The excitement is certainly building as we count down towards Friday 15 April and get closer to our arrival in Southeast Asia.
By now, students, teachers, and parents have had their immunisations and are starting to think about packing for the trip and the humid weather we will be immersed in. We have our travel t shirts, and our backpacks and money belts that have been kindly provided by Hello World Brooker travel.
The last month of preparations has involved a series of seminars to prepare us to step into a country very different from our own. One New Zealand dollar is roughly equivalent to 16 000 Vietnamese dong, and haggling is expected in transactions. We will need to remember to brush our teeth with bottled water and refrain from having ice in our drinks to avoid upset tummies. Vietnamese food is renowned as one of the most amazing parts of the travelling experience and we have been given an introduction to some of the famous dishes and key translations. Etiquette around our interactions with others and visiting religious sites, or sites of historical significance, is also key to a successful experience, and we have discussed what is expected of us.
Vietnamese history is the focus of our trip and we are looking forward to visiting the sites we have read about, or seen on a screen, and talking to people who have a connection to this complex history.
In Ho Chi Minh City we will visit the War Museum, the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and do a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. From Hoi An we will travel to the infamous site of the My Lai Massacre, where members of the U.S Army forces killed as many as 500 unarmed citizens. Television lovers may know the name of the Hai Van Pass we will travel over, featured on the Top Gear Vietnam special episode, and China (Danang) Beach where we will stop in. In Hue we will visit Du Son orphanage - we are bringing with us old McGlashan uniforms and other gifts for the children. An Imperial dinner and show in Hue will see us dressed in imperial costume. Historical sites of significance include the imperial tombs and we will day trip to the former demilitarised zone. Our resilience is sure to be tested on our overnight train to Hanoi, and we will be sure to enjoy a real bed and shower when we arrive at our hotel. In Hanoi we will pay our respects at Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum and visit the Old Quarter. From there we will travel to Halong Bay and stay overnight on a Chinese junk before returning to depart for home.
We are going to keep our group Facebook page updated as we travel for those people following us. On our return to New Zealand, we will present on the trip during assembly time and share footage and photos on the John McGlashan College Facebook page.
Wish us luck and safe travels!