Northeastern Region

Xin Chao,

It has been many days since anyone has had an update. We are alive and well, and now that I have largely recovered from food poisoning, we are a bit more active. The food thing was odd, as Toby and I ate the same things yet I was stricken and he was not. I haven’t a clue what it was, but now I eat mostly rice and am very careful. I might never eat another bowl of rice again once I return.

Toby eats freely, absolutely everything with no ill effects. He even ate cow stomach. Didn’t like it much but ate it nonetheless. No one expects me to try things out of politeness anymore, thank goodness. Cow stomach is very strange looking, Khanh and Cuong ate it like there was no tomorrow. You know those flappy things that they use in brushless car washes? They look like felt strips? Well the inside of a cow’s stomach looks kind of like that. Very white. Each one is covered with bumps. Tastes like very rubbery calamari. Yuck.

After SaPa, we headed southeast to Yen Binh, which is located on a huge reservoir. Vietnam has 10 hydroelectric plants and 10 coal burning plants and one nuke. This was a hydroelectric plant, the first one ever built here. It took 10 years to build, and was built with Russian assistance. In 1971, it was put into service. After only a little bit of time, weeks I think, we bombed it and 100 workers were killed. There is a big monument. They rebuilt it and it now supplies 3 provinces. We took a boat out to the plant, and walked around, and climbed to the top of a hill where there is a shrine. In my opinion, the destination was not worth the long, long drive, but it was all an effort to get to BaBe National Park.

Arriving at BaBe took 2 days and day 2 was very powerful. We drove and drove down windy, bumpy roads and finally arrived at Tan Treo. Tan Treo is an area of the northeast where Ho Chi Minh was safe and hidden securely by the Tay ethnic minority. We visited a valley in the middle of nowhere that had a museum and that Vietnamese dignataries all visit. Ho was taken from village to village during the French war, the Japanese occupation during WW2 and also during the American war. We had a lovely Tay guide who had little English but with Khanh’s translation, were able to gather information about this period. The Allies actually landed supplies there to assist Ho during WW2 in his fight against the Japanese and met with him to see what kind of a government he would form if he defeated the Japanese. I guess we didn’t like his answers, as we stopped helping once the war ended and the French resumed their occupation.

Please remember that much of what I get comes from Khanh, whose translation abilities are somewhat challenged and our ability to ask questions that he understands is rather limited. I take it all with a grain of salt, but it is a fact that the Allies helped him during WW2. American soldiers who landed there revisited in 1991 and there are many photos.

On to BaBe, in a second email as a few minutes ago, we lost power and that means I lost all I wrote.

Be well, Barb