Hi All… just arrived in Quang Tri Province. enjoying a delightful rain shower. But a few words about the last several days. I intended to join the tour on Sunday but I was invited by Bich’s family to accompany them on a trip to the country. Her father’s brother and his family came up to attend the wedding. It was their first time in Hanoi and they wanted to visit the Tran lineage temple. The Tran Dynasty lasted from 1218C.E. until the early 1414. 17 kings ruled during that time. Several large pagodas contain many lifelike figures and fully adorned altars containing gifts of food, flowers, money and contributions of all sorts. Pilgrims journey from all over to honor and give thanks to the ancestral rulers for protecting the lineage. On the return trip, we visited Bai Dinh Temple the largest Buddhist pagoda in Viet Nam and Ninh Binh eco-park. I, finally joined the Tour on Monday. A welcoming meeting with the Viet Nam-USA Society began the day. After opening remarks on the Vietnamese-US relationship by the second Vietnamese Ambassador (2000-2008) to the US, a lively debate ensued regarding Trans-Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership (TPP). In brief, VietNam believes the TPP is the gateway to Vietnamese participation in the global economy. Several members of our delegation argued that TPP is a give away to International Corporate power and ultimately will destroy a large part of the emerging Vietnamese economy. The laugh of the day came when one of our delegation claimed that it wasn’t right that Nike rips of Vietnamese labor by paying very low wages while making a fortune by charging US customers over $100 for a pair of shoes. The Ambassador reported that it will provide jobs for its emerging economy and, if US customers are paying over $100 dollars then it is our challenge to figure out we are getting ripped off. Afterward, we visited Friendship Village. We all had a great time “high-fiving” while residents displayed their art and craftwork. I made a couple of new friends. Two of the residents are computer whizzes and have good English communication skills. We agreed to stay in touch through email. Of course, another luncheon feast followed.
Next on the schedule, was a meeting with Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange (VAVA), for a briefing. Members and friends of Veterans For Peace Chapter 069 presented VAVA with a $4000 donation. The final event of the day was a film event at the Hanoi Cinematheque: Cine Cafe. Same, Same, But Different : a documentary film using archival film footage and original music by Vietnam Veteran Deryle Perryman and Moises Gonzalez. An emotional Q&A session followed. An extraordinary day ended.
Bill Creighton April 1, 2014