23 October 2011

ChildFund Vietnam Takes On Hanoi!

Team ChildFund have officially arrived in Vietnam! After more than 16 hours of transit the entire group of 18 amazing supporters who have raised more than $73,000 landed fe and sound in Vietnam's frenetic capital, Hanoi!

It was straight to bed for most with a few of us taking a late night stroll through the bustling streets of the Old Quarter and around the city's central lake. We watched as right at 12 midnight the city's curfew came into effect. Doors shuttered, lights flicked off, and nearly all music stopped. It. Was a city transformed!

Today's big exploration started with a delectable breakfast on the ground floor of the Sunshine Suites Hotel (not to be confused with Sunshine Hotel, Sunshine 3, and Sunshine Hotel and Suites - there is a lot of repetition in naming here)! First stop was the Ho Chi Minh complex, including his mausoleum (which was sadly closed as the body had been airlifted to Moscow to be touched up), his old palace, and his stilt house that he called home for the final years of his life.

With a group of 18 I was forced to make my usual threats of matching hats, flags on poles, and name tags should they fail to keep up, be on time, and do as they are told. Thankfully, all complied (except for Rachel, who we have sorted out).

The hot humid air of the city combined with jet lag meant that come lunch time, this was a VERY HUNGRY BUNCH. We ate at KOTO, an amazing nonprofit restaurant that employs and rehabilitates both underprivileged and underserved young people in the city. The food was divine, as were the wonderful (and shockingly affordable) cocktails.

In the afternoon we all hopped in rickshaws for a scenic spin around Old Hanoi. The bustling traffic, honking horns, smells of street food, and chorus of "hellos" from children really made this entire experience sink in. We are certainly not in Australia anymore!

Our day finished in the most delicious way. We did dinner backwards, gorging on the phenomenal ice cream of Fanny (yes, it's called Fanny). Krista, Georgia, Bianca, and I managed to finish off TWENTY scoops. Yes, TWENTY.

After a short recharge we dined on a nine-course Vietnamese feast accompanied by the wonderful folks from ChildFund's Vietnam office. W also took a minute to surprise Alexis and sing her happy birthday. She thought she could keep that a secret. No way no how!

Its off to bed now, as we have a 6am start tomorrow to get to the CildFund project by nine. Wish us luck!

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