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Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam

May, 2012
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vietnam-1It is the 7th of April. Our hearts are thumping to the syllables of Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam. Our hands are now velvet pieces wrapped cautiously around our individual pieces of luggage, and there is not one of us willing to depart to the land of rice paddy fields and picturesque mountain views without having installed our luggage onto the correct plane in order to arrive at the correct destination. But no fear – with the help of superhero teachers, we each take one last look of desperation at our bags, and onward we move to the aircraft that will be our cradle for almost one hundred and eighty minutes. For the next seven days, it will be out with the old and in with the new.

vietnam-2The days April 8th to 11th are beautifully painted with what our eyes perceive to be the distinctive hue of greenery all around us. For four days we climb uphill, downhill, uphill, downhill. The endless corsage of blue skies captures us as and when it likes, trying its best to spare us from the thin jabs of raindrops that make frequent visits throughout our hike. We trust in the guidance of our tour guides, and trust that the mountains on our left and on our right are nothing less than our friends. We trust in the globs of mud that ferociously glue themselves onto our shoes, making eighty percent of us regret wearing the wrong pair of shoes to ‘hike’. We trust the villagers that we pass, never failing to make friends with excited squabbles of little children who flock to us with shout outs of “Hellos” and “Bye-byes”! We trust in each other that from what we once were as separated groups of friends, a total hike of 50 kilometers would prove that collectively, this class of 2013 can be undertakers of new challenges, and embracers of praiseworthy qualities.

The smell of sweat-drenched t-shirts slowly vaporizes at the end of four days, as does the scenery of never-ending green curves lying ahead in the skyline. On the morning of April 12th, we wake up to the flexibility and lightning pace of Hanoi, Vietnam. Our feet are determined to plunge head first into the vividness of this city, marching on anxiously as unafraid explorers from a foreign land. French-like doll-houses seem almost compulsively placed on every street that we encounter, engulfing us in what nearly seems like a Shanghainese surrounding…except with more enchantment, adrenaline, and eye-popping sale prices. We revel in the Viet culture displayed in the respectable Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum as well as the Temple of Literature. We experience Viet history as we tread the grounds of the Hoa Lo Prison, and we soak in Viet humor as we engross ourselves in an evening water puppet show. All of Hanoi’s elements mix comfortably together, and as it comes time to bid the city farewell, we have been left with a beautiful, unforgettable mash of memories nailed deep into our minds.

vietnam-4It is the 13th of April. Forward we came, and so backward we must now go. A final glimpse of the city outline from up and beyond serves as her final departing present to us. The class of 2013 has forever been altered by what was meant to be a simple CAS trip to Vietnam, but which eventually became a time of newfound friendships and a conquest of fears. Where once our hearts sang out Vietnam, Vietnam, Vietnam, we now withdraw our songs of silent excitement and replace them with words of reminiscence: We did it, We loved it, We will remember it. Our days of wanderlust may be over, but the Vietnamese within us will always, always remain unique to each, and always, always be unshakable to all.


By Kimberly Teo,

Grade 11, Shanghai Singapore International School

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