22.07.2012 - 31.07.2012
So here I am in Malaysia after flying out of Hanoi this morning (Monday 30th of July).
Volunteering was such a fantastic experience and I am sad to leave all my fantastic new friends behind. I think 2 weeks is a little too quick though, I wish I had done a month of volunteering, I think it would be the perfect length.
I said goodbye to the kids on Thursday with my last day at the centre before going to Ha Long Bay on Friday.
We had a fantastic last day, enjoying the time with all of the children and some of the teachers that we got to know. We even were witness to a comical TV commercial in Tea Leaf & Coffee Bean at lunch time with a large american man who worked for them calling himself the master of tea, and shock horror - his favourite blend was the Vietnam blend, how very convenient.
On the last day I took photos of some of the amazing kids we looked after. They were insistent that we come back the next day, and luckily for them they still have another 6 weeks of the gorgeous Clementine so they won't be too sad about our departures.
We had a little presentation at the end of the day from the principal and founder saying how thrilled she was about our participation. We also got a traditional Vietnamese hat. Here is me pictured in it, as I knew it wouldn't make the journey for 6 months travelling so a photo would be the best bet.
The children sang a song to us on our departure and it was quite moving. Some of them are the most darling things...no wonder people get addicted to volunteering. Between the fantastic people you meet, the great experiences you have an the integration you get in another society it really is an enriching experience.
Here is a photo of some of the children at the centre:
The fellow volunteers were all such good fun. We were so lucky to all get along - it really felt like a little family while I was there. I will miss them all terribly, but they know that there is an open door policy for them to visit me whenever they like (hear that guys, free food on me).
We had a house half full of french speakers so my HORRIFIC french got a small workout, and I may have even got my ear in a little. I was surprised how much of it stayed in my head from the last time I spoke french.
We had nightly card games, trips to the local shopping centre (Big C, which was an experience in itself), we shared power cuts and rooftop drinks. Not only was it a great time, they were all so interesting, they made my travelling looks insignificant. It is so great to share such a fantastic experience with people.
My last 3 days in Vietnam were spent in Ha Long Bay, which was a fantastic place. For $100 we had a 3 day tour - a night on a boat in ha long bay and a night on cat ba island. Every time I looked around I couldn't believe how cheap it was for such a beautiful trip in an amazing location.
Saturday night I have never seen rain like we had ever before. Our hotel was 3 doors from the bar we were at and just running home meant Clem and I were drenched to the bone!
I think the highlight was cycling around one of the islands in ha long bay, it was so beautiful and fun to be riding around with our friends.
I would recommend that trip to anyone. Ha long bay was stunning and I don't think any of my pictures will ever do it justice in comparison to seeing it in real life.
Sunday night was my last night at peace house with all the other volunteers (minus the boys who were still in sapa). It was a strange feeling packing my room - last night of rice and chopsticks. Last night of stagnant water showers and my cute little bunk bed. It's funny that everything that was my pet peeve like the showers even become endearing after a while.
Well that is my Vietnam summary.
Any one that has ever thought about volunteering - do it...it was such a fantastic experience, I have made life long friends, memories of great food and great places and plenty of memories for when I am old and grey!
“He who is outside his door already has the hardest part of his journey behind him.” — Dutch proverb