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Published: December 1st 2007
Take a taxi to the airport it is 15 to 20 dollars. A bus cost 35 cents.
Mr. Friends Arrived
The 28th and 29th of November my friends arrived from the USA. Jane Hughes had already arrived and her friend, Jackie Jones, both from the United Kingdom, arrived December 1st. Two brothers Tom and Dick Espy arrived the 29th. Anita Graves and Tom Seltmann arrived from my home town of Larned Kansas. We are all Larned Rotarians. They are experienced world travelers.
Some I knew from Rotary, some from Couchsurfers and some from the Library Project. They all were interested in the library project but they all wanted a little more. The idea was that touring and dedicating libraries was one great thing but how could you pass up Halong Bay if you are in the Hanoi area or Ming Mang’s tomb in Hue? The library tour was already fast paced so getting more in was a challenge.
Some arrived early to have a pretour. All that responsibility was placed on my shoulders and I found out it wasn’t as easy as one might think. The schedules were constantly changing, planes were late, Hanoi’s traffic problems had to be contended with and there is always a tendency to try to do too
I worked with Mr. Quang my hotel manager who was a certified tour operator. He came through with everything he promised and remained flexible to the end.
One challenge pertained to Tom and Dick Espy. They were professional video people. Dick is a partner with Gerry Cullen of Video Works out of Roeland Park KS. I met Gerry Cullen two years ago on a library tour and thought I had met the most kind, thoughtful man ever. Guess what, his partner is just like Gerry. Dick’s younger brother does all kinds of things but the most interesting one is he makes plastic models for Doctors to practice on before they operate. Another interesting part of Tom’s history is he was the Marine in 1975 that reached out of the helicopter and pulled the last person to freedom from on top of the United States Embassy in Saigon.
These two are here to see the country and to make a professional video on Rotaries impact on the Library Project and Vietnam in general. Rotary is the feature point of this new video. It is the Libraries Project gift to Rotary for all the work they have done
in Vietnam and around the world. They came specifically for the pretour to get more of those exotic scenes of Vietnam itself. The kind you get by living here as I do. The people I meet and associate with. They have been very kind by saying they are getting what they want. I think some of my most simple pleasures have been their most enjoyable moments. Like sitting around in Ba Nangs Café Shop. This introduced them to Vietnamese coffee which they proclaimed the best in the world. They are hooked just like me. They plan on taking some back and buying a Vietnamese coffee drip device.
They have videoed Tom Seltmann and Anita Graves riding a cyclo around Hoem Kiem Lake from the back of a motorbike facing backwards.
We visited Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and Museum complex. They were a little disappointed that Ho Chi Minh wasn’t there. I guess he was in Russia for his annual maintenance. I don’t think they were too impressed with the museum. I didn’t go. I had already seen it twice.
Had dinner at the famous Highway 4 restaurant. I have given the restaurant a D- rating
Hwy 4 Restaurant
Overpriced and oversold.
in my book. The food was alright but not great. It was overpriced and the worse thing was we had to sit on the floor Japanese style. Some of us men had to keep getting up because our legs would go numb. The noise was so bad that I couldn’t hear anything the whole night. I had invited some people to the dinner I wanted to get acquainted with and that was impossible. I never heard a word they were saying.
Went to the Hanoi Opera House to see a ballet. It was wonderful and just gaining
admission to the place was worth the ticket price. The Opera House was built in 1911 and they French really built the place to last. The only disappointment was the seat that was hard and slightly slanted forward.
Visited the Perfume Pagoda. A trip to see Vietnam’s scenic beauty and the crystal clear water of the river. It is kind of like Halong Bay inland.
The Vietnamese had installed a cable car to top. The women still row you two miles upstream. The same women that rowed me last time remembered me and again drove me nuts the whole trip.
They are the worst hawkers in the whole land.
Got stuck in a traffic jam in Hanoi that we moved 100 feet in over an hour.
Enjoyed Halong Bay again. This time we stayed in a great new hotel called “Hidden charm.” The hotel and staff were just great.
Tonight we had a organizational meeting with Library Project’s Executive Director Chuck Theusch.
The excitement starts tomorrow with the dedication of “Grandma’s Library.” Grandma is 102 years old and we are honoring the town by dedicating the library in her name. We will leave Hanoi at 6 AM.
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