THOMAS Soederholm starred, with  traveller's tales from Vietnam, It is always great to have members share adventures with us.
The Vietnam adventure may be the Soederholms' last  family holiday together, Thomas said, because adult offspring were going their separate ways.
It started at Hanoi in the north, and travelled south to Ho Chi Minh City. 
Thomas' first meal in the country was his last high-carb blow-out there, in the hope he might be able to fit into the Viet Cong tunnels which so baffled the Americans during the Vietnam War.  As it turned out, discretion was the better part of valour.  He was photographed half in and half out of a tunnel but didn't follow his much more petite wife Libby underground.
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Viet Nam
 Hanoi and Halon Bay 1-3
A typical house in Central Hanoi which testifies to the country's French heritage. In northern Viet Nam it is pleasant this time of year, with 20 degrees in the shade and no humidity to speak of and since the country's 6 million mopeds almost all are less than 5 years old you find the former exhaust-issues and annoying twostroke-clatter a thing of the past.
Illis towering in the land of the Lilliputians and feeling fine. She dropped off the radar now and then and we had to organise a search party. We started in the clothes shops were she was most likely to have been held up by a barging and this was normaly were we found her in the end where she tried on stuff and haggled, tried on stuff and haggled….
I think Gabriel was very impressed by the Vietnamese people's artistic ability. He said he came home with lots of ideas.
He had further decided that should he manage to mix with the locals he shurley must have a traditional hat. With that commitment in mind he flagged down this hat-sales-man.
In the middle of Hanoi lies a temple on a small island where nothing’s changed in a thousand years. According to legend a gigantic turtle lives in the lake and he brought peace many years ago between the Vietnamese and the invading Japanese by using its beak and snapped away the Japanese generals sword. Because of this they all became the best of mates and laid down arms.
People use the temple daily. Locals are granted free acccess while tourists have to pay admission.
Many comes before work begins, leaving their offering in order to have a successful day.
Then there are special sacrificial ovens around town.
There you can really burn your dough which puts you on good terms with the gods – apparently.  Cheating dollars can be purchased bundle-wise around town but it amazes me that people imagining that the gods - beeing gods – would even fall for such a pitiful scam. I’d be leaning more towards worrying about the repercussions when Zeus and the Boys come home to Hera and the girls with a fistfull of counterfeit. Then you end up with a lightning bolt between the eyes and a trident up your bum.   
The traffic has to be experienced to be understood. To wait at the pedestrian crossing is useless. Waiting for on-coming traffic to stop at the red-light is pointless. It is like wading across a creek - you can’t hope for the water to stop for you. So instead you calmly walk out into traffic stream with a SMOOTH and STEADY pace. Have eye contact with oncoming traffic all the time. They judge how fast you move and ...
... and everything flows around you as if nothing is amiss. But if you start thinking about rules and be all “Western” then it can end up really bad. Once we were at a huge roundabout with six files – easily seventy meter to the other side. We stood there but could noting else - not unlike ones Martin Luther -  until a little old lady appeared from nowhere. She grabbed Libby's arm and then stept out into traffic chaos with the rest of us in tow like beefcattle crossing a Piranha infesterad river in the Amazonas. We survived unscathed and offered thanks to this lady who didn't wanted to be thanked but hurried on down the street.
It is as much commerce out there in the street as it is in the stores and - of course - when they see you coming they are on you like Oprah on a baked ham.
Hats off for the patient Vietnamese people as tourists are not pretty to behold.
The street sceen is a smelly mix of  impressions that can weigh on the senses after a while and it's nice to be able to go and hide in the hotel in the evening when we had enough and just sit in a quiet room and read. Note the "Chair" – could you see me balaserandes on one of those? But that's what was offered at many coffee shops.
People are doing anything to earn a crust. If there aren’t any obvious jobs around you have to be inventive. Nicky has been “persuaded” to get his shoes reinforced with nylon.
This kitten was very frisky and wanted to play. It clawed Miggi on his bare legs as kittens do but I realized with a jolt where we were and quickly emptied a bottle of hand-sanitizer-alcohol over the scratches and Miggi has not yet shown any sign of rabies.
There! Good to go.
In the Red bag there’s big frogs and eels in the jar. Then there’s large and small snails. All ready for the pan.
But there were also food that better fitted our western palate. We are otherwise pretty open to new gastronomical exteriences. Even Miggi – who is leaving his childhood behind more and more and ate - for example - octopus with gusto.
Hanoi turned out to be a  moderately large city while Saigon has become too big – according to the locals. When Hanoi in North has kept its traditional charm Saigon has quickly become more "Western".
