Levon is 29 on 9/22 and we tour Hue on 9/20
14.09.2008 - 27.09.2008 35 °C
In Hue, we toured the Citadel which was begun in 1805 and completed in 1832. The Nguyen Dynasty ruled until the French took over. The dynasty was heavily influenced by the Chinese and the Citadel is patterned after the Forbidden City. It was very interesting to see. We also went to one of the impereial tombs in the outskirts of the city. The emperors built their own tombs. This one was used as a weekend getaway while the king was alive.
We stopped at a nice cafe on the Perfume River to enjoy coffee, tea and ice cream. A lovely setting seeing the small boats on the river. We then made our way back to Danang through a tunnel in the mountains that was built with funds provided by the US.
Our last Sunday in Vietnam started with breakfast with Charles Bailey of Ford Foundation. He has 30 years with the Ford Foundation, spending 10 years in Vietnam. He speaks the language and talked about the Agent Orange initiative he was working with as well as some of the other programs that they have funded. The Danang Airport was one of the sites that was used to load airplanes with agent orange. He said that during the war there were more takeoffs and landings at Danang than any airport in the US.
A contractor was hired to rinse the containers once they were empty of the agent orange. The residue has polluted the current airport area which is where the US military airstrip and base was. He was there at a meeting to discuss how they might clean up the chemical contamination.
I met my interpreter to review and discuss her travel business and then we went out to some shops. Levon, Canadian, was hosting a birthday party on the beach and we were leaving at 4pm. The setting was lovely at a private resort. The table was on the sand with great views and the food was delicious. We had grilled shrimp, spring rolls, pork ribs, french fries, rice crackers, and cake. As our time in Vietnam was coming to a close, we all enjoyed celebrating with Levon.
Sunday kicked off a week of saying goodby. Nam, the Chamber of Commerce representative, invited a few of us to his home for dinner. His wife prepared a typical family dinner. She went to a lot of work with many dishes. His home is only a year old and he gave us a tour of the four floors including the roof garden.
Thursday, I made my final recommendations to my company and we went to a nice seafood restaurant on the beach. The General Manager was there along with many of his managers. We had clams, grilled shrimp, Japanese sushi, a seafood soup, squid and salad. We then went for Karaoke, favorite passtime of the Vietnamese. Everyone of he managers sang and they were very good. The song list included songs in Japanese, English and Vietnamese. The TV screen had scenes of Vietnam and the words were at the bottom of the screen. We had a lot of fun.
Friday night, the team had our final dinner together. We ate early, because everyone had packing and last minute details to take care of. Several of our talented team gave good imitations of some of the team members. The Texan did a great imitation of the Indian woman, the Indian did a great imitaion of the Hungarian and of me. It has been a wonderful experience spending a month with a great group of people who have become like family.
We now are heading back home or to a few weeks of travel before returning home. I leave Saturday AM for flight to Hanoi and then connecting flight to Luang Prabang, Laos. My Laos flight does not leave until 6:30 putting me into Luang Prabang after dark. The earlier flight is full, but I hope they will be able to get me a seat. I did not go to bed until 3 and was up at 5.
Farewell Vietnam. It has been a great fun. I leave with fond memories of the people I worked with as well as other individuals that greeted us warmly and helped us in understanding their land and culture.