when i first was thinking about this trip, one of the reasons that i was really excited was because i would be able to go to some places that i thought i would never be able to go again. i am realizing that all of these places i go are places that i will need to go again because they are so amazing. i was a little afraid of what viet nam would be like, just because i knew so little about it. viet nam surprised me so much with how much i enjoyed it, and i am definately not alone with these feelings. it was a little difficult at first because i had to get up at 4:45 two mornings in a row, but it ended up not really affecting me at all. i spent the first day in ho chi min city, and a few of us went to the market downtown. you can find absolutely anything you could ever imagine in this place. and the entire country is like a dollar store. they like american currency more than the viet namese dong, which is 15,000 to 1. i was a millionare in viet nam... very cool.
i was on the hanoi/ha long bay trip. we left very early morning for the airport and got there at like 9 in the morning. it was cold there, which no one was expecting, so we had to stop at some point to get jackets for people who forgot to bring them. the drive into the city was pretty intense, seeing the rice farmers and the places that some of these people leave. even the nicest places are very thin and a couple stories high. they are very beautiful, but it is just nothing that i am used to seeing. we went around the city a little, and went to the temple of literature. it was a cool little temple, and i liked the idea that knowledge without virture is as useless as virture without knowledge. we also saw a cool music performance there just by chance. after that we left for lunch and then a 4 hour ride to ha long bay. lunch was decent, i think i like it more than real chinese food. half way to ha long bay we stopped at a handicap village where they sent people with handicaps. it is a difficult concept to think about, and i still havent figured out if i think it is more good that they give them an oppurtunity to work or more bad that they actually have a village for these people. they made very nice arts and crafts though which was fun to look at. we went to sleep in one of the shittiest hotels ive ever stayed at after getting some dinner.
in the morning (tuesday) we went on a 4 hour boat trip in ha long bay. there are somthing like 4000 islands in the bay. we stopped at one with caves inside that you could walk through ; it had stalagtites and all that. we stopped at a little hut on the water and bought some shrimp for lunch. these people live in these huts on the water, and live on the food they catch and sell to other people. lunch was very good, freshly cooked sea food, some of which we had just bought. then the 4 hour bus ride back to hanoi where we got some dinner and saw a water puppet show. the water puppet show was extremely cool. hard to explain, but cool music and a fun show.
the next day we went to the museum of history and the musuem of war. the musuem of history was pretty self explainitory, but the museum of war was really eye opening. we then went to ho chi min's house and mosoleum. they have his body out for display which was pretty amazing to see. we went to the airport after that to return to ho chi min city.
we took thursday for shoping and getting some rest in. on friday i went to the cu chi tunnels which was really quite the experience. the vietnamese had built these tunnels when they were at war with the french. they are this network of tunnels which they could travel in and hide from the french/americans. there were bomb craters all over the place, and there was a shooting range there so when i would climb out of one of the tunnels i would hear guns being fired. it really made it feel like i was there during war.
now we are back on the ship finally. it got here on time, and everything is fixed except for the piano that was flipped over. it is kinda weird being back on the boat. there are a million different stories that people have and it is wonderful hearing them. everyone who went to cambodia had an amazing time, and they couldnt explain it but they said it was just somehow much different and more eye-opening than viet nam. lots of kids got sick there though, and one even had to go to the hospital over night. some kids went to different resort-like areas and had a blast there. but all in all i think everyone had an awesome time.