My apologies to all those who received a very early draft version of this post. I accidentally clicked ‘Publish’ instead of ‘Save Draft’ as I rushed to get out the door.
Hanoi Revisited. It is an exciting place. It is a very busy, bustling with people city; there are motorbikes, taxis and buses, honking their horns everywhere, flashing lights, Karaoke clubs. Life is far removed from the quiet, solitude of the eastern slopes of the majestic Rocky Mountains and the open skies of the prairie that we enjoy at home. The city of Calgary, by comparison, is sparsely populated and quiet. And Okotoks is just sleepy. Yet somehow, we have fitted back in very quickly. To be honest, we were a bit shocked by how easily we fit back in after ten months away. We were only here for 2 months last year and yet we feel unusually connected. Truthfully, the Tay Ho district we live in is quiet and peaceful. Our rented apartments are near the beautiful Westlake again, as seen in this panoramic view taken near our home.
We are fast approaching the Tết Holiday in Vietnam (Chinese New Year). Following the lunar calendar, this year the first day of the Vietnamese New Year is Feb 8. The celebrations will begin before that and last for days after; many stores and businesses will close up for the week as people travel. Schools and Universities close on January 29th, as many people travel home from Hanoi to the countryside and their ancestral homes. Last year our team left before the new year celebrations began but this year we will be here for the whole time.
As the peach blossoms, ‘baby-orange’ and pomelo trees begin to decorate the streets in preparation forTết and as building supplies are left on the side of the street over night (piles of bricks and sand, wooden scaffold) I am amazed that the fruit and bricks have not been scattered, or splattered on one of the nice Audis, Bentleys or Rolls Royces. Somehow, there still appears to be a healthy respect for other people’s property here. Crime is not unknown, but it is rare. We haven’t seen any policemen with guns, rarely hear any sirens and when we do they are from an ambulance. We have heard that there is corruption though, getting things done costs money. Last week, our taxi was selected out of many vehicles running a red light and the driver had to pay the policeman a 1,000,000 VNDong (~U$50) cash fine. The traffic cop s are smartly dressed the one on the right here paused happily posed for my camera. Check this video if you want to check out how we cross the street in Hanoi. or this one that shows our bus and a couple of trucks passing on a country road.
Taking time out to write a blog has been challenging. The team been going pretty steady for the 4 weeks since we hit the ground in Hanoi. As the team leaders we are finding that “Rank does not confer privilege or give power. It imposes responsibility.” said Peter F. Drucker. It is also means more work which we are enjoying. We have a phenomenal team of folks from US, Canada, Switzerland, and Norway who are working very hard, who have proven themselves to be crazily flexible. Change is the norm here. Some are simple like, the bus isn’t available today, so there are two taxis waiting out front.” We walk around the front and the bus pulls up. Others stretch the whole team, after hours of preparation, events get cancelled at the last minute or no-one shows up or three times as many as expected show up. Everyone is so good at going with the flow and ministering from their strengths empowered by H.S.
We took a day off to visit Ha Long Bay last Saturday. It was a long day trip, the 170 km drive takes over 4 hours. We then toured the bay on a boat from which we viewed the Trong Mai (Kissing Chickens) Islet or Ga Choi (Fighting Roosters) Islet and Thiên Cung (Heaven’s) cave and then it was back on the the bus to home. All in all it was 13 hour round trip, but the bay is beautiful and the team had a fun day.
One of the English clubs is taking us out on Saturday. The club members will be acting as tour guides and will show us Bát Tràng (literally: bát is bowl and tràng is workshop). The next Friday the university students are taking us out to a cultural village about 60kms outside Hanoi. We are looking forward to these trips and discovering more about Vietnamese culture.
Until next time be blessed and be a blessing, A&G
Scripture from The Voice Bible unless otherwise noted.
The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.