Journal of mission trip in VN – Summer 2010: 29 May
Today gonna be a “fully-loaded” day. We will visit Bến Tre the whole day and at night chú Thông will deliver his brand-new discussion “Tình Bơ Vơ” at Cho Cau. At 5.30 am, me and Hòa had some difficulties to wake up ( we were out quite late last night, remember …it was painful huh Hòa..ahhahah)
At 6.00 am, we jump in a SUV with chú Thông to pick up 4 more people.
I have admit that I had no idea where we were heading…hahhaha…I was still making the map of Saigon in my head.
We pick up chị Hương at her condo.
Then we went on to pick up a middle-aged man (forgot his name, I did not ask. That’s one of my bad + weird habit; meet someone, discuss billion interesting subjects together, but forget to ask his/her name) and 2 little girls (later I will learn that they are on the point to finish high school already, they look so young for their age, just like me…hehehhe). Chú Thông had told me these 2 girls are “2 chi em Chích Chòe”, whom he had written about. Well, they are 3 sisters, but there were only the 2 younger ones on the trip with us.
- 1st impression: chị Hương is quite strict, but she is also very courteous, conversant and knowledgeable.
- 2nd impression: the 2 girls are fun and joyful. A closer look, the younger one is more joyful. The older one is quite reserved.
- 3rd impression: the middle-age man is funny; it seems that he is a mechanical engineer. He can treat all kinds of subjects.
- So we began to get out of Saigon, what is fun in Viet Nam is that the sun comes up so early, and that makes me feel like the day lasts longer, so I can accomplish more stuffs, lovely.
- Hòa and I were on the last row of the car, like always I loved to watch the road, I wanted to photography this country’s scenery and atmosphere in my mind, I saw things differently than 18 years ago.
- Something interesting at the moment, well, I spotted a Buddhist monk on his “khất thực” journey. He wore his traditional yellow-brown “cà sa”, he walked so slow, faced the ground with his bowl in two hands tending forward. Saigon, all the carnage, Saigon all the rush, Saigon all the noisy pollution and traffic. Trust me, you can feel that unrest urge for a “taken destination” immediately at the moment you land your foot on it. Yet the monk, all peace, all slow, all silent, all clear, just emptiness, but giving an opportunity for all the animals around to wake up. He was not making any sound, but to me, the contrast was so strong, it looked like he was moving in a different dimension, his manifestation was like a shot of canon right to my mind…bang, his presence was unmistakable. “Vô âm để làm nên hữu âm”. Read it somewhere…well, that monk and that environment around him were sure, interesting, something’s worth to meditate on ?
- We stopped at a touristic center to eat. Nice place, good food !
- We continued our trip. Then we crossed a welcome sign … Welcome to “Rạch gầm xoài mút”. J. My friends, do you know that name ? …you cannot imagine the joy I had at that moment. I did not know that the trip will bring me there. One of the most famous battles of Nguyễn Huệ was at Rạch gầm xoài mút. Just the name sounds so good to my ears. If anyone knows the meaning of it, please let me know. Well, maybe you can say that I was overreacted, but I’m a history lover, + Nguyễn Huệ is one of my favorite characters of vietnamese history. Now I had an opportunity to go through the place where he had fought Siam with his cunning strategy. Wow, I had my dose of serotonin for the day.
- Well, then we arrived. If there is something amazing in Viet Nam is nothing is impossible when you know music, especially these 2 notes: «do» + «la». Our car took a turn on a road, that road was on construction, a small part of it. A lady shout at us :
- “You cannot go there, you have to take another route, don’t you see that the road is blocked by construction”.
- “But…are you tourists ?”
- “Oh, if tourists…is OK, no problem ?”
- Our tour-guide arrived, she dressed an ensemble of “bà ba” and “nón lá” (carrying a cell phone…nice contrast ), instead of “đồ Tây” like other tour-guides. I liked that, it made me feel like meeting some people of “miền Tây”… I did not come there to meet Beyoncé.
- We went through: artisanal gift shops, honey + tea shop, coconut candy shop, …
- My favorite one ! An small restaurant where we ate some fruits and listening traditional songs of “dân ca miền Tây”. Especially, the youngest singer, an adorable little girl. (see pictures). Some others singers are not too bad, … hen Hòa !!!
- Then came my favorite part of the day in Bến Tre, travelling by boat on “Tiền Giang” river, absolutely fabulous. And there, I was able to caress one of “the nine dragons” with my own hands.
- We arrived on “cù lao” Phụng. There are 4 of them: Long, Lân, Quy, Phụng. 4 cù lao assigned to 4 sacred animals.
- Then we stopped to take a few refreshment (it was very hot) and then, we were introduced to “đạo Dừa”. The pagoda’s architecture is quite interesting. It was valuable to learn about the historical facts and also the idea behind that religion (or sect).
