VIETNAM ADVENTURE 2014
During the September school holidays, 18 students, parents and staff immersed themselves in the culture of Vietnam. Our journey went off without a hitch and took us on a two week adventure that allowed us to experience the local culture, cuisine, traditions and customs of Vietnam.
After a total of 11 hours flying, our tour began in the bustling capital Hanoi where we met our local guide, Tam. Running purely on adrenalin, we all hopped on cyclos for a tour of the Old Quarter. It was incredibly eye-opening to explore the chaotic laneways that make up the centre of Hanoi. I know for certain, on this particular night, everyone was fast asleep before our heads hit the pillows, as some of the group had not slept for over 24 hours.
A good night’s sleep was necessary to navigate the traffic of Hanoi on our walking tour the next day. The traffic rules in Vietnam are vastly different from those in Australia. We quickly discovered that green means go, yellow means go and red means I can STILL go! Crossing the road was like nothing I have ever done before with scooters and motorbikes driving centimetres away from me. I thought I would be safer walking on the footpath until a motorbike mounted the curb and drove around me to avoid the traffic!
One of the highlights of the tour was spending two days on a ‘junk’ sailing through Ha Long Bay. The scenery on this cruise was amazing as we sailed amongst the three-thousand islands, exploring the caves and lagoons where monkeys live. Perhaps the best part of this trip, was watching Mr Duncan face off against the monkeys on the beach. Our journey continued to the mountain villages of Mai Chau and Ninh Binh where we saw the traditional houses of the ethnic people.
As westerners, we attracted attention wherever we went, however, those of us with pale skin attracted more than most. It was definitely something that took a bit of getting used to, as many local people would touch your leg or arm for good luck or karma. The next leg of our journey, led us to Hue (pronounced Way) where the best part for all was visiting the Catholic Orphanage. This orphanage cares for 68 girls, with 12 of them suffering from a mental or physical disability. The girls took us on a tour of their home and played a couple of musical items for us. After donating enough school supplies to service a classroom for an entire year, we left the Orphanage feeling that we had made a small difference to the lives of the children.
Our next, and final, stop was the former capital, Hoi An, voted the favourite city of the tour. After a scenic drive through the Marble Mountains we arrived at our hotel. This was an incredible town which is famous for its tailors. This was also where we went on an eco-tour through the Water Coconut Palm Canals. This was, without a doubt, the best experience on the trip, particularly when the tour guides performed Gangnam Style in the basket boats. After 14 incident and sickness free days in Vietnam, we were all ready to head home and reunite with our families.
On behalf of all those on the tour, I would like to thank Mr Green and all those behind-the-scenes who volunteered their time and effort to make this trip possible. We all had a fantastic time and have made memories that will last a lifetime! Thank you.
Teagan Peters – Year 12 Student