HCMC 2014

HCMC 2014

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Day 2 - My Reflection for today ( Justin Chew )

I found LSTS quite fun as they were quite hospitable to me as they helped me lead the the way throughout the school.We also played some Vietnamese traditional games also had a lot of fun playing Bamboo dance and Capture the Flag.We exchanged gifts with them and then left. I think i could have done better in the actions during the singing performance.
Although I think that we have done well overall  think we  could do better. 

During the trip to the independence palace, we  learned more about the Vietnam Civil war and what they do in the Independence Palace.

Day 3. Lawrence S. Ting School (LSTS) visit. Ho Chi Minh City History Learning.

SST @ Independence Palace. 
More photos click here.


1)  What did I find most interesting or challenging?

Their school was very big.

2) What have u learnt?

I have learnt that they do things differently and they learn differently from us.

3) What surprised me?

They knew who we were by the time we reached there.

4) What confused you?


Day 3 Reflections (Ng Meng Tao)

Reflections for day 3 (ng meng tao)

i found that the school visit was very meaningful. Even if we didn't give our very best for the performance, we still learnt a lot from the Vietnamese students. We learnt that they are similar and also yet different from us in many ways. For example, the vietnamese student had to regularly change classes, while we just had to remain in ours.

I found that the Independence Palace tour was very meaningful as it had many cultural influences. I found that the bunker is very interesting. The other attractions were also very culturally influencing. However, the temperature was quite unbearable. 

Day #3 - Reflections (Varsha)

Today we went to the LSTS school and paired up with 2 buddies from that school. After that we performed for them. As i am in the dance group, i think we could have done better by following the timing correctly. Then the LSTS students showed us the different facilities in their school. I learnt that the LSTS students have a similar yet different learning style from us. They learn the same things as us but they use the old method of using textbooks but we use macbooks to enhance our learning. What surprised me that LSTS has a subject for every level and instead of the teachers coming to our classes, the students have 10 mins break after each period to go to the various classes

Day 3 - Richman's Reflection (Richman)

Today we visited the Vietnam School. It is called LSTS, which stands for Lawrence S.Ting School. It is a school which has facilities that far outnumber ours. They have 3 football fields, 2 basketball courts, 3 badminton courts and a swimming pool. The students were friendly and we also played some Vietnamese traditional games. They are bamboo dance and capture the flag. The latter being very similar, almost identical, to our "Dog and Bone". We exchanged gifts with them and then left. We visited the Notre Dame Cathedral afterwards. I had to keep my cap off while in there as caps and headware weren't allowed within its premises. We then went back to the hotel. Again.

Day 1- School Visit Reflection (Thuta Soe)

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
  The school structure is actually very interesting, as they have a lot of open spaces and most of them are not used properly.
2. What have I learnt from this visit?
  I learnt that we can't always think that just because they don't use technology means that they are not well educated. Moreover, they still uses traditional methods and still work with pen and paper.
3. What surprised me? Why?
Their english was better than expected and they were able to communicate with us well enough.
4. What am I still confused by?

My reflection (LSTS) by: Gabriel Chenyi Massimini

Today we went to LST to learn about their school culture and make more vietnamese friends. I  think i could have done a better job for my part for the singing performance as I feel I have done a good job but theres always room for improvements. I always think I should have participate more and make full use of my time there. Each of the students will be able to join a CCA like SST which will train their talent and their skills outside curriculum. Lawrence invested on a poor piece of land but after 20 years of effort his wait paid of and therefore LSTS is where it is now in one of the top spots for best schools in the whole of Vietnam. The trip was interesting as there was a slight language barrier but through it all we still made very good friends and they tried to make us feel as home as possible. The students were very friendly and hostile like they kept asking me if i am enjoying myself and if i needed anything.
                                                                                                                      ~Gabriel Chenyi Massimini
Independence place
> designed by Ngô_Viết_Thụ
>it was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
>On May 7, 1954, France surrendered to the Việt Minh after its defeat at the Battle of Điện Biên Phủ. France agreed to sign the Geneva Accords and withdrew its troops from Vietnam. According to the accords, Vietnam would be divided for two years, until 1956. The 17th Parallel would act as the temporary border until a vote based on universal suffrage was held to establish a unified Vietnamese government. North Vietnam was under the control of the Việt Minh communists, while South Vietnam was under the anti-communist State of Vietnam.
>On 27 February 1962, two pilots of Diệm's Vietnam Air Force, Nguyễn Văn Cử and Phạm Phú Quốc, rebelled and flew two A-1 Skyraider (A-1D/AD-6 variant) aircraft towards the palace and bombed it, instead of going on a raid against the Việt Cộng. As a result, almost the entire left wing was destroyed. However, Diệm and his family escaped the assassination attempt. As it was almost impossible to restore the palace, Diệm ordered it demolished and commissioned a new building in its place.

