And then it was time to leave. The whole family turned up to bid us farewell, and there was lots if laughter and tears all around. Grandma promised to come to visit us next summer, and we will make sure she delivers on that promise. Vichet and Liya were asked to accompany her, and they were thrilled!
A bit of pampering before returning to Norway
1 August 2018
Water fight at Aura hostel
BBQ with the whole family
Playing with a chicken
30 July 2018
Dinner at Embassy restaurant with Sopheun, his wife and daughter.
Handing out clothes in the village.
27 July 2018
Trip to Phnom Penh
25 July 2018
BBQ in Battambang
Watching the bats emerge from the bat cave
Hanging out by the pool at the resort
Trip to bamboo train
Breakfast at the resort
24 July 2018
Trip to older sister's lychee farm
Our car went straight to Battambang resort, where we were staying. Half an hour after we arrived, Long turned up. Apparently he heard that we all were going to Battambang, decided he wanted to join us, jumped into a taxi and followed us there from Siem Reap 😂.
And then we were on our way to Battambang. We ended up being a huge group going; Kim's mom, Kuch, Kek, Sokha, Vichea, Phanavan, Mom, Mom's husband, Lika, Meng, Soum, Liya, Dara, Phalla, Phalla's wife, Phanha, Sovanrath, and Rune.
We rented our own car from a friend of Kim, who came along as the driver. Liya, Dara, and Soum ended up driving with us most of the way. But, the girls are not very good at driving, and poor Dara ended up throwing up all over herself 🤮.
After meeting up with Phalla's truck an hour outside Battambang, the girls decided they wanted to ride on the back of the truck with the rest of the group the rest of the way.
23 July 2018
Soum's niece, or something like that, had a birthday party. Met a French guy who had ended up there by accident, but was super excited to have done so. Sondre made friends with Soum's mom's new pregnant cow.
Afterwards we went over to Mom's and Kek's house and had dinner with the family there. Lots of duck and beers, and candies for the kids. The highlight of the night was when Sondre was able to catch a small gecko, which had to come home to the appartment with us.
22 July 2018
On the last day of the funeral lots of people came to pay their respect and share a meal. After everyone had left, and all the dishes were done, the family had a brief time to relax, have a few beers and chat. Then it was time to take the Buddha statue to the pagoda.
A large truck with loads of gigantic speakers rolled up, the family and remaining friends was loaded onto the trucks and tuk tuks. The whole way to the pagoda was accompanied by blasting music and lots of dancing - as it should be.
At the pagoda, after an ice cream stop for the kids, the statue was handed over to the monks and then it was time to pray.
21 July 2018
In the evening it was time for the funeral pyre. It all started with fireworks and a god ascending down to the coffin, setting it ablaze. Then the whole family, and lots of friends, gathered around watching the coffin burn. Or, the coffin was enclosed in a box made of fresh banana trees, and several guys stood around with water in buckets making sure nothing else started burning. It was a very touching moment.
At the same time, Kim and Phan donned the orange monk garb. At this time they could no longer be touched by women, which Oda Sovann was not ok with.
Before going back to the funeral Oda Sovann and mom went and got new manicures. Found a great little nail salon close to pub street. We ended up paying $8 per set.
20 July 2018
Nine poles with flags with money in were raised up around the site. The flags are an offering for the soul of the deceased. Lots of laughter, yelling and noise accompanied this.
But, between all the ceremonies and activities, there were time to cuddle with the cutest baby 💖.
Then we were following the coffin back to the house. The coffin had been moved a few kilometres down the road the previous day, and on the first day of the funeral everyone gathered around the coffin to "tow" it back.
At the very front, Kim and Phan walked with a rope attached between their heads and the coffin. The rest of the family gathered behind them and helped drag the coffin all the way.
In the middle of the walk the heaven opened up and it starting pouring down - hard! Everyone got completely soaked, but everyone kept on walking.
When er reached the funeral site the procession circled three times while Kim and Phan was carried on friend's shoulders. At the very back, Kuch walked throwing out flowers, money and popcorn.
Kim got his hair shaved off. As well as So Phan, Phalla, Vichea, a grandkid from Battambang, Kim's oldest sister from Battambang and Kim's mom.
Both Kim and So Phan had decided to be monks during the ceremony, which required them to also shave off their eyebrows and wear a white robe for the first day. The orange robe for monks would be worn on the second and third day.
19 July 2018
Out to the village the day before the funeral. Had a look at all the older people carving these extremely detailed and beautiful decorations for the funeral. So impressive.
