Sunday, March 19, 2017

Getting to Hue, then rattling around a few days

Written from Hue on the 19th of March, 2017--a quite nice day as it turned out, just a few sprinkles of light rain and some lovely skyscapes in the afternoon, with blue sky, puffy clouds here and there and a distant thunderstorm looking ominous.  An ideal day for riding, which is just as well, it's what we did.  However, I'll spare you the details of "first we rode here, and then we rode there, and then we crossed the big bridge to. . ."  What the heck, last time I talked too much and didn't have any photos to brighten it up, so tonight I'll just load photos from the past few days and give you short captions for context.  We've been on the road a lot (and the bike is happy now, all her questions have been addressed and, until she thinks of something else, we're getting on really well.  

In the cold light of day, no dancer, no drums, no crowd. . .the morning after the dancing.

And this is the stage.  She didn't even use all of it.  Her dressers sat on either side of the altar.  Every possible square inch was full of rapt people.

The view from the far side of the temple, on down the coast to the South.  Just around the corner is a small creek-mouth harbor for small boats. 

Somewhere on the road south of Sam Son, rice flourishing in the springtime.  Drips and drizzle a lot.

True wilderness, a toll plaza.  They're fairly common, and until 2007 we had to stop and pay some tiny charge at every one, but now (and for some years) we have our own special lane on the far right, and no charge.  I didn't used to mind the money, it was trying to dig down through the rain gear to find it that was so frustrating.
Quite a nice hotel, spotless, and only medium hard beds, but NO food for blocks.  Yikes.  I sampled the crackers, cookies and yogurt from half a dozen little shops and a closed bakery.  If that's the worst. . .
Srrry, I can't help it, they're pretty.  The book has been sold so I don't need more photos, but it will be a while before I learn to stop taking them.  Perhaps I can learn to ride past boat yards and harbors??

They're building a lot of these, traditional style boats around Hue, but quite a bit bigger than the old normal.  I suspect this is a combination of fishermen's preference on  one hand and new governmental regulations on the other.  Good looking sea kindly boats I think.

I've been getting some "farming" questions so you'll see some farming photos for a while.  No particular sequence, just whenever I see something.  Some lettuces and onions maybe. . .stuff to go in your soup.

The Cham temple buried in the sand dune and now excavated and protected.  So much I wish I could know its history, 900 years old more or less, but what happened to its people and when was it buried, and for that matter, what did its people do, so close to the sea, when they built it and where did they get the bricks??  I come and stare at it pretty much every year.

Little things are pretty too.

This is a common way to grow vegetables in rice country, pile up the ground in long islands with water on all sides.  You walk down the waterway to prune or fertilize or weed or whatever.

Where you can flood the land mostly you grow rice, right up to the front door.  This is springtime, rice about 18" tall.

At the end of a small road in the middle of nowhere among sand dunes. . .a graveyard of concrete animals that broke, at least a hundred of them.  Vietnamese people like "kitsch", including concrete animals in the darndest places. . .and these all seem to have failed somehow, broken tails or ears or tusks or. . .a lot of them.   If they'd lived they'd have been painted. . .er. . .almost realistic colors.  Sort of.  So these died early on.  Sigh.
"Hey look, it's just the fish, I'm fine, fix the darned fish and we're good to go.  Really, let me off the truck.  C'mon.  Oh heck.

My nose and both tusks??  You can't fix this??  What can be so hard?  
Okay, back to farming. 

So you can have too much water I think. . .that must be why the growth is pretty sparse in places here.  We're right on the edge of a natural swamp, and the water must be a bit deep.

Duck pond, rice paddy,  the farm house and the sand dune.  On the other side is the sea, not far at all, but this is fresh water.

Farming this way requires a lot of bending over  The people are straight and strong though, it must not be bad for their health.

Placing fertilizer one plant at a time, by hand.

Bringing water from across the road.  The trick is to maintain balance so neither can gets too empty too soon.

Thus, after a bit on one side you swing around and pour from the other can.

Going back across the road for more water is the fun part.  She simply walks down the bank until the cans will fill (the waders go up to her waist) fills them up and goes to do it again.  That's a lot of water!  She said "Hi!" and I got a smile.

