Vietnam: Swannies Vung Tau Expedition

A few weeks back I had the honour and privilege to be part of the annual Vietnam Swans Vung Tau Bootcamp. Now part of the yearly schedule for the Swannies, it gave us a good chance to get fit, bond with new team mates and help out our local community.

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Morning started at Bixteco at 7am with a nice two-hour bus ride straight to the Long Tan Cross. This is a placed etched in the history of Australians, and was vital in the outcomes of the Vietnam War. We were greeted by a tour guide who is a former veteran and he walked us through the history of the battle. It was eerie knowing that where we were standing, literally thousands of bullets were flying in a battle that could have changed history and the outcome of the war. Hearing a story like this really puts things in perspective about how much of a privileged situation we are in due to the sacrifice of young men who fought and died for the greater good.

After hearing the history of Long Tan, we put on the runners for the inaugural Long Tan Cross Run. It is approximately a 5 (and a bit) km run around the site of the battle in a loop. Colum John the Welshman finish first in a time of 27.39minutes, which for the course is a very quick, also considering the fact that we had to stop a few times as no-one had ever actually been on the course before.

Tommy’s Bar 3, the most famous sport bar in Vung Tau was our destination for lunch. Sport Memorabilia on every wall, top class food and great service makes it always enjoyable. We put on a Long Tan documentary as we scoffed down Tommy’s Burgers and recovered from the run. After a good feed, we arrived at the hotel and settled on for a quick power nap.

The next item on the agenda was our annual visit to our orphanage. The Vietnam Swans had prepared several boxes full of stationary, bags, footballs and all sorts of goodies for the kids.
The kids at the orphanage have come from all walks of life. Most of the orphans, both male and female, aging from 3-17 years of age, have been abandoned, some are mentally disabled, some have irreversible diseases or physical issues. However, when we all arrived, the smiles on their faces were unforgettable. They ran up to all of us, giving hugs and using broken English to communicate with us. We handed out all our gifts and they went faster than free turkeys at Thanksgiving. The kids were so happy with our company it was becoming contagious. We kicked the football around with some of the boys and took a few happy snaps.
We managed to have a quick chat to the Director of the orphanage My Huong. She is an amazing woman who is truly giving back to the community. We are very lucky to be associated with her and her orphanage.

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After the visit, the Swannies ventured cautiously to the Vung Tau beach to be whipped into great shape by yours truly. I worked them hard with beach sprints, tackling drills and body weight exercises. Most got through in one piece, one broken toe only, so a good result overall.

A great Saturday. A mixture of culture, comrade and fitness made it a truly unforgettable experience. Honk Honk.

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