November 16

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Happy Birthday!

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Check Da Lat off the list- Da Lat is a beautiful small town of about 250K people located in the Mountains in Southern Vietnam.    Popular for the pleasant cool year round weather and it’s French charm.   Da Lat is renowned for its orchids, roses, vegetables, fruits and flower-growing industries.  They had the huge open market that I spent hours exploring.    This is the first market in Vietnam that had berries….yes Vietnam is plentiful with fresh vegetables but I have never found berries of any type.   The Da Lat market had strawberries and mulberries and the respective jams……they also had artichokes.    No big deal to those of us who live in California the artichoke capital of the world….. but it was a special treat to find strawberries and they actual tasted like strawberries much better than those grown in Castorville.

During my visit I hired a “Easy Rider” motorbike to show me around the area.   One of my asked was to visit some villages in the area.    So, my driver took me to a small village which was just a strip of homes and a few shops, he dropped me off and said just take a stroll and I will meet you at the end of town….. they are nice people but don’t get many visitors….   So off I go and within 2 min I hear what appears to be a party.    As I strolled past I hear the standard “Hello-where you from?”, please come and join us.   They were having a birthday party and insisted that I join them…..it was a group of about 15 people mostly couples and what appeared to be siblings.

p2I was amazed at the hospitality…which started with a seat at the head of the table, all be it plastic, welcome toast, the honorary first cut of the birthday cake food etc.  Then they started preparing me food dishes which included rabbit fritters and fresh snails.  Everyone wanted to get a selfie with the American that dropped in on their celebration…  The room was full of excitement to have an outsider come to visit their village.    Their level of English was at best “Hello where you from” but we as a group had no problem connecting and communicating with our gestures and body language, which makes events like this so memorable.    In the end I signaled my Easy Rider friend to join us which helped to interpret for me.    They told him that my visit was the best birthday present they could ask for.   I had mix reaction to this, good to bring some excitement to their day but at the same time it was their hospitality that made my day.   It’s the connection and conversations with the local people like this that I enjoy.    The cool thing is you don’t need to speak the same language to connect with people.    So the PEOPLE moment for my trip has to be the gang at the birthday party and the MOMENT is that connection we made as a group.    It turns out that the Happy Birthday song is universal around the world.

Below are some photo’s capturing the “People”, “Places”, “Flower Market” and my favorite the  “Open Market” of De Lat.     Enjoy!

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