Study Abroad Journal

This is where you will post your 6 required journal entries (1 page or 250 words each, minimum), and also your required peer responses (1 paragraph each, so 3 paragraghs of roughly 250 words total) to 3 other journal entries.  Pick a different student to respond to for each of your peer responses.


162 thoughts on “Study Abroad Journal

  1. Journal #5
    Visiting Van Lang University was one of the event that I liked the most in Saigon. At first, it was nerve racking when I saw there were so many students in the meeting room. I remembered Ashley,sat next to me had the same feeling. Then, Loi started to introduce about himself as well as general theme of this meeting, which was about El Nino and La Nina. After that, he introduced Prof. Dieu Tran to talk about their major about Environmental Technology and Management. I was amazed of how the school cooperated with many countries and created many wonderful projects.
    After we introduced ourselves, the Van Lang Students showed us a short video to let us know more about how El Nino works. I must confess that when I read the article that we was assigned, I was lost. I don’t know about El Nino before. However, after watching the video, it helped me alot. El Nino is describing the warmer than normal ocean surface temperature, which caused flooding, drought, etc. Then, we divided and created small groups, mixing Van Lang University and De Anza College to dicuss about El Nino, it ‘effects to Vietnam and the United States, and solutions to solve El Nino. For my group, we had Chunnan so we were also wrote about China. Everyone gave out ideas. We laughed, talked, and discussed together. It was a good time. Each group then presented what they got and it was interested when we all came up so many great solutions to solve the El Nino. Although the topic was not about my major but it was fun to learn new things.
    After the presentation, we had a short interview with Van Lang Students for our assignment. They were friendly and enthusiastic answering our questions and sharing their stories with us. We added each other facebook to keep in touch. We talked through facebook with anh Quân ,Chị Phụng, and we decided to meet up again before the whole group leaves. They were so nice when they said that they could ride us on the motorbikes. Only some of us needed to take the taxi. They took us to eat Bún Bò Huế. It was delicious. Andrew and Aurora said that they liked Bún Bò Huế more than Phở. Then we went to Nguyễn Huệ walking street. Afrer buying our drinks, we sat down with a group of strangers. They played guitar and we sang together. We dont care about people gathered around us. At that time, I felt like I had another family. All together we created an unforgettable and meaningful memory.


    1. That night we spent with the Van Lang University students was one of the most memorable and fun nights I had on the entire trip. When we had decided to meet up with them I was initially a little nervous, I did not know how I should act around them outside of a school setting. They were all more than friendly, and being able to ride around on the back of their motorbikes around the city was so thrilling. It was honestly something I had been looking forward to doing this entire trip; I was just too afraid to try it. All of the food was absolutely amazing as well. I had never had Bun Bo Hue that great! The tea and street food we ate was delicious as well. Even though I have been treated wonderfully by all the people I have encountered in Vietnam thus far, I am still amazed at their kindness and generosity. At one point in the night, Mien dropped her money into the Turtle Lake. Everyone was stressing out on how to get it; Some students were even grabbing their umbrellas to try and reach for the money. One of the students was brave enough to jump into the water to retrieve her money for her. His jeans were soaked, but he was just glad he could save her money. As stressful as that situation was, it truly made me realize how kind these students and Vietnamese people as a whole have been to me and I admire it greatly.

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      1. I truly loved that night. From motorbiking everywhere to Mien losing her money. I couldn’t help but not have a care in the world but enjoying the present moment. It reemphasized that I should always have my mind in the present moment and not worry about the daily busy lifestyle that we have in the states. Which is weird because I’m retired but for some odd reason I’m super busy in the states. I also loved how me and Toui got lost from the group at one moment but it was okay. We loved it. Enjoy the moment.


    2. Sitting down with all the students from Van Lang and singing with people we didn’t know was memorable. It’s okay to be a kid. That moment was nice. You don’t see that in the states. Hasn’t anybody noticed that nobody will ever do that in Deanza. I love moments like that where you do things that you normally would’t do. Kinda like the moment we all went bike riding in the rain. Would we we ever do that again? Probably not but yet everybody loved it.


    3. Seeing so many students made me a little nervous too. I think I was mainly nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. They were all really nice though and I thought it was really fun being able to go out with them on our second to last night in Saigon. I didn’t know much about El Niño either so it was interesting to learn about it, but the whole time I was thinking about how Kim and Karen had suggested to the Van Lang university teachers that we talk about the problem of the dead fish washing up in the bay and how they said that was too controversial of a topic.

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    4. I like visiting Van Lang University, too. It is amazing that we became close friends with them just after one short meeting. They were so nice to give us a ride on the motorbikes, and then take us to some interesting places. I miss them.


  2. Journal 3:

    This is the second week here. It’s still hot, but it seems to get cooler the farther south we get. While in Hoi I met a wonderful woman named Win. Win ran a leather shop with her family. She sold purses, wallets, laptop cases, etc. While shopping in her store, I realized that Win and her family made most of the their own leather goods. I can only imagine the time it takes them to make their pieces. On the same strip of the street there was another woman who I took some time to speak to. Her name was Thu. Similar to Win, Thu made all of her goods with her family. She sold dresses, skirts, shirts etc. Both of these women were desperate to sell. I remember walking into their store and hearing them say to me “I’ll give you a discount. You’re my first customer”. Although this might not have been true, they were still saying it, which means they were desperately trying to make a sell. The money I spent buying a wallet and a few dresses is the same money that Win and Thu took home to feed their families. Another moment similar to this was my experience in the night markets. As I walked around i found pieces of clothing, bags, and other small items I was interested in. Every time I got closer to and item the vendor would immediately drop everything she/he was doing to assist me.A lot of the time I ended up not buying anything. These vendors would walk with me out of the their small shop and keep bargaining down. At one point a woman came out of her shop and followed all of us across the market just so we would buy a bag. From here on out it was mentally harder to bargain with vendors because I had realized how much they truly needed this money. I’m not rich at home, but I don’t find it necessary to beg others for money the way they do. Besides, the materialistic items they were selling were only a few dollars. Those few dollars we spend on daily coffee or tips would be used to keep themselves alive.


  3. Journal #6
    On Tuesday, We left early heading to Cu Chi tunnel. Even though it is near my hometown, but my mom never lets me go to Cu Chi tunnel. She did not explain why, but after visited it I partly understood. After we entered the entrance, Mr. Dung, our new tour guide introduced us to the entrance of a tunnel. It was a small rectangle, and it was really narrow. Seeing the guy entered the entrance and closed the cover and covered with some leaves was amazed me. Next, We walked to the area with four manikins wearing Viet Cong uniform. Mr. Dung explained the checker black and white scarf knot was what they used to signal. If the knot near their neck, it means that the enemy is really near and it is dangerous. In the opposite, if the knot is far from their neck, it means that the enemy is far and they are safe. It was very clever. However, when he introduced to me the traps that Viet Cong used in the war was terrified me. They decided different traps for different parts of the body, which I thought was cruel. In addition to that, while we walked and explored the Cu Chi tunnel, we kept hearing gunshots, which made everything became more real.
    In the next day, after visited the traditional medicine museum, I decided to skip the War Museum because I heard that it is about the war damages. The images are awful. At first, I thought why we had to visit all these terrible places, where we had to see pictures of deaths and traps. However, in the last class meeting, I remembered of Co Karen said. The museums or the war images are there to remind us that the war could happen anytime, anywhere. It is a warning sign for us to be cautious of what could happen.


  4. Vietnam journal post #5 (repost?)

    After Vy’s house we arrived in Can Tho. I was again absolutely exhausted for this stop so once we got our hotel room, I passed out for the night after after thirty minutes of TV, missing our dinner. I kind of wished I had gone out that night to explore the city. There was a night market that I’m guessing was similar to the rest of the night market we had gone to. George seemed like he tried some really good local food here, a grilled rice paper wrap if I remember correctly. The next morning, breakfast was a welcomed meal.

    After breakfast we went out to the floating market. We got on another boat and made our was down river. I expected the floating market to be a crowded chaotic market on the water, with people shouting from boat to boat and cash was exchanged for some exotic food or snack that you wouldn’t as easily have found on land. These expectations were extremely higher that the reality of the floating market. The market was dead. We stopped at one vendor who sold half our boat coffee and then we pretty much turned around to get back to the bus. At this time, our tour guide was sub par, to put it lightly, so we didn’t even learn the much about the market or its history.

    After the floating market we visited an Orchard. The lunch at the orchard was delicious. It was made from a flour based mix that we poured onto a pan over a open flame. After it was cooked we added our choice of greens. This was one of the best meals we had on the trip.


  5. Journal 4:
    we have reached Danang! Unfortunately, we will only be here for a day. The bike ride (that I didn’t go on) seemed difficult today. I’m actually quite happy I chose not to do that because the car ride with the girls and Vin was relaxing. I learned a little bit about meditation from Vin and Mackenzie. They both said that you must be fully connected with yourself in order for it to fully work. The point of meditation is to find answers to your solutions within yourself instead of the outside world. The whole concept of meditation really interests me. However, I’m not sure how to begin. Vin and Mackenzie both mentioned how I just have to start without thinking about it. Later that night, I went out with a group of people for some ice cream after dinner. Everyone is so exhausted, but Danang’s lights were shining bright and calling our name.

    When we went out for ice cream we walked by the river. From the river the dragon’s mouth was visible (if I have any pictures I’ll insert). The night was simple. We all got gelato from a small vendor, ate it outside her store, and then went off to bed. I wish we had spent more time in Danang. I think everyone else does as well. The city’s lights are amazing at night. They really lure you in, and the beach is gorgeous. It truly is a beautiful city. Nonetheless, I appreciate the time we all got to spend in Danang. Perhaps the unknowing is what makes Dannang so special to all of us.


  6. Journal 5:

    Hello Saigon!

    We just got to Saigon. Our room doesn’t have a window. My roommate is freaking out about this. Ha! So far, Saigon seems a lot more modern than other cities we have visited. Hanoi was pretty modern as well, but not as clean. In Saigon people use stop lights and crosswalks. I appreciate this because it’s what I’m used to. There’s a cute food court right next to our hotel. I think I’ll go there tonight.

