Rustic Round Meets Modern Square

This is our entry in nancy merrill photography’s A Photo a Week Challenge: Squares and Circles.

When we visited Southeast Asia in 2017, one of the highlights was trekking combined with a homestay near Sa Pa, Vietnam. Many homes in the area have added on a room or two to host visitors, providing dinner and breakfast of interesting and filling local food.  Our homestay had a large shared dormitory-style room for guides and other guests, as well as a concrete addition with three private rooms and a shared bathroom.  The wall pictured below separated an inner common room from outside tables. The rustic round gourd hanging on the wall contrasts with the square panes of the modern window wall.  The windows reflect the everyday world of the family, especially the red laundry hanging over the fence to dry.

This photo was taken on February 16, 2017. Specs are:

Olympus TG-4,  ISO 100, f/2.4, 1/40 sec, 5.87 mm

For more photos from this trek, please see our posts:

Pho Bowls at Coc Ly Market,

Walking Bridge in Ta Van Village – Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge: Letters W or X and

Sa Pa Rice Terrace – Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Harvest – Earth.

A Hard Choice Trekking in Sa Pa – Cee’s Which Way Challenge

This post is in response to Cee’s Which Way Challenge.

While trekking near Sa Pa in northern Vietnam, we came across this signpost that appears to list our choices at an intersection of trails frequented by water buffalo.


However, the sign on the other side of the post informs the traveller that the name of the owner of the house in the background is “Dung Dung.”

Our guide was unaware that the word suggested something different to us. He had already explained “buffalo chocolate” to us, so he quickly understood our reaction.

We wonder which American words have “alternate” meanings here.


Two tales of one city

We wanted to go to Sa Pa, Vietnam, for the breathtaking scenery. We took the overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, where we were picked up for a two hour drive to Sa Pa, a mile high city. As we drove, we began to notice that it was getting cooler and a little foggy. By the time we reached our hotel, it was 34 degrees Fahrenheit and damp. This was the sweeping panorama from our hotel.

We emailed our travel guide in Hanoi in a panic (our US phones don’t work in Vietnam) and she made quick arrangements to modify our planned village trek and overnight homestay with a tribal family, to make sure we could see something and would have warm blankets (thank you, Ms Huyen and Asia Tour Advisor). The weather improved and we were eventually rewarded with scenes like the one in the following photo.