Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lows and highs in 2010

The year 2010 is about to end. A new year is coming. Time to look back low and high moments. Yes, so many things have happened to me over the year of tiger.

I don't know where I should start. Maybe I should talk about my son first. He has moved to secondary school, Grade 6. His school is considered the best in the district. Luckily it is quite near my living place. It takes only 5 minutes by motorbike and short enough for him to walk home if mother has to work whole day. In the first month of the school year, he did not get used to the learning style at secondary school and I gave him a hand and supervised him study closely. Gradually, no need for too much supervision from mum any more. :-) And, at the end of the semester, mum supported him again with the preparation for tests. Good scores.

My work is good. In November, I got promoted, which means more responsibilities and a bit higher income. What I want to share here is heavy workload with new ESP teaching. Sometimes I felt exhausted, really exhausted, beyond my capacity. Anyhow, my team and I made it. Not too good but acceptable for the first round.
Travelling is another high in 2010. I travelled well on both business and holiday: to highland, to the central and to the north. Really interesting.

Besides, I still sustain the rental flat and make it my simple and cozy and nice home. In my distant dream, I wish to live in such a place. Tomorrow my colleagues-friends will come here for the second visit. They like my place and like my independence. :-) It promises a really good time together.

So what are my lows? Well, my personal life. It took me quite a long time to overcome what happened to my personal life. But it is said that what will come will come. We can not hide for ever. My friends and family wanted to help me to have a more comfortable life. Some said: forgive and come back. Some said: forget and move on. And I needed time to think. Tears and sleepless nights. Maybe it is one of my weaknesses. I don't want to come back and I can't move forward. As a result, I stand still and experience or face with my pain. Deep in my heart, I don't want to hurt my son. I want him to be proud of his parents. And I did it: keep bad things as far away from him as possible.

Time will help us to grow up and to be stronger in a stormy life. And a man who has always been standing beside me in the last few years is anh. But good things never last for good. He is going to be my long distance friend. So sad to say this.

One more low I want to talk here is when I heard the news about my niece, my brother's daughter. She is an autistic child although she is a very cute little girl. She can't talk clearly even now more than 2 years old.

A year is passing with all happiness and sadness I have experienced. In the coming year, I wish so much for peace in my mind and for love in my heart. I don't like to be considered as a strong woman. For me, a strong woman is often lonely. I don't want to be lonely. :-) I want to be cared for and to be loved. I wish for good health and good income to support myself and my son.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Heavy Workload gone and will be back

Finally, preparation for semester 2 was over this morning, which gives me little free time to relax. A week to go we will be busy again. Again, I have a problem with how much I will teach: 30, 35 or 40 periods per week. Balance between work and life is not easy for me at all. For some people they work to earn as much money as possible. For some people they work to have fun. For me, both purposes :-). Moreover, I think I have to spend time with my son. He is growing and needs my attention. I claim myself greedy and a bit too ambitious. I want to do many things and I want to do them well. Clearly, it is impossible. I have to set priorities, have to choose. (I realize that I seem not to be good at choosing. Smart choices should be made on rational not emotional reasons.) Anyhow, I made up my mind, 35 periods: full Mon, full Thu, Tue-Wed and Fri morning.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Single mum

This morning I concentrated on work at home. But now, in the afternoon, I lost concentration. I relaxed on the sofa in the tiny living room watching Harry Potter. At the beginning, I didn't want to watch it. I considered it not my type but the more I watched it the more I liked and as a result, I still sat on the sofa when the film ended. :-) Anyhow, I had to get out of the sofa. Making myself a cup of hot coffee is a good way to give me a good mood in such dull weather today: cloudy, no sun, cold. sometimes drizzling. And a nice accompany: music.

I turned on my computer and surfed the net. And read (again) my blog and some other people's ones. My friend said in his blog that he has been to 52 countries in the world (excluding stopovers in some countries), about 26 % of all the countries in the world. Suddenly I felt so jealous. :-) Wow, 52 countries. I once told him that the world was in your hands, so small. But for me the world is toooo biiiiig! And I compare his travelling to mine. If the world in his eyes is the global, the world in my eyes is just a tiny part of it - Vietnam. He has travelled to 52 countries in the world, I have travelled to only about 26 cities and provinces in Vietnam, a small country in the world. But I am still luckier than a lot of other people who have never had chances to go out of their own city or province. So no reason to feel sad. :-)

Then I read a blog of a single mum in a complicated world. She is 2 or 3 years older than me and lives in the US and a mum of three children. In her blog she expresses her feelings when becoming a single mum: low and high moments. It takes time to go over difficult times in a single mum's life. Luckily, she has got friends and her three children. She says, 'I am very content in my life and on the journey to become a better mom and a better woman. Stronger, healthier and more independent.' I am also on the journey to become a good mum and a good woman ;-). Life is not easy for me but I hope so much it will be better. But when? Now I just remember a scene in Harry Potter film. The principal of the school tells Harry Potter when he looks into the magic mirror that it reflects what you desperately want in your mind or the vision in the future and if you just think about your future you will forget your present life. Therefore the mirror will be put away. So let's live for PRESENT. :-D. It sounds similar. Some people tell me that as well. However, it is easier to say than to act. I am trying my best not to think too much about future, focus on present: single mum in a rental flat. And I am trying to enjoy happy moments life brings to me.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ha Giang trip

As I mentioned in my previous entry: earn money during holiday ;-) (How practical I am!), I had a trip to Ha Giang, a mountainous province in the north of Vietnam, bordering with China. This time ofthe year it is really cold there. And during my stay there it was about 15 degrees. Luckily, I prepared for myself for this trip much better than my trip to Sa Pa: woolen dresses and long coat and scarf.

It was a long and tiring trip, about 6 hour drive from Hanoi. But it was the first time I travelled there so it was no problem at all. Taking a Nautamine (carsick tablet) kept me fine for the trip and we sometimes stopped for a break. The landscape along the road was beautiful: green trees and green fields and bushes, blue sky, white clouds on the hills and mountains, fresh air. But the living standards are so low. I want to live in a peaceful place but not too far from a civilised world. On the way back to Hanoi, I got some fruits on the roadside.

Honestly, I learned a lot from the trips to the North. If I didn't work as a freelance interpreter, I would not have a chance to visit those places. And the extremely tall man next to me helps me a lot. He looks serious in this photo but in reality he is so nice to me. :-)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday?

Semester 1 of the school year finished . 3 weeks without teaching from last Sunday until the 2nd January (Semester 2 starts on 3rd). .No teaching does not mean no working. We have to supervise students' exams, each teacher has at least 3 sessions. As a group leader, I am responsible for one session with the role of Head of the exam committee for that session.

How am I spending 3 weeks? Well,
1. Finish 5 sets of test questions DONE
2. Check and help Bob with his preparation for his tests DONE
3. Earn money, work as an interpreter again for 3 days - TOMORROW
4. Prepare for semester 2: supplementary materials, teaching schedules for the group of students I am responsible for
5. Do some administrative work
6. Prepare the English outcome of students of Architecture (the Dean assigned that task long time ago and deadline is end of December - HAVEN"T STARTED YET)

So, it seems that I do not not have time to refresh during this holiday. :-)

The first task is what I find most time consuming. Luckily it was done with the dedication of not only me but also my colleagues-friends. I often teased them that these days I have been busy with "EAT, MULTIPLE CHOICE and LOVE". I imitate the name of the novel "Eat, Pray and Love", on which a film has been based. They all smiled and a colleague said that anyhow I still had the word LOVE, luckily. What a life of a teacher like me!

