Family trip in Vietnam - episode 4: Hoi An Countryside
Kathleen Brown, her husband John and their two adopted children, Peter Quang and Claire Xuan, are touring around Vietnam during their Christmas holiday. Kathleen is a long-time television producer and /media consultant for humanitarian agencies and her husband, John, a professional photographer. Every couple of days, they will post a story along with photos on their travels and adventures.
Family trip in Vietnam - episode 4: Hoi An Countryside, Life in the Slow Lane
To get a true sense of how people live in the countryside of Vietnam, all you have to do is take a bicycle tour of the Kam Kim Commune and Kim Bong Village, just across the waters from bustling Hoian.
We challenged the chaos of traffic on the the busy Hoian streets, dodging motorcyclists and bicyclists whizzing by, to make our way to a ferry that would transport us to the island.
It was a crowded ride, sitting elbow to elbow with local residents who were going or coming from work.
One woman took an interest in our children, and by the end of the short ride she had translated our life story for all the commuters.
Reaching our destination, we peddled down country roads, intersecting rice fields and croplands, encountering water buffalo and peddling through villages and past holy pagodas.
We were invited to visit the home of a basket boat maker -85 years old, and still working to support his family.
Generations look after each other in this country -- grandparents and parents living with children, and caring for each other.
Photo by Ken Marshall
With the help of one assistant, it would take 20 days to weave a circular boat, which would be sold for approximately $200.
We then continued on to the carpentry village, to see first hand the skilled craftsmen carving statues of Budda, furniture with mother-of-pearl inlay, and other trinkets to be sold at the market.
We visited a family whose business was to weave reed mats that would be stretched across bed frames to bring rest to this weary, hard-working community. We saw the fermentation of rice wine to quench the thirst of the neighbors.
And finally, we peddled to a boat yard, where three large wooden fishing boats were under construction to be sold to the local fishermen. This stop provided Peter the chance to save a piece of charcoal from the fires, which he would later use as a piece of coal to place under his sister's pillow on Christmas Eve!
This is an industrious country of hard-working people, who let nothing go to waste - and who revel in family and caring for each other. As our guide explained, the people in this village are poorer than poor, but it was clear that they had riches beyond measure in their family life and caring for each other.
Writer: Kathleen Brown
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