Friday, January 4, 2008

Greater Hanoi

From South East Asia
We rolled across the Red River away from Hanoi then North along the bank through many small villages. The air was hot and dusty and filled with commerce; it must have been the tree bark harvest time because every available surface was filled with strips of thin wood drying in the sun. The Red River was full of excitement as well. 50 ft cargo boats swiftly traveled up and down the channel laiden with thousands of pounds of dirt and gravel just to the point of having not even a half foot of free board. Their loads were perfectly distributed across the length of the thin, long boats such that entire ships looked as if they would sink to the bottom at any moment.

The road took us 20 km from Hanoi, then we ventured across another bridge, down some more narrow roads, and found ourselves in a small town with an impressive monestary. On the side of the road a 70 year old Vietnamese woman had a small shack made from scrap wood and tarps from which she ran a cafe; she sold us a beer and stick rice steamed in a banana leaf for a snack then also some fake money and incense to bring down to the temple as an offering for the big trip we have coming up! The temple was fantastic inside; there was a 12 armed golden buddha flanked by eight statues of scholars and two enormous wooden demons. We prayed for a safe trip.