Farewell to Vietnam!

Ho Chi Minh would approve!

Former Ambassador to the US and Vice President of VUS, Mr. Ngyuen Tun Chin and host mother singing the last song of the night

Mandy and Corin rocking the keys

Our tour guide Anh (right) for the first leg of the trip

Chuck Searcy, Vietnam veteran living in Vietnam and Carter. We donated $300 towards a water buffalo that would help suuport a farming familiy in need.

Paige tearing up the dance floor

My Nghi, our fearless leader, welcoming everyone to the farewell dinner

Interior of Museum of Military Engineering and Command

Bill and Hilary Clinton helping to normalize relations with Vietnam in 2000

Claymore mines

Our tour guide in the museum

View into the cluster bomb delivery systems

Unexploded ordinance gathered throughout the country (UXO's)

Image from the past displayed in the Museum of Engineering and Military Command

Carter receives gift from Colonel

One of sixteen SOS homes

Lost in thought

Clement steals the crayons

Mandy breaks the ice

Corin with his new friends

Kira helps color

Carly at play

Picture drawn by a child at the SOS Village

Clay tiles on prison roof

View through the prison door

Sculptures of Vietnamese imprisonment by the French at the Hoa Lo Prison. Later it would be nicknamed "Hanoi Hilton" by American POWs, the most famous of which was John McCain.

Altar at Temple of Literature

Roof of Mausoleum

Group Photo in front of Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum

Our host family who fed us like we've never been fed before...

Cute pups everywhere in Mai Chau

Cultural Center: "before" picture

Mostly done! This is our "after" picture.

Lots of villagers attended Friday's cultural performance

Ethnic group dancers

We were the guests of honor. Of course, the obligatory cup of green tea before the performance!

Bamboo stick dance

Tambiet (good-bye), Mai Chau

On way to power plant - brick-making "oven"

View of Hydroelectric Plant area from Ho Chi Minh statue; this plant produces 14% of Vietnam's total electricity

My friend, Ho Chi Minh (2nd largest statue in Vietnam)

At Ho Chi Minh statue

House on stilts like ours in Mai Chau (Jackfruit tree in foreground)

Clement deep in "journal" thought

Backyard view of our host home

Grand-daughter of our host family

Simple beauty

Orphanage sheets

Tall One on ladder

Love that paint job

Paint line

Carly = Spot Remover

Concentration

Making little friends

Mr. Dom, Long and Vinh

We need to brush up on our Vietnamese....

Patterns

Taking a break

Do you have your license, young man?

Three lucky babies

Watch out!!

Paige - sweaty but stylish

Melissa and Carly painting at the orphanage

Tough guy

Vietnamese ethnic house replica

Ethnic minority house

Pho (national soup!) comes in 3 popular kinds: Ca (fish), Bo (beef) and Ga (chicken). Yum yum...

Keep out dust, dirt, debris from road (this is bridge toll collector)

Houses are built UP since owners pay for square footage of first floor.

Can't get enough sushi

Oohhh, now tuna sushi is my favorite, favorite food!!!!

The wall of our private room in the restaurant

Funeral march (on the way to Ninh Binh)

Glamour girls

Sea of sampans

Paige and Allie with their driver

Natural beauty

Watch your head!

Carly and Melissa upstream

Limestone rock formations at Ninh Binh

Rice plants removed, ready to spread and dry

Spreading rice plants out to dry

Rice chaff drying in driveway

Silly Hoa with Silly Carter's glasses

Clement and Corin's brothers rolling paint

Teresa (adult leader) doing her part

Melissa carefully (?) at work!

Pho Bo (Beef Noodle soup) in the street

Examining donations at St. Paul's Hospital

Artists Mandy and Clement at work

Jaye's new soccer player friend

Weeding intensely

Motorbikes reign

Embroidery class

Clean-up Guy, Corin.

Side by side

The class leader

Jaye and Melissa helping out

Camera crews follow us everywhere

Mr. Nguyen is Executive Vice Chairman of the Vietnam - USA Society

At Ryan's family restaurant - could we fit any more food on this table or in our bellies?!

Ashlee (Ryan's cousin) and Mr. Huang

At Military Museum: Ho Chi Minh in background

War Trophies

War Trophies
Collected "art" from past wars in Vietnamese soil

Mr. Chuck Searcy spoke about how these cluster bombs still maim and kill civilians

Meet the Parents!! Go Corin! Go Clement!

Dad and Grandpa

Dad and Grandpa
Mandy and Jaye (Mrs. Mom was at home)

Allie and Melissa accepting roses

The Triplets: Kira, Paige and Carly have a brother!

The Home Stay Club - no kidding - this is their title!

Mandy and Mr. Nghi

Mandy and Mr. Nghi

Sunday, June 19, 2011

June 19, Sunday

Written by Ally

We are nearing the end of our visit to Vietnam, and the feeling is bittersweet. Though I cannot wait until I return home, I know I will miss much of this environment and culture. Back in the hotel, we started our day at 8am. Mr. Nghi and Mr. Hue met us in the hotel lobby to tour the Mausoleum. Unlike the first time we tried to see Ho Chi Minh, or Uncle Ho (as the Vietnamese refer to him) we advanced in the line relatively quickly. The amount of people there both locals and tourists led me to believe that this is consistently a popular site. The actual room where Ho Chi Minh lay was about five minutes into the building. It was important to stay respectful throughout. If not, the guards were there. They stood at each corner to make sure we followed the strict rules and continued to move - there was no stopping. In a makeshift single-file line, we circle the clear prism that enclosed Ho Chi Minh. The sight was fascinating and sent chills down my spine. The next tour was of his house. We were able to see his work and eating areas, with his actual furniture. Next we made our way to the museum of Ho Chi Minh, but unfortunately Cheri had to leave for the States. We all said our goodbyes. The museum was obviously entirely about Vietnam's former Persident, but none of the information plaques were in English. After that, it was finally lunch. We went all out with iced-smoothies and lettuce appetizers at a restaurant called Koto that filters the ice. The fresh spring rolls that I had longed for for the duration of this trip were finally allowed. Koto's mission is to train street children to work in restaurants and place them in wage-earning positions throughout the city. After the delicious lunch, the eleven of us made our way to the Temple of Literature and Hoa Lo Prison, also known as "Hanoi Hilton." The temple is a dedication to teachers but more specifically Confucious. It was made up of several courtyards, connected by maze-like pathways. As people passed through, they would smudge their names into a box believed to give luck on exams. We took part in that practice. Finally we toured around the prison. It really put into perspective the way POWs lived during the war. Both informing and interesting, the prison served as a good way to end the educational part of our day. I can definitely say that I have learned a great deal about this country and appreciate it in every way.

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