During Kaye´s visit we also went up to the mountains. Tam Dao was close enough for a day trip. Cecilia and David joined us.
It´s a bit tricky to get the boys motivated for a walk in the sticks. But I think they enjoyed the view and fresh cool air. And all the bugs you could find along the path. They were happy at least until they got hungry. We tried the walk 4 km to the waterfall but the snacks we brought for the kids wasn´t enough. We had to turn back to feed them at the local restaurants. Maybe next time we have learned our lesson.
At a quick look Tam Dao´s like a small alpine village in France. The tiny serpentine roads going up the mountain, narrow but high houses on the slopes. Very beautiful. I would like to go there and stay over a weekend. I think there is a nice resort on the slopes somewhere. With a pool.
If you want you can read more and look at pics at the link "read more" down below to your right.
Well, you can´t get enough of Hoi An. We took Kaye there for a couple of days and I hope she enjoyed it as much as we did. Beach, wine, drinks and nice food. What more do you need to keep Kaye happy?! (Maybe a golf course)
We stayed at Little Boutique Hotel and Spa. In town for a change. Usually we stay by the beach. I can highly recommend this hotel. Very nice and friendly staff that did everything to help. When we´ve stayed by the beach we have´nt had enough time to explore old town. We wanted to change that by staying in town. After the really good buffe breakfast at the hotel we headed out to An Bang beach (15 min by taxi) and in the afternoon we headed back to town. I was a little worried that the kids would´nt like to stay in town. But the hotel had a nice little pool that did the trick. (We also bribed them with pocket money to spend in town.)
This time I went on my second photo tour with Hoianphototour.com. A late afternoon tour to a small village outside Hoi An. Looked kind of untouched by tourists. And as always Vietnamese people love to be photographed. A good opportunity to practice street photography in the country side. After the village we took the boat back to town for some low light photography on the streets in old town.
This day the guy who owns the tour company (Etienne) had his grand opening of his gallery. We where invited to go there by Pieter the tour guide/teacher. It was very nice and Etienne looked very happy to see us novices coming to his grand opening. Etienne had taken some pretty nice pics. I wish I can get that good.
If you want to see pictures (mine) and read some more, just click on the link "read more" down to your right.
Last Friday Carol had the day of and the boys was in school. We (and Bonzan) took the opportunity to walk by the Red River on the island "under" Long Bien bridge. This is not what we usually do because the boys is not interested to explore Ha Noi the way we do.
It was nice to see all this greenery And this is only 5 minutes walk from populated area in Ha Noi. Nice.
Jonathans VIP card.
Today me, Jonathan, David and Johan went to Fox Club. If you have a vivid imagination you are probably thinking that this is not a good place for married man to be (see Jonathans VIP card). But it is. If you like to play pool, that is.
As usual we stand no chance against David. He´s just to good. If the other guys shape up a little they give David a challange, but I´m not even close. I suck at pool. But I have a great time with the boys so I do´nt mind at all. We ended our little outing with the best Bun Cha ever.
I took some pictures while we played. Click the link "read more" down below to see them.
For the first time we took the boys to the opera. It was the italien national day on the 2 of June, and they celebrated with an italian opera evening. Italian and vietnamese singers sang some of the most famous aria´s from Italy.
Unfortunately most of them was about tragedies and lost love. Some cheerfull songs would have helped the boys to enjoy it. If you are 7 and 9 it´s hard to like a 10 minutes long very saaaad and painful aria.
When you take the kids to opera you can not be sure to stay the whole evening. We had to leave when it was still half an hour left. The boys where so tired. Ossian had been up since 5:30. Jonah, Ossi´s friend, had a sleep over at our place and he is an early kid.
Anh Trinh (Mr Trinh) one of the local employees at the embassy was so kind to invite us to go with them to Phat Diem Cathedral and Bai Dinh Buddhist temple. It´s 120 km south of Ha Noi and Anh Trinh had rented a small bus to go in. He had also invited Leif och Eva from Sweden. They know each other since the late 80´s. Leif was in Viet Nam for 2 years working.
