Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas

Like the majority of Vietnamese people, I am not Christian. Christmas is not very important in my life but it is still something to celebrate, such as decorating home with some typical Xmas things or watching a film about Santa Claus on TV or buying gifts for children. I hardly ever go out in the evening at Christmas. The last and only time was in 1997 when I was a woman in love. :-) Then no more chances to do it. Maybe this year I will ask my son to go out with me, for a change. Xmas comes, which signals a new solar year. Unlike other years, this year I will celebrate New Year's Eve and New Year's day in Hoi An. Looking forward so much to that.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

First day at home

Well, my first day of my long holiday is today. :-) I hardly ever have a full day at home this semester, partly because I am afraid of being alone and partly because I want to work. How was it spent? Not badly. I still got up early, 6 am, and did the same morning tasks: waking up my son, prepared breakfast, said goodbye to him and wished him good luck in his tests. After that I went shopping in a small market nearby. Long time I did not go there. I do not have time for shopping in the early morning and when I am free in the afternoon the market is closed. So today I decided to shop there. Then I took my motorbike to the repair shop to have it maintained and washed. My Attila looks fine again. When I got home around noon, I treated myself with sitting comfortably on the sofa and watching a film on HBO. One thing I do every day is to surf the net and Skype with my beloved. Just some minutes but it makes us closer. Thanks to the internet. I did not forget to wash my hair this afternoon. Long hair needs more frequent care. 4 pm is time for me to prepare dinner and wait for my son to come home. In the evening, Bob has to revise for his tests and I give him a hand by testing him as if I was an examiner and he was a candidate. If he forgets, I will remind him. By this way, I hope he will overcome the tests with high results. Testing was over before I started this entry. My Wednesday almost comes to the end. Winter evening is often shorter and winter night is longer. Bedtime story is a book from my bookcase.

Tomorrow is a bit different. I am going to meet some colleagues and have lunch together, a party to celebrate a successful semester.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Cold and sunny Hanoi

These days Hanoi has been in cold weather. The temperature at night is about 10 degrees and highest during day is 20 degrees. Big sun but still cold. :-) It is time to wear warm clothes and boots and scarf and gloves. The humidity is quite low, about 45%, which makes our skin really dry and wrinkle. All kinds of cream are used: facial, hand, foot and body. And roads uptown are full of dust. Whenever a motorbike or a vehicle runs in front of you, it makes dust blow into the air. Terrible. This is not the first time I have complained about dust. In the lyrics of a song written by a famous musician Tran Tien, he also says 'Hanoi is dusty everywhere'.:-) So that may be a feature of this city. Luckily for me, in the next 3.5 weeks, I hardly ever have to go to work. However, my babylon garden does not mind the cold and dry climate. It is still green and there are some flowers. Two roses and one orchid. The orchid is too "young". I hope it will blossom during Tet.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Final days of semester 1

These days we are busy with exams: preparing test papers, delivering and marking them. Just some days to go our first semester of the school year will finish and we teachers have almost three full weeks to refresh before welcoming semester 2. However, as one of the group leaders in our department I have to start preparing for teaching materials little by little from now. I find it lucky to have something to do during the non-teaching period. Otherwise, it must be boring when you do not have anything to do. :-)

Hanoi is becoming colder and colder with drizzle. Winter weather. We go to bed earlier and get up later. It takes longer for my son to get out of his blanket in the morning. But he is never late for school. And me, although leaving home later but these days no traffic jams on the way to school (Hanoians travel late in the winter morning), I still get to work on time.

Next week my son starts doing tests at school. He is reviewing lessons. I set goals for him and encourage him to do well. He has 12 tests of which 11 subjects I hope him to get at least mark 8. Literature is a bit difficult for a boy so I told him to try to get 7. The bonus is a 7-day trip to Thailand at Tet. Truly, if he does not achieve the goal he still gets the trip. :-) He feels excited about the trip. But I think he can make it. Very well possible. He studies hard and he has a good memory and he is a good boy, often listens to his teachers in class. Of course we do not know what the future brings to us. Let's hope for the best. :-)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Singing group

Our university had an honor to receiving a medal from the government (the second time) for its contribution to the higher education in Vietnam. On Tuesday Prime Minister came to our main campus to present the medal to the board. So our singing group was chosen to perform on that special day on behalf of the university personnel with other students to celebrate this important event. So happy for us.

After the ceremony we went up to our department's office which is on the fourth floor of Building A and the group decided to take this photo on the corridor connecting Building A and Building B. How colourful and happy we are. Click here to see more photos.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Singing performance

On the 15th anniversary of our university, we took part in a performance. About 15 or so were chosen to sing on the stage. And I was one of them, as a representative of the management board of the department and a union representative and a singing loving person, I was eager to take part in the group. Some people said our singing were really nice: nice lyrics and nice dresses. Some complained that it was nothing special... But in my opinion the group were very happy whatever other people said. We did it for the whole department and we did it to make our department more engaged into the whole university's social events and we did it to get to know more about other colleagues. After the performance I got some encouragement. One mission finished and other missions are waiting ahead: end-of semester tests.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday in Tay Ho

Our department had a buffet party in SEN TAY HO, in the north of Hanoi, while I live in the south. Quite a long distance. But it did not matter because today was Sunday and always worth seeing and chatting with friends.

The sun shone brightly in the early morning and the temperature was not too high because it is between autumn and winter weathers. I chose to wear comfortable clothes and at 10 pm the journey started.