- Then we moved to cù lao Rùa (Quy) for our lunch. Specialty: “rắn”. It was my first time, it was good 😉
- The next activity should be “chèo ghe”, but we skipped it. Well we did it, but on the light-version. Reason: First, we were short on time, we had to get back to Saigon to prepare for chú Thông’s presentation at Chợ Cầu. Second, it started raining.
- We jumped in our car, and flew to Saigon.
- It seemed like an easy enjoyable day trip to Bến Tre, huh. Well, the hardest game of the day was in my head, not the heat, not the moskitos, not the food …it was: what I’m gonna say to these 2 lovely little girls? It occurred my mind all the morning. Before we picked up other people, in the car, chú Thông told me just to keep it simple. After I burned a few brain cells of mine along the road to Bến Tre , well, some brain cells I got left…hahaha…I came to the same idea…I just kept to my instinct, that’s all. So since we got off the car, through all the shops, and restaurants, I just tagged along with them, and treated all kinds of subject, asked all kinds of little weird-funny questions, bought for them some deserts, laugh all my heart with them. During our stop for refreshment, just before our meeting with “đạo Dừa”, we were discussed on how to learn English, do you remember chú Thông ?, it was just delightful and funny. I told them my experiences on new language learning, when I came to Canada, and I remember then chú Thông came long, he told them speaking is very important to improve the pronunciation, and he has a secretary (thư ký) to help him for his pronunciation every time he has a presentation or homely…you know…all kinds of fun and simple subjects to make a connection. Then later, just before we got in our car to fly back to Saigon, we talked about school; they said that sometime they find it difficult. So I just told them my little idea not to be anxious too much on the number of the result on a short term. Sometime, great achievements take a little time. Example, in their beginning: Louis Pasteur was classified 16th/22 in his chemistry class, Einstein was considered “an average intelligence” and Walt Disney was declared as “no imagination” at all; so in my humble opinion, take it easy…the main focus should be a continuous passion for hard work, even when the odds seem too great, then … big success will come along eventually. Well, with the little things I know about life, that’s how I drive. I’ve read the biography of those big-gunners all my youth, so their path, I just sincerely shared to these girls, just my little poor direction that I kept since I came to Canada: I know that I don’t know much, but I will work hard every day to get to my aim. And…that’s how I made friend with these 2 adorable little girls.
- Then we got back to Saigon, all the sprint for the presentation “Tình Bơ Vơ” of chú Thông @ GX Chợ Cầu.
- It was a nice place, indoor though.
- 1st impression: hope for less moskitos…
- 2nd impression: when I asked for chairs and mob to clean the floor, nobody knows, instead they think that I work for GX….weird !!! do I look like “ông Trùm” ???
- 3rd impression: a lot of people
- It was a 3 hours presentation, quite long.
- I missed once again the main part of the good presentation, I was on a “red-code” important call from Nha Trang, I will skip about the details here, it was personal, thanks!!!
- Then we packed up and headed to our hotel. I went on with Quyền, our IT, on Honda…like usual…
- On my arrival, then I got a call from Thảo that chú Thông was collapsed.
- At that moment, I can guess about the whole day in Bến Tre, it was really hot (chú Thông cannot support much of the heat, and as you know, chú Thông has all kind of trouble with his health, he was taking a dozen of pills everyday) and we walked the whole day outside. His presentation was long and brand new; he sure had a lot of pressure mentally and physically, especially a passionate-perfectionist like him. The presentation drained out all his energy. And…chú Thông worked like crazy and never had more than 3 hours of rest per day, since he landed on Viet Nam.
- Chú Thông vomited in the taxi, in the elevator and in his room, he lied on his bed unmoving, he was white like a ghost. But after a few minutes with his conscientiousness back, he stubbornly wanted to go to restaurant with us. So we headed to a place on Pasteur street. We were there for about 20 minutes, then chú Thông felt really really bad. We called a taxi to bring him back to the hotel immediately. Chú Thông threw up again a few times. We put him back on his bed, this time he was completely immobile like a statue, his heartbeat was erratic. We wanted to bring him to a hospital, he did not want to. The whole gang, we were about 10, run back and forth for medications, hot water, lime, honey, ginger, salt, massage (thanks, it was a good move anh Thành + Tiến !!!)…well, we did anything to “keep chú Thông alive” … !!! After around 1 hour or 2, he seemed better, then we let 2 people stay in his room for the night in case of emergency (thanks guys, we remember your name, don’t worry, for your greatest sacrifice…we know chú Thông snores pretty loud…hahahaha…it was not that funny at that moment though), the rest of us headed back to our nest, with our cell phone next to our pillow…I guess … hehehe. Well, that’s life, that’s how we take care of people we love, right. Thanks everyone, cannot name you all !!!
- Well, my friends, gals and guys, that was my damn best day in the whole summer mission trip 2010. There were a few more interesting things about that day, but, well … another time lads.