On the road with Kylie Kwong, part 2

In the field article written on the 17 Jul 2011

Photo: Bonnie Savage/OxfamAUS

By Raina Hunter, Media Coordinator, Oxfam Shops

Days 3 and 4: Kylie cooks lunch

Everything has gone better than I could possibly have hoped.

Day three brought an early start, as Kylie wanted to head to the markets to shop for ingredients for a thank-you lunch she was planning to prepare for the workers at Giang Phong. Sounds straightforward enough, right? Well, until you throw in some hilarity for good measure…

Photo: Bonnie Savage/OxfamAUS

Photo: Bonnie Savage/OxfamAUS

First, there was a friend of the Mai women who joined us to help find the crabs that Kylie wanted to cook – just as another friend had joined us the previous day to assist with all the interpreting. These friends just seem to pop up from nowhere! Anyway, even with her help, we somehow managed to start at the wrong market. After eventually tracking down the crabs, we proceeded to search high and low across Hanoi for water chestnuts. Water chestnuts are usually available on every street corner, not to mention being carried in baskets right past you down the road – but they proved elusive for us. When we finally did find some, Giang (the workshop owner) underwent an unexpected transformation: from serious businessman seemingly bemused by these crazy Westerners and their whims, to hand-clapping, beaming local joining in on our madness!

Back at the workshop, we checked the latest sample pieces and Kylie started preparing lunch. Not used to having a visitor cook for them (usually it’s vice versa), the women pitched in too.  The lunch was delicious, and a great success: we discovered later that many of the poorer women had never eaten crab before, and there was much giggling as we all made a mess with our crab shells.

After such an amazing lunch, dinner at Hanoi’s top restaurant that night was bound to be a disappointment … just as well we were saved by the cocktails (and milkshakes!) at the Metropol Hotel!

On our fourth and final day, we all gathered for breakfast at the pho place across the road from our hotel that had become our regular morning meeting place. We then did some filming with Kylie in central Hanoi, before saying our goodbyes. The rest of the day was spent back at the ceramics workshop, and meeting with another of Oxfam’s Vietnamese producer partners. By evening, we were exhausted, but thrilled about a job well done.

In a nutshell…

It’s amazing how tiring this sort of trip is, with all that’s involved – although none of us can quite put our finger on exactly why that is. For me personally, the experience has been incredible. My understanding of how our producers work and the challenges they face has been heightened dramatically, and I was really impressed by the whole product development process. Plus of course, Kylie is as happy as we are with how her range is shaping up!

Missed part 1 of Kylie’s Vietnam road trip?

Find it here, or watch a video about it!