A few things about the school. It is private and goes from first through twelfth grades. While it is mostly Vietnamese learning English there are also children from other countries learning both Vietnamese and English. In one third grade class there was a girl from Portugal and a boy from Ukraine. The. Primary kids have lunch brought to them. They clear their desks and put table cloths to cover. After lunch they all lie down for naps. The older kids go to the canteen which is also where we ate.
March 13 Friday -- my last day with GV. I feel a week was enough. The energy of NBK was overwhelming. There was a genuine affection from the kids and the teachers we worked with. At least we had it easier than the others since we didn't have to come up with lesson plans. During one break we were treated to a drum concert that was wonderful.
The group has been pleasant to be with. Two took turns with intestinal issues. I felt for them. We have consistently been offered too much food. I finally started turning down most of it. I like that there were a lot of veggies and don't mind the rice but the pork was a bit much. I ate some things I am not used to such as morning glory, banana blossoms, fried hard boiled eggs. There was an abundance of food in the areas we traveled. Pork is a staple and they deliver the slaughtered hogs on the back of motorbikes. One day I saw three hanging off the back.
Houses in cities are mostly narrow, some times as small as ten feet wide, but deep and multistory. Taxes are assessed by frontage and since they must accommodate several generations, they build them up. The restaurants were the bottom floor or two of a building with living quarters above. The family bathroom was used as the WC for the public.
March 14 Saturday-- off to Ha Long Bay. Turns out we are traveling with some of the GV group. Stopped at Chaan Thien My, a workshop and store for handicapped including victims of Agent Orange. These were a generation or two removed from the initial victims. The work was outstanding. My favorite were the "paintings" that use silk thread as the medium.
VN does a better job with refuse pickup. Bridges go over rice paddies so they don't have to lose crop land to roads.
There was a little glitch in the schedule after the airline changed our flight time. Hoa worked it out with Viet to drop us off closer to the airport.
There are a lot of rice fields between Ha Noi and Ha Long and several small towns that to me look just like all the others. I did notice that school was in session on Saturday and our guide said that is true. Because they have so much to learn, they go six days and in the evening. I think that is called child abuse in the USA. There are also several manufacturing plants along the way, most notably Canon.
We arrived at the marina about 12:30 and it took us about an hour to transfer, have a safety briefing, settle into our cabins and sit down for lunch that included cucumber salad, soup, steamed prawns, clams, taro balls, cabbage, stir fried chicken then beef, rice, and fish. Food security is definitely not an issue.
After a short rest we took the launch to a floating business where we had a choice of paddling a kayak or for an extra $6 opt for a row boat and letting someone else do the work. That is what we did. The sun had not appeared since we arrived in Ha Noi a week ago so the bay was rather hazy, foggy which made for some interesting sights that were difficult to capture with a camera. The rock formations remind me a little of Milford Sound in New Zealand except that there are no waterfalls and we saw jellyfish not seals.