    This cute food court mentioned above is appear fly called Ben Than Street Food Market. Tonight I had my third Banh Mi sandwich ever. It was okay. The Banh Mi place in Hoi An is still a lot better in my opinion. I also got to try Saigon Hot Dogs! These I loved. At this point, anything that isn’t spring rolls, rice, or chicken/meat I am loving. I got the Saigon Hot Dog. This hot dog was recommended by the vendor herself. We also went to Saigon Square! Saigon square is an indoor market where they sell all kinds of goods. This market is very tempting. While waiting for the rest of our group, I decided to go into Highlands Cafe also known as the “foreigners cafe”. This cafe was a mix between Peet’s Coffee and Starbucks, however, it still had it’s own vibe. I had my first espresso shot here! It was really strong. I also tried the tiramisu cake which was delicious! Getting coffee at a cafe is part of my daily routine, so being able to walk into a coffee shop in Saigon made me feel comfortable and reminded me of home.


  7. Journal 6

    Goodbye Vietnam!

    I write this while waiting for our plane to board. It’s insane to me how three weeks ago I had just gotten off the plane and was ready to experience whatever was on the other side of the airport. These trying three weeks have taken a toll on my body. I am extremely tired, and I’m pretty sure I’m getting a cold. Nonetheless, this trip was definitely worth it. Although I got to see Vietnam as a beautiful country, I also was allowed to learn a lot about myself. This trip taught me to experience what is right in front of me. Often times I may be stuck in my own head. During this trip I caught myself doing this every time something wrong happened. The first week and half I was very sick and i thought it would never end. Also, being that this trip was my first trip ever, (not just out of the country, but out of the state as well) I was really home sick. Because of this, I completely shut down and wouldn’t allow anyone in. Towards the second half of the trip I realized that this was my experience, and just because there were situations working against me did not mean I had to allow them. During this trip I was reminded to let everything and everyone negative go. I was reminded that toxic situations and people do not have a place in my life if I don’t allow them to have one. This trip has also opened my eyes to my mother, who I deeply love. Being in a new country was scary, even with a tour guide. I didn’t speak the language, and every time I went out alone I had to remind myself to be cautious. My mother came to the United States almost 40 years ago. She didn’t know a word of English, but she had came here to work. Being in Vietnam connected me with her. Perhaps it was because we spent three weeks away from each other, but either way Vietnam opened my eyes to the sacrifices my mother made to give me a better life. This was also something I bonded over with the returning Vietnamese students. I was so surprised to meet so many students who are themselves or come from immigrant families. Although I was thousands of miles away from home, moments like these made me feel like I was around my people. The students made me feel like we were all one.


  8. Journal #2 Word Count: 321

    These past couple of weeks I have had more time to reflect about life, not only about this trip, but my last year at De Anza. Having to be alone, in another continent, puts things in perspective. I consider myself to be thankful and appreciative of my family, but this trip has opened my eyes to see how poverty affects your life. Of course, I have been to Mexico and have witnessed people struggling to survive. However, I am older and see a different light on immigration and culture values.

    Traveling to Sapa removed the blindfold. Say told me and Karen about her friend, who was sold by her husband and shipped to China, where she gave birth to a child. This may happen everyday, but I have never met someone who knew someone or lived in an area where it happened so frequently; I was shocked and her story stayed with me the rest of the day.

    However, her story would later haunt me as I recollect that night in Sapa.

    We had just finished dinner, everyone rushed out to go shopping, but I stayed in the lobby and called a friend to receive warmth and love. Karen and Kim came downstairs and invited me to go with them to recieve a massage, I hesitated because I wanted to be alone, but I went. I allowed some man to massage me and moan while doing so and place me inside a tub of hot water.

    Later that night, I knocked on Mien, Nhu, Tuoi, Chunnan, and Vy Vy’s room. I think in that moment I just needed a hug, some type of consolation. Of course, coming into this trip I did not know any of them and did not know what to expect, but all of the girls were extremely sweet and welcomed me into their room with open arms. I am thankful for each and every one of them.

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    1. Reading about the woman that was sold by her husband to China was terrified me. Knowing her story makes me feel more lucky and appreciate my life. I also felt lucky that I got to know you in this trip. You are so sweet and nice to everyone. You always care for me and ask me if I m ok or not. Thank you my ban mai mai. And remember that, i always here for you. 🙂


  9. Journal #3 Word Count: 657

    I wasn’t sure to expect in Halong Bay, so once we arrived, I was mesmerized. Tom told us to follow him into the boat and I could not stop smiling; I had read about Halong Bay being one of the world’s natural wonders. From the moment they said we could go up to the deck, I stayed up there because I was taking it all in. There was a moment where I began to think and could not enjoy myself, but George said, “Don’t think, just be.” If it weren’t for George I probably would have gotten sad or gone downstairs, but I sat down and admired the beauty of the ocean. I find the ocean to be soothing and calming, so I closed my eyes and felt peace within my soul. My phone had died, so I was not able to take a bunch of pictures, but George pointed out that that would help me to truly capture the moment within myself and live it to the fullest. I have to admit that not having a phone means I don’t have a news broadcast of Halong Bay; however, I realize that my heart smiles at the thought of the oceanwhen I think about it because my heart and mind were present and that memory will never be erased.

    Later that night, I was enchanted to truly live the moment when I spent my night with Tom, Valentin, Albert, Mien, Leah and Nhu. I will never forget how I felt that night and how it is not about where a person is at, but who a person is with that makes life feel like an adventure. That night in Halong bay, I fell asleep smiling and found myself feeling innocent and worry free for the first time in a while. I did not want to leave Halong bay, but I understood that Tom’s journey with us had to come to an end. I asked myself why my heart felt low-spirited, and I do not think I knew the answer until now.

    Tom took us out after our boat ride and we all opened up and shared many giggles, but that was not the first time I had had drinks with him. He had taken some of us out to a communist bar. Personally, it does not matter if he takes me to a bar or to the lake, it is about the conversation we have, and Tom had a fabulous sense of humor and did not mind answering our questions.

    At some point during our trip, I left our hotel to be alone for a couple of minutes, Tom was sitting at a cafe and asked if I was okay, or if I needed something, I replied with my simple answer of “I’m fine, thank you.” There was another time on the bus where he saw that I was quiet and he looked me in the eyes and my eyes were watery. As I was getting off the bus, he gently asked if I was okay. Clearly, Tom was an observant person and a loving one, so when we were sitting down having a couple beers outside the market in Halong Bay, I kept telling myself to enjoy the moment because it would be our last time together.

    When they told us we were late to the train, I was secretly happy because I did not want to say goodbye to Tom. Richard took pictures of me with Tom before we ran inside the train. Unfortunately, we did not make it to our designated train car, and Richard was trying to make me laugh since I was crying. He opened the door and to my surprise I see Tom! I screamed his name at the top of my lungs, and the next couple of minutes he spent with us in Karen’s cabin.

    That night was disheartening, yet Karen, Leah, Valentin, and Richard were there by my side.


  10. Journal #4 Word Count: 355

    Leah asked if I was okay and wanted to go visit Valentin and Richard, I said yes. We were in their train car for a couple of hours. Valentin kept trying to make me laugh, but my heart was crying a river knowing Tom would be a memory. It was around 1AM and we decided to go to bed, but life had other plans. As we turn the lock to our train car, it would not budge, oh no! Leah and I walked around the train looking for someone to unlock it, yet there was no around, so we go knocking on Richard and Valentin’s door. While Richard, Valentin, and a stranger slept, I stayed awake opening up to Leah about life in our small, child size bunk bed; I am a guarded person and do not usually open up too easily, so I am glad this occured because I believe we were both honest and vulnerable. The next morning, the nice stranger left his bed around six AM, since I had not slept at all I quickly jumped to his bed and tried to sleep for an hour or so. Richard and Val were kind enough to open their “home” to us, and that night we shared a moment that will last a lifetime.

    Upon arriving to Hue, I was exhausted and smelly and all I wanted to do was shower and sleep. However, our hotel room was not ready and we had to wait downstairs for thirty minutes.

    When our tour guide told us we would be riding bikes, I was excited because this was my second time riding a bike! I felt a thrill riding next to cars and motorbikes! Karen and Vy Vy were riding next to me, and I appreciated how they would make sure I was okay. Unfortunately, I began to feel light headed and dizzy by the end of the bike ride. I skipped out on dinner because I felt like I was about to die. Perhaps, it was the exhaustion and lack of sleep, but I made the right choice because the next morning I felt re-energized!


    1. When I look at my phone case, which is an image of a bike, I feel an immense amount of joy! The bike is significant to me because it symbolizes freedom and fearlessness. I had to let go of my fear of happiness to seize every opportunity that was coming my way. I told myself carpe diem and looked at my ring, which is a bible verse. The first time I rode a bike was in the rain, in Vietnam. I remember whispering to Leah and Valentin,” I am scared.” The second was in Hue where I was even more afraid because we were going to be riding on an overpass. Every time I saw a taxi or a bus, I panicked. While going through the overpass and seeing the cars next to me, I laughed! During that moment, I was fearless. I laughed and screamed, and I turned to Karen and said, “This is so exhilarating!” When we crossed the intersection, I screamed again because I felt like the bravest person in my head battling against my own fear. The laughter that came after expressed the triumph of a battle, which I now know can be fought when people believe in you. The third time I rode a bike was in DaNang. Karen switched me bikes because my legs could not touch the ground, and Val looked at me and said, “Subete.” I initially fell and the people inside the van were concerned and wanted me to ride inside, but I got right back on, saying,” I’m going to do this.” I was determined to ride a bike and begin our journey to see Lady Buddha. Riding up that “slight” incline was a killer!! I don’t normally curse and that 10 mile bike ride got a couple curse words out of me. Richard was standing beside his bike cheering for me when we were dying! Karen and I looked at each other and pushed harder; I felt like Lance Armstrong with my calves on fire. We made it! Going downhill was a thrilling feeling, the wind slapped my face!!!!!
      I was weary about riding at night because I did not want to become carne asada. The greatest feeling is knowing that I rode a bike in another continent, rode through the Dragon Bridge at night, and screamed at the sight of a taxi being inches away from me. My phone case is not an ordinary case, it is an extraordinary memory of being fearless and encouraged! Thank you!


      1. Congratulation! You are so brave and strong. I was sitting in the van and when we saw you got into trouble, we were so worried. But you made it! I admire you.


  11. Journal #5 Word Count: 404

    As soon as we were walking past the trees and hearing gunshots, I immediately felt a wave of sadness. One of the employees gave us a demonstration of the underground hidden secret spot, this is when I realized that my adventurous side was sad because I did not feel the urge to try it. The moment Mien, my ban Mai Mai, said she wanted to try it, I pulled out my phone to record her. I could have never imagined what was about to happen when Mien fell into the hole. I instantly ran as my heart sank. Thank God and Lady Buddha, Mien was alive!