Nick has developed a taste for Asian cuisine in all its forms. Healthy. Something to fall back on when he gets to my age and gravity taps you on ther shoulder.
”Mumin trolls” from the Finnish autor Tove Jansson. Didn’t expect to find them here. The world has truly shrunk. The colours are way to psychedelic though.
Just my luck that the Vietnamese hasn’t understood that they would sell far more of their leather jackets to tourists if they made them three times larger. We leave the shops  and tailors use to run after us on the sidewalk with a tape measure dancing around their neck promising  "24 hour service!!!" They were prepared to pull an all-nighter to sew a made-to-measure jacket.  
My Mate Mark The Sparky would tear his hair out.
The daily tidy-up outside the shops is done old-school.
Silk embroidery on a large scale. We visit a giant workshop that creates amazing things.
Victims of agent Orange has a chance to support themselves and earn digninty – assuming they have opposite thumbs and eyesight — and further assuming they're skilled enough.
Silk shawls that would cost plenty at home. There was an awful lot to look at and buy at a decent price and what does the boys do?.......
I rest my case...
Outside, it was equally great with a large park filled with statues.
It is therefore curious that the official monuments - like this one - are so sterile and ugly. I guess that is what to expect with bureaucrats at the helm.
Collection boxes were everywhere. Children are still born malformed ( not to menition stillborn). Saigon War Museum was a terrible experience and I immediately put all my money in their collection and wished that I had exchanged more.
”Women i uniform” Ooooooboy......
On the way out to our Junk in Halon Bay which is a four hour busride north of Hanoi.
The archipelago is similar to Thailand for obvious reasons and one half expect Dr No and James Bond to clash among the peaks.
Much is on the verge of grand in Viet Nam. The rest, however, is small. Chairs on the coffee outlets being just one example. One butt-cheek at’a time fits on the seat while the second is airborn and  your knees are safely parked under your chin. And life jackets! Lordy dordy! They would do well to take a leaf out of my many possible tailors book; 24 hours service!! Misteeeer!!! Goodprice for you!!! Halloooooo. 
The place we visited is a permanently anchored floating community were people are born, live and die mostly without ever feel solid ground under their feet. The girls earn a living by rowing us around showing the sights. Eight fat tourists per boat were rowed briskly around for over half an hour in this way. I wonder what she benchpresses….
It has started to swing a teeny weeny bit – this-  with a environmental consciousness. It could reduce you to tearts, the way they still toss garbage left and right but in some of the more popular ares  – at least where tourists probably remarked upon it — people have taken notice and listened. So -  here an example - the girl sports a landing net to pick up the worst debris.
The “town” is anchored so that it is in the shelter for typhoons affecting the area periodically. But I do think that sitting through a typhoon in one of therse huts with these people would be an experience. 
It was a great vacation with the kids. A different one. They are adults now – the Munchkins.  Taking responsibility and so on. Very positive. But me paying for most of the meals wasn’t anything they objected to.
”Fishing Junks At Sunset”
J. M. Jarre
Link to Youtube. Cut and paste.
When evening came strong underwater lights were switched on to attract squid. Everyone got to try but the one that caught the most was Nick – because he caught one. Big boats came arrived bit further out with much stronger lights so it was probably them that attracted most of the inkcaps.
So – a Pike on the Åland Islands and an octopus in Viet Nam. Nicky’s is our fiskeman. 
And just as I ate Nickys pike back home I saw to it that even his Octopus ended up on my fork.
Halon Bay at dawn. The site is popular among all kinds of vessels but very calm and quiet. I could have stayed a long time in my lounge chair on the top deck and just continue to let peace wash over me.
Millions upon million of silk threads ... ... the “painting” was a little over two meter wide and would have set you back 72 million Dong.
Back in the same souvenir shop on the way home. Very beautiful but nothing that suited to lug around and all the way to Australia. I bought some small superb pieces though.
Illis and Libby took a cooking class where they learned lots and had a mutchness of fun whilst cooking with silk worms and brains donated by an assortment of animals. The rest of the family had to visit the day after and ordered (cautiously I must admit) from the menu. Closest to the camera — my entree; giant snails rolled in vegetables and bacon – very good.
A beautiful python behind bars. Great shame. The hippie awoke within me and quickly unfurled the greenpeace flag…
So we opened the door to make it happy and so that we would get better pictures.
Possbly not the most thought through plan ever envisioned as the greatful repril made a dash for the jungle and who could blame it? It can’t be worthy of such a magnificant animal to sit in a cage and chomp on dusty old chickenheads for the rest of its life. Unfortunately our cheering brought on the attention of the owner who came running and got a hold of the refugee. The snake was swiftly deported back into his cage while we got a scolding. But given another 10 seconds or so....