I am a bit nervous about my son's exams although we got prepared for them quite carefully. Wonder if he does well or not. This is his first exam at secondary school. Citizen Education and Biology (Mon), Technology and History (today morning), Geography (tomorrow), Physics and English (Thur), Literature (Fri) and Maths (Sat). Hope he will do his best.

That is about my HOLIDAY.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Short term separation

Anh goes on a business trip again... This time, more than a week... Still know that communication technology helps us to keep in touch but I couldn't prevent some tears in the corner of my eyes. "Em, don't cry."

I have known him for a long time and not too surprised at all when he tells me about his plan. Honestly, before every trip, I still cry. He always holds me and says "I'll be back." Far and close, close and far, away and back, back and away. In his life, business trips are normal like a teacher's life, marking papers. His job brings him to so many countries in the world. I once teased him that he is like a bird, flying to a lot of new places. In the morning he is in one country, and in the afternoon in another. I am really jealous :-). But of course I can't travel like that.

I wish him in a faraway place (which I can only know via the Internet and books and where there is no me) a nice and successful trip and want to remind him that here in Hanoi a little woman always looks forward to welcoming him back...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Via Sapa

After Teachers' Day I took a train to Lao Cai and Lai Chau again. I work as a freelance interpreter for a non-profit organization based in Hanoi, beside my main job as a teacher. This time our group had meetings in both provinces. As a result, I had a chance to travel through Sapa and spent a night there.

What I impressed most about this trip was the winding road from Lao Cai Town to Lai Chau and the cloudy and foggy weather. We travelled in the clouds. So strange and interesting for a person like me living mostly in the flat area.

We also visited farmers growing flowers in Lai Chau. It was the first time I have seen a large area of flowers: roses, lilies, daisies and gladiolus (I like this kind of flowers). So nice. Pity I had no photos about it.

Although I knew in advance that it was cold in Sapa but I didn't expect it was so cold as I was there. Poor me, forgetting to bring jackets. Anh had to give me a small blanket to wrap myself warm. Luckily, the hotel had a heater in each room.

Another experience after the trip was Indian food. I have never tried it before. Really spicy and my mouth was hot. Truly it was not my type. Anyhow, I liked its thin flour cake. I have to confess that perhaps I am a difficult eater. Not easy for me to change my taste. Poor poor me :-(

I felt satisfied with the trip when I found the meetings went fine and I did not feel sick with travelling much (thanks to carsick pills). :-)

When travelling back to Hanoi, I took two pills, which caused me to feel so sleepy and slept quite early. At 8.25 pm I thought. I did not talk much to my accompany and did not take part in any social conversations. So impolite I was.

Anh took this photo for me near one of the tourist attraction of Sapa. It called Thac Bac (Silver Waterfall). Next time I come there, I will be a tourist not just a passer-by.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Teachers' Day

Happy Teachers' Day!

Today is Vietnamese Teachers' Day. I got greetings and flowers, which make my living room more beautiful. Truly, I have only two vases, so some flowers just stay with me for some short moments. Pity.

I got an invitation from my old students who I taught English at home year ago to have dinner. They graduated and got jobs. They wanted to show their thank to two special teachers: English and Finance. But I could not attend. Anyhow I feel happy and feel for them too.

And of course I was treated a romantic lunch. I forgot to take a photo.:-)

What else happened to me today? I got a new cupboard for my tiny kitchen with support from my two brothers. I called my second brother ans asked him to order it for me in a shop near his house. Then my first brother, a truck driver, transported it here for me. It is really what I need to prevent things from dust in dry weather in Hanoi. It will be easier for me to keep the kitchen as well as other rooms in this nice flat clean.

I will end today with watching a film, lazy on the sofa, and then playing some music.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Angel Investment

In our course book "Market Leader - Intermediate" there is one unit called Money. And in the case study at the end of the lesson students have to act out as if they worked for Angel Investment Company. This company invests in start-up and small companies and in large companies with good growth prospects. Now it has 10 million euros available to invest and is considering 4 companies as potential investment. Students have to discuss advantages and disadvantages of investing in each company and then recommend which company(companies) to invest and how much money.

Honestly, when I first taught this lesson, was so confused. I didn't know anything about stock market. Even now my knowledge about it = zero. As if it did not exist in my own world. :-)
But as a teacher (maybe cheater in this case) I educate myself by asking my colleagues and ANH and searching information on the internet. Gradually I feel confident teaching this unit. It is said that in order to get returns from your investment in stock market you should analyse companies you want to invest in carefully: financial situation, performance, potentials .... , based on rational reasons NOT emotional reasons.

If HEART you want to invest in somebody was like MONEY you want to invest in companies, how would you choose that SOMEBODY to invest your heart in?

Of course, HEART is not MONEY......................

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Old things

Hanoi is experiencing autumn weather: cool and dry. As a result, there is so much dust. Today I decided to buy a standing cupboard to contain china ware and some grocery, so that it will be easy for me to keep things clean. I like things clean. But I failed. Could not find it. Maybe I will give it a try another day. A temporary solution: tidy the bookcase in Bob's room to make space for a blender and electric kettle.

When I tidied the case, I realized that I kept so many old things. Typically me: memory keeper. I could not prevent me from tears. Some negative films (now we do not use films any more), some photos, some toys of Bob's, his old books and notebooks, his paintings from a long time ago... Memories came back to me. I sorted out some, gave them to my niece and threw some away. I wish I could keep them all. But it is not good because old things can not maintain in good condition when time passes. Moreover, the flat is pretty small. How can I store so many things? Besides, if we keep on storing old things, no room to welcome new ones. Take my wardrobe as an example. If I have new clothing items, I have to give some used ones or unfavorable ones to my sisters-in-laws.

Getting rid of old things does not mean that we do not like/love/want them any more. Just because we think they are the past or they may be good for other people. It is better than we keep them and they become useless.

However, my son still has so many old toys and books.:-)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Nice Sunday

This morning, my department organized a open meeting about how to teach and learn English well at our university. The agenda said we started at 9 am but could not do that until 9.30. But it was acceptable because today Sunday. Everybody should relax after a hard working week. After talking we had buffet. And we left for home at around 1 pm.

I did not go straight, anyhow. I went around Hoan Kiem Lake with my boyfriend. The weather was so nice, almost end-of-autumn weather. We did not stroll downtown for a long time. He was too busy as a travelling consultant. We missed so many Sundays. :-) We stopped for a drink at three places. So wonderful moments around the lake. Peaceful, relaxing and full of emotions. I wish I could have more such spectacles. He took some photos of me from his new mobile phone. I think the photos are high-quality: the main character and the surrounding.:-) Look and judge yourself.