    I walked slowly towards the shooting range, which disturbed me because they are profiting from tourism. I tried to ignore the gunshots, but they were so loud. While most people shopped, I went to the bathroom to escape the scenes of war.

    One of the residents that lives in Morgan Hill is Jerry, he served in the Vietnam war for six years and went through the underground tunnels many times. It was significant for me to crawl those underground tunnels because for a split second I could try to experience what he had to carry for the rest of his life. Now, he waves his hand at the memory of Saigon and says,” It is now Ho Chi Minh City. People do not know what happened.” When I went through the underground tunnel, I hit my forehead unbelievably hard. The world stood still for a moment. I crawled and stared at the lights; I was trying to imagine how Jerry felt inside these same tunnels, which I later found out they had been made bigger for tourists!

    The past couple of days I have not been feeling well; however, I have still been attending every scheduled activity. Especially after I hit my head and fell in the shower, I was a bit frazzled. Wow! Every room inside the War Remnant Museum left me speechless!! Agent Orange brought me to tears, and the photographs in the rooms are incredibly life changing. What struck me the most was reading the description in every image that said “killed by US bombing” and the depiction of the images are heart breaking to see, especially a fetus and a soldier with a skull, OMG. The images in the museum still haunt me, and I cannot even fathom how Veterans like Jerry must feel.


  12. Journal #6 Word Count: 378

    Our last couple of days were more relaxed. Valentin, Leah, Vinny, Mien, Nhu, Tuoi, Kai, Kim, Karen, and I went to the Fish Spa!!! I have seen these on TV and had been ecstatic to visit one. The fish were nibbling on my dry skin, and I loved seeing everyone giggle and enjoy the fish that were swimming around our feet. The cutest moment was hearing Kai say, “ I love a dark massage!” haha because it was his first foot massage and fish spa as well. Moments like these have shown me that there are no walls between us and that laughing together brings us together! For dinner, we took Karen’s suggestion and tried Napoli’s Pizzeria, yummy! After walking around Ho Chi Minh, we went for a late night snack at Soul Burger, which was delicious!

    I did not want to leave Vietnam, the people, the food, or its rich culture. Our last night Karen, Leah, Vinny, Richard, Valentin, Kai, and I went to get our hair washed. I enjoyed laying down, looking over and seeing all of their beautiful faces because we were all experiencing the same tender hands of our masseuse.

    Since it was our last night in Ho Chi Minh, Val and Richard made reservations to eat at The Deck, which is known for its tasty food and perfect view of the Saigon River.

    The beauty of the river and the city lights are unforgettable, but the night would only get better 🙂

    Clearly, great company is what makes a trip breathtaking! Albert, Leah, Vy Vy, Chunnan, Valentin, Richard, Mien, Nhu, and I all ended up at The Basement that night, and I have not had that much fun since I was a seven year old kid and in Halong Bay with my Ban Mai Mais! 🙂 My heart is warm like Pumpkin Pie on Christmas morning. Thank you to those who made this trip possible! I leave with memories that I will cherish in my heart forever. Strangers who I have shared intimate moments with and have brought peace to my soul, which I did not think possible. The freedom of a mental illness was non existent in Vietnam and that is thanks to the love I received from My Ban Mai Mais. I love Vietnam!


    1. I love the ways that you described about everything around last couple of days in Vietnam. I hope you love and remember these beautiful moments.


    2. I did not want to leave Vietnam, either. And I remembered the night we spent in the Basement, it was so fun because of the great company. When I saw the Ban Mai Mais, I can hear you saying it with that sweet voice.


  13. Journal #5
    Van Lang University
    This was a very nice experience for me. I liked the warm welcome which is apparent throughout Vietnam. One aspect that struck me was the amount of English that was used throughout all class structures and ages. Most if not all the staff and students all spoke English. When I first got to the country I figured that the tour guide and most hotel staff would know English, or the ones that would be in contact with a lot of tourists. But after experiencing and interacting with students it’s apparent that Vietnam is making progress towards connecting to the world on a global level. The first hint is the younger generations knowing English. To be honest, this is a big step in the direction that the country is heading. Having the younger generations know English makes paves for other avenues of business and other aspects of society to engage with western cultures. And when one thinks of western culture, one will automatically think of America. Learning English in an underdeveloped country, compared to America, opens up opportunities that people wouldn’t usually have. I truly believe that Vietnam will enter the global market on a bigger scale in the future.
    With English being a bigger market compared to a couple years ago, there’s opportunity also for teaching English abroad. Kim herself taught English here for a couple years and you can tell the demand has grown for English being a necessity for being successful in Vietnam. I myself after finishing my Anthropology degree will obtain my TESOL certificate. It’s a certificate for teaching English as a second language abroad. The experience with the Van Lang students confirmed that I want to help the orphans for free to learn English so that they have opportunities and better success factor in making a good living in Vietnam.


    1. The few days left on our trip were going to be spent visiting a couple of places that had to do with the Vietnam War. I was really looking forward to this because I was hoping to hear about the war through the perspective of Vietnam and I certainly got what I was asking for. We traveled just a little bit out of Saigon to visit the Cu Chi tunnels, which were tunnels used by the VietCong during the Vietnam War. It was pretty awesome to see and learn about these tunnels first hand. The tunnels were built far more sophisticated than I could have ever imagined. The entry and exit ways of the tunnels were spectacularly hidden. I would have never guessed some of the tunnels were just under my feet. We then were lucky enough to be able to go through one of the tunnels and it was both really scary but also very thrilling as we received a glimpse in to how life was having to function under ground. Being as tall as I am, six feet, it was a bit of a struggle to maneuver in the tunnels but I was able to make it out ok. One of the more chilling things about the Chu Chi tunnels is that as your waling through, you can hear gun shots coming from the gun range. This makes you feel as though you are somewhat in the war as you walk through, and when we were told we can also shot the guns, this was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up. A couple of members of my group and I went ahead and shot a couple of rounds form an AK47 and an M16. This was a really exciting experience for me to be able to say I shot a gun in Vietnam and it was even more memorable since I was able to do it with my friends.
      The next part of the trip was visiting the War Remanent Museum. This museum is awesome as it has several artifacts from the Vietnam War such as tanks, fighter jets, military weapons etc… It was pretty awesome to be able to see and take pictures with all these different artifacts. After watching a few movies about the Vietnam War it was a really awesome experience to get to see the actual war museum and the tunnels. I can’t wait to tell all my friends and family back home about it.


    2. Visiting the Lang University Students was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was really fun interacting and sharing ideas with the other students. Being able to interview the students was also very interesting because I learned new things about their culture.


  14. Journal #6
    Be appreciative. Don’t be laxed. I truly loved being on this trip. No regrets. Along this whole trip, I couldn’t help but to compare my experiences of traveling while I was in the military. Some criteria to notice is that we are all in college or college educated. I have always been an advocate of being educated and not necessarily college educated because I’ve seen some educated minded people who have never been to college. But this is just to emphasize the importance of being educated. In the military, a lot of us come straight out of high school not knowing what to do. You also have to imagine that some people have never left their home, kinda like how some people have never left the bay area. I noticed that our group had great synergy but one thing is that not one person was disrespectful or thought they were better than somebody else just because we were tourists or that we come from America which is greatly and vastly privileged compared to Vietnam in certain aspects. What I’ve seen in the military while traveling is some of the most ignorant people on earth. They look down or have a god mentality because we have more. Now why would somebody think like this? Education. An educated mind knows that we come from different backgrounds and socio-economic situations. All are different none are the same. A lot of factors can come into play but education is under-rated. Don’t underestimate the ability we have here in the states to be educated when some people in the world would love to be educated but don’t have the opportunity.


  15. Post #6
    Richard was right, the trip does feel like a dream. Being back home has been an adjustment, and my body is feeling like it was put through the ringer. With that said, it was all worth it! Nothing can replace the friendships and memories that were made on this trip to Vietnam. I had no idea how much I would enjoy Vietnam when we decided to go a few months ago. I definitely miss it.
    The last day in Saigon was a perfect way to end the trip. We a nice lunch, followed up by the best hair wash in the world. We took our second trip to Chi Tam salon, Areli, Karen, Kai, Richard, Val, Vin and me. The hair wash itself was amazing, but the bonding experience was the cherry. Just laying there, next to each other and laughing like kids was so fun. Then Karen, Kai, Areli, and I went across the street to I Hate Fashion boutique. It was the first time I really took the time to shop for myself during the entire trip. It felt good to just relax and shop, and having Kai as my personal shopper was a special treat. I was able to find three beautiful pieces, with help, that will remind me of Vietnam, and Kai, every time I wear them.
    Upon returning to the hotel we found out that Richard and Valentin made reservations at The Deck, which we had been trying to go to since arriving in Saigon, and I am so glad we did. We had the most amazing dinner. Describing it won’t do it justice, but the food and ambiance made the evening. The view from our table was the lights of the city, since the restaurant was on the outskirts of the river. As the boats went by, the hum of the engines were barely audible and it gave the city a calming peaceful feel, which was the opposite from the busy feel in the city.
    The fun continued as we returned to the hotel and decided to go across the street to The Basement. We thought it was going to be an early night, until Albert, Nhu, Mien, Chunnan, and Vy Vy joined us. From then on the night was a fabulous whirlwind of fun. While we were at Lush, we had another “laughing yoga” moment where we all locked arms and danced in a circle, much like our Ha Long Bay experience. These moments are what made the trip. I still can’t believe the wonderful friendships that were formed in three short weeks, and I hope to continue them now that we are home. I am normally very guarded, but being with Areli taught me it is ok to let my guard down. I am so glad to have experienced this trip with her, and I can’t think of a better person to be sardines with.
    Being back home, it’s hard to believe that at the beginning of this trip we were all strangers and now it seems like we’ve known each other for years. I truly enjoyed getting to know everyone and creating many wonderful memories.