On the way, I recalled some memories. Here was Quoc Tu Giam, where I went with my friend long time ago, also on a nice day. There was the West Lake, where we went sailing once. And on the left Happy House restaurant, where we had lunch. Here was the flower market, where we bought tulips and other flowers.... And then I saw SEN restaurant in the Water Park, my destination. The park was empty and quiet. So much different in summer. I stayed in the restaurant until 1.30. Then time to rush to my private class in my mum's place.

It may take me a long time to get back there. But I will come back.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Teachers' Day

A happy day comes to all teachers in Vietnam. My living room is full of flowers. It looks nice. This is one of the flowers I was given.

What did I do today?

Well, still teaching in the morning. My university never has a day off on Teachers' Day. And this morning I taught a class with lazy students. They have been studying for so long but most of them can communicate in English. As a teacher I feel really disappointed. They do not have a good foundation, and now teaching them ESP for third year students is really useless. But no choice. I feel relieved today because I will not teach them anymore. In the next three weeks, they do tests. They are the worst class I have ever met so far.

As soon as I got home from school I skyped with my long-distance friend. It lasted more than one hour. Really nice.

I went t my son's room and teased him by lying down next to him in his own bed and saying that i wanted to nap here. He said "No, mum. You should move to your own bed. If you are here I won't be able to sleep." He started to sleeping in his own room on 15 Nov. I moved to my bed and intended to have a nap but when I started to read the novel by a Chinese female author (I bought a long time ago) I found it interesting and as a result I forgot to sleep. :-) It is about a young woman aged 30 who experiences an unhappy first marriage and her life after her divorce. I finished 2 chapters out of 16 or so.

3.30 pm I called Mai, my close colleague and asked her when the buffet for teachers took place at university and arranged to meet each other there. 3.45 I left home. Near the gate of my main campus I had a little accident, my motorbike fell down when turning into the small lane because of some sand and gravels on the surface of the road. Some scratches on the bike. No problem with the body :-)

5 pm I was in the hall with a lot of teachers and staff listening to the principal's speech and then we had a buffet in the canteen. Good food and good chat with colleagues. After that I went back home.

And now listening to my favorite English songs and uploading my blog. A busy but pleasant day.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Teachers' Day in the air

Five days to go does Vietnamese Teachers' Day come so the atmosphere is felt now. Teachers receive greetings, flowers and gifts from students as their gratitude to teachers, who bring them a new horizon of knowledge. These days the classes are more relaxing and comfortable. Our staff room is full of flowers. All of us look happy. And when you travel in the streets, it is easy to recognize teachers among the crowd: people with flowers.

With other vices in our department, this morning I went to the main campus to meet the board of our university. We ordered a very beautiful bouquet of daffodils to present the principal. While waiting for late comers on the ground floor, I asked Mai, my colleague, to take this photo for me to mark Teachers' Week 2011.

Friday, November 11, 2011

11.11.11

Today is a special day. I heard on the TV that a lot of couples in India chose to get married on 11 November 2011. For me 11 11 11 is really nice for not only 6 ones but also an anniversary in my life. 3 years ago I met a special person in Highlands cafe, Vincom for the first time. Now he is in another country, far far away. We still keep in touch via the internet and we agree to celebrate 11 November by going back to the cafe just for recalling the first time...

One of the square tables must be where we sat: a tall man in yellow shirt and a short woman in a brown sweater with two white hearts on the front... Memory is memory.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Part of the poster

As I said in my previous entry, my son is responsible for decorating the poster for his class to celebrate Teachers' Day. This is part of my son's poster. I decide to use it for my blog. Nice, isn't it? In Vietnam, teachers are regarded as boat rowers who carry pupils to new places, new horizons by knowledge at school. Pupils are always grateful to them.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Poster for Teachers' Day

My son has to decorate his class's poster to celebrate Vietnamese Teachers' Day. He is working hard on that and feels very excited. As a mother, I give him encouragement and support him 100% by turning on the lights, putting the dinning table in the living room so that he has got enough surface for his A0 paper, preparing some snack, and giving good comments sometimes. His work reminds me of long time ago when I was at his age. I had to organize the same thing. As the monitor, I had to ask my classmates with good handwriting to write poems and songs in the poster and one classmate to draw pictures to decorate it. Time consuming but very fun.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

New TV cabinet

Finally we have a new TV cabinet as I always wanted. Yesterday I went to the furniture shop where we bought some pieces of furniture and this afternoon it was delivered and assembled. We considered to buy it long time ago but after I saw one in Bangkok I decided to change the old cabinet (I bought it when I moved into the flat).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Back to working life

After a relaxing week in Thailand, I came back to a normal working life. Getting up early, riding my Attila to school in hope no traffic jams on the way, teaching, lunching with friends in the canteen and sometimes meeting in the afternoon. No shorts, no T-shirts, no casual sandals, I must look like a "teacher". Long time I haven't watched a film from the beginning to the the end. Long time I haven't read a book. Work pulls me into a hectic time... I promised to eat out with my son to celebrate some of my good things. Unbelievable that we can not find a right time to do it. My son studies from 7.10 to 4.30 and two days to 5.00. In the evening he has to do quite a lot of homework and learns by heart some subjects. At weekends I work.

Once in a while I say that I want to be a normal teacher. Just teach half day and relax in the afternoon, don't have to do unknown work as a group leader. But not the right time to step down yet.