And tonight Bob continued to study English. We try to make it as a habit. Luckily he likes studying it. Maybe he inherits that passion from his mother. Today he completed the first lesson of Module 1 (the programme has got 8 modules) more than 80%. As a result, he could do Mastery test and got 91%. And study score is 5 (From 5 to 12: Excellent. Grade A). Not bad. It also means that he studies efficiently. I feel my hard work is compensated. Recently he got mark 10 for a 15-minute English test.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

11.11.2010

A special day for me. I decided to meet him in person on 11.11. I didn't think that he would become so special to me at that time. I still remembered sending him a message to say that I was in mood for coffee. And then we arranged to meet in Highlands Coffee House in Vincom around noon. I chose that location because it was quite near my university and an elegant place. Until later I didn't know that romantic people like meeting in cafe. :-) Am I romantic?

I was wearing a brown sweater with two white hearts on the front and a pair of white trousers. And he was wearing a yellow short-sleeved shirt and light trousers too. Easy to recognize us for the first time. We drank coffee and chatted. In general, we had a good time. I can't forget the way he looked at me when I came to the table. He arrived first. I thought he was a bit "surprised".:-) Gradually we become friends and love each other. Since when? I don't know.

I myself had never thought that my heart would tremble again before a man... Never... But life contains so many surprising and unexpected things in it. Even now I don't understand why I can fall in love with him. But I am sure that I feel so lonely without him and whenever I think one day we depart I feel so sad.

Today, he can't be in Hanoi to celebrate our anniversary. I did it with my son. We came to the old place and sat in the cafe. My memory came back. Around noon, two persons met... It was another turning point in my life.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hair pressed again

I think I have my mum's hair. Black, thick, straight and strong. It costs me a lot of shampoo and conditioner when I wash it. But to compensate, I don't have to worry when some hairs lose a day in such dry weather in Hanoi.

I claim myself to be a bit conservative about my appearance. A bit, so I sometimes still have a crazy idea, to change it. Take today as an example. After a lot of considering, I decided to get it pressed again. This is the third time. It took me 5 hours and cost a big amount of money. I made use of the time there to finish the novel "All the rivers run".

Honestly, I still look the same. Blue photo: Before. Pink photo: Present. :-) But my hair is not heavy any more. And I can let it loose without being worried about a mess on my head. It will be completed in two days. I am going to the hairdresser's again to have it conditioned.



Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Lady lady lady

A really nice song

Frightened by a dream, you're not the only one
Running like the wind, thoughts can come undone
Dancing behind masks, just sort of pantomime
But images reveal whatever lonely hearts can hide

Lady, lady, lady, lady, don't walk this lonely avenue
Lady, lady, lady, lady, let me touch that part of you, you want me to

Lady, lady, lady, lady, I know it's in your heart to stay
Lady, lady, lady, lady, when will I ever hear you say, I love you

Time like silent stares, with no apology
Move towards the stars, and be my only one
Reach into the light, and feel love's gravity
That pulls you to my side, where you should always be

Lady, lady, lady, lady, don't walk this lonely avenue
Lady, lady, lady, lady, let me touch that part of you, you want me to

Lady, lady, lady, lady, I know it's in your heart to stay
Lady, lady, lady, lady...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What a duty!

New position = new and more responsibilities and NOT = increased income YET. As a group leader of teachers teaching students of architecture, I am in charge of preparing teaching and testing materials. Heavy workload for a small and fragile woman like me :-). Besides proofreading and editing, I myself do preparation too. Work is being finished step by step. Honestly it consumes so much of my free time at home. I stay up late on Saturday night and spend Sunday working. Work, work, work and deadline, deadline, deadline. They are chasing after me. Wish I have enough energy to cope with them. Anyhow, it must be boring if life without work?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Typical day in my life

My working day often begins with the alarm clock in my Nokia, which is set at 5.45 am. (And sometimes with a lovely message from my boyfriend and sometimes no need alarm.) Then I wake up, reach the phone and get out of the bed. After doing personal things :-), I prepare breakfast for my son quite quickly and fully. He can have bread, eggs, sausages, milk, cocoa, cheese, fruit, instant noodles, fried rice, cereal ... Not bad, isn't it? While I am preparing breakfast, drinking coffee to keep me alert and sending message(s) to my boyfriend (so romantic to start a new day with love) and listening to TV news, I call my son to wake up at about 6.05. After shower, he gets dressed and eats breakfast. And mum has a shower in turn. I often make up but sometimes I skip this thing even I know it is nice if a woman wears a make-up :-). Not for herself but also for other people. Then I choose the attire and look at myself in the mirror. I should look smart and feel confident. Often a dress or a skirt with a nice blouse. However, jeans and trousers are what I often opt for. Before leaving home, I hardly ever forget to touch my bottle of perfume or eau de toilet. My son is the person who turns off TV and locks the door. Mum is responsible for press the lift. We leave home at around 6.45, the best time for both of us. I can take him to the gate of his school and still have enough time to get to university 10 0r 15 minutes early. Sometimes, we are late, leaving at 6.55 or so, I drop Bop at the turning and he walks 2-3 minutes to school. So, within an hour, we have to finish morning things in time. Son is never late for school and mum is never late for work.

I often have breakfast with Mai and Van in the staff room. Mai is responsible for buying breakfast for us. I and Van sometimes have no mood for eating, that's why we look a bit thin :-). We teach from 7.30 until 11.30. We have three breaks. During the breaks I can check my email (thanks to N97) and get and send messages. It is also time for teachers/friends to chat and tell jokes about family-in -law and students etc. Honestly we always look forward to break.

I often have lunch in the canteen with my colleagues before going home. I teach half day most of the working days. For me, for the time being, that is enough. Maybe some days in the future I have to work more. I often arrive home around noon.

I spend whole afternoon preparing teaching materials. At the moment, I am responsible for preparing ESP teaching materials as well as tests and reviews for students of Architecture and Construction. Sometimes, when I am tired, I have a short sleep on the sofa.

I pick up my son from school around 4.10. I try to be there before the drum. I want my son to see me as soon as he walks out of the school gate. We smile and greet each other. On the way home, as a routine, I often ask my son about his study and meal at school. I have had that habit since my son was at nursery. I remember long time ago, when he was at nursery, one day I picked him up without immediately asking him questions, he asked me: "Mum, why didn't you ask me questions?" How nice!... We shop for food in a market on the way home and often in the lift at 4.30 except on Wed when my son finishes school late, at 5pm.

I prepare and eat dinner and do housework within about two hours. After dinner, Bob has to do
homework and study English. And of course I spend most of my free evening time checking and
teaching him (English only). I can say that he takes the initiative to study now. Unlike first two or three weeks. He often got remarks like: Minh Anh forgot to bring books, Minh Anh forgot to do homework. Even I still checked his preparation and told him that learning at secondary school was much different from at primary. But ...

After doing mum's duties, I practice the keyboard for a while, chat with my man and work a bit. We often go to bed before 10. Before sleeping, bedtime stories: Conan detective and All the rivers run.:-). Two more things I do before turning off the light are reading messages and sending a good night message to the "tall man with ugly feet and a big belly".

