Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Solar Year's Eve

A New Year is coming. Although a new solar year in Vietnam is not celeberated as much as a new lunar year, people still look forward to it. It is a public holiday and time for everybody to relax and enjoy being with family and friends or just enjoy the atmostphere.
In Hanoi, a flower festival is being held around Hoan Kiem Lake from 30th Dec 2009 until 3rd Jan 2010 and traffic is being banned there. (I plan to have a look at it tomorrow). And now I think it must be very beautiful there with neon lights and crowds of young people strolling and waiting for the new year coming and maybe there are live music performances.
I cannot remember exactly when the last time I had a new year's eve out was. It must be 9 or 10 years ago. Partly because it is usually cold and drizzling/raining then, if you have little children you do not dare to bring them out in the evening and walk in a crowded place. Partly because my husband hardly ever wants to go out like that (not romantic). I can not go out in the evening alone (my friends are busy with their children and their family). Partly because ... I can give so many excuses for not going out tonight. ;-). I regard tonight as other ordinary nights. Nothing special.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Second holiday week ended

My first 'holiday' week ended. A week was full of parties. I think I have put on some weight. Joking, still 49 kilos or so. My friend said that I was not on a diet but I ate as if I were on diet. So funny comment. Of these parties today's wedding party was the most memorable. It was an assistant's wedding. He gave the party in his hometown, Lim town (Bac Ninh province), about 20 kilometres from Hanoi. That place is the cradle of quan ho (famous folk songs). Luckily, he rented a bus for us (about 28 people from our university). We set off at 9 am and came back to Hanoi at noon. Why was it memorable? Well, because of two reasons. The first reason was that they did not serve us mineral water or soft drinks during the meal, only a bottle of rice wine (we 6 ladies could not drink wine). I and Mai felt so thirsty. Poor me, I brought a bottle of mineral water on board but I left it on bus. We could not leave the room because there were so many people. I finished soon and ate small 'oranges' to reduce my thirst. Then when the meal was over, we were served hot tea. The other reason was that we had a chance to listen to quan ho (some singers performed in the party room). Interesting. When we were on the bus to leave for Hanoi, I shared water with Mai but we still felt thirsty and a bit carsick and sleepy. We got off at noon at the gate of our univeristy. Soon after that, Mai, Van and I went to a cafe to drink juice and have some pear to make us alert to continue another task, visiting our colleague in hospital.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

"Housewarming" Party

We have lived here for more than 8 months but until today did my 3 colleagues/friends visit me and my home. We were all really busy with work and family, hardly find free time for all. We decided to have lunch at home rather than in restaurants. As a host, I went shopping in the early morning after taking Bob to school. We chose to have hot pot with chicken, so I had to prepare (not cook) ingredients in advance.
At 9.45 they came. They all had good comments on my home. I told them they could do like me, but the most important factor was courage. I showed them around a bit (just because the flat is small) and they joined me to make Russian salad and chop chicken. So funny. Doing together, chatting and laughing. Before lunch we went to explore the peninsula, admiring villas around the high rise buildings. We stopped at a corner shop to buy some soft drink: 3 different drinks for 4 people.
We started lunch with a good speech "Thanks to Mrs. Quyen's courage we have a wonderful lunch today!". We had lunch or dinner together many times but not in our living places, because we were living with family-in-law, it would not be comfortable and fun entertaining friends at home. Lunch lasted until 1.30pm. Then we sat in the living room watching a funny film together. At 3 pm, they left. And they suggested meeting here again this Tet holiday.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Visit to Museum of Vietnamese History

