Hi all, I'm Katie, the blogger for the trip. I've been slacking on my job since we've been so busy here in Vietnam, but I'll update you on every detail I can think of right now. The technology aspect of the second school went swimmingly. Everything was set up on the first day, Wednesday, and nearly all of the wires were crimped for the laptops. The internet was a little difficult, but in the end it worked out as well. We ended up adding keyboards and mice to each laptop to ensure a longer lifespan.
We played games with the kids like London Bridge and spent an entire lunch time handing out string for friendship bracelets and paper airplane attachments. The kids loved it. We got so much done so quickly that we left a day early from the school on Friday. The school showed their thanks by making us a delicious meatball soup and egg rolls as well as Vietnamese pancakes. The volunteers from the Vietnam Scholarship Foundation not only helped us translate and the computers, but also found us delicious restaurants that we all enjoyed together. We went to pho, top pot, and Korean barbecue while in Dong Thap. My personal favorite was the Korean barbecue. Or the pho. Really, all the food is delicious.
On Saturday we had a free day in Dong Thap. We went to the grounds of a temple where Ho Chi Minh's father is buried. We took many group photos. It also had statues of pandas and penguins and such which had speakers playing music out of them along the path. The river running through the grounds had bamboo bridges that we crossed, which was pretty exciting. Afterwards we decided to get ice cream and head out to a palace. The palace was extremely beautiful. It was built by a businessman that had grown up in Dong Thap and had made it big. The palace was huge and grand, with multiple buildings and impressive architecture.
After a while exploring, we headed back to go swimming at the local pool. After the pool we went back to the hotel before dinner. It was another night of Korean barbecue, much to my delight. We then said goodbye to one of the volunteers and headed to bed early.
Sunday we woke up at 3:30 am to leave in time for the floating market. As you can imagine, many fell asleep on the bus ride. Once we arrived we rented a big boat to bring us out to the market. There were many other large boats that people lived on. Although most didn't appear to be selling much, there were a couple boats full of fruit that also offered coffee. We had our favorite drink, iced coffee with Vietnamese milk, before heading into a village to get a tour of a small family business. We sampled the rice corn that was popped in front of us before getting a few more souvenirs and heading back to Saigon.
We got to our hotel early and had free time. Many chose to go to the market and barter for cheaper souvenirs. Most of the girls got facials at a local spa. It was a relaxing day. The next day, Monday, we woke up a little early to head to the beach. After a 2.5 hour bus ride we made it to the very hot ocean and swam. Although most put on sunscreen, there were still quite a few sunburns. I was a victim as well. On the way back we had to say goodbye to the volunteers who had been with us for most of our trip. We are so thankful for all their help. After some more free time, we got some aloe vera to soothe our pain. We then went back to the dinner place we went to the night before, a beautiful and delicious rooftop restaurant. That was our last night in Vietnam. We leave tomorrow night at 11:30 pm for South Korea and our 12 hour layover there. More to follow. Katie