December 31, 2008

An Olson Christmas

-Trev & I, Joline (Raith, Zane & Kayla), Grandpa & Grandma, Tanya & Anthony (Imogen & Rowan).-

With 4 dogs, 5 kids, and 7 adults, an Olson Christmas is always an adventure. Mountains of presents piled around the tree. Mom's delicious baking quickly disappearing from the counter tops. Kids dancing in the kitchen, with dogs following their every move in hopes of licking chocolaty fingers. While the adult chat over the games and puzzles competing for space on tabletop.
-Imogen helping Grandma open her present.-

-Cuddling with Kayla.-

-Imogen dressed in her mother's childhood dress.-

-Raith showing us how it's done.-

-Trev and Zane kickin' back on the couch.-

-Rowan in Auntie Joline's childhood dress.-

December 28, 2008

An Andrus Christmas

Merry Christmas
from the Andrus family!!
Or, as they say in Korea,
"밀리 크리스마스!!"
-The whole family... Mark & Beck, Dave & Karalee (Dawson and Cooper), Mom & Dad, and us with Kimchi.-

We were extremely blessed this year to have had the opportunity to be home for the holidays. It's been awhile since we've been able to spend Christmas with our families and it was truly amazing to be able to partake in all the wonderful winter traditions and enjoy the perfectly snowy winter days with our loved ones.

-I'm not sure who is more excited about Christmas...-

-Dad reading the Christmas story.-

-Mark + Beck-

-We were so happy to meet baby Cooper. What a precious little guy.-

-Proof that Kimchi made it back to Canada. Aside from the -40°C weather he sure does love it here.-

-Kimchi taking in Christmas.-

-A great shot of Dad.-

-Beck and Cooper chillin' on Christmas morn.-

-Mom and Dawson got in a little tobogganing before Christmas dinner.-

-What a perfect day!-

From all of us, a very merry Christmas!!

December 20, 2008

The Best of Hoi An

Journal Excerpt - Hoi An, Vietnam
November 15th
-Stone Covered-bridge, a remnant of the Japanese occupation.-

Hoi An may well be the place we’ve been looking for our entire time in Asia. The narrow little alleys, the French inspired architecture, the stone bridges and silk lanterns are not only quaint but well worth the UNESCO world heritage title. Both of us are incredibly impressed with the aura of this ancient trading city.

-This old man made his living by asking for money in return for his posing for a picture.-

-The French inspired waterfront villas were amazing. The colours, the architecture, the nearly dilapidated state.-

We spent the day walking the streets, exploring the narrow-twisting alleys. We ventured in and out of shops inspecting the local goods: silk, pottery and pearls. Trev kept getting dragged away by over zealous vendors and I managed to find pearls for my sisters wedding party.

-A shot of the riverfront.-

-Boatmen lined the street selling rides up the river.-

-What used to be a street was taken over by the tide-swelled river, rendering the street a ominous place for wandering foreigners and a playground for local children on bikes.-

We ended the evening wading from our restaurant. Apparently when the tide comes in the riverfront floods and so we walked knee deep in the river to leave our riverfront restaurant. Such an interesting place... Vietnam.

-Walking home from dinner.-

If Trev had backed up any farther to take this shot he would have plunged from the unmarked edge of the submerged sidewalk taking an unwanted swim in the murky river.


Cham Ruins

-Cham script, which was heavily influenced by the Thai language of old.-

Ruins from the Cham Kingdom. The Cham people occupied what is now Vietnam, a little of Laos and Cambodia in about the same time frame as the Khmer people of Angkor. Here are a few shots of what is left of a temple after centuries of decay and a violent war.

-Temples in decay.-

-Timeworn script.-

-Relief carvings, decorations for the temple.-

-Remnants recovered after the heavy shelling the war.-

-She lost her head...-

-So did she.-

-The cause....(Casings, or unexploded American bombs).-

The Killing Fields of Cambodia

Let me be clear, this is NOT a blog for young readers!! The following blog is a graphic article about the mass genocide which occurred in Cambodia from 1975-1979.

