Vietnam Day 5
We woke up extremely early (around 6:45, which is ghastly for us) in order to make it to the bus for our service visit to Hy Vong Quan 8. HVQ8 is a government sponsored school for deaf children.
The bus drove a half hour before dropping us off outside HVQ8. We walked in and climbed endless stairs to the roof top terrace to greet the kids. They ranged from 4 years old to 18. We sat down and began interacting which was slightly difficult since they couldnt hear and we couldnt speak or write the same language. One of the girls had a notebook full of Vietnamese/English phrases and questions and she would point to the phrase in Vietnamese and we could read the translation and do the same for the answer. It was really neat.
I colored and played tic tac toe with a few youngsters before a group of them did a short dance show for us. It was really cute even though we couldnt understand it.
From there we headed downstairs with the group of students. They told us we could pick a partner. A young girl, about 5, came right up to me and held on to my hand. The teacher said her name was Tong and she had beautiful pigtail braids. She was totally adorable and sat with me on the way to the zoo. She was totally fascinated with the airconditioning was pretty much in love with it as she continuously pointed up to the cold air.
When we arrived at the zoo the teachers told us we would have three hours with the kids. The sweltering heat made that hard to fathom but I was totally excited to spend some time with Tong. We had boxed lunches which we ate immediately in an effort to save ourselves from trekking them with us. Tong was a good eater, although at times she tried to eat the chicken bone, but Brittany was adept at pulling it away from her.
At first I tried to walk around with Brittany and her older groupie (she was about 12), but Tong really wanted to run with her friends so I ended up with a new group of people. We called ourselves the kindergarten counselors and laughed at what a good idea we had to pick the cute little ones. It seemed that they would never tire as they ran through the various exhibits. The animals were in kind of sad shape and very small cages, which was pretty sad to watch, but the kids did enjoy themselves. Tong got very nervous when we went to see the crocodiles (one of the little ones had an imitation lacoste shirt and kept pointing to the emblem to display his want of seeing the animal) and kept grasping my hand, it was very cute!
Eventually I knew we needed a break so I bought Tong some ice cream and she happily sat down while I talked to a fellow SASer (Joe). From there we headed back through the zoo seeing lions, elephants, hippos and more.
The three hours had passed and it was time to head to the bus. I was very sad to leave Tong as we snapped pictures (they really like to hold up peace signs during pictures). I really enjoyed my day at the zoo with her. She was so happy to be there and very sweet. It was a wonderful visit!
I really enjoyed my time in Vietnam. Its funny being the product of the Vietnam Generation, we seem to care so much more about the war then they do. The people in HCMC seemed rather over it and greeted us as Americans much more than individuals in other countries have. For them it is just a blip in their very long history, but to us it has come to symbolize grave failure and government mishaps.
I also enjoyed watching all of the motorbikes go by, as silly as it may sound. For a city with no real public transport (skytrain or subway), its the perfect solution (despite the sadety risks), theyre easy to park, theyre cheap etc.
If you ever get the chance to go to Vietnam I highly suggest it, from the delta to the people, its a wonderful place. Just try to go when its a tinch cooler!
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Vietnam Day 5
Vietnam Day 5