Thanks to our friend Vinh, we have discovered CORN CAKE! Since having a sweet tooth is a trait both of us share, we are always thrilled to find yet another Vietnamese dessert. Here in HCMC there are evidently several bakeries known for making corn cake -- hard to describe a regular looking, circular, two or multi-tiered cake complete with icing that tastes delicately of corn and sometimes surprises you with a kernel or two of whole, cooked corn. So when you travel to Vietnam and are in HCMC, be sure to ask around and try corn cake. We highly recommend it!
Although we are housed in a different room at the TDT campus from our previous visit, we are pleased to share that our room has at least one resident "long" -- small lizard. She is mostly nocturnal (we probably ruin her normal routine since we often work out of our room) and has a wonderful chirp/whistle. We've had some stereo noise usually late at night, so there must either be others in the room or close by at various windows. The longer we stay, the more we get to see the long wander around the walls.
And then...two of our former students Ngoc and Nhai have visited with us already (and we hope to meet up with many more of them soon) to share their news. One of the great stories Ngoc shared is that after graduation from TDT, she and a couple of friends decided to hitchhike around Vietnam -- with little or no money. Evidently this is relatively common -- although some parents probably aren't too thrilled with such an adventure -- practice for students today. Ngoc's trip took around 30 days and she mostly headed into northern provinces of Vietnam where she wanted to learn more about the various ethnic minorities. The trip made many BIG impressions on Ngoc as she and her friend (one of the buddies headed home fairly quickly) easily found rides (motorbikes, trucks, animal carts) and also fairly easily found people willing to allow them to stay in their homes to eat and sleep in return for some help with household work. Ngoc's observations of different ethnic groups' cultures, opinions, differences between living conditions from rural to towns and cities, different agricultural crops, different types of work -- she really soaked up a lot in 30 days of hard traveling. We are so lucky to get to know people here willing to share and learn together!