And this is why we call them. . .er. . .water buffalo.

A standard haystack all over Viet Nam. . .build it, thatch the top, then feed the stock off the bottom (this one is about used up!).  It's mostly rice straw I think.  I know buffalo will eat it, not sure about the red cattle or horses. . .has to be pretty rank hay.

Somebody hatched a whole lot of duck eggs in the last few days.  The little critters can swim already, even without a mama duck to show them how.  H'mm.

I think maybe it's a lotus shaped floating restaurant.  I know it floats and a lot of people eat inside. . .and maybe it's a lotus.  The colors change all the time.  Riverside, Hue.

And they still light up the bridge at night. . .some pretty odd combinations at times, I like the plain colors best. . .yellow is good, purple is lovely, but plain white is actually stunning.  It's kind of slow entertainment to sit and watch, but it's good people watching too. . .a very popular promenade.
Cute kids, dragon boat, dragon lady, Hue riverside

Hard times.  The Hue city fathers obliterated the old houseboat moorage a few years back, but this isn't a houseboat, it's just a working canoe, good for water taxi duty maybe, but it looks like a family of three is camping out under the bridge.   The houseboats were much bigger. . .with TV;'s and fluorescent lights and. . .very different. 

Electric bikes (Yamahas, probably the best here) and electric motorbikes (no pedals). . .enormously popular now.  You rarely see kids or ladies riding bicycles anymore,   Even grown men will ride the electric motorbikes around town.  You have to like the gas mileage.
You might know I fell in love, a torrid, one night affair, a few years back in Mui Ne. . .she was a really cute little thing, though all in pieces, and needing a lot of freshening up.  This is how she probably looks now. . .almost showroom new, though  close to 50 years old. . .The bikes are scarce and stylish, so a used-up one that might be restorable will cost upwards of $700, maybe a lot more (my bike cost $550, new) and a frame-up restoration here might go through $1000 too.  Worth every penny I say (though maybe I'd rather have the 90cc version!)

Cutting scrollwork for the cabin joinery. . .no band saw, just two frame saws, one with a really narrow blade for tight curves, and one with a wider blade for faster cutting.  Note the expensive vice.

This is the front end of the soon-to-be cabin, all fitted together, with not a single nail nor a drop of glue, all mortises and tenons and sequence, sequence, sequence!

The stem for the next hull (not even started on the blocks yet).  What a massive piece of timber, all cut to size and shape by hand.

Shipyard kids. . .with some English "Where are you from?, What's your name?"

Manhandling. . .with the appropriate jack. . .a very heavy timber.  This pair will make the stern of the new boat.  Without power equipment I can't imagine cutting that pair to size and shape.  And they'll fit!

Not a temple really, an extended family memorial, where people will picnic with all their in-laws and their ancestors several times a year.  What the heck, a picnic is always a good idea.

This is a small portion of a large family tomb. . .a different sort of thing.  People come here just to pay respects and ask for a little help. . .not to picnic.  

Usually you don't see a second person handling the lead rope.  Either this is a new buffalo just learning to do the job, or there's something else going on.  He has to pull slightly off center, walking in the last cut, but with the plow taking a bite off the higher ground to the left.  Perhaps that's the problem.

This makes it a little clearer.  The buffalo are the sweetest large animals I've ever known, calm and gentle, trustworthy with even quite small kids.  Not flashy like a horse, even slower than a red cow (or bull), but plenty strong anyway.

Another family memorial. . .I like playing with reflections in water. 

There must have been fresh grain under the shelter, the little guys were certainly eager to get in and see anyway. It takes a lot of ducks to keep Viet Nam in duck eggs and . . .er. . .roast duck.  H'mm. But they sure are cute.

I've been here during typhoon rains when these bridges were barely out of water.  Better times now!

Quan Am pouring out the water of compassion beside a large family grave.

Quite nice detail work. . .at Quan Am's feet.

They keep the weeds down around the tombs locally.  It does feel good to rub heads I suppose.  The little guy wouldn't leave his older brother alone.

We've put on a number of kilometers just looking around Hue. . .and tomorrow we'll ride up the mountain to A Luoi.  There are layers of stories around A Luoi, everybody else's, and then mine.  But that can wait until we get back.