Although the trip is for CIP purposes (the kids have to come up with a project to teach English to Vietnamese kids at a local primary school), most of the students treat it like a holiday. "We stay in a 5-star hotel and fly Singapore Airlines!" Andre gushed. He's quite clear about his priorities.
He was even appointed group leader for the CIP project although it turned out to be quite a farce as his group mates were 3 girls (after his best friend pulled out due to injury) and as is common knowledge, the sole boy in a girl group always gets bullied. He complained that the girls bossed him around and kept telling him what to do, which was secretly fine by me as he's clueless. If it were left up to him, the project would never get done.
We were a little apprehensive as this was the first time Andre would be travelling on his own. However, we also recognised that it was a great opportunity for him to learn a little independence. So off he went!
Vietnam is probably a good place for Andre to visit education-wise as he has an interest in war and military strategies. He also knows a little about the Vietnam War from watching Forrest Gump. The highlight of the trip for him was undoubtedly the Củ Chi tunnels. These 121-km tunnels were used by Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots, communications and supply routes during the Vietnam War and essentially helped the Viet Cong succeed in their resistance to American forces.
Here's the guide demonstrating one of the holes used for ambush. It's tiny.
Here's the entrance to a tunnel that the kids walked through.
This rock is actually a hiding spot, the holes are for ventilation.
The students were also shown the types of traps used. Seems like they were all designed to inflict the maximum amount of pain. Shudder.
... and a lacquerware factory.
Andre didn't take a single photo of the hotel and the food but he said both were superb. I didn't think it was possible but he came back looking rounder than ever! I think the tour organiser probably knew parents would worry about their kids not having enough food and fed them to the point of excess. Each meal was either a buffet or featured multiple courses.
Some of his schoolmates returned with conical Vietnamese hats and various local souvenirs. In contrast, Andre brought home a bright red Adidas cap (which he bargained for US$4 at the Ben Tanh Market), a rock from the hotel and a rice stalk. We had hysterics when he whipped out a plastic bag containing mini toiletries from the hotel. It's an inside joke cos we're always teasing Kenneth for this very Singaporean habit.
Andre had a ton of fun and he told me he's most pleased about being able to look after himself. Indeed, he was sensible and organised throughout the trip, and there was nothing missing when he came home. His teacher smsed us later that he was a joy to have around.
Aww... my little boy is all grown up.