Sunday, July 11, 2010

Long and Winding Road

Made it to Mekong Delta from HCMC in a couple of hours, beautiful and emotionally moving trip for me, great talking to Ali and Edwardo on the way, shared many experiences and thoughts, kind of therapeutic in a sence. Arrived at dock on Tien river, a tributary of Mekong for a trip to Phonex island for terrific lunch of fresh farm raised perch type fish, harvested directly from floating pens. The fish are collected, prepped, deep-fried and presented masterfully to the table in a remarkably artistic way I have never seen before. I look forward to showing these photos to my students. The second main course consisted of steamed giant prawns (U-3 and 4's), presented in a hollow fresh green coconut, with a variety of fresh condiments, very simple, yet elegant. Dessert was an unusual sticky rice custardy like concoction, accompanied by a masterfully produced sticky rice dough, deep-fried slowly into a brown bowling ball size shape. The end dish is served on a plate with the custardy rice as a base and dough ball cut into strips served on top of the custard. My description does not do the actual presentation justice, but when you are presented with something like this so masterfully executed and presented, no words can do it justice. Ya just gotta be here! And the local beer
( named 333 ) wasn't bad either! ( dzo dzo dzo!) Another inside joke, shared with my colleagues!
Now for the hard part, we left the island to a second location for a ride in a traditional vietnamese canoe, paddled by 2 beautiful and colorful women, traveling in groups of 3 and 4 per canoe we meandered threw a beautiful maze of canals lined with lush bamboo and giant palm frawns framed into a canapé configuration, ( if you are a Vietnam veteran I think you know where this is going ). We were each given a traditional bamboo peasant hat to wear during the ride, but a third down the way, it's hard to explain, but I could not bring myself to wear the darn thing, I just can't explain it but you just had to be there, ( and in my head to understand ). I was doing ok for a bit until we hit an area with the ominous sounds of cicadas in the trees surrounding us, thats when I lost it, loosing it is a relative term you have to understand, it's been 40 years for me since the war, and I've always believed deep down I would be back some day and now that I'm here its kind of overwhelming and extremely emotional, but all I will say is that I'm glad Mike was in the boat behind me. Once I got my emotions back in check, I was good, or so I thought.
Once back on dry land my emotions started to rear their ugly heads again, between the semi jungle like terrain, the heat, humidity, and emotions brewing inside my gut, I was close to loosing it again. I started to look for---, well let's just get off this subject. Once I had some water inside me, I think the dehydration I was experiencing had something to do with my state of mind, the traditional musical presentation by local young women and children we were so lucky to witness made up for a lot of the negative vibes I was feeling.
The boat ride back to the bus was kind of a healing process, my colleagues, bless them all are aware of my situation, and have been very understanding and supportive, and I love them all, thank you guys.
Time to take a short break, I'll be back in a few with part 2.
Chef :)

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