As I note in the index page, this picture is probably my favorite, for several reasons:
- it represents heart and soul of the Vietnamese countryside for me;
- I happen to enjoy looking at farms;
- it's a decent photo; and, most of all
- The people in it were very friendly and one let me cut rice!
This, to me, was way cool. The standard way of requesting a photo is to tap take the camera and tap on itÃ¢â¬âif you get smiles in return, then you're good to go. These ladies consented, so I took their picture (actually, 2 or 3, hoping to get one good one.) But, in the past, I noticed my photographic subjects had enjoyed seeing the pictures in the camera viewfinder (as my mom noted, not as good as a polaroid but still worth some smiles) and as I'd particularly wanted this shot, I wanted these ladies to understand how much I appreciated it.
Well, as you can see, wet rice cultivation takes place in rice paddies...which are (surprise!) wet. After surveying this situation for awhile, I took off my bike shoes and socksÃ¢â¬âI wore capries as the best compromise for sun, bike chains, comfort & modestyÃ¢â¬âand waded in. The rice-cutters enjoyed seeing the picture enough that one actually offered to let me cut rice. I was absolutely thrilled to try it (and am quite certain I would've been miserable if I'd tried to do it on an ongoing basis for even half an hour).
They use a slightly curved metal knife, perhaps 14Ã¢â¬â16 inches long, very sharp. The rice is piled as you see in the picture, and usually threshed right in the field: sometimes with a motorized thresher, but quite often with one that is foot operated. As far as I could tell, most people cutting the rice seemed to be women, though men more often threshed it. The stalks are saved as well, and bundled up; the rice is spread to dryÃ¢â¬âquite often on the highway
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