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2012 WCE April Vietnam/Cambodia Trip Report

We will post emails and pictures for the 2012 April Skyline HS Vietnam/Cambodia Trip as we receive them!!! Encourage your friends to view the WCE Web Site and follow the trip!!!

2012 WCE Skyline HS Vietnam/Cambodia Trip Report

4/04/2012 Wednesday 10:00 PM Seattle Our WCE Skyline HS Vietnam/Cambodia Student Delegation arrived at SEA-Tac Airport to check-in for their early morning flight to Vietnam.

4/05/2012 Thursday Seattle Our WCE Skyline HS Vietnam/Cambodia Student Delegation led by Mrs. Sarah Rainwater (Skyline HS Staff) and Mrs. Rita Ireland (WCE Board) departed on-time from Seattle, will transfer planes in Taipei, and arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam. Our Delegation will stay in Hanoi with guided tours (an overnight on Ha Long Bay one of the top World Heritage Sites in the World, a one-hour pedal cab ride through the Old Quarter of Hanoi, watch an amazing water puppet show, and more); stay in Hoi An with guided tours (a visit to the Danang Street Program in Danang, a one-hour bicycle ride through nearby villages, and more); stay in Ho Chi Minh City with guided tours (a visit to the Former Presidential Palace, Cathedral & Post Office, and more); stay in Siem Reap with guided tours (explore the Angkor complex one of the great archaeological sites in the world and the spiritual heart and identity of the Khmer people including Angkor Wat its most famous temple, observe a sunset from the top of Phnom Bakheng, a visit to Beng Kok Primary School, and more); and a stay in Phnom Penh with guided tours (explore the magnificent Silver Pagoda with its Golden Buddha and Emerald Buddha and the National Museum); and much much more. Visit this page for updates, emails, and pictures!

4/06/2012 Friday (10:30 PM Hanoi Time same day 8:30 AM Seattle Time) We have received our first email from Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader), “It was a long, enduring 13 hours en-route to Taiwan... But we're all doing fine. Everyone slept and took in at least 3 movies. When I gave the Sees candy to the flight attendants, they were so surprised and first, would not accept it! After explaining who we are and our appreciation... they returned with gifts for us! (first class peanuts, treats, and nice toiletry bags for all 10 of us!) So....Divya suggested that we share this large bag of treats- Sarah and I decided to honor her with the first COW award- Citizen Of the World! A great group of students!” Shortly they will depart for Hanoi. We spoke with Quoc “Q” (our exceptional Vietnam Guide, a former teacher who Rita has already named WONDERFUL Q) after our Student Delegation had arrive safely in Hanoi and was placing all of their luggage on the Bus. Q was very excited about their day. The delegation checked into the grand Melia Hotel, had a short rest, enjoyed a pedi-cab ride, strolled through the Old Quarter, visited Hoan Kiem Lake, and are sound asleep. They deserve a good night’s rest. Rita has emailed a few pictures and Raj has sent a few more. Tomorrow Ha Long Bay!!

4/07/2012 Saturday (10:30 PM Ha Long Bay Time same day 8:30 AM Seattle Time) As you know Raj is uploading pictures on a web site. Here is the link: https://plus.google.com/photos/113347331847805972740/albums/5728316813725596593?authkey=COWV8arGoJTJbQ This is a great help to Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader) and WCE. Today our Skyline HS Student Delegation transferred to Ha Long Bay and enjoyed the three hour bus ride viewing Hanoi City, the Vietnamese Countryside, the plain of the Red River Delta, and stopped at the Disabled Workers Friendship Store all on the way to Ha Long Bay. Once aboard their Junk they had their first seafood lunch and began their sensational journey cruising Ha Long Bay. (We may or may not receive an update from Rita Ireland or Pictures from Raj as there is no internet at Ha Long Bay. Cell service may be available at times.)