Journal Excerpt - Phenom Pehn, Cambodia
November 9th
-A skull of one of the victims. Notice the puncture to the forehead caused by a blunt instrument.-

While the contents of this blog are disturbing, they only relay a small picture of the brutality forced upon the Cambodians. According to Time Life, "Perhaps a quarter of Cambodia's population was dead, either from execution or starvation". We believe that this brutality that was forced upon the innocent is unjustifiable and as such deserves worldwide recognition in order to bring a positive change to our future. We need to know that genocide is not dead but is still active in our world today, if you don't believe me just take a look at North Korea.

-Only a handful of the children who were executed.-

-The monument built to house the remains of those mass graves that were unearthed.-

Today was an exhausting day, not exhausting because of physical exertion, but the kind of mental exhaustion that makes one question the very core of the individual human heart. Today we visited The Killing Fields and the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum.

We learned of the unspeakable atrocities committed by regular people towards their own kind, their own brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers. We learned of the deaths of nearly 2,000,000 innocent lives, of unspeakable brutality, and cold-hearted murder.

-The innocent.-

-Remains. Bones and teeth under the 'magic tree', a place of mass extermination.-

-The sharp edges of palms, as seen above, were used as saws.-

We stood on the site where they bludgeoned the innocent, killing them and burying the hundreds in mass graves. We touched the tree where they killed the children by holding their feet, swinging their bodies and cracking their heads against the solid trunk. We stood in the cells where they unjustly held the victims before there ‘extermination’. We looked into the eyes of those killed; teachers, doctors, lawyers, the learned, children, farmers and politicians. We heard the stories of both the tortured and the tortures.

At first it was easy to judge. They, the mutilators of innocent lives, must be punished. How could they kill? How could they unjustly imprison? But, as the day went on, as we became better informed, we learned that many of these ‘monsters’ were just children. Once innocent but now frightened and fighting to save their own lives and the lives of those they loved. And, so I wonder… are we all capable of such acts?

-A mass grave, not yet unearthed.-

-A hall of Tuol Sleng, a high school which was turned into a genocide prison.-

-High school classrooms converted into prison cells. The victims would wait here for 'extermination'.-

-A cell.-

-The innocent.-

-A classroom converted into a torture chamber.-

December 11, 2008

This is Hoi An

This is one of our favorite shots of the quint little river-village of Hoi An, Vietnam.

December 8, 2008

Tunnels of the Viet Cong

-Trev crawling along a few meters underground in the Củ Chi Tunnels.-

While in Saigon we were able to take a trip 70km north to visit the Củ Chi Tunnels. The Củ Chi Tunnels are famed for their use by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Many say that it was this intricate and extensive underground operation that eventually persuaded the American forces to withdraw.

-Built first for the war between Vietnam and France (First Indochina War) , the tunnels truly felt their worth during the war between America (Second Indochina War).-

-Our guide demonstrating how to enter the tunnels through the secret entrance.-
(30cm x 20cm opening)

The tunnels, originally built as small entities by individual villages, were eventually connected to form over 200 km of passageways encompassing communication and supply routes, sleeping arrangements for various levels of guerrilla warriors and displaced villagers, kitchens, hospitals, water wells, weapon stores and hiding spots for Vietnamese guerrillas fighters.

-Lowering the tunnel roof to cover his tracks.-

-Spikes made from unexploded US bombs are used in booby traps against US soldiers.-

One aspect of the visit that floored us was seeing the Vietnam War from the perspective of the communist locals. As North Americans, we've been indoctrinated our whole life by the American view of the war. We've only seen the war from one vantage point. It was interesting to have the tables turned. We learned about the 'evil' Americans and about the 'heroes' that were brave enough to spend their lives 'hunting the enemy-Americans'. At the end of the day I believe that we had a more comprehensive view of the atrocities of war. Both sides spew propaganda, both sides kill mercilessly. Doesn't matter whose side is chosen, war is a terrible thing.

-Just another example of a use for unexploded ordnance.-