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

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday, June 13

Written by Kira.

Xin chao, everybody! (Hi, everybody!) It has officially been a week in Vietnam for us, and it's a bit difficult to articulate how time passes in this trip, at least for me. Over the past week, we have been adjusting to and absorbing the Vietnamese culture, observing and appreciating the myriad of differences between the ways of life in Vietnam and those we have back at home. Without a doubt, the first few days in this country went by slowly, as we were somewhat jetlagged and exhausted from the plane ride. However, now, I can easily say that each day in Vietnam seems to fly by as we continue to have new and intriguing experiences that we will surely remember well in the future.
Yesterday was a full day of treats for us. It wasn't a work day, so we got to relax more and engage in the daily life here. After lunch in the buffet and walking around the Vietnamese Ethnilogical Museum, Cheri, Carter and Teresa offered to take those who wanted to a large and famous indoor market, just a few minutes down the street from our hotel. Of course, being the shopping addict that I am, I couldn't refuse this opportunity to see what Vietnamese buying, selling and bargaining was really like. When I took a step into the market, all I could see were rows and aisles of shops and stands, carrying any goods you could possibly think of, from blingy hairclips to travel luggage to shoes and baseball caps. They even had a stand for little toy cars, which actually turned out to be cell phones. I had a great time in the market, and by the end of the time in there, I had gotten pretty accustomed to bargaining with the vendors. It's actually kind of fun after a while, and the great thing is, the vendors actually enjoy adjusting prices to meet an agreement. There were definitely great deals in that market!
After we were all shoppe out, the leaders of our trip treated us again, taking us to eat sushi after we all voiced unanimously that sushi was what we were craving. There were some difficulties after we got to the restaurant, "Soshu 123." Turns out, that restaurant in particular didn't serve the sushi we were hoping for; instead, it served barbecue and hot-pot. After we figured this out, we walked out of the place, and ended up a short distance away to an actual sushi restaurant. There, we ate like kings and queens. The food was delicious, and there was so much, that we had to take some home. Cheri offered it to us for breakfast! The rest we took to the orphanage for the staff.
We travelled to the Bac Ninh Orphanage this morning, the place where Cheri adopted Jordan and Xavier. We had the chance to visit a few children awaiting adoption, babies specifically. The were so cute and one of the babies had crazy hair, while another stared out the window. For our work assignment, we were to sand the metal rails of the balconies of the orphanage. Right then, rain crashed down but it only lasted about ten minutes. When I was working on the rails, the cutest little girl, 2 years old, came up to me and persisted on conversing with me. Unfortunately, I couldn't understand her, but I could tell by the spark in her eyes and the music in her voice that she was a sweet and loving girl. Later, I found out that she was waiting to be adopted, and all I could think was why no one had adopted her yet - a sad fact, but she didn't seem to take any notice, as there were no signs of negativity in her persona.
Vietnam, to me, is such a wonderful place, mainly for its people. We all know they've had quite a history, and a hard one, too. However, the people are so open and generous, that if one didn't know of their past, he or she would never expect such a scar in their life. I'm excited to continue our journey in Vietnam and undoubtedly, there is so much more to discover.

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