Amanda looks back on Vietnam
Amanda looks back on Vietnam
It will be hard to capture the Vietnam experience in a blog but I'll give it a go.
It was like living a number of different lives in a fortnight. We went from the bustling (understatement) streets of Hanoi to the serenity of Mai Chau where we lived amongst the local villagers while working on the project and were met with such warmth it was a truly humbling experience. Then off to Ninh Binh and Halong Bay where we spent the night on an amazing traditional junk boat, went sea kayaking and (unsuccessfully) fished for squid.
If I detailed the whole 2 weeks the blog would be a book so here are my high and low points of the trip
The welcoming ceremony we attended on completion of the project was amazing. The local community joined together to thank us for the work we had done. We were fed and entertained (and even did a bit of entertaining of our own). The whole thing was just lovely, quite emotional and wonderful to be a part of.
Tuk tuk ride and the chaos of Hanoi
On our 2nd day in Hanoi we were given a tour on a Tuk Tuk. This was fantastic and definitely the best way to see the city in my opinion. It allowed you up get so close up to everything without the barrier of a coach window.
The streets are so busy with traffic, mainly mopeds that you have to just step out into the road and hope they will avoid you. Pretty scary at first but we soon got the hang of it.
Enjoying a different way of life
The time we spent in the home stay was so different from the life we have at home it was brilliant to experience it. Sleeping on mattresses, all sharing a room with spectacular views and living a simple life - manual labour in the day then chores, shower, dinner and some free time depending on how tired we were in the evenings, most of which was spent together playing cards, a quiz one night or just listening to music and chatting, basically providing our own entertainment which we probably don't do enough of in this age of internet, box sets and social media.
I shared a kayak with Andy and it was a unique experience rowing through caves and taking in the beauty of Halong Bay.
What a surprise this was! The boat was beautiful; the room/bathroom was probably the nicest we'd had and definitely the most comfy bed. The food was delicious and the top deck a beautiful place to eat and hang out. I even got up at 6.30 to take part in a Tai Chi lesson. All in all a lovely experience.
Enjoying the company
I definitely think part of what made the trip was the company. We got on brilliantly, had great fun, lots of laughs and supported each other through any difficult moments (not that there were many).
Sharing a room could have been very difficult but some evenings reminded me of school trips, all would be quiet and then somebody would giggle or say something which would start us off chatting again. The games of Uno got very competitive. I joined some games but drew the line at a 4 hour marathon on the bus one day! David set a quiz one night which was enjoyed by all and very closely contested. The ladies took advantage of the one free morning we had when the project was rained by composing a song about our trip so far which was a feature for the rest of the holiday, a few lines of which will stay with me forever. As will the fantastic trip and adventure that we all shared.
Don't want to dwell on these because there weren't many. A bike ride combined with the heat and not drinking enough water got the better of me and I had to take a shortcut back. In fact the heat/humidity I think perhaps most of us had under estimated. It took days for any washing to dry on the line and trying to get dry after a shower was futile but we were all in the same situation so it seemed to matter less.
I did miss my family at times but always knew I would be back with them soon enough so just enjoyed the experience and thought of how wonderful it would be to see them again. And it was.
Thank you Access Point not only for sending us on such a wonderful trip but to all the team back home who supported us before, during and after the trip. You are all amazing.
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