So we were staying at a homestay in the Ba Vi National Park near Hanoi. It was simply called ‘Ba Vi Homestay’. The middle-aged Vietnamese couple we were staying with were very friendly, but spoke almost no English.
It was a lovely place with a beautiful garden, but fairly basic. When we asked them, one hot morning (with our limited Vietnamese), if they had any cold drinks (nuoc da?) they said no (they didn’t have a fridge). But later that day we received a cup of sugarcane water with a large lump of ice bought fresh from the market.
We were staying in a traditional little cabin, and we were visited by frogs, lizards, and all manner of insects during our stay there. One night I woke up to find my hand resting on a wriggling cockroach (I screamed).
One English word our hosts knew was ‘evening’, and so they called us to dinner in the evening by shouting ‘Evening! Evening!’. We also had a bit of confusion when she served us the food, and repeated something that sounded like ‘boner-party!’. After a while Janine worked out that she was trying to say ‘Bon Appetit!’
One of the most surprising events while we stayed there occurred on the first day. The woman was beckoning towards us, leading us down though the garden behind the trees. She kept repeating something, and we realised she was saying ‘BIG chicken!’. We followed in confusion until we reached a mesh fence, and were surprised to be greeted by 3 large and excited looking ostriches. She seemed very proud of them. That night we had a huge plate of chicken for dinner. I still wonder.