We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
Some of you have during the last couple of years received our Christmas letters via email but this year we are back with the ordinary post since we are back in Sweden! Sorry to those of you who we did not have email addresses to. It has been two fantastic years in Malaysia. Both Andreas and Christoffer almost went from being children to becoming grown-up men during these years so they will surely keep the memories and experiences with them for the rest of their lives.
During the spring we tried to do all things we had not done, but wanted to do. We did a few bathing trips in both Malaysia and Thailand but the trip “of the year” went to Laos, on what the boys calls Dahlen cultural trip! Laos is a fantastic country in between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. We traveled to Lao Praband, the old capital together with some friends. Here we experienced hundreds of Buddhist monks in their orange gown walking the streets at six o’clock in the morning to receive offerings from the people in the town, we went by boat on the Mekong River, ate Laotian food and bought nice handicraft at the night market. It is not yet a tourist destination even though it is starting with the backpackers. If you get the opportunity to go their, take it!
Besides being a househusband Jonas has been a student at several universities in Sweden. He has taken both Java but also photography classes on distant learning. Our trip to Laos and other places gave him the opportunity to take a lot of photographs. Some of them have turned into projects, but it is so much work with just one picture!! After seeing this I will not underestimate the work photographers put into their pictures. The boys continued to work hard at school; Christoffer in his preparation year for the International Baccalaureate program which he started when we came home to Sweden. Andreas was in 7th grade and became a true teenager when friends, face book, msn .. are much more important then schoolwork.
Once school ended and Ann had vacation we went to Beijing. Ann has been there many times and loved to show all the interesting spots she had found. Everyone in the family was impressed with how modern the city of Beijing is. There are not many things left from the old days. Besides the normal sights and fantastic Chinese food the Dahlen boys got an on-the-job- training when it came to bargaining. Everyone was impressed with Ann (even the young boys!) with her skills in the market. To hear that you are good at something from a teenage son warms a mother’s heart!
Back in Malaysia we packed our stuff and cleared out the flat that we had rented. It is hard to imagine that you can gather so much stuff during two year. It had become a full home. Besides this we decided to buy tiles and slate to bring back! Luckily the shipping agent only charged for size, not weight!. After a lot of bye-bye we were on the plane back to Sweden, not understanding that two years passed so quickly.
Back home family and friends met us at the airport and then it was just to drive back home to Långedrag. The house was so kindly prepared by the family so it was just to go inside and put on the kettle. All the stuff that we had not taken with us had been stored in one room and we now started to bring out all the nice things that we did not remember that we had. In the middle of this we found traces of a rat that had had a cozy corner. Fortunately not much had been destroyed but it took a lot of cleaning before we felt ok. We also realized that the family that rented the house did not know very much about gardening. Jonas took out the “big tools” and cut back most things in the garden for us to have space to move around. Christoffer took on as his summer job to paint all the windows and Andreas the garden furniture. When coming back after being away for some time you also see all the things inside that need to be fixed. Just before we left we had a ventilation system put in to get rid of any radon. It had given the house an industrial look with all the piping. We decided to bring in some help to change some bad windows and build boxes around the piping. Now it is just to bring out the paint brush! When starting paining you realize that there are a lot of places that needs a new coating so it will take time before we are finished (or do you never finish?). After Christmas we will continue to refit a bathroom and put new parts into the kitchen.
Both the boys are now attending school in the center of Gothenburg. Christoffer is doing the IB diploma (like an international high school or A-level exam). He really enjoys it (less work then in Malaysia!) and has chosen to major in three science subjects but the curriculum also requires that they take languages and a social science subject , in his case History which Christoffer enjoys very much. Beside school subject the curriculum also requires that the students engage themselves in cultural, social and training activities so he takes on playing the base guitar, playing badminton and working with Amnesty.
Andreas joined the International school. His parents thought it was a good idea to keep up the language and also have some understanding from his peers on what he has experienced. He is taking the same curriculum as Christoffer but on middle school level. It has been hard for Andreas to come to terms with the new school. He has a lot of friends but the low pace makes him loose focus and not do very much at all! This in combination of being very much a teenager is not easy for either him, his parents or his teachers. We all know though that this is a passing phase of life! Andreas has continued to sing in the choir also in Malaysia and joined in coming back again but it has not been so fun so he has a break from singing just now.
Jonas got the interesting message just prior to leaving Malaysia that Suns sales office in Gothenburg will close down. Jonas is happy for this since it got him going regarding other ideas for work. Back in town he activated his network and the number of lunches with different people that he has had during the autumn is amazing. A few things have already materialized. Together with some old colleagues they have started a firm developing and selling tools to be able to pay with your credit card and SMS at vending machines. Here in Sweden anyway it is not possible today. The joy that Jonas puts into this project is fantastic to see. There are a lot of hours going into the project and we all hope if will generate something back in time for our pension plans to be paid out.
Ann continues to travel and working with operational development at Ericsson. We had hoped that she would travel more in Europe but during the autumn it has been a lot to India and China. Writing this Ann is in China, it is minus degrees outside and some snow, really Christmas like!
Looking forward we have decided to go back to Malaysia during Easter. The boys (and we of course) want to meet all friends that still are around. Christmas we will celebrate together with Ann’s brother Martin and his family including the new member Alexander, 3 months. For New Year we will have a big party when Ann’s second brother David comes from Åland.
We wish you all a peaceful Christmas and hope that you will have a nice break. Hope to see you all soon gain.
Lot of love Jonas, Ann, Christoffer and Andreas..