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Join date : 2011-03-15

PostSubject: In the village with no running water or electricity   Thu Apr 21, 2011 5:52 pm

Irvine backpacker drowns in Vietnam boat tragedy

By John Woods, Irvine Herald, 25 February 2011

IRVINE man Stuart McCormick died in the Vietnam boat tragedy just a few days before he was due to be reunited with his new-found sweetheart.

Backpacker Stuart, from Pennyvennie Way, was one of 11 tourists and a guide who perished as they slept in their cabins below deck when their wooden vessel started taking in water while anchored in Halong Bay on Thursday morning. Stuart, 30, paid a few pounds for the voyage on the Truong Hai round the bay, a picture-postcard inlet featuring jagged limestone rock formations which has been used as backdrop in a number of films and was used by Top Gear for a special episode in 2008.

A total of 27, including six crew members and two guides, were on board as the boat cruised round the bay in calm waters before mooring overnight alongside several other vessels with tourists on board. But at around 5am survivors reported seeing a wooden plank on the ship ripping away and then water gushed into the flimsy boat which sank in less than a minute. “I phoned Stuart on the Sunday night and he said he was looking forward to going on a coach trip and then sailing round the bay,” said sister Sarah, 28, a student at Edinburgh University. Sarah, who learned of her brother’s death on the radio after her parents were unable to break the tragic news to her, added that he was due to return to Australia on Monday of this week to see sweetheart Stephanie West whom he met while staying in Sydney. “They had been together since November and it seemed serious,” she added. “Stuart sent e-mails and photos of them back home and was really happy when I spoke to him last Sunday.’

Former Stewarton Academy pupil Stuart set off on a 12-month round-the-world journey last June after being made redundant from his job as a logistics engineer with Hewlett-Packard in Erskine. He worked as a handyman, barman and call-centre worker to fund his travels and planned to come back to Scotland to qualify as an electrician in June before returning to Australia to live with Stephanie who is from Atlanta, Georgia. Tearful mum Rae, 52, said her son was a keen motorbike enthusiast and fitness fanatic who enjoyed running and swimming and was into all the latest technical stuff. “He loved computer games and photography and joined Townend Camera Club in Dreghorn not long before setting off,” she added. “Stuart was just a very adventurous, fun-loving guy who loved life – he was very gutsy. You’d have to be really brave to even think about going round the world like that.”

Dad Bryan, 54, said the family were all devastated by the news and were determined to get to the bottom of the accident. “We had a couple of e-mails from him from Vietnam and he was having a great time and enjoying himself,” she added. “Stuart had an adventurous spirit and thought nothing of setting out on this year abroad. He was trying to go round the world and went to Denmark, Japan and Australia. He always liked trying new things. “But we are concerned about the boat. We don’t know the proper information yet and we ill be following it up.”

Vietnam matriarch, now 92, spread piano culture

By MARGIE MASON, The Associated Press, 23 February 2011

92-year-old Thai Thi Lien was a founder of the music school and an accomplished Western-trained pianist. Today, looking at a tattered black-and-white photo sitting atop the grand piano in her living room, sees herself as a smiling young beauty surrounded by three grinning children. The image is a reminder of that hasty journey in 1965 to seek refuge during the Vietnam War. Thanks in part to Madame Lien, as she's known, a lasting appreciation for classical music was woven into Vietnam's culture. So much so, that the country's first professional concert hall is now being built in honor of this music matriarch.

In the village with no running water or electricity, Vietnam's soggy air and pounding rains ate away at the
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