Well, I’ve been here in Vietnam now for just over 2 weeks now. I spent a few days in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon as it’s known to the locals), seeing the sights and visiting the Mekong delta. My first impression of Vietnam was definitely motorbike mayhem. I was told estimates of the number of motorbikes in Ho Chi Minh city ranging from 4 to 6 million! I’ve never seen as many motorbikes and as few cars in my life! And there don’t seem to be many rules of the road, or if there are any, people just ignore them. So crossing the road is a little scary, to say the least. According to my guidebook (or the bible as it is now known) to cross the road you just walk across slowly and motorbikes will swerve around you. Stepping off the pavement into the path of about 10 motorbikes is a little daunting, but the guide book is right, they will miss you. Apparently you shouldn’t try to run across the road as this will confuse the bikers.
Next I flew to Danang where I am volunteering for a month. It is definitely a contrast to my time in Prampram as Danang is a big city, and there are other volunteers here too. But the weather is also very different - grey and rainy unfortunately. Definitely wish I’d packed more jumpers!
So what do we actually do here … well most mornings we go to a local social support centre and work with children and teenagers there with varying degress of intellectual disabilities. I teach English to a guy called Tam and help him with some physio exercises. We take fruit for the teenagers and help them clean their teeth, take them for walks, feed them lunch and play with them. Colouring and lego is especially popular! There is one guy there called Ha who is a great character. Always smiling, he knows 3 words in English – Hello, Goodbye and Thankyou, and says them frequently. Seeing him there to greet us with a wave and a huge smile everyday really makes this worthwhile.
Then in the afternoons we go to the red cross centre, and do a variety of things. On some days I work in the baby orphanage where 10 todlers/children with a variety of disabilities live. They only have 2 carers between them, so we help out with things such as bathing them, feeding, physio and cleaning. I have just started teaching an English class there too – 4 older boys who live there.
Then on two evenings a week I return to the Social Support Centre (on the back of a motorbike!) to teach English to 3 absolutely lovely children there. Tonight we learnt the names of different animals. These children go to school during the day but live at the social support centre.
So, as you can see, we keep pretty busy!