Tag Archives: Quang Nam Province Vietnam

A Silver Platter Day in Tam Ky, Vietnam

Every two weeks, hostel manager Hủng takes a 70 km drive south to Quang Nam province to a little town called Tam Ky to visit for two days with his family. With his 24-hour/on-site job responsibilities running the Stingray hostel in Danang, those two days are the only days he gets to spend quality, bonding time with his toddler son and infant daughter.

For this particular visit, even though one of those days was his birthday, and even though he’d never invited a hostel guest to his home before, he graciously requested that I take the trip with him to meet his family and spend the two days with him in his home. Of course, I accepted!

We set out at 10:45am on Monday…

Right before we left,, the ever bubbly, ever cute laundry service vendor Tham showed up to take the day’s hostel laundry (bed sheets, customer clothing, etc). She says if I want to come live in Danang, she’ll wait for me! I just may take her up on the offer!

 

Outside waiting for our cab
Four of the eight passengers in the Da Nang to Tam Ky SUV! Her name is One, and she’s a high school English teacher in Tam Ky.

We got to Hủng’s village in about an hour and then walked around a bit to meet neighbors and see the nearby lake….

Walking down Hung’s street towards his home.

 

Nearby lake. We passed banana, breadfruit, noni, lemon and other fruit trees

Then, we had lunch (Kudos to Hủng’s wife! Best of my trip so far!)!

Lunch with three-fourths of the family!

Later, we picked up his son from school, went shopping for food for dinner, and then just hung out for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I met his mother and father who live next door…

Dinner time in Tam Ky

The next morning we headed out to the Tam Ky Cafe for some juice (for me) and coffee (for Hủng).

Tamky Cafe

Oh, remind me to tell you about the lady who pulled up a chair at our table, leaned in to eavesdrop every word I spoke, followed me to the men’s room (as I attempted to lose her!) and even jumped in front of my camera as I attempted to take a photo of the grounds near the cafe! Yep, remind me to tell you that story!

Um, excuse me….

Update: Just before I was about to post this, I discovered Hủng had captured the encounter and he just sent me a photo of that special lady in red! 

Keep in mind this is 8am on a Tuesday morning!

We left in a hurry to escape the stalker, and then went to visit Phu Ninh Lake, home of the hot mineral springs!  On the way there, we passed a road with rice drying on blue tarps on the street.  Note to self: I’ve got to stop and get some on the way back!

Drying rice along the roadside

We arrived at Phu Ninh Lake, paid our entrance fee and shared a ride up a hill to the actual site grounds and a few photos with Hậu and Thủy. Nice to meet you, girls!

Sharing a ride with Hậu  andThủy

 

Beautiful scenery at Phu Ninh

 

Next, we boarded a boat with several other passengers for the scenic tour of the lake!

On the lake

We stopped at a deck in the middle of the lake to experience the hot mineral springs being brought to the surface by a pipe way deep below the surface.

Getting water from the mineral springs

Then, just before the hour long ride ended, we approached a small island….

….and fed monkeys who (yes, I said “who”) gathered at beach side as the boat approached! Seems they may have done this before!

Monkey. See.

On the way back, we stopped at one of the homes where the harvested rice was drying, and I offered to purchase a half kilo or so to take back home!

I found a willing entrepreneur and made my purchase! Don’t ask me when I’ll get a chance to prepare this as my hostel does not have cooking facilities. I may have to resort to my tried and true Coffeepot Cookbook techniques!

Another satisfied customer? Time will tell.

Once we got back home, Hủng’s wife and mom had prepared a lavish meal for lunch! So, let me see if I understand this correctly: everything (all 7 plates in the silver platter including the bánh xèo*) are specially-prepared vegan versions just for me, and the other food is for the three of you??)

*Bánh xèo [ɓǎɲ sɛ̂w], literally “sizzling pancake”, named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder.

You’re kidding me, right? This is about THREE days of eating for me!
Hanging out after lunch as the dishes are cleared.
Hủng’s daughter, mom and dad

Yep, some days, everything is served up on a silver (or red) platter!

 

Addendum:

Later in the evening, I entertained some kids in the neighborhood and family friends with videos and photos from my travels (um, or perhaps, as my friend Rogelio said, the Jamaican in Tam Ky WAS the entertainment for the evening!). (OF COURSE I showed them the Macau bungee jump! What did you expect??)

 

It was a great time meeting and getting to know the family and experiencing life in Tam Ky. We leave tomorrow to head back to Da Nang, but I WILL be back! Check out Hủng’s facebook post of our day.

 

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A day with Karma Waters volunteers in Quảng Ngãi Province, Vietnam

How was YOUR Sunday? Well, yesterday, mine started with me waking up at 3:30am to prepare for a 4:30am pickup. Yesterday, while I was interviewing Ronnie Defour at Karma Waters,  Grace Nguyen, Karma Waters owner, invited me to ride along to observe and participate in a community support project in Quảng Ngãi Province, south of Da Nang, in Vietnam.