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Lovely announcement

Finally, I introduced my new love officially to my best friends. We (him and me) were a bit tense at first. After my announcement, everything went fine. We ate, we chatted and we made jokes. We really had a good time and my friends understood that we are a happy couple.

It was Van's birthday party. She is the woman in the middle. After giving her the best wishes, I told my friends that this was the man who gave me "bread and flowers" on Vietnamese Women's Day, who invited me out for lunch sometimes. Very simple introduction. Only one or two sentences, but it took me a long time to speak out... No more hiding or pretending. So another challenge was overcome. I feel very comfortable and happy.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Change

Whenever I teach my students about CHANGE in our course book Market leader Inter, I ask them to tell the class some important changes in their life or at least one change. Then I also ask them how to cope with changes in our life. Not many students can answer the latter. Easy to understand. We are not psychologists and we do not have much experience in life.

I often read some articles about change in our life and how to deal with it before I teach that lesson. It is said that change is a natural part in human condition. However, most people are afraid of changes. They perceive them as threats to their abilities, their esteem and their values.
Some people think change creates opportunities and they can seize these opportunities to go further. The most important thing to deal with change is we should be prepared for change, accept them with positive thinking and flexibility and a strong will.

The idea of writing entry in my blog about change in my life came into my mind some days ago. Not best solutions do I want to mention. I just want to share what changes I experience.

I have never thought one day what I have never thought would happen to me happened. I have never thought I could live independently. I have never thought that I could still live on when my heart was hurt so much. But I can...

Since I decided to move out in April 2009. It took me some time to find a flat. As soon as I saw it, I liked it. Renting was arranged smoothly. And gradually I can live a life I always dream of (not luxury but really comfortable). I remember someone says when one door closes another door opens and that everything which happens has a reason. So we should learn to accept instead of complain and blame. If I hadn't decided to move out, I would not have this life.

Sometimes people think they can not do something. That is because they haven't put in their effort. You know that I could not swim until last year just because I was afraid of water. I invested time and energy in learning a basic course. I got a lot of stimulation from my friend and my son. As a result, I can swim with my son in the swimming pool. I thought I had no chance to learn music any more. But I am wrong. I bought a keyboard and having music lessons twice a week now. I decided not to work in the evening (income reduced) so that I can help Bob with homework and English. My son does not make me disappointed. He is doing well at school at present.

But above all my big change is I feel more confident in my life and more responsible for myself. The person who encourages me a lot is my boy friend. I find in him my smile, my peace and more than that I feel love again.

One more big change in my life is that I will introduce him to my friends officially. I have delayed it for a long time because I am afraid our relationship will be understood wrongly. (Again, another thing I am afraid of) But I think what will be will be. If we are always afraid, we won't do anything. I am feeling nervous already. A challenge for me ahead. Am I brave enough to overcome it? Wait and see. If I succeed, another story will be shared.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My 'Happy Vietnamese Women's Day'

20.10 is Vietnamese women's day. That is why these days you can see in Hanoi so many flowers.
We women teachers received good wishes and bunches of flowers from students. Our staff room was full of flowers and above all we feel really happy when feeling personal and lovable and special attention from our beloved.
I was lucky to have both: "flowers and bread", and more than that. Why "flowers and bread"? A senior male teacher in my department used to say life was so wonderful if you had both flowers (for your soul) and bread (for your body). From early morning, my best friend sent me best wishes. Then my students gave me orchids and students from yesterday's class gave me a bunch of roses. And I had lunch in a nice restaurant at somebody's invitation.:-)
One thing was not good today was that I wore so simple clothes and looked so modest: no earrings, no necklace, no "luxury" dress. A colleague saw me and she said "Today you look so simple." I teased her by saying I always look simple. But of course she didn't agree with me and she said I still looked elegant. I continued my joke: yes, beautiful but not too bright. We laughed. She knew I quoted the lyrics.
I spent the rest of the happy day praticing the keyboard, cleaning the flat, putting away clothes, cooking, picking up son, learning music with tutor, helping son study and talking to my friend. Tomorrow is an important day for me.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A sad song

Có đôi

Con chim có đôi

Con ong có hoa

Hai người yêu nhau tìm câu hò hẹn

Trên đời em chẳng có anh

Đi đâu mãi đi

Con suối về sông

Con sông về biển

Biển bát ngát em chẳng có anh

Không anh đêm buồn lắm

Không anh đêm dài lắm

Đêm

Ôm đêm em thổn thức

Thương em đêm thổn thức

Thương

Thương hàng cây xơ xác

Thương vầng trăng xơ xác

Môi em khát cháy

Em muốn trời xanh kia biến tan thành dòng nước mát

Em muốn trái đất xanh biến tan thành gió hát

Gió hát tình yêu em hóa thân vào sỏi đá

Để giữ chân anh

Để mãi bên anh

Em muốn trời xanh kia biến tan thành dòng nước mát

Em muốn trái đất xanh biến tan thành gió hát

Gió hát tình yêu em hóa thân vào sỏi đá

Để giữ chân anh

Để mãi bên anh

Em chẳng có anh.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hanoi twilight

Finally I decided to take Bob to downtown to enjoy the atmosphere of Hanoi celebrating its important event.

As soon as he came back home from school we left (around 4.30) in order to avoid traffic. We went around Hoan Kiem lake and to Ba Dinh square where the main activity will take place on 10.10.10. So many people in these two places. We managed to take some photos to memorise historic moments.

We had a break in an Italian restaurant in Ba Trieu street. Bob liked pizza and ordered it and some French fries, his favorite fast food. After that we went around Hoan Kiem once more to admire the lighting and back home. Bob had some homework to do for tomorrow. It would be nicer if he had a day off on Saturday. We would spend more time downtown today when not too many people. We came back home at 7.20 pm.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Hanoi's 1000th anniversary

10.10.10 is an important day for Hanoian people. Hanoi is 1000 years old. There are so many events to celebrate this milestone. For me, what I like most is the streets. Nice decorations with lights and flags and arches. There has less traffic than usual since the 1st October. We move quite comfortably in the morning on the way to work. Anyhow there are quite a few roads and streets which are blocked for some certain hours. My friend sent me some information about it in case I want to travel downtown.

Last Saturday evening, we tried to get to Hoan Kiem Lake but failed. The streets leading downtown were filled up with people. All of them I think wanted to get to the centre and to Uncle Ho's Mausoleum. It was said that these places are extremely magnificent at night.

My colleagues and I are so busy with preparing for materials for students staring learning next week. Training, placement tests, coaching, meetings. As a result, I feel really tired and end up with a day off. We have no time and mind to celebrate the event.:-(

Saturday, October 2, 2010

New hobby

I have just decided to learn to play this kind of musical instrument. Honestly, I bought it last summer and wanted to learn long time ago. As soon as it came to my flat I contacted a private teacher but my colleague recommended a male one. I really did not like that so I postponed learning until 10 about days ago. This time, it is a female teacher, 6 years younger than me.

Why am I so determined to take up a new and difficult hobby? Simply I love music. When I was 11 or 12 years old, my father sent me to a violin teacher's class. He said I had the ability to play the violin. He often encouraged my parents to let me play it. At that time, my family had no one to follow that career and I just wanted to focus on academic subjects. I quited the violin lessons after some months, I think.

