Saturday, September 17, 2011

What Happens in Hill Villages

We took some hikes through the hill tribe villages.Farming was evident. If you look closely, you might spot the water buffalo below.Craftmanship was more elusive. Clothing is made from hemp, dyed with indigo...But we only saw one, um, hemp plant.Rice can be ground into floor. Although nowadays it's just sold wholesale. Some farm animals were spotted. Piglet may not be to scale.This duckling however is to scale, and likes bonbons.Below is bark drying in the sun ready to be made into incense, although we didn't see any incense. Houses like these were used as "home stays", which are hotels for masochists.This cellulite vegetable would have been veggie of the week, except I'm not sure we've ever eaten it, or know how to cook it.Mountain farming is tough work and requires waking up early mornings, which explains why Vietnamese coffee is so strong.

Land of the Hill Tribe People

In Northern Vietnam, you can travel into the past.
Ok, not really. Here, the Black Hmong woman is talking on her cellphone.
And the outfits are better in colour (I think this tribe is Giay or Zay).In our hotel, the traditional garb of each hill tribe is explained.
Mostly, we saw the Black Hmong, below. They were best at pushing their wares, which were, sadly, trinkets made in China (or perhaps in Vietnamese factories, but not in hill tribe villages).Some of the food for sale was more local, however.Also available were Red Dao, shown below.

A Long Trip North

The trip to get here is not a simple one. You start here, in Hanoi.
What to eat?Perhaps some seafood?Hanoi provides fascinating chaos and great pictures of bikes.And motorbikes. Here, a whole fridge on one.Here, 6 ducks. Probably more, not shown.We took the fancy overnight train north through the mountains, for 9 hours.Luckily, they still had Vietnamese coffee when we got there.Barry was pretty happy about that! Here's a hint at where we went. And it has nothing to do with GnR.

Taipei Temple Time

Ok, so we're all tired of Chinese temples, but look how pretty! This is different, a man with a Mohawk and broom has been grabbed by an elephant!
Here some sort of story is told involving a dark, poorly-clad bad guy who appears to be stealing the young.
Imagine facing up against this guy in war? It would be distracting, no?
Most temples have what I call the hairy gods as shown here (hair alarmingly real-looking), but this fish-god was a first for me. There is always the red rage god.
And, amidst all this great photography, there a bored Barry who has resorted to work email!
And decorating ideas - don't you think we should have more ceilings like this?Ok, once Barry had temple boredom, you can go up the tall shiny building. And see the little tiny buildings below.


Just around umbrella cat corner is one of Taipei's fantastic night markets, which is slightly busier.
There's a whole lot of food going on.
Some of which is not easy to identify.I tucked right into a stick of candied tomatoes with prunes. It was, well, good enough to eat despite the obvious throat impalement while walking risk.Barry had the much wimpier bubble tea.I also tried this, which is congealed pig's blood with sticky rice. Good, but strange to me that it was served at room temperature, sometimes with peanuts. I figured it should be a part of a hot breakfast.Again you'll see the trend of my heroic bravery. Here I'm liking, but not really understanding Stinky Tofu.
Whereas Barry's enjoying much less adventurous beef noodle soup.He is also shown here trying to figure out which one is the mortar, and which the pestle, at a grind-you-own sesame seeds Japanese restaurant.Later on, we found the best dumplings in all of Asia, and bought 30 of them to eat over the next few days. Our rapture made us forget photography.