At the beginning

 Posted by Sheryl Norris at 10:58 pm  Vietnam
May 032016

Today I have been in Vietnam 4 days and in Ba Vi 3 days and man is it hot. But back to the beginning…

I arrived in Hanoi after 36 hours without sleep, hot and sweaty and in need of a shower and sleep. But lets backtrack a bit more.

From all the poor reviews I had read on south China air I was prepared for the worst. To my surprise ( and relief) the flight was pleasant and the food impressive, but not without incident. A man across from me had a turn of some sort and collapsed. A call went out for any doctor on the plane and would believe their were 8. Man got moved to first class so he could lie down……note to self…..must remember that for next time I travel long haul.

Going through airport security was interesting. No customs checks and you got to pick which gate you went through….. declare or not declare. …no guesses which one I picked. And out I walked.

Hoai met me at the hotel. As my room wasn’t ready we decided to spend time sorting out SIM card, Viet dong and something to eat. At about then I faded so back to room. Couldn’t sleep so thought I would go for a walk and buy up on some wearable clothes . By this time i was 44 hours without sleep. Got horribly lost trying to find the hotel but everyone was so friendly I worked it out.

Next day had a tour of old quarter of Hanoi  with Hoai . What I didn’t realise was I had arrived on the Labour weekend holiday which goes for 5-6 days. Demonstrations in the street and local holiday makers galore. Then off to Ba Vi.

Staying in hotel which is clean, has air con (a life saver after a day in the heat and essential for a good nights sleep), a fridge, free wifi and a western toilet. BUT BE WARNED don’t go jumping on the bed to test the springiness as the bed is a brick. Still getting used to that. Met the other volunteers that have been here for at least three months before crashing for the night.

Next morning it’s up and off to the orphanage (called  the centre from now on). You have a choice of either a pushbike (think the bike your mother or grandmother used to ride) or motorbike taxi ( on the back of a 50cc zesper, usually without a helmet). I had heard that there was a hill to climb so I thought let’s get a taxi on the first day and check out this hill.

As we approached the hill it was a nobrainer that the taxi was the way to go. That hill was not something I was ever going to get up on a bike without gears in 34c heat. I found out later from the younger volunteers that they walked up the hill with their bikes.

The centre is confronting on all levels, emotionally especially and the conditions. It is hard to put into words how I felt. The staff do the best they can with what they have and it is essential to keep this in mind at all times. The volunteers give so much of themselves to give the children a ray of hope and happiness in their lives. The volunteer staff are an amazing group of people. The compassion they have is amazing and humbling. They are always happy, smiling and eager to teach you Vietnamese  (which i am finding really difficult as every word has 4 different meanings depending on the vocal inflictions) .

I have been placed in room 7 and been given some cards with the children’s names, photos and bio to help me remember (read learn) their names. The children thrive on attention and are eager to learn and play. My day at the moment consists of helping with feeding the children, getting the children outside  (under cover) , play and some massage on the more disabled children.

Yesterday afternoon all the volunteers and volunteer staff went on a bonding trip to a resort with a theme park. What a hoot. Lots of swimming, theme park rides, feeding the wild monkeys and a walk along the river.

Today we all went to a local pagoda for lunch. Best meal yet. And such a peaceful place. This is a weekly treat for staff and volunteers.

Then I decided that I need a day off as the heat is wearing me down and so tomorrow I will spend in the village and spending some time resting.

First impressions…..friendly people, crazy traffic, intensely humid and hot and simple tasty food.


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