Ho Chi Min City

The contrast from tranquil Koh Lanta to busy Ho Chi Min City is huge. We have never seen so many mopeds in one place before. Never ending river of traffic. Took a while to figure out how to cross the streets.

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Rush hour

We stayed in a cute little apartment in District 3, with our lovely airbnb host Oanh. We could not have picked a better place to stay. She made us breakfast, dinner and took us out to local noodle restaurants and a rooftop restaurant we would never have found on our own. And she had the nicest little cat named Chiba. Lucas would rather stay in the apartment and play with the cat than to go out.

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At a local noodle restaurant. BBQ our food on grill made from a paint tin and a clay pot. Not many tourists at this place. Great food and a new experience for us.

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Oanh has her own cooking classes in her apartment and makes fantastic food and coffee.

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Lucas and Chiba BFF´s

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We strolled the city center on Saturday.

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Detectives solving a blackmail case.

Sunday we went to Escape Hunt. A game where you need to solve a mystery to get out of a room. Look for clues and solve riddles. We escaped on overtime but had a fun hour! The whole family had a blast.

Monday we went up Saigon river in  speedboat to visit the Cu Chi tunnels. The immense network of connecting underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the war. The boat ride it self was a neat experience. Seeing the city and the rural areas going up the river.

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Going up the river.

Parts of the Cu Chi tunnels is restored and is a popular tourist attraction. Some of the tunnels are three times wider than the original, so the tourists don`t get stuck in there. Lucas had the right size so he crawled in and took pictures for the whole group.

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Lucas had the right size for the tunnels.

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The tunnels were made in several floors and were laid out like a maze.

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Coming out from one of the tunnels.

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Some of the traps that the Viet Cong made for the americans.

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One of the american tanks that was destroyed by the Viet Cong.

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Making rice paper.

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Did you know that cashew came from a fruit? It´s only one cashew nut in one fruit.

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The people of Ho Chi Min City are very friendly.

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Noodle soup.

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The Ben Thanh market.

We like to see more of  Vietnam. Next time we go north.

Loy Krathong and monks

November 6 we celebrated Loy Krathong festival here on Koh Lanta. Loy Krathong is a festival celebrated annually throughout Thailand and parts of Burma and Laos. The name could be translated as “to float a basket”, and comes from the tradition of making krathong or buoyant, decorated baskets, which are then floated on a river. Loy Krathong takes place on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the traditional Thai lunar calendar. In the Western calendar this usually falls in November. The traditional krathong are made from a slice of the trunk of a banana tree. On the night of the full moon, Thais launch their krathong on a river, canal or a pond, making a wish as they do so. The festival may originate from an ancient ritual paying respect to the water spirits. People sometime cut their fingernails or hair and place the clippings on the krathong as a symbol of letting go of past transgressions and negative thoughts. Many Thai people use the krathong to thank the Goddess of Water. In school the children and parents made beautiful Krathong´s from banana tree trunks, banana leafs, candles and lots and lots of flowers. In the afternoon we went to Old Town to watch the Loy Krathong parade and visit the market. After dark we put the krathongs on the water.

2014-11-06 09.20.59Lucas working on his krathong

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Lucas’s class with their beautiful krathongs.

From the parade in Old Town

Food market in Old Town

From the market. You could buy different types of krathongs.

The krathongs in the water.

Lucas and his friends from school.

Today three buddhist monks came to Sanuk to bless the school and the school year. They chanted and blessed the kids and adults with holly water. Yesterday the children learned how to behave around buddhist monks. Cover shoulders and knees, hide the soles of your feet. Do not stand up tall so that you are taller than the monks , etc. Better than learning from a book.

2014-11-13 04.35.53The monks

2014-11-13 05.12.20Lucas’s classmates and teacher after the ceremony.

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Parents and kids were blessed with water.

Tomorrow we leave Koh Lanta to go to Saigon for 5 days. We will keep you posted.

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Almost forgot the sunset.

Active Lanta life

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Where did the time go? Some of us have been here for over two months already, it seems like we just got here. The weeks just fly by. Time for a new update on Lanta life. As I mentioned in the previous post we have quite an active life here compared to home. Living in a little bungalow, the need for outdoor life is a no brainer. The choices of sports and activities here are almost endless. Here is some of the sports we do during the weeks and weekends.

2014-10-08 11.49.50Kids yoga at Oasis yoga.

2014-10-19 01.12.35Efit training for kids. Photo Lanta Workout

Lucas does kids yoga in Oasis Yoga and Efit training with Anna and Johan from Lanta Workout on the beach on Saturdays. There is also football on the beach once a week. He also have PE in school twice a week.

For the adults there is volleyball with the parents in school twice a week. Bos has been the most active in the volleyball arena. AE does yoga twice a week and aqua cross fit, Efit training on the beach and sometimes Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). Not to bad for a sofa-potato.

2014-10-02 10.48.11Volleyball at Slow Down.

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Efit training on the beach. Photo: Lanta Workout

Aqua cross fit. Photo: Lanta Workout

There is still a lot of time to relax. Or “henga” in swedish. Here is one of our favorite places to hang-out.

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Hanging out at Somewhere Else on Long Beach.

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Can`t complain about the view.

The low season is over and almost every restaurant has opened now. Lots of choices both on the beach and by the road. The weather is getting better by the day. We still get some heavy downpour but more and more seldom.

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After a heavy downpour it seems like we have a beachfront bungalow.

Another sign that high season has started is the number of pupils in Lucas’s school. When we arrived there were 5 pupils. Last week was school holiday and when school started again on today there were a huge crowd of happy kids. Lucas’s class is not getting bigger, he is in a long-stay class with other kids that are here for a longer period of time.

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From the Storyline project that ended before the holiday. The kids built a zoo, and did research on one specie each. Lucas’s animal was butterflies.

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Making drill stick with the parents.

One of the best thing about being here is all the great people we get to meet and become friends with. Here we are no longer the odd ones that takes off from our home country and spends a year in Thailand. The people we meet here have very similar stories. Some are here for a school year like us, some are for a couple of months. They have all taken a break from regular life to experience something different. There is always something going on during the weeks. Friday we were at the opening of ThaimOut restaurant. A very nice evening with a lot of people from school.

Some of the moms from school having breakfast at one of the more upscale hotels. Photo: Rhedins

On the downside there is also a lot of goodbyes. A couple of days ago we had to say goodbye to our only Norwegian friends; the NoMadFamily, and wish them a great journey around the world. Luckily they only live one hour from us in Norway, so we are definitely going to see them again. Going to miss them thou..

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Have a great journey, Paul, Stine, Leon and Jack!

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My office. Do not complain about an open office..

I will try to update the blog more frequently but as mentioned before, days goes by so fast..

2014-10-30 18.01.03No blog post is complete without a sunset photo. There is so many to choose from. How about this one?