Questions & Answers *
* The information below provides pertinent information for our 2020 retreats...
What is a Project Funding Contribution (PFC)?
Separate from registration fees that specifically cover costs of food, transportation and lodging during the retreat, each participant of our Loving Work and Homeland Retreats is asked to raise a minimum of $400 in donations, funds which are used to support the relief work undertaken by the Foundation. The funds cover the costs of the service projects scheduled during the Loving Work retreat, as well as the donations made to other projects, pagodas, and schools we will visit during both retreats.
Why am I asked to raise my PFC (donations) from friends and family?
Sangha building is one of the underlying goals of the Loving Work Foundation. We do this by working at the community level with organizations in Viet Nam, and by creating opportunities for cross-cultural community building through retreats involving meaningful travel and service projects. We extend this intention of community building by asking participants to raise the PFC from their local Sanghas, families and communities. We call this process of involving others, "friend- raising". This is a way of infusing the process with community spirit and intention. And, like the Buddha and his monastic Sangha who offered their lay community the opportunity to practice generosity during Alms Rounds, we do the same when we offer our family and friends the opportunity to support loving work with a financial donation. We remind them that no amount is too small; the spirit in which a gift is given is all that really matters. (Read Callista's "Adventures in Friend-Raising" on the Shared Experiences page of this website. See instructions at the bottom of this page for options on how to friend-raise your donation.)
What if I have no mindfulness or meditation experience?
While our program leaders and many participants have a deep connection to mindfulness practice and the Plum Village tradition, we welcome retreatants from a variety of backgrounds and experiences. We do ask particpants to refrain from drinking alcohol or smoking, or consuming any animal products for the duration of the retreats.
Can I attend the retreat if I'm not a vegetarian?
Yes; however, we do ask that you keep to a plant-based diet while on retreat. Participants are also asked to refrain from drinking alcohol or smoking. The food on retreat is fresh and wholesome. When necessary we can accommodate a gluten-free diet.
What about the use of cash or credit cards during the retreats?
If you have an ATM card, we advise that you bring it with you. If not, you may want to ask your bank about issuing one. ATM machines are every where, dispensing Viet Nam Dong (VND). We also recommend that you bring $150-$175 US dollars with you in cash; CASH ONLY in USD will be needed upon arrival at the airport in Viet Nam for your Visa stamp, IF you have chosen the Visa- on-Arrival option (more on this in the Essential Information section of this website). Visa and Master Card are accepted everywhere; American Express is accepted only at some places. Important! Alert your credit card company that you will be using it in Viet Nam so they know it has not been stolen.
What immunizations do you recommend ?
Regarding immunizations, we recommend that you check with the Center for Disease Control, if you are a US citizen, and/or follow your personal health care provider's recommendations regarding immunizations for travelers from your country to Viet Nam. We are unable to offer medical advice and guidance. We expect each retreat participant to take precautions, based on your personal health status and your physician's guidance and recommendations. The country of Viet Nam imposes no particular requirements on visitors to the country.
Are there issues with mosquitos?
Mosquitos are not a problem in town. Dengue Fever is around, though rare. Bring repellant with Deet and wear long-sleeves, long-pants, and socks when in rural areas.
What kind of clothing do you recommend?
Light-weight shirts (long and short sleeve). Long pants or LONG shorts; skirts of mid-calf length. Light sweater; light wind-breaker, and/or waterproof jacket or poncho. Good walking sandals; one pair closed-toe walking/gardening shoes. Gardening gloves (for Loving Work folks.)
Should I bring my OI jacket?
Retreatants who are members of the OI (Order of Inter-being in the Plum Village Tradition) are asked to bring their brown OI jackets.
Should I bring my meditation cushion?
No. We will provide meditation cushions for you (and yoga mats, as well). There is no need to bring your own. That can be quite a challenge for packing light!
Can I bring gifts to give to children?
We will use some of the donation funds to purchase gifts for the children. IF you wish to bring some small gifts, we will present them to the schools we visit, to be used in the classrooms. We discourage bringing gifts for individual children, since we run the risk of disappointing some, if we encounter more children than we can gift.
