Saturday, August 15, 2015

On to Thailand

For the last week we have been in Thailand. In so many ways it is the same as Vietnam, yet so different. Thailand is much richer than Vietnam, yet you can still see people living in very poor conditions all over the place. I think it would be easy to hide yourself from the poverty if you stayed in the right parts of cities, but we have chosen to ride trains through the country. The poverty is prevelant along the railroad tracks. Just as it is prevelant along the rivers in Vietnam.

The people of Thailand seem less friendly than Vietnamese even though Thailand is considered the land of smiles. This has surprised us. 

As expected Buddhism is visually obvious here as it was in Vietnam, too. You can find a Buddhist temple in every neighborhood and statues are proudly displayed throughout the country. To be Thai is to be Buddhist just like to be Southern is to be Christian, but just like in America I feel like it is just the thing to say. It means nothing to so many.

We have traveled to three cities here by train. Elijah of course loved that experience. We were even able to visit a zoo in one city, Korat. The boys enjoyed the change of pace and getting to see some fun animals. The animal feeding times were quite entertaining because they make their animals work for their food.

Thailand has also been a time plagued with sickness. Elijah, Isaiah and I have all battled congestion and Elijah has been sick to his stomach. This has caused us to have a few days of just staying in the hotel while Mitchell went exploring. Hopefully we are on the mend.

We are back in Bangkok now for the rest of our stay. We will have a chance to visit a Thai church with a missionary couple here tomorrow and have a few days of rest before heading home.

Elijah is excited about the train ride.

The boys at the zoo.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Back to Ho Chi Minh

Well, we have been back in Ho Chi Minh City for a few days. We will leave out tomorrow for Thailand, but we felt we needed to spend a fewore days here.

Today we were able to travel around and find out housing prices in a few different districts of the city. Of course as foreigners the real estate agent believes we have lots of money. All the places she showed us were beautiful, but out of our price range. Seeing these apartments did give us hope though of what we might be able to find in our range.

We have also had a chance to take Mitchell's family to a nice restaurant here in the city to say thanks for all the help they have provided us during our stay. The food was delicious and cost less than $7 a person. You can't beat that.

We visited a few Western markets here to see what comfort foods we could make. Let's just say there will be no Mexican in our future unless I can make taco shells myself. One box of taco shells=$7.00

The boys have enjoyed the city since there a few playgrounds here and a splash pad. Mitchell and I also had a wonderful visit with a young expecting mother in the park the other day while the boys played.

Tonight we will go get our last fix of Vietnamese food and then it is on to Thailand.

American spices in Vietnam. They are just as expensive here.

A Catholic Church we visited in Saigon.

Elijah loves the outdoor exercise equipment at the park. Hey, you don't have to pay a gym fee!

Aunt's House

When we are not traveling between cities we have been staying a day here and a day there with Mitchell's aunt. This really gives the children a chance to play. She has two granddaughters the boys are able to play with also. Of course neither can understand what the other is saying, but they still enjoy playing together. Elijah especially likes their scooter and bike. Isaiah just likes having plenty of space to crawl around.

This also gives Mitchell an opportunity to get some work done and for me to get laundry washed and to repack for the next leg of our journey. We also get some home cooked Vietnamese food.

We so appreciate everything she has done for us!

Aunt with the boys

Playing at Aunt's house

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Can Tho

Next our travels took us to Can Tho. This is a large city of about 3 million people. It has the Mekong river running through it. 

We enjoyed this city because it offered many opportunities, but was not as crowded at Ho Chi Minh City. We both felt like we would actually be comfortable driving a scooter here. :) 

While here we were able to visit two parks; one along the river and the other in town. The one along the river seemed to be a night time place with some tourists. The other was more daytime and only Vietnamese. Mitchell and his cousin Naldo had a good conversion with a lady that was people watching at the park. We are finding that parks are a great place to strike up conversations and the boys make it super easy to do. Everyone wants to touch them and say how cute they are.

