the rice fields of Sapa

Sent: Tue May 20 2008

Moving forward in time
Will make up a lost day later

We took a night train from hanoi to kao chai (sapa)
Now wew are in a minibus to sapa
Road is junpy, lots of typing errrors
The suun is out for the firdst timne sinnce we are in vietnam. The light uis beauytiful but I can not captyre it in photos, onLy in memories

We are having a good tinme
Now on a paved road

We saw on the plane to bankok eretz nehderet
The one with dan mano saying ‘ze tuv li, ze tuv li’ while scratching his chest
Since we are enjoying ourseleves a lot and want to say ‘its good’ we say ‘ze tuv li, who mefager vze tuv li’ and laugh like 3 teenagers

Our new guide took us trekking to a remote village for once a week market
It is perhaps the most authentic maket I have ever been to
A photographer was there to shoot the local girls who dress up in colorful textiles (should I buy some? Allmost like carpets – I haggle to find out prices but will buiy quality stuff, so I wait) and they were standing in line. Perhaps likwe our grandparents did years ago

Since we are in the far north just a river away from china, it is cooler and very tropical. This country has gas and oil, water, and rice all crucial for future growth. Lots of water.
They lack infrastructure, roads are poor, some villages we saw with no electricity. But they are developoing. Lots of construction – every house is replaced by an upgrade – straw to wood, wood to stone. Real vitality, they know the future is better (do we?)

Lior asked during lunch today ‘guess what I have not seen yet since we got to VN’? Tiger I replied. But he meant an israeli.
Indeed, an insight, not a single israeli in 6 days, tonight it will change…

When we got on the train last night it was not easy. Idan and lior did not realize train compartments are that small, no room to move. It takes a while till the vodka and domino ‘zniff’ are out. Back at the train station, we bought a beer from a lady who was not upposed to sell to us. She was nice and we laughed together, then she saw officials and had to run away without us paying her. We waited and about 5 minutes before train took off she came back from beneath the train. Sweating and gasping for air. We paid her and again she sneaked away running on the tracks below the train – incredible
The train ride was tough and demoralizing. 20 years ago I did this almost every night for 2 months. A/C did not work. Its is very humid here. My pack of gums is one big goo from ‘gumi le
Eisa’ and we almost slept for almost 5 hours.

Ride was from 9pm to 5 am
Why not 2.5 hours later?
Because they are still agri-cultural.
At 5am sund was almost out
Workerts worked the fields
We walked around town. It was 6:30 am at the local school and most kids are already at school. We walk into the school, kids are smiling at us, taking pictures of us with their cell phones, and pulling on my pony tail. School is the nicest bulding in town. Kids wear white shirts. They are highly educated and respect teachers, discipline, authority and the goverbnment. We need to learn from them

Our guide is a mountain goat. On the hike back he dances while we are strugling
It is hot Sun is at mid sky, but seriously so, no one north of 23 degrees has ever seen anything like it, not at an angle, but directly above us. My shirt is all sweat.
We dring a lot and pipi a lot. Our guide can not believe it. But it is time for cold beer at a rural store. Beer is cold and in a bottle – ‘ze tuv li, ze tuv li eize mefager who’

On a small boat. Narrow river, tropical fields all around us – lots of corn – surprising. Since they hardly use machinary and most work is by hand, they farm in slopes that are incredible. I have never seen land used so extensively, no tractor would make it up or don such mountains. River is nice and cool – I want to jump in. The sound of the motor is like the boat in apocalypse now. We ask are guide if we can jump in. He is shoked bit agrees. It is a first for him. The current is strong. After a while we take life vests and float down the river
A great day that did not start that way

We all bought sunglasses and are trying to convince ourselves that they are not fake

The peoole are still very friendly, smiling, we interact with them and we all laugh together

Some thoughts to summarize:
– simplicity
– smiles
– education
– need more time to photograph
– need to travel more (and get paid for it?)
– should I ride a scooter to work every day?
– I am blessed to be here – and with nice friends – and in good spirits.
Thank you to all those who helped make it happen
Especially yonete and limor

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