    1. For the next adventure on my trip to Vietnam we headed to Ho Chi Minh City. We woke up early in the morning and took a quick one hour flight from De Nang and landed in the city formerly known as Saigon. I was really excited because I knew that this city was full of fun things to see and I couldn’t wait to get started. One of the first sites we visited as a group was the Independence Palace. I had seen this museum on all sorts of documentaries. Touring the museum was quite the site as they kept it mostly in tact from how it used to be. The Palace was peppered with old war tanks and even a helicopter which was really cool. A group of us also ventured out to a very nice Italian restaurant in Downtown Saigon which was a nice change from all the Vietnamese food we had been having. We enjoyed some good wine and pasta with the teachers on the trip from us and everyone had a really good time. I had been looking forward to trying out the night life of Saigon so on Sunday night some of us ventured out a club called chill sky bar. This was one of the nicest clubs I had ever been to with incredible views of the city since we were all the way up on the 40th floor. The music was really good as well as vibe and I was happy I went since I almost ended up just going to bed instead. The next day our group visited Da Long University to meet some of their students and exchange some ideas regarding the potential El Nino storm. I was so interesting hearing other students points of views regarding different issues and they were even nice enough to let us interview them for part of our school project. Overall Saigon has been everything I’ve expected and I can’t wait to see what the rest of our trip has in store.


  16. Journal #5

    It such as a special day. When I, classmates and Van Lang University students hung out together. More special that Ms. Karen hung out, too. They have some motor bikes to ride us, but it was not enough. Some of us took a taxi to go to the Bun Bo Hue in Tran Hung Dao street. We have around 20 people who hung out that night. The Bun Bo Hue is good. I really enjoyed it.

        After we were full. All of us got a plan goes to the walking street Nguyen Hue. But four of us Vin, Viet, Phuong and me got lose from the others. Viet and Phuong rode us around the center of city. Sometimes, I felt scare while they were driving. Because the street too narrow, a lot of vehicles are on the street. I saw Phuong wriggled between the others. Maybe you can feel my mind on that moments. Finally, after rode wrong some directions we got a parking lot. We were going to find our group. It took around ten minutes to meet them at walking street. We went to Tien Huong Tea where they sell drinks. They have a lot of kinds, and many colors. I choose a drink calls peach tea. It is tase a little it bitter but it is still good. Cold drink is a good choice for hot weather. After we took the drink. We walked around the street for while. Suddenly, we saw a small group of teenages. They were playing guitars and singing. A girl on our group was asking them to joy. They were nice and accepted her request. We started to sing and clapped to follow the beat. Just few munites later some of the other teenages came and enjoyed with us. That was so meaning. Because it is not easy to see at another countries, it is a nice thing to see.

        I can see that teenages are really love music. I also see the passion on their face. I hope that one day in the future we can do it again.


  17. Journal 4
    This week we talked about the story “Hunger” which is about a father and his little girl whose appetites have disappeared after what happened to his wife on a boat that got stranded on an island on its way to America. Their hunger for a better life convinced them to go to America even though they were already a little old. It got me thinking about how so many sacrifice everything to come to America but there are many who still prefer to stay. It also reminds me of how Vy is in America and her mother worries about her a lot because she’s still in Vietnam.

    Vy’s family gave us huge baskets of fruit — fresh tropical fruit I can’t get back home. I had durian for the first time in ages but my favorite was mangosteen. I’ve only had mangosteen in drink form and it was pretty fun cracking it open. Her family fed us so many delicious snacks like the banana cake that you dip (or drench) in warn coconut milk (my favorite!).

    Some of us spent the day fishing in her family’s fish pond, sleeping in one of the hammocks, eating fruit, exploring the garden and picking fruit out of the trees with these giant poles. We ended up staying for dinner and her family caught fish straight from their pond to feed us. I didn’t even know a pond that size could house that many fish but apparently there are a lot more. They gave us rice paper and some condiments along with the fish and Vy’s cousin taught me how to (properly) roll everything together.


    1. One of the highlights of the trip- unhunger? If there is such a word. I guess “overeating” would be a good one. Can believe how much I ate. I did not limit myself with the fruit, so by the time the fish came along, I was as stuffed as a thanksgiving turkey.

      But yes, adding to Vy Vys mom feelings. I am glad that seeing us is, or was, one of the reasons she feels now at peace and that her sacrifice for sending her to America was, and is, well worth it. I think that was the reason why we did end up at her home. And I am just so grateful to be part of that reason. Seeing that Vy Vy has a strong and varied social network where she can count for support was important for her to see. She probably knew that based on Vy Vys conversations, but seeing it was the game changer as she now feels relived for the first time in five years.

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  18. I remember one group talking about the Vietnamese millennials remember the war differently. Those of our group who lived in Vietnam shared with us how their families remember the war and whether or not they talk about it. It’s much like it is in America — many young people know how devastating war was on their families but can’t really relate.

    We met students from Van Lang University and discussed the effects of El Nino and La Nina on the U.S. and Asia. My favorite part was the interview because we got to know the students on a deeper level. I learned that some of them are more passionate about other hobbies than about their major. Lucy loves fashion and cosmetics and An loves singing country music and he even gave us a show! The language barrier made it a little hard to converse but we had a few translators so it worked out.

    The next day we went to the Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet Cong. It’s crazy to think that the Viet Cong crawled through the same tunnels over 40 years ago, but under dire circumstances. Our guide said they had the tunnels enlarged for tourists which was kind of unbelievable considering the fact that even I had to duck walk the whole time. Richard, Valentin and I even got to shoot some Vietnam War era rifles at the shooting range. Being able to legally shoot guns at the only shooting range in a country where almost all guns are illegal was surreal. It was an interesting experience because the guns were bolted down and I had to stand on my tippy toes to shoot it. This was my first time shooting an M16 and it felt like there was virtually no recoil.


  19. Journal 6
    Xã Long An, Mỹ Tho, Vietnam
    We are at Vy Vy’s home, en el rancho, just like my grandparents’ home. But instead of pigs, chickens, cows, sheep and horses they have Coconut trees and a pond with fishes. I thought we were going to be here for an hour, it resulted that someone decided for the group that we would stay longer. Anyhow, I wished I had not eaten any breakfast so that I could have indulged myself in all the fruits we had. Looking at snapchat, I think we had about seven different types. I wish I remember the names, but I could not write with my finger-licking good fingers.

    We had a smelly quả sầu riêng, durian fruit. I remember that because everyone was talking about the smell. It was hard and poky on the outside and filled with empanadas in the inside. Hannah said, “either you like it or you don’t. So do you like it?” I could not answer the question. I just think I need to taste it more to build a palette for it, like most other interesting foods.

    A second fruit was mit, jack fruit. This one I had tasted at the states because one of my students shared it with me. It had a tangy taste to it, but I liked it.

    The third was dừa, coconut, and the fourth water coconut. Both from the same family. The water coconut was only is only an eight in size compared to the coconut we all know. It has a hard shiny dark brown shell and it is shaped like a diamond. It also came in clusters. So you had to separate like you would and a banana, but it was tougher of course. Also, to open it, you needed an ax. All this hard work to get to the quarter size Thạch Dừa, the jelly. I think it was too much trouble for that jelly.

    The fifth fruit was quả sấu- I think that is the name. It has the appearance of a lime with the inside of a really hard pear. This one was sour. I did not like it much. I did marinated later, it like it more then.

    The sixth fruit was Long Nhãn, dragon eye fruit. This fruit had a tan smooth but rough shell, like a lime would have when it is about to go dry. The inside was soft like jelly and had a seed in the middle. They call it dragon eye fruit do to its resemblances once you bite half of the fruit. I can eat this forever.

    The seventh fruit was banana, but it was served with a salsa. The dipping sauce had pork fat, onions, and I believe fish sauce. It tasted like a burrito. I was in heaven.

    The eight fruit we had was trái thang long, dragon fruit. This purple fruit shaped like a mini football with green fins around it has its inside white with black freckles all over it. It was interesting as it did not have an over powering taste to it. But it was good.

    The ninth fruit was chôm chôm, Rambutan. This was the coolest fruit of all, appearance wise. It looks like a hairy red ball. The inside was similar to the Long Nhãn. I enjoyed this fruit.

    I saved the last fruit for a reason: quả măng cụt, mangosteen. Everyone was all over this purple fruit. It had the outside texture of a pomegranate skin with a thick layer like an orange. Then there was white jelly goodness inside. It’s interesting, because as we waited in Taiwan for the transfer to Vietnam, this was the fruit that a Vietnamese gentleman told me about when I asked him what I should eat in Vietnam. He helped me google it and took a snapshot of it too. Just came in full circle towards the end.

    I am not even going to tell you about the fish. I have food coma already. I kind wished we started the trip at Vy Vys home. I could have bought fruit when walking around instead of wondering what they were.

    One word to describe Vietnams fruits- exotic.

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    1. I forgot about the Quả da rắn – this one was brought at the end of the fruit feast. It has a weird texture. This violet hairy fish scale tear drop shaped fruit had a jelly texture inside of its skin.


  20. Journal 6

    I never took interest in photography prior to this trip but the beauty of the land and the people I was experiencing it with inspired me to capture and preserve these memories as much as possible. Going on a trip like this was always a dream of mine but I always backed out or made some excuse whenever the opportunity would arise. I tend to get anxiety in social and unfamiliar situations but I think what helped me most was Hannah. I couldn’t have coped as well without her. While I’m relieved to finally have a hotel room to myself in the Philippines, I find myself missing her chipmunk laugh and weird noises. We’re so similar and have so many funny memories together that I’ll cherish forever.

    If I could go back and do this trip over again, the only thing I would do differently is record my experiences in more detail as I go. I guess I underestimated how little free time we would have but I should’ve made more of an effort to write things down. Looking back at this trip, these are the memories that stand out the most: experiencing the nightlife in Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An and Saigon; the view of the mountains from our hotel rooms in Sapa; hiking to the top of Yen Tu Mountain, many of us in long purple skirts; the lanterns in Hoi An; An Bang Beach; Vy’s family; shooting an M16 at the Cu Chi tunnels; riding on the back of a motorbike in Saigon traffic; and our last night in Vietnam.

    Our last night in Saigon didn’t start off exactly how we hoped it would. We decided that our best nights were the nights we didn’t plan so that’s what we were going to do — go with the flow without planning anything. I could already feel my cold getting worse but Mackenzie, Aurora, Andrew and I wanted to stay up the all night and catch the sunrise. We went McDonalds, walked to Bui Vien Street and killed a couple hours at a tattoo shop and I’ll just leave it at that.

    Later on, with the sun about to rise, we tried to watch the city wake up from the roof of our hotel. It had the most spectacular view! But housekeeping came and told us to leave so we watched it at the park instead. On our way we got to see everyone set up shop (it was around 5:15am) and the park was filled with people exercising. Aurora, Mackenzie and I joined in on one of the “zumba” classes and danced til we were too tired to go any further.