Then I like the sound of this keyboard. Like is like but play it is another story. Last year when I lived independently I had a big chance to make my dream come true. First, I intended to learn with my son. But he was not really interested in music. So only me learn now. Sometimes I thought I could not learn it. My friend even told me that if I did not play it I should sell it to make room for my tiny flat and teased me that this instrument malfunctioned, a place to keep clothes not a thing to play music.

I read somewhere that when we learn to play a musical instrument (or something new), our brain (typically one of a middle aged woman) will be more active. We will feel younger. I want to be 28 years forever (I did a test online and they told me that I was 28).

My age is not ideal to learn to play music. My fingers are not as soft and flexible as a teenager's. That is a big problem for me. But never too late to learn. :-) I hope one day I can play what other people can call music.

I have had two lessons so far. Each one lasts one hour. I try to spend at least two hours a day to practice. My fingers hurt a bit. But I know that "No pain no gain". :-) And these are my encouragements, one from a friend and one from a book "I know, when you wish something then you will get it. With patience and determination you make it.... You are a strong woman...." and "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Sunday

It is said that Sunday is a day without working, a day for you to enjoy life, a day for family etc. However, these days I still have to work on Sunday, making use of Sunday to finish some work. Don't think I am an important person with a mountain of responsibilities. Just a working woman.:-)

Last Sunday, I attended a teacher parent meeting at my son's school and read some materials for an interpretation work in Lao Cai. Today is Sunday again. I got up quite early, at around 6 am. Then, hair wash, breakfast, milk, coffee and work until lunch. Light lunch and short nap and work again until 4 pm. I can be proud to say that I did so much work as I planned. What keeps me busy :-) is preparation of new materials for architecture students. Completely new things in our department and I am assigned to be responsible for them with my group's teachers. As a perfection-oriented person, I always try to do things as well as possible. That is why it takes me a lot of time.

About Sunday evening, I am committed to help my son study: doing homework and learning English. I am sure that Bob is making progress with English. Last Friday, he had a 15-minute test writing a paragraph introducing your family. He told me that he could do it quite confidently. Even other classmates asked him to explain the requirement of the test because it was written in English. He explained the whole paragraph to me with a topic sentence and conclusion. Honestly I was satisfied with what he did. Most important for me is to help him be confident in study and love studying.

What I miss doing on Sunday is going for a walk around Hoan Kiem lake and visiting my mum on the other side of the river. One of the reasons is that I haven't registered my son to his art class yet. Time to do it.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Celebration of Independence Day

There are so many ways to celebrate Independence Day in Hanoi. Some people travel with family, some give parties at home to entertain family and friends, some visit relatives, some go to hometown and some spend a day off working (I belong to the last group). We teachers at a private university had only one day off. But four of us agreed to celebrate Independence Day and welcome our new school year by eating lunch together.

We meet each other quite often at work. However, still enjoy being together chatting and laughing and sharing.

We went to a hot pot restaurant whose speciality is mushrooms and we had about 1.5 hours eating. After that we drank coffee yoghurt. We asked each other how we spent our public holiday. Van went to Bao Son Paradise with husband and two sons. She was so disappointed. Nothing to see and play there. Quynh had a family party. Her husband prepared a nice meal for the whole family. Mai brought her daughter to visit her family who live about 2 km from her place. And me? Shopping, having my old watch's battery changed, watching films and working.
At the end of the "party" for women only, we agreed that we should treat ourselves once a month a lunch like this because, honestly, we work very hard (I work the least hard of the four) :-). We need to be kind to ourselves. :-)

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Money

In our course book there is a file focusing on money. The author has got a question for students. Which of the these sentences best describes your attitude to money?
1. All I want is enough money to enjoy life.
2. Money is very important to me. I'd like to earn as much as possible.
3. I would be happy to live with less money and fewer possessions.
Actually, most of them choose number 2. Easy to understand. We live in Vietnam, one of the poorest countries in the world. So people usually wish to earn a lot of money to escape poverty. Honestly, so do I. But I would like to make a new sentence for me: Money is important to me. I want to have enough money to enjoy life. :-) Here you may question "how much is enough". Difficult to measure. For me, I need money to pay rent( a lot), to travel ( much), to buy food and drink (much), to buy clothes (much), to pay school fee for Bob (much), to maintenance my motorbike, ... and to save for raining days (as much as possible). As I said somewhere in my blog, I have a job and regular income and with my friends' support, I can make ends meet. I look 'rich'. :-). I am not obsessed with money much. Long time ago I told my family in law that I just needed love not money. I never complained about my husband's late salary or asked him to give more money or compared his income with others'... I want to earn money by working. Recently, my university has a policy to lend money to teachers to buy laptops. So many people apply for that loan. So surprised to me that almost all of them have laptops already and some of them are very rich. They seize the opportunity. Luckily my friends don't do that. Otherwise I will look them in different way. I feel a bit sad. And I never work from 7.30 am to 8.30 pm, every day. And I have never felt too irritated if salary is paid 2 or 3 days late. And I never complain about that I have no money left at the end of the month. I am proud to say that I manage money quite well.
But I have just asked my husband to give more money to me every month. Not like me at all. Something broke... something changed ... Of course this money will go to savings.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Up and down August

Chic-land

As a rule, I often go shopping for clothes and shoes before my new school year starts. This year I am going for ChicLand. It is a new and exclusive brand, almost (maybe more) as expensive as NEM or IVY. But I choose it because I find dresses there so much fit/match me. My colleagues comment that ChicLand is a brand made for only Ms Quyen. J So far I have had four dresses. Wow, so many and they cost me (?) a fortune. However, they do not make me disappointed at all like tailor-made ones. Sometimes we spend a lot of money having clothes designed by a tailor and some of them are not worn once.

Bata shoes

These shoes are not stylish or fashionable or too expensive. I think they appeal to middle-aged segment. But Bata shoes are so flexible and comfortable. As a person who works standing I need these shoes very much. My friend also advises me to choose low heel shoes to protect my feet and my spine. As a result, some money was spent on Bata shoes: simple, black and 4-5 cm high. And my shoe case is full of shoes and sandals. They are high quality so I don’t want to throw them away even they are so old (4 or 5 years). But I think the shoes case has fixed room, if I want to buy new things I need to create space for them. I had to get rid of some old things.

Teaching

From 45 periods per week, now I reduce to 35. No evening class. New position means new and heavy workload. I really can’t do so much work at the same time. I try my best to balance work and my private life. Luckily I got so much support and help from my beloved friends. After 3 weeks I presume my teaching schedule is a bit ideal now.:-)

Part time work

I have been a freelance interpreter since this summer. I have been offered some work. Beside income increase, I have chances to travel more out of Hanoi. This September, I am going to the north again. I just remember a proverb I gave my students on Monday when I taught them about Travel “The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only one page.” Hope so much in the future I still can travel.