Is travelers health insurance required for attendance?
YES. We do require that all retreat participants arrange health insurance/travel insurance for themselves for the duration of the retreats. This can be done for a very reasonable cost when purchasing your international ticket. One friend became ill during the retreat, had to be hospitalized, and he and his partner then chose to return home. They were very happy to have bought insurance which covered all their expenses, including the cost of the week of retreat for which they had paid, but were forced to miss.
Can you recommend things to do with extra time in my schedule?
For the Loving Work Retreat 2020 – Our retreat officially begins at 16:00 (4 PM), 06 March in Hue City. (We will make arrangements to fly you from Hanoi, your international point-of-entry. Those of us who arrive in Hue prior to the 6th of March will go together on the morning of the 6th to visit Temple Tu Hieu and Dieu Tram Nunnery. We ask that you arrive at the Hanoi Airport, AT THE LATEST, by mid-day on 06 March. We will meet you at the international terminal of the Hanoi airport .
Those interested in sight-seeing in HaNoi prior to the retreat or following the retreat should arrive several days prior to 06 March. Tell us on your 'Travel Form' (which we will send you), if you need extra hotel nights in Hanoi or Hue..We will book those nights for you. You pay at check out. Our retreat hotel in Hanoi is the Sunline Hotel at 18 Bao Khanh Street, city center. In Hue, our retreat hotel is the Hue Riverside Eco-resort.
For the Homeland Retreat - Our retreat officially begins at 16:00 (4 PM) when we meet at our Retreat 'Home' in Hue City for Tea, Introductions, and Orientation.
Recommended Places of Interest in HaNoi:
Special Exhibition of the Calligraphies of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (venue to be announced);
Ca Tru Traditional Music Performance
Can you help with additional hotel accommodations if needed?
We can happily arrange extra nights for you at our retreat hotels in Hanoi and in Hue, making use of our discounted room rates at those hotels.Indicate dates on the 'Travel Form' we will send you.
What is a Day of Mindfulness?
A Day of Mindfulness is a practice of the Plum Village Tradition when practitioners come together to enjoy various mindfulness activities, including: Sitting Meditation, Dharma Talk, Mindful Walking, Mindful Eating, Deep Relaxation and Dharma sharing.
What is the Plum Village Tradition?
Plum Village is the name of a tradition of Buddhism that embraces practices of Mindfulness Meditation (Zen) and Engaged Buddhism, as taught by the Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Naht Hanh (who is affectionately called "Thay", meaning "Honored Teacher" in Vietnamese). Thay has founded monastic communities and practice centers on six continents. In addition, there are dozens of lay communities all over the globe that practice in the Plum village tradition. For more information, visit: www.plumvillage.org
Registration Fees, including Deposit, Refund Policy
07 January 2020 is the final date for FULL REFUND upon request. After that date, any costs already incurred on your behalf that are non-refundable to us will be withheld, plus a USD 50 Administrative fee. We depend on our friends to make their deposits "in good faith", with the full intention of joining us. We do understand, that the best plans can be disrupted.
What expenses are covered in the registration fees?
Loving Work Retreat –ALL expenses during the time of our 14-Night,15-Day retreat: Hotel accommodations in Hue, Dong Ha, She Danh, Hoi An, and in Hanoi; All excursions listed in the final itinerary (provided in confirmation materials); All airport transfers, upon arrival & departure of your international flight in Hanoi AND upon arrival at Hue airport, ; All meals; All entrance tickets; All domestic airline tickets; All ground transportation; All tips (exception: recommended tip of $50 - $75 for our Retreat Coordinator); Dana for the two practice leaders.
Togetherness Retreat - ALL expenses during the time of the retreat (Nine Nights): Two nights hotel accommodations in Viet Nam + seven nights in Dorm accommodations in Plum Village Thailand; International flight from Hanoi to Bangkok to Hanoi (or to Hue for those who will continue on to join the Homeland Retreat); All ground transportation; All meals.