4/08/2012 Sunday (9:45 PM Hoi An Time same day 7:45 AM Seattle Time) We have spoken with Q (our sensational Vietnam Guide) and Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader). Rita informed us that Ha long Bay was amazing! It has been an action packed day! After 24 hours of cruising on Ha Long Bay, eating exceptional seafood, and viewing amazing sights; our Skyline HS Delegation returned to Hanoi, collected their luggage, and flew to Danang in Central Vietnam. They are having dinner in Hoi An and will check into the multi-award winning Palm Garden Resort a little later. We have received another update from Rita Ireland, “Oh how amazingly happy our group becomes each new day, and we can hardly remember the long flights! Sara and I are thrilled with each person's willingness to try new things. 7 AM! Students spent time on the top deck, learning tai chi this early morning, played cards here, and a great Observational deck. Best food- everyone is healthy and willing to try new foods. Everyone quickly adapted to two- person kayaking for over an hour in the gorgeous bay and serene inlets. Cajun was our first fearless leader... With Will matching his strokes in back. The girls were laughing and becoming quite adept at turning around at small limestone caves! Wait til you see their photos of this deep, open cave, parents! A giant cave that winds around corners of yet more amazing views. We made easy connections and had a short flight to Danang tonight , but ate quite late- another delicious meal with 7-8 new dishes of fish, spicy soup, spring rolls, And beef noodle dishes, etc. What a glorious surprise to see our Palm Garden Hotel! The fragrance and gardens are delightful. Nice big rooms too. Some of the guys had a peak at the ocean with me tonight, while waiting. Sleep until 7:30, Breakfast at 8, and bicycle riding at 9 am tomorrow! Down quiet country lanes and small villages, we hear. Also, will meet our street orphanage students in late afternoon, after beach time. Q is wonderful! Kids like him too. They taught him some current American slang today! :-) Warm and pleasant temps, just no sun. Tired but happy! Raj is taking photos like crazy. And we met friendly South African students in the caves and at the airport- much friendly banter, comparisons of lifestyles and schooling, singing together on the shuttle bus, etc.! Awesome serendipity!”

4/09/2012 Monday (9:30 PM Hoi An Time same day 7:30 AM Seattle Time) Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader) sent us a quick message, ""We are in Paradise now........Sunny and 80°F". MORE from Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader), "Another phenomenal day in Vietnam: delicious breakfast, fascinating bike ride, passion fruit drink stop- a new favorite; sitting on water buffalo- Damon, Divya, Sarah, and I took turns- and Vikas had the reins! Raj has photos? Beach time was a big hit... Especially with the four boogie boards and perfect waves. Everyone seemed responsible ... Only I lost my prescription sunglasses while "life guarding" and a sneaky wave came up behind me! :-( But, the most rewarding was the late Afternoon with the Danang Street Children Program - Sarah was so impressed with the student-led organizing of all the gifts, toys, and educational items. They played follow the leader games with the children.... Slow and awkward start ....And couldn't separate them all at the end! Money was donated later. Sarah provided the plaque and I now have their receipt. Much hand shaking and Q's terrific leadership and interpreting! Then a great dinner in the old Hoi An- a walk around this historical World Heritage Site late tonight. All in all: we are happily exhausted! Must get up at 5 AM to catch early flight to Saigon. Box breakfasts from the hotel... Thanks to Q. Whew!

