Same, Same- but Different.

Same Same- But Different.

First scene when getting out of the Airport at Ho Chi Minh City- Hello millions of people…. (a recurring theme throughout the trip…)

My first thought – ‘ How the hell are we going to find Ida and Matt?’ — Well, thankfully we did, and so our 2 week trip begins:

We spent a couple days in Ho Chi Minh- eating crabs on the street, drinking beer while sitting in miniature plastic chairs, and getting fitted for some tailored clothes before heading off to Phu Quoc via Vietnam Airlines (surprisingly good).

Phu Quoc is an island that is part of Vietnam but lies in Cambodian waters. It’s gorgeous. We spent 5 days here- exploring different beaches, going snorkeling, eating sea urchin and celebrating the Lunar New Year with fireworks- the year of the Cat (in Vietnam).

After Phu Quoc we headed back to Ho Chi Minh and explored the city a bit more as well as the Cu Chi Tunnels (where the US was defeated during the Vietnam War) before leaving for a 2-day excursion through the Mekong Delta.

Day 1 of the Mekong Delta involved lots of jumping on and off boats, a bee farm, local food, and a homestay- the best part.

Our homestay started with 4 Vietnamese men picking us up on motorbikes. Me and my driver lost everyone after about 5 minutes- so I got a bit nervous considering I had no idea where we were, I didn’t understand a thing this guy is saying, we are in the middle of nowhere, it was pitch black outside, and well- we were driving on these tiny back roads…  besides all that- It was so fun- and after about 30 mins we stopped at this gorgeous place right on the river and everyone is waiting for me. Hey- its not my fault I had the slowest motorbike.

At the homestay we spent 1 night hanging out with some Kiwi’s that were very chill, and had the funniest kids, as well as drinking beers with the guy who runs the homestay and his neighbors, playing guitar, and in the morning taking another boat ride down the Mekong to a floating market- and some more tours of the area (The trip was well worth the homestay- but after 2 days with 30 other tourists- well we were a bit sick of following our tour guide around and listening to him talk about rice, coconuts and other stuff- tip: Do it solo).

Our last 2 days were spent back in Ho Chi Minh– doing some last minute shopping (obviously)- where lots of lotus lamps were purchased as well as some colorful clothing.

All in all- Vietnam was wonderful. The people were so friendly and always willing to help out (even if we didn’t understand them- and I decided to speak Spanish with them- for some reason this made more sense than say English. I don’t know. ). The food was good and always interesting, although it all tastes very similar. I also really liked Vietnam because it is not as exploited as say- Thailand, but it probably will be soon.

Take home message: Go there. Eat Hot Pot. And Buy some sweet lotus lamps. Well worth the 10 bucks

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Now back to some ‘Thesis work’. Muacks! xxx

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Nun or Julia Roberts in ‘Eat, Pray, Love’?

So this past week and weekend have been quite busy. I fine-polished my survey and am now working on translating it to Spanish (yikes it’s hard- but I have help). I went to a Feria- aka Farmer’s Market with my ‘family’ -where you can buy all types of vegetables, fruit, fish, rip off DVDs, etc. Afterwards we went  to the Mall (yes they have those here and they are HUGE— very American and so on…blah). We stopped in the ‘Home and Garden’ section- Karen L-O-V-E-S plants, gardens, trees, and can spend a good time deciding on what kind of plant she wants (this took a good 45 minutes) :), afterwards some general ‘shopping’ but this lasted about 30 minutes before everyone got fed up and hungry.

Picking up on that food note. Food here is fantastic ( at home and at friends at least).  I’ve been introduced to so many new things that  I love, and my love for avocados continues to grow and grow (I think I  eat one per day or at least every other day).

Deliciousness:

1. Chirimoya ( a fruit that looks kinda of like an avocado but with tons of seeds, it’s much bigger and well, it’s a fruit) you eat this with orange juice in a bowl. It’s good- Mark Twain even called it ‘the most delicious fruit known to man’ (yes I googled).

2. Avocado (Palta)  filled with tuna. (Did I mention I love Palta?). Just a fantastic combo that spices up things. ( Also palta on toast for breakfast has become a recent fav.)

