Lien, a student of mine asked me if I wanted to join the Danang Tourist Office to visit Quang Binh province to help recent flood victims in Dong Hoi from the 13-14.11.2010. I accepted :)
So Saturday morning, 5.25am the alarm clock went off! We met at 6am at the Da Nang Tourist Office to visit a remote region in Quang Binh province.
We were 24 people, all of them Vietnamese except myself. Most of them were from Da Nang, however we also had three women who are working in Saigon for PLTCO.
Different Tourist organisations had collected money and clothes for the recent flood victims in the Quang Binh Province. We drove for six to eight hours on Saturday until we arrived at the Quangh Binh Government office, where we unloaded over 1000kg of rice and a lot of clothes.
When we arrived, we could already see a lot of people eagerly waiting to get some donations e.g. like a bag of rice or clothes.
Most of our group stayed there and gave out the bags of rice to the poor people.
Around ten people including myself drove further to an even more remote village. During our journey we had to get off the bus to built a bridge with gravel as the street had collapsed through the recent flooding in that region.
I can tell you Vietnamese people are very practical and after 10 people were throwing stones into the big whole, we were able to cross the bridge, which lead us to our village.
People were already waiting for us!
A lot of women and children were keen to see what we brought with us. So we unloaded almost 500kg of rice, clothes and some sweets for the children. You should have seen the eyes of all the people in the village. They were so grateful. No words were needed to see these feelings.
One of the oldest women in the village opened her envelope next to a tree. She saw the 200.000VND and she had tears in her eyes. She came over to me and shock my hand and spoke some Vietnamese to me. Translated it meant that she was so grateful and she appreciated and thanked us all. It is so toughing to see how a person can appreciate this amount of money so much (200.000VND = US$10).
Another women unpacked her bag of clothes and she found a small little doll in there. I will not forget this pictures, when she was running around with her doll full of happiness!!!
After all these impressions we drove to Dong Hoi, which is a small city along the coast in Central Vietnam where we stayed overnight.
We had a lovely Vietnamese dinner in our hotel, sang and danced until we fell in our beds ;)
The next morning we got up at 5.40am again! 6am breakfast and at 7 we left to do some sightseeing.
We started off with a visit to the nearby impressive Sand Dunes. It felt like I was in Africa, Morocco or Egypt ;) So cool!
We continued to drive even further into the countryside close to the Laos Boarder. We visited some houses for "Home stays" and walked through a National Park. Unfortunately through the recent severe flooding the bridge was destroyed so we were unable to visit the famous cave. Another time I guess.
We visited an open-air war museum, stopped for lunch when we returned to Dong Hoi and after no rain for almost 36 hours it started to pour down! Thank god we were on the bus...We had a very long journey back to Danang in front of us. We played cards and stopped in between at a local market to have a break and do some shopping. The roads were treacherous through all the flooding in the recent weeks, so it took us ages to come back to Danang. However we had so much fun and it was such a good feeling to be able to help some of the flood victims in this region.
Imagine how you would feel if your house would be flooded two meters in height?! I really don't want to experience it. These people have a tough life and some cannot even try to escape it or change it to provide a better future for their children. There is still a lot which needs to be done in Vietnam!
I am so grateful that Lien gave me that opportunity to travel with all these funny and helpful Vietnamese people to learn even more about Vietnamese Culture and life in the poorer provinces.
Hope you are all well back home and hope to hear from you soon!