I’m normally a little behind with this blog. That’s something that is partly done on purpose (because I don’t always want people knowing where we are in real time) and partly just the process of editing and publishing photos (which takes a hell of a lot longer than taking the actual photos, that’s for sure). But I’m not normally *this* far behind.

While I might have been writing blog posts about the trip shortly after arriving back in San Francisco, I didn’t because not more than 36 hours after we landed, my Grandpa Jack had a stroke. Everything took a necessary backseat from there.

Grandpa stabilized and we headed back to the Lost Coast as school was starting. The yurt was a stinking mess, and there was So. Much. Work to do. Stories about Vietnam took another necessary backseat.

But now it’s time – let’s finish the stories, shall we? I think we all might like a quick virtual trip to the beach, a splash of escapism!

I left you in Bangkok, Thailand, were Nava and Moxie were busy being the cutest girls in the entire world.


Mikey chose Phu Quoc Island.

Hmmm. Does that sound accusatory? I guess it sort of is in a half-assed way. I would have probably preferred to take the train north and explore the caves, but Mikey needed more beach and tropic-vibe like Donna Summer needed disco. Tickets to fly there from Saigon were about $25/each round trip. Done.

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I have to admit though, we were pretty stunned by Phu Quoc after having been on Koh Chang Island in Thailand. I mean, Thailand does tourism. They know how the roll goes, they know what western tourists like and they really have their act together; Thais are pros at the tourist experience.

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Phu Quoc Island… is not.

Phu Quoc island, a total tropical gem of a place, was in the throes of digging up their main street – the one that all the resorts are built on – at the height of tourist season.

Construction is everywhere, and I’m not talking, little hammer and nail fixit jobs; I’m talking, bulldozers, cranes and some big-ass buildings going up. The island is EXPLODING. Mikey and I just couldn’t wrap our heads around it – like, WHY would you choose the time of year when you have the most visitors to set up a beach workshop and spray all of your hotel lacquered furniture?! I mean, who wants to be relaxing on the beach and have big winds of lacquer wafting?

It reminded me way more of China’s Communist “like it or shut up” vibe than of Thailand’s “how can we make your life one living pleasure-filled heaven?

We probably would have turned tail if we had more time, energy and money to seek out another spot. I’m glad that we stayed though, because we got to know some of the Vietnamese people on the island. Who are amazing. Who are lovely. Who are warm, funny, kind, and who love our kids.

Phu Quoc Island might be in the throes of some major growing pains and doesn’t *do* tourism yet (like Thailand does, anyway), but THE PEOPLE ARE SO AWESOME! It’s like, we’d “walk” (- gingerly mince around ditches and roadside pipe projects with traffic coming inches away from us) to the corner store for ice cream for the kids and some local old men would invite Mikey to have a shot of local moonshine with them. Or we’d go to a shop to eat (again, crossing ditches and trying to find space to walk around construction) and the women in the restaurant would be having fun with our kids while their kids had fun with me and Mikey.

The place in and of itself can be a deep breath after Thailand – BUT THE PEOPLE!!!

Here are some photos and videos from the Night Market – which we went to a few times each week for good grub and fun (and here, if you are on a computer, you might want to scroll back up and “enter reading mode” – the photos will get a lot bigger and the sidebar will be removed)

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Ice cream "crepes" - cream and filling smashed out on a cold top, then curled up - watch the video!
Ice cream “crepes” – cream and filling smashed out on a cold top, then curled up – watch the video!
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Watch Moxie “petting” the squid:

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There we were at the airport, and I admit that I was kind of nervous.

I was nervous about everything! The dynamics of traveling with 3 little kids for 20 hours! The flight! The seats! The layover in Beijing! You know what?! I didn’t tell Mikey but I was even nervous about our tickets! They were so cheap, you see – we paid $2,500 round-trip, including taxes. Which is a huge amount of money still, but when tickets to this part of the world will usually cost double that, it gives cause to a little concern about scams and stuff.

family of 5 driving to the airoport family of 5 posing for a photoIt was so cool though. Like a dream. We just rolled in, rolled up, rolled on. So easy.

The flight did me a little trip because every other movie was about disability.

There was a powerful-kick-you-in-the-gut one on a blind massage business in China, one on a half-deaf Chinese girl, a Ukrainian movie on the impediment of beauty (!) and this French one, The Belier Family, on a CODA (- Child Of Deaf Adult) that had me sobbing. That blubbery kind of sobbing, you know? I felt vulnerable! And didn’t really want everyone to see me crying like that, so I was trying to hide it which is just not an easy thing to when you are scrunched in those teeny tiny airplane seats with tons of curious Asian grandmas all around you. That movie was soooo freaking good. Looks like you can watch it online for free in a few places (google it) – netflix has it too (here).

Anyway so.

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Before I forget – some people have asked me about devices for the kids. We bought a Kindle Fire – the $50 one that comes with an SD card slot – and loaded it up with TV shows and movies that we downloaded. About 64 GB worth. So far, this is the best (and cheapest) option I’ve seen – along with the headphones, we can bring it anywhere.

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We walked out of the airport at Ho Chi Minh City around 2 in the morning. The air was humid, warm, sultry. People were just hanging out, sitting and watching the new arrivals as if we were all a TV show. It reminded me of China and it all made me smile.

God, but I love Asia. And God, but I’ve missed it too.

5 millions memories wrapped in my 10 years of living in this part of the world and it makes the bones inside me kind of relax.

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