    This trip exceeded all of my expectations. We pushed our bodies to the limits but I’m glad we did because we were able to see so many places and do so many things. I learned so much about Vietnamese culture (though I’m pretty sure I’ve already forgotten how to pronounce all the words I learned).

    I know that this trip will be the first of many but it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. It showed me how wonderful traveling can be and I already feel so nostalgic thinking about everything that happened. I’m trying to savor the memory while it’s still fresh in my mind. My heart aches because I know we won’t all be together as a group again but I’ll look back at this page and our viber pictures knowing I couldn’t have spent these past three weeks with better people. Keep in touch and keep the viber group alive.

    With love,

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  21. Journal #6

    This is my grand new experience I have never tried before. A few days left I had try fish and foot massage. I was so excited about that because I did not try it by my own. I went there with my best classmates and teachers. I can tell that a nice day ever been in my life. Leah, Valentin, Arely, Vin, Nhu, Mien, Ms. Karen, Mr. George, Ms. Kim, little boy (Kai) and I. Such as a good moment being together.

         First we tried fish massage. After cleaned my feet, I put my feet on a small pool where the fishes are swimming. The feeling was weird, I was yelling so hard. A lot of them came and ate my feet even my feet doesn’t have death skin. The reason why they came to me because I was a first person put into. Then Ms. Karen, Vin and Nhu put on the pool. They didn’t come to my feet anymore. They just came to Karen’s and Vin’s feet. Nhu gave up first, she changed to foot massage. Then I gave up, too. During I was waiting for my foot massage. Kai and I had a funny conversation. He is smart and perky. Kai wanted foot massage also. Mien was in different room, so she couldn’t know what happened in the other room. Ms. Kim didn’t try the fish massage, she got foot massage first. Nhu got foot massage later, then I got it. Little boy Kai had foot massage after all. We were laughing so hard when massager started foot massage for him. We wonder that can he sit quite on 30 minutes. Look at that little boy, he did so good on it. He sat quietly. He was talking to us when he was getting massage. After all, I love and remember that moment.

         Everyday and everytime go so fast. We almost say good bye with each others. We almost go to the end of the trip. Every moments we got together still there. Those are beautiful times.


  22. Journal 5
    We visited Vy’s grandpa’s farm. And that’s the happiest day of my Vietnam trip. Vy’s talked about her grandpa’s farm with me from the beginning of the trip and I already greeted her mother during Facetime, so I had a lot of expectation. When that day came, it turned out even better than I imagined.
    My favorite part is that we tried different fresh tropical fruits before lunch. I found my favorite fruit which are mangosteen and durian. My love! I was so happy and I couldn’t stop eating. After finishing all the fresh fruits, we still didn’t want to leave, so we stayed there for lunch. Before lunch, we explored this farm, and we tried the water coconut, tried fishing, saw the domestic frogs and visited Vy’s neighbor.
    I was imaging the life if I live there, a lifestyle I like in which I can wake up with birdsong and fall asleep with the frog cry. And every day, I would enjoy the fresh coconut and the gentle breeze, then lie in a hammock and sing a song. Without pressure and without trouble, without thinking and without calculating, here you only got one thing to consider is to keep yourself happy. That’s a life I always want, a simple life.
    Another exciting thing is that I finally met Vy’s mother. She’s so warm and hospitable, and I like her so much because she reminded me of my own mother. I can feel Vy’s joy of reunion with her mother, they cling together and couldn’t help crying. Family is always the source of true happiness.


  23. Journal 6
    If anyone ask me about the most important thing I got from this Vietnam trip, I would answer them without hesitation is friendship. So when I knew that Nhu’s birthday was coming, I made my mind to stay with her longer to celebrate her birthday after this trip which gave me a chance to have a glance at the real Vietnamese life.
    When I lay on the bed with Nhu’s in the dark and tranquil nights, both of us were surprised at how life brought us together and made us so close friends. Last quarter, we were just a nodded acquaintance of each other in EWRT 1A class, but now, we lay together feeling each other’s breath.
    I visited almost all of Nhu’s family members, and I was amazed by this big and lovely family. Nhu’s grandma has a poor hearing, so she is so loud and she is the one who can wake me up when I slept late. I was touched when she made the hot water for me and asked me to take a shower. And Nhu’s aunt always asked me to protect my bag and put my phone in a safe place. She knew some simple English words, and it is so fun to communicate with her. Nhu is 19 now and I hope she can find a boyfriend this year.
    After Nhu’s birthday, we visited Vy’s family again with Tuoi and Mien. The farm is no longer an unfamiliar place for us but a place like our home.
    In the airport, I was about to leave, and it’s a hard time for all of us. I remembered all the happy time we spent together and how we played and teased with each other. And I know this memory would always be fresh.


  24. JOURNAL #2
    Yen Tu Mountain

    Climbing to Yen Tu mountain was one of the highlight of my trip. During that 3 hour, I learned how to overcome my weakness and how to share the happiness with others.

    Hiking was never my favorite thing to do because I have pretty weak legs. On that day, I was also very tired because of our tight traveling schedule. If I knew we had to climb that long to reach the top, I would not done it. We had to go on the cable car twice so I think we would only have to walk little. Little did I know it will be one of the longest climb that I have done so far.

    Usually when I do hiking at home, there is always the estimate time to reach the top. For Yen Tu mountain, I kept going but did not know where is the destination. There was time I thought I was going give up because my legs hurt so bad. However, thanks to Vin and Ms. Kim for encouraged me, I felt that I was not alone on that journey. We three formed a group which I called ” The Slowest” and started to push ourselves keep going.

    The people that I met along the way also gave me motivation to reach the top. I met a group of older people who all the way from Ca Mau, which is the last province of Southern Vietnam. They did not wear any athletic shoes , just flip flops. Some of them even just wear socks because their shoes were slippery. But that could not stop them from climbing to Yen Tu mountain. They all looked very happy and excited. One of them told me, ” It has been always my dream to go there, now that I already here I will try my best to reach to the top. I have to do it while I can, so I won’t regret. Just take step by step, you will reach there eventually.” What she said touched me a lot. I’m still young and even have a good shoes on, I should not complain about anything.

    I also learned how to appreciate the opportunity of being in the Yen Tu mountain. I came here thinking it would be just another pagoda. I was wrong. This place is one of the most famous pagodas of Vietnam because it’s the ancestral land of Truc Lam Zen Buddhism of Vietnam. Millions of people, including the older people I met along the way dream to come here at least once in their life. It made me feel bad because I just happened to be there, without knowing anything. That was when I started the routine to doing some brief research about places that we would visit for the rest of the trip. Everywhere that I set my feet on has a historical meaning. It was fascinating to look at the past.

    I finally reached the top. I was happy for myself to done something that was very challenged, but I was much happier because all the older people also finished it with me. At the age that is as near as my grandma’s age, they climbed to a 1068m mountain despite having proper shoes and strengths, they were all superman and superwoman to me. On the 7th day of the trip, on top of Yen Tu mountain, we all share the happiness of overcome ourselves and to find the peace in our heart.


  25. JOURNAL #3
    Friends of Hue orphanage house

    During my 3 week journey at Vietnam, I had so many opportunities to meet a lot of people along the way. From the kids at the Cat Cat village, to the people I met on the train, to the new friends from Van Lang universiry. Each of them has a story to share. Each of them inspired me in different way. In this journal, I would like to write about the orphanage children that I met at ” Friends of Hue”.

    I always thought that orphanage house is not a happy place because that is where the most vulnerable children live. I was wrong. The orphanage house that we visited is the most happiest place that I ever stepped in. Everyone was happy and energetic. When I looked into each little kid’s eyes , I saw the joy , the hope and the love that they have. It was pure and beautiful !

    Each of them came to the orphanage house from different backgrounds . Most of them was abandoned by their own parents or lost their parents. I did not ask them about their past because I did not want to hurt them more. Some of them were even too young to understand why they are there. For them, this is not just an orphanage house, this is the one and only “home” that they have.

    I met Vy, the little girl with bright eyes and beautiful smile. She was so sweet to me. We talked a lot about her life. Then she mentioned, “This summer I spent 2 weeks to visit my family”. I was very curious when she said ” family” , so I asked her ” How many people do you have in your family ?”. “Just my grandma”, she replied. At the moment, I just did not how to react because my mind went blank and my heart broke for the little angel in front of me. I wish I could have some kind of magic so I can give her a family where there are not just grandma but also mom and dad.

    Spending a few hours with all the kids there gave me a joy that I have not have for a long time. Saying goodbye to them was difficult but I know that I will come back here as soon as possible. I might not see them everyday, but my prayer


    1. Comment 4
      What you said about the little girl and her grandma broke my heart! I wanted to hold conversations with some of the kids but it was hard because of the language barrier. But at least we were able to have fun by dancing and playing games with them. That was so much fun and a great way to get the kids to open up to us more.
      I had the same impression when we walked into the orphanage because I expected the worst but was greeted by a group of kids who welcomed us with smiles and waves. A part of me feels a little relieved that some of the children there are so young. It sounds weird but like you said, they are too young to understand why they are there. It’s a question every orphan has to deal with, but maybe if it happened while they were young, it means they didn’t have to know the pain of having a family and then losing it.


  26. JOURNAL #4
    Mekong Delta – Vy’s grandpa’s house

    Visiting Vy’s grandpa’s house made my experience in Mien Tay ( aka Mekong Delta) greater that what I have ever expected.

    I have not be back to Mien Tay for at least 10 years. I just knew that I visited there when I was little but don’t really have any vivid memories about it. But the memories that I made this time, I know that it’s not easy to fade away for a really long time.

    Vy’s family gave us the warmest welcome ever. Vy always tells me about her mom and grandpa so I was really glad to see them in person. Her whole family was just so friendly to everyone. They treat us as if we are their relatives who was now coming back home.

    The tropical fruits there are so fresh and delicious !!! Just like Aurora said, ” For me, this is like special types of candy, not just fruits”. If other places usually known for their famous dish, Mekong Delta known for its variety of fruits. They are so fresh and delicious that I swear I can eat them all day without getting bored.

    We missed our lunch so the whole group decided to stay at Vy’s house longer. Without any preparation, Vy’s mom and aunts planned to cook lunch for our group of 20 people within seconds. They asked someone to come and catch the fish at the lake inside their garden. Then, they cleaned, cut and fried the fish. The big lunch was ready within half an hour and 100% homemade. Vy’s family was really master chef to me. Without any doubt, it was the best meal in our entire trip.

