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Asia » Vietnam
March 27th 2010
Published: March 27th 2010
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Sunrise in VietnamSunrise in VietnamSunrise in Vietnam

The sunrise as we make our way through the rice paddies of southern Vietnam.
OK -- yesterday was quite possibly the longest day of travel yet. We awoke at 4am in Southern Vietnam - traveled through the already bustling streets of Chau Doc (not with traffic and noise like Ho Chi Minh City, but busy with the work of the day - setting up restaurant tables, street vendors stocking goods etc). We started traveling west toward the Cambodian border (actually this area of Vietnam was part of Cambodia until the mid 1800's). It did not take long for the activity to pick up in the streets. Buddhists were heading to their temple first thing in the morning - the music of the pagoda was in the air. And then we just kept traveling... amazing how our eyes and brains became accustomed to the scene... Dirt road as wide as the bus, 3-4 people on a motorbike sneaking around the bus to pass, rice drying on a tarp on the side of the road - a bicycle driving through it, house after house made of pieces of wood or sheet metal or dried grasses, hammocks in a row, a rice field, child-sized plastic chairs with adults resting in them, a pile of bricks, a pile of
"White Coffee""White Coffee""White Coffee"

Very strong coffee is pressed through this small filter, where it sits on top of sweetened condensed milk. You then stir gently to create a smooth, eye-opening drink. Even better over ice, but it's best to stay away from local water!
trash, a pile of rice bags, clothes out to dry, fish out to dry, a chicken roaming, a rooster under a basket, fruit in a basket, someone balancing a basket on her head... Many people followed the bus with their eyes, many looked indifferent. Life in full swing, and there was work to be done.

Most of us dozed on and off uncomfortably for the 9 or so hours of driving to arrive back in Ho Chi Minh City -- for our flight to Dalat. At the 8 and a half hour mark, Helen discovered something -- the seats reclined!! We all got a big kick out of that -- and reclined in relative comfort for the last 1/2 hour of the journey. The flight seemed to be in the blink of an eye after all of that ground travel -- and we got off the plane to the most amazing thing... cool air. Oh my -- I was almost cold! The next stunning thing was arriving in the city of Dalat -- what a contrast to what we had just been driving through (sort of like going from Amish Country to Vegas). Neon, Karaoke, a replica of the
Tigon CafeTigon CafeTigon Cafe

9 out of 13 vacationers agree: this place is better than Starbucks!
Eiffel Tower?? -- anyway -- we enjoyed a meal of steaming squid, prawns, chicken pieces, steamed rice and zucchini. Are you going to let me get away with saying - "we"?? Our kids thanked God for the steamed rice -- think we'll start those multi-vitamins tomorrow...

Sig's questions...

How did you enjoy the boxed breakfast on the bus?? David: Best sandwich I've had in a long time - maybe because someone cut the little crusts off for me. Kris: The chocolate croissant was divine. Jake: The danish with the chocolate inside was off the chisel. (I think that means it was good). Sig: It covered the food pyramid, but it was a little difficult to eat fruit that needs to be peeled when you're in a bus and don't have the utensils.

What song represents today's travel for you? Judy: It's a Hard Day's Night (Beatles). Carly and Abby: Every Day is a Winding Road (Sheryl Crow). Jake: I got a Feeling (Black-Eyed Peas)-- because the day was tiring, but I knew the night was going to be OK David: Run through the Jungle (CCR)

Describe your white coffee at the Tigon Cafe (a little cafe
Big red RoosterBig red RoosterBig red Rooster

This and other roosters sit outside the gas station. Inside, less fortunate chickens are being butchered on the floor in clear eyesight of curious passers-by.
along the way): Doug: White coffee - isn't. It's black and strong and lingers for an hour. Helen: White coffee is the best. I like it best over ice. It's sweet. Will: "I think I'm having my crash." Carly: I had black coffee, not white -- it was incredibly strong and thick. Larry: You never know what you're going to get. it can curl your hair -- or taste like a milkshake Sig: Be sure to check the pitcher on the table before pouring it in your coffee - many times it's soy sauce.

Compare the Tigon Cafe to a Starbucks: Abby: more stuff that I like at Starbucks like a white mocha latte. And Starbucks has food -- and I was starving, because I didn't enjoy my 5am breakfast box. Kris and David: We liked it because it's the only one in the world - and any schmoe can find a Starbucks on any corner. Kris: There aren't orchids hanging from the ceiling in Starbucks.

