Challenging Nature: The Clash of Science and Spirituality at the New Frontiers of Life
published by Ecco/Harper Collins, 2006
professor of molecular biology and public policy at Princeton University
The Silver Family Picture Album

Some images from Vietnam

The diversity of the Vietnamese people is striking. In the mountains of Northern Vietnam, close to the Chinese border, we saw women from different hill-tribes who wore such a colorful mix of clothing.

In the picture below, girls at the Sunday market in Bac Ha enjoy an ice-cream cone.

We left Bac Ha for a trek into the surrounding countryside and found that we were a tourist attraction to the local children.

We saw these hill-tribe women in Sapa, a town that is so far North and so high in the mountains that there is almost always a foggy mist in the air.

In the central highlands of Dalat, we visited Prinn Waterfalls, and the children dressed up in "minority clothing." Lee protested that this was very politically incorrect, but I thought it was just fun. At these waterfalls, we were able to walk underneath the huge curtain of water that descends from the wide rocks shown below. At the same site, we rented just one horse for both Ari and Max. Max sat in front and controlled the reins. Ari sat in the back and controlled the horse's speed. It seems like every week, Lee and I say to each other, "they would never let us do this in America!"

This is a scene from the marketplace in the hills. In the foreground, you can see the Flower Hmoung tribal people. You can see from the women's blouses why they are called "Flower" Hmoung. Behind this group, you can see the "Blue Dao" women, and on the left side of the picture are yet another tribal group. It's interesting to see the different patterns of color that are created when each tribal group congregates with their own ethnic group.

This is the fish market in Hoi An, a wonderful town on the central coast between Hanoi and Saigon. The people of the lowlands dress very differently from those in the highlands, and many women wear conical hats made from bamboo.

Schoolgirls in the lowlands wear long white dresses and ride bikes to school.

Doesn't this old man look just like the ancient stone guardian who stands watch over the Royal Tombs where the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty are buried. Both are from central Vietnam. The old man is from Hoi An. The stone guard is located in Hue on the Perfume River.

This old woman asked us to take her picture.

In both Northern Vietnam and in Burma, we saw young boys riding water buffalo. This photo was taken outside of BacHa in the mountains of Northern Vietnam.

In every town and village in Vietnam, we saw women balancing baskets of goods hung from a bamboo pole on their shoulders. This photo was taken in the old quarter of Hanoi. The baskets can weigh 50 pounds or more.

The men generally don't carry things on their shoulders, but they overload goods onto bicycles, and they use a bamboo pole to help steer. This photo was taken in a small ceramics-making village about an hour away from Hanoi.

We took a two day boat trip in Halong Bay where we saw fishing boats and house boats and dramatic limestone formations rising out of the sea.

Our next boat trip was to the Mekong Delta where everything was so wet! In fact, the only means of transportation was often by boat.

I had never seen basket boats like this before. These are often used for fishing, but when the local people want to have fun, they'll spin themselves in these boats like they were in spinning tea-cups at an amusement park. They also use their oars to have water fights on the water!

These ducks don't look too happy! It was more usual for us to see live ducks for sale. Max would often go up to the duck vendors to negotiate a low price for their ducks. He would then beg us for the money so he could buy the duck to free it from its fate.

Baskets of grain are for sale in the market in Hanoi. The markets are filled with such an array of color and texture.

Finally, an image to show how we spent some time the week before going to Vietnam, riding horses on the beach in southern Thailand. Here are Ari and Max.

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