I sometimes miss my lazy time. Luckily, 6 weeks to go I will have a long "holiday". No teaching just tests.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A special gift on Vietnamese Women's Day 2011

This is the second day of a year for Vietnamese women. Besides wishes and flowers from students I got wishes and special gifts from my family and beloved people. Yesterday evening, my son drew a picture for me, a very simple one and inspired by me but I feel proud. Long Bien bridge in pencil. I just told him that I wanted a painting and the bridge was the theme. Reason: I was born and grew up on the other side of Red River, a district called Long Bien and the bridge links the central of the capital and my commune... Today I framed it and hang it above my desk. My friend said that I would treasure it for the rest of my life. I think I will. I have a big collection of my son's paintings from the time he knew how to use a pencil to draw.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Tour of West Lake

This morning I did not have to work. So I spent the whole morning relaxing, shopping and visiting the West Lake, a famous area in the north of the city, quite far from my living area in the south. The weather was so pleasant: sunny (not too hot) and windy and blue sky. I had a special "taxi motorbike cum tour guide' :-). The first stop was a shop where we bought expensive cheese and bread. It was quite small and specialized in imported food. Not surprising because the West Lake area is home to many foreigners. The second stop was Phu Tay Ho, a small temple on the lake. Quiet and peaceful and not crowded at all (unlike on the days around the first or fifteenth of lunar month). I walked into the temple and did pray for good health and good luck and protection from the holy people. When we sat on the bank of the lake, I could see high rise buildings in the long distance. After the temple, we went to a cafe nearby. Simple cafe but good location. We dropped in a tea shop buying a box of green tea for my mum. My tour guide took me to a small restaurant facing the lake and we had lunch there... Nice Sunday morning.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thailand 2011

I had a chance to come to Thailand again. This time I went to two places: Bangkok and Koh Samet Island. This is the second time I have been to Bangkok, so it was not TOO strange, but I was still impressed.

The traffic was terrible if you travelled by car. Long lines of cars moved slowly, slowly and slowly. The best way to travel around was by sky train (fast) and walk (good for health). :-)

There were so many high rise buildings and only being high in the air you could see the beauty and modernity of the capital. Here is the view from the 44th floor of my 'hotel' in BKK.

There were a lot of shopping malls, which satisfied everyone's shopping needs. So convenient. That was why Bangkok was considered as "shoppers' paradise". Honestly, when I was in a mall, I would not have been able to find my way out if I had been left there alone.

I went to a hospital for medical check-up. First time I have done that and abroad. The hospital was so clean and looked like a hotel. When I entered the hospital in BKK, I wondered when people in Hanoi would have such nice ones... When?...

I spent some days in Koh Samet, an island not far from Bangkok. The island was not very special (dirty, hilly and unpaved roads; mosquitoes) but so peaceful and the beaches were so nice. The water was clean and the sand was white and smooth. A lot different from beaches I know in Vietnam. We walked from beach to beach and stopped for a drink or a meal in a nice restaurant... Not surprised when Thailand can attract so many tourists... A strange thing for me was that we sat on the sand, on the beaches, near the water enjoying our dinner. New experience. Talking about the roads on the island, we went on a motorbike tour. The roads were up and down and had a lot of potholes. Sometimes, I had to get off the motorbike so that my 'taxi motorbike rider' could go over bad parts of the roads.

Two adventurous water recreation activities I did were kayak and catamaran (small). At first I was nervous, in the sea water and far away from the shore. But after a while I felt interested. Partly because my partner in the same boat was very good at water sports.

A week in Thailand was so wonderful. No working and completely relaxing. Unbelievable I could have such a nice holiday in the middle of a busy semester at university and I could make it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Unexpectedly

I remember writing about this topic somewhere in my blog. Today I want to talk about it again with the phone and email on my Nokia 97. :-)

When we bought Nokia 97, we read in the procedure that I could open the attached file to emails. But for a long time, I managed to do it but I failed and I admitted that there was something wrong with the software. Other colleagues teased me that I had such an expensive phone but so sad that it could not read the attached. :-) Their simple phone could. Some days ago, Mai, my best friend, told me that there was an email to us but with a file attached which sounded interesting. I knew the email but I did not read it. I thought it was rubbish so I did not care for the attached file. After Mai said about the file, I took out of my phone. Immediately she said: "It is in the file attached" with a rising voice meaning that my phone was useless :-). The next day, when I was in class, my fingers did something I could not remember and then I could open the attached... When I met Mai again I told her happily that my phone was not useless anymore. For almost one year did I realize that my phone had a very useful function. Just touch the word "details" on email screen.

And today I (in Vietnam) and my friend (in Ethiopia) could call and text each other for the first time for 4 months. When I accepted that we could not contact via sms, it worked. Unexpectedly. The home phone was the same. Suddenly I could not use it although I still can use the internet. I called the post office via mobile. Could not get through. I ignored the problem because we hardly use the home phone. And suddenly (again) I played with it when I was teaching my son and found out that it worked. So funny.

Someone said we could not make plans for our life, just ready for unexpected things life brings to us.

Storm approaching

I was too busy with work and honestly my mind was too obsessed with tasks to care for other things. Suddenly I heard that a storm on the way to the North of Vietnam and my friend was concerned about it because I am travelling away on Saturday, the day the storm is forecast to affect Hanoi. So scaring for the start of a journey. But Hanoi is deep inland so storms just cause heavy rains. When I am writing this, the TV says that the storm strikes HongKong. Some flights in HongKong have been delayed and cancelled. :-( For the time being, it is still dry and not windy outside the balcony of my apartment in Hanoi.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Busy September

Work work work.... all the time, which takes from me so much free time. I myself realize that for a long time I haven't watched a full film on HBO, my favorite channel, and I haven't updated my blog for almost 20 days... What has happened to me in September???

