“East meets West” Celebration with Family

“East meets West” Celebration with Family


(But we’re getting ahead of ourselves…lets  go back to the beginning…)

Back in January, upon hearing the news that we would be journeying for at least a year abroad in Vietnam, Mark’s sister Jill and her husband Gordon immediately made plans to host a May 21 bon voyage party to give us a proper send-off with family (that’s right: They’re awesome). The party’s theme was “East meets West” and their home, the menu, and dogs (Willis and Vlad), were all fashioned accordingly.  Jill even hand-crafted Vietnamese pennant banners to swag alongside the (much more easily sourced) USA flag banners, a union poetically strengthened by President Obama’s visit to Vietnam that very week.


Apropos to the “East meets West” theme, the gathering also brought our families together for the first time. It was a wonderful experience for us to watch Robin’s Mom and Mark’s family laughing together and sharing in great conversations throughout the day.  And thanks to talented photographer Gordon, a few fantastic Stapelkamp sibling portraits were captured!

We also had an art making activity: hand-painted Fairy doors! Fairy doors (miniature faux doors that are both easily transportable and super adorable) are a fixture on our travels–instead of taking a souvenir from a destination, we leave one behind in a spot that was particularly meaningful to us on our trip, with the hope that it will surprise and delight others who come across it after we’re gone. So, in the interest of having a fun, collaborative project, we brought supplies for everyone to customize their own door.  We had a James Bond themed “From Philly with Love,” to a romantic copy of Jill and Gordon’s own front door. Once we are in Southeast Asia, we will find a special place for each of our family’s doors, and post the photo of their door’s new home here on this blog. So stay tuned: You’re bound to see a one of these doors floating down the Perfume River on a tiny wooden raft, or shimmering in a limestone cave in Ha Long Bay.

IMG_20160521_164221FamilyFairy Doors

So how was was the rest of the party?  Just read this list and tell us what you think:  Willis and Vlad were perfect gentlemen! The East meets West menu was fantastic! There were Vietnamese meatballs and pickled cucumbers…Fu-Wah Banh Mi Tofu Hoagies from West Philly…sparkling wine (Which has nothing to do with East meets West but you know us…we’re just crazy for brut sparkling wine)!


At the end of the night the family gave us a gift that will be sure to connect all of you in the West to our journeys in the East: A GoPro!!! This little puppy is going everywhere we go, and will capture on film the sights, sounds, and stories of our time abroad.  So, a huge càm ơn (“Thank you” in Vietnamese) to our family for this gift and an even bigger cảm ơn to for making the gathering so special. It is one we will never forget.

7 thoughts on ““East meets West” Celebration with Family

  1. I am so stealing this fairy doors idea for our trip to Europe! Lyra would love to do this. What a great idea. Can’t wait to see where yours end up!

  2. Binny & Mark-
    Best wishes from Boston where it is also 83 degrees and where I’m currently helping other people with their (academic) adventures/visa paperwork to get them Stateside! Some day, my turn. Be well!

  3. What’s in the skillet – yum! And which one is the cute little guy wrapped up in the blanket on the chair?

    Bon voyage – admire you two so much!

    1. Hey Roy!

      The skillet is a creation of Mark’s sister and brother-in-law: Their delicious recipe for Vietnamese meatballs! The little guy is Willis, an adorable miniature pinscher. We love that you are following along with our journey: We look forward to sharing more!

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