    Saying goodbye to Vy’s family was the hardest thing ever. No one wanted to leave. It’s hard to believe we just known each other for few hours. For most of us, it was the first time we experience life in Mekong Delta. We came expected just to spend one and half hour to eat fruits, but stayed until late afternoon and left with the heart that full of friendliness and love.


  27. JOURNAL #5
    The War Remnants Museum~

    I had so much fun in Saigon. This city always fills my heart with joy, enjoyment and interesting things do to. I will never forget those night out or those delicious street foods. Saigon never runs out of things to do. Among all of the crazy fun days and nights that I spent here, a visit at the War Remnants Museum was a unique experience that I was surprised to realize how enjoy I was doing it. It was an escape from the busy city life. It showed me another side of Saigon, a historical side that each of us needs to know.

    During 3 weeks travel across Vietnam, I had chances to visit some museums. It was my first time visiting museums at Vietnam. They were each unique in their own way and really opened my eyes about lots of things. But the War Remnants Museum was the most stand out among them all. Unlike other museums when everyone look at all the displays with excitement and try to taking pictures, this museum gave me a different feel. The atmosphere were really quiet and heavy. Everyone just starring at those pictures on the walls. Some of them even have tears in their eyes. Those pictures was about the Vietnam war and its terrible impacts on people. Those pictures about the victims of Agent Orange put me into the heaviest feel. I could not look straight into them. I feel like does not matter which side you are on the Vietnam war, those pictures would make you realize that the war was evil itself. Each side did horrible things to not only their enemy but also to those innocent ones.

    Some people might think museum is boring, but I surprisingly found myself enjoying it. I will remember this very different afternoon in Saigon when I chose to escape the present to explore the past. That was when I learn how to love my country more because it had to went through so much in the past.


  28. JOURNAL #6
    Last night in Saigon at Bui Vien Street ~

    Laying alone on my bed at my grandpa’s house made me miss everyone so much. Experiencing Vietnam without you guys is so different and sometimes lonely. I know this is impossible but I wish our trip can go on forever. Thank you all the amazing human beings that I was so lucky to meet during this trip, I feel like I have lived my 18 to the fullest.

    My last night in Saigon was the best night ever. At first I thought I was just going to have some beers at my hotel room, sing some karaoke songs as Vin aka the old man requested then go to sleep. However, when my “bạn mãi mãi” Areli texted to invite us come over to the bar right across the street “Basement”, little did I know that will turned into the most craziest night of my life. We went to totally 3 bars because we just simply wanted to stay up and dance all night.

    The last bar that we visited in Bùi Viện street aka ” Backpacking street” was the most memorable one for me. It was not about the music or drink there , it was about how being on that street at 4am gave me a view about different layers of the night life in Saigon.

    I already knew that Saigon is a city that never sleep but still shocked when experience the night life on this street. It was literally 4am but everyone here made me felt like it was only 6pm in the afternoon. Most of the stores still opened and there were lots of people on the street. I had been to others famous street in Saigon before and stayed until 1 or 2am. But after that time, most of the restaurants and bars closed because it was late enough. At Bui Vien street, there was no time limits, you just go have fun until sunrise !

    I also witnessed some dark sides of the night life in Saigon. I saw some kids who just about 7 or 8 years old went around to sell souvenir stuff. In my head, there was a bunch of questions like ” Where are their parents ?” , ” Why are they here at 4am ?”. It’s not surprised for me that some kids in Vietnam have to work on the street to help their family, but working at 4am around places where so much “adult” stuff is going on is not acceptable. I wonder where is the future for them. Nights in Saigon felt like a dream for us. For some, it was the nightmare that they cannot escape.


    1. # Response 3:
      The same as you, seeing many children in Bui Vien Street that night made me so surprising and had many questions in my mind. How many children have to wander like this and where will their life go if every night they go around bars and the area selling opium like this? It made my heart sank and want to do something. What can I do ?



    (from Sun/07/10/2016 – Wed/07/13/2016)

    …It was the 1st time I celebrated my birthday so far from my home…
    …It was my 21st birthday…

    In the U.S., when people turn to 21st, they usually go to the bars/ nightclubs and drink wine or go to casino and gamble to celebrate their birthday. But I want something more different, something more special and meaningful for my 21st birthday, which I can never forget.
    I had been thinking about the way to celebrate this birthday especially since the beginning of 2016, but I hadn’t still had a good idea. When Nhu told me about Vietnam Study Abroad 2016 of De Anza, I felt it was exactly my opportunity.
    Even though, at that time, everything was so hard with me (I didn’t have enough money. To my parents to allow me to come back Vietnam for almost 1 month was a big deal. My wallet was stolen, so every my personal papers had gone. Therefore, arranging everything in my family and my own to be fine before I go was a not easy problem), I still decided to buy the plane ticket. I worked from one place to others. Some days, I worked from 6 am to 11 pm to have enough money to pay for this trip. I also had tried to practice Driving Test for my sister, so finally she passed the Driving Test to help me in driving my family. I had persuaded my parents for many times and resolved each problem day by day well before going to Vietnam. Finally, all difficulties passed. The day I was in the flight to Vietnam, I was sighed in relief. At that time, I made a promise with myself that I would leave all difficulties, sadness, anxieties, struggles behind to experience everything in Vietnam trip with my joy heart and by my best way. Therefore, the first lesson from turning to 21st and going to this trip is “Let’s try your best and fight for your justifiable dreams and desires.

    Truly, this trip is worthy of what I tried, and more than what I expected. And this birthday is exactly the most special birthday for my lifetime I will never forget… because of all the events that happened and the feelings of everyone on the trip for me:

    In the afternoon of Sunday, July 10th, after listening to Hue Traditional Music on Perfume river, we took turns to put the lantern into Huong river and pray. When it was my turn to put the lantern into the river, surprisingly Ms. Karen started the song “Happy Birthday to you” out loud and everyone in the boat surrounded me to celebrate my birthday. Then, one musician played the “Happy Birthday” song by the erhu for me. It was so amazing. Surroundings at that time still deeply engraved in my mind. COLORFUL & SPIRITUAL…

    At that night, some people told me that they would celebrate my birthday and drink with me when the time move from the night of July 10th to 0:00 am of July 11th (my birthday). However, almost everyone was so tired. Many people didn’t go to dinner. Others had to finish their homework. Almost 11 pm, I hadn’t still seen anything. My roommates had slept already. I understood and sympathized for all of them. I texted The Vietnam Fam Viber to ask about homework. Suddenly, I received Aurora’s message: “Come out, Mien! It’s your birthday”
    Thank you, Aurora. I felt my spirit really good up after reading your message. I changed my clothes quickly, and finally I went out with four more people. At that time, we really hadn’t known yet where we would go, what we would do. Finally, we came to Blue Eyes Bar. When we just opened the door, the HAPPY BIRTHDAY song was started to play across the room. I haven’t still known why. It was SO SURPRISED and SO RANDOM.
    Then, my friends bought Tequila for me. It was the first time I tried Tequila and was so surprised with my drinking ability. That was also the first time I went to the bar and danced. I generally don’t feel comfortable while dancing among crowded places, but that day I was really happy and danced enthusiastically. My friends cared much about me, protected, supported and taught me many things. Albert, Kassie, Aurora and Andrew – they are great friends who were by my side in the important night when I turned from 20th to 21st. I know in that night you guys were so tired, but you guys still went out to celebrate my birthday. It was a special and meaningful gift that I will never forget. Thank you very much for sacrificing your time to me. I am very very happy and appreciate it.
    To be honest, I hadn’t thought I could have an amazing birthday night like that. Therefore, “do not expect too much, surprises is the greatest thing.” Moreover, at first, I hadn’t thought the friends above would go out with me and celebrate my birthday. However, finally, they were the people were by my side and made my birthday so amazing. Then, one more thing I learned from my birthday: “Sometimes, people who we do not think about are people who bring for us most of surprises and happiness.”

    The next day – July 11th, everyone sang Happy Birthday song in the bus to celebrate my birthday again. Then we went to visit the children in the orphanage at the “Friends of Hue.”
    I played many games, danced and talked with the children. In particular, they sang Happy Birthday song again, blow the candle and ate cake with me. Looking the innocent eyes of the children and listening to stories about the poor condition of the children, I really could not hold back my tears because of the pity for them. But at the same time, I felt I was happier than many people and appreciate more what I have. I intend to fulfill a promise to the children that before the age of thirty years, I will return to visit them again.

    That night, almost everyone went out to celebrate my birthday again. We were a crowded group went to many bars in Hoi An. Everyone was next to me, drank, danced, supported and cherished every moments with me. Thanks you guys so much for all your loves and cares about me. Because of the appearances of you guys, my 21st birthday became a best day ever.

    Even though, we just lived with each other in a short time, I think that I will never forget you guys and these beautiful memories.


    (from Thu/07/14/2016 – Sun/07/17/2016)

    From Thu/07/14/2016 to Sun/07/17/2016, there were many things happened. However, one event I remember most are visiting Vy’s grandma’s house in My Tho, Tien Giang.

    First, according to the instructor’s arrangement, we planned to visit Vy’s grandma’s house only for an hour. I thought it was just a short and small visit. However, when we just came her grandma’s house, Vy’s grandma, Vy’s mom and all of Vy’s aunties all extremely welcomed us warmly and hospitably. They filled full all of tables with many kinds of fresh and delicious fruit, such as: durian, jackfruit, coconut, water coconut, banana, dragon eye fruit, dragon fruit, rambutan, mangosteen, etc to serve us. Because they want to ensure the health and the safety for us, they didn’t buy food from the market. All the dishes they served us were the best things they picked from their gardens, prepared and cooked by themselves. Just like that, you can see, can understand how kind and how caring they are.

    They talked with us very friendly, honestly and closely. I called Vy’s mom: “Mẹ đẹp”. That means “beautiful Mom”, because she is so beautiful and the way she talked, she acted and cared about us just like our mom. She was so sweet, gentle and warm. Vy’s grandma smiled very nicely, and he was humorous. He joked about my name: “Mien is Khmer, is Cambodia” hahaha :v :v :v .