Last Saturday I paid a visit to the Museum of Vietnamese History (one more destination in the list of places in Hanoi I should visit completed :-)). It is located on the corner of Trang Tien Street and Tran Quang Khai Street, just behind the Opera House. The building has a colonial architecture, very impressive, and it is in a large and nice garden.
The museum tells us about the Vietnamese history by objects and pictures and articles from prehistoric to 1945, when Vietnam declared it to be an independent country. The exhibits were displayed chronologically, easy to follow.
The museum was not crowded, just some visitors, two or three foreigners and some Vietnamese people (I guessed they were students). It took me less than an hour to go around downstairs and upstairs. No guides. Visitors have to explore the museum themselves, the same situation as in other museums I visited.
I forgot to take photos, so this entry has no image. Pity.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I have got 2 older brothers, so I have got two sisters-in-law, one was born in 1974 and the other in 1981. I call them 'chi' or 'bac' on behalf of my son, and they call me 'cô Quyên' instead of their children. In Vietnam, in general, the relationships between sisters and sisters-in-law as well as daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law are not good. But in my family, the concept of in-law does not exist. I regard my sisters-in-law as my sisters. Moreover, they are more or less the same age as mine, as a result, we get on quite well with each other. The special thing here is both of them have the same first name: Huong. Both of my sisters-in-law are beautiful, well-educated, hardworking, caring and responsible. I think my parents are lucky to have daughters-in-law like them and my brothers are lucky too to have them as wives. But life is not as what we want.
I read somewhere that happiness is the same but the unhappiness is different in each family/each person. I really feel so sorry for my first sister-in-law, the person was born in 1974. She is married to my first brother with a son and a daughter. Her husband (my brother) is an aggressive man. Outsiders will think they are a very happy family: they live near but not under the same roof with parents, they have a son and a cute daughter, a dream for other families. But...
I heard so many sad stories about their family life. All of the stories relate to my brother's bad behaviour, which can not be changed even we give him so much advice. He gambles: yes. He is lazy (can't do housework): yes. He curses so often (even when he is not angry): yes. He hits his wife: yes. He is mean: yes. He shouts at family members (even with my mum): yes. He shouts at his wife even when there is no reason. I can say he is the blacksheep in my family, so different from the rest 5 siblings. My sister-in-law has to suffer him. Once I told her to get divorced. She said she accepted to live like that for the sake of her children. Poor her.
My family always stands by her but we can not do much to help her.
We are women, why is she so unhappy?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Party with colleagues

As I mentioned in the previous entry, yesterday evening I had dinner with my colleagues. I am the person who keeps the group's money (fund), so I was assigned to do the booking for a party of around 20 people, at 5 pm.

I left home at 4.35 and got to the restaurant at 5.05. Some people arrived on time, standing in front of the restaurant. Actually, not many people are punctual (I claim that I am a bit punctual, maximum just 4 or 5 minutes late. Smile. It is acceptable, isn't it? But for the first date at noon, I was there just after noon, I had reputation for not punctuality). The dinner started at 6 pm. Long waiting for people to come and for the chefs to prepare food. We finished at about 7.25. Some colleagues wanted to sing karaoke. We decided to go to a karaoke parlour nearby. I and Mai (my colleague) had to wait to pay the bill. It took us 30 minutes. The cashier there must be very slow. My son waited with me. He played by the tree. I saw him so funny, then I opened my nokia camera and took this photo.

We came to the parlour around 8. Some colleagues chose the songs. When I came in, the first song started. It was a song by Trinh Cong Son (Ms. Lua selected). When she saw me, she said 'Ah, Khanh Ly, it was your song'. She gave me the microphone, and I was the first person to sing. I also selected a song I just learn to sing. Ms. Kim Anh selected another song for me, another Trinh Cong Son's song. When singing there we found that some of colleagues could sing very well. Some just sat and enjoyed and suffered their colleagues' voice. Smile. I decided to leave at 9.30, ealier than other people, because it was late for me to be outside alone (with the little boy). We got home before 10pm.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

End of semester 1

I do not have a class at university on Saturday, so from today I have a mid-schoolyear break/holiday until 7 Jan (not officially, my colleagues told me that). However, during the 'holiday' I have to mark students' papers and this job is really tiring and badly-paid (smile). Anyhow job done. It seems that I am a fast/effecient worker. Joking, because my colleagues often say my marking is sooooo slow. It is true. Poor me. I can not focus on this job without break. When I mark papers at home, I listen to the music in order to reduce stress.