Bob’s study

Happy and unhappy with his study. Happy because Bob’s making progress in learning English. He really has potential and he does not grumble when mum asks to learn English any more. Unhappy because at the beginning I got some bad remarks about his study: sometimes forgetting to bring notebooks, sometimes not fulfilling homework, sometimes not remembering if wearing short or long-sleeved uniform shirts. Every day I ask him about his study but he still forgets. Poor boy. It takes him some weeks to adapt to new learning style at secondary school. By the way he has got a new bike. He chose it and his aunt and grandmother paid for it. Like mum like son, he chose what I also like: black and strong bike. I will let him go to school by bike from this September.

Personal matter

This sensitive thing should not be public. I just mention briefly here to mark my life milestone. Some unpleasant things happened to me in August. It made me exhausted and so emotional. After this incident, I know some people I think are good friends turn out to be not. Luckily, they are not around me. Finally I think I have been so strong to solve my personal problem. My best friend told me to be free, and happy, and independent, and have a new future, without lies. I told those who got involved in my own matter that I don’t want to hinder other people’s happiness.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

High heel shoes

As a woman everyone wants to be graceful and have a nice figure. High heel shoes contribute to that. As teachers we want to show students not only that we have expertise/competence but also that we have a style. After a long time no high heel shoes, my feet were very tired of being in my shoes all day at work in the last week. Even the shoes are old. Strange. Perhaps, my feet get used to comfortable casual sandals, not like the forms of the shoes any more. :-). Time to change.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Work again

Summer holiday ended, which means new school year started and it started at the beginning of this week. So nice to meet colleagues and friends again. I and my best friends meet quite often this semester.
I am responsible for teaching students of second and third year. Most of my classes major in architecture. Therefore, boys outnumber girls. Anyhow, they are so nice: not good at English but interested in it. :-)
Four days of teaching consumes a lot of my energy, I think. Life of a teacher. In this photo, you can see our main campus, high buildings with dark green roofs. We have another two but they are rental buildings and not very nice. I teach here on Wednesday and Friday.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Lao Cai trip

Long time no new entry in my blog. Busy with my new responsibility and freelance interpreter. Actually, I would like to write whenever I have feelings. Sometimes impossible.
As assigned to be a leader of the group of teachers responsible for teaching students of architecture and electrical engineering and mechanical engineering. Whoa, two different types of people: architectures are thought to be artistic and engineers precise and not artistic. I had to search for two kinds of English books to
teach those students. It took me a lot of time to do that work. Maybe a week. Book stores in Hanoi and online and my friend offered to help me to search in books stores in Bangkok. What I searched was English for Architecture and English for Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. Finally, I possessed some books I need, made teaching timetables and I suffered low blood
pressure for a day, as a result of working too much. What remains is some more ESP for architecture students in their last semester. I will have to assign other teachers in my group to prepare soon.
Besides, new English programme used for students cohort 15 contributed to my busy time. I had to go to university three times to get it installed in my computer. Poor me. The first time, I did not bring the cord. So one third of the new programme was installed because of low battery. The second time, 4 of the total 8 modules were not installed. And the third and last time, everything left was installed. My friend was so surprised when I still went to work during my summer holiday.:-)
And at the beginning of August I got another contract to be an interpreter for SNV's mission in Lao Cai. Interesting and tiring trip. I had chances to activate my English, to understand more about how NGOs help to reduce poverty in Vietnam, to widen my knowledge about tea production, to visit ethnic minority people, to admire landscapes in the mountainous areas, to try local food, to work with and to meet nice people and of course to increase my income.:-) However, it was tiring when you had to travel long ways. Luckily I did not suffer any carsickness, unlike the first time to Lao Cai. What impressed me most was the poor and disadvantaged people living in remote areas. So sad that most of them are illiterate and living in extremely poor conditions. They live mainly on cultivating activities and their knowledge is so limited. However, what they have but we do not have in the city is beautiful landscapes and pleasant climate. Here is some photos about my trip.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

First assigment in Bac Ha

So surprised when I got a call from Thao, office worker for SNV in Hanoi at about 8.30 on 12 July to offer me the first job: interpreter for a workshop in Lao Cai and that I left with two other women that night. At that time I was still in bed. Oversleeping because I watched the World Cup final match between the Netherlands and Spain from 1am to 4 am or so. You know, I signed the contract with this organization long time ago. When I let it be, not much expectation from it, job came. In fact, I felt a bit nervous and excited anyhow. I just discussed with my friend that I might take another tour in my vacation and thinking of Sapa to explore mountains. Now suddenly opportunity came. What I found nervous was that the training workshop was divided into three sessions. The first and second had an interpreter. I was responsible for the last one. It is much better if you follow it from the beginning to the end. So you know the content well and you are familiar to the foreigner's accent and speed (maybe). I could turn the offer down but I didn't. I thought it was a good chance for me to learn and to apply what I teach to a real situation and to travel. We do not know what we can do until we do it. :-)
It took me time to read the material and pack my suitcase. And at 8 pm I caught a taxi to the train station. I met three accompanies there and as soon as we got to the cabin people started to sleep. The cabin was in the last coach. The interior was nice but it was so shaky to be at the end of the train. Luckily I had 'travelsick' medicine.:-) A bit sick.

We arrived in Lao Cai station early in the next morning. We stayed in a hotel, near the station, until 8.30 am, when a bus came to pick us up to move to Bac Ha, a poor district of Lao Cai, 80 km far away. I could not brush my teeth. Dirty. Cleaned my face with wet tissues. First time. During the time in the hotel, the two trainers explained the programme for me so that I knew what they would talk in the workshop.
We left for Bac Ha on time. Half way through it was fine. But the rest was so winding and up to mountains. On the one side was cliff. On the other side was abyss . So dangerrous. The speed was 30-40 km/h. My first experience, a woman living in flat areas.
We got to the town at around 10.30. It was a town but not very populous. So quiet and peaceful. Therefore a bit boring here. We stayed in a two star hotel. No air conditioner, no mini bar, smelly sheet, broken TV, no wardrobe but wifi. I still got in touch with my friends in Hanoi on skype and via sms. I stayed there for two and a half days. We worked intensively. No time for exploration. In fact nowhere to go in the evening.
When the workshop finished on 15 July, everybody was eager to go home. The participants were from 8 different northern provinces. On the way back to Lao Cai, down the mountains I feft really sick. But nothing came out, I still survived. We got to the hotel at 4 pm and our train was 8.45 pm. I spent time walking around the town while the two women were busy with their project. Hot. There were some bruises on my feet because I walked in shoes. Poor me. According to the map the border gate was just two km from the hotel. I tried to walk there but could not far enough to reach the gate. :=) Too tired and I gave up my wish and came back. Perhaps another time. I sat in the bar on the top of the hotel and enjoyed the view and drinks. At 6.30 I went back to the room and walked together with the two women to a restaurant serving Vietnamese food next to the restaurant my friend suggested. Couldn't eat much. And at 8.15 we checked out and walked into the station and started our journey back to Hanoi. The coach was number 5, which meant I was in the middle of the train. Not much shaky. Lucky. We got to Hanoi at 5.30. My normal life came back again.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Canada in Bob's eyes

While we were in Cat Ba, Bob's art teacher informed me that Bob was invited to the prize-awarding ceremony. His painting was chosen to be in the final round of the contest with the theme 'Essays and paintings about Canada and red-haired Anne (a charater in a story for children)'. This contest was organized by some organizations including Canada Embassy.
At first, we thought he won a prize (we often receive an inviation to the prize-awarding ceremony when he wins a prize). We felt very happy. But it turned out to be that he didn't. He got the certificate saying that his painting was chosen to be in the final round with 29 other paintings. He was a bit disappointed when he knew that. I told him that no big problem if not winning a prize. He needs to try more. The most important is that we do with all our best.

