Thursday, June 18, 2009
Fun on the Mekong – and important things we learned today:
From Pam and the crew -
-If you Middle School students at USM ever think you have it bad, listen to this: in Vietnam, Middle School students go to school every day of the week! They go from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm every day but Sunday. Their parents bring them home from school each day for lunch and for dinner. Then they are up until midnight studying. On Sundays they go to school from 7am to 11am. They take 18 different courses. Parents have to pay for their children’s schooling, hence many children do not go to school. 40,000 kids in Ho Chi Minh City dropped out last year because their parents couldn’t afford to send them.
-You must pay cash for everything – there is no credit here. You can also use gold for cash. American dollars are taken everywhere. There are no mortgages or loans of any kind. If you don’t have the money to pay for something, you don’t buy it!
-The females in our group liked this fact: if you have a car accident there is a hierarchy of protocol as to who has to pay for the damages (no matter who is at fault): first, if there’s a woman involved, she never pays. Second, the richer of the two people involved pays. Third, the younger of the two people pays.
-Today we actually “crossed the Mekong!” It is a very muddy and polluted river. There are hundreds of boats on it and palm trees, thatched huts and rickety houses line its banks. It would be a beautiful site if it were a cleaner river. It was so dirty that we made sure that we turned away from the spray from the waves so that no water would go into our mouths.
-For lunch we ate in a thatched roof open-air restaurant on the Mekong. We ate elephant ear fish spring rolls in rice paper, seafood fried rice, prawn dipped in vinegar sauce, pasta soup, pork and vegetable crepes, fried sweet rice papers, and jasmine tea. An hour later we were all hungry again – really! Before the boat ride back, our boat captain hacked off the tops of coconuts with a machete, stuck a straw into a small hole in the coconut, and handed each of us one – refreshing!
-We visited a snake farm, which really should be called an animal research center. Snakes are raised to produce anti-venom and for their skin to be made into purses, belts, shoes, etc. Check out our pictures – Mrs. E really loved holding the python!
-Finally, it is very unnerving to see the Communist flag flying and Vietnamese soldiers guarding the military bases, which seem to be everywhere. Not sure how we were chosen, but thank God we were born in America.
Posted by Taft - AMERICANHISTORY RULES! at 7:38 AM