Overnight Trains and a Fresh Chicken Update

A few days ago we took our family to a place in Vietnam called Sapa.  There are several minority ethnic groups that live in small, very rustic villages in the mountains and grow rice in terraces cut into the mountainside. They dress in traditional clothing that they make themselves. It is a beautiful place.

Rice fields in Sapa

The ONLY way to get there is by overnight train. A special train that makes lots of abrupt stops throughout the night. A train that has some kind of animal or bug eating your complimentary crackers on the table right next to your tiny bed. A train whose air conditioner that might go out in the middle of the night and whose conductor pretends to be asleep and ignores your pleas of “Em Oi!” (hey!) to fix the air. A train that you board at 8:00 pm and exit before five the next morning, bleary eyed but excited about your adventure. A train that, despite all its issues, is an absolute wonder for children under the age of 10.

Our berth on the train to Sapa. Matthew and Anna shared a tiny bed!

Despite the rain, we were able to get out and explore the villages and town of Sapa. It was surprisingly cold, but we welcomed this after 100 degree heat in Hanoi!

The market in Sapa.

We walked through two small villages. The houses were very basic, with dirt floors and lots of farm animals including many cute baby pigs and chickens.

Most adults were out working in the rice fields.The children were left at home to play with each other. They came out to see Kate, Anna and Matthew.  The curiosity was mutual.

We also saw a group of children playing on some water buffaloes as if they were as tame as puppies. We were amazed at how comfortable they were on these massive animals with big horns!

We went inside one home and took a tour of the kitchen:

After just one night, we headed back home on the overnight train again!

Back at home we had a very busy week to end a great school year. Matthew had a big role in a school play (really an operetta) – he was the narrator in The Three Nanny Goats (kind of like The Three Billy Goats Gruff).

Anna created a video about how to buy fresh chicken in Hanoi. Right by our house is a woman selling fresh chickens (she butchers them right on the street). We’ve passed by it daily and marveled at how different food production and distribution is here from what we’re used to at home. There is no doubt that we are eating some of the freshest (and most tasty!) food. And by the way, Anna edited this entire video by herself!

After school one day we took a family walk around our neighborhood and found more interesting things, as ever. The summer short haircut is very popular here.

Another beautiful sunset over West Lake.

When the weather got hot, sugar cane juice machines popped up everywhere. We finally had a chance to try it.

Making sugar cane juice in Lang Yen Phu.

Today was the last day of school, and we sadly said goodbye to all our friends. Kate celebrated her birthday at school today.

And Matthew graduated from kindergarten!

The electricity went out in the afternoon so we had to get out of our sweltering apartment and do the only thing that was left to do:

Ice cream and swimming at the Hanoi Club!

Michael and I are saying goodbye to our friends, too. The good news is that in order to get to see everyone in the coming years, we will have to travel to other parts of the globe….

Einat and Zafrir

On to Burma on Friday…. then Thailand…. then Cleveland, OH!