    Vy’s grandma’ s house is not big, but so pretty. It is surrounded by green garden and the fish pond. Around the garden, Vy’s grandpa got hammocks to lie down. You can walk slowly through the cool green trees, sit to fishing, or lie down in a hammock to take a nap. All were peace and serene. Between the noise, hustle and bustle of life outside, here as a rare peaceful place that all of us want to stop to rest. Both the scenery and the people here created the close, loving, peace and happy feeling like our family for us. Therefore, all of us so fell in love with this place. We just wanted to stay there more and more. When knowing that, Vy’s grandma family was extremely excited and happy. They quickly went to market, preparation food and cooked. In a flash, they finally served us with abundance, full tables. Everyone ate fully and recognized it as one of the best meals of the trip so far.

    Through all of the above, we see that the people of the Western of Vietnam are gentle, generous, kind-hearted and hospitable.
    Besides, we recognized that the Western women are naturally the best chefs ever. They can cut down coconut, catch fish, prepare food and cook a hearty meal for over 20 people just in a flash, but delicious than any 5 star chefs do. ^_^



    (from Sun/07/17/2016 – Wed/07/20/2016)

    After eating 2 pancakes (Banh Xeo) and a lot of jackfruit, I got sick. First, my stomach was bloating, very upset. I felt like my stomach was about to explode. I could not stand it, so I asked Ms. Karen and Ms. Kim for medicine.
    After medication, I did throw up almost everything. I went to the restroom and felt better. Then I came back the bus and slept easier. In a bout of sleep in the bus, I still recognized Ms. Kim often went to my seat, touched my forehead to see if I had a fever or not, asked me how I felt. She often brought water, medicines, blanket, pillow to me and reminded me to take medicine very carefully and thoughtfully. The way she took care of me made me feel so touching, warm and happy.
    Because of her care, when getting out of the bus, I felt much better. I returned to my hotel room and had a long sleep. Probably by the air conditioner, when I woke up, I had a fever and headache. Tuoi helped me to massage my head, put cold towel on my forehead and brought water to me. While doing those things, she also didn’t forget to yell at me, complain in my ear and remind me that I ate too much, and I went out at night too much. That’s why I was sick like that. Bla bla bla… She was like a fastidious mother. Hahaha :v :v :v . Though she said so many words like that, at night every time I awoke, I all saw that she was changing cold towel for me and touching my forehead to see if I had reduce fever or not.
    In this trip, there were two persons who made me homesick and miss my family much.
    The 1st one is exactly Ms. Kim. The way she took care of me carefully, kindly and thoughtfully like that made me miss my youngest sister a lot. Every time I got sick, she all took care of me little by little like that.
    The other is Tuoi. The way she both took care of me and reminded, complained in my ear like that was so like my mom. When Tuoi did like that with me, I just wanted to hug her tightly and cry.

    When you are at home, you get the cares and attentions like that from your family everyday and regularly, so you feel that is very normal. However, when you are far from your home and get sick like me that day, I’m sure you will feel how special those cares and attentions are with you and you will do miss them so much.

    I think: “Anyone who appears in our life has a reason or a particular meaning…”
    Thanks both of you for appearing in this trip to give me the feeling of family, help me miss my family and love my family more. It was wonderful, and I really appreciate it. I will remember both of you a lot when I get home and see my mom and my youngest sister ❤ ❤ ❤



    (from Thu/07/21/2016 – Sun/07/24/2016)

    Finally, we ended the journey from North to South of Vietnam. Vietnam has 63 provinces and cities. We went through almost of them: Hanoi – Vinh Phuc – Yen Bai – Lao Cai (Sapa) – Bac Giang – Quang Ninh – Ha Nam – Nam Dinh – Ninh Binh – Thanh Hoa – Nghe An – Ha Tinh – Quang Binh – Quang Tri – Hue – Da Nang (Hoi An) – Quang Nam – Ho Chi Minh – Long An – Tien Giang (My Tho) – Vinh Long and Can Tho. Moreover, we went almost all the historical, cultural monuments, the most beautiful landscapes of Vietnam and tried many local foods. We have far more knowledge about specific features of Vietnam compared with other countries in the world and the differences between the regions of Vietnam, such as about: weather, human, culture, cuisine, etc.
    After looking back all of things I and all of members in my class experienced, I see that this trip is not only the itinerary for us to explore and know more about Vietnam, but also the opportunity for each of us discover and understand more about ourselves and other people in our group.

    Because of this trip, I found out the strengths and weaknesses of me before I hadn’t known them. I learned that I was strong and durable when trying to go to the top of Yen Tu mountain and biking about 40 kilometers in Da Nang city. Before, I had thought that I was weak. I knew that I was very patient when sitting one place to try to hook a fish in Vy’s house in 2 hours. When seeing Water Puppet Show in Hanoi, even though, many people felt it boring and sleepy, I felt it so interesting. I widened my eyes and concentrated watching it from beginning to end. I saw that I love the traditional cultural values. Previously, I thought I was lonely and not many people love me. However, in this trip, i felt that everyone loves me and always supports me when I need. When my birthday and when I made a plan the last day in Hoi An: “go to Hoai river, sit in the boat and put the lantern into the river”, I asked everyone who wanted to join with me, almost everyone went out with me and joined with me. Whenever I wanted to go out and explore, Leah, Areli, Valentin and Albert usually went with me and support me. I realized my drinking ability from my birthday night in Hue. And I realized I brought a positive outlook and happy feeling for everyone in the trip after reading pages everyone wrote for me. Tuoi also said that I am a very compassionate and selfless. Thanks everyone for helping me to realize many things about myself before I didn’t know. I will try to maintain and continue to develop these strengths. At the same time, I will try to give up my bad habits and improve my weaknesses, such as: carelessness (dropping money into the lake, loosing my phone, bumping my head, slipping and falling down), sometimes I made everyone worried about me, etc, my English speaking skills, etc.

    This journey also helped me to discover, understand and love more friends who went to the same trip with me. At the beginning, we were strangers, didn’t know each other. There were some people I felt I couldn’t be close and talk with them. It really made me uncomfortable. But after 3 weeks together, I discovered and realized many great things inside them. The friends who I had felt the most unapproachable became intimate and understand me very much.Towards the end, I felt extremely close and loved everyone from the bottom of my heart. I didn’t want to leave all of my friends – my Bạn Mãi Mãi. That was the reason I couldn’t hold my tears in the last lunch we ate together and when I came back Lan Lan Hotel alone to take care of Ms. Kim.
    I will keep these great memories forever in my heart. I hope our friendship will not stop here. Let’s hang out together sometimes, make a meeting every year and keep The Vietnam Fam always alive. When I come back United States, I will send you guys email, our videos and pictures.


  33. Journal #1

    The five days passed already. I have a lot of new experiences about Vietnam where I have been visiting. Everywhere I visited are really great and wonderful. The people there are so nice and friendly. They gave the feeling like we’re friend for a long time already. I talked to some of local people who are funny like Albert. I do not why I can adapt everything so fast even they are not my hometown.

    I found down that the people in Ha Noi and Sa Pa, they speak the same accent. Their voice like the chatter and light. I wondered that every famous places I have been visited just around me. I am in love with Sa Pa where has a lot of mountains and and minority people. The mountain is a dragon because every vehicles and divers have to ride up yo it. And the dragon is never fly straight, the roads always winding. When i got to Sa Pa where welcome me with a lot of rain and cool weather, but I loved it. It made for the roads flooding. The water flown around every streets and it looked like coffee with milk mix together (Ca phe sua da). Everyone there looks so busy walking and riding on the streets. I also love the tour guide so much. She is super friendly and cute. She can speak three languages, cook everything belong to local people even the wine. Her name is Sheng who likes a little bird woke up early to take care people.

    I have been learning and knowing more new things when I have been visited Vietnam. I hope that everything will be good like this until the end of the trip. Nice tour guides, nice people, nice places and good food. I love them so much.


  34. Journal #2

    Today was so awesome. We have been visited Hue, a beautiful place of Huong Lake and people. I also ate a lot of things. Those food were so good and the decoration was perfect, too. I can not believe that I could go to the citadel where the king of Nguyen dynasty used to live here. I can not imagine that Hue is so so beautiful with the tradition. They keep all the traditions.

    I love the way that people treat us. I had a chance to watch the beautiful concern on the Huong river. And I had a chance to watch the beautiful ladies and some guys who play the instruments. They sang about ten characters of Hue’s girls. It has name “ Muoi Thuong.” It was so great I have never heard it before. I almost missed to watch them. I really enjoyed it. We got into a boat and captain ride us to the house that the singles are there. We came and picked up them. There has six ladies and two guys. The two guys were playing Dan Nguyet and Dan Bau. One of a lady was playing Dan Tranh. And five other ladies were singing. They dressed up like a rainbow. Because each of them wear an Ao Dai with different colors, they also wear special traditional hat on their head. The guys wear Ao Dai, too. It was great to see these amazing performers because they carry the traditional culture that Vietnamese people want to pass on from generations to generation. Their voice really really smooth when they were singing. They also gave us the small lanterns to put them into Huong river. I was happy about those things that happened on the boat.

    I hope that I can see and watch more things connect to traditional where is my homeland. I was so excited and want to go more places. Because I know each place has a different culture and traditional. Learn new things and experiences never make you bored.


  35. Journal #3

    Yesterday was my new experience. Every activies at Vy grandmother’s house were so fun and friendly. They look so honest and nice I can tell. I have never been Tien Giang before. Now I think I am in love with that place.

         We have been visited Tien Giang where Vy grandfather’s house there. I walked to his house about one kilometer but I did not complain about that. That was nice when I was walking and watching all the things in the road. I saw some banana trees, a lot of coconut trees with sweet coconut juice inside, some kind of flowers that I know but I forgot the name. It sounds funny but true. When I got there. One thing make me so excited that I saw a garden in the front with all green of the plants. Vy’s family members were so hospitable. They severed a lot fruit and food. We met a guy who also is a tour guide, too. He can speak Chinese, Japanese and English. He, Vy’s aunt and mother shown us around the garden. They cut down the water coconuts. I was feeling happy when I saw they are so enthusiasm. They treat were well with everyone. I ate a lot of fruit that they gave. The best thing is they are organic and safe to eat. At the lunch time I ate really much fishes and vegestable. I love the sốt me sauce that I have never tried it before. That sauce made by Vy’s auntie. I enjoyed it so much.

         I appeciated the moment we were together. I will remember those beautiful times.


