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


Making little friends

Mr. Dom, Long and Vinh

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


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

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday, June 14

This is Melissa writing.

Well, it's hot. It is so flippin hot!! It's not so much the heat that gets to you, but the looming humidity. It has an incredible capacity to make you sweat. Working outside at the orphanage leaves us all drenched half-way through the day. I bet the people at the restaurants where we eat lunch think we're crazy.
The people here are so incredible. I am amazed by their graciousness and friendliness. Generally being a tourist means you are looked at poorly, but here everyone is curious and open, very smiley. I like it.
Yesterday afternoon we spent painting at theorphanage. We were welcomed with open arms and once again filmed by the journalist team that always seems to know wehere we're going. We visitied the infants in one of the small rooms off of the courtyard. They were darling. One of them had crazy hair - it stuck out in all directions. Not going to lie; I wanted to adopt them all.
After that, we were instructed to sand down the railing on the balcony of the two upper levels of one of the buildings. We were confused as the sanding did very little and they had us paint it the original color. Once we were done with that, we all loaded onto the bus. I do not believe air conditioning has ever felt so incredibly delicious. It is always such a relief to step onto that bus. We drove to a nearby restaurant, a big place with a bridge spanning a murky pond filled with lily pads and fake mountains. They had a private room for us upstairs. There was so much food! Dish after dish after dish piled onto the Lazy Susan. It's quite interesting to guess what we're being served. I thought one dish was chicken, seeing that we found its head (yes, the whole thing) under the other pieces of meat.
We went back to the orphanage after lunch and got straight to painting. The paint was oil-based, so the fumes were strong. We were baking in the sun, sweat dripping down our faces while trying not to be overwhelmed by the paint fumes. It was actually pretty fun. I was disappointed, though, that we had no opportunity to work with the kids. I wish we could do more than paint.
We left the orphanage at 4:00 and had about an hour and 15 minutes till we got back to the hotel. I do NOT recommend drinking tons of water before such a long drive. It was not so much fun.
Back at the hotel, we rested a bit before dinner. Carly and I went out with her host brother to eat near a small lake. We ate in a restaurant on the fifth floor with a view. But first, we had to cross the Crazy Intersection of Death. It doesn't actually kill you but there are drivers coming at you from all angles on little motorbikes. They're very good drivers, but it's insane how many of them dodge you crossing the street.
We went into a little silk shop in which they were very helpful; they even brought me a little stool to sit on when I was looking at the items close to the floor. We walked back to the hotel and while we were standing ouside, about to say good-bye to Carly's host brother, we saw a motorbike zoom by and someone on the back shouted something. The motorbike stopped a little up the street and someone jumped off and started running towards us. We were so confused, but soon realized that it was our Vietnamese - GS friend, Yen Anh. We caught up with her before she left with her friends. I was so excited to see her (she's awesome!) and also amazed at the fact that she just happened to drive down the street we were on at that exact moment.
I really like breakfast at the hotel; mango, yogurt, fried rice, peach juice, pasteries, and Vietnamese coffee. We got on the bus at 8:00 to return to the orphanage for our 6th workday, ready to paint, surrounded by the relaxing high-pitched screech of the locusts and the sweltering heat.

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