Last night we had a chat with the kids saying we did need to get on track with some schooling after a break for the month of December. We could just ship the text books to Korea with Barry's new suits today, but I have a concern that if we delay school work till Korea that the kids will associate our new home with hard work. So perhaps it's bette to get back into some sort of routine now, to ease the transition in 6 weeks.
6 weeks!!! It's truly hard to believe that so much of the grand tour is finished and there's so little of it left. We are still unscheduled beyond 3 more days in Hoi An, then we really do need to make a plan. As you can imagine, my travel agent is working hard at this.
Yesterday we had a pleasant time meeting up with Ylan, a woman my Dad met here years ago when she helped interpret for him at a stone carver's shop. My good father, knowing it was hard for her to complete her university degree due to very limited funds, helped her pay for university and I believe helper her brother too. She completed her degree, married, had two kids, and is now working on her Master's thesis in education. She also teaches.
It was nice to meet her as well as her husband, children, and their best friends, another family of 4. They arrived on their scooters (one per family) and we chatted at our house before heading to the old city for lunch. We then boarded a boat and rode half an hour upstream to the Pottery Village. Molly, and some of the others, made little clay pots on a wheel spun by foot. Hopefully the pot will dry in the next few days before having to be loaded in a bag for travelling again.
Ylan's family pleasant to be with even though only she speaks English, and even though the 7 year old girl kept picking Barry's arm and leg hair out. Apparently, she'd never seen anyone so hair.
1. hard working (7 days per week),
2. gentle (though they look like they'll run you over with their scooter, they really don't want to,
3. willing to offer a smile (even though photographing tourists are everywhere),
4. helpful (such as when we had a flat bike tire in the middle of a rice field)
5. good sales people (unlike the pestering sales people in markets in Morocco and Israel, the people here understand and accept, "I'm just looking." - this is a sign that the people aren't as desperate as they were in Morocco, I think)
Beyond just the people, here are a few differences we've seen in Vietnam. I don't mean any of this disrespectfully just as an observation;
1.when there's something in their nose, they pick it - publicly and with reckless abandon,
2. toilet paper is rare here, but water hoses attached to the toilets are everywhere - you simply rinse when done - fortunately, we have avoided a constantly wet bottoms by their recognition that wester folks like tissue.
3. they have 'wet' bathrooms, meaning the toilet (with water hose) and shower are in one enclosed room and the floors are constantly wet. It's weird to us, but we'll have to get used to it, as our Korean bathroom is a 'wet' one too - Molly is not impressed.
4. traffic has it's own rhythm here, and you need to figure it out quickly or it could be disastrous. At intersections, traffic rarely stops, but rather merges - it's quite fascinating to watch. If you wish to cross the street, you need to inch your way forward with each passing vehicle (90% scooters) and they will go around you. Just beware of the scooter guy carrying 50' long metal rods over his shoulder.
5. safety standards are not what they are at home - men work in flip-flops, solder without eye protection, jack-hammer with no protection (eyes, ears, or feet), work on bridges unattached, everything is carried on a scooter with one arm; babies, propane, long rods, overloaded bundles of goods, and they cook on open fires while kids run around restaurants...
Anwyay, I make it sound bad, when really I want to make it sound good. Vietnam, by our standards, is still developing. I suspect Canada's labour force was like this once, and Korea's was like this when we lived there in the 90s. Things will change for the better, and the worse by the time our kids grow up.