Friday 1 March 2013

Lolly largesse

My camera came back from the repairers today - again. I was careless with it last year, and it fell from my suitcase onto a hard floor, about half a metre, and ever since has had intermittent faults with exposure and focus. I hope it's properly fixed this time, because I hate to be without its familiar black presence. The floor it fell onto was the one I was writing about sleeping on today - at least, on top of a mattress on that floor in the homestay in northern Vietnam.

It was such a fun trip, that World Expeditions one, and of course a lot of that was down to the other people, who were a jolly bunch; but it was also great to be in a new country and surrounded by unfamiliar scenery and people and culture and food, all of which was just delightful. Particularly the food. And the apricot rice wine. There was a horrendous amount of driving in a van, much of it along awful roads full of bumps and potholes and traffic, as well as often quite frightening drop-offs; but it was worth it to get to the off-the-beaten-track area where we were the centre of attention and frequently the subject of the locals' photos. It's always a bit of a hoot when that happens, and perfectly fair pay-back.

When we were in the depths of the Dong Van Karst Geopark (how that name is rolling off my tongue now!) we stopped to interrupt a lesson in a tiny hill village school that had just six little students sitting at their desks looking very solemnly at the blackboard and obediently not at us. They were very neat and clean, and totally unlike the small band of grubby urchins that was roaming around outside, in ragged clothes and no shoes (or pants, in several cases) - I wonder if they swap over for a half-day of education each? These ones I'm sure would have thought they were the winners that day, as some of us had been foresighted enough to bring lollies and shiny stickers, and though they were shy they weren't backward at sticking out their hands. Good for them. I bet they don't get many treats.

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