Papa-Smurf alias "Binh"
Spending the days with him was nice. Being farmer by nature, he told me everything about tea, coffee rice, rubber trees to the extend that I would feel confident starting a farm myself. He knew everthing about the war, vietnames politics, hill tribes, boatmaking, the weather and one surprising fact: people tend to rip off foreigners! Hmm... maybe not exactly news to me but he developed the urge to prove it to me: Every meal he bought for us had included three dishes and was under one dollar fifty including the drink. Whenever I bought something, negotiating wildly and finally convinced of a good price, Binh would always get the same thing for half the amount. It was priceless seing assumed theory work out so perfectly. "I don't like rip off!" he kept saying "Good and cheap!? Okay!!". In some ways he sometimes reminded me of my father who can't resist buying something that is good and cheap - regardless if it is of any use to anyone ;) I believe ALDI builds it's success upon these people.
Binh enjoyed everything we considered as kitch: he was a fan of vietnamese films and music and in the end I wasn't even surprised when Binh burst out singing in a restaurant, chanting along with another sad love song (to my impression the only musical topic of vietnam) which ran in the radio and touched him, eventually resuming "Yes, I am a very good singer!"
With his obvious preferrence for kitch, I could predict what I will see when he claimed we are heading to a "very beautiful" temple.
A very beautiful temple "Chua Dat Set"
A monk dedicated 70 years of his life into decorating this temple with clay figures.
It's crazy how much he created, and everything has some appeal. I think he had a lot of fun with it: Here a leap from the realistic into the cubistic.
Another talent of Binh was to find out about people very quickly. Whenever we sat down somewhere he would find out which person belongs to which family in which relation, where they come from, what job they do and who is in love with whom. He loved chatting away, and it always appeared that he had already known them before. As he claimed later, he didn't. I call that instant "rapport".
So I was lucky with Binh - but the weather was the opposite. It kept raining and raining and raining. Whatever we did, wherever we where - it poured down on us. Some people may tell me, I should have expected weather like this during the rainy season - BUT ....? EVERY DAY? Non-Stop!? I was frustrated. In the beginning i still had hope it would end until the final day of our trip - where i planned to go to the supposedly beautiful Phu Quoc Island. You know what i got? A TAIFUN. All boats were brought back to land and forbidden to head out into the ocean. Good bye Phu Quoc...
Because of this weather, my Camera-darling didn't get much to shoot. Just like me, it had a cold and was fogged up everywhere. So not so many nice pics of the Delta...
Binh eventually concluded:
"Yes I agree. Everything looks boring in the rain."
after a pause he added smiling -
"Everything looks boring in the rain, except maybe my wife - and your girlfriend!"
Binh was great...