Our "big" outing was to take the older kids, 1st grade and older, into Hanoi for their first ever field trip. Yep, you read that right... their first field trip ever! Image if you will, children growing up in the orphanage, and never venturing farther than their own school a few blocks away. No errands with mom to the bank or the dry cleaners. No going out to eat on Friday nights. No overnights at Grandma's or a friend's house. Just the orphanage and school. So with the extra hands, we decided to take 30-ish of the children 2-3 hours by bus into Hanoi to see a few sights. To say they were excited was an understatement. They were giddy as they donned their matching neon yellow t-shirts and boarded the bus. Karaoke and singing started, and the smiles on their faces were wide.
Well... (You knew this wasn't going to go off without a glitch, right?) we should have predicted it was going to happen to children who don't ride in cars... but sometimes you just can't account for everything... about 45 minutes into the trip many of the excited faces started to turn green. The nuns must have expected something like that was going to happen because they whipped out little throw up bags for all and even had many extra spares... which we used. Their poor stomachs just weren't used to travel and car sickness got the better of about 15 of them including one of the nuns.
But eventually we made it to our first destination, the Temple of Literature, built in 1070, the first university in Viet Nam. (Just in case you thought the US capitol building, built in 1793 was old!) It was cram packed will all sorts of tourists and school groups. Honestly I didn't see much of it, and like a mama duck kept my eyes peeled for folks in yellow neon t-shirts in attempts to keep them in a confined group.
Being built in the late 9th century, The Temple of Literature is hardly wheelchair accessible. But we did our best.
Below is one of the heart children. She's a tiny little thing but healthy even though we're told she needs another surgery. She likely would have been just fine walking in the heat, (did I mention it was 90 degrees with 85% humidity? Oh yea it was! We Americans were the only ones that seems to notice the heat though. Or sweat!) but she also had her first trip to the dentist the day prior, had a tooth pulled, and had gotten sick no less than 8 times on the bus just prior. Dawn decided to carry her much of the time just to be safe, not to mention give her a little extra TLC.
The next destination on our itinerary was the the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh. No photography allowed so you'll just have to use your imagination. So yes, we actually got to see Ho Chi Minh himself lying in state. It was a very somber occasion, and I will say that it was literally the coolest part of the trip and leave it at that. (Uncle Ho died in 1969 just in case you we're sure.)
Then we took the children to Hanoi's largest all-you-can-eat buffet. After lots of questions and clarifying with the children that yes, they could go back for as much as they wanted and yes they could try as many different things as they wanted, including soda, and including desserts, it was a crazy free for all!
Towards the end of the gluttony, we noticed the children filling their aforementioned unused baggies (they ones we doled out for the unfortunate car sickness) with all they could.
Some of the more ingenuitive children filled their empty water bottles with all the leftover sodas. Ice is a huge deal for these kiddos so after the extra soda was collected, the ice buckets were emptied as well. Here Truong is making sure to get each last cube while his friend is making yet another silly face for my camera. That kid was a total riot!
Lastly, I wanted to include this photo. Just before we left, the bigger boys took it upon themselves to "clear" the tables just as they do at the orphanage. Notice the cans together, plates piles with utensils on top, and all the glasses emptied into 1 glass and mostly put together. Then a couple of them found dishcloths from who knows where and wiped down their tables before we left. I guess they simply could not imagine not doing it.