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Vung Vieng: Part 1 April 4, 2010

Filed under: Vietnam — polyachka @ 11:11 am
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As promised to Nancie, I arranged to visit the Vung Vieng floating village http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Projects/Vung_Vieng_Fishing_Vietnam

I contacted Mr. Tuyen at Indochina Junk company, which provided transportation from Hanoi in a tourist van and a boat to the village. I had to run software updates on 10 XOs and teach the children. Vung Vieng doesn’t have the Internet, so all XOs were transported by boat to the office of Indochina Junk company in advance.  I had to stay one night in Halong City. Mr. Tuyen couldn’t give me the XOs that day, as he was busy with the opening ceremony for the new office of Indochina Junk in Hong Gai. I was invited, so I came to watch. As I was the only foreigner, the TV camera man was making sure he covered my presence. 

The next morning I reached the office, received 10XOs and worked on upgrading the software, which eliminates errors, adds improvements to already existing programs/Activities. Unfortunately, wi-fi was not catching up with our agenda. It took several attempts (up to 5) to connect each computer to the Internet, which was slow. I still managed to update all XOs, download new games and change language to Vietnamese. While doing that I checked the journals and noticed that some computers were not used in a while, which concerned me. 

At 12:30 I was dropped off at the harbor and boarded the 4 star boat Paloma. Tourists paid up to 170$ for two day cruise on it.  Mike, the manager,  told me that he is very honored to give me (a volunteer ) a ride to the village as he cares about its residents. He explained that two years ago Vung Vieng was very poor, but now more and more boats bring tourists there. Tourists shop at the pearl shop, take scenic boat rides,  giving the opportunity to the locals to make some money. I was glad to hear that and to have free lunch as a bonus for being a volunteer 🙂

Two hours later the boat stopped at Vung Vieng village and the tourists onboard were surprised that I plan to stay in the village. Vung Vieng looked like massive rocks surrounded by water and scattered floating houses.

Hong (the pearl shop keeper, who speaks English) was my hostess. I didn’t do any teaching as I still had to finish working through some updates and file sharing capabilities. I also had to recharge all 10 Xos, which was not easy as electricity is limited in the village.

At 6Pm Hong ( who happens to be the brightest 20 year old  female and an OLPC project leader), the dance teacher and I had nice dinner on the deck.

I settled in a  pearl shop – the center of cultural life in the village. At 7PM about 10 young people arrived by boats. They came for one hour of  traditional dancing class. As I learned later, Indochina Junk hired the dance teacher for several months. I suspect, these young people will be performing for tourists in the future and will bring money to the village. Great idea.  

When they finished dancing, which looked like they were rowing, I was super exhausted, as I had almost no sleep the night before. Hong was kind enough to set up a mattress for me in the middle of the shop. She made me company and  stayed in the shop overnight as well. I fell asleep quickly, it felt like I was on a different peaceful planet and no one in the world can spoil anything. It was so serene.

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