by Devon DeBari ’18
After 36 hours of travelling, more or less, but leaning towards the “more” side because we arrived to JFK six hours early, we have made it to the oppressively humid and hot city of Hanoi. It is definitely heat like no other. Most of my tripmates are experiencing a wide array of symptoms already, but not from dehydration or anything else (we are constantly drinking bottled water), but from sleep deprivation after the 6.75 hour, 11 hour, and 3 hour plane rides. Have no fear, they will be fine tomorrow and I was able to sleep well, so while everyone else is already asleep, I am writing to you.
The first thing that I would like to say is that Cheri was not kidding when she said that it would be extremely hot. Unlike the burning sensation of being too hot in the States, Vietnam feels like a massive sauna. However, we are lucky enough to travel in a new, air-conditioned bus. My girls’ room has also been set to 16 (61) degrees with the AC fan setting on high. Our room is perfect! Juliette, Paige and I were also pleased to see that our hotel room was comfortable and clean. Like everyone else on the trip, we realized, however, that we were not clean. We all showered, met in the lobby, and the group went on our way to explore the nearby Old Quarter neighborhood. After running around and trying to not get hit by the scooters and cars, we returned to the hotel, and soon left again for a water puppet show. The show was a nice introduction to Vietnamese culture and a calming first-day excursion.
Finally, we went to dinner and immediately, food began to flow out of the kitchen. Without knowing what the dishes were, the table, consisting of Gavin, Noah, Rex, and Julian tried each dish. Paige and Tommy at the other table were also trying everything! Delirium started kicking in for the boys and so we all agreed that our 8:00 p.m. bedroom check-in was more than reasonable. We parted ways and my roommates quickly fell asleep. Tomorrow is our first day visiting the Friendship Village, where we will do service in a few days, which I am personally really excited about. These first days were already a lot of fun, so I cannot wait for you to hear about the rest!