Okay. I KNOW it's 2016. And I know we live in Idaho now. YOU may not know that, if you are a random person, but I'm fairly certain no random person reads this blog nowadays, so I don't think it's a shock to anyone to hear that. And I really don't think there's much blog traffic nowadays in general, but IF you have read this before, and IF you have stumbled, in amazement, back on here, you should still not be surprised to hear me say:
I'm so very, very behind!!! But this is for us to look back on later, so it's gonna go up anyway! We went to Vietnam in November 2014, while still living in Okinawa, with the McHendricks. Also, we went to Cambodia. But this post is just about Vietnam, so... yeah... Forward, ho!
Our first stop was the Cu Chi Tunnels, near Ho Chi Minh City. They're part of the elaborate network of tunnels underneath much of the country, and were used by the Viet Cong during the war.
Nuala trying out a tunnel entrance.
A captured American tank. In times of peace they make great climbing playgrounds.
I think that should be their main purpose, myself.
It was definitely an interesting experience, watching the video at the museum. It was so very, very, biased. Against the Americans. Which is to be expected, of course, but it was still somewhat disconcerting. Kids = BIG EYES.
Megan and Reika! Cuteness. They were a bonus attraction for all the other tourists there.
Nuala, Maeve, and Fiona by some Viet Cong dolls.
I like this pic... The five mobile kids, all after the orange kitty cat. "HaHA! Suckers! You'll never catch me!" And they didn't.
Going down into the tunnels... They were tight! I know I have a pic showing that better... hmmmm... well, if it doesn't pop up here anytime, just know that even Maeve had to bend over often, going through the tunnels!
Ahhhh... exhaustion... at dinner time...
Outside the building where we went to the local branch. It was so cool. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Attending the local LDS church while in different countries is one of my favorite parts of our adventures! The Vietnamese members were so kind and welcoming, and it was neat seeing the hymns in Vietnamese (and hearing them! Though we just sang in English. Shocker.). They even had a bunch of pictures up on a bulletin board of the Young Women from the branch at their YW Camp. It's just so cool, seeing how much alike the gospel makes us, even while we are all so different!
Ahhh, the hymn book!
Oh, and here's a farther away shot of the house the church meets in. It was so pretty!
At a post office. Writing postcards. Some to various grandparents, some to themselves. I wish we'd done this in every country! Had the kids write themselves a postcard and mail it from the country we were in! N&B loved getting them! M wished she could go back in time and NOT be stubborn and actually write one to herself. TOLD YOU SO, MAEVE.
Another tired eating picture. Stopping to eat let everyone's exhaustion catch up! Leif and Maeve. And another Vietnamese kitty.
We went to a water puppet show one night. It was so fun! The puppeteers (next pic) are behind that curtain, and there are long sticks attached to the underside of the puppets that they use to move them. It was colorful and musical (there are some of the musicians, off to the left) and definitely a different experience!
Maeve and Leif, good little car buddies!
The boys, a-jumpin' into the pool at one of our hotels.
There's Zachariah, Bran, Rijen, and little Leif, with his head... unfortunately placed...
Now the girls' turn! Me, Maeve, Megan and Reika, Fiona, and Nuala... good times...
I just had to take a picture of this talented napper. That is some serious balance/confidence. *Slow applause*
Fresh juices!! So good. Nuala's is watermelon... Maeve's... shoot. Pineapple? Orange?
BranMan and Leif, sharing some coconut milk.
We went to the War Remnants Museum. Lots of tanks and planes and helicopters. Lots of exhibits detailing the horrors of the war, and not just of the American part of it, but how the Vietnamese government treated their own people.
Also very sad pictures of the results of Agent Orange, etc.
It really was an eye-opener for Nuala. I kind of didn't want her to walk through that exhibit, but in the end decided it was important, and she really wanted to.
Now I awkwardly will try to transition back to: Yay! Fun stuff! Oh, but this first picture is less "yay" or "fun," and more just... stuff...
I mean, look at those!!! Really. Look them in the eyes. Because you can.