Later on the casket was transported a few km down the road, where it would be until the next day when everyone were going to follow it back to the funeral site.
18 July 2018
Went for sushi with Soum. The sushi was lovely, but not great. But everyone enjoyed it, and the restaurant was really nice and the service good. And mom was allowed to order oysters - so YUM 💖!
16 July 2018
Oda Sovann had asked for fried frogs for breakfast for a couple of days, so finally mom gave in and she was allowed to order it. She loved it. So yummy!
15 July 2018
Afterwards, the boys and Jade went out to see the football finals. They met up with Chor and Long, and had a great time!
In the evening we went to Road 60 for some playing and going for rides. Vichea had saved up his pocket money, and wanted to treat Sondre 😍. Afterwards we went for BBQ at Kim's friends place. Great selection with lots of seafood 🍤, and only $5 per person. We ate so much! Kim's family is lethal! I don't think the restaurant profited anything on our visit 😂. The amount of food the family is able to put away is really impressive!
Out to the village again to play more with the little cousin. Sondre got to go with uncle Phan and Vichet to catch a duck. And afterwards we had soup with ants.
14 July 2018
Vichet, Liya and Dara came over to hang out with the kids while we, Jade and Soum went for dinner at Mie cafe. The food was lovely, but not memorable. The first starter was the best dish all over, but happy that we went.
When we came back to the appartment we learned that Sondre had gotten a box with 40 chicken nuggets for dinner 😂.
Jade arrived from Australia. Mom knew her from Brisbane, but hadn't seen her in 13 years. Jade had never been to Cambodia, but really wanted to see thd temples. So, when she heard that we were going to Siem Ream, she jumped on the opportunity to meet up with an old friend and visit Angkor.
Picked her up from her hotel, and then went out to Chamnap. We thought we were going to a funeral, but turned out it was a ceremony for a banyan tree. Chamnap made crocodile curry, and everyone stuffed themselves.
13 July 2018
Out for dinner with the aunties at Lotus Indian restaurant. It was the first time any of them ate indian food. We ordered so much, and everyone enjoyed the food a lot. Oda Sovann was allowed to go on the back of auntie Kek's motorbike, and loved it 🏍.
12 July 2018
Out to the village to see the youngest cousin, Chantepy 6 months. She is so adorable, and everyone fell in love with her - hard 💖💖💖. So Phan seems so happy and content in his married life and as a father. Great to spend time out there and we also got to see Ta's coffin.
The next morning Kims was very tired (as he ended going out for a "few" beers after the bbq) and sondre wanted to hang out at the appartment to play games and watch YouTube, the little missus and mom had brunch alone ❤. Went to the next door restaurant, and was recognised by the owners- which was lovely.
11 July 2018
After settling into the appartment we went for a bbq at Phalla's guesthouse, Aura. The guesthouse is very laid back and located a little way outside the city centre. Several of the family was there as well, and we had a great night.
Arrived in Siem Reap 4,5 hours later than planned. Spent a bit of extra time in the immigration due to the kids getting permanent entry visa into their passports. Surprisingly, we weren't asked to pay extra for this service, which is a first.
Almost the whole family waited for us at the airport. And after a quick stop at Kek's new house we went to our apartment building. Great apartment with three bedrooms and three baths.
9 July 2018
We had booked a Street food tour on motorbikes. We got picked up at the hotel by three drivers at 17:30. Turned out we were the only ones on the tour do essentially a private food tour. We got our helmets on and decided who were going to ride on which bikes. Katinka and Oda Sovann went with the guide, while Sondre was on the back of the girl, and Kim on the back of the young boy. At first, everyone was a bit tense, but we all soon got more relaxed and the kids loved, loved, loved the ride.
First we went for yellow pancakes, then we got banh mi, and the scallops, mussels and crab. After that we went for another ride around town, before we stopped at a BBQ place. At that time we were so full, so weren't able to eat much. At then the sky opened up. We tried to wait it out, but in the end decided to go in the rain. Wrapped in rain coats we went to our last stop for ice cream and coffee. We paid d3 750 000 for the whole tour incl craft beer. Well worth the money!
Arrived in Ho Chi Minh City and checked into Sunland hotel. Had lunch at the hotel, and then checked out the kiddy pool with the slide.
And then it was time to leave Hoi An and the beach and head towards the big city, Ho Chi Minh.
8 July 2018
Last night in Hoi An. Everyone was a bit sunned out, and it started raining in the evening, so decided for pizza delivery at the room. Great choice!
