Sunday, January 27, 2008

Part 2 - on to Hue, central Viet Nam Hue, here's the Pot....and the fish...

at the Emperor's Imperial City, built in the early 19th century, and home of the Nguyen Dynasty until 1945.

No...the "pot" above is more than 6' tall and 9' in diameter, 1 of 9 made of brass, still in place inside the walls of the Forbidden City, where only the king, his family, servants and attendants could enter. A moat around the City has schools of fish which compete in a frenzy for the food thrown to them.

In truth, earthen pots were used for cooking the royal meals, which each had 35 dishes. The pots were first put into a big pan full of green tea and well cooked to create a layer of green covering them. After being so "enameled" the pots were used one time for the king's meal, then broken.

To this day, Hue cuisine is prepared with flavors and in a style recognized as unique to this province. The "Hue cakes" are a variety of savory and sweet combinations steamed in banana and other local tropical trees' leaves. We enjoyed 4 kinds of Hue cakes in a vegetarian restaurant across the street from the Hue LRC. The young women on either side of Anne are the young, bright enthusiastic managers of Information Resources and Services at the busy Hue LRC, which opened in 2004. The LRC Director was away, planning for an exciting new program of e-learning in medical colleges and libraries for which the Dutch government has provided funding. In a country where there are lonly 4.6 doctors per 10,000 people, every effort is needed to expand access to training, especially for the many rural communities.

......Next stop Mekong Delta

Friday, January 25, 2008

Farm Kitchen Journeys to Vietnam

Our "other" jobs take us to Viet Nam this January to check on the progress of LRCs (Learning Resource Centers - or modern electronic libraries) at 4 regional universities from the north to south of Viet Nam. First stop was Hanoi

...where skinny houses were born! These 2 are on the outskirts, near the airport - in town, land is a premium, and housing costs are soaring. 30-50% increases in 1 year are the norm for Hanoi and Saigon.
Hollis took a cooking class in Hanoi. Next cooking class session at Farm kitchen we'll see what she learned ;)

We drove north 2 hours to Thai Nguyen where the university serves more than 30,000 students, mostly of ethnic minorities from the Northern Mountainous Area. Anne has worked with this team since 2004, when the LRC was a dream, and the site a mud pit recently cleared of rice paddies.

The LRC opened in late November 2007

Equipped with electronic resources and well-trained staff, the LRCs were built to support these large universities as they move to more modern teaching styles and to encourage the students to explore the world of information.
We were treated to the provencial specialties at lunch. Ground pork with fresh ginger over rice was our favorite.

Back on the road we see how many different loads can be carried on a motorbike. Head injuries have dropped 20% since riders (most all) wear helmets after new laws required helmets in December 2007.

Next stop Danang in central Viet Nam ...the famous China Beach.....soon to be lined with large resort hotels and new businesses

And home to the Danang LRC where engineering and IT students are make use of the many computers. In a recent business plan competition sponsored by the LRC and local businesses, the winner created an online train-reservation system.

Danang is famous for its beautiful sandy beaches and R&R location for American troops during the Viet Nam war, known locally as the American war. The university has established training relationships with Boeing and Microsoft, and set up a patent and intellectual property center in the LRC.

The bounty of the sea in Danang includes fresh squid (calamari) and just-caught fish used in fresh spring rolls.

Next stop Hue.....