On arrival the first afternoon we went straight out to work together on our team building session. This was a great way to start, as we all got to know one another.
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First thing next morning we headed off to the first orphanage. The children there were very friendly and were excited to see new faces. We had a great time there playing - making posters and playing games such as football and badminton. They were very competitive in the tug of war but mostly very playful and a lot of fun to be with.
After lunch we then headed off to the next orphanage. It was a very bumpy ride a long way out of town, but the the kids there were just as energetic and playful. They had a lot of fun with us, playing football, drawing posters, singing, telling stories and last but not least the tug of war. To sum up the day, it was a tiring but amazing.
Our third day, we went on a practice trek today, which was very interesting as we walked through the streets, the market and visited the wooden church. The church has a very interesting history and we also learned other interesting facts, such as the name Kontum means "children of the lake". In the afternoon we visited two more orphanages; the children were very happy to see us again and some remembered our faces.
We had to get quickly back to the hotel and prepare for our homestay and trek trip. The homestay our school built 6 years ago as a sustainable tourism project is very impressive, and is set right in the middle of a small village just above a beautiful beach on the river Dak Bla. The river was calm and clear, and there were local kids having fun skimming stones. With the weather just right, it was bliss. That evening we were entertained by the local Ba Na minority with a gong dance around a big fire. They danced and sang, and eventually asked us to join them. In reply our students performed some songs and a very good mime drama piece. Some people found the night cold, but we all got some sleep.
Day 4 - the last and the most challenging activity on our trip - the Trek. Approximately 13 Km long for most of the group, but seven of our group did the elite trek, which was nine hours of walking and over 20km. Whichever we chose, I believe that I speak for most when I say that this was no walk in the park - it was physically exhausting, and hot. But a rewarding experience at that. As we walked through the wilderness we were all fully immersed in nature, watching local farmers harvest cassava and wondering when our next break would be. It was calm and peaceful and there were incredible views to behold as we walked together over the hills and eventually back to Kontum; all the friendly locals greeting us and smiling as we passed by and waved.
Some of us were walking a bit stiffly to the restaurant for our final dinner, but we still managed a really big delicious meal, and a last orphanage trip the following morning.
What an amazing trip - we will really miss the peaceful friendly town and people we have got to know in Vietnam's beautiful Central Highlands - We LOVE Kontum!
Phuc Nguyen 12N