Recently I’ve been processing some of the 1, 953 photos I took during my last trip to Huê back in April and May. I’ve gotten behind in this work – and it is work I have promised to MEDRIX, the excellent organization based in Seattle. Its not that I’m lazy – I just don’t like to work.
These photos are not “tourist” photos – they are shots of the medical clinics and schools where MEDRIX has worked to install safe water systems and involve the local Vietnamese in the work. I like MEDRIX concept – their goal is to put themselves out of business in Việt Nam.
For me, these shots are the real Việt Nam. While the techies worked on medical stuff and safe water, it was my job to record the places – and the people. Most tourists would not take this photo, but I rode by this place on my motorbike a few gazillion times when I lived in Huê. In this case, university students were about to set out on a practical; exercise in using GPS devices – a skill that will serve them well when they begin researching environmental problems later in their college career.
(As always, be sure to click on the photo to see a larger version.)
This too is the real Việt Nam. The government in the province has created a small but growing office that deals with safe water. Each of the safe water units installed by MEDRIX is checked on a regular basis – not by an American, but by a Vietnamese technician. Not only does the technician check the processed water, but he trains the teachers and local people to do it as well. These kids will have good water to drink – at least at school.
The real Việt Nam is in transition. Sure, you can still find lonely wattle shacks out in the countryside, but electricity is everywhere – and where the phone lines don’t go, most likely you will be able to get mobile phone coverage. MEDRIX is looking at providing a safe water system to the clinic across the road from this house.
But of course, the real Việt Nam includes food. This is one of our very favorite eating places in Huê. The Mystery Guest Blogger and our friend Tuan closed the place down one night last April, deeply engrossed in conversation about who-knows-what.
Last night, the MGB decided to prepare fresh spring rolls – with shrimp, bean sprouts, peanut sauce – all the good stuff we enjoyed while living in Việt Nam. I’m not sure I know where she found the rice paper, but her culinary skills were evident as I stuffed myself. She even had some nưôc mam on the table.
All this reminiscing has prompted me to do something. I have published a book of photographs I’ve taken in Việt Nam. For want of a better term, I call them “travel photos.” They too are the real Việt Nam, yet they are also the kind of photos that evoke pleasant memories from tourists and former residents alike. Take a look, and if you see is something you like, the book is for sale. Click here. Be sure to click on Book Preview to see the first few pages of the ninety page book.