Tuesday, October 28, 2008

In Hawaii

So I still have four weeks of our trip to blog. Some of the highlights that are still to come are of other parts of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. But of course I will still be writing about what is happening here in Hawaii too. Sorry if it's confusing.

A couple of days ago, Senator Barack Obama was here visiting his Grandma who is ill. She happens to live across the street from us. Naturally we watched the 20 police bikes parade the Obama’s in and out of our area. We later found out that Obama grew up in that very condo with his Grandparents and Mother.

Like I said before, I am always fascinated by what choices one would have to make to end up in such a circumstance as growing up in Hawaii to running for President of the US. To quench my curiosity I read Obama's Wikipedia. His bio was much too long to post. You will have to read it on your own time, here is the link. One thing I will note, he is well educated. But the funniest thing was how familiar his life was to our life now. Obama's parent came to Hawaii to study at the University of Hawaii Manoa. We also came to live in Hawaii for the same reason. Obama was born in the Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women & Children in Honolulu. Pearce was also born in the Kapi'olani Hospital. Obama grew up on the corner of Punahou Street and Beretania Street. We also have lived on that same corner for the past four years. Obama attended the Punahou School. The school is up the road from us. We hope that Pearce will attend there as well. It's a private school for K-12, rated in the top 10 in the nation. Therefore, not easy to get into and quite expensive. My son Pearce so far is living in the shadow of a Presidential nominee. Wow I wonder what Pearce will be in the future. No pressure Pearce! Seriously I am kidding about Pearce.

It's interesting how an ordinary life can become an extraordinary life over night. Bravo Obama.

P.S. Because I am Canadian, I am neither a republican or demarcate. Also being Canadian means I can't vote in the US. My only attachment to either candidate was formed by a personal experience I’ve had, such as my blog on POW in Vietnam and the blog you just read. I know this is a heated topic for most and it frustrates a few that I sit on the fence. But again, I can, cause I can’t vote. I just try to bring a positive view from both sides.
According to my poll "who has your vote for the next US Pres?" McCain is only winning by a one-point margin. So as our good friend Damon Zollinger would say “get your vote on!”

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Goodbye Hanoi

When Eric's parents, Jane and David Phillips, arrived in Hanoi to join us for part of our travel portion of our southeast Asia trip, we were overjoyed and flattered. But it was bittersweet because it meant we had to say goodbye to Hanoi and all the friendships we had made over the last few months. A big thank you.......

... to Nam, Trang and little Y (pronounced 'ee') for inviting us over to their home for an amazing traditional Vietnamese dinner. Preparing enough food to feed a small nation. And wishing I could eat more because it was so delicious. And for taking us to experience my very first taste of snake. Two unforgettable meals, one unforgettable friendship.

.. to Chien and Tan, our favorite bride and groom. We loved being a part of your new life together. And well wishes.

........to the Hanoi branch members for making us feel so welcomed and to the missionaries for letting us be a small part of pioneering the good work.

... to Jim and Julie Ellis, the humanitarian missionaries for sharing their hair-raising adventures. We can only dream of having such an exciting life. Wink. Wink.

....to Quan the very best travel agent in the world with the best taste in Hanoi.

...to the Marchant family for play dates, dinners, books, and back healing miracles.

...to Trang for girls night out and for bringing gifts. You are a sweetie.

...to all the staff at the Intercontinental who went above and beyond to make us feel right at home, taking care of every whim down to the smallest of needs like stocking up on apple juice for Pearce.

...to the IC for allowing Pearce to tap into PBSkids.com at all hours, day or night, helping us cultivate his newest addiction.

...to the fishermen who provided hours of entertainment for Pearce.

...to our hair stylist Quy who kept us looking clean cut.

...to our favorite ladies selling fruit on the side of the road. Everyday we could always count on fresh fruit. Yum.

...and lastly to the lady at the Water Puppet show who sat in the row bellow bootlegging. Because of her we were able to endure the hour long traditional Vietnamese singing while puppets danced in water.

