One of the really lovely aspects of my trips to Vietnam is that I'm not a typical tourist.
Quite the opposite.
My third-born's friends and colleagues in Danang welcome me with open arms. Invited into normal Vietnamese homes, we share everyday meals and experience culture in ways that Yelp and TripAdvisor could never help me do. And I come to know and care for these people who so generously draw me into their lives.
Case in point: my daughter teaches English a couple evenings a week at a school run by a woman named Thuy. With the help of several high school girls from my daughter's class, Thuy whipped up this beautiful feast in our honor, complete with icy Cokes, and we spent a lovely afternoon in her home eating every delicious bite.
It's worth noting that the table was too small to hold this groaning spread and we quickly decided to move the party to the floor. Asia, you are my kind of place.
Thuy and her family live in a modern and spacious landed house with an inviting courtyard filled with plants. After lunch, I wandered among them, enjoying every dollop of healthy green foliage soaking up the tropical sun.
But of course, my favorite part about this lovely afternoon was not the neighborhood or the garden or even the spring rolls and my quang.
In the front row, Susie, Monica, Sasha and Thuy.
Behind them: the Streichers
The best part about eating lunch at Thuy's house was spending time with these lovely women and making them my friends.