Sunday, August 31, 2008

Bahn Xeo Street

You know how I like streets with food themes...remember Stir Fry Street and Noodle Alley in Shaoxing, China ?

Well, Tarn and I decide to wander from school on our way to meet Kathryn (she teaches at the elementary school across town) and see another rental (did I mention that the security guards live at their schools here, so they are always available to let us in?--they sleep on the floor and shower in the gym) and we find a Bahn Xeo Street. Bahn Xeo are Vietnamese crepes made with an egg, rice flour and coconut milk batter and they are stuffed with bean sprouts, shrimp and mom loves them at the Tamarind Tree. I have barely seen Bahn Xeo here and suddenly, this street is lined with cast iron little stove pots with fires underneath, usually about six or seven of them next to a huge pot of grease.

Bahn Xeo Street also has quite a selection of vegetarian stands, and since Tarn is vegetarian, we find one stand with five teenage girls presiding over about thirty dishes. They are all laughing because they are unaccustomed to tourists here, and they find our wonder at the array amusing. Finally, I pantomime a kind of, "Tell me what is good" and they take a plate of rice and heap it full of their favorite items, giggling as they work. We sit at a table and they bring us a coconut milk drink, soup and bananas. For two huge vegetarian feasts we pay a total of $1.80. We know we are staying in the tourist area, because we sure don't eat that cheaply around our hotel, and the people aren't nearly as friendly.

We also wander into a temple. We see a huge bellied Buddha in one room and many people dressed in green-grey robes lighting incense and praying. This is only the big room...there are so many little side rooms and a place where people sit at long tables eating noodles. We look at a staircase but we are a little shy about tresspassing; then a petite toothless woman approaches and very gracefully invites us to take our shoes off and go upstairs. There we find even more rooms filled with pictures of ancestors (I guess) or Bodhisattvas...I need to read more about what we saw. In one of the larger rooms a Hindu looking figure presides and mostly women kneel at tables with little prayer books. Some are lighting incense and some are bowing. But some are smoking and some are text messaging, too. I'm fascinated by the variety of activities going on and want to understand it more. I keep reminding myself that some of that will come in time- after all, I do have ten whole months to figure it out.

Here is a picture of my classroom and the view from my classroom window. Not bad, huh? Lots of people email and ask how I have the time to blog every day...well, I love to do it, of course. And I have to choose from so many things to write about. Like now, I left out ten other cool things in favor of the temple and bahn xeo. But I suppose we'll see how this week goes as to whether I will find the time to write every day. The countdown is on...hopefully I will write very soon about the very cool place we will live...


Byron said...

I am curious MB, will you be required to claim your tapeworm as a pet on your new rental agreement??

I am enjoying reading about your adventures. We should organize a pen pal thing between your kids and some here at the high school in our foreign language classes. Oooo wouldn't a video conference be COOL!


AmyT said...

Marjii, famine to feast. Having been glob-less for so long, I got out of the habit. Now, I'm all caught up and a little ogglie in the belly myself after all those descriptions at once. I remember that blanching-panic-excitement-tremble as you wait for that new class/culture to step into YOUR classroom; you've got a lot to share. They are very lucky. Now, to my ESL curriculum so you'll have more to share! Peace.

The Norris Clan said...

1.80?! Now THAT is a good deal! When do you start school? Hope you can find an apt soon... What's up with the roommates... :-)

marjie said...

Byron, that's a great idea (not the tapeworm one)...however, just the other day I heard that the parents don't want their kids "corrupted" by American teenagers. But they can go to an American school. I will have to investigate!