Meetings are too often these days at work. Teaching in the morning and meeting in the afternoon. Since we changed new teaching materials and new methods, so many events have happened. That is why we meet more often to solve them. I can not cope well with work pressure. Every time I work full day I am back home exhausted and I feel I neglect my son a bit. Luckily, he is independent. After doing homework, he comes to my desk and asks me to check. Still know that when we get promoted we have more responsibilities and more income and that not easy to be a group leader in such a complicated working environment at university, sometimes I still have a negative thought of giving up. My close friends often encourage me to be stronger. Truly, I don't mind hard work but I feel disappointed with the management way and "underworld" practices... For the time being I still work as a vice (with other 6 vices) and I am still highly responsible for what I am assigned to accomplish. There are moments I think if we are wasting time and energy...

My friend took this photo in September. I like it and I ask for his permission to post it in my blog... Freedom. Strength. Determination. Beauty. Loneliness... I wish one day I could see it in nature not in a photo like this. That is when I feel peaceful in my life. But now hurry hurry hurry to meet deadlines.

Hanoi is entering its nicest season, autumn. The temperature is under 30 degrees: sunny, cool and windy, which is so ideal/perfect for a walk. My son has not been to his art class downtown since his academic year started and I have my own class on Sunday. As a result, I miss going for walk around the lake.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sunday work

In August I decided to teach two private classes: one for 7 boys of grade 10 and one for 4 children less than 10 years old.:-) My classes are based in my mum's kitchen. I had my old, board, desks and chairs moved there and I bought a new wall fan and intend to hang some of my son's paintings to make the room beautiful.

Honestly, in each class there is one child of my brothers'. My brothers and sisters-in-law really rely on me teaching their children. The teaching for grade 10 is going fine. I have to prepare exercises for them to consolidate what they learn and teach them grammar. Some pupils make progress. Good, isn't it?

About the tution fee? Not much but it does not matter. Sometimes we do things not for money.

Blog website works again

I feel so happy after the blog website works again in Hanoi NOW. I did not see my blog for almost 3 weeks. So strange. I can use the blogger to update my blog but I did not see my blog from my computer. I know the same situation happened somewhere in the world and suddenly it worked back again. That is why I believed one day I would see my blog again, on my computer, in Hanoi... Patient. And today ...

Saturday, August 27, 2011

As fashionable as women

Women like fashion, which is obvious. And in a workplace where a lot of women work fashion is always one of the hot topics to chat about during breaks. We wish to be well-dressed and fashionable. We share shopping experience and information on sales is circulated very quickly among us.

As a rule, when a new school year comes, I prepare for myself some new things to wear. And I go for high-quality. I am not rich to buy things from famous brands in the world but in Vietnam. My favorite brands are Chic-land and recently I choose SevenAM and Nem... However, I have clothes made in somewhere (not quality) and made by my tailor. All are accepted... I think when you pay (a lot of) money for something, it must bring you satisfaction. If not, how little you pay is waste of money. And the most important is that you choose what matches you and you feel comfortable when wearing it.

And sometimes we just like buying clothes but not (hardly ever) wear them. I bought some clothing items which caught my eyes long time ago and almost no chance to wear them because I could not find something to match with them. So putting away in the wardrobe is normal practice and waiting until you find what you need. And yesterday I saw a very cheap black vest for my white skirt, which I bought 5 years ago or so... No problem, never out of date, I believe fashion comes back.:-) I asked my son to take the photo for me in black. Maybe I can not use it in autumn weather but I feel happy because I find a match for my white skirt, no more lonely in the wardrobe..

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Mua Ngau

Mua Ngau (Ngau Rain) is referred to rain in early July of the lunar calendar every year in Vietnam. The story says that long time ago in the paradise Chuc Nu, dear daughter of the God, was hardworking. She spent all day weaving fabrics. God introduced her to a man called Nguu Lang, who cared for God's buffaloes. The young couple loved each other and were very happy. But throughout the day they did not focus on doing tasks God assigned. God got angry and sent them to Ngau River but on different banks. Each year God allows them to meet once on July 7 lunar calendar. On that day, it always rains. It is said that when Chuc Nu and Nguu Lang meet, they cry. Their tears fall to the earth and become rain. When they stop crying to chat is when it stops raining... Any young couple who have to separate for any reasons and hardly ever meet in person are often considered as Nguu Lang and Chuc Nu. In Vietnam, people do not get married in July lunar calendar for fear that they may be separated like Nguu Lang and Chuc Nu.

Monday, August 8, 2011

First day at work

My first day back work is so easy. Before leaving home, my friend, Mai texted me and offered to buy breakfast for me. I thanked her and said I had it at home. My 'teaching' for today was to introduce students TOEIC and give them the pre-test and correct it. It was a very hot morning. My students kept complaining about the weather because the classroom has only 2 ceiling fans, running slowly. At about 10 am it rained very heavily in Hanoi, some streets were flooded on my way home.

It is always fun when chatting with friends and colleagues at work. Mai and I with 6 other vices were responsible for appointing teachers for each class. We tried to arrange in a way that Mai, Van and me teach the same days and in the same campus, even in the 3 rooms next to one another. :-)

Everything went smoothly for the first day at work.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Summer vacation ends

Our school year starts next Monday, 8th August, and according to the lunar calendar it is the day when autumn starts. I mark the ends of the vacation with sickness, not serious but I am feeling very tired and losing appetite. After two days I did not take medicine but still not feel better. So today I decided to use Tiffi to make me healthier. :-)

Looking back my summer vacation, it seemed that I have done almost what I planned. Pity, we could not go to Sam Son beach in my colleague's hometown and I could not go swimming often. However, I tried my best to solve some pending personal problems.

In the new school year I choose to work a bit more than last year. I will plan to teach my own class. So, in general, I will be a bit busy but I think I can manage. If not I will reduce workload.