Another day at the beach. The beach was beautiful, and not too busy. In fact, at times we were almost the only ones there. We ended up going back to the same restaurant every day, which had great food and lovely owners.
6 July 2018
Went for a dive- and snorkelling trip with Blue Coral Dive. The kids weren't too happy about it, but ended up loving every minute of it. Mum had two great dives and were super happy about that. Had s lovely lunch at Cham island, where Sondre devoured 4 omelettes. Ran into a thunderstorm on our way back to shore. Lots of lightning and thunder, horizontal rain and crashing waves.
4 July 2018
Met up with the Kellys in the evening. Had a great dinner with starter, main and desserts, all for 1 600 000 dong per family. Sondre had a small crush on Lliana, and we are hoping she will look us up when travelling around Europe winter 2019.
Another day. Another trip to the beach.
But, to Sondres great sorrow, his inflatable ring broke free and escaped into the big blue.
3 July 2018
Went into old town, which was crazy. So many people everywhere. SO. MANY. PEOPLE. This is definitely not the Hoi An I remember from 15 years ago. But beautiful. The town is like a postcard. Everywhere you turn there are instaworthy picturesque buildings and sights.
Had dinner at a local BBQ at the riverside. Had lots of meat on sticks, which was great. Meat on sticks are always better!
Cam An beach. We are staying in a tiny homestay two blocks from the beach. The heat is unbearable. At first we were given a room on the second floor, but the air-con couldn't beat the heat, so we asked to be moved to the ground floor. Still hot, but slightly better.
The beach is beautiful. We seem to have ended up on the quieter end of the beach, which suits us just fine.
After a great time in Hanoi and Halong bay, it was time to head for Hoi An and the beach.
The girl with the face mask is, for whatever reason, wearing a flattened baguette inside the mask 🤨.
2 July 2018
Back in Hanoi. Had a pedicure, which set me back d60 000, and then we went for dinner. The hotel recommended a restaurant called New Day Restaurant. It. Was. Great. It was completely packed with locals and foreigners alike. We ordered a family set with lots of different food, and an extra plate of noodles Hanoi style. Everything was absolutely beautiful, and we ate until we were bursting.
After dinner we had a massage close by, but the massage was bad and the girls tried to rip us off. The price list stated d100 000 per person, but after the massage they wanted d150 000. After I refused, they even had the audacity to ask for a tip.
1 July 2018
Dinner day 2
Visited cat bao island. The others were offered to cycle through the village, but seeing that one in our part don't know how to cycle and the other (or both) is still a bit vertically challenged, We opted for the electric cart. Did not regret it.
Lunch on day 2. 5 courses again.
After breakfast we were taken around a floating village in a bamboo boat. The scenery was breath taking. And the tour was very nice.
30 June 2018
The first dinner was a BBQ on the view deck under the stars. Absolutely fabulous! The food was beautiful and bountiful. Went to bed stuffed and happy!
Cooking class where we were taught fried spring rolls. After the demonstration, the kids got to try. They arranged a small competition, and Sondre was deemed the winner. He received a diploma, a chef's hat and an apron.
A, long awaited for, swim just around the boat. With a group of Vietnamese who could not swim. Oda Sovann impressed with superb swimming skills.
A short rest, and off to a cave visit. The cave was very pretty, but at the end of the day, just a cave.
And then it was time for the first lunch.
The bus picked us up at 7:15, and after picking up some others we headed down to Halong bay. The whole ride, including a stop, took about 3,5h.
29 June 2018
Dinner at a small, local BBQ joint. Amazing food, but so so hot!
Sondre and Kim had a hair cut, and then it was time for a massage.
Spent the morning at Lotte Tower, buying Lego and hanging out on the 65th floor (with glass floor).
28 June 2018
And the it was time for our snake dinner. The driver couldn't find the place, so spent 40 minutes driving around. But finally arrived.
They butchered the snake in front of us, and took out its still beating heart. Then they mixed the blood with rice spirit and gave us to drink. Kim also got the beating heart in his shot.
Spring rolls with snake meat
Deep fried snake rib cage
Green rolls with snake meat
Crushed snake bones
Sticky rice with snake fat
Bean soup with snake
All was very delicious, and the whole meal (no drinks) was d1 000 000 (the amount of zeroes is ridiculous).
After a massage and a short rest at the hotel we went to the Water Puppet Theatre. The show lasted an hour and set us back d100 000 per ticket. The puppets were colourful and lovely, but the play itself was a bit boring. The kids were very excited when it started, but unfortunately didn't stay excited.