I took a photo of him and his classmate in the art club. Bob's painting is about a hill of pine trees and it is at the top on the left.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Tour of Hue and Cat Ba

Recently I have been Hue. Again. For the third time. So I can say I get to know that city better and better and this time I travelled to different destinations: a ride on bicycle along the outside walls and to the Vong Canh Hill and a ride on motorbike to Thanh Toan Bridge and Minh Mang Tomb and Thuan An Beach (the beach is clean and you even can see your body in the water). I also went to the tailor's to have two long dresses made. Nice ones. Unforgettable holiday. To prepare for this trip I read some articles and checked maps to make sure that I would not miss my target places. Everything went smoothly, even better than planned. There were only two things I regretted. One is Tinh Tam Lake and the other is Kim Long Village. The lake was full of wild weed and not well-preserved. It is said that the lake is very beautiful. But not. And I could not find a garden house in Kim Long.

Unlike the tour of Hue, my stay in Cat Ba was a disaster in term of journey time, service and hotel. All of my colleagues said that they did not want to come back here at least in five years.:-). It took us nearly 10 hours to get back to Hanoi. What consumed our time was the ferry. But luckily I travelled with my best friends so we chatted and made jokes to kill the time. The streets were full of people and litter. Beaches were crowded and waves were too strong and dangerous. One beach on an island we visited in Lan Ha Bay has got sharp stones in stead of soft sand. I hurt my feet when swimming there. I liked travelling on boat around the bay but suffered a bit from seasick.
Enjoy some of my photos.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Being lazy at home

We are in one of the hottest days of this summer. The temperature is about 37 or 38 degrees, terribly hot, which discourages people to go out. The pool in my neighbourhood is always too crowded in the afternoon. I haven't been to the swimming pool for over ten days. High time to go this afternoon. :-)

I don't have to work much in the summer: just going to university to be an exam supervisor (students are doing a computer-based test in this photo), 3 mornings (finished 2, one more left); going to an evening center twice a week; taking Bob to his art class twice a week (Wed and Sat morning) and teaching him English almost every day. I spend the rest of the day going to the market, cooking, cleaning and reading books.

After my trip to the central I bought 2 boxes of jigsaw puzzle of 1000 pieces: Keukenhof garden for me and Acropolis for my son. Honestly, this is also the last time I bought this puzzle: it took me so much time (5 days) to assemble the garden.:-) Bob quit because he was not patient enough to build the temple. But he gave me a hand. Now a nice picture has appeared in the living room.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tour of Da Nang and Hoi An

I have just been back from a 5 day tour of Da Nang and Hoi An. The tour was successful: the same as my original plan (visiting all places I wanted to); nobody was ill; nothing lost; flights were on time; and pleasant weather.:-)

Day 1: after checking into the hotel (one block away from the river) in Da Nang, we had a sleep until late in the afternoon. My mum and son and myself needed to refresh after a long journey. When we got up we walked along the Han river. A nice walk with fresh air and cool wind. We had dinner in a restaurant called The World facing the river. It has got a good location, friendly staff and lovely food. Then we walked through some streets, ate Hue sweet soup and went back to the hotel. Danang was so peaceful in the evening.

Day 2: we spent the second day exploring Ba Na Hills, a resort about 35 km from the centre. The journey to the hills was divided into some legs: from the centre to Gare Suoi Mo by minibus, from Suoi Mo to Gare Ba Na by red cable car; from Gare Ba Na to Gare De Bay on foot and from Gare De Bay to Gare Morin by yellow cable car and from Gare Morin we walked to the the top called Nui Chua. The weather on Ba Na Hills was cool. That is why it was regarded as little "Da Lat". We went sightseeing there and took some photos. It was said that on clear days you can see Da Nang from the hills. But we could not see anything because it was cloudy when we were there. On the way back to the hotel we had lunch in a peaceful and old-fashioned restaurant called "Pho Xua" (Old Street). In the late afternoon, we went to My Khe beach. It was clean with high waves. My mum couldn't swim, so she sat on the beach deck. My son and I waded in the sea and played with the waves. Bob now was so confident playing with high waves. He wanted to be there more but I told him to stop after 30 minutes because it rained. We came back to the hotel and walked to The World to have hot pot with mushrooms. Then I walked to Highlands coffee nearby to buy a take away caramel freeze coffee and two pieces of tiramisu. That night I finished the novel 'Where are you?' by Marc Levy.

Day 3: I decided to go on a tour of Son Tra Penninsula in the morning. It is covered by mountains and hills and not many people live on the pennisula except fishermen. And you can travel half way around it because the other half is a restricted area, for the army. We visited a pagoda there with a statue of a Buddha which is 67 meters tall. Inside her there are 10 storeys. We went up to the top.

Then we caught a taxi to Hoi An. We checked in and went out to eat lunch with Hoi An specialities. Back to the hotel we had a nap. My son said the hotel was a no-star hotel.:-) An old small TV, an empty minibar, a broken-door bathroom. But there was air conditioning and near the ancient quarters. At mid-afternoon, we explored the ancient town. I thought we could finish half of the town, but it was so small that after just three and half an hours we finished our exploration. We ate lunch in a restaurant near our hotel. And in the evening we walked over a bridge to a lantern street. That is also the end of our trip to Hoi An.

Day 4: We ate breakfast in a pho (noodle) restaurant nearby. Honestly I could not finish my bowl. But my mum and Bob could. We went back to Da Nang by car offered by the hotel (cheaper than a taxi ). On the way, we visited Ngu Hanh Son (five mountains - Metal, Wood, Water, Fire, Land) and Non Nuoc Art Village. We stayed there for over one hour visiting two pagodas and some caves on the biggest mountain of the five called Water Mountain. We ate lunch in a restaurant around the corner near our hotel. Then napping until 3.30 pm.
We went to Cham Museum, a few blocks away from the hotel. It was a nice building in a good location facing the river. We stayed there for one hour or so. On the way back we walked along the waterfront street. Cool and fresh air. And we had dinner in The World (the third time).:-)

Day 5: we went shopping in Han Market. It was on the same street as our hotel. Easy to walk there. We bought some dried squid for family and friends. And we bought some clothing items for little children. We ate the final lunch in the corner restaurant and checked out at noon. Our flight was as scheduled. We flew back to Hanoi at 14.20 and landed at 15.30. The central tour ended.
Welcoming us back to the flat was power off. Luckily, we are on the 10th floor, so it was windy enough to forget the electric fans.Our normal life starts.
I took some photos with my Nokia. The quality was not good but acceptable. You still see our faces and some views.:-)

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer holiday 2010

A long summer holiday has come to me and my son. As I mentioned before in my blog, as a teacher and pupil, we have longer holidays than other people. And this year it started with some nice surprises.