All the best wishes for my new school year.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Nieces

Every little girls are princesses in their parents' eyes. So lovely, so cute, so sweet but sometimes they bring headache. Obviously, they are completely different boys. :-) I don't have a daughter but I have 4 nieces younger than my son. Three are my two brothers'. Watching and listening to them often makes me desire one... On my nieces' birthday I like buying dresses for them. When I step into a baby shop I have a look at all kinds of pretty dresses and skirts. Completely different feeling from buying shorts and T-shirts for my son, not many styles to choose.

Last Sunday was Ngoc Anh (Bi)'s 8th birthday I went to a made-in-Vietnam fashion department store in Ba Trieu Street and bought three dresses for my 3 little girls (they are wearing them in these photos). I am not so bad at choosing them :-) I hope. They fit so well my nieces. About short hair, I influence my 2nd brother and his wife. I told him that his two daughters should have short hair. They are active, as a result in hot weather they will sweat a lot. If they had long hair and parents had no time to take care of them, they would look hot and dirty. So short hair is best choice. Later, when they are teenagers if they want to look more graceful let them have long hair (like their aunt -me :-)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Travelling days

The last week of July brings me some bad lucks. But finally everything is fine. On Monday, after dropping my son at school I went to a Nokia care center to have my phone formatted. Problems: phone memory was often full and once in a while Nokia turned itself off. Formatting takes about 1.5 hrs but the all data will be deleted. I know that and I transferred photos and deleted messages in Inbox and Sent. But I still had some messages in my private folders and I did not want to lose them. Troi oi, coming back home to transfer them was not what I wanted to do in hot weather. I suddenly had an idea, buying a flash card in a phone shop nearby. After some minutes figuring out how to tranfer data from one drive to another drive I succeeded. Giving the phone to the staff I went to Vincom shopping. Back to the center to pick up the phone was almost noon. Bad thing: my phone could not turn on. Unexpected problem. I felt sad and had to leave my phone there for repair. A morning was wasted. On Tuesday, I went to my bank to change the address and registered online account checking and to a law firm to do some personal things. While I was staying there Nokia center texted me and said that my phone was ready, earlier than they told me. But the receipt was left home. I could not pick it up on the way home from the law firm. In the afternoon, before picking my son from school I rode my motorbike to Nokia. On Wednesday, back to the law firm again. I needed quite a lot of money so I dropped at an ATM in the bank I went to the day before. I inserted my card and after pressing my PIN the machine kept my card. But lucky for me, a young man working in the bank smoking nearby (I think he is a smoker working in a non-smoking office. Poor guy.) gave me a hand. He used his phone and called his bank's center and explained my situation and even took a withdrawal form for me to fill in. Very polite. I got the money I wanted but had to come back to the bank this afternoon. I hate travelling in the afternoon: very hot. Today I went back to the the bank with my son. As soon as I got the card and asked the teller that I wanted her to cancel the link with my online account. It went well. Outside the bank I and my son tried using the card. Again the ATM ate my card. So irritating. The teller did not tell me that I could not use the card until 3 days later. At once I informed her about the problem and she unlocked the machine and gave me the card... Not having to come back again. So 4 days travelling stopped. Tired. Tomorrow, my close friends will visit me on the tenth floor :-) A day to relax.

I am told that my life is not easy but I often receive assistance. For long I believe whenever I have difficulties, I will be able to overcome them. I am also told that my life is getting better and better. Wait and see.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Long dress

Yesterday was my colleague's son's wedding party. That guy is also a new teacher in my department. And I decided to wear one of my long dresses I bought in Hue a year ago to the party. Although long dresses are highly appreciated, they are not convenient for us to wear to work, just on special occasions such as weddings and important meetings. That is why yesterday was time for me to try wearing something traditional for Vietnamese women. :-) My son took the photo for me and he said mum looked 'long' because of the dress.

I put away the dress and wait until somebody's wedding party. Luckily I hardly change the shape so I think it still fits me well when I wear it next time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Summer vacation in Halong July 2011

Finally I went to Halong with my colleagues after cancelling a trip to Sapa. I went there several times. Not new destination but each time travelling there makes a different impression on me. We stayed the first night on Tuan Chau Island (exactly Peninsula because there is a road linking the mainland and the island) and the second night in the mainland, Bai Chay town. The weather was OK. Not too hot but it rained in the first evening and the second afternoon when we went back from cave-visiting. The group skipped water music show (no matter with me, I saw it in the past). The food was so so and our hotels were good. We visited a place where they make and sell pearls (in salty water). Some colleagues bought some jewellery as souvernirs.

Honestly, Halong is not a place for swimming in the sea. The water is very dirty and not much sand on the beach and waves are very low. However, it is so wonderful to be on the boat sailing in the bay and enjoying sea atmosphere and fresh seafood. After the vacation my feet's calves are very tiring, result of walking up and down the Sung Sot cave and going around shopping with my colleagues and poor me on the way home I felt a bit carsick even I took two medicine tablets. In general, my vacation was fine. Here are some photos from my Nokia.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Flying a kite

When I was a little girl, I used to like flying a kite in late summer afternoon with friends. I could not make a kite myself but my brother could. We often flew kites in the paddy fields and on the dike near our village. This was one of my favorite games. When my son was little, we lived on the 5th floor in a building in the urban, we flew a kite on the top of the building. Not bad but not much fun as on the ground. This summer I sent my son to my mum's place for a couple of days and he had a real experience of flying a kite. He was very happy to run on the grass and control the kite. However, not pleasant at all when his kite had problems with other kites and when the string broke and when the kite 'plunged'.