4/10/2012 Tuesday (11:30 PM Ho Chi Minh City Time same day 9:30 AM Seattle Time) We have received a couple of quick messages from Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Manager). Today our Student Delegation flew from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City, arriving in Ho Chi Minh City on another beautiful sunny day, transferred to the Cu Chi Tunnels (There are more than 200km of underground tunnels, comprising a main axis system with many branches connecting to underground hideouts, shelters and other tunnels), stopped for lunch, toured the Old Quarter of Saigon, visited Notre Dame Cathedral, enjoyed dinner, watched an amazing water puppet show, and checked into the Saigon New World Hotel (http://saigon.newworldhotels.com/). Rita informed us that they are tired after an exciting but very long day. Tomorrow they will fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia! We have received another quick message from Rita Ireland, "It was another great day! All are happy, healthy, and learning! The Cu Cui Tunnels and the War Museum were balanced by the Water Puppet Show. Everyone greatly enjoyed it. The girls watched Will barter at the large market. He is a pro at getting a 70% reduction on items!" AND we have received a more detailed report of the day from Rita Ireland! “Last day in Vietnam. Sigh...Another action-packed, full day.... Starting at Leaving our paradise at the beach at 6 AM! (Everyone was on time.) Easy, short flight. Saigon is hot! Took a small bus to the underground Cu Chi Tunnels... Used by the VietCong - we crawled in to the winding tunnels to better understand how the families and soldiers survived. A lovely, 6 course lunch on a large pond followed - lush greenery all around. It is magnificent in beauty- We ate garlic morning glories as the new vegetable of the day. Off to the War Remnants Museum, the French- influenced post office and Saigon's Notre Dame. A quick drop off of our luggage to the downtown hotel... And off we went to the Water Puppet Show. One of the best highlights of the day! Students learned how to barter at The local Ben Than Market. Will became the resident expert in teaching the girls how to get a 70% reduction. Trust me - he's good and polite about it! We all can sleep in a bit tomorrow, before heading to a local market briefly and tipping our great guide "Q" Then to the airport: Cambodia, here we come! PS. Sara and I are impressed with the intelligent (and silly) conversations at most meals. You, parents, are doing something right!”

4/11/2012 Wednesday (9:00 PM Siem Reap Time same day 7:00 AM Seattle Time) Another quick note from Rita Ireland, "“The Saigon New World Hotel is a lovely hotel. We are having breakfast overlooking a gorgeous park where may be 300 people are independently exercising both young and old. We are going to a little market this morning before we fly to Cambodia. All is quite well! Hard good-byes to Q. We gave him a group hug and gifts were given – he spoke important wisdom and each had their photo taken with him.” We have received another update from Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader) from the Apsara Holiday Hotel-Boutique, “We are loving our new experience in Cambodia! Easy flight, nice hot weather. All is well. Firstly, the 8.6 earthquake @900 miles off coast of Indonesia is NOT affecting Cambodia. We are also inland and everything is calm here. Watching CNN to stay updated... Secondly, a Great day in Siem Reap: met our friendly guide, Ute. First day to have lunch on our own.. So we broke into groups of four, and jumped into "tuk tuks" to go a few kilometers ( don't worry: we all stayed together). We went to a recommended Khmer restaurant where each ordered his/her own dish and soda. We think they liked the independence from the set menu, for a change. Delicious meal. All had ice cream at a shop afterwards- after all, it was 93 degrees! (thanks to WCE funds paying for lunch and ice cream) Kids enjoyed the pool and plenty of relaxation this afternoon. They are terrific young people! All are getting along well too. Right now, before dinner here in the hotel, they are pulling together the items for the school visit tomorrow afternoon. And... Angkor Wat tomorrow too!” AND we hope that you are following Raj's exceptional pictures (that we are borrowing) from the links that he sends all of us!

4/12/2012 Thursday (9:30 PM Siem Reap Time same day 7:30 AM Seattle Time) We have spoken with Lach Peou, a teacher at Beng Kok Primary School in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The Staff and Students at Beng Kok Primary School thoroughly enjoyed the visit of our Skyline HS Students. Peou informed me that they played games, sang songs, received gifts for the children and educational supplies for the school, and received a monetary donation. Although it was a school holiday 115 primary Students came to school to visit with our Skyline HS Students. Tomorrow is the start of the Khmer New Year so the gifts and donation could not have come on a better day. We also spoke briefly with Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader), "We headed out to the primary school today, after visiting temples, about 85 at 8 AM but a sweet breeze helps. Cambodians seem very friendly and here around Siem Reap they know English. We have learned how to say hello and thank you so far. The school visit was the best ever!" AND more from Rita, "Our kids played games like Simon Says, Duck, Duck Goose, and "heads, shoulders, knees and toes" with over 100 little, sweet children! They were so gracious and polite. Each had a small group. Divya and Will are natural teachers. They loved the many gifts and educational toys! We each gave a monetary donation in red envelopes to the headmaster which they will use to finish their courtyard. More later about Angkor Wat tomorrow: wiped out after a wonderful long day, 90 degree temps, dinner and Cambodian folk dancing tonight!"