Bob 'graduated' from primary school with good results. This autumn he goes to secondary school. And he just won Prize B for his painting in an art contest organized in Hanoi Children's Palace on the occassion of its 55th anniverary, which made us so happy. In addition, he is now more confident to swim in the pool. I try to take him to the pool every two days. I promise to myself that during the holiday I will teach him more English. Ms Van, my friend, who is teaching children in a private centre, sent me her exercises aiming at consolidating English in Grade 6. I will use them. And one more thing I will do for him is to send him a 5 day course on living skills. I hope he will be more confident to communicate. However, I regret not being able to choose a good secondary school for him.
Another surprise is that my mum agreed to go on holiday with us. At first she refused because she thought she was not fit enough to travel. After a lot of persuading she said yes. This year we are going to Danang and Hoi An, in the central of Vietnam for 5 days from 4 June. It is a really nice gift.

Beside travelling, I would like to spend time reading books in my bookcase. I haven't finished some.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A hot weather day

The first summer days in Hanoi is extremely hot: around 37 degrees. Terrible. On such hot days, nobody wants to work in non-airconditioned places. Yesterday I was exhausted. Staying at school until 3.20 pm. I wanted to go swimming when I got home, which helped me a lot.
When driving in Linh Dam, near home, a strong wind appeared. The first time I saw it: dust and litter and dried tree branches in the air. I could not go for a while. Then I thought if I did not try to get home (about 100m) I could have some incidents. So slowly driving home. I saw some motorbikes fell down on the ground. After parking my motorbike, I touched my neck, full of dust. Then it rained a bit for a short time.
Anyhow I decided to go swimming. The pool was not crowded. I made use of the opportunity to swim to the end of the pool, the deepest place 2.1m. 30 minutes in the pool was enough for me.
In the evening, I treated mysefl by sitting on the sofa watching a film starring Jodie Foster, action film, on cinemax. Not very nice film but I went to bed when it was over.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lunch with friends

Finally my friends and I chose a day to meet each other. Actually we are too busy and timing a lunch together is not always easy. After considering some restaurants I suggested Sen Ha Thanh, a buffet restaurant near Vincom. I booked a table for today in advance and as planned we got there on time, no a bit early.

It is always exciting to share time with people we like: talking, laughing and enjoying food. What is special today is in the early morning it rained heavily in Hanoi, Some roads were flooded and so was the road leading to our university. Luckily I have Saturday off. But it was not raining around noon. So we got to the rendez-vous dry. :-). And what is more special is a new friend was introduced at lunch. I think we had a good time together. At the end of the lunch, we agreed to meet again one Saturday.

The food in Sen is OK and the ambience is fine, a bit noisy at first. We enjoyed dishes and "explored" our new friend. We really had no problems communicating. We are friendly and have a good sense of hunour and are English-speaking. It must have been nicer if we had more time chatting. But teachers' lives are not easy. 1.30 pm was time to go making money again for some. We said 'goodbye' and 'see you again'.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Another summer comes

Summer has come. In Hanoi, bang lang and phuong vi (flamboyants) have blossomed and ve (sicada) have sung, which are the signals of summer in Hanoi. For the last few days it has been so hot and humid. As a result, I suffered a light headache yesterday.
This morning I walked around Hoan Kiem Lake while waiting to pick up Bob. So many people here, walking and sweating. I feel so sorry for some foreign tourists, who visit Hanoi in summer. Their faces are red and sweat as if they were having a sauna.

I walked past the statue of a happy family. This statue once broke. Now it has been fixed. I had my photo taken behind it, a bit different from the last time.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Jacaranda

A friend of mine had a business trip to Nepal and stayed in a hotel in the capital. The hotel looks like a resort with a lot of beautiful trees and plants. I saw its website and found out such beautiful blossoming trees with purple flowers (I called vilolet). I asked my friend to take a photo of the trees for me and thanks to the internet I got the picture quickly stored in my laptop. But at first I did not know the name of the tree and unexpectedly my friend told me it was called jacaranda. (Unexpectedly because when we are in a foreign country, difficult for us to know the name of unfamiliar trees and flowers). And thanks again the internet, it took me a few seconds to see so many pictures of jacaranda flowers and now I know that this tree is popular in South America (especially Brazil), Central America, Mexico and the Carribean and you can see it in Australia, India and Buhtan as well and in Vietnam they grow jacaranda in Da Lat (they call it phuong tim). In many parts of the world, such as Mexico, Los Angeles, Lisbon, and Zimbabwe the blooming of this tree is welcomed as a sign of spring. But it Vietnam as a sign of summer.

I visited en.Wikipedia and wanted to cite the following information:

Pretoria in South Africa is popularly known as The Jacaranda City due to the enormous number of Jacaranda trees planted as street trees and in parks and gardens. In flowering time the city appears blue/purple in colour when seen from the nearby hills because of all the Jacaranda trees. The time of year the Jacarandas bloom in Pretoria coincides with the year-end exams at the University of Pretoria and legend has it that if a flower from the Jacaranda tree drops on your head, you will pass all your exams. Other towns and cities in South Africa have Jacaranda trees, but none produce such a show as that of Pretoria.
The city of Ipswich, Australia has a local reputation of having a significant population of Jacaranda trees. The University of Queensland in the city's inner west has a very high concentration of the tree, and due to the impressive display of purple flowers in mid-Spring, which wind up littering vast sections of the suburbs, local folklore claims that "one won't start studying for exams until the jacarandas have moulted". At Sydney University there exists a similar expression "by the time the jacaranda in the main quadrangle flowers, it's too late to start studying for exams".
This has led to the slang name "exam tree" or "purple panic" being attached to the plant. At the University of Queensland students even maintain a joke superstition that if a Jacaranda bloom falls on their head during exam time, they will fail an exam. The bad luck can be broken by catching another bloom before it hits the ground.


Interesting, isn't it? I also found in the internet a sad poem in Vietnamese about young lovers. How romantic to walk under purple jacanda trees with our beloved. I am not a poet but still feel the beauty of jacaranda, something fragile, dreaming, sad, lonely ...

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Bob's reading habit

Like other children my son is extremely interested in reading comics and children's books. I bought for him so many. His favorite books are collections of Doremon and Conan Detective.
He reads everywhere he can: on the floor, in bed, on sofa, and even in the toilet when he poos. :-) So funny. Believe or not, whenever he holds a book and runs in the flat I know for sure that he wants to poo. He reads whenever he can: after getting home from school, after doing homework, before going to bed etc.

Recently I have bought for him 7 volumes of Harry Potter. Hot books. Honestly, I have no time to read them and I am a bit discouraged because they are so thick. I heard they are interesting and suit my son's age. That is why I bought them for him. I am afraid that when he grows up a bit more, they do not appeal to him any more. At first, I thought he was not fond of them. He had never been interested in long stories without pictures. I was wrong. He spent time reading Harry and so far 5 volumes covered.
I promise to buy Greek ancient stories as soon as he finishes Harry Potter.