Even now, I still feel surprised: a very simple toy can fly high in the sky, really beautiful.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raining day

The first day home is a raining day and according to the weather forecast in my Nokia it will rain every day until the end of the month. Troi, so boring just be inside. What will I do? Sleeping, eating, teaching, studying, watching TV, cooking and doing housework. My head is feeling heavy. Rain brings bad mood to me. Anyhow, I will go to Halong next week. Not new destination to me but good to change the living atmosphere for a short time.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

End of entrance exams

Today the entrance to university examination finished. We teachers felt relaxed. No more getting up early at 4.30 am, no more walking up and down the exam rooms and feeling tired. :-) For most of the teachers in my department their summer holiday REALLY begins. They can enjoy their holiday until 8 August. But we vices have to go to university twice: one for supervising retaking exams and one for appointing teachers to teach classes in the new school year. (Luckily I am responsible for supervising exam on the day we do appointments, next Tuesday. So I just go to work one day instead of two).

Saturday, July 2, 2011

IT things

These days I have been busy again. After attending IT training course I learnt some new things. The most noticeable is how to use PowerPoint and I know a bit about MOODLE, which is really a good tool for e-learning and is also what our department heads for in the near future. Another good IT thing I did is to connect my Nokia to my ProBook via Bluetooth (I could not do it for a long time). And I could download Youtube videos and watch them in Free FL player. J And the first time I can use 3G USB to connect to the Internet successfully.

Besides these good hi tech things, I encounter bad hi tech things which I cannot fix myself: problems with touch pad and wireless router. Troi, very irritating. Luckily, I know a really good IT engineer. He will come on Monday to fix wireless. And I will ask him about the touch pad. If he cannot help with the pad, I have to come to HP support center in Hanoi, which I intended to do yesterday. Why not? I was sick yesterday. Headache and a bit fever.

In the world nothing is perfect but I still feel annoyed if something goes wrong and worried if it is out of my control. I always want nice things and strive for them as possible as I can. And I learn that we always learn by doing and experiencing.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lucky Thursday

End -of -term examinations finished yesterday evening. No more working as chairwoman of the exam council (staying in a camera room and watching the exam rooms on the two big screens) for this school year. Which also means that I have so many free days before the entrance to university examinations from 2 to 10 July.

I spend time studying Teacher Training course (at least 2 hours a day) and try to finish it before the deadline 30 August. Hope that I can get a certificate from Dyned company as they promise to grant if we finish the course by the deadline and with high score. Besides I have to do some work as a vice preparing teaching materials.

Although I try to make myself busy, sometimes I feel so bored staying home the whole day. My son is away on holiday with his father's family. But it seems that I am very good at staying inside. Today, when I opened the door to go out shopping at 4.45 pm or so I realized that I did not leave home from the time I woke up in the morning until that time. So funny. I decided to shop in Fivimart with my "new" membership card. I got some discount and a 20k dong voucher. Lucky me :-). I bought some foods to store in the fridge in case it storms. The weather forecast says Storm number 2 (of this year) will strike the North and it will rain heavily in Hanoi. It is always essential to have something to eat in rainy days. Back home, I did housework and prepared a light dinner.

My home friends are music, reading, watching films. More than once I find a song in a film so nice and decide to download it and find the lyrics from the Internet (the whole world is under your fingers). And today this is the song I downloaded "Smoke without fire" from the film "An education". Enjoy it with me.;-)

Thursday is coming to end in Hanoi tonight. Time for wine and upload this post.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Meetings

This year we have had so many meetings. Almost each week we attend at least one: meeting among vices and dean or meeting with university representatives. Recently, our department decided to use new English programme called Dyned and we had so many obstacles mainly because some teachers were afraid of change in their teaching method. But after so much explanation in so many meetings we had official decision from the principal allowing us to continue it. Honestly it benefits students most. A new way of learning English more effectively and efficiently.
As a vice, I have to contribute to schedule the learning time and suggest extra materials. Really hard work for us. Luckily we have 8 vices so hard work is shared.

Although there are many meetings. I can say that in each one we try to achieve the goals and keep focused.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Meeting family

Since my father passed away my family members have meet not very frequently. We all very busy with our "own business". My older sisters become grannies and they often take care of grandchildren or their own families meet at weekends. I live far from my mum. It often takes me 45 minutes by motorbike. And besides I am quite busy during the week. At weekends I want to refresh myself. But summer comes and I have free time to visit mum.

Whenever I go to mum's place I am welcomed warmly. Sisters- in -law often cook nice food for me or my favorite dishes (very simple). Although I am almost 40 years old, they still spoil me. :-) And my mum worries about me most. She does not speak out but I know that... She just comforts me by saying women who were born in the year of tiger often have a harder life other women. She goes to pagodas and temples and pray for me. I am her youngest daughter.

A good thing from my visit is that I guide my brother and sister how to help children to study at home. I just introduced two websites (one for English and one for math) for my 8 year-old niece. she can do exercises online. If I lived near them I would do better for my nieces and nephews. I have a plan for the next visit: ask my brother to help my son to make a kite. My brother was very good at it when he was a teenager. But my son and his cousins don't know anything about traditional toys and games.

(The photo was taken by Bob. I am standing among my brother's plants and flowers. I look happy but I am not ... for the time being)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Busy and tiring time

In the past few days I was extremely busy: attending a two-day training program and translating a 20-page document to a tight deadline. Tired. Honestly, I am not used to work full day and travelling much within a day. Bob is home on summer vacation, so I had to come back to make sure he was fine, home alone. No time during the day to work on translation, therefore I stayed up late to translate in order to meet the deadline (this evening) and luckily I made it. I spent the whole day today working at home, even talking little to my son. :-)

From tomorrow to the end of June, I presume four meetings at school and I will spend the rest of the time .... learning teaching methodology. What a life of a teacher!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Old streets in Hanoi

This is Bob's first painting after a long time no art class. I registered him into the class for eldest pupils (aged 13-15) and he told me me that he did not meet any old classmates in his new class. As usual, I asked him about the theme of the painting as soon as he walked out of the class. And the first class's theme was pupils' choice. Bob chose an old quarter in Hanoi.