Anh Trinh and his family had arranged everything so nice. The lunch we had was at a mountain goat restaurant. A very good lunch with beer, and liquor flavored with goat testicles to go with it. The liquor was really nice. It tasted a little bit like anise.
The church is fairly old. It was built in 1890´s. The architect was not an architect according to our tour guide at the church. Nevertheless, he was talented. He was inspired from the old buildings in Hue where he had been living. The church is active and during our visit it was an sermon and the church was almost full.
Bai Dinh Buddhist tempel on the other hand is new. It was built just a couple of year ago. It´s a huge area of 700 ha on a hillside with a spectacular view from the top. It was hot and sweaty to climb all the stairs to the top, but it was worth it. On the way up it is at least 250 statues of monks aligned the stairs. And the same on the way down. It was approximately 500 statues, and they were all worn at their knees. It was because of a lot of people touched the knees of all the statues for good luck. On the way up you could stay on 2 levels with big temples and inside there where big statues of Buddha and people was praying. The Buddha statues is covered in gold. On the top was the biggest temple and inside there where three big statues of Buddha. Also covered in gold. Where do all this money come from?
During our visits we encountered a lot of beggars. In Ha Noi I have only seen 2 and at the church and temple it was a lot. That makes you wonder, why do they have to cover everything in gold. Why not give the money to those who need it the most. Anyway, I think many people would appreciate the statues and ornaments without gold.
If you want to read and see more pics click on the link "read more" to your right.
We went to Mai Chau this longweekend together with a lot of familys. Most of them from the Swedish Camp. JP and Aimee organized the trip and they did a great job. They had rented a homestay for all of us. It was one of those Thai houses on pillars. Under the house was room enought to sit and have our meals.
We went hiking with the kids through the rice fields, rented bikes and went out on the small dirt roads, climbed the long stairs to the cave and we did also some shopping in the village. When its low season the Thai people do handicraft and when the hight season comes they sell it to tourists.
If you can cope with a 4 hours drive one way from Ha Noi I can recommend to go to Mai Chau. Stay at one of the homestays in the village. Its very cheap and the food the house owners prepare for you is very good and the portions are very generous. If you can, bring an extra sleeping pad. The matresses in the houses are very thin. If you´re looking for real beds you can always stay at the lodge. But it`ll cost ya!
See more pictures click the link "read more" to your right.
We, as a family, have decided that on Sundays we will visit parks in Ha Noi area. It seems like a nice way to explore the city with the kids. This Sunday we went to Thống Nhất Park, commonly known as "Lenin Park". If you google Lenin Park you will get info about another park just opposit the Military History Museum. I dont know why everybody call Thống Nhất Park for Lenin Park. Maybe the statue of Lenin was in Thống Nhất Park earlier and then moved to the current Lenin Park.
Read more click on the "read more" link to the right.
Soon we are heading for Sweden. In March/April we will go home for 2 weeks, and the boys are so thrilled about it. They get to meet their friends and go to the mountains for downhill skiing. For that purpose we went to Ha Noi Tower to buy a new ski-jacket for Ruben. After that we went to Hoa Lo Prison which is just around the corner from Ha Noi Tower. It´s a museum showing how the political prisoners, during the french era, was kept and treated in jail. It´s a small museum and we did it in 30 minutes. Our kids thought it was a bit scary so we could not stay and read all the signs and posters. If you have an hour to spare and are near Hai Ba Trung street close to Ha Noi Tower I can recommend this little museum.
Doris, my former colleague from National Food Administration in Sweden ,and her husband visited us when they travelled in Viet Nam. It was really fun to meet somebody from my working days. They had a very busy schedule but they took time off from the group they where traveling with, to meet us. We enjoyd a nice lunch and then we took them to the alleys around Kim Ma and Doi Can. It was not something they normally do with the travel group. They said they enjoyd it much. I keep my fingers crossed for more visitors from work, it was really fun.