Spent a great hour being cycloed around Old Quarter (d150 000 per cyclo). It was such a wonderful way to start our stay in Hanoi. Allowed us to get our bearings and see a lot of the area in a relatively short period of time.
Egg coffee (which is basically egg nog and coffee) and ice cream.
First stop was a visit to Den Ngoc Son to see the turtle.
27 June 2018
Arrived at the hotel at 19:30. Unpacked a bit and went for dinner. Hanoi is super busy and crowded, and such a contrast to lazy and quiet Luang Prabang.
After having walked around the block, gotten confused over the currency at the ATM, we ended up having dinner across the street from the hotel, at Madame Hien. It was quite a upscale joint, and the kids had a three-course dinner, while the grownups enjoyed a five-course dinner. The whole shebang set us back d2 200 000 (850nok).
Off to Hanoi
Last snack in Luang Prabang - fried duck, sausage, and beer Lao.
Went to the old royal palace, or national museum. Although locals claimed it opened at 1pm, the gates didn't open until 1:30pm, and then you couldn't buy entrance tickets. Ended up having a stroll sound the grounds looking at the buildings - which was quite nice.
26 June 2018
The last stop was at the whiskey village. We got to taste the whiskey, and it was, as always, not very good. But, Sondre was duly impressed with the scorpions and snakes in the bottle, and really wanted to buy some to bring home. Kek ended up buying a couple of bottles of sweet rice wine.
Then we stocked up on cold drinks, snacks and beers, and headed down to the boat for the 1,5 h long ride home. We came home around 18:00. We paid US$35 per person for the trip, and felt that it was absolutely worth it. Everyone was very happy with the whole outing.
After the elephant ride, We went back to the boat and after 15 minutes we came to the cave with 4 000 Buddhas. Very impressive. The lower cave was beautiful, while the upper cave was pitch black and had a quite steep climb to get there. We all got up, but lots of panting, sweat and aching legs.
The elephant ride was great. First we had a buffet lunch and then we were off to the elephants. We had four elephants between the eleven of us. After a nice walk in the forest we followed a stream back to the Mekong where the elephants got into the water. After we finished the ride we were allowed to feed the elephants some sugar cane. A great time was had by all.
After a bit of a bad night where Oda Sovann threw up all over the bed in the middle of the night, we were off again. We were picked up by our guide and put on a slow boat to go see elephants. The boat ride was 1,5 hours up Mekong river from Luang Prabang. The sky cleared up and we even got a bit of sunshine. The boat ride was pure bliss, with a light breeze and beautiful scenery.
25 June 2018
And then we went to a pizza restaurant for dinner. Because grandma loves pizza. But when we got there, everyone wanted Lao food 😂. All in all, we fed and watered 7 adults and 4 children for 800 000kip.
Went for a walk through night market before dinner. The market was huuuuge. So long. Oda Sovann bought a pink fan.
After getting back from the waterfall, Oda Sovann and mum went for a manicure whil dad went for a run.
And then, finally, the fam arrived. Lots of hugs from all and tears from grandma. Everyone are so excited.
Woke up to heavy rain, but decided to still go to Kuang Si waterfall. Hired a private van for 300 000 for 4 hours. The waterfall was so beautiful, and almost no one there. Walked up to the waterfall from the parking lot through the most beautiful rain forest. Lots of flowers lined the road.
After seeing the waterfall we had a swim in a water home just below the water fall. The water was very cool, but lovely after a while. And not to mention, milky turquoise in color - so pretty. Also filled with little fish which made a dinner of all you dead skin on your feet.
24 June 2018
Kim's family missed their flight from Bangkok. Luckily, they got a replacement ticket for tomorrow. So hopefully we will see them then.
We went out for bbq-dinner. Found a great local place, which got very flustered when we sat down. Seemed like they hadn't served many foreigners. But, we ordered lots of food - two rounds of meat and vegetables. The kids loved it. 160 000 kip (160 nok). Not too bad 😊.
Cute monkey at the hotel
Arrived at the airport. Very similar to Siem Reap International airport. As in it is small. Very small. The driver wasn't there when we arrived, but turned up 10 minutes later, so all good.
Arrived in Bangkok at 6 am. Crazy many people here. Walked and walked and walked and walked. And had some soup and drinks.
23 June 2018
The flight went very well. Oda Sovann had a little sleep, but Sondre and the rest had none.