I don’t know why this week felt so long. Maybe its because a lot of our original orientation group had left, who knows, but it certainly did feel like we were tired more often. Everyday we completed our two shifts at the daycare, with us facilitating activities in the afternoon such as face painting, paper crafts, music sessions and playing with balloons. Its quite hard to keep all the kids engaged due to the significant variation in physical and mental capacities. There were 5 of us volunteering this week which is a good number to have.
One of the ‘magic moments’ I had with one of this kids was when he started commando crawling for the first time. Most of the time he either lies or sits drugged up on anti-seizure medication so always appears sleepy, so it was an absolute thrill to see him sliding across the floor as he was try to ‘chase’ me. Both Jason and I continue to focus on a handful of kids which we see the most potential in, I know it sounds bad because we should be trying to help all of them, but it really isn’t possible with what limited time we have.
I think the thing I’ve found difficult is the lack of focused exercise programs for the kids. It seems that after they wake up from their afternoon nap we are just expected to play games with them with no particular benefit to their education or physical ability. So we gave our coordinator this feedback and asked if we could have a more structured rehab-based afternoon, which he agreed with. So that will be our focus for the next week.
The weekend really couldn’t have come soon enough. The moment we finished our shift for the afternoon, we took a cab and headed directly to District 1 where a minibus was waiting to take us to the coastal town of Vung Tau. This is a beach 2-3 hours south of Saigon and is predominantly visited by domestic tourists as it is the closest beach to the city. For only 200,000dong ($10) each we felt rather spoilt with reclined seats, free WIFI and a bottle of water. We spent the majority of our time motorbiking around the coastline and stopping by at several tourists spots. A few of the places we visited were:
– The Jesus Christ Statue: roughly 850 steps to get to the top, quite similar to the one in Rio De Janero, absolutely packed with Vietnamese tourists
– Vung Tau Ecotourism Park: not sure how its ecotourism given that the animals (deer, boar, ostritches, porcupines, horses) are held in relatively confined areas. In order to get there we took a cable car. The only real highlight of this place was going on the 3 minute taboggan which was followed by us sitting in a restaurant for half an hour to shelter from the torrential downpour of rain
– Binh Chau Hot Springs: roughly a 2 hour drive to get there, it was quite expensive so we decided to opt for the cheapest option which was 150,000dong ($7.50) entry to the public hot pools
– Statue Park: a very romantic park set along the beach filled with, you guessed it, statues. We took a nice stroll along here at night where all the statues and trees were beautifully lit up by colourful lights. Not sure if it was just us that thought it, but a vast majority of the statues looked like boobs and penises…
– Bamboo Restaurant: the region is known for the specialty dish ‘Banh Khot’, a small dutch pancake-like savoury shrimp dish which was absolutely incredible at this restaurant, crispy on the inside, soft on the inside….drooooollll
Overall it was a great quick weekend getaway.
On to the last week of volunteering!
Till next time
Ann & Jason xo