Another thing I am going to do during the holiday is to have dinner with my colleagues in Group 1+2 (my department is divided into several groups, I am in Group 1+2) in a restaurant in Le Ngoc Han Street at 5 pm today. An end-of-semester party.

My colleagues make use of the holiday to get married. They must be fed up with their bachelor period. They decide to become grooms. Smile. I am invited to their weddings. One on Monday, Dec 21st and the other on Sunday, Dec 27th. How nice.

I and my best colleagues/friends plan to have lunch out together, but we haven't decided the date yet, because we have to wait for the exam admistration schedule. We have to choose a day when we are free.

They (my best colleagues/friends) also want to visit my place. In their eyes, it is a paradise. BIG SMILE. (What a pity that most of my colleagues live with their husband's family and most of them have big problems with in-laws. So sad.) I promise to give a house-warming party to them.

One more event during my break is that next Friday, 18th is one year that my father passed away. We gather at my mum's place to memorise him.

The last thing I will probably do in Dec is to wash my curtains. 7 months no wash. My friend thought that the dirty curtains caused my cough. (These days my health is not good. At the beginning of the week I had a terrible headache. The weather changed from cold to hot and windy. Now I cough quite a lot.) I made a promise to wash them before New Year (solar calendar).
Maybe there are other things I will do during the 3-week break...

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things to do before you turn 40

I read on the Internet the following things some days ago. I would like to copy and paste them here ... for fun. And I also want to check how many things I have completed and how many more things I should do before I turn 40... for fun, too. Now I am in the mid 30s. Whoa, an old lady (but a lovely lady as my friend said). Of the 40 things here, there are some I don't understand. I will look them up later.
1. Write a novel.
2. Stop feeling guilty.
3. Change a diaper.
4. Have an affair.
5. Forgive.
6. Stand on your head.
7. Fall in love.
8. Get your heart broken.
9. Go to Paris.
10. Buy a car.
11. Buy incredibly expensive lingerie.
12. Buy a sex toy.
13. Get a president elected.
14. Learn how to ride a horse.
15. Try anal sex.
16. Stop trying to figure out if you’re a feminist or not.
17. Have a baby.
18. Start a blog.
19. Experience umami, try uni, and embrace wabi-sabi.
20. Drive over 100 mph.
21. Give ‘til it hurts.
22. Earn a degree.
23. Lose someone close to you.
24. Be scared s**tless and do it anyway.
25. Accept the ravages of gravity.
26. Get a Rolex.
27. Lose it.
28. Scream at the top of your lungs.
29. Quit a job you hate.
30. Start a job you love.
31. Get married.
32. Get divorced.
33. Travel alone.
34. Visit three continents not including your own.
35. Balance a checkbook.
36. Get custom fitted for a bra.
37. Give up on thongs.
38. Get diagnosed; survive.
39. Lose it all.
40. Win everything back.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Sunday morning

On Sunday morning I usually take my son to art club downtown. While he is in the classroom, I spend time going for a walk around Hoan Kiem Lake or exploring discounter bookstores. And last Sunday the weather was so nice: not too cold, sunny and clear sky (even it is winter in Hanoi). Ideal for a walk. I stopped for a glass of lemon juice and a 'boat' of ice cream by the lake, enjoying the weather and Sunday without work. Talking about the discounter bookstores, I often buy stories there for me and my son. And the discount can be as much as 20%. On the way home, we went to the KFC near Vincom, Bob's favorite fastfood restaurant. He ate 3 chicken thighs but mummy skipped lunch (cos not hungry after an enormous breakfast and lemon juice and ice cream).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Bob's paintings

I remember 'boasting' that my son is an artist. He likes arts. I should have introduced his collection long time ago, but I didn't know how. I learned to use Picasa. Today I am confident enough to present my son's masterpieces. :-). Please click here and have a look, which will encourage him a lot.