3. Beets. You are probably thinking- ‘ Beets?, Emma? Really?’- well yes. Here they don’t have an association with ‘Thanksgiving’ or ‘ Pyttipanna’- you eat them in salad and I just think they make everything taste so much better.

4. Fresh fish- yes- Fresh fish does exist in Sweden and the USA but I am also working with these Caletas and I feel that there is a difference having fish cleaned and prepared infront of you (and outside) and then going home and cooking it. Mmmm or Mums!

5. Pisco sour. A type of brandy called Pisco, with sugar and lemon or lime juice. Or Piscola aka pisco and cola. Oh la la. This you can buy at any bar and it even comes pre-mixed with different tastes such as Mango.

In general I feel that I’m turning into Julia Roberts or ‘Liz’ in ‘ Eat, Pray, Love’ because I eat everything (don’t worry yoga and walking everywhere is saving me)… and everything is so good. Well either Julia Roberts or a Nun…

So as I said before, I’m learning how to knit. And to my surprise, and Grandma’s I’m actually good at it. I’m almost done with my hat- which is purple and teal (lovely colours) and I’ll be posting pictures when I’m finished. (ps get your orders in now for Christmas- I may be able to make you something- say  a scarf, or hat, or hmmm gloves?). Besides the knitting, I listen to classical music and opera alot because well- Sergio blasts it in the apartment so thus it’s a bit hard to avoid. So instead of going out every night (don’t worry I do somtimes..)- I knit, do yoga, and listen to opera – I’m not sure  ‘nun’ is the correct word- more like ‘modern-day hermit’ or something…ideas?

And yes- I went out. Saturday I met up with some friends- drank pisco sour and ron y coke. Then on to a club aka ‘underground bar’ with fun music and drinks. I got home around 5:30. Super bueno, however Sunday I spent sleeping a lot, and then I went with my ‘family’ to see ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ (hence the mention- still fresh in my mind), and something else interesting (obviously food related)- popcorn(in the movie theaters) is covered with sugar here- not salt and butter.

Until next week. Besitos!

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Mi primera semana en Chile!

Hey Loves.

So yes- I got here. I survived the 20 + hour trip from Mälarbaden to Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile to meet my other supervisor- Stefan Gelcich. He is a professor in the Ecological Department but works ,as of recently, with more social aspects of ecosystem-based management and other fun things. Yay! He also works under Juan Carlos Castilla (for us Science nerds- its like Carl Folke or Johan Rockström- aka Awesome).

I’m actually living with Stefan’s parents- Karen and Sergio. They are fantastic. Karen (former model) is from England and has worked for the British Council and she now teaches English to upper level students. Sergio was a photographer (hence how they met) for a magazine, but now works for the stock exchange. They are world travellers and have countless collections of art, books, music etc. As well as wine 🙂 Not a bad place to stay until I leave for the coast. Oh yes- and two cats,  Karen’s mother who I call ‘Grandma’ (she told me to do so), and Claudia- the housekeeper, and cook who is wonderful and makes me dry my hair (or I might get sick?).

Last week I spent getting acquainted with Santiago. I’ve walked around the city with Sergio who showed me all of the museums that I must go to before I leave as well as some other places to eat and so on. I’ve also checked out  a yoga studio- Yoga A Luka- its quite good actually. For about 2 dollars/class I get all the Chilean-Spanish yoga I want for 1.5 hours- however I only understand about 60% of what they say- so sometimes its a bit difficult, and I do get dirty looks from the instructors when I look up when we should be closing our eyes- Oops. (Don’t worry I’m learning …fast).

During el fin de semana- I went with Karen and Sergio to their beach house in El Quisco. The house is amazing- a mix of hard and soft- involving wood worn by the wind and sea, shells, stones, and plants- everywhere. (oh yes and 2 cats). I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

But now- back to reality. I’ve had meetings all afternoon with Stefan and we’ve pinpointed what I will be doing- so the next couple of days I will be working on a questionnaire outline and other tasks. I’m also working a lot on my Spanish- which will be needed for when I have to do interviews with fishermen.

So far so good!

Abrazos y Besos

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