Bernie here, I am enjoying my visit to Viet Nam very much.
Yesterday, Thursday, we had lunch with a Buddhist monk. He was very short, only came to my shoulder. He kept laughing at me during lunch and my western ways and called me madam with a bit of a french accent to it. However, when I mentioned my energy healing abilities it got a little more serious. Lunch was vegetarian and very good. There were some interesting mushrooms. The 3 students who took us to the temple, could not tell me the English names for the different salad greens. They don't have iceberg lettuce here so the variety of greens is great. Celantra and spearmint are just two of the greens used.
When he took us around the temple, I asked a lot of questions and was very respectful of the wonderful energy of the space. I think he was impressed with my interest and respect. I offered prayers the way the Buddhist would. On the alter was a huge brass bowl that he tapped so I could hear and feel the vibration. The bowl was about the size of a 5 gallon pail. There was also a large wooden item, that was carved to resemble a large beetle I think. It also was struck with a mallet and was used to mark the time during the ceremonies. No ceremony was going on during my visit. I saw a very large bell that I was allowed to stand up inside. It had a dragon handle to hold it up. There was also a large wooden drum with water buffalo hide on it. It was as big as I am. I demonstrated the different tones of the drum when struck in more than one place of the drum head, but the monk didn't seem to think that was the proper way to hit the drum.
Wednesday, I went to Hau An (Old City) and for 200.00 US dollars I got lots of hand made clothes just my size. My size here in Viet Nam is 3XL which really doesn't do my ego much good. That's okay cause there are a lot of short stick people here. Must be the vegetable diet. I bought lots of souvenirs and that is where the women who sewed my clothes are from. I got pictures of the two women because I know that the money I spent there went directly to them and not through a franchise. I bought some cute stuff for Jaci too. I now have one of the reed conical hats. It just fits nicely in my luggage with other things backed in and around it.
Tuesday, I brought to English class a pan of brownies. The students loved them and passed the pan around until it was gone. They find it very interesting that Jim and I have been married for 15 years and that we were both married before. We talked about food and they had me write out notes for them. I went over the classifications of food like: liquid, solid, dairy, meat, fish, vegetables, desserts etc.
On Tuesday I also had my first physical therapy massage. For 5 US dollars, I got 1 hour of therapy. She does not speak English but I can definitely get my pain across. I'm not sure if she understands and/or speaks English. She is doing more mobilization of the shoulder and elbow and it is painful when the scar tissue is being pulled.
I brought 2 packages of Brownie mix and 1 of white cake mix. It is quite the hit here. I also went to a local bakery and bought muffins and sponge cake. The guys really like the sweets.
So, next vacation come to Viet Nam before tourist season starts in June. Remember to bring nice crisp, clean American dollar bills or the banks won't take them. Then you have to find merchants that will accept them.