the last month

ok…sorry for not posting (if you actually are mad at us for not posting…i might have to beat you with a large stick). I’m currently trying to stay up as late as possible before leaving for SD tomorrow morning. So I’ll use the time wisely….right

about our trip to Vietnam and Thailand:
The trip began on our way from Guam to Manilla. During the flight Hollie managed to gain the attention of a flight attendant who became her sugar daddy for the 3hr flight. ‘Oh Hollie, here’s a big bottle of water.’ ‘Oh Hollie, try some of my local philipino breakfast.’ I guess he had to compensate for only having ten people to serve rather than a full plane.

On our way to Hong Kong (from Manilla) we had some purple cake…or we were served purple cake. Don’t know many purple fruits which make great cake. To Asia’s credit we were served a full meal on EVERY flight…including the 1hr ride from Hanio to Bangkok. So we ate three times before we got to Hanoi.

The Hanoi airport…it’s very interesting to see these people in their government uniforms (which look very similar to NVA uniforms in the movies). We waited for our luggage for about an hour…fun, then proceeded to take a cab to the travel office taking us to Sapa. 45 min cab ride = $10 and you don’t tip. The cab driver thought we were brother and sister.

Driving in Asia, especially in Hanoi is very fluid…and child safety is not a concern. We saw a five person family crammed on a scooter weaving through traffic (of course they put the 1yr old on the front…don’t want them falling off the back).

Upon making it to the travel office – the flood gates opened and it rained heavy for the next two hours. Then there was the wait…after 14hrs of air travel, we had to wait another 4 before our tour left…tons of fun.

The tour office took us to the train station where we boared our ‘sleeper cabin’. After this trip, I’ve come to realize that large people do not ‘fit’ in Asia. Imagine 2/3 the width of a twin with about 5 inchs chopped off the link…but it was relatively clean and we both slept well…with two strangers sharing the room. In the morning a small man with a stick banged on everyone’s door and had some mantra we did not understand.

The next morning we arrived at Lao Cai (rode the train through the night), and took a bus to sapa. We met our guide (‘Si’) and took a jeep to our trail head where we hiked about 8 miles to our picnic spot. Our hiking partners were four very funny spainards who spoke great english. The sapa valley is BEAUTIFUL. Rising green mountains with tiered rice fields, a river running through the center. The weather was great, sunny and not too hot. The hike was basically through the valley and to a small village. We met some local Muong (wearing the dark cloths) women who tried to sell us stuff.

Lunch was an adventure. The menu: Bagets, hard boiled eggs, cheese, cucumbers, tomatos, salt and bananas…oh, and the dirt. Most things hard dirt, either from not washing the plates, the wind blowing…you name it. This is the boonies of Vietnam…who cares…apparently the Spainards cared. They spoke great english…especially complaining…one of them would not eat anything. So the big joke of the trip became ‘will it be a picnic?’

We finished the day by hiking down hill to a small village for our ‘homestay’. the house was an open-air two story with split bamboo floors. Everyone had a queen foam mattress and a thick blanket. After a cold shower from a plastic bowl and floor level faucet (why can’t they put the faucet higher…it’s a SHOWER!), we had dinner….and it was not a picnic. Pork, beef, potato, tofu stir fry’s….amazing, worth going back for. The Spainards even taught us to mix 7up and beer…its actually very tasty.

We all slept great, it was very cool…and the breakfast in the morning….amazing. Thin pancakes, bananas, honey, sugar and limes….not a picnic. We hiked to a waterfall where you could swim…and relaxed most of the morning. A jeep took us back to sapa, a bus to the train station and we slept with two more stangers on the way home.

The next three days we spend in Hanoi…shopping, site-seeing. I learned I have the attention span worse than Jack or Hudson Beadles when it comes to a museum. Saw Hao Lo prison (Hanoi Hilton) and all the commi propaganda concerning the treatment of our POW’s. It will make you want to walk outside and set fire to the city. Hanoi is nice, but the pollution is very bad. We pulled black buggars from of noses.

We had been in contact with an adoption agency in the states and had coordinated a visit to an orphange. Our contact called us and invited us to dinner the night before our trip because the agency director was in town at the time. We met Keith Wallace, his family (his wife is Vietnamese) and the Vietnamese staff at dinner and learned all about the country’s culture surrounding adoption. Lots of corruption among agencies, including those claiming to be Christian. Lots of corruption in the government. We learned China has the cleanest adoption system of any foreign country.

The next day we took a 100 mile road trip with the staff to an orphange. There was a beautiful baby girl (which we wanted to take home) we got to hold. I put cribs together and Hollie got to visit with the orphange staff. We met with the director (did not speak english), and the agency staff member told us right in front of him ‘this director is only good at stealing money’, when I questioned his job performance.

On our way back from orphange we stopped at the home of one the agency staff members, whose parents were retired from the NVA, and were very active in the ‘American War’. This was the moment I would have given two fingers to speak Vietnamese. The father worked in logistics and the mother was one who would go and find the shot down pilots. Both parents were amazingly friendly…they joked and laughed most of the time. The mother sat down next to me and began to jabber as if I was part of the family….this was one of our favorite moments on the trip.

The orphange visit truly confirmed our heart to adopt internationally and God’s providence over it all. The time in Vietnam renewed my confidence in the human spirit and God’s desire in all of us to experience freedom. The people were very friendly, especially outside Hanoi…and surprisingly we share many common values.

More to come about Thailand. I’m off to the states in 6 hours.

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