I believe that all of the students enjoyed their time in Viet Nam, despite the borderline accomodations and four students having a bout with some stomach problems. So, here are a few pictures and abridged comments of several students, taken from their blogs without their permission :-}
Aaron With His Hands Full of "Dragonflies"
Andy, David, Kate & Big Snake
Kris in a Tunnel Entrance at Cu Chi
Chris - End of The Journey, and Perhaps Taking On One Too Many Tigers
"Walking through the dense, muddy jungle with the Mekong River right next to me, it finally hit me: I am in Vietnam. Vietnam is an unbelievable country. It is situated about a 2 hours flight to the south-west from Hong Kong. The South China Sea is on the east border, Laos and Cambodia on the western border. It is one of those countries that you just read about in National Geographic magazines or in the Vietnam War section of your American history book, but it is so much more than that. Get ready; this will be a long entry."
"I was shocked to see so many motorcycles. My eyes widened to images of old and young, two hands strapped on motorcycle handles, in a damn crowded country, moving along so freely and comfortably as if breezing along an ocean side on a beach-buggy. When later I would walk the streets (specifically cross the streets), well, that was a whole new adventure staring at center lights of motorcycles barging my way ready to take me over. At one point, I started singing “I will survive” running across every intersection, hand in hand in a straight line of 5 people. And I thought Hong Kong was bad?!"
"I absolutely loved Vietnam! Viet Nam was a country filled with people on scooters! I thought I was going to die several times!! Viet Nam felt like home because my country is as poor as Viet Nam. Most of the country is filled with rivers, little houses, and lots of wandering animals. I felt like I was in a movie, especially during the boat trip. It was a beautiful experience. We went to this exotic restaurant that seem that it was in the middle of nowhere. The food was delicious and I almost got killed by a Vietnamese woman. I loved it! Everything I see reminds me how much I admire my parents. If it was not for my parents I would probably be the little girl selling flowers on the street just like Vietnamese girls. Most of these people have nothing to give, but they have gratitude, maybe not for God because in Vietnam God is not the center of their lives, but they are loving people."
"After the Palace, we went to the War Remnants Museum. In Vietnam, the war during the 60’s and 70’s is called the American War not the Vietnam War. This museum showcased war artifacts like tanks, guns, and airplanes, as well as many photographs depicting far reaching devastation of the war. Obviously, each side holds their biases and will present those biases, but it was interesting to learn about the Vietnam War from outside a US History class. There were pictures depicting the tragedies of Agent Orange and cluster bombs as well as the inhumane actions of the Vietcong. It gave me an uncensored view of the reality and severity of war. There is nothing glorious about war that should be idealized in the young minds of our children. It is consistently brutal, savage, and devastating."
"Without a doubt the most awesome part of the visit was our overnight excursion to the Mekong Delta region in the extreme south of Viet Nam. We rode a traditional boat along a stretch of the river, stopping at a couple cool shopping shacks along the way, plus a lovely house-cum-restaurant that's been inhabited by the same family for over 300 years. Our river tour culminated with a stop to hold Anacondas (yes, I mean the huge constrictor snake!), followed by a hike through the countryside and into a village by the main finger of the Mekong River, where we jumped back on the boat for the journey back to our bus."
"I can say that I enjoyed the trip. It was an eye opening experience, and I had the opportunity to share it among my peers. I had first hand experiences with the inhumanity of prostitution. These woman seemed to think massages came with sexual acts. It was not a big deal at all. It was weird for someone to not want what they had to offer. We saw where many American soldiers lost their lives, and the consequences of the war. It was really cool to actually see what we've been taught in school. We had a good time, and I got to spend time with people I didn't really know and form a friendship more than surface level. The hours I spent in bed sick as bad as it was, I will never forget. We made the best of it and I wouldn't change a thing. It was an experience I won't forget."
And last but not least - a semi-serious but hilarious commentary on the quality of our hostel.
The Vietnam Human Rights Manifesto
"For all those who struggle against the tyranny of hostel accommodations, we suffer together in hopes of five star habitation for all travelers of the world. We live for the day where we can have breakfast in bed, without the threat of rodents bravely stealing away our food in front of us. We labor for locks on our hotel doors that function, so that we may never enter our room to find vagrants again. My brothers and sisters, our struggle does not end until we make sure no one ever has to wake up in the morning with a cockroach on their eye, brothers. Join us. Donate your money to our cause. Give us all your money so that one day we can achieve freedom. You are either With us, or against US. Join our 'Coalition Of The Willing To Pay For Your Own Hotel If Need Be' as it is your patriotic duty. Don't let the terrorists win. Live like kings, and you shall reap the rewards of being cool in this life AND the afterlife, but most importantly this life."