In the countryside of the North of Vietnam, we visited a small village specializing in bamboo products like baskets and chopsticks.
The village head and his wife served us a delicious lunch in a bamboo grove while their beautiful granddaughter ran around, happy for the company.
Over tea, the headman answered questions and explained his responsibilities in this Communist country, including thrice-daily communications over pole-mounted loudspeakers in the fields (more than 100 speakers for this community of a couple thousand people).
Then he led us on a tour of the village industry,
The bamboo trunks are heavy, the tasks laborious.
and joined young men demonstrating how they sawed the bamboo.
Behind them, the pile of bamboo joints and knobs grew. I asked our tour guide Vu if I could take one home, and he said yes, they were destined only for burning. I don’t know if they were to be burned as waste or used for cooking or heating, but I was assured that one piece would not be missed.
Now that piece of bamboo is a utensil holder on the counter next to my stove.
I see it every day, and remember that wonderful trip where we met industrious people at every turn.
Dates of travel: January 2012. Tour: Inside Vietnam