So we finished up our summer in the states and made in back to Doha just in time for the start of school. The boys seem to like their new teachers and classes, but Jaden had a ROUGH first day! Came home with a 102F fever and strep throat!!! He missed 2 days of school. Bummer!!!
|First day of 1st and 3rd grades. Good luck boys!|
|Walking to the bus stop|
|Bus number 22 again this year|
Things have been crazy hectic for me with church as we've been gearing up for the new school year and trying to address all the new changes for children's ministry. Now that we made it through our first full week of school and our first week with our new curriculum and new classroom arrangement at church, I decided I deserved a break and I'm going to start sharing our Vietnam pictures. So here we go ... enjoy the pictures ...
So we started our trip in Vietnam in the north ... landing in Hanoi. Ken and his parents had never been to the North, so it was a first for everyone. Hanoi was incredibly different from Saigon in the south!! The streets are narrow and crowded, shops and houses are small and a bit dilapidated, the weather was hot and humid, but the food was amazing and we enjoyed exploring this part of Vietnam. Hanoi is definitely more rooted in Communism and we found it a bit odd to hear the news and communist propaganda being broadcast over loud speakers several times a day. All in all, it made for a great starting place for our trip.
|View of Hanoi streets from our hotel. It was raining when we arrived.|
|We started our city tour the following morning at Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, but the line was so long, we opted out of seeing inside.|
|Ho Chi Minh's palace where he greeted foreign diplomats and conducted business.|
|The gardens around the palace were beautiful and crowded. Can you see the line of people wrapping all the way around the lake??|
|Ho Chi Minh's modest home (only a couple of rooms)|
|Ho Chi Minh moved into this house during the Vietnam War ... apparently it was built as a bomb shelter. He was living in this house at the time of his death.|
|Bridge across the lake ... love the sign "don't stop on the bridge"|
|Pagoda built on a single pier|
|Entrance gate to pagoda|
|Oldest pagoda in Hanoi|
|Entrance to the temple of Jade|
Next stop was a temple dedicated to Confucius...
|A garden at the temple of Confucius ... maybe we could have taken the picture away from the trash can??|
|Inside the temple ... statue of Confucius in the middle|
|Beautiful garden and I forget what the Chinese symbols represented. I think there were 6 of them representing the ideals of Confucius teaching.|
|There were 3 gates within the temple grounds ... each one representing growth in the teachings of Confucius.|
|Main building in the temple of Confucius|
|Ready for our cyclo tour|
|Happy to have a breeze (it was hot, humid, and sticky in Hanoi!)|
|Typical street scene|
|This was clearly NOT rush hour traffic. Things were pretty calm at this point in the day.|
|Mrs Doan got a bit nervous with all the night life in the Hanoi streets and afraid of getting lost, so we didn't wander around too much at night. No doubt the city comes to life at night|
After touring all over the city of Hanoi, we drove out of the city to a smaller village of Ninh Binh. We saw lots of rice fields along the way. It must have been harvest time because rice was spread out to dry EVERYWHERE!!! Any smooth flat surface (driveways, sidewalks, roof tops, anything) was covered in grains of rice drying out.
When we arrived in Ninh Binh and climbed out of our tour van, we were immediately assaulted by locals trying to sell us hats and fans and snacks. It was completely OVERWHELMING to me!!! They continued to follow us through the temple gates and gardens taking picture after picture! Somehow they were able to print, laminate, and return them to us in the blink of an eye. They kept pushing pictures at us to purchase. I don't know how many pictures Mrs Doan bought by the end of the temple ... maybe 25. Our tour guide kept telling us to ignore them or to say no, but Mrs Doan just kept buying and they kept bringing more! I think the tour guide was afraid they might pick pocket tourists when distracted by the pictures, but Mrs Doan liked the pictures and these people make so little money, she didn't mind buying a few extra. She's an amazingly giving woman. I'll be honest - I was glad I didn't have any Vietnamese currency because they left me alone.
|Jaden sitting on top of a water buffalo|
|Nicholas' turn on the water buffalo|
|Nicholas hiding behind his fan. It was hot and we fanned ourselves constantly!|
|Group of locals trying to sell us pictures.|
|I was so distracted by all the photographers, I don't remember anything about the story of this temple|
|But it was a beautiful area all around us ... 5 hilltops in the background|
|Entrance gate and bridge to the temple (Picture taken as we were leaving when the locals finally got bored with us)|
|Glad the photographers finally left us alone!|
|Jaden rode with the Doans|
|Nicholas came with us. It was so blessed hot!!! We had an umbrella and a fan. Plus I wore Jaden's hat and Jaden's sunglasses!|
|It's hard to see in the picture, but the rower actually used their feet to propel the boats up and down the river|
|Beautiful landscape along the river.|
|In one of 3 caves|
|Entering a cave|
|Shiny cave formation (calcium makes it white??)|
The highlight of the caves were all the bats! Thousands of them!!! SO cool!!!
|A real bat cave!|
|Back at the docks|