Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh City

So sickness and exhaustion is setting in. Many in our group are suffering from stomach virus--I am one of them. As of this writing, I’ve slept most of the day (six hours on the bus and another four hours in the hotel) while the rest of the group has gone to visit Toul Sleng-the Khmer Rouge prison, an orphanage and street children program and supper. I did eat a couple of bread rolls and a can of Sprite for lunch.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program: We flew from Ha Noi to Hoi An earlier this week and visited several sites. It was a slower pace and the students got to shop--a favorite activity for this group. While in Hoi An, we visited an organic vegetable village that has been operating for the last 500 years. They showed us how they fertilize with river weed and have large areas of netting to cover the various beds so pesticides are not used. We got to prepare and plant a bed of sweet cabbage.


Here Taylor Kee and Laura Kelly are spreading in river weed in to the sand bed. This will be covered up with more sand and then the young plants transplanted in.


Members of our group transplanting sweet cabbage seedlings.


After traveling to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), we visited the War Remnants Museum that housed captured American weaponry, tanks, ordinance and photographic exhibits of the effects of Agent Orange and napalm and other war devices used during the war with America. I was pretty amazed that it was presented as even-handedly as it was. Of course there was the communist slant, but overall very well done. Then, we visited the Water Puppet Theatre. This is a truly Vietnamese art form that began as rural entertainment in the rice paddies of local villages. A stage was set up over the water with bamboo screens to hide the puppeteers and the puppets entered the stage by rising up from under the water or let through from behind the screen. It was a delightful show. Unfortunately, I only got an image of the empty stage, all the other shots were QuickTime videos and the internet is too slow for me to upload those.


We took in a short Mekong River cruise around four islands. While on the islands we learned how rice paper was made, we had lunch and visited a bee farm, a fresh fruit farm and ended the trip by visiting a coconut candy factory.


Here we are at the bee farm listening to some of the local farmers sing traditional Mekong Delta songs.

The fresh fruit place had a couple of constrictors on site, so we got to hold one.

Fish Massage

This image might require a bit of closer looking. Meagan and I visited a fish pedicure shop across from our hotel in Ho Chi Minh City. That massive ball of fish are chewing the dead skin cells off my legs, leg hairs and feet. I don’t like having my feet massaged because it tickles. This was a whole new level of sensation for me--think of it like this: your legs are going to sleep and it is at the point where it feels like thousands of needle pricks all over your legs. That is it. And the weirdest feeling is the fish fighting to eat the dead skin cells from between your toes. I do have nice, soft feet now.