This is a piece of squid... mmmmm... Okay, so we took a little cruise out into Halong Bay -- just us. The McHendricks and ourselves. Beautiful. So beautiful. Lunch was served on board, and we requested not much seafood, because we knew that a lot of THAT sorta stuff would not go over well. Which it didn't. But we tried so hard to be appreciative and not wasteful. I cannot, canNOT eat shrimp-type things. I'm gagging now just thinking about them. And then to have their FACES still attached? Wow. You likely will be amazed to hear that I did actually RIP one apart, like you're supposed to, and ate it. Bran and Maeve ate some of everything, because we're big into "you will try it once!!!" Nuala, the stinker, would not touch anything ocean-related. I mean, I get it, I do. But she was angrily adamant, in a very aggravating way (brought to you by the letter A!). Zac pretty much ate the whole plate of shrimp you see up there, besides the three that Bran, Maeve, and I... enjoyed. And it was piled EVEN higher. Whatta guy.
We stopped at a little island with a cave. And a bunch of other boats and tourists. The cave was fun, as caves tend to be. This was a cute pic of M and Z. See? Cute.
The shame! THIS is the only picture I have of our whole group!!!! The only one. But here we are. Rijen and Megan and their kiddos: Leif, Fiona, Reika. And us. Sigh. We miss them so much!!! They were the best neighbors and friends and travel buddies we could have asked for. Plus they have *fabulous* taste in names. I do not doubt that we have more adventures in store together in the future...
And just them. We hiked up a million stairs. I think Leif felt like there were 4 million. But we were rewarded with a lovely view.
And the acquaintance of a lovely Australian couple. The husband let Maeve take his picture.
I don't know why I didn't end up with any pictures showing the girls' shirts better, but this adorable one will have to do. Megan got about a thousand. It was quite the photo shoot. Meg got them these coordinating shirts, and they looked so casually perfect for SE Asia. Perfect. Leif's trying to get in on the kissing action. Can't blame him.
Look for Nuala on the cover of... shoot, here I am, trying to be clever, and I can't think of a fancy magazine for her to be on the cover of! Vogue? Nooo... I think National Geographic Traveler is more up her alley... Or maybe Cute Goofballs... That's totally one, right?
Awwww... baby Reika!
Here Maeve was demonstrating how one smooches one's biceps to highlight their amazingness...
I like this one of the girlies. Those are Nuala's elephant pants, purchased in Cambodia. (We went to Cambodia in the middle of the Vietnam visiting. So, Vietnam-->Cambodia-->north Vietnam). Zac likes to call them, "local pants." I, ahem, got some, as well.
Maeve's feet. Oh, goodness, this child. What went wrong with her sandals on this trip? I can't remember... see how terrible it is to not write it up immediately? You forget! I think, since we went in November, she hadn't been wearing her summer sandals as regularly (which would be weird, b/c November is clearly still sandal season in Okinawa), or we moved her up to some of Nuala or Bran's outgrown ones? and they didn't fit just right? Anyway, I think she was getting blisters, so for a few days there at the end of the trip (okay, maybe just one day! I hope. Otherwise we are really terrible parents.) she was walking around barefoot. In SE Asia. Which plenty of kids and people do, but still is probably not the best idea if you have other options. I think it was actually just this one day, while doing Halong Bay. Then we got back to our hotel, cleaned one of her feet, took a picture of them both to show how black the bottoms were, and then bought her some little shoes the following day. Yep, that's what happened. But... Look how dirty! There. That's the whole point of that picture.
Pho! Because VIETNAM. It was tasty. And cheap. Which = AWESOME.
On a little bridge, with a pretty fish mosaic.
At the Hanoi Hilton. These statues of prisoners were a little intense. And the hallway was dark and creepy. It was an experience.
Walking through a big park, we came across some young men in the Vietnamese military, practicing some maneuvers. They were super happy to take a picture with some of the kiddos. Nice fellas! Oh! And behold Maeve's new Vietnamese shoes... her star shoes! That's right... which now of course are way too tiny for her growing-too-fast-for-her-mother-to-be-okay-with little body.
Annnnddd... for the final (somewhat anti-climatic) picture of Vietnam... Bran on an exercise machine in the park. He patiently waited his turn for that! Not pictured: the little grandma lady who tried to bust in front of him. Also not pictured: the other little grandma lady who didn't let her.
Up next: Cambodia!