Toy making village
Trip Start Aug 04, 2009
152Trip End Ongoing
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What I did
Take it away Richard:
There once was a man named Mark
Who's travels were broad as a Lark
His photos delightful
and comments insightful
That his followers could fill an Ark
Thanks Richard for those kind words and in honoring me with a poem.
On to today's entry...I returned to Hanoi about a week ago and decided today (Sunday) would be a good time for a day trip into the country to visit a traditional village. A toy making village was on our agenda so I met my friend Hang at our usual meeting place, a parking lot near Hoan Kiem lake. In no time we on our way out of the increasingly busy streets of Hanoi and into the less bustling countryside. About 30 kms later and a few missed turns we were driving down the main street of To He village where pencil top and stick toys are made. We decided to stop for a Mia Da also referred to as Nuoc Mia (my favorite summertime drink and I read that it is the second most popular drink in the world, next to OJ) and inquire about where these toys were made. In a few moments of conversation our Mia Da maker was on her bike and down the lane to get her friend who made the toys we sought. I guess there are others who make them but in a matter of minutes we were being invited into their house to be shown how they're made.
Once again we were welcomed by warm, trusting people that invited us strangers into their home to watch what they do for their livelihood, offered drinks and to try our hand at making them too.
We were told that it takes 7 minutes or less to make one toy depending upon the complexity of it
The molding substance is made from a rice powder mixed with water and in the old days colored with natural coloring found in flowers and leaves. The toys were edible but now its quicker to use manufactured dyes and now no longer edible.
After watching for awhile and entertaining the village kids with my poor attempt to say Vietnamese words. We attempted to bid our farewell but were asked to stay for homemade strawberry juice made from a thick red strawberry syrup and water. It was sweet and the closest thing to drinking real strawberries that I have thus far tasted. On our way out the door we were handed a large bag of starfruit that were picked from a large tree that grew in their courtyard and shaded the area. A double plus - shade and fruit. I could see myself sitting in a chair and reaching up for a sweet fresh snack.
I drove home happy from a day of driving in the warm sunshine, breathing in some fresh country air and having learned more about another village's trade, Best of all, a bag of fun and cute toys were in hand to give to my Hanoian friends.
On a different note - the fruit that is plentiful here now is some of my favorites: nhan fruit (Longan), rambutan and dragon fruit, and can be purchased for almost nothing...yummy good stuff
School started back this week and I will be one busy guy with teaching classes in two buildings and having 5 minutes to get to each class. Fourth floor in one, down the stairs across a courtyard and back up 4 floors again and then back again, 3-4 times a day - who planned this mad schedule ...what doesn't kill me will make me stronger. I think I will be practicing free running techniques (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmMPCbRuW2Y&feature=fvwrel) in my attempt to get to each one in time, especially the moves at about 2 minutes into the video.
Have a great week my friends!