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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2000-04-27
On the Sidelines
By Anne Ryan
I took a little hiatus from my Sport Shooter duties last month when USA Today sent me to Vietnam on assignment to work on several stories to advance the 25th anniversary of the fall of Saigon. It was truly an unforgettable trip. I hope to go back there again someday.
Before the trip I had several vaccinations and learned about preventing typhoid, malaria and Japanese encephalitis. I highly recommend checking out the CDC's web site before taking a trip like this http://www.cdc.gov/travel/.
I took Korean Air to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) with an (ugh!) 13 hour layover in Seoul. I guess that was better, though, than some of the other connections I found with two stops and overnights. It's not the easiest place to get to, but it's worth the trip.
Top ten things to do in the transit lounge at Kimpo Airport in Seoul:
1. Have noodle soup for breakfast.
2. Contemplate buying chocolate covered macadamia nuts in the duty free shop.
3. Read a six-month-old copy of "Parents" magazine left by a previous traveler.
4. Watch CNN Asia
5. Have noodle soup for lunch.
6. Buy chocolate covered macadamia nuts at the duty free shop.
7. Stake out the couch.
8. Seize couch when people leave to catch their flight.
9. Take nap.
10. Have noodle soup for dinner.
I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City two days after my departure from Chicago. There I worked with our reporter, Thuan Elston, who left Vietnam with her entire family on a C-130 a few days before the fall of Saigon. The first thing that struck me there was the traffic. I have never seen such a mix of motorbikes, cyclos (like rickshaws), bicycles, cars and trucks.
There aren't many traffic signals and most people don't obey the signal that are there. Crossing the street is a real leap of faith. There's almost never a big enough opening in traffic to cross, so you just have to step out there. You cross at an even pace, no speeding up or stopping.The traffic weaves around you. I'm sure there are accidents all the time, but luckily I wasn't involved in any. I tried not to be afraid the first few times as I followed Thuan into the street. I might as well have been blindfolded, though.
After a few days I flew to Hanoi where I stayed at a wonderful place called the Claudia Hotel. I don't call it wonderful because of its amenities. It's more like a second or third class European Hotel. It's a wonderful place because of Do Thanh Thuy (called Mrs. Thuy) the owner. She makes you feel like a part of her family from the moment you walk in the door. When I came in she was holding an IMH baby. IMH stands for International Mission of Hope.
The Vietnamese baby was being adopted by an American woman staying at the hotel. Most of the families adopting babies through IMH stay at the Claudia Hotel and Mrs. Thuy helps out by babysitting so they can go shopping or sightseeing. At the Claudia I also hooked up with the subjects of one of the stories I was working on, Mike Maskew and his adopted son Patrick, 12. The Maskews adopted Patrick from an orphanage in Hanoi four years ago. I accompanied them as Patrick went back to visit the orphanage for the first time since his adoption. Photographing the orphanage has to be one of the highlights of my career. There were beautiful pictures everywhere. I wanted to take all the babies home with me.
Fore more information about IMH check out their web site http://www.imh-vn.org/. My photos from Vietnam are scheduled to run this week (the last week of April).
When I came back to the USA I had a bit of culture shock. Americans have so much stuff! We have big cars, big houses, big meals, etc. When I was in Vietnam I had a picture in my purse of a new house my husband and I are buying. Half way through the trip I stopped showing it to people.
I was embarrassed to say that the house was just for our family of five when I was talking to people who had so little. I remember having a similar experience when I returned from Nicaragua a few years ago. I can never bring myself to complain about the food at a free media buffet at a sports event when I've spent time with people who struggle to put food on the table. A trip to the third world really puts things into perspective.
Back on the home front ...
St. Pete Times photographer Jonathan Newton has accepted a position with The Washington Post as a sports photographer. He will move there after his kids finish the school year. Sue Morrow is now the director of photography at the St. Pete Times.
Marlene Karas of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution was named Atlanta Braves beat photographer at the start of spring training. Former AJC staffer Laine McCall has taken the job of director of photography at the Augusta (GA) Chronicle.
USA Today photo editor Alexandra Korab has taken a position as a photo editor with America Online. USA Today photo editor Denny Gainer will become the photo editor for USA Today Online.
The date of the Garrett Miho Foundation fundraiser dinner has been changed to Saturday September 16th, 2000 at the Paradise Restaurant in Torrance, CA. For more information please contact Darrell Miho firstname.lastname@example.org. The date for the bowl-a-thon will remain the same, Saturday May 6th.
(Anne Ryan is a USA TODAY staff photographer based in Chicago.)
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