Houses packed as close as Lego bricks with little room for a blade of grass let alone a garden in parts of Ho Chi Minh.
But up on roof tops, hidden from view some residents practice high rise horticulture.
One of my students is a cook and passionate about food. Flowers and vegetables are cultivated high above the traffic crammed streets.
Orchids run riot. Comfortable in heat and humidity they thrive to a point where Ms Mai resorts to heavy pruning to keep them under control. A far cry from my coaxing and pandering in attempt to keep a single stem from dying.
Trays of salad, herbs and vegetable greens pack the roof.
‘khổ qua – bitter melon
Looking around green stripes and pots adorn many neighbouring roofs.
What can’t be grown on the roof can be certainly bought in one of the colourful markets. I love wandering around the streets. The colour and smells are so enticing but today I had a guide and I learned:
That these are cakes of sugar made from fruit.
These tiny cakes are baked on the spot,
In charcoal powered stoves.
These leaves are used for smoking and
a lifetime habit will do little for your oral health.
The infinite variety of beans have an infinite number of uses, to wash hair or
made into sticky cakes.
Tumeric looks rather like ginger
This large, nondescript looking fruit
is easily transformed into delicious salad,
These leaves are rolled round the paste and eaten as part of prenuptial rituals.
Fish sauce comes in many colours.
The foods made from rice are more than I could possibly imagine.
Asbestos fingers are required to cook these flat popadom type snacks.
And finally, though hardly David Bailey quality, thank goodness I had my phone camera with me!