meals. It is a sign of good character to be able to cook for oneself, he says. I like that. While teaching us to make traditional Vietnamese rolls he notes that the large ones we are familiar with are “for the tourists”. In traditional culture they are made to be bite size. “We all eat together..the children, parents, grandparents, it is disrespectful to take bites and show your food in front of your elders”. Ahhh I think, that is why during the food tour Duy repeatedly told me to put the whole roll in my mouth. How I must have insulted him taking forever to get through a roll. I recalled the look on his face denoting his struggle to restrain from shoving it in for me.
The meals were abundant on this boat. It is such a treat for me to have someone prepare my meals..I cannot seem to stop eating (not surprising). Fish cakes, fried sweet potato balls with coconut; dragon fruit, spring rolls, crab cakes cooked in the body”s shell. The very loud outspoken Turkish woman without waiting for an answer to her question of whether or not we are supposed to eat the whole crab begins to eat the shell. It was so quick I didn’t have time to say more than “umm”. “Tis verrrry crrrunchy ya” she expressed, still fiercely crunching on the shell. When I finally could get a word in, I informed her that in fact the shell is not to be eaten she replied, “ah well ’tis morrre calcium for me I tink”. True that. There was not a crumb left on her plate. The apparent theme from last years trip to Europe was to “slow” down. It seems the emerging theme on this journey is to “not waste”. Ok. Well. This one won’t be hard.
Back to HaNoi