Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Buffalos & Dragons Halong Bay Adventure

By Amy Cherry, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation.

In mid June of this year, Buffalo Tours and the Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation took 23 children with disabilities and 15 of their parents on a very special trip to Tuan Chau Island in Halong Bay.

The children in this program have a range of disabilities; from cerebral palsy & downs syndrome to visual and hearing impairments. For many of the children and parents, this trip is the only outing they will have during the year.

The holiday started with an early morning departure and a lunchtime arrival at a wonderful hotel, VietLodge, who kindly allowed us to take over the entire hotel for 2 days. After a smashing lunch at VietLodge, we were off to the beach! It was incredibly rewarding to watch the parents (and in some cases grandparents) show such happiness and joy with their children. Some were teaching them to swim, others were simply splashing and playing.

But for all of them, it was an afternoon of relaxation and fun without the worries of their everyday lives taking over.

Later in the evening, the parents returned to the hotel for a little alone time while the staff of Blue Dragon took the kids to see the dolphin show. If the children were exhausted, they tried hard not to show it. The staff, on the other hand were obviously running out of steam.

The next day offered another break for the parents, as they were whisked away for their own personal boat tour of Halong Bay, compliments of Buffalo Tours. Again, for many of these parents, it was their first time going on such a trip, and for most, it was the highlight of the trip for them.
While the parents were off boating around the bay, the children went back to the beach with the Blue Dragon staff for more digging in the sand and splashing in the water.
After another wonderful lunch at Vietlodge, the tired group piled back into the buses for the trip home. There was a lot more snoring on the ride home, but behind those sleepy eyelids were some happy, happy children, parents and staff.

Thanks to Buffalo Tours for arranging the hotel, buses and Halong Boat trip. (and for the cool t-shirts!) It will be a trip we will all remember for a very long time.

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