Ho Chi Minh City Hall or Hôtel de Ville de Saïgon (Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Head office - Trụ sở Ủy ban Nhân dân Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh) was built in 1902-1908 in a French colonial style for the then city of Saigon. It was renamed after 1975 as Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee. Illuminated at night, the building is not opened to the public or for tourists. A statue of the namesake is found in park next to the building.

The Municipal Theatre of Ho Chi Minh City, also known as Saigon Opera House (Vietnamese: Nhà hát lớn Thành phố Hồ Chí Minh; French: Opėra de Saigon), is an opera house in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It is an example of French Colonial architecture in Vietnam.

Built in 1897 by French architect Eugène Ferret as the Opėra de Saigon, the 800 seat building was used as the home of the Lower House assembly of South Vietnam after 1956. It was not until 1975 that it was again used as a theatre, and restored in 1995.


Façade of the Petit Palais in Paris
The Municipal Theatre is a smaller counterpart of the Hanoi Opera House, which was built between 1901 and 1911, and shaped like the Opéra Garnier in Paris. The Municipal Theatre owes its specific characteristics to the work of architect Félix Olivier, while construction was under supervision of architects Ernest Guichard and Eugène Ferret in 1900.

Lam Son Park, Saigon in 1960s, with Saigon Opera House in background

The Municipal Theatre in 1915
Its architectural style is influenced by the flamboyant style of the French Third Republic, with the façade shaped like the Petit Palais which was built in the same year in France. The house had a main seating floor plus two levels of seating above, and was capable of accommodating 1,800 people. The design of all the inscriptions, décor, and furnishings were drawn by a French artist and sent from France.

In accordance with the style employed, the façade of the theatre was decorated with inscription and reliefs (like the Ho Chi Minh City Hall), but it was criticized as being too ornate. In 1943 some of this decoration was removed, but a portion was restored by the city government for the 300th anniversary of Saigon in 1998.

After the invasion of Cochinchina, in 1863 French colonists invited a theatre company to Saigon to perform for the French legion in the villa of the French admiral at the Clock Square (Place de l'Horloge) (presently the corner of Nguyen Du and Dong Khoi streets). After a short time, a temporary theatre was built at the site of what is now the Caravelle Hotel. In 1898, the construction of the new theatre commenced on the site of the old one, and it was completed by 1 January 1900.

Between World War I and World War II, all costs of mobilization and demobilization as well as other costs for the theatre companies from France to Saigon were paid by the municipal government. Despite the fact that the theatre was planned as an entertainment venue for the growing middle class, its audience declined as more and more night clubs and dance halls boomed in the city. During this period, performances were presented only occasionally, some being concerts and others cai luong programs.

Following criticisms of the theatre's façade and the high costs of organizing performances, the municipal government intended to turn the theatre into a concert hall (Salle de Concert), but this was never carried out. Instead, decorations, engravings and statues were removed from the theatre façade in 1943 to make the theatre look more youthful. In 1944, the theatre was damaged by the Allied aerial attacks against Japanese Imperial Army, and the theatre stopped functioning. As Japan surrendered to the Allied forces, France returned to Cochinchina. In 1954, the French army surrendered to Viet Minh during the Battle of Dien Bien Phu which led to the Geneva Accords in the same year. The theatre was then used as a temporary shelter for French civilians arriving from North Vietnam.

In 1955, the theatre was restored as the seat of the Lower House of the State of Vietnam, then the Republic of Vietnam. After the Fall of Saigon in 1975, the building was restored to its original function as a theatre. In 1998, on the occasion of 300th anniversary of the founding of Saigon, the municipal government had the theatre façade restored.

Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica (Vietnamese: Vương cung thánh đường Đức Bà Sài Gòn or Nhà thờ Đức Bà Sài Gòn, French: Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Saïgon), officially Basilica of Our Lady of The Immaculate Conception (Vietnamese: Vương cung thánh đường Chính tòa Đức Mẹ Vô nhiễm Nguyên tội) is a cathedral located in the downtown of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Established by French colonists, the cathedral was constructed between 1863 and 1880. It has two bell towers, reaching a height of 58 meters (190 feet).

Contents  [hide]
1 History
2 The statue’s tears
3 Status as a basilica
4 Special characteristics
5 See also

View of the interior.

Side view of the basilica.

Side transept

Closer view of the facade

Main gate of the basilica.
Following the French conquest of Cochinchina and Saigon, the Roman Catholic Church established a community and religious services for French colonialists. The first church was built on today's Ngo Duc Ke Street. There had been a Vietnamese pagoda, which had been abandoned during the war. Bishop Lefevre decided to make this pagoda a church.

The last church was too small. Thus, in 1863, Admiral Bonard decided to build a wooden church on the bank of Charner canal (Kinh Lớn). Lefevre put the first stone for construction of the church on 28 March 1863. The construction was completed two years later and was called "Saigon Church". When the wooden church was damaged by termites, all church services were held in the guest-chamber of the French Governor's Palace. This palace would later be turned into a seminary until the Notre-Dame Cathedral was completed.

After the design competition, bids were accepted for construction. Again, J. Bourard was the successful bidder and became supervisor of constructions.

Originally, there were three proposed sites for construction:

On the site of the former test school (today, this is at the corner of Le Duan Boulevard and Hai Ba Trung Street).
At Kinh Lon (today it is Nguyễn Huệ Boulevard)
At the present site where the cathedral is situated.
All building materials were imported from France. The outside wall of the cathedral was built with bricks from Marseille. Although the contractor did not use coated concrete, these bricks have retained their bright red color until today.

On 7 October 1877, Bishop Isidore Colombert laid the first stone in an inaugural ceremony. The construction of the cathedral took three years. On Easter Day, 11 April 1880, a blessing ceremony and ceremony of completion were solemnly organized in presence of the Governor of Cochinchina Charles Le Myre de Vilers. One can see the granite plate inside the main entry gate commemorating the start and completion dates and designer. The total cost was 2,500,000 French francs (at that time price). At the beginning, the cathedral was called State Cathedral due to the source of the construction funds.

In 1895, two bell towers were added to the cathedral, each 57.6 m high with six bronze bells with the total weight of 28.85 metric tonnes. The crosses were installed on the top of each tower of 3.5 m high, 2 m wide, 600 kg in weight. The total height of the cathedral to the top of the Cross is 60.5 m.

In the flower garden in front of the cathedral, there was a bronze statue of Pigneau de Behaine (also called Bishop of Adran) leading Prince Cảnh, the son of Emperor Gia Long by his right hand. The statue was made in France. In 1945, the statue was removed, but the foundation remains.

In 1959, Bishop Joseph Pham Van Thien, whose jurisdiction included Saigon parish, attended the Marian Congress held in Vatican and ordered a statue of Our Lady of Peace made with granite in Rome. When the statue arrived in Saigon on 16 February 1959, Bishop Pham Van Thien held a ceremony to install the statue on the empty base and presented the title of "Regina Pacis". It was the same bishop who wrote the prayers "Notre-Dame bless the peace to Vietnam". The next day, Cardinal Aganianian came from Rome to chair the closing ceremony of the Marian Congress and solemnly chaired the ceremony for the statue, thus the cathedral was then-on called Notre-Dame Cathedral.

The statue’s tears[edit]
During October 2005, the statue was reported to have shed tears, attracting thousands of people and forcing authorities to stop traffic around the Cathedral. However, the top clergy of the Catholic Church in Vietnam confirmed that the Virgin Mary statue in front of a cathedral did not shed tears, which nevertheless failed to disperse the crowd flocking to the statue days after the incident. The reported 'tear' flowed down the right cheek of the face of the statue.

