Published: August 22nd 2007August 15th 2007
On motor bike
Travelled many kilometres on this motor bike with Uyen. Fabulous driver
Hi everybody - Because there has been big problems with the Travel blog site crashing I am well behind with my journal. I will not be able to write my daily entries but will try and give an overall picture of how my time has been spent while in Quang Ngai
Today being Wednesday 1 August, was my last day in DaNang. Spent some time with Sandie, saw Tung from last year's photo shop and then had lunch before Sandie and I went to the orphanage I spent my two months in last year. Was lovely seeing the babies again, especially little Tien who has progressed so much in the last year. Went to GVN house and it was time to leave with Viet, Toan and Beka (new volunteer from England). Viet is a crazy driver but we managed to safely arrive at the volunteer house in Tam Ky for a quick hello to the volunteers and then it was on our way to Quang Ngai about a three hour drive from DaNang. Of course, the traffic was chaotic as ever but we arrived at the GVN house to be greeted by Martin and Vicky (two from England). They probably were
Usual busy traffic in DaNang but there was actually a time when there was not a person or a vehicle on the road outside my hotel
quite hungry as they waited for us to have dinner with them and now being 7.00pm - two hours after "normal" Vietnamese dinner time. After dinner we were whisked off to one of Martin's and Vicky's newly acquired friend, Lillie's birthday and it was a great introduction to Quang Ngai's hospitality. It probably was the loudest karaoke I have heard in Vietnam but all good fun and we had lots of dances and drank beer. So then it was home to bed in our new quarters. My room has a balcony and overlooks beautiful green rice paddies, bananas and palms and sweet corn and the Highway is a bit further over. Next day we went to an orphanage that has disabled and deaf children. In the afternoon, went to an orphanage that is called Special Protection Centre where there are 90 children varying in ages from a dear little 3 month old baby, Binh to about 16.
On Friday 3 August, it was raining so we decked ourselves in our raincoats and got on our pushbikes to ride to SPC. That night we had a major blackout so there were no lights, no computer, no fans and no phone but
First baby I met in Quang Ngai
Dear little baby Binh at the Quang Ngai orphanage
just as we had set up the torches, the power came back on so we were fortunate to have our fans if nothing else working. It rained all weekend so couldn't do any sightseeing so we went and had our nails done while Martin had his haircut and beard shaved but cleared up a bit on Sunday so we were able to take a trip about 40kms to a hot pool. All on motorbikes of course. As we were riding out Phuoc said "I have a problem" and it was that he was supposed to be back in QI for a 5.00 wedding. He invited me to go with him. This is nothing out of the ordinary for an invite and the hosting family are quite excited when a foreigner is in their presence. We did not go to the actual service but this was quite a large wedding - about 150 guests. I was made to feel very welcome. The food was delicious and of course, there was the beer. The uncle of the groom introduced me to his family and then invited me back to his home for coffee and cake.
On Monday, gave my lst English lesson at SPC and went well considering. That night it was off to the Foreign Language school and met the directors. The sad thing about SPC is that there is quite a lot of brutality and this has concerned past volunteers and we are not happy with the situation either. We had a meeting with the directors to try and get some form of communication going but at the moment we seem to be coming up with many problems and this is causing a great deal of emotional and mental stress for us.
Another place on our agenda for teaching English and having activities with the disabled children is at Nghai Hahn. It is situated in a lovely rural area but quite sad when you see the number of children with quite severe handicaps - evidently result of Agent Orange. We received some very sad news too that the little baby of 2-3 months had died and this was because the parents could not afford to take her to a doctor. This is a story you hear of so often and it would be wonderful if we all had an endless supply of money to donate and help some of the children. So the main part of the day is taken up with travelling to the different orphanages to teach the English and do activities to try and expand the children's skills of the language and interaction with society.
We have had time to have a wonderful massage done by a blind girl - perhaps one of the best ones I have experienced but to look at a photo I have one would wonder what on earth are the marks on Beka's and my backs. It was from the suction caps used to help with the flow of the blood - they work wonders. Beka and also were taken up to a high mountain to a pagoda where a monk tells your fortune. Beka and I are in for a good year and both are supposed to be getting married!!!! The drive and down the mountain was quite spectacular as you had wonderful views all over Quang Ngai and the province. The uncle of the groom from the wedding I went to previously, invited me to his wife's headmistress. He tries to visit on a regular basis as about 8 months ago her husband died.
Last Friday, I packed and caught the bus to Danang. What an experience that was. We set off at 8.00 as scheduled, but a couple of kilometres down the track he turns around and was picking up passengers. We did this 4 times before finally setting off. There were several stops to pick up more people and we were like sardines. A couple of people would get off but three more would get on. We finally got to DaNang about 10.45 and Uyen came and picked me up. Met Sandie and went down to the DaNang orphanage. We went to the GVN house as I was going to stay with Viet's family but noone was there so ended up staying with Sandie. We were quite tired so didn't have a late night.
Said my final goodbye to Sandie as she was flying out to HoChiMinh City for a few days before her flight home to Australia. It was really great catching up with her again.
Went over on Uyen's motorbike to Hoian and had a little shopping spree. I noticed the difference in Hoian from last year as many new buildings are being built or have been built. The ride back home on Sunday was very hot and dusty - well, sandy and Uyen had to drive very carefully as a very strong wind. He took me to the bus station for my trip back to Quang Ngai. This bus was a bit more civilised as far as the number of passengers that were on and something that would be quite rare I am sure, was that about 10kms out of Quang Ngai I actually laid down on the seats next to me as were vacant. What a good feeling to have a stretch.
So the last two days has been going to the orphanages and to teach. Last night (Monday 13th)I had a different class than last week and was asked to talk about "my life". They were quite interested to hear about "The School of the Air" - the kids in Australia live many kilometres from neighbours and school, sohave their lessons via radio/television. Was very interesting and I also talked about The Flying Doctor Service - that is a service provided to people in the outback of Australia who need medical attention. In these conversations, you never know what you are going to be talking about as the children are encouraged to ask you questions so as to practice their English. Tonight, (Tuesday 14th)I was asked once again to talk about Brenda and her life and homeland - a different class and the topics discussed were different again. I was told by the teacher that I gave a very good presentation so that pleased me.
On Wednesday (15th) taught year 9 at SPC and then after lunch went up to the supermarket and did my packing up before we went to the Foreign Language for a little farewell presentation for me and their thanks for my time spent at the school. The four of us then went up to a very big "club" Ocean Blue where we treated ourselves to some sophisticated icecreams and liqueurs. Yummy - Not satisfied with that pig out we came home and had a very decorative and tasty cake.
That's it for tonight.