As you allready know I have bought a motobike. I thought at this point that I should have the license. But no, it was more difficult then I could imagine. I was sent home all the time with unaccomplished missions. If it not was enough photos it was something else that was wrong.

Finally Malin, at the Swedish camp, told me that she know of someone that helps expat´s to get their motobike  license. She did´nt have to twist my arm to get me to hire this man. For 800 000 VND he fixed everything. I just have to go and do the test drive on Sunday. I do not even have to collect the license myself. He deliver it to me when it´s done. I can tell you, it´s worth the money.

I have my motobike, I have bought a brand new helmet and on Sunday I will probably pass the test drive. Viet Nam, here I come.


 
Since we got here I have wanted to buy a "motobike". It´s by far the best way to get around in Ha Noi and the countryside. Why have´nt I got I motobike then, you might wonder. Well, because of Carol´s job we must follow the vietnamese legislations. And the legislations says that foreigners must have a vietnamese driving license. Maybe it was a bit exaggerated. You should follow the rules of society no matter where you are. But what seems to be in Vietnam is that everyone is driving without a license, even some Vietnamese people. As an employee at a embassy and accompanying spouce it is a bit different. We represent Sweden and it´s not good if we not comply with the country's legislations. (And I also think it is a good idea to comply with the legislations when it comes to insurence. If something happens and you have ignored the legistlations your insurence is not valid).

Again, you might wonder, why I do not have got a driving licence yet. I sort of lost my good mood and it is because of changed rules at the embassy. In the middle of the procedure they stopped to help us getting the license. Therefore I got stuck with a list of things to do in order to get the license. I have finally got my, as we say in Sweden "arse out of the wheelbarrow" and tomorrow I will get the official translations of our passports.

The final step to get the license is a testdrive. I have heard a lot of this testdrive. It should not be a problem for me. The test is to go slalom between cones and at the end you have to drive over a bump. I think I will pass with flying colour. But nevertheless, keep  your fingers crossed for me, will you!
Picture
My new motobike!
 
You probably wonder why I´m so late wishing you happy new year. Well, in Viet Nam is Tết celebration (New year) in accordance with the luna calendar and it accurs on the first day of the first month of the Lunar calendar (around late January or early February).

Ha Noi has been crazy for a long time now because of Tết. Everybody is going around buying stuff to give to family and friends. The traffic is horrific. A motobike ride that normally takes 15 minutes, takes another 1 hour (during rush hour). This is the most important holiday/festival in Viet Nam and everything will shut down for a couple of days. We have had to buy all the essentials, like food, before the holiday. Its not like Sweden when you can go to the supermarket on new years eve untill 9 pm.

Today was the last day in school before the leave. There where celebrations and all the parents was invited. The kids performed a play, sang songs and danced. There was also a dragondance performence by the kids and later on there was proffesionals doing the same. I´m so impressed that the teachers get the kids to perform like that. So different from Swedish schools.
Click on the link "read more"  to the right to see more pics.
 
In Việt Nam you use what you have. If you only have a motobike, you use the motobike (thats how you say it in Việt Nam) to everything that goes, like getting your entire family from A to B. And then we have the not so good way of carry stuff. I got my new 40" LED TV delivered to our house on a motobike. I do not understand that they dare. Yesterday I spent the afternoon walking down the road towards UNIS (our boys school) and during this 30 minutes walk I took some pictures of the vietnamese way of carry stuff.
If you look closely you can find me on the picture.

More pics on the link "read more" to your right.
 
Picture
It is so fascinating to walk the alleys of Hanoi. They are numerous, crowded and trafficked. Sometimes it is so narrow that sunlight can not penetrate. Above street level the houses are stretched out and they almost touches the house across the alley. The top floors are in some places just 30 cm away from each other.

The traffic consists of bicycles and motorcycles and the drivers honk all the time to alert pedestrians and other drivers around the corner. I can imagine that during rush hour there are accidents. Its a lot of scratches and damage on the walls at the corners. I am convinced that it is from the motorcycles crashing into the wall.

During my first weeks I got lost all the time. If you give it some time and learn to find your way you will discover amazing things. All of a sudden the narrow alleys opens up and there is a crowded market place with vegetables, meat and fish in every shape you can imagine. And its fresh to. Fish and shrimps splash around in pods and hens cluck in their cages unaware that they are about to be slaughtered.

For those who do not like big open spaces, it is ideal to live here ( This is not to recommend for Ulf Lundell). Most things can be arranged and purchased here. You do not need to leave the alleys. So far, I have seen hairdressers, restaurants, cafes, shops, tailors, massage therapists, dentists, watchmakers, blacksmith, garages and repairshops of all kinds. You name it, its probably there just around the corner.

See more pictures - click on "read more" to your right.

 
Picture
We have been here for 4 weeks now and everything is back to normal. As normal as it gets. At least for Carol and the boys. Carol has started working and the boys have started school. I (Jocke) will not work for 2.5 years which feels a bit strange. However, I will be in charge of the household. As much as possible anyway. We have a maid (Sinh) that does almost everything. We are so lucky to have her. She makes great food.


Our first time was spent waiting. Waiting for our lost luggage. Waiting for the house at Swedish Camp to be ready for moving in. And finally waiting to move back to a house at the embassy. The time we would have had to settle down just vanished. While we have been waiting we have mostly played with the boys. In the pool at the Embassy and then at the Camp. It has been so much swimming that both Ossian and Ruben got inflammation in the external ears. Very common among the children here at the Swedish camp as I understand. The boys are at least much better swimmers now than four weeks ago.

The container with our stuff will arrive within a few days. Then we can finally move into the embassy area and settle in properly. As it is, we have only a very austere set of utensils in the kitschen and we can not really have guests yet.

At first glance, Hanoi is only chaos. Traffic is completely insane and no rules seem to apply. The strange thing is that it seems to work. It is moving forward at a steady 25-30 km/h, almost all the time. It is like a river where the water (traffic) will take the path that creates fewest obstacles. Magnus one of the neighbors here at the Swedish Camp said - "the traffic is organic", and I agree. However, after hours in a taxi I am eager to go out there on my own. It feels a little hard to pay for a taxi when I could get from A to B by myself. I'm ready now. To rent a motorbike is only 300 SEK a month. Thankfully, one of Carols colleagues will give me some assistance to get my license and hopefully I'll have it within a month.

This will end the first post on this website. I will now have a cup of coffee and a piece of banana cake that was baked by Sinh. The best banana cake in the world.