Tracy Hoag


Tracy Hoag

Family and friends traveling back to Vietnam to dedicate a second school that was built with funds raised by Kids Building Hope. And we're hoping to have some adventure along the way... Blog contributors: Carly Zalenski (14, founder Kids Building Hope); Tracy Hoag (Carly's Aunt); "and company" Fred, Kris, Abby and Jake Zalenski (Carly's family); Will, Helen and David Hoag (Carly's cousins and Uncle)

Asia » China April 4th 2010

After travelers visit a different place - it may tempting to make broad statements about the people, the culture, the overall experience -- but in the end, the trip boils down to moments, details, exchanges -- puzzle pieces that help to create the big picture. So for our last blog, we thought it would be fun to demonstrate the value of seeking detail while appreciating the larger picture... as neither perspective can stand on its own. (There are 2 pages of pictures). We really appreciate all of your well wishes and prayers for us as we travelled. We thank you for joining us on this journey -- and for supporting Kids Building Hope.... read more
Panicle of Rice
Rice Paddy
Tile Floor of Monastery Temple

Asia » China » Beijing April 2nd 2010

Today our new step dad of countries opened up a little... We went to the Temple of Heaven Park... this is a non-religious temple built by the emperor in the 1400's as a place to give sacrifice and offerings to heaven... but what goes on around the Ming structures is chaotic and captivating life!! You see many active and nimble senior citizens (if you are over 70 you get into the park for free) sing and dance, play Cau (pronounced "Cow" played liked hacky-sack), and do Tai Chi Ball . While others sit on slim bannisters playing cards, making music or drawing calligraphy in the dust on the walkways in water. It's a festive wall of sound with flashing colors, intense faces, graceful movement -- in Sig's words -- it defines cacophony! We then visited a ... read more
Carly Playing Catch
Will getting Fancy
Temple for Good Harvest

Asia » China » Beijing April 1st 2010

Day 2 in China. Itinerary: Go to Great Wall of China (such a small sentence for such a big part of China's history); Visit Jade Factory Workshop; Have another enormous meal; Tour Olympic Park; Try 4 different kinds of Chinese tea; Skip Dinner because still full from lunch; Sit in gargantuan traffic jam; Sing Karaoke; Mime way through ordering at Pizza Hut because now you are hungry and it's 10pm ... read more
Juyongguan Section of Great Wall
Looking down
Getting Higher

Asia » China » Beijing March 31st 2010

OK so it's been awhile... sorry to be such a delinquent correspondent!! Since we last spoke -- we had another through-the-meat-grinder day of travel from Vietnam to China. Doesn't seem like it would take that long -- but with odd flight times and uncomfortable transitions to new flights -- the travel was brutal. Any kinks that were worked out with a massage or a day of golf were most definitely re-kinked! I admit to being completely unprepared for China -- and to be honest -- I'm not sure that we ever could have been. This place is full of history and mystery. There are events (like the student protest at Tian'anmen Square) that we learn about in the United States that are literally blips on the screen of the enormous expanse of China's history. When we ... read more
Trying to get Comfy
Catching some Z's
First Meal in China

Asia » Vietnam » Central Highlands March 30th 2010

So - we wound our way through a hilly and sparse region of Vietnam that we had never seen before. Homes were not lined up in a row along the road -- but were dispersed throughout coffee plantations and red clay dirt mounds... We bounced and turned and climbed through the cool sunshine until out of nowhere appeared a grouping of yellow buildings and some colorful flags blowing in the wind. We had arrived!! The scene was much more tentative than our first dedication in Southern Vietnam 2 years ago - and definitely more calm and controlled than our revisit to that same school just a few days ago. These Churu (ethnic minority) children appeared shy - and were interested in having the celebration, but not so interested in meeting our eyes. We were informed by ... read more
The scene from above
Walking In
Kids in Tribal Dress

Asia » Vietnam » Central Highlands » Lam Dong » Da Lat March 28th 2010

Today - we seized an opportunity to just relax. The weather was so cool and sunny -- and we didn't have any major plans for the day. The morning was spent touring the Summer Palace of the last King of Vietnam -- and then we visited the most enchanting monastery called Truc Lam (Bamboo Forest). It's a place where people come to learn meditation, and the monks chant for several hours several times a day. It is so peaceful and inviting -- with labyrinth gardens, wind chimes and the unexpected warm smell of pine. Afterwards, we took a sky cab (mini gondola) ride across fields of terrace gardens and pine forest. What a great way to see the countryside! We arrived back in the city of Dalat and went to lunch at a cafe owned by ... read more
Buddha with a Lotus flower
Monastery View
Bamboo Forest

Asia » Vietnam » Central Highlands » Lam Dong » Da Lat March 27th 2010

So here we are in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. This area was developed by the French in the late 1800's -- as a getaway of sorts because of the oppressive heat of Saigon (HCMC). The French government used to move their whole operation up here in the summer months - built a golf course, villas and put a dam in the river to create 'the Grand Lake' in the center of the town. The French left after the Treaty of Geneva in the 1950's, but the area continued to draw government-types. Amazingly the area hosted military officials from opposing sides during World War II and the American/Vietnam War - who would play golf and chill out together before going back out to battle against one another. This area of the Highlands was least affected by ... read more
Chicken Church
Valley of Love

Asia » Vietnam March 27th 2010

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 ... read more
"White Coffee"
Tigon Cafe
Big red Rooster

Asia » Vietnam March 25th 2010

We got up early this morning to travel to the first school that Kids Building Hope helped to build - the school we dedicated 2 years ago. The trip from our hotel to the school was 7 miles ... it took us easily 2 hours by bus -- some of it pretty rough. (I would ask Helen her opinion on the road conditions but she was asleep for most of it -- due to her affinity for car sickness -- she slept with a barf bag in her lap). Sadly, the sites along this road were not to be missed -- so she'll have to read about it and see the pictures just like you!! What kind of things did you see drying on the side of the road? Jake: rice (lots of rice), fish, fruit ... read more
Drying Rice lining the Road
Water Buffalo
Woman on Motorbike

Asia » Vietnam March 24th 2010

We all really enjoyed being back in Ho Chi Minh City -- seeing the progress, growth and change that is happening there... but today's trip down south brought new flavors, colors, scents and sights that felt distinctly... how else can I say it?? Vietnam-ish. We'll share them with you now ... as we sit in the lobby of the beautiful Victoria Hotel in Chau Doc (close to the border of Cambodia -- and near the school we dedicated 2 years ago). The kids who looked wilted on arrival have recovered from the long journey (due to some familiar food and air-conditioning I believe). Helen, Will and Jake are playing pool. Abby and Carly are itching to get the pictures up on the blog... so let's get started... We started off early this morning driving south into ... read more
Streets around the Floating Markets
Fish Farm Bridges
Feeding Time

Tot: 2.578s; Tpl: 0.013s; cc: 7; qc: 84; dbt: 0.0422s; 2; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.5mb