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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Good Morning Vietnam, Part 3: Wet Rice Farming with Water Buffalo!

The first "tours" we did during out recent, month-long trip through Vietnam (thanks to Vietnam Central Coastal Tourism!) were arranged for us by the wonderful concierges at the Nam Hai Resort where we were fortunate enough to stay- see my first post in the series, which is totally devoted to the 5 delightful nights we spent there! As Dan and I like "active" excursions, where we can actually "do" things and learn stuff, the two we chose to do were with Jack Tran's Ecotours: Wet Rice Farming with Water Buffalo, and Fishing and Palm Paradise!

These both turned out to be excellent, and truly unique excursions, providing not only the opportunity to learn about traditional Vietnamese agriculture, but to actually DO it, which was a LOT of fun!
When we were in Vietnam in 2008 and saw children fording the rivers on the back of water buffalo, I ached to join them- it looked like such fun! And this time I got the chance to do it, and it WAS fun!
The first tour we took was Wet Rice Farming, and as a picture speaks a thousand words, and I have a thousand photos, I'll pretty much let them do the talking!
We started out by bicycling through the beautiful Vietnamese countryside and rice fields outside of Hoi An- a hoot, since neither of us had ridden a bike for Decades!  But it IS true what they say- no matter how old you get, you don't forget how to do it! LOL
Once we got to the farm we had tea, and then took off our shoes and changed into "farming clothes", and began to learn about traditional rice farming by actually DOING it! We first learned how to ride a water buffalo, which was incredibly fun! I found it SO much fun, in fact, that they let me keep riding him, around and around the pond! Then we learned how to till the mud with the buffalo (getting a "mud spa foot treatment" in the process!), taking turns leading the buffalo and plowing. Then we raked the mud smooth, and prepared it for sowing by "water buffalo surfing" on a wooden plank, holding on to the buffalo's tail! . Then we sowed rice, and moved water by swinging baskets in unison- which is a Lot harder than it looks! And finally we learned how to harvest and process rice the traditional way, using a foot-pedal thrasher, a stone grinder, and baskets for tossing and winnowing!


Getting ready to farm!

We snacked on traditional banana-leaf wrapped sticky rice rolls dipped in salt, and made Vietnamese crepes with bean sprouts, and then went inside for a wonderful lunch. Our only disappointment was that we were looking forward to riding the bicycles back to town- and working off that lunch!- but the trip back was by car!

Dan rides a water buffalo!

Dan buffalo surfs!

This was an excellent and truly unique day, and definitely worth doing, especially if you really want to learn something about traditional Vietnamese agriculture AND have a great, fun time doing it! Our guide and the farmers who worked with us were super nice, incredibly patient, and obviously enjoyed the fact that we were having such a good time trying to do everything correctly! Jack and his guides are doing something really excellent, both for tourists and his community, by sharing their knowledge of and love for the traditional and extraordinary things the area offers. We highly recommend Jack’s tours and wish him much success!



Elisse having WAY too much fun!




Dan and Elisse plow the rice field...



...Dan leads the buffalo while Elisse plows...





Then Dan plows...


...while Elisse leads the buffalo!

Elisse, buffalo surfing!


How it is SUPPOSED to be done!

How WE did it!


Raking...

Sowing rice...

Elisse, harvesting rice...





The harvest!

Rice Farmer Dan!


Thrashing the rice...


Pounding the rice...

Winnowing the rice...
A snack of "sticky rice rolls" & salt...


Grinding the rice...
Dan is VERY good at this!
How it's done...
Making Vietnamese crepes with bean sprouts...



Chef Dan & his crepe!
Lunch!



Sites along the way to the farm...





Yummy blackberries!
"Atheist Cemetery"
Cemetery
On the way to the farm...




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