I am a bit strict but I must admit that I admire my son's imagination. The world in his eyes is so colourful and peaceful. I feel excited whenever I find something interesting in his paintings. Sometimes, I pretend not to understand some details and ask him about them. He is willing to explain to mum. In the photo I post here, I like the detail of a street vendor selling bread in the basket at the back of the bicycle. So funny when I recognised that.

It took him about 4 hours to finish the painting (1.5 hrs in class + 2.5 hrs at home). When he used crayons I used to give him a hand. He decided where to use what colour and I did as he said. Now with paint, I can not. I will buy frames and will hang some new "masterpieces" on the wall to decorate the flat, making it more and more beautiful. If I have chances to welcome you to our flat, I will show you some of my son's paintings.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A lonely walk

I haven't walked around HK lake for a long time. This morning I did. After dropping Bob in his art class I decided to walked near the lake, only a short walk... So many memories came back to me that I couldn't walk one round around it. I was afraid I would not keep myself from crying

The lake was beautiful in the early morning in summer weather. Clear sky, green trees and typical summer flowers blossoming. Some people were sitting on benches chatting, some were going jogging and me doing an emotional walk.

I know I will have to get used to the fact that walking alone recalling happy moments in the past and wonder if somebody somewhere on Sunday goes for a walk near a lake and thinks about Hanoi.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Tạm biệt

Tạm biệt - Goodbye

Ngày vui đã xa dần, đã xa rồi đó.
Và giây phút tạm biệt với bạn hiền
Kỷ niệm mãi trong tim ta, ngày vui ấy ta bên nhau.
Bao gian khó cuộc đời, vượt qua.
Ngày vui đã xa dần đã xa rồi đó.
Và giây phút tạm biệt với bạn hiền.
Kỷ niệm mãi trong tim ta, ngày vui ấy ta bên nhau.
Ta mong ước một ngày lại gặp nhau.

Một ngày bình yên, tay cầm tay nắm tay vượt qua.
Nghìn trùng xa cách, giọt nước mắt dâng trào.
Ta vẫn thấy cuộc đời vui, và niềm tin trong đôi mắt.
Chia tay nhé, rồi ngày vui ta gặp nhau

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Summer holiday 2011 comes

My summer holiday has started since today. No more hard teaching but a lot of relaxing time. And my relaxing time is stared with redecoration the home. Flowers come back to the living room and old books and papers and empty bottles are given away.

Today is considered the first day of my long holiday and I think it has been a happy day and spent well so far. Anh gave me two bunches of lotus flowers (honestly I was very happy and surprised to get this gift). As you can see from the photo, they are so beautiful (so am I) :D. I went to the service shop to have the motorbike oil changed, the tires inflated and the motorbike washed. It looks new again. In addition, I went downtown to register an art class for Bob. His old teacher recognized me and my son's name. How nice! Once a week, on Sunday morning, Bob goes drawing and painting. I just have an idea - create a blog for him to post his painting and the story around each one... After going out, I felt a bit sick: hot and dry weather. I gave up the idea to go swimming. In stead, I went to the hairdresser's in the neigbourhood to have my "beauty" cared. ;-) hair wash, manicure and pedicure.

And now, I am sitting on the sofa and enjoying a film on Disney Channel and updating my blog.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Evening class finished - Phew

My last evening class finished this evening. We teachers felt so happy that one colleague said we should have a big party to mark this event. No more going out working in the evening. And I know anh will also feel happy about it. He always cares for me and he showed disagreement when I said I worked in the evening. But as usual, he respects my decisions... Anyhow, my hard work for this school year came to the end and not sure if I will teach evening classes AGAIN in the next school year :-). Wish all of the students retake the test successfully.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Thai restaurant

Once in a while I eat out with my friend and one of our favorite is a Thai restaurant. Small but always full during the lunch time. The sticky rice here is so tasteful. So are many other dishes. They are cooked in Thai cuisine ans therefore quite expensive. Because we are not big eaters, three dishes are enough for us. At the end of the meal, as usual, I bring home the leftover (we left it intentionally) :-). You can see in the photo I have two boxes for sticky rice and minced beef. I know for sure someone will appreciate them: Bob.

There won't be many chances for us to come here in the future. And I am certain that whenever I eat Thai food I will remember him a lot.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Summer plan

Home alone. Not much to do. I turn on the laptop and relax on the sofa surfing the net and listening to music. By chance I found the song "You're my destiny" sung by Paul Anka. Listening to it again and again. Nice song. Wish someone ever told me like that :-)

By the way, my summer holiday is coming in two weeks. Recently we have been preparing end-of year tests for students. Hard work.

I am thinking what we will do this summer. Certainly we will go swimming in the pool nearby. Maybe I will resume music lessons if the teacher can make time for me. She has just given a birth to a baby. Van, my colleague invited us (Mai and me) to come to her hometown, where there is a famous beach Sam Son. And Bob will go to art class downtown again. I promise to teach him English. It is obvious that for the last some months I haven't taught him much. :-) Mum is busy earning money. So bad :-(.