Homeland Retreat – ALL expenses during the time of the retreat (16-Nights, 17-days): Hotel accommodations for in Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi, Yen Tu Mountain, Ninh Binh, and again in Hanoi; Travel within Viet Nam (all domestic airline tickets, bus, vans, afternoon cruise on Ha Long Bay, bicycles); All airport transfers, including the Hanoi airport for your arrival and departure on your international flight and upon your arrival in Hue; All excursions listed in final itinerary (provided in confirmation materials); All meals; Therapeutic massage; All tips (exception: recommended tip of $50 - $75 for our Retreat Coordinator); Dana for the two practice leaders.
What additional expenses should I plan for?
Consider the following additional expenses in your planning:
Loving Work Retreat – The cost of your Tourist Visa. The amount is dependent upon whether you are also attending the Togetherness Retreat which will require you to have a Multiple Entry visa Non-US citizens must check online for visa requirements for your country. Complete instructions regarding your options for obtaining a visa will be sent to you in mid-January.
Dana for Practice Leaders (the amount is totally at your discretion); Tip for Retreat Coordinator (Suggestion: USD 50-75); Extra hotel nights if you elect to arrive early or extend your stay. Cost of Sunline Hotel, 18 Bao Khanh Street in Hanoi is about USD 75/night, Cost of Hue Riverside Eco-Resort is about USD 55; Optional excursions; Discretionary spending; Hotel mini-bar; Personal laundry.
Togetherness Retreat - No Visa required for Thailand; Discretionary spending in Plum Village Book & Gift Shop; Dana for the Practice Center (not required).
Homeland Retreat – Visa costs and options for obtaining are the same as for Loving Work Retreat (Complete instructions will be sent to you mid-January); Dana for two practice leaders; Tip for Retreat Coordinator (Suggestion: $50 - $75); Extra hotel nights; Optional excursions; Discretionary spending; Hotel mini-bar; Personal laundry.
What is dana?
Dana is a Sanskrit and Pali word that connotes, in Indian traditions, the virtue of generosity, charity, or giving alms. In Buddhist traditions, Dana is an offering made from the heart, in gratitude for receiving teachings or spiritual guidance. The practice leaders for our tours are not paid a salary and do not charge a fee for the services they provide. Participants are encouraged to consider making an offering to the practice leaders.
What kind of accommodations can I expect?
Loving Work Retreat – During the LWR 2020, our 'home' will be a resort beside the Perfume River, near the ancient city of Hue. The Hue Riverside Resort sits on 11 acres of landscaped gardens. The hotel has their own organic vegetable garden and organic fruit trees (pomelo, avocado, mango, starfruit, bananas, papaya, jackfruit, and more). In Hoi An, we will stay in a boutique hotel (the Christina) beside the river, steps away from Tra Que Vegetable Village. Our hotel in Dong Ha City is a lovely city hotel. Our hotel in Khe Sanh will be a bit simpler, but clean and comfortable. All of our hotels are good quality, either 3* or 4*, with a swimming pool, full-service restaurant, and the amenities one expects of a tourist hotel.
Togetherness Retreat - Accommodations in Plum Village are basic, but very pleasant and comfortable (the women's dormitory is new and very modern. They are dormitory-style, with plentiful bath facilities on each hall.
Homeland Retreat 2020 – All of our hotels are lovely and comfortable and of good quality.
Will I be able to access the internet?
Yes, all our hotels have good (and free) internet access, as do many cafes.
Will laundry service be available?
Yes, all our hotels offer fast and inexpensive service.
Will there be global telephone / cell phone service?
Talk with your service provider to learn your options. Our laptops will be available, with Skype, which can be used to call any telephone number, anywhere.
What do I need to know about meal times?
Lunch and dinner are opportunities to practice Mindful Eating. We begin by observing Noble Silence during the first 20 minutes. We ask that you maintain a plant-based diet during the retreat, and refrain from alcohol consumption and smoking.
What kind of transportation will be involved in our travels?
