By: Br. Drew Anderson, O.P.
Brother Drew Anderson, O.P. is a 4th year student brother at Aquinas Institute of Theology and a member of the Central Province Dominican Friars. He is blogging his experience from Vietnam this summer here and on www.PreachingFriars.org.
The view from my room in Vietnam is a beautiful one indeed. This summer Br. Patrick Hyde and I were asked to go to Vietnam to help the Vietnamese student brothers learn English. Having no idea what to expect we obediently and cheerfully left Chicago last Wednesday, May 28th, to embark on a 24-hour trip to Vietnam. We took Korean Air and our first flight was 13 1/2 hours long. For having to sit in a plane for over a half a day it was pretty comfortable. We were flying towards the sun and when we were in the sky the date changed from Wednesday to Thursday without the sun even setting. It was pretty interesting trying figure out a good time to pray evening prayer and then in the same daylight pray morning prayer for the next day. Our plane had a camera hooked up to bottom of the plane and we could see what we were flying over from our screens in our seats. It was interesting to see the mountains in Alaska and also have an aerial view of Japan.
We had a layover in Seoul, South Korea. By this time it was nearly two in the morning in Chicago and we were exhausted. We then had about a five hour flight into Ho Chi Minh City. We arrived into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) on May 29th at 11pm. We noticed two things right off the bat. One was that right when our plane touched down in Saigon our windows began to fog up and we could really feel the humidity when we walked outside of the airport. The next thing was the people. In the US, I am used to there being busy traffic and waiting for someone to pick me up while waiting outside the terminal. In Vietnam there was a massive crowd of people. It seemed as if we were at the red carpet of the Oscar’s. We found the Vietnamese friars fairly quickly and they took us to the House of Studies for the Vietnamese Province, where we will be staying for the next month.
I awoke the next morning at 3 AM, my internal clock being off track. The time in Vietnam is 12 hours ahead of the Central Time Zone. Fortunately prayer starts very early in the morning. In another blog I will discuss the schedule, also known as the horarium. The bell to wake up, no alarm clocks in the House of Studies, rang at 4:30 AM. Prayer and Mass started at 5:00AM and breakfast followed afterwards at 6:20 AM. They were very generous in offering us eggs in the morning, something our Americans stomachs would be used to. Lunch was a dive into Vietnamese cuisine. Of course we had rice (we have rice, or some form of rice, at every meal) but we also had crocodile and tofu. It was very good (except for the tofu—I really don’t like tofu, and it is bland and not seasoned here in Vietnam) and the crocodile tasted like chicken.
All in all it was a very good start to our two months in Vietnam. The brothers have been very gracious and friendly. It has been very exciting for me as it is my first time out of the United States, other than day trips to Mexico and Canada. The brothers have many things planned out for us during this summer and I look forward to the adventures. My next blog post will be about our first Sunday in Saigon, a day that I will never forget.