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Sapa Y9 HERO

Year 9 Trip to Sapa

It’s been amazing to wake up this morning to the soundscape of cicadas and the flow of water in a nearby river.

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Day 2 Morning (December 5):

It’s been amazing to wake up this morning to the soundscape of cicadas and the flow of water in a nearby river. A stark contrast to the thrum of Hanoi and it’s great for us to be out in the fresh air.

Yesterday morning, it seemed as if almost all students were fast asleep within 5 minutes of leaving BIS and about 5 hours later we arrived in Sapa town for a delicious lunch before a quick walk through the markets to reboard the buses. There was then an afternoon walk through Lao Chai Village in which a few students got a little muddier than expected but all with smiles on their faces. We then had time to settle into Ban Ho Homestay, have an evening meal and then some free time before students settled down for sleep.

We are now having breakfast and excitement levels are simmering in anticipation of the Amazing Race today. I look forward to watching the students develop their skills to work as teams today and to step out of their comfort zones. Here we go!

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Day 2 Afternoon (December 5):

The Amazing Race....who is going to be victorious? When briefed this morning by our guides, the phrase ‘high spirit of unity’ was used as a characteristic that would define the team that will triumph today. We are down to the final activities and the sense of team spirit has been impressive throughout. The sun has shone and the activities have been unrelenting and the students are still applying themselves with energy and dedication. After the winning House is announced there will be some time for the children to rest before we eat this evening and then it will be time for bed. After the day exploits, I’m confident that there will be some deep contented sleep this evening.

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Day 3 Morning (December 6):

It was straight to work after breakfast this morning with students having an opportunity to take part in various traditional agricultural practices. Any resistance that students might have had to get amongst the sweat and dirt appeared nonexistent as they ploughed their way through a field of cassava, with roots of all shapes and sizes being wrenched from the ground. Students were again working in Houses with some groups producing a prolific haul. 

It was then on to help to plant rice on a terrace which was initially conducted very successfully. However, some mischievous members of the tour staff initiated a bit of a battle in the mud which quickly escalated. All good (if not clean) fun though. The muddy conflict resulted in some heavily soiled bodies and there was a conveniently located river in which students had an opportunity to have a cleanse or just splash around.

It’s been a great morning with a good balance of interaction with local customs, team building and raw enjoyment. Students are currently refreshing themselves with a shower before we sit down for a well earned lunch.

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Day 3 Afternoon (December 6):

Sapa is an incredibly picturesque part of Vietnam; both its landscape and its people. You do however get a real sense of the poverty of many people here. Not that they are unhappy, but just that they live in very basic accommodation with many of their existences focusing simply on how they can get food in their families’ mouths. This afternoon, students had the opportunity to support a family near to the Ban Ho homestay, by helping to stabilise their bamboo house with concrete foundations. It was all hands to deck with students taking the responsibility for all stages of concrete production after some initial demonstrations. The phrase ‘many hands make light work’ seemed very apt with almost 80 pairs of hands working together, and there was a great sense of pride in what we accomplished when the owner of the house gave a heartfelt speech of thanks for all our hard work before we returned to the homestay. 

Time for a shower before this evening’s BBQ and traditional dance!

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Day 4 (December 7):

After a light snack this morning, today’s final activity was either a fun run or a walk. After an exhausting itinerary over the last few days, it was no surprise that considerably more students opted for the walk, but everyone had a chance to stretch their legs before we sat down to our final meal prior to the return journey.

Having negotiated the winding road down from Ban Ho homestay, we are now making progress along the highway towards Hanoi and BIS. With all the exertion over the last 4 days, most students were asleep for the first leg, but there is now a gentle buzz of chatter on the coach; the sound of friendships both new and strengthened.

It has been a wonderful trip that has been successful in its objectives of broadening students’ awareness of Vietnamese cultures, pushing students out of their comfort zones and, to return to a phrase that a guide used earlier in the trip, to develop the sense of unity within the group. It is a weary but contented set of students that will be returning to BIS this afternoon and I’m sure they will sleep contentedly this evening. I’m looking forward to next year’s trip already!

Edward Westropp

Assistant Head of Pastoral Care