4:29 am waiting in the doorway of the Stingray Hostel on the deserted streets of Da Nang, Vietnam
My pickup posse arrives. First, Tran, then Uyen arrived, then a third

My pickup posse of three arrived, we greeted each other and headed out into the pre-sunrise morning to Karma Waters.

Waiting for the bus to arrive

After a short wait, then quick loading and boarding, our two-vehicle convoy (supply truck and passenger bus) set out at 5:29am.

We set out on our journey at 5:29am!
Catching the Sunday sunrise in Da Nang, Vietnam!

Okay, Okay. I know I may not LOOK happy in this next photo, but trust me, once the bus driver told us he would NOT be able to turn on the air conditioning, I was in heaven! Imagine! A window seat, an open window for natural breezes, a four hour plus drive through the hills of Vietnam! This is exactly the sort of thing I thrive on!

“No, this IS my happy face.”
Stopping for fuel. Petrol is 21,560dong/L (About $0.93US/liter or $3.50/gal)

Yes, this is exactly how I like to get to know a new location–spending a few weeks hanging out with local folks, doing what local folks do, being outdoors, breathing the air, feeling the sunshine and rain, taking the pulse of the community, adjusting to the pattern and pace of everyday life….just living like a local!

On the road up to the mountains
A rest & rejuvenation stop halfway through the journey
Lots of beautiful scenery

The trip took 4 hours 43 minutes  We left Da Nang at exactly 5:29am, and pulled up to the Tra Khue Ethnic Minority Primary School in Quảng Ngãi  at 10:12am. (Sorry, it’s the former civil engineer in me who tends to get so detailed!)

A screen shot of Google maps on my phone places me at the blue dot. Approximate distance on the map: 165km or 102mi, but we definitely traveled a bit more than that!

 

Now, on to important matters. This trip was part of Karma Waters’ series of Charitable Programs. From their website:

“Our Karma Waters Ethnic Support Program delivers daily plant-based meals and support (such as books, clothing, toys and more) to ethnic minority families in the Quang Nam Province in Central of Vietnam.

With this program, and with funds collected in the Karma Waters restaurants, we help provide critical support to children and families in poverty through improved nutrition, health and even friendly support visits and friendship which provides them with some happiness.

With your help, Karma Waters can expand this program and help even  more ethnic minority families. Check out our video and gallery below [see website] and you can see the impact this program has on the children and families in the Quang Nam Province.” Donate

Photos from the event:

Students, teachers and parents await our arrival

 

View of the compound. photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ

 

photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ
As in nature and throughout many cultures, the vegan does the heavy lifting. (“A nuh nuttn, mi do dis all di while inna Saipan!”) photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ
Narrating the adventure…Video coming soon!
College student volunteers organize the gifts
Hoisting the school banner donated by Karma Waters
Students line up by grade and wait to be called by name

The founder of Karma Waters is Nguyen Thi Bao Duyen (Grace Nguyen). Grace is an IT graduate, a professional vegan chef, and the founder of 2 vegan restaurants called Karma Waters in Vietnam. She also helps run the Karma Waters Charitable Association, teaches vegan cooking classes, creates menus for restaurants and hosts private dinners.

How Karma Waters Began
[According to Grace] “I became vegetarian in 2002, and later a vegan. I became vegetarian myself because of an incident with a fish. Yes, a fish changed my life! One day, while I was in China…(Read Grace’s amazing story here)”

Nguyen Thi Bao Duyen (Grace Nguyen) Karma Waters founder addresses the gathering and speaks about the mission
The school’s principal accepts an additional gift of a laptop from Karma Waters donor, Trinidadian Ronnie Defour
Each student receives a backpack, jacket, treats and other gifts
Participating in the distribution. photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ
photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ
photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ

All the students waited patiently until their names were called, and Ronnie helped them pass the time a little more enjoyably while they waited.

photo: Diễm Uyên Nguyễn Hồ

Ultimately, every single student there that day (between 125-150) received a gift package. Once the distribution was complete, the volunteers posed for a few photos:

Job well done. Karma Waters volunteers pose after all the distribution is complete

The giving, however, was not over. Volunteers also helped erect a children’s slide….

…and a swing.

We all ate some guavas, watermelon and spicy tofu with sticky rice…..

Sticky rice and tofu for the dogs, too!

…then headed back north in the rain, departing at 1:45pm! It was sad to leave after such a rewarding day….

So, this would be my sad face. Just kidding, wasn’t sad at all, simply very fulfilling!

Congratulations to Grace and family, Karma Waters, the volunteers, Ronnie and family, the bus driver, his assistant, and all the unseen folks who made the event a success! And, thanks for letting me be and see a part of it all!

More beauty on the journey back
Homes with satellite dishes abound
Mountains in their overcast glory
hay stacks for feeding livestock
Sunset in Da Nang

Back at Karma Waters Headquarters, we said our goodbyes, and my pickup posse took me back to the Stingray Hostel! It was a great experience, exactly the sort of thing that exemplifies why I travel abroad!

Faahword! Likkle more!

….and THAT’S how I spent my Sunday. Like I said, how was YOUR day?

I’ll be working on the video over the next few hours and will make another post announcing it!

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