Status as a basilica[edit]
In 1960, Pope John XXIII erected Roman Catholic dioceses in Vietnam and assigned archbishops to Hanoi, Huế and Saigon. The cathedral was titled Saigon Chief Cathedral. In 1962, Pope John XXIII anointed the Saigon Chief Cathedral, and conferred it the status of a basilica. From this time, this cathedral was called Saigon Notre-Dame Cathedral Basilica.

Special characteristics[edit]
All the original building materials were imported from France. Tiles have been carved with the words Guichard Carvin, Marseille St André France (perhaps stating the locality where the tiles were produced). Some tiles are carved with the words “Wang-Tai Saigon”. Many tiles have since been made in Ho Chi Minh City to replace the tiles that were damaged by the war. There are 56 glass squares supplied by the Lorin firm of Chartres province in France. The cathedral foundation was designed to bear ten times the weight of the cathedral.

Richman's Reflection (Can Gio)

We went to the Can Gio Biosphere today. We visited both an island of monkeys and a crocodile farm. During our visit to the Monkey Island I was attacked by monkeys. Twice. The crocodile farm was uneventful as the gate was locked and we could only observe from the outside. We also had this swaggy boat ride thing. The boat driver did drifts with the boat and someone almost fell off. We ate dinner then went back to the hotel.
1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
I found the bunker in the independence palace most interesting as it it had a unique experience where it had the backup security and however inside this bunker it has almost all the communications (computers?) and a bed if the the exit is blocked and the president was not able to exit.

In the school they have a lower reliance on technology and have shorter,more frequent breaks.They have more excising facilities and identify themselves with letters and numbers.
The vist to the city was also was also very educational as they unveiled pieces about the Vietnams history

Day 3 - School Day (Justin Goh)

What I find interesting about the the school it had many different facilities for the students (e.g Has 4 Football field and a swimming pool). What I find challenging was that it was hard communicating with with the vietnamese students because of the different pronunciation. However, we manage to overcome this. During this trip, I have learnt about the different traditional Vietnam games that were very interactive and enjoyable. I also learnt how to interact better with the students despite the pronunciation difference. What surprise me was that the students were very sociable, interactive and friendly with us.

Day #2 - Reflections (Varsha)

Today we went to the Can Gio Biosphere. I found the speed boat ride through the mangrove forest the most interesting today. I learnt about the different plant types and the war history about Vietnam. I was surprised that all the places we visited were quite close together and that the Can Gio Biosphere was on a different island and that we have to board a ferry to go to that island. I am not confused about anything

Day 3# LSTS(Sasank)

1)What did I find most interesting or challenging?
The school's learning method was different from SST and they included games to make the lesson more interesting to make pay attention better.This was interesting.I learnt English in a new way.
2) What have u learnt?
I have learnt how to interact with others and how to start to talk with someone you don't know.This will help me in the future.
3) What surprised me?
The school had 4 school soccer fields which were very small compared to SST's and our school only has one big field.
4) What confused you?

First Impression (Arvin)

My first impression of Vietnam was that it was not very orderly and clean like Singapore. Despite them, the country seemed very peaceful and happy to live in. This country has amazed me incredibly so far and I am excited to see what more interesting places I will visit!

Richman's Reflection (1st Day)

Today, we like....landed in Vietnam. Vietnam has a fancy airport but Singapore's is better. We flew on SG Airlines. We reached the hotel slightly late and we have a guide called Mr.Chin. Like, the chin below your mouth kind of chin. That's how its spelt. We had some debrief and then we went to sleep.

Day 3-LSTS Reflection by Lim Yi

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?

The guessing game in the english class is interesting and challenging.We were supposed to describe the course and the others were to guess it.

2. What have I learnt from this visit?

I have learnt to be grateful for the country and school that we are in.

3. What surprised me? Why?

I am surprised me that their english is better than i expected.
4. What am I still confused by?

I am not confused.

Day 3 Reflection LSTS (RaphaelMG)

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?

The guessing game during the english class because we were supposed to describe a career/course and the others were to guess it.

2. What have I learnt from this visit?

I have learnt that although Vietnam is a country that is still recovering from its war and agent orange, they have perseverance and we can learn a lot from them.

