One Sunday a group of us were invited to visit Tu’s family in Co Loa, a small village about 20km from Hanoi and the site of one of the earliest archeological sites in Vietnam. We met at the bus station and had bowls of pho to start the day. Note the short chairs, standard in local street restaurants.
It was great getting out of the city. The bus filled up as we left the city but then emptied as we got closer to Co Loa. That’s the conductor, who somehow keeps track of who needs a ticket, sitting in front of a tired looking young lady.
We were met by Tu and his niece and taken to visit several temples before lunch.
I was waved into the above temple by an elderly gentleman at the door. When I came out the others were talking with a group of engineering students from Hanoi. There ensued a group portrait…
The others had just finished viewing the Headless Princess, so I took a quick peek before we headed off to the next stop…
On the walk over we passed this interesting looking art gallery. Co Loa is a small town and it was very pleasant to be able to freely walk down the streets without worrying about being run over. And it was also very quiet – no ‘beep, beep, honk, honk’. And it was sunny! (No pollution).
Once again we met some new friends who wanted to pose with Sue.
The temple complex was a bit larger at this site, with imposing gates and more buildings.
Apparently ‘pagoda’ refers to a Buddhist place of worship whereas ‘temple’ refers to places of worship for other religions or belief systems (e.g.Confucianism). But enough semantics… it’s time to go to lunch with Tu’s family….
Above is how it looked when we began: not too messy. And below is in the heat of the nosh…
There was so much food we came no where near finishing it all. Above is Tu with his niece and his sister to his right and Peter to his left. And a bunch of chopsticks reaching from all directions. There was a lot of meat served so we did try a variety of things we’d never before sampled. Well… mostly Sue did… I didn’t try the congealed blood, but I did try the intestines… and some chicken. Fortunately no dog or cat meat was served. That we would have had trouble with.
Tu has been living back at home as his father has cancer and recently stopped his treatments as the family realized that his end is near. He was quite cheerful and welcomed us into his family home. He displayed how his hair has grown back and how much more limber he is than any of us Westerners by sitting on the floor, neatly folding his legs, for lunch. That’s Peter to the left, Tu’s father in the middle and Tu’s brother on the right.
(Peter has a good excuse for his pose: he’s off for knee surgery in Bangkok as I write this).
After tea and sweets we walked back to the road to catch our bus home. Of course I had to photograph the bovine spendour outstanding in her field.
Many thanks to Tu for inviting us into his home, sharing an amazing meal and showing us a glimpse of small town Vietnam.