Monday, October 16, 2017

I will never forget the way his face lit up

Image above: Anh at the Song Cau Primary School holding the stationary packs we gave all the students in the school - thanks to the fund raising conducted by the 2017 Premier's Anzac Spirit School Prize students.

A journal extract from 2017 Premier's ANZAC Spirit School Prize student Hannah Zerk. An extract about our visit to the Trung Tâm Công tác Xã Hội Tỉnh BRVT Orphanage School and the Song Cau Primary school in the Phuoc Tuy Province on 4 October, 2017.

I will never forget the way his face lit up

"We visited an orphanage that Tim Fisher help build. He was a Vietnam Vet and later Australia’s Acting Prime Minister. The orphanage was particularly eye opening for me, I know I have and will say this heaps but I have a family that looks after and care for me and all these kids have is their friends and their carers and I have so much more. Family really is everything. It made me stop and think about how lucky I really am. I may not have everything that I have always wanted but I have a family and to me that is everything. I gave two teddy bears to a girl by the name of Mai, she was very shy. She was extremely cute and I do feel for her.

We arrived at the Song Cau Primary School and what can I say? I will never complain about school again. The schoolyard was very small and basic. We walked into the first classroom and it made me realise how good we really have it. It was much like the school you would find in our local museum. The classroom had wooden tables and chairs. They had a blackboard and no lights. Do not be deceived, despite having hardly anything these children were so happy. We gave the children each a package and the girl I gave it to said 'cam on' which means thank you. The next classroom we went to I met a boy called Anh. I will never forget him. I did the chicken dance with him and his little giggle was infectious. Although Anh spoke little English it did not stop him from trying to communicate with me. I could hardly understand him but a smile is universal.  I gave him his present and I will never forget the way his face lit up when I gave it to him. I could tell that this was not just a simple package to him, it was everything. We went to the next classroom and sang kookaburra sits in the old gumtrees. They sang a song back to us and it was extremely cute. Once again our goodbyes were said and we moved along to the next classroom. I sat next to a shy little girl. I must admit I found it hard to communicate with these children but I will never forget how happy these kids were despite having hardly anything."

Airports and farewells on the last day

A last walk around Hanoi and then to the airport for the trip home. Thanks for the memories everyone - what a great bunch of students.

Joining in with the locals.

Early morning happy exercise in the park.

Last group photograph of early morning walkers - putting on a show!

View over Hanoi from the restaurant at the Boss Legend Hotel - great name for a hotel.

 Hanoi airport - looking the part.

Six hours in Singapore airport!

All the best for the future from the teaching team (plus Kendall) on the tour.

Friday, October 13, 2017

To Ha Long Bay and back

The pictures say it all!! What a magnificent few days and overall trip.  Now ready to fly home tomorrow!

Checking out where pearls come from.

Relaxing on the boat.

At the top of the hill.  What a climb!

Swimming at the beach.

Watching the sunrise at 5.45am.

Beautiful Ha Long Bay as the sun rises.

Amazing caves.


Doing some geography in the padi.

Back in Hanoi.

End of trip dinner.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Hanoi day with Ho Chi Minh

Our day in Hanoi started at 6am with an amazing walk around the peaceful lake near our hotel and meeting happy people exercising and  ... joining in with the laughing exercise! If we only knew what they were laughing about? 
After breakfast we visited the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, his residence and an excellent museum on the life of Ho Chi Minh. We also dropped into the ancient university in Hanoi and learnt about Confucianism. After an amazing lunch we visited the Hanoi prison ('Hanoi Hilton').  Still raining!!!

The lake, exercise and new friends.

The group in front of the Mausoleum for Ho Chi Minh.

Inside the Ho Chi Minh Museum.

Students graduating at the Ancient University in Hanoi.

Patting the turtle for good luck in studies.

Outside the 'Hanoi Hilton' prison.

A trip to the restaurant in a bicycleshaw?

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Transit day to Hanoi

Today was a flight to Hanoi, lunch at the Koto Restaurant and then the Water Puppets show. Our walk and ride in the cyclo's was cancelled due to continuing heavy rain - hopefully we can do that tomorrow.

Flight from Hue to Hanoi

Walking around Hanoi in the rain

Monday, October 9, 2017

DMZ day

Today we travelled to the DMZ - the old border area between North and South Vietnam. The day involved museum visits, going down tunnels, viewing the locations of the US bases from 1962-72 along the DMZ and a great walk in the rain up a long and winding road for about 7km. An invigorating day for the body and mind, as you will see below.

On the bridge between North and South.

In the DMZ museum.

The famous DMZ flag pole.

Tunnels again over the border in the old North Vietnam.

Up the hill to Camp Carroll.

At the top of the hill at the site of the old US base called Camp Corroll - what a climb!

Then the rain, rain and rain!

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Hot and wet in Hue!

As is the case on most days, we started our adventures with a 6am walk though the streets - this time over the Perfume River in Hue. The rest of the very hot and humid day involved visits to the Citadel of the Vietnamese Royalty, a Buddhist Pagoda, a cruise on the Perfume River and the tomb of the Emperor - where we got soaked by a tropical downpour! 

Early morning walkers crossing the Perfume River in Hue.

Weaving through the food market in Hue at 6.30am.

The Citadel in Hue.

Walking around the Citadel in amazing heat and humidity -  the most uncomfortable day by far.

The Buddhist Pagoda.

A cruise on the Perfume River.

Getting soaked at the tomb of the Emperor.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

A day on the bus to Hue

Although on the bus from Hoi An to Hue, we saw some great rocks and coastline. We also visited Red Beach (landing spot for the US troops in 1962) and visited the site of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) in Da Nang from 1962-71.  The rural scenes we went past between Da Nang and Hue were something to enjoy as well. A different but great day, starting with a walk around Hoi An at 6am.

Walking in the rain. Hoi An waking up.

Marble Mountain Temples.

Red Beach, Da Nang.

China Beach, Da Nang.

Up the top of Cloudy Pass - with no clouds!

Mr Martin (Mr Phuc) and "family".

Presenting stories and sharing impressions in the hotel after dinner.