3. What surprised me? Why?

The courtesy of the Vietnamese students and the hard work put in to the performance.

4. What am I still confused by?

I am very clear about everything and I got an awesome buddy.

Day 3 reflection-Gui Lu

The first time when I met my partners,we started of pretty awkward.But the three of us just shake hands immediately and became good friends having fun,teasing each other.The part that i find excited about is the capture the flag game because everything was in chaos and had fun and was laughing till my cheek was sore.The most challenging part was to do the traditional game which was challenging at first but after a student showed me the second time,I did it and it was fun and you have to get the timing correctly if not you will get stuck between the bamboo poles and sometimes the students controlling the poles will move faster and sometimes slower.

Reflection for day 3 Jasper

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
    The way the students learn as the students have to go to the subject classes instead of the teachers going to class. This results in a lot of classrooms.  The dance that i did was just ok although i kind of freakout and messed up at the first part as i was caught off guard.

2. What have I learnt from this visit?
    LSTS history

3. What surprised me? Why?
    The way they learn as they learn english via units unlike us

Day 2 Can Gio
Samson Loy

Today, I learned that Habitats can be preserved in the Biosphere. The mangrove forest holds many trees and a large amount of land to supply Oxygen to the Vietnamese people. The mangrove forest was also used to hide military personnel during the Vietnam War, as the dense forest was large and thick enough to hide soldiers. The mangrove forest is also being used as an advantage by Vietnamese people. Many animals also have habitats and breeding grounds in the Mangrove forest. People surviving in the forest also came up with many ways to obtain food and fresh water. This proves that the mangrove forest is very important to animals and Vietnamese people, as well as tourists, in which the Mangrove forest and Animal habitats have a great potential for tourism. 

Day 3 LSTS School visit and History museum 
Samson Loy

Today, upon reaching the school, I realised that it is similar to SST as they try to focus on applied learning on the students and they have a large campus to fit 1200 students. They are also a school chosen by Microsoft as they have many awards, gained through Microsoft, thus making them one of the most famous schools in HCMC. 

LSTS reflection

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
I thought that the acting part was hard,because I was a bit self-conscious when I am on stage.I liked the way the Vietnamese students learned their materials,as there were a lot of interactive activities.

2. What have I learnt from this visit?
I learnt how much the Vietnamese students study ( From 6am to 5pm! Without remedials!) I also found out that the Vietnamese students are quite talented and are very hospitable.

3.What surprised me? Why?
I was surprised on how loud they were ( Not pointing fingers,but they really shout across the entire building ),as my first impression was that they were friendly and interactive.

4.What am I still confused about?
I am still confused on why Math and History are not compulsory in their learning ( That's what the hosts told me! )

Day 3 Reflection (Arvin)

Arvin Kumar

1. What did I find most interesting and challenging?

The interaction between the LSTS students and the SST students were very interesting as we understood their learning methods. The teaching methods were also very different and unique from SST as they had a very interactive lesson. There was nothing very challenging in today's activities as tehy were all manageable.

2. What have I learned from this visit?

I have learned to be more grateful with what have as in SST, we have our own LDs but in LSTS, they only have a desktop computer and yet they input technology in their learning.

3. What surprised me? Why?

I was surprised that the Vietnamese students could speak English better that I had thought. They were quiet fluent. I thought that I would not understand what they were talking about and ask myself if there were speaking English or some weird ancient language.

4. What am I still confused about?

I was not confused as my student buddy made it easy to understand.

Day #3 Reflections (Irfan)

I found our interactive class with the students in LSTS very interesting and I found the activity where we had to create the flag of a joined a new country we called "Singa-Nam" challenging. I have learnt about the vietnamese culture and the way they study in LSTS. The teaching styles surprised me as they were different from the way we do it in school. I cannot think of anything specific that confuses me.

Day 3 School Visit (Joshua Chua)

Today was somewhat stressful as we had to preform what we had prepared for like 1 month. but their reaction was better than expected. My buddy was also very open totally opposite to what i expected like they had the same lifestyle as SST. The city visit was like what i had thought. It was really crowded and noisy. Overall, today was an experience but really tiring

3rd day reflections (Bo Si)

It was a very fun time at LSTS.
The Students welcomed us very warmly.
Their method of learning is quite different from SST, they do not really use advanced technology.

