Sunday, July 6, 2008
We are home. What an amazing trip! I feel so lucky to get to take Josie on this adventure. It was everything we hoped for and more. The children were great and did so well. They really loved Vietnam. I do to. Lotus Travel, Vietnam Explore and our guides Phu and Thanh did a great job taking care of us on our travels. Thank You. Angie did a great job getting the trip organized, Thank you. This trip was such a powerful experience for the children. They gained so much knowledge about themselves and Vietnam, knowledge that could only be achieved by visiting to their homeland. This trip is just the start of our travels to Vietnam. Josie is already planning the next one in her head. We do need to pay off this one first and then start saving. Thank you to all of you who followed our travels, we hope we see you soon.
Friday, July 4, 2008
Yesterday we left our delightful hotel in Can Tho , to head back to Saigon, but on the way we took another Mekong river cruise. This time the cruise was in Vinh Long province. We took a boat to see a some small villages and homes up the small canals of the Mekong. We even ate lunch a a local home that runs as a restaurant. They served quite an impressive whole fried elephant fish. It looked a little pre-historic. Then we went to see a coconut candy making shop. It was yummy and a big hit with the kids. Then it was back to the big city. Both, Tien and Josie were sad to be leaving the Mekong, so was I.
In Saigon we had enough time to relax an hour or so and than we went on a dinner cruise. We were rather tired, but it was fun.
Today was the last day for shopping. Josie and left the group to head out for some power shopping. Saigon is a dream for shopping. The best part is that we got to pick up Josie's custom made ao dai, tonight after a morning fitting. Than we came back to relax and swim. Maron and Tien invited us to attend mass with them at Notre Dame. It was quite nice and very interesting. Only in Vietnam would the church include some neon around Christ and the Virgin Mary. Then we ran down to pick up Josie's finished ao dai. Then back to the hotel for a quick bite and packing, ugh!
Tomorrow we leave in the morning to head home for Oregon.
Wednesday, July 2, 2008
Well, we had a lovely night at the Victoria Can Tho. Very charming hotel, with excellent service. The children played at the pool after our long trip and we had dinner. They had the first childrens' meal menu we have seen in Vietnam. The other kids had the nuggets, but Josie of course went for the goat cheese ravoli.
All this comfort is juxtaposed to the poverty that we see much closer here than anywhere else. I think between that and being close to their original "home" has made it emotional for both Tien and Josie. In the north everyone asked Kurt if he was Vietnamese and not Tien and Josie. But here it is Tien and Josie that are asked if they are "Vietnam". Faces that that could be theirs, but grown up are everywhere. I can see already that this trip has paid off for both of them in a way that can never be measured. I think that knowing Vietnam and seeing Vietnam gives them a much stronger sense of their selves and their place in the world. I think even home (Oregon, Family and Friends) has a much stronger meaning for them. They love Vietnam, but they love home, the true meaning of home.
Yesterday we went on a cruise of the Mekong River to a wholesale produce market, all on boats. The Mekong is the life blood of this region. It is transportation, food (fishing) and home to many. The wholesaler advertise what they are selling by putting their produce on a high pole, so you can see what they have to sell. Then smaller boats come to buy and take back to their village to sell. It was really fun to see. The highlight for the kids was when a small boat with two little children came to sell us water, which we already had. The boys were so cute and I wanted to give them something (I have included a picture of them). Then I realized I had just given our kids a piece of candy from our candy bag. I gave them each a handful and their smiles were huge.
That afternoon all the parents got massages at the hotel. They have lovely little spa, with little grass huts. Very inexpensive, $16 for a half hour. The parents took turns, as the kids played at the pool. A relaxing afternoon for all. Today we are going back to Saigon, with some stops on the way.
Thank you Nicole and Curtis, Viv, Sarah, Judi, Elizabeth and Owen for your comments! Josie and I loved hearing from you. Sarah congratulations on the job! I am going to miss you so much!
