When I went to Vietnam a few years back with my oldest and dearest childhood friend, we stumbled upon a back alley market, just outside the city center of Hanoi, where I found an old lady selling teapots spread out on a blanket. She had at least 50 teapots. But only one like this: seafoam green with hand painted goldfish and white lily pads. I bought it on the spot for my koi-loving husband, and she tied it up in a plastic bag like Chinese takeout. I remember how surprised she seemed that I didn’t want to haggle over price. It was already less than $10, and with very little room for loot in my travel bag, I knew it would be my only purchase. I carried it around with kid gloves for weeks, while we biked the Mekong Delta, kayaked through the floating villages of Halong Bay, and ate our way through Hoi An. A couple days before leaving, a careless packing job and a wild puddlejumper flight to Ho Chi Minh City left seven of the eight miniscule cups smashed to bits. I have one left, and somehow the teapot survived.
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