13 February 2010: Vietnam, Mai Cho and Ban Lac:

Mai Cho at Tet

We sit on the edge of flooded rice paddies, with a backdrop of jagged mountains.  Green is the theme.  Today we drove through villages that were preparing for Tet, flower markets, cherry trees.  Children ride their bikes on the dykes through the fields like something out of distant history.

I walk along streets in Ban La bonding with cows over small apples.  This is the Asia we think of when it does happen to cross our minds: the smoky hills, rice paddies, expansive valleys.  Katie and I trudge along the muddy dykes trying not to fall in.  We watch leeches crawl their way along the mud and tadpoles dart and bomb into the clay walls.  We traverse over to where cows graze and watch new young ones testing their curiosity with our fingers.

Phuong, our guide and friend, says, “Communism is the longest road from capitalism to capitalism.”