“You think there’s not a lot going on ... look closer baby you’re so wrong.” Like Dog River, Saskatchewan and many other small communities around the world, it looks like there is nothing going on in the small village in the Mekong Delta, where we spent a week during our trip to Vietnam. From the highway, the village looks like a wide spot with a cluster of houses.
This is the birthplace of Truc Le, one of Dave’s teaching colleagues in Calgary. As a child, Truc and her family braved many hardships to leave Vietnam as “boat people” and risked everything for the chance of a better life in Canada. When they learned of our trip to Vietnam, Truc and her parents arranged for us to spend a week in their village. Our excuse was to teach English and although we did some of that, the lasting benefit will come from the the bridges of friendship and mutual appreciation that were forged.
We spent an amazing week in the village and we can not do justice to the experience in this blog. So we will summarize our experiences of the week and share the details in person. Also check out the pictures in our picture gallery. What follows is list of things we did that week:
We came to the village from Saigon in an SUV containing 8 people, all of our gear plus two computers. We visited the police station three times. We slept under mosquito nets. We spent each evening with a group of teenagers practicing their English. We had cold showers all week. We visited the beach once. We saw a ship being built. We stopped at the market to buy duck food. We saw ponds where shrimp grow and others where sea salt is harvested. We saw trenches for telephone lines being dug by hand. Grandpa and Dave sat outside and drank many beers together, despite the fact that they don’t speak each others language. We taught an English class at the high school. We watched someone scrape the coconut out of the shell. We went to the local elementary school but were “uninvited” for our visit the next day because the “paperwork” was not in place. We ate chicken intestine, frog, duck, shrimp the size of small lobsters and deep fried flowers stuffed with minced pork. We did laundry in the courtyard by hand. We watched a boy climb a tree and chop down a cluster of coconuts. We found out that everyone in the village knew where we were at all times. Dave set up an email account for one of the high school teachers. We took the local bus twice. Dave drank rice vodka. Laverne took her first motorcycle ride since childhood. We watched rice being harvested. Children from the local elementary school spent afternoons with Kasenya and Lacey, learning English and singing songs. We had coffee and drinks at a local cafe. Realizing that we don’t speak Vietnamese, a woman at the cafe gave us her daughter’s phone numbers in case we had problems. We watched ducks being herded. We discovered the internet cafe. The police came to the house where we were staying and were invited to stay for supper. Devin had his picture taken with several teenage girls. We met four English teachers, none of whom are native speakers. We saw rice being dried in the courtyard. We found that grandmothers all over the world are the same. We were given cone hats. Little kids mobbed us in the market yelling “hello, hello’. We were fed mountains of food. We put the Vietnamese branch of the family together with the Canadian branch of the family via Skype. We met and spoke English with many people on an impromptu basis. We visited the market in a nearby town. We received an invitation to spend a month next time.
Our week in the village was so much like our frequent visits to Saskatchewan. Only the location was different. The people are basically the same: self sufficient and generous to a fault. Everyone did what they could to make us comfortable and we made due with what was available. We slept on the floor when all the beds were full. People came to the house to see us and also invited us to their homes. We ate too much. Grandma squeezed us and Grandpa offered us beer. We were sad to leave. Everyone in the village welcomed us warmly and we left feeling certain we will return ...
Bissky Dziadyk Family
Travelling the world as a family since 2008.
In September 2008 our family embarked on a four month journey through South East Asia. Traveling with a child who uses a wheelchair presented its challenges, but following the Mekong River through China, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam with a wheelchair was truly an adventure.
When we move beyond our fears and embrace our dreams, the Universe has an odd way of not only supporting us but giving us more opportunities than we ever imagined. Embarking on a journey with an open heart we can not help but be changed forever by the experience. Indeed it would be a waste to return untouched in the spiritual realm.
September: China (Beijing, Xi’an,Kunming, Yuanyang)
October: Northern Vietnam (Hanoi, Halong Bay) and
Laos (Luang Prabang, Vang Vieng, Vientiane)
November: Southern Vietnam (Hue, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta)
December: Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampot and Sihanoukville).