I had my camera out again as we left Tứ Cuờng and headed for Tiên's hometown - also in Hải Dương province, about an hour away.
Roadworks here are frequently done using manual labour rather than huge machines. There are no stop/go men controlling the traffic, people just use their common sense, slow down and negotiate their way past as best they can...
Thriving vegetable gardens everywhere you go.
Even in the smallest villages, there were new houses under construction and there is a pervasive sense of growing prosperity....but I still love the quaint little old buildings, which are fast disappearing.
Cottage industries still thrive... these are sheets of bánh đa drying in the sun. They will be sliced up to make the rice noodles that are famous in this area.
The free-range ducks here thrive - no wonder they taste so good!
I took photos of some of the loads we passed along the way...there's not much you can't transport by bike!!! I've even seen fridges and building materials balanced precariously on the back of a motorbike....
This load is a complete street food restaurant!!
All kinds of vehicles share the roads, and most drivers are very considerate, but truck and bus drivers tend to be dangerous bullies. It is not uncommon to have a truck or a bus speeding along on the wrong side of the road, overtaking another vehicle. They blast their horns and force other road users to the shoulder... at times like this I'm always glad to be on a motorbike because we take up so little room!!
There are also many large, modern factory complexes in rural areas where land is cheaper. They provide work for the local people.
When we finally reached Tiên's hometown - An Dương, we stopped to look at a large pagoda... which features a replica of the mountain featured in the old TV show "Monkey Magic"!
My kids were very little when Monkey Magic was on TV... but this attraction is quite new and apparently very popular with children.
Everything was immaculate...
... even the chickens and roosters were well looked after.
By now it was 11am so the local school children were all heading home for lunch and their mid-day nap. They start at 7am, break from 11 till 2, then finish for the day at 5pm.
An Dương is a pretty little village
This is the lane where Tiên's family live...
... and this is their lovely house!
This upstairs room doubles as a bedroom.
The views from up here are just gorgeous. It is so peaceful.
Tiên's uncle's house is next door.
There are our bikes in the courtyard near the kitchen.
This is the view out the back, looking into the neighbour's yard - you can see a new house under construction nearby.
After looking around Tiên's home, he took us next door to his uncle's place. (This is tea spread out to dry in the courtyard)
Tiên and his aunt, Mý.
Tiên's mother - Minh, Katie, Tiên and his father - Ouy, and me.
They prepared an absolutely delicious meal for us...
Tiên's cousin - Trường joined us.
After our very early start to the day (4am!!) a nap after lunch was greatly appreciated!
And all too soon it was time to head for home. Such beautiful, charming hosts... they wanted us to stay, but sadly I had to teach tonight, so we had to get going, but it will be lovely to return again next year.
Tiên, Katie, his uncle - Chiến, Ouy, me and Minh
So we left around 3pm for the rest of the ride back to Hải Phòng. Once again I had my camera out and took heaps of photos...
old and new
This bark is used for medicinal purposes.
Women work as labourers alongside the men.
Wherever there are rice paddies, there are also cemeteries.
The rice harvest is well under way now. Again, it's very labour intensive...
They even have junk yards in Việt Nam
Every time I see this ship building yard it surprises me...
...you can't see the river from the road...just rice fields!
We were back at the hotel in time for me to prepare for my classes tonight. What a wonderful two days! It was so good to meet both Tuyền and Tiên's families and see where they grew up. I do hope that one day we can return the favour!!
More happy memories!