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Today was the big day. The day that was most of our reason for coming to Vietnam. The visit to the Tra Vinh Orphange, Josie's home for her first six months. I have to admit I was really nervous, I hardly slept the night before. I don't know what I was worried about, but It was an emotional day. We had to drive four plus hours to get to the orphanage. As we drove through the gates I was back to the day I adopted her. What a rush rush of emotions. I remember being in a daze of fear and joy and more fear. What was she going to be like? Would she be happy being my daughter? Would I be a good Mom? Unfortunately The worker's were all at lunch and we decide to have an earlier lunch and come back. We had lunch, which I couldn't eat (too nervous). On the way back we stopped at a Khemer Pagoda. Josie is Khemer, as are 60% of the people in Tra Vinh Province. It was very interesting we met a young monk who wanted to practice his English on us. All Khemer boys become monks for at least 3 months, at some point in their lives. Then we went the the orphanage. We went into the office and they asked what Josie's birth name was. When I told them the nanny's all started saying "Loan, Loan, Loan", looking at Josie and smiling. They recognized her. Then they pulled out this big book and there was Josie's Vietnamese name, Nguyen Ngoc Loan and my address. Then went to meet the director (again) and we gave them some gifts and a donation. I had time to ask the dirctor some things Josie wanted me to ask and they checked her file, to let us know what they knew. When I adopted her, I did not think to ask anything. Then they took us to see the babies. There were only five babies. The older children must be a different facility. Three of the babies were waiting for families in Canada and two babies that looked to have some kind of birth defect or developmental delay. Josie and I then went to the room that she lived in. It looked just the same, but no babies or cribs. It is no longer being used. Then we headed for the van. It was a big day for us both. We headed for our base in Can Tho. We are staying on the Mighty Mekong river in a hotel that has a colonial look that looks like a movie set.
Monday, June 30, 2008
Well, we had one last day to play at the beach, pool and waterpark. Then we took a plane to Saigon. Goodbye VinPearl. It is exciting to be somewhere, that we are familiar with the lay of the land. We are staying a block from where we stayed when Josie was a baby. Josie is very excited to be here. The hotel is french and very art deco. I love the rooms, with fresh flowers, wood accents and french pastries (in the lobby shop). Everywhere we go I am saying "That is where we ........were when you were a baby". We went to the Rex and past the Carvelle Hotel, and down Dong Khoi. We went shopping and we had a great time looking for things to buy. Josie got fitted for a beautiful ao dai (traditional dress). It will be lovely, I can't wait to see the final product. Saigon has grown bigger and gotten so hip and upscale. There are lot of luxury brand stores, that were not here last time we were here. we went to the Re-unification Palace or the President's Palace if you were born before 1970. This is where the President of South Vietnam lived until the fall of Saigon. Today we went Cholon, the Chinese part of Saigon, we went to a big market and a temple. Then we went to a waterpark, it was very noisy and crazy and a bit to much for Josie. This evening Josie has a fitting downtown for the ao dai. Tomorrow we go to Josie's orphanage at Tra Vinh. I think she is very excited.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
We went to the amusement park. We went on the roller coaster and we went on the cable car. The next day we took Kurt and went on this boat that rocks back and forth. He didn't like the boat. Then we went on the roller coaster and he didn't like that. Then we went on the carosel swing and he did not like that. So we went in the bouncy house.The we went back to the hotel.
Friday, June 27, 2008
VinPearl Land rocks! We are staying at the nicest beach resort (VinPearl) I have ever stayed at. The beach is lovely, clean with darling cabanas. The ocean is clean and calm. The pool is the largest in Asia, with play structures and waterfalls and varing depths. There is a play area, a wonderful spa and a small amusument park. Needless to say the children are in heaven, and the parents too. We had to take a speed boat to the hotel (it is on a private island)and then a tuk tuk (a small open air electric car). It was like arriving at Fantasy Island, minus Mr. Rourk and Tatoo. I think we are the only Americans here, Mostly Vietnamese Families, a few Russian and Australian Families too. Yesterday Josie, Maron and I went to the Spa. Josie got her hair cut and nails painted, Maron and I got our feet massaged. They whisked Josie off and she went to one place, we went to another. She came back with a beautiful doo and the fanciest nails I have ever seen. Small works of art on every nail. I will post a picture when we get to Ho Chi Minh. She said that everyone came in to look at her, this little American Girl, with the Vietnamese Face. We took the children to the amusument park, rode the cable car to the mainland, did the roller coaster and some crazy video games. We also played in the ocean. What a beautiful spot. Josie says it is better than Disneyland! Very high praise. Well tommorow we fly to Ho Chi Minh and the next day out to Can Tho. Hope everyone is well.