Day 3 - Reflection (Keene)

I found that the activities that the school had let us do were the most interesting, for example, the lesson we had involved textbooks which I did not expect from LSTS, as I thought it would also be like our school and more technology-focused.
I learnt that while LSTS has less  learning facilities than us, they can still manage to learn as well as us only using textbooks, unlike us where we use MacBooks.
Honestly, what had surprised me was that they had celebrated Halloween, unlike us, but besides that, I was surprised that they had less technology-based facilities unlike our school which I had expected at LSTS.
The only thing I am still confused by is the layout of the school and the student’s timetable, but other than that, there is nothing that confuses me.

Can Gio Reflection

1.What did I find most interesting or challenging?
I thought that the boat ride was fun and unstable,and I didn't know that the life during the war in Vietnam was so hard.

2.What have I learnt from this visit? 
I learnt how people get fresh water out of salt water and life in the mangrove forest and how to plant a mangrove tree.

3.What surprised me? Why?
I expected the mangrove to be muddy,but not that muddy! I also did not know that goats live in the mangrove forest.

4.What am I still confused about?
I do not know how the crustaceans' build their holes,which might be their homes.
What did I find most interesting or challenging?
I find how the Vietnam students travelling to other class rooms for different periods most interesting.

What have I learnt from this visit?
I learnt that Vietnam's education is slower than Singapore.

What surprised me? Why?
I'm surprised that churches have so much money. I never thought churches have such big income.

What am I still confused about?
Why the Vietnam students need to travel to other rooms for different periods.

Day 3# LSTS(Yugan)

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
I made new friends and that was interesting. The bamboo challenge is challenging. 
2. What have I learnt from this visit?
I learnt about LSTS history and how to do capture the flag(dog and bone) and bamboo challenge.
3. What surprised me? Why?
I was surprised that I made close contact to my new friends in LSTS. I got their facebook names and am their facebook friends.
4. What am I still confused about?
I am still confused about what the history of vietnam

2nd day reflections (Bo Si)

There were many mangroves in Vietnam.
The monkeys are not scared of human going near them.

My first impression of HCMC ( Bo Si )

Bo Si:

My first impression of HCMC was that it is a poor place,
I thought that the place would be very run down.

Day 3 - School Trip and School Tour (Lakshaya)

I found the school trip the most interesting as I was able to learn more about the education in their school. I learnt about the war. The way of life during the war surprised me. I am still confused about the history of the school.

Day 3-Reflection (Chiu Jianing)

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
    I found the school trip the most interesting as I learnt more about the education in Vietnam.

2. What have I learnt from this visit?
    I learnt more about the war between North and South Vietnam and more about the education system in Vietnam.

3. What surprised me? Why?
    All of the places were really close to each other and I was quite surprised as Ho Chi Minh is a big city and I expected the places to be far away from each other.

4. What am I still confused about?
    I am still confused about the history of the Lawrence S. Ting School.

Day 2-Reflection (Chiu Jianing)

1. What did I find most interesting or challenging?
I found the wire suspension bridge the most interesting. We could see around us and the scenery was breathtaking. I found the monkey farm the most challenging as I was afraid that the monkeys would attack me and steal my things.
2. What have I learnt from this visit?
I learnt more about the history and warfare of Vietnam.
3. What surprised me? Why?
I was surprised that the animal keepers at the farm would still feed the monkeys as I expected the monkeys to find food on their own as it was a forest and not a zoo.
4. What am I still confused about?
I'm still confused about why there was a ferry to ferry vehicles when I thought that it would be better to just build a vehicle bridge across the sea.


Done by: Justin Goh 

What I found interesting most interesting about the experience was that we was able to understand and know about the history behind the Vietnamese War, about the bunkers, water distillation and the planing of the Vietnamese.  If you put lots of time, concentration and focused. You would be able to succeed whatever you are experience despite how impossible it may be. Just like how the Vietnamese planned (6 long month) to attack their enemy impenetrable base and succeed. What surprised me the most is about the monkeys playfulness and activeness. What they did was unbeliever!