4/13/2012 Friday (9:30 PM Siem Reap Time same day 7:30 AM Seattle Time) Today was the last day in Siem Reap, Cambodia for our Skyline HS Students. They took a boat cruise on Tonle Sap Lake (one of the world’s richest sources of freshwater fish) to see the Vietnamese floating village, stopped at the Vietnamese floating school, and viewed life in general life on Tonle Sap Lake. In the afternoon, they explored the jungle-covered Ta Prohm Temple (used as a location in the film Tomb Raider); and relaxed with a traditional Khmer foot massage. This evening our Students prepared for tomorrow’s flight to Phnom Penh. We have our last update in Siem Reap, Camdobia from Rita Ireland (WCE Trip Leader) tomorrow they fly to Phnom Penh, “Stephanie won the first Word Puzzle Game on the bus today. Ute, our amazing guide, tried to trick us with his clever puzzles while taking the bus to the Tomb Raider famous Ta Prohm Temple this afternoon! This minute, truly, is the beginning of the Cambodia New Year. Ute and our group are watching live tv in the hotel lobby- he is excited... Examining this one, big moment in their year... A new sister "Year Of the Dragon" takes reign. Our kids are such good listeners and they all honor Ute. More later! Everyone has turned from individuals to one fun family. It has been a wonderful progression in a beautiful, safe, and friendly culture. You were right, Jim. Cambodia is special. Went to the Vietnamese school on the lake- so limited were the conditions in the floating 3 classrooms. Arrived at recess, gave one last bag of goodies and $75 to the director for his volunteer staff. All had foot massages later- all of us in comfy chairs, all in a row! A final dinner on Cambodian New Year and an hour to shop ... We now have some savvy bargainers! Sarah Rainwater and I are so enjoying this group. Sigh....Early flight out tomorrow!”

4/14/2012 Saturday (9:45 PM Phnom Penh Time same day 7:45 AM Seattle Time) We have received an email from Mrs. Rainwater (WCE Trip Organizer/Skyline HS), "We had a great last day. We were sad to leave Siem Reap and are fantastic new friend Mr. Yut. He was so wonderful! After a group hug with Mr. Yut we boarded the plane to Phnom Penh. The Cambodian Genocide Museum was very hard to experience and gave us a lot to talk about, to say the least. The other sites of Phnom Penh, however, brightened the rest of the day. At dinner each person discussed the most influential parts of the trip and about our new bonds with each other. Rita and I have seen so much growth in all students, it's wonderful." For Parents Meeting the Delegation tomorrow: First check (call EVA Airways at 1-800-695-1188 or go online at www.evaair.com and check the Flight Status of Eva Airways Flight #26) to make sure the flight is on time. We will meet the delegation at International Baggage #1 or as the walk up the stairs from the South Concourse. Remember they will need 45 – 60 minutes to clear US Immigrations and US Customs after their flight arrives. We will see you at the airport tomorrow.

4/15/2012 Sunday Seattle - Welcome Home!

2012 WCE Skyline HS Vietnam/Cambodia Trip Pictures

WCE Reminder:

If you receive an exciting email or picture from one of our delegation members, please forward the email or picture to the Washington Cultural Exchange Office and we will post it! Our email address is start@wce.org.