Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Dinner in Tra Vinh

March2007 Vietnam 283a

I jump on the back of Mr. Dung's (not pronounced at all like that) scooter and off we go to the restaurant near the outskirts of Tra Vinh. Mr. Dung is the Vice Director of Tra Vinh University and is on the far right in the picture above. He speaks very little English, but he is able to understand what I'm saying most of the time. On another scooter are two young ladies from the University. Mai (blue) and Thuy (twee, in pink) are accompanying us for dinner which is good since they are fun and also because they have pretty good English skills.

I never did get the name of the restaurant. I would have done so, but the night kind of got away from me. We were also joined by Mr. Hung (far left in pic, pronounced "Yun") who is director of their computer services department, mainly dealing with network administration and the school website. As I keep saying about everyone, he is a very nice and friendly person. Thuy was trying to teach me to speak Vietnamese. She quizzed me mercilessly about whether I can remember the words she told me 30 seconds before ... which generally I cannot do.

The main course was this little forest pig. The way they explained it to me is that these run wild in "the forest" wherever that is. Apparently it is some sort of small wild boar, but I could be wrong about that. If you click on the picture it will take you to the flickr page where you can better see all the particular parts.

Even more interesting than the pig was the fish. We had some very spicy little smelt-like things on a stick. I am quite certain that this is the same fish species that I have previously kept in a home aquarium. It was actually rather tasty, but my lips were burning when I was done due to the very spicy sauce and other fixins for the little fishies. Along with that, we also had a traditional Tra Vinh dish of rice, boiled eggs, and this special fish sauce that they are known for in this area. They told me that this is what many of the poor people eat on a regular basis. It was actually very tasty.

Regarding the fish on a stick ... this is what a live one looks like in an aquarium. In the aquarium trade they are usually called either Dragonfish or the Violet Goby. In a U.S. tropical fish store it would generally cost $12-15 to buy one of these guys. Or, you can come here and get a plate of ten of them for a couple of bucks.

Yesterday was all about travel and meeting new friends. Today the work begins. I'll tour three campuses of TVU, meet with some University leaders to discuss various aspects of e-learning and begin to discuss student recruitment for Minnesota Online. Big day coming, so why am I awake at 4 AM?

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