  36. Journal #4

    That was a funny day ever. When I came back Sai Gon after I visited my  parents at hometown. I came back by a Vinasun taxi. Only me and the driver started at 4:30 am. I can not believe that the driver who name Loi did not know exactly the way go to Sai Gon even he is a taxi driver. He doesn’t have  a GPS, I just see a positioning devices helps the taxi company knows where the taxi is. I can explain that he just rides the guests around the Dong Nai area not the way to Sai Gon. I told him I want him to ride me to the ” Nha Tho Duc Ba.” Because I know that church is near Lan Lan 2 hotel, it also stands at the center of Sai Gon. And it’s easy to know. While he was riding, he was calling his co-worker to ask the way to get there. That moment was so tough for him but with me I thought he was so hard-boiled. He didn’t know the way where to go how he could receive to ride me? I asked him about that he says : ” If you don’t know you can ask people, and if you have never try how do you know it.” Wow his answer made me thinking and exclaimed: ” Yeah! You’re right.” We got stuck with the traffic for ages. I told him that : ” You should change the way to the blank side over there.” He did and we skip that traffic. At that time I worried for the time we were waiting. We passed some traffic lights and he started nervous. He asked me to ask the local people who were walking, driving and exercising on the street for the direction. I was laughing so hard about that. I did and sometimes he did. Finally, we got to the center of Sai Gon. After he left I found a motorbiker, he ridden me to the hotel. Phewww! Thanks God I still had enough time before the trip goes to Can Tho. Anyway he is a funny and brave person, I didn’t get mad at him because he doesn’t know about way. And I guess it is the first time you hear about a taxi driver doesn’t know the way where to go.


  37. Journal #5

     It such as a special day. When I, classmates and Van Lang University students hung out together. More special that Ms. Karen hung out, too. They have some motor bikes to ride us, but it was not enough. Some of us took a taxi to go to the Bun Bo Hue in Tran Hung Dao street. We have around 20 people who hung out that night. The Bun Bo Hue is good. I really enjoyed it.

        After we were full. All of us got a plan goes to the walking street Nguyen Hue. But four of us Vin, Viet, Phuong and me got lose from the others. Viet and Phuong rode us around the center of city. Sometimes, I felt scare while they were driving. Because the street too narrow, a lot of vehicles are on the street. I saw Phuong wriggled between the others. Maybe you can feel my mind on that moments. Finally, after rode wrong some directions we got a parking lot. We were going to find our group. It took around ten minutes to meet them at walking street. We went to Tien Huong Tea where they sell drinks. They have a lot of kinds, and many colors. I choose a drink calls peach tea. It is tase a little it bitter but it is still good. Cold drink is a good choice for hot weather. After we took the drink. We walked around the street for while. Suddenly, we saw a small group of teenages. They were playing guitars and singing. A girl on our group was asking them to joy. They were nice and accepted her request. We started to sing and clapped to follow the beat. Just few munites later some of the other teenages came and enjoyed with us. That was so meaning. Because it is not easy to see at another countries, it is a nice thing to see.

        I can see that teenages are really love music. I also see the passion on their face. I hope that one day in the future we can do it again.


  38. Journal #6

    This is my grand new experience I have never tried before. A few days left I had try fish and foot massage.   I was so excited about that because I did not try it by my own. I went there with my best classmates and teachers. I can tell that a nice day ever been in my life. Leah, Valentin, Arely, Vin, Nhu, Mien, Ms. Karen, Mr. George, Ms. Kim, little boy (Kai) and I. Such as a good moment being together.

         First we tried fish massage. After cleaned my feet, I put my feet on a small pool where the fishes are swimming. The feeling was weird, I was yelling so hard. A lot of them came and ate my feet even my feet doesn’t have death skin. The reason why they came to me because I was a first person put into. Then Ms. Karen, Vin and Nhu put on the pool. They didn’t come to my feet anymore. They just came to Karen’s and Vin’s feet. Nhu gave up first, she changed to foot massage. Then I gave up, too. During I was waiting for my foot massage. Kai and I had a funny conversation. He is smart and perky. Kai wanted foot massage also. Mien was in different room, so she couldn’t know what happened in the other room. Ms. Kim didn’t try the fish massage, she got foot massage first. Nhu got foot massage later, then I got it. Little boy Kai had foot massage after all. We were laughing so hard when massager started foot massage for him. We wonder that can he sit quite on 30 minutes. Look at that little boy, he did so good on it. He sat quietly. He was talking to us when he was getting massage. After all, I love and remember that moment.

         Everyday and everytime go so fast. We almost say good bye with each others. We almost go to the end of the trip. Every moments we got together still there. Those are beautiful times.


  39. Journal 3

    The past week has been a blur. And this second week seems like it moved even faster. After returning from Ha Long Bay, I felt renewed. It’s hard to grasp each moment and savor it because it continues to slip out of my hands as time moves faster. There is a sort of surrealism to each experience from city to city. After getting off of the night train in Lao Cai, meeting our guide Say, having breakfast then stopping by the boarder of China, I was still trying to wrap my head around that fact that I was in Asia. We continued to journey through the day to a market filled with indigenous minorities of Vietnam. It was very interesting walking around this market and interacting with some of the natives. As a unit, we all pitched in to buying a local farmer’s fermented corn whiskey that was stronger than anything I’ve tasted in the states. We then became loud Americans and I became self conscious. Lets go back to the bus and try not to cause too much attention. I was still adjusting to being the Phi Chau that stuck out like a sore thumb. We then went on a river ride through a village then a boat ride on the river, finally arriving to a Mom and Pop restaurant and ate deliciousness. Though we all seemed to want to fall asleep after every meal, we kept going.

    We then took the bus up the rainy hills of Sapa and after reaching the hotel, I was overwhelmed by the nostalgic scenery and vibrations radiating from the near by villages where the Muong people lived. I couldn’t help but think about globalization and how right out side of my window was the most hypnotizing view of the mountains, hills and clouds that seemed like a painting yet the houses right below seemed to be where locals lived a much simpler life. I could hear the kids playing outside with each other and chanting. After staying one night in Sapa, it was over. We’re back on the night train back to Ha Noi and getting ready for Hue, Ha Long Bay, and Hoi An,then Saigon.


  40. Journal 4

    For the night in Ha Long bay, Tom stayed with us and took us for a scroll through out the night. Another night market. He explained his perspectives on why people had mixed views on Ho Chi Minh. That was the one thing that confused me most of all. Though we were warned by Mr. Swensson to not talk about politics, I felt that Tom was trustworthy and truly open to talk about anything. We discussed the views of the south and the north and Obama coming to Vietnam. We spoke of the young lady rapper in the crowd that talks about social justice in her music and raps in Vietnamese. I really wanted to meet her. That night ended up mushrooming into a sober surprise in the hotel swimming pool after hours where we did laughing yoga, creeped around the camera-filled sauna and felt like teenage children addicted to the rush of possibly not getting caught. And we didn’t get caught but we had to have been watched. Ha Long Bay was beautiful. We were scheduled for a boat ride across the bay to see the many thousand rock islands sprinkled across the waters. We almost didn’t make it due to Vinh getting lost. There were so many people and Tom had to keep track of our 20 person team. After we all got settled and on the boat, I looked around and saw apartments on our left along the side of the shore right at the crescent of the sea dock. I wonder how much the would go for now and how much they’ll go for in the near future. The foreign investor globalization idea came to be in that moment. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that as the boat moved forward. Riding in the boat made me reflect on how many times I’ve actually been in a boat in my life and I couldn’t count how many times on one finger. The water was almost perfect aside from the tourist trash floating on the surface of the water. We traveled to a tourist cave and back. It was truly relaxing being on the water and returning. Hue was our next stop. Tom was a hard act to follow. He even stayed on the train because our rooms were double booked and he fought to the end for our comfort and did it on his day off. I won’t ever forget Tom.


  41. Journal 5

    Hue was one of my favorite cities that far along on the trip. It was relaxing and beautiful. We we didn’t get a chance to stay there long but our stay there was great. The people were friendly, the atmosphere was inviting and the energy of the land resonated with me. This was the night of Mien’s 21st birthday so a small group of us decided to go out and share the occasion with her. We walked down to a club called Brown Eye. On the way, I saw another African male and caught cool conversation with him. He was traveling from London and was stopping by the area with his partner. We then exchanged facebooks and moved on. It was said to be a nice club to go to on yelp and surprisingly the music was booming, the esthetic was interesting and the party was going. We didn’t even enter the building and one of the hostess told Kassie she had brown eyes and she gets some free shots. We proceeded to tell her Mien’s 21st birthday was here and they ended up giving us a free round all the way around! We danced and grooved and danced. There was surprisingly a huge amount of european tourists. The Mien was having a great time and dancing her way into womanhood. We returned sweaty and tired since every night before going out was a true struggle do to the fatigue of non-stop action everyday with no rest. I’ll never forget that night.

    We continued to Hoi An which in itself was an interesting stay. This seem to be the first real rest we received throughout the whole trip. The sunset at the hotel was so impressive. I also saw the African gentlemen from Hue traveling around there as well. Hoi An seemed to be heavily hit by Australian tourism and the local business seemed to cater to the liking of foreigners. This also directly impacted the price of everything. Things seemed to be getting more expensive the further South we went. Food was great, pretty much everywhere we ate. We also got a chance to get on another boat and release candle lanterns on the water. A bigger group was ready to party for Mien’s birthday now that we got rested. We went out by the river to the downtown part of Hoi An where all the clubs were and had a ball. It was truly special and we stayed out so late, prolonging our seriously sleep deprived bodies and woke up to a morning presentation.


  42. Journal 6

    From Hoi An, we made a move to Danang. On the bus rides, we continued to have class and have discussions around the many interesting articles from our readings. I was trying my best to be as engaged as possible though my body was barely pushing forward. I had no idea of the beauty that was coming. With our new guide created an awesome experience for us. He guided us to awesome restaurants and accommodated for our slow movement as a unit due to our fatigue. He then scheduled for us to take a bike ride through the city all the way to the new temple on the hill where the Lady Buddha overlooks the city. The bike ride through the city was a workout and was extreme going up but when getting to the top, the view was beyond astonishing and unreal. I was intrigued and delighted of the fact that a female spiritual figure was watching over the city. On our way down, we took a different route taking us through the the city where I saw a majority of Vietnamese natives and this was an awesome break from seeing so many tourist. The irony. As we ride on and get closer to the hotel, we cross the dragon bridge on bicycle. By this time it is after dark and the lights were changing and warping. This was the most amazing moment of the trip for me. My breathe was taken away by this reality that I felt was like a dream. When returning to the hotel, we looked across the river reflecting the lights of the dragon bridge and across was the butterfly bridge and just beyond that was the Lady Buddha looking at us all. Something inside of me knows that I’ll return at some point.


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