What an amazing and sometimes confronting time we have had so far. We landed and after a protracted visa procedure we met Mae our guide. We were whisked away to a buffet lunch. What an introduction to Vietnamese food. Henry tried one of those Embryo eggs and Sophie ate snails. I was impressed with the willingness of the students to try all sorts of new tastes
Next stop was the freedom palace. "i remember the TV footage of the tank crashing though the gates and found it amazing to be there and see the gates and tanks there. We toured the palace itself which was well palatial! The basement was interesting. It had been left as it was when they were fighting the Viet Con from there. Lots of maps showing where everyone was fighting etc. It was interesting to hear about the War from a Vietnamese view point. America is seen as the invader and as the aggressor.
Next stop the very confronting War Remnants Museum. The photos are confronting, particularly the deformities in the children as a result of Agent Orange. Many of the photographers that contributed photos were not Vietnamese which made the pictures even more powerful. Everyone was moved and many of the kids realised perhaps for the first time that there are two sides to every story and in reality neither side tells the whole truth.
We checked into our Hotel to unpacked and all were pleased to settle in and shower after being up for so long. Some one worked out that it took us 23 hours to get here from the time we left Hamilton.
Feeling fresh from the shower we had a cyclo tour. This is a form of tricycle. It was a real adventure as we travelled through the thousands of motor bikes. The street life is so different every direction brings a new thing to see The contrast of the old and new, street vendors and Louie Vouton Over the top Christmas lights. We were whisked away to a tailors and Steve Kelly Penny and Emily ordered some new clothes looking forward to seeing them when they are delivered tomorrow.
Dinner was at a Revolving Restaurant. We looked down one of the busiest streets and watched the traffic flow around each other. The views at night were stunning and the food was pretty good to.
Exhausted after being up for nearly 36 hrs we headed of for an early night.
Traditional Vietnamese breakfast of fish noodles rice eggs, this time without embryos! fresh fruit and of course bread, French style of course. Not a corn flake in sight!
We set of in the bus, taking it in turn to sing through the microphone our guide Mae had sung to us the previous day and was very surprised at our talents. Travelling through the countryside was great. Rice paddies duck farms Stall selling gold fish in plastic bags tomb stones you name it there was a store for it. We saw hammock stops which consisted of rows of Hammocks to take a siesta in.
The Chi Chi tunnels were eye opening. We have photos of Kane, Steve, Emily, James. Ryan, either disappearing or reappearing out of an hidden entrance. Only Andrew James and myself made it all the way through the tunnels them self. Many claimed sore backs and being too tall. The tunnels are amazing and the ingenuity of the people is impressive. Again every one was forced to re-evaluate what they thought they knew about the war in Vietnam. Zoe and Bb commented at dinner tonight that they wished the History exam had been held after the tour as would have got much better marks than they did. Steve is doing spot quizzes testing how well they are listening and they are getting very competitive. Lunch was in an open air shelter at the side of a river. Very pleasant and great wild life. I had fun trying to get a photo of a huge butterfly.
Next stop was the chance try some weasel coffee. This is coffee beans that have been passed through the digestive system of a Weasel Despite the procedure the coffee tasted delightful and many of us bought some to take home with us. The main tourist market came next and some of the kids bought things whilst others found the whole thing a bit to confronting.
We had dinner on our own tonight. We have not had the same thing twice and after every meal at least one of the kids says that its the best meal they have had so far!
Must go all the kids are in bed nearly asleep and its 10.pm. Alarm waking us up at 5 am tomorrow so we can go to Long Tan and swim on a beach.
Its a hard life but I guess some one has to do it!