Each touched our life for good. And we will never forget the memories made with all of you in Hanoi. Till we meet again.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

POW in Vietnam

Right in the heart of busy Hanoi lake side Truc Bach there is a small stone statue called the John McCain POW Memorial. A rough translation states"Here on 26 October 1967 at Truc Bach Lake in the capital city of Ha Noi John Sidney McCain was shot out of the sky in his A4 aircraft by local (militia?) citizens defending Yen Phu. There were 10 other planes shot down on the same day."

I am always fascinated by what choices one would have to make to end up in such a circumstance such as a POW in Vietnam. To quench my curiosity and maybe your's too, here is McCains Wikipedia Military career play by play.

McCain graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack aircraft from aircraft carriers. During the Vietnam War, he nearly lost his life in the 1967 USS Forrestal fire. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, badly injured, and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a prisoner of war until 1973, experiencing episodes of torture and refusing an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer; his war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations (if you've seen him on TV, you know what I'm talking about...He can't lift his arms above his shoulder).

Wow. He was in a POW for six years! I can't even imagine or even relate in any respect. And I think only those who have walked in similar shoes should be judging (directed at Micheal Moore). But I want to personally say thank you to all the brave men and women who choose such a job. Risking everything. Such a sacrifice.

Looking at the McCain Memorial was a powerful moment to feel a small sliver of the reality of what happened here in Vietnam. Funny thing is, most Vietnamese polled overwhelmingly welcome McCain as a contender for the next US President. Old wounds have been forgiven (or at least pushed down far enough that functional friendships can exist). What forgiveness. On both sides. A good lesson for us all who keep forgiveness from another. Thank you John McCain.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Late, yesterday evening aroung 10 pm while Pearce and I were laying on the floor surrounded by pillows and blankets watching the movie "Babe," Pearce turned to me, placed his small arm around me, and said with his big smile, "You my best friend forever." Stunned, I asked him, "What'd you say?" And he repeated, "You, Mom, my best friend forever!" Grinning ear to ear. At that moment I swear time stopped and I heard angels sing. I felt the most unbelievable happiness a mother could feel. All the puking, weight gain, labor pain, diapers, late nights, Barney episodes, suddenly were worth it ten times over. Thanks, Pearce, for making my day, week, month...two-and-a-half years!

As for where he learned that line...I have no idea. But it proves once again that at 2.5, they are more sponge than human.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Museum Day

Hanoi boasts many interesting museums. We tried to see them all. But most of them were not interesting enough for Pearce (2-yr-old). Except the Museum of Ethnology. I think Pearce had more fun there than we did. The museum has a large children's discovery room that combines fun and educational activities such as traditional weaving, dyeing and block printing. But those activities were not a big draw for Pearce. He found his own interactive activities that probably were not meant as such.

Above, he plays "Kung Fu" with his "guys" (aka action figures) in a miniature traditional Ede longhouse. He could have played for hours. As it was, we had to drag him out kicking and screaming.

Vietnamese may be the world's best at maximizing transportation loads on two wheels. I've seen over nine huge live pigs on one bike. Above is a famous example depicted at the museum. Apparently, the owner of this bike was a man who transported these fishing traps just like above from his home vilage to a market over 20 kilometers every day. As impressive as that may be, it's even more impressive when you see these engineering marvels going 50 mph, weaving in and out of traffic like a downhill slalom skier.

This is a full scale replica of the traditional communal house of the Bahnar. It stands 19 meters high and was built in 2003 by 42 villagers from the Kon Rbang village, Kontum town and the Central Highlands. According to the Bahnar, the communal house is the symbol of skill and strength of the villagers. Frankly I would agree. They built this monster of a hut with basic tools and their bare hands. These communal houses are still being built around Vietnam today. But those stairs are very sketchy. We need smaller Vietnamese feet.

The construction and craftmanship was remarkable inside and out.

We covered Pearce's eyes for this display. This was the funeral hut. These statues were placed around the hut to help the deceased with fertility into the next life. My first thoughts went to the extrodinary proportions on the men......you wish bud!

Over all, ethnology was a fun learning experience for the whole family...and a little pornagraphic.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pearce's foodies

The newest food item we can now add to Pearce's "will eat" list.

Grilled oysters topped with a garlic and cheese melt. So Pearce will only eat pancakes, snake and oysters. He leaves me guessing at every meal. I can only hope the list will expand sooner than later. Thank goodness for vitamins.