Remembering Vietnam

By Sharon Younes

The following thoughts were inspired by a request to give tips when travelling to Vietnam.  Thank you to my husband, Tim, for the pictures and memories.

Both my children are from Vietnam. So In 2013 we took them back to their country of origin. In addition, my husband made a couple trips there to do humanitarian work.




I guess it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway: always drink bottled water or soda. And be careful of the ice in the glasses. You may want to opt out. There were times when I felt I had to have ice, so I did. I didn’t get sick, but you could be taking a chance. Try different foods. Some of it is delicious. In the hotels, their breakfasts are very big. They serve hot and cold foods, like a smorgasbord. And soup is served every time of the day, all the time.! At first you will not understand why, because the humidity is something else!! Very different from what we’re used to. It feels like 150% humidity. And it slaps you in the face and there’s no escape. What I mean is, at night, it doesn’t cool down very much. I remember showering in the late afternoon, so I could eat dinner feeling refreshed. But it didn’t happen. By the time we got to the restaurant and sat down,  I was all hot and sweaty again. To get the most out of the day, rise early, when the sun is a cooler. And plan your sightseeing and adventures in the morning.  Be careful of the vendors on the streets. Some vendor food can be very good. Most is inexpensive.


The traffic in Saigon and big cities is crazy and you’ll wonder why you don’t see many accidents. There seems to be no organization to it. When you cross the streets, walk slowly across. The traffic, bikes and cycles will dodge around you. Don’t try to dodge them. In a day or so, you’ll get used to it. The beds in the hotels are very hard, the toilets can be crappy. When you leave the hotel room, your power will be turned off. Power outages are not uncommon.


The Vietnamese are very friendly towards Americans. And you need not worry about violent crime. Be sure to bargain for everything, especially in the open air markets. When you need to rest you’re weary feet, get a pedicure. They are very inexpensive. On the whole, many things are very reasonably priced or cost next to nothing compared to what Americans are used to.

The Vietnamese people are small statured. And everywhere you look, you see little plastic tables and chairs; the kind used by children in America. But in Vietnam, they are a common site at outdoor eateries for adults! You will come to know what it is like to be different, to be the minority.


If you ever visit this exotic country, I hope you have a wonderful time. Your comfort zone will certainly be challenged. And you can grow in graciousness and appreciation for what really counts in life. I miss the people:   their joy, simplicity of life, and their resourcefulness.


Finding Love

      Video by Underground Pilots.

      The following poem was inspired by the Bordner Cabin Video.  And the fact that all is quiet in my home.

I long for a slower pace,

Six or seven days on retreat

In a cabin in the woods

Would do me just fine.

Take in all the sensations

Breather deeply fresh, crisp air

Warm sunshine; earthy smells

Surrounded  by trees that climb to the blue

And house the birds beyond what I can see.

To quiet my mind and follow

My slow, steady breath

Until my heart is quiet, too.

And I am present to the now,

To all stillness within me

That whispers love.

Yes, I am loved, I am loved.

In silence I find Love.

sharon younes,

I helped a bird today

Catbird on a Cage

I helped a bird today, a gray catbird, that is. He was in my garden, flitting around the tomato cages. As I watched, I saw him tug on some string. It was white kite string I had used last spring to hold the tomato vines in place. They were knotted here and there on the rungs of the  cages. He tugged and tugged, but with no success. Oh, I thought, he needs some help. So I walked over and he flew away. It took me about two minutes to get the tiny knot untied. There you go, little bird, come back and get your string. And he did, without a doubt!

“Hello, Good Morning”

wpid-20150202_154632.jpgIt’s 7:31am. I grab my purse, my lunch bag and my keys and walk quickly through the frigid laundry room to the garage. I open my car door and practically throw my paraphernalia on the passenger’s seat. Starting the cold,but tolerable Toyota, I back out and start my 36 minute commute to an out of the way, but fun elementary school. East Hanover.  Keeping up with traffic, I find myself sometimes sandwiched in-between semi- trucks, and sometimes slowing down to a crawl.  As I buzz along, I listen to the Sun Rise Morning Show, 7.20 am.wpid-20150202_154628.jpg

I travel Route 81 for approximately 20 minutes before taking my exit, Manada Hill.  I bear right, then soon take a wide left onto Jonestown Rd.  The next 7 minutes are relaxing, quiet enjoyment.  I drive past farms, a Cedar of Lebanon Retreat Center, and rustic looking homes.  The road twists and turns, up and down hills, up and down again.  I turn onto Sandbeach Rd.  On my left hand side, I am greeted every morning by four horses. They are in close approximation to the fence that is parrellel to the road. On any given morning, they are soaking in the sun or perhaps the blue-gray sky.  Or they are grazing. “Hello, horses, Good Morning!” They are quiet,  still, or on the move. They are beauty.  They are horses.

the wonders of a snowflake….

Psalm 8

Oh Lord, Our Lord,
How awesome is your name through all the earth!
I will sing of your majesty above the heavens.
with the mouths of babes and infants.
You have established a bulwark against your foes,
to silence enemy and avenger.
When I behold the heavens,
the moon and the stars which you have set in place-
What is man that you are mindful of him,
And a son of man that you care for him?
Yet you have made him a little less than a god,
Crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
Put all things under his feet:
All sheep and oxen,
Even the beasts of the field.
The birds of the air, the fish of the sea,
And whatever swims the paths of the seas.
O Lord, our Lord,
How awesome is your name through all the earth.
(Taken from New American Bible)