9 years ago, Andrew and I went to Vietnam for our summer holiday. We didn’t know anything about that place then, no one we knew had been there before, it was all a mystery to us. We bought a Lonely Planet book and decided to travel the whole country starting south and making our way up north. To this day, it is probably the best holiday we have ever experienced. Every place we went to was full of wonder, mystery, beauty and culture. We are yet to go to a place in the world that ticks all the boxes like Vietnam does.
One area we ventured to in Vietnam was a place called Sapa. It attacks tourists because of it’s simplicity, natural beauty and the ethnic minorities that live there. On our second day in Sapa, two young girls from the Hmong tribe came up to Andrew and I and asked if they could spend the day with us. We loved their company, they had never been in school and their tribe did not speak English, but their English was unbelievable. They told us they could speak several different languages, all learned from the tourists coming through Sapa.
After that initial day with us, they asked if we could spend every day together. Each morning, they would come pick us up from our cabin and take us to places that weren’t listed on any map. They told us stories about their lives, their tribe’s lives and their hopes and fears while we trekked for 5 days through the mountains.
On one of the days, we walked through a field of thick, dry grass, it wasn’t like any grass we had ever seen. One of the Hmong girls kept breaking grass off and bending and twisting them, turning the grass into something. When she finished she gave three things to me and said, ‘This is for you, they are horses. This big horse is Andrew, he is strong and will protect your family, this middle horse is you, you will be the one to give your family children, and this small horse is your first child.’
I fell in love with them and told her that the three horses were the best present I had ever received. When we got home, I framed them and the horses sit in our living room above our couch (as you can see in the photo above). It is my favourite piece of art, one that I look at constantly and can still hear that Hmong girl tell me the meaning behind her gift to us.
After 9 and a bit years, I’m really happy to say that, that little horse, that first child, he is on his way and he will be here in February. It will mark exactly 10 years since that sweet little girl turned grass into our first child.