Tam Biet Viet Nam

 Posted by Laurie Kanefsky at 2:05 pm  Vietnam
Aug 222013

It was with very mixed emotions thatI left La Jolie hotel for the trip to the airport to take me back to New York.

My last day in Saigon was purposefully going to be relaxing.  I was not scheduled to meet Thu until noon so in theory I could have slept late.  Of course I was up at 6.  I relaxed and read before going down for my last breakfast around 7.  Afterwards I showered and organized my luggage.  Remember that half of my carryon had been filled with cloth diapers for the Centre.  That left plenty of room for the gifts I was bringing home.

I was planning to give Thu my Vietnamese phone so that another volunteer could make use of it.  When she picked me up on her motorbike for lunch she was the southern version of Hahn.  Petite, energetic, smart, warm and open.  She took me to a Pho restaurant near where she lives.  Unlike Hahn she does not live at home with her parents.  Her mother still lives in the village that she grew up in.  Her father was killed in a motor scooter accident when she was 15. This may explain her maturity.  She is only 23 and has responsibility for many volunteers.  She coordinates 20-30 local (Vietnamese) volunteers and 5-10 international volunteers at any given time.

We discussed the centers that she works with.  There are 2.  One is run by the catholic church and the other is highly unusual.  A woman who was working as a garbage collector and found herself so distressed by the homeless children she took her own money and raised private funds to start an orphanage.  As Thu descibes her she is selfless.  The children and the center are her life.  While the staff has a room, she has none.  She is with the children.  She sounds like the Mother Theresa of Viet Nam.  It also sounds like both of the centres here in Saigon provide a superior environment to the children than we had in BaVi.  It is probably not a coincidence that neither is state run.  My regret is that we did not have the time to visit.

After lunch Thu had arranged to pass me onto a local volunteer- a university student who took me to the market and I took her for coffee.  She had never had a cappachino so it was a treeat for her.  After we finished she dropped me at the hotel.

I realized I had just enough time to go have a drink on the roof of the REX hotel before getting picked up for the airport.  Yes, it was everything I had heard.  A truly breath taking view of the city and all the history that goes with it.  I actually enjoyed a very chilled beer (and a half since they were 2 for 1).  Not sure it was a good idea to drink before the flight but, hey, you only live once…..


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