Our home away from home for the next month is the DINKY – which is nothing but, by the way…located about 20 km outside of Ho Chi Minh City and a 2 mile walk to the Thuan An Center. Its definitely a respite from the gritty grime and noise of the relentless traffic that runs the highway. To get there, one can opt for the well traveled road or walk along the red dirt path by the river laden with lily pads and wooden boats filled with rice and fishermen.

The hotel is a carnival in and of itself. No use for narcissism here. The rooms are clean and freshly painted in a cheery yellow and teak bridges lead you out to the wonderful river, but that is where normalcy ends. En route to the restaurant and check-in area, you walk through a jungle paradise of greenery with cages of alligators and hairy tarantulas, aquariums filled with exotic fish, sea snails the size of baseballs, and bright red lobster. You can even feed the fish if you choose…sort of a morbid last meal before they hit the frying pan in the evening’s dinner, I suppose. There’s another “wing” to the hotel – a real houseboat where guests can opt to stay. The boat does leave the dock every day for three hours for a river cruise. Imagine forgetting your wallet and going back to find your room is out on the river! Across the way is a pseudo pond with a little wooden bridge where Tom Sawyer wanna-bes can try their luck at catching catfish and a watermill that cascades buckets of water into a holding pond.

My favorite place in this crazy convergence of nature, animals, and human existence is the open air restaurant. I’m sitting there now in fact. The breezes off the river are delightful and I love how the whole restaurant rocks when a big boat goes by. Hang on to your pho! Its a great spot to read, write, or just reflect. Large lily pads quickly float pass with the current, creating the illusion that we are the ones rolling down the big river.

I wish you could see this spectacle – there’s a teak fishing boat drifting right along with a couple of shirtless men precariously balanced on the edges, looking out for fish. Its quite the scene with big storm clouds brewing in the background and a light breeze sweeping away some of the heat and humidity. Its so calm and peaceful here…a great way to chill in the proverbial and literal quiet of the storm of our workshop getting underway soon.