Apr 232011


On Tuesday we stayed in Tuy Hoa in the morning, biking to a couple orphanages around town with Mr. Viet.  We first stopped by the GVN Volunteer house where we got to see a ton of the children’s artwork that they create during their art program.  GVN then sells the work to support the kids and the program.  A bunch of us bought a piece or 2 to take home with us.  There is some real talent in these kids.  I can’t wait to put mine up at home.

Next, we biked over to the Home of Affection (this is a common name for a lot of these places).  The children were lined up outside screaming “hello!! hello!!” when we pulled up.  Many of them were dressed in pretty dresses with makeup on.  What I didn’t notice at first was that one of the kids in the dresses and makeup was actually a little boy.  They performed a dance for us and he was leading the group.  I think he was probably about 5 years old.  And he was having a ball!!  The whole group of kids sang us the Old McDonald song and then we presented them with a new tv and dvd player.  This is going to help them with their schooling – especially English lessons.  If they don’t have someone available that speaks English well, having a visual/recording of proper pronounciation is a great help. 

For these kids, we’ve also help fund some food and milk for their nutrition program through the end of the year.  It’s amazing how far a US dollar will go for a child in Vietnam.  It only takes about a dollar a day to properly care for them – that’s incredible.  These programs are of course always in need of constant funding, but these kids are well cared for and supported by the staff and volunteers that run the programs.  All the little kids always have HUGE smiles on their faces and look like they are enjoying life.  It’s good to see. And it’s hard to say goodbye.

After the Home of Affection, we biked to the Social Support Center to visit with 6 children with disabilities.  Many had cerebral pasly but there were other issues too.  The staff and volunteers here were so loving and inspiring.  It is not a small undertaking to care for child with such extensive needs.  Even though we were only there for about a half hour, it was plain to see this was their passion and the kids really responded to them.   I spent most of the time playing with an adorable baby boy whose name is pronounced “do-a”. 

Our bike ride for the day was about 28k to lunch.  We ate a packed lunch at a small roadside stand.  We had pork sandwiches, frozen yogurts, and bananas.  mmmm.  This place also had hammocks.  I’m pretty convinced I need a hammock at my house now. 

We originally thought we would bike 40k today, but it ended up being too late and we had a long van ride (about 6 – 8 hours) because this particular section of road wasn’t suitable for bike riding.  So we piled into the vans and started on our way.  I’m not even sure how long the van ride was, but it flew by.  We had a great time playing games and talking.  We also picked up some beer on the way for little party ride.  The best part of the van ride was when Mr. Khai started singing!!  What an amazing voice.  He started off with John Denver’s Take Me Home Country Road and sang many other songs along the way including The Carpenter’s Top of the World.  What surprised me was how well he knew all the words.  I wouldn’t be able to get through Take Me Home Country Roads if my life depended on it and I’ve been listening to that song since I was a little.  We tried for awhile to convince him he should record a cd. But I think he’s sticking to tour guiding.  Ah, well….maybe one day.   But don’t worry…there’s video! 😛

Another funny thing about our guides (and maybe Vietnam as a whole) is that they underestimate things.  For example, we asked Mr. Khai how long until we got to the hotel.  “10 – 15 mins.  Tops!”, he answered.  One hour later…we were finally getting there.  We kind of got a kick out of that.  I think part of it is that you just never know how long it will take you to get through Vietnam traffic.  It could take 15 mins…it could take 3 hours.  It all depends.

Mr. Tuan was also becoming known for lying about the terrain on our biking days.  “Oh no, no hills. All flat”, he would say.  Well, it wasn’t flat.  In fact, it was mostly hilly.  haha  But what goes up, must come down, right?  And downhills are delightful…



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