Adopted Vietnamese International (AVI) trip to Hanoi and Saigon
Adopted Vietnamese Participants:
- Kelly Jackson, PR, Vietnamese Adoptee Network (VAN), Seattle, USA
- Chris Brownlee, Co-Director, VAN, Seattle, USA
- Brent Kurkowski, Minneapolis, USA
- John Ryder, Portland, USA
- Andrea Lee, Chicago, USA
- Indigo Williams, Director, AVI, Sydney, Australia
- Kris Lee, Ann Arbor, USA
- Annette Williams, Sydney, Australia
- James Ward, Vincent Fairfax Scholar, Indigenous Australian, Perth Australia
- Cultural Affairs Office, US Embassy, Hanoi
- South East Asian Children Assistance Program (SEACAP), Saigon
- Holt Adoption Orphanage, Saigon
- General Round Table – Session 1: Adoptees Session 2: Adoptees & Parents, Saigon
- Vietnam Women’s Forum, Saigon
The objective of the trip in January was to create an informal tour for adopted Vietnamese individuals and their parents to explore Vietnamese culture and landscape together, to undertake independent searches for records on surviving birth relatives and then to contribute ideas and feedback at a one-day forum.
The trip was planned from June 2000 but the final registration deadline extended to October 2000. TheTet Festival is in the high season and flights were overbooked and at highest cost. Accommodation and other reservations were also heavily booked at this time. It is also a week-long holiday so many organisations such as embassies were closed in the second half of the trip.
Sponsorship had been sort from several different places but eventually, due to the heavily booked period, did not eventuate. The setting up of a trip with delegates based in Australia and the US and the main administration in Vietnam was also difficult. The trip exceeded cost planning and some important lessons were learnt about how over-priced some services can be when booking tours and meals without the benefit of local knowledge and familiarity with Vietnamese local prices.
Entry into Vietnam:
All delegates arranged Visas from their local embassies and there was no trouble in entering Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon).
None of the participants spoke Vietnamese and an English-speaking tour guide was hired for the duration of the trip. In Hanoi this was a distinct advantage but in Saigon, the majority of businesses and hotels have English-speaking staff and the local tourism has many local shop owners speaking adequate English and Japanese while older residents in both cities spoke fluent French.
The exchange of dong to the US dollar was around 14,000 dong to $US1 or $AUD2. Money exchanges were available at airports and in the main hotels but locals would readily accept US dollars.
In Saigon the tourism attracts pickpockets and some bag snatching from thieves riding motorbikes so it is wise to secure valuables discreetly.