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Beautiful Patterns, Common Threads


Vietnam, part 3

If you've indeed been following my travels, you've seen MANY different uses for that most common and useful of plants in Southeast Asia, the bamboo tree. Besides being of so many uses, a great thing about bamboo is that it's a renewable resource: you HAVE to cut it back regularly to make sure it keeps growing and stays healthy! Seems to me bamboo holds one of the keys to keeping our environment healthy while meeting our needs for natural resources. Unfortunately, bamboo is becoming one of the casualties of the destruction of the rainforests -- and, as it becomes scarcer, it becomes more expensive, and people begin to turn to less expensive products made artificially that ultimately create other problems (for example, as waste once they deteriorate). What can we do to save bamboo?

Stands of Bamboo Like This Line The Shores of Canals Throughout the Delta

One Use of Bamboo: Workers Split It Into Smaller Slices...

...Then Into Smaller Slivers That Are Used to Make Incense Sticks!

A Worker Like This Woman Can Individually Hand-Roll Up to Seven Thousand Sticks of Incense Each Day -- for One Dollar

Bamboo Is Also Used to Build Bridges Like This One; I Can't Imagine It Holding My Weight, But Vietnamese Walk Across Carrying Heavy Loads As If They Were on Solid Land

Here's a Little Sturdier Bridge Made From the Magical Wood

There are dozens of other uses of bamboo, from making house frame posts out of the logs to weaving roofs from its leaves to eating its shoots as a vegetable. Here is an activity using this website to investigate all the other marvelous uses of this terrific renewable resource:

Student classroom activity


1 - Make a collage using photos from the site that show as many uses as possible of bamboo, a truly miraculous renewable resource.

2 - Research the way bamboo grows and what conditions are necessary for its optimum growth. Report: could bamboo be grown successfully in the place where you live? Would it be advantageous to do so? Why or why not?

Vietnam, Part 5

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