Elijah decided he wanted some fruit while we were there and we walked to a little fruit stand. The man who owned the stand had a young son that was just learning English. He had his son speak with Elijah. Elijah still doesn't know what to do in those situations, but he is getting better. The man also said Elijah had a good eye for which fruit was ready since Elijah picked out his own food. That was a fun experience for Elijah. 

We also visited a shopping warehouse called Metro. It is German owned and offered us some comforts from home and gave us another opportunity to see what we an purchase here. Elijah's favorite...chocolate muffins.

Isaiah was back to his normal self in Can Tho and was staring to eat us out of house and home. Mitchell's aunts love how much he eats and just keep feeding him and feeding him.
Hotel viewing Can Tho

My Tho

Our next stop on our trip was to a small town south of Ho Chi Minh City called My Tho. Small is relative. It's population is around 500,000. According to Vietnam standards this is small.

We went to the park each morning and this was a location where Mitchell had an opportunity to speak to a teacher of English two mornings in a row. The man had retired from teaching and went to the park each morning. Mitchell had great conversations with this man in English and hoped it would lead to more, but it did not.

While in My Tho, we were also able to visit a market, much like our farmer's market with the addition of raw meat hanging in some stalls, grains being measured out in others, and clothes being sold in others. We even found a "pet store" stall. This is also were you should always be aware of your surroundings because you might just back into a hot muffler from a scooter!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Ho Chi Minh City

For the next leg of our journey, we traveled to Ho Chi Minh City. For those that don't understand, Ho Chi Minh is like the New York City of Vietnam.

We would be staying here by ourselves with no translator. Which worked out well since the city is where the most people speak enough English to converse. This is also where many of the colleges are located and many of their students wander the city looking for foreigners, mostly Australians, to practice their English. In Vietnam knowing English equals a better paying job.

We stayed in District 7, which is one of the safer areas of town and we were blessed enough to find a hotel right across the street from a park. This allowed the boys to get out some energy and surprisingly enough there was even a splash pad there. It also made for a great meeting place for Mitchell to meet with some contacts we had in Ho Chi Minh.

We spent our days here in meetings, walking and playing in the park and wandering the streets to get a feel for the people. Vietnamese are very friendly and will openingly come up to you and start speaking. In one restaurant the waitress actually picked Isaiah up and walked around with him. 

Ho Chi Minh was also a chance for us to eat some comfort food. We had pizza, burgers and even Mexican food. Were they as good as back home? Did some of the recipes get lost in translation? No comment. But I do have to say I was pretty impressed by their attempts using what they can get here.

Our last day in Vietnam, Mitchell's aunt took us to a nice grocery store so we could see what items we would be able to purchase there. I was pleasantly surprised by what we could get and the price of the items. Most of them were about the same as America which is very expensive for here. Probably not going to be buying maple syrup here since it ran $12-$15 dollars! 

Here are some photos from our stay in Ho Chi Minh City: 
At the splash pad one morning.

Vietnamese high chair, these are rare.

Power lines

It is an adventure trying to cross the street with no cross walk lights. You just go for it, and they will move out of your way.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


We are blessed to have Mitchell's family to help us in Vietnam.

When you arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, no one is allowed in the airport without a ticket. So, when you walk through the airport doors, it is like getting bombarded by the paparrazi. It was so nice to see some familiar faces in the mass of people. Several of Mitchell's aunts, uncles and cousins were there to greet us.

Mitchell's aunt, Co Bi, has let us stay at her home throughout our stay in Vietnam. We will be traveling to different places during our stay here, but she will be our home base. Thankfully, she is also letting us do laundry at her home, too. And, serving us good food.

Also, Mitchell has two cousins, Tao and Naldo, that speak English very well. They have been our translators. Naldo has volunteered, or his mother volunteered him, to travel with us and translate.

The second day we were here, we had the opportunity to visit with Mitchell's family at what they still call Grandfather's home. Mitchell's grandfather and grandmother have both passed away, but some of the family still own the home. This was just a day of family fellowship.

We are thankful for family that can help us out.