How important are travel documents? Doug: Just ask the Hoags in 90 days if you can find them. Tracy: Don't throw anything out!!! What would I need customs forms for anyway??? Sig:
Rice Paddy WorkerRice Paddy WorkerRice Paddy Worker

"On my way to work!"
Especially in a communist country - don't loose your passport and don't throw your customs forms away. This would have been a huge problem 10 years ago -- but today (because they want to encourage the tourism) they'll make it work.

What is good way to kill flies on a bus: Will: Wacking at them with a tissue, Jake: looking at them sideways -- and then blind-siding them.

What's your fly killing record? Helen, Will and Jake: 34 and a half (the 1/2 because it was little) as a team

How long is long? David: the first time we heard, "Are we there yet?" was after 9 hours -- I thought that was pretty long. Judy: Long is the ride with seats that don't recline. David: When no amount of shifting or adjusting can bring comfort... then you know it's been long.

We'll explore the city a little on Saturday and rest a little and then blog a little. Thanks for tuning in!! We'll be in touch.

Additional photos below
Photos: 8, Displayed: 8


OH-IO (we had to do it!)OH-IO (we had to do it!)
OH-IO (we had to do it!)

Rice paddy on Vietnam border... 33-meter Buddha sits on the 'Forbidden Mountain' in Cambodia behind us. Kris fell into the ankle-deep rice paddy water getting this shot.
Rice from the fieldRice from the field
Rice from the field

This is what rice looks like before it is processed -- a far way off from that Uncle Ben's package!!

27th March 2010

Do you guys know how much we love you??? You are living a dream and letting us all in on it. it is a beautiful day here in Western NY...lots of sunshine! You all look awesome:)
27th March 2010

I LOVE your stories and pictures and look forward to hearing from you each day. You are special wonderful people and I love you. Nana
27th March 2010

O-H-I-O in Vietnam
I am still laughing at that, that was cute and glad you got a picture of it. David, was that your idea??? Hate to break it to you but Ohio state lost to Tennessee 76 - 73. Too bad Helen didn't find out earlier the seats reclined, leave it to a kid to find out how something works! Way to go Helen! Have fun and be safe!
27th March 2010

It looks like you guys are having an awesome time visiting the school and other places. I can't wait to hear about everything. Abby i miss you so much and i liked you answer to the question about starbucks! I can't wait for you to come home!
27th March 2010

You sure are a long way from home!
28th March 2010

Jackson wins state! Pounded Moeller 57-34.
You can be proud of Jackson High School as they won the State Basketball Finals in Columbus about one hour ago. The Jackson team made an important win last evening against Gahana Lincoln. Mike Fuline and his team were awesome. His father Dan Fuline is a Canton Rotarian and was shown on TV holding his granddaughter. Congratulations to Jackson. 1st Team from Massillon to win a State Baskeball Championship.
28th March 2010

whassup, Hoags!
hey guys! looks like you guys have alot to do. i dont even know how you have time to post this blog! I mean seriously, 9 hours on a bus that dosn't have reclining seats( until helen found out they did).it seems like you guys are having a great time. is it sunny there? its not here in Ohio. currenly, its raing(did i spell that right?) and we haven't seen the sun yet. i posted this comment a 9:45 A.M., which means you guys are probly sleeping.have a good rest of trip! i'll keep posting. Andy
28th March 2010

To Andy from Will
Thanks for being the first boy to write to me. (Tell the rest of the guys to hop to it - and write). We dedicate the school tomorrow - and this area is sunny but cool (we love it). When we were south it was very hot. I miss you guys. See you soon. Will
28th March 2010

Charweeeeeeeeeee you look like you're having an amazing time :) i love the picture of you and the little girl from last time its adorable. They all look so happy and its because of all the time and effort you guys put into this. You're doing wonderful things darlin i miss you :) can't wait to see you :) Keep savin the world <3 u Court
29th March 2010

why were you counting how many flies you swatted?
31st March 2010

To Eliza; From Will
For fun and competition -- we were on a 10 hour bus ride -- you'd do something weird too!
31st March 2010

erin!!! i miss you SO much :( i hope you are having a great spring break and i hope you had an awesome birthday! i tried to get on fb to say happy birthday yesterday but it wouldnt work! anyways.. i'm telling you now (: but i can't wait to see you and tell you everything about the trip! love abby
31st March 2010

erin!!! i miss you SO much :( i hope you are having a great spring break and i hope you had an awesome birthday! i tried to get on fb to say happy birthday yesterday but it wouldnt work! anyways.. i'm telling you now (: but i can't wait to see you and tell you everything about the trip! love abby

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