Thanks for all the compliments about the photography. This country is infinitely inspiring me to take more and more photos. Since I posted last, we've been in Nha Trang, a beach town toward the south and now we are in Dalat which is a town like no other that we've been in. It's high in the mountains and is a vacation/honeymoon destination for Vietnamese. So while it's a "touristy" town, it caters much more to the Vietnamese tourists than to Westerners, which is refreshing. It is highly influenced by the French colonial period, so it reminds me much more of a village in Switzerland or elsewhere in Europe than a Vietnamese city.
I spent a lot of time at the market here today -- it's a large market for such a small town. It was the first market where I saw many vendors in a row selling eggs, then another set of vendors all selling dried shrimp. The market photos below are from today.
The land here is so fertile. I want to talk more about Vietnamese agriculture when I have a little more time, but generally the land is studded with very small farms one after another, all growing different crops. According to our tour guide, the largest cattle farm in Vietnam has about 100 head of cattle, which should give you an idea of how incredibly small the farms are.
Today, we went to an organic farm that is owned by an American man. The farm mainly supplies vegetables to the Hotel Sofitel Dalat Palace, and grows many European/Western herbs. In fact, our tour guide had not seen many of the herbs. I introduced him to sage and had him smell it. He hilariously told me that the sage smells just like roasted dog. I'll have to take his word for it as dog is the one thing I have religiously avoided seeing or eating in this country!
I did, however, try "cafe chon" yesterday. It's coffee that, as a fresh bean, is fed to a small animal (I think it's a civet, but haven't had time to completely investigate on the 'net). It is then "excreted" by the animal, cleaned up, roasted, and turned into a delicacy-type coffee. To me, it was really good coffee, and I'm glad I tried it, but it wasn't revelatory or anything. Unlike eatstuff, I didn't find it to smell repulsive -- the one I tried had a pretty basic coffee smell. In fact, eatstuff's reaction to it makes me a litle curious as to whether I was swindled.
We're off to Ho Chi Minh City next. I am trying to gear myself up for the heat, and for the busiest city in Vietnam!
And now for a few photos ...
Buddha, Hoi An
Organic farm, Dalat
Woman selling green mangoes, Dalat
Grains, Dalat Market
Dried shrimp, Dalat