In our two weeks together, we will practice ‘mindful walking’ and ‘mindful bike-riding’ (optional), ‘mindful-motorbike-riding‘ (optional and as a passenger, of course!), ‘mindful taxi-riding’, ‘mindful bus-riding,’ and 'mindful flying' and, for those on the Homeland Retreat, 'mindful cruising' on Ha Long Bay, and 'mindful kayaking'. The practice of mindful breathing combined with the organizers’ careful scheduling of our activities and periods of rest guarantee a relaxing experience. All domestic flights will be on Vietnam Airlines, an excellent airline with an excellent safety record spanning decades. If you have mobility concerns, please indicate this on your Registration Form.
What if I can't ride a bicycle, or if I have other mobility concerns?
Our retreats involve a considerable amount of physical activity, both in our service projects and in the travel and site-seeing activities we organize. Please indicate on your Registration Form, if you have specific mobility concerns. We can arrange for you to ride by motorbike in the Hue/Hoi An area (not in the big city) driven by our local friends. Motorbikes are a favorite and most commonly used mode of transportation; however, taxis are also an option.
I've paid my deposit. How do I complete my registration payment?
Loving Work Retreat – Final payment of the balance of your registration fee is due no later than 07 January, 2020.
Make payment via PayPal to: .Be sure to indicate to "family or friends', since we are a non-profit charitable organization. We will bill you, if PayPal takes a fee from your payment. We hope you understand our need to receive the full amount of your registration fee. We also offer the payment option of a bank wire transfer. A Payment Option document will accompany your Registration form.
Togetherness Retreat - Final payment of the balance of your registration fee is due no later than 07 January, 2020.
(See above comments regarding how to submit your fee)
Homeland Retreat – Final Payment of the balance of your registration fee is due no later than 07 January, 2020.
(See above comments regarding how to submit your fee)
Are scholarships available to help cover registration costs?
Due to the generoslty of our friends, we can offer ONE SCHOLARSHIP PER RETREAT to cover all that is included in the Registration Fees. (Not included: the cost of international airfare, the cost of the Viet Nam visa, Dana for the practice leaders, a tip for the Retreats Coordinator, and all other items listed in the Fees and Expenses Document as "Excluded.") And, of course, we ask that scholarship recipients, like all of our participants, raise a minimum of $400 USD in donations from family, friends, and community. These funds, which are given in the spirit of the practice of Generosity, support the work of improving the lives of children and families in Viet Nam.
TO APPLY: email lovingwork with the following information:
1.Which retreat you wish to attend.
2. A short statement explaining the personal financial circumstances that support your application.
3. A short statement about what this opportunity means to you.
APPLICATION DUE NO LATER THAN 30 OCTOBER, 2019, for retreats in 2020.
The committee will make every effort to respond to you within 3 weeks. We advise that you make no travel arrangements until you have had a response from us.
How is this organization funded?
As a 501(c)(3) non-profit charitable organization, we have two means of financial support. The first comes through donations from around the world, made by compassionate supporters of our work. The second is our relationships with Tourism suppliers in Viet Nam allow us to provide a quality retreat experience, comprised of plant-based, fresh & delicious food, safe and modern ground transportation, group domestic airline tickets, and comfortable, exceptionally clean and modern accommodations. Skillful negotiation allows us to fund the retreat expenses of our Co-Practice leaders (Excluding International Travel to Viet Nam which all of us pay from our personal funds), while keeping our Registration Fees as low as possible. We endeavor to keep administrative costs as low as possible. On average, only 10% - 15% of funds received are used for administrative purposes. While our practice leaders do not charge for their work, we do pay a reasonable fee to our Retreats Coordinator and to our 2020 Registrar. Any funds not spent on work projects or administrative costs are allocated to a Discretionary Relief Fund, from which we can offer additional financial assistance in circumstances of need brought to our attention by our partnering community agencies. Our aspiration is to make the greatest possible impact with the generous donations we receive.
Are donations tax deductible?
The Loving Work Foundation is a 501c(3) registered in the United States. US donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.
What is the best way to make a donation?
We accept donations, on line, through our PayPal account set up for that purpose. Log on to PayPal.com and enter the address . So that we can avoid paying fees, please indicate your funds are going to "friends/family".Some friends have arranged with PayPal to make monthly contributions. Bank Wire Transfer is also an option for one-time giving (Email us at lovingworkdonations.com for bank details.)