A new country, new burning questions on the train from Lang Son to Ha Noi (150 kilometers, 6 hours) about our toddler: 1. Boy or girl? 2. Two or three years old? 3. Can I hold him? Answers determined through pantomime (because of no common language) as follows:
1. Either grab Owen’s crotch, only to find a pesky diaper; or point, very closely, to Nick’s crotch and the crotch of the Nung minority lady seated next to him, then raise hands in a questioning posture.
2. Raise three fingers; look shocked when we raise one finger. Pick him up and go, “Ah, uh, oh!”
3. Try. Watch him squirm away and yell, “No, no, no!” Then mockingly yell back, “No, no, no!” and try to grab him again. Repeat until he gets whisked away by an annoyed mom.
So, after a day wandering Lang Son (a fine town!) and a few hours on this slow, creaky train to Hanoi (four more to go!), what are a mother’s impressions of Vietnam? Same as China, mostly, except for more genital-grabbing attempts on our toddler and a lot less crowding on the train. More to come.