Tag Archives: family

Going Local in the Portuguese countryside

22 Jun
Relaxing at the pool, euh, watertank

Relaxing at the pool, euh, watertank

Visiting my sister and family in Portugal is like going back in time: back to the countryside (where I grew up) but then in the Portuguese mountains instead of the Flemish lowlands. A typical visit there has become staying in a tent in the garden, living at the rhythm of the kids, enjoying nature (hardly anything else around) and some desperate attempts to stay in touch with the rest of the world via the one internet connection 10km away. But still I’m charmed by it and might move out of the city myself… Continue reading

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Mummy-sitting in Portugal

21 Jun
Great weather & great company in Portugal

Great weather & great company in Portugal

6 months in Asia was a long time, even though it was too short (I nearly jumped on a special Lufthansa offer to Singapore before realism got the better of me). So after my Asian time-out I planned to reconnect with family-life and take my mum to visit my sister & co in Portugal. After the world-travel, it was time for small-travel.

My mother, with a respectable 79 years on her clock, is not used to traveling (she hardly gets out of the village) so I offered to take her to Portugal – and coach her through airports, check-in, border controls, luggage belts and metal detectors (which invariably go off on my mum’s corset). I got my mum a free plane ticket with Continue reading

Family holiday at the Beach

1 Feb
(lots of) Travelling to Nha Trang

(lots of) Travelling to Nha Trang

We were only just back from the beach (visiting a friend’s fancy beach resport in Vung Tao) and what comes next. Right: a little holiday to the … beach. With the family-in-law this time and going a bit further afield: to Nha Trang (more north). We packed and loaded the car in good family style, stuffing the boot with beach stuff, munchies and picnic for the road, as well as one aunt & mother, brother & wife and also the kids of the brother, full of enthusiasm.

The trip was scheduled to start at 7am, in order to reach Nha Trang at a decent hour (so that we could still have a quick dip before sun set), but children, aunts and cars don’t always move that fast in Vietnam, so it wasn’t till 8h30 that we dived into Sai Gon traffic (after having got up at the crack of dawn to be ready). Continue reading

Very Vietnamese New Year

24 Jan
Offerings for the ancestors... and us afterwards...

Offerings for the ancestors... and us afterwards...

I had read so much about the Vietnamese new year that I was very curious to actually see it happen – and I was even more excited to be part of it in my boyfriend’s family. Having said this, this was certainly not the reason for getting back with my ex (that would be veeery cheap!). I made pretty sure that I’d prefer to stay at the hotel if it would be inappropriate to be at his place for Tet (Vietnamese new year) or at his family’s ‘tout court’.

Our ‘getting-back-together’ timing was not the best of all, as we only got back together the day before the new year. I had seen that it is traditional to give each other big presents for the new year, so I certainly didn’t want to be the pauper and come empty handed. Continue reading

Adopted by a Vietnamese Family

23 Jan
The church around the corner from 'our' place

The church around the corner from 'our' place

Sorry to have been off-line for a good week or two (as if you noticed ;-) but I had some family matters to ‘take care of’. I had only arrived a few days in Sai Gon and the ‘inevitable’ happened: I met with my Vietnamese ex from Berlin (we knew we would be in Vietnam at the same time) – originally just for a friendly drink – but then for lunch with his family – and as I was there for dinner as well – his mother said: ‘why don’t you stay in our house?’… A very simple and candid question – with more complicated and far-reaching consequences. (VIPs read more here)

That was quite an unexpected evolution of my situation: from being a lone (and at that moment lonely) traveler I was promoted to a sort of son-in-law. Wow. Continue reading

Protected: Again, again and again…

22 Jan

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Countryside blues

25 Dec
Christmas at my mum's in the countryside

Christmas at my mum's in the countryside

I went back home to my mum’s for christmas. It takes 2 trains, a bus and 10 minutes walk to get to my roots in the countryside. This is the place where I grew up, and where I’ll return to after Asia (as I rented out my apartment for the year). It is very strange to go back to the past. It feels familiar, even after moving out 10 years ago, but at the same time I have forgot the names of the people and the places. It is part of me, but I do not feel I belong…

It was nice however to spend some time together with my mum, talking about her 78 years life experience, at the same time being at the good old home, heated during these winter days till 25 or more degrees Celcius to combat potential arthritis attacks (sure this is great preparation for the tropical heat in Asia!). Life slowed down to the rhythm of TV-series my mum is watching, punctuated by a hot lunches and sandwich dinners, followed by doing dishes together.

Back in my old room...

Back in my old room...

I was sleeping again in my old room filled with boxes which I exported in a car filled to the roof (thanx Tomas). My old bed (which had served 2 of my brothers as well) was hanging on the floor because the mattress springs stayed around more than was good for them (and for my back). But I slept so much better than in Brussels. Maybe because the heat in the house subdued me. Maybe because the shutters kept out the morning. Maybe because of the fresh air. Maybe because I got stuck in front of the telly till late (as I don’t have one in Brussels). Maybe because there’s no noise in the countryside, besides a dog or a rooster in the neighbourhood.

Saying goodbye to the countryside...

Saying goodbye to the countryside...

There’s definitely nice things about living in the countryside (what I am considering to do at some stage after Asia): fresh air, space, quiet, nature, slowing down,… The question is how much I would like to slow down – because there’s nothing much happening. Luckily there’s some unsecured WIFI network I can capture every once so often… I think if I would move to the countryside, I would anyway just change the environment, I guess my head will remain open to the world and be drawn to the internet, friends, activities, sports, communicate, etc

Christmas dinner Flemish style...

Christmas dinner Flemish style...

The christmas dinner was also the opportunity to say goodbye to the family, half of which I don’t know (very) well. As I don’t go home a lot, I hardly meet the new members of the family (girlfriends, babies, partnerssomething to change…). This christmas my mum chose a traditional ‘kempense koffietafel’ (folk buffet of the area we come from which we used to have at farmers’ weddings) with a feast of meat balls with hot cherries, blood sausage with apple sauce, raisin bread with cheese, etc. All of that with coffee in stead of champaign. So quite a difference from the turkey or the roast but a nice goodbye meal before jumping into 4-5 months of Asian cuisine…

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