When we work hard in the school year, we long for the summer holiday. But I know for sure that when we enjoy holiday we will miss work.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Time out

Long time I did not go out with my friends/colleagues. Today is Ms. Lua's birthday so a good reason to gather. As invited, we met at our old restaurant at 11.40. After a big lunch we went shopping for a birthday present: clothes. The first shop was NEM. We could not find anything suitable. We proceeded to the second shop Chic land, my favorite shop. We found what we were looking for. A nice skirt and a jacket. I got home in time to pick up my son from school.

Full afternoon was well spent with friends. We talked and chatted and enjoyed ourselves.We agreed that we would meet again in June.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Sapa

Like other people, making use of the long public holiday, we travelled away from Hanoi. Our destination was Sapa. The reason of choosing Sapa was very simple: Bob likes a holiday in the mountains. We booked the trip long time ago with a reliable travel agent's in Hanoi. Everything went smoothly. And after the holiday I recognised that Bob and I were really fit :-).

We spent two days in Sapa. Day 1: Cat Cat village (morning), Ham Rong resort (afternoon). Day 2: long trek up to the hill (leaving 9.30 am and back 4.15 pm). Honestly, two days is not enough for exploring Sapa but it is fine for Bob to have an insight of mountainous areas and minority ethnic people. We will come back when we can. I told my son that Mount Fanxipan was waiting for him. :-)

Cat Cat is a tourism village. It is not very far from the centre of Sapa. We walked there with three other tourists and our tour guide (she was a Red Dzao woman). The road was up and down. Along the road there were some local houses informing us of how the local people lived and shops displaying handicraft (some were made here and some were imported from China). We also saw some man ploughing. This was the first time Bob knew peasants' heavy work. Walking made us a bit tired. But so wonderful to enjoy the peace and fresh air and views. Moreover the road was paved. Clean and walker-friendly. The tour guide told me that if we were tired after the walk we could take a xe om. It cost 30,000 dongs. But I encouraged my son to walk. And we made it: walking back to the restaurant (near the hotel) and enjoyed here. Then we walked back to our hotel and joined the group again at 2.30 pm to visit Ham Rong.

Bob was too tired and sleepy after a night in the train and a ride on the winding road from Lao Cai station to Sapa. He slept at once after checking into Chau Long Sapa hotel and refused to go out in the afternoon. I had to leave him in the room.

Ham Rong Resort (as they called) was a large park. We climbed up to the hill near the centre. There were so many beautiful flowers and peach plants and wild plum plants. Clean and well organised. We climbed to the Heaven Gate 1, and through stone forest to Cloud Yard and to the Heaven Gate 2 and back. From the Cloud Yard, you could see Sapa Town. Magnificent. And you could see Ham Rong (the jaw of the dragon with the tail in Lao Cai town) :-). Again in the park what was appreciated was fresh air, green spaces and wonderful views.

In the evening I had a terrible headache. We hurried to the old restaurant to have pizza and French fries - Bob's favorite food. I didn't eat much. We walked back to the hotel and took some medicine and slept. If I hadn't had headache, I would have taken my son out to enjoy Sapa at night. Pity.

Day 2 was a long trek in a path up and down hills through terraced fields. We had lunch in a local house. After the trek, the tour guide admitted that Bob and me were so fit. We were often ahead the group. At first I thought Bob could not finish the trek. A city boy walking in the mountains. But he made it and really excited about the walk. Never complaining about anything.

Our holiday in Sapa ended. Safe and excited and unforgettable trip. Back to normal life in a hot and dirty and crowed Hanoi in summer weather.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Fate?

Yesterday evening, my colleague texted me and said that she was extremely bored and that she might leave her husband so that they would not be each other's headache. I guess they just had another big argument. They have been married for 4 years I think, but so many times they have argued... I did not know what to advise her but I just mentioned that we are unhappy in our marriage. I also told her that she would be very comfortable living in her own home when leaving (she is living with her family in law) but for some moments she would feel lonely. For some nights she suddenly wakes up and feels empty deep in her heart. She will have to start from scratch... It will take time to overcome it and get life balance again. She is experiencing the same situation as mine two years ago: stay or go. Hard choice she has to make. I wonder if it is right that we have a destiny/fate and that her and my destiny is that our love line must have some cracks ...Hope for the best.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hectic time

In the past few days I have been really hectic. Teaching, meeting, preparing lessons and new teaching materials for students of our group. In addition, I had to prepare a presentation using power points. Truly I did not use it for so long that I forgot largely. Luckily, my friend gave me hand. In the days to come, I wish to finish one set of multiple choice questions. I hardly ever go to pick up my son from school. I have no time to watch HBO films. After the public holiday in Vietnam I start to prepare end-of semester tests again. And then long summer holiday in June and July and half of August. However I still work some days during the holiday. Life of a teacher: sometimes so busy, sometimes too relaxing.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Working Sunday

What I like doing on Sunday morning is sitting at my dining table in the kitchen area facing the balcony working and listening to music. Occasionally I go out walking and drinking coffee and chatting. This morning I did so. When I walked on the park nearby the building I realized summer came. The trees and plants in the little park are green and with a lot of young leaves. Just some weeks to way, some of them will blossom, summer flowers. It is the signal of my summer vacation. A summer full of emotions... Anyhow, it is still 1.5 months to go.

After the walk we stopped at our waterfront cafe. Peaceful and comfortable place for socializing. Not many people know it because my place is a bit far away from downtown and a bit isolated. I told my friend that it was just ideal for living. I will miss living here when I have to move again. Anh told me "If you want to live here, don't move'. I wish that life would bring what we want...

I spent the whole afternoon working. Work needs managing well so that I can meet deadlines. A bank of 450 multiple choice questions has been finished. Workload is reduced but two more banks are still ahead. I will try to finish them before I go to Sapa on holiday (30 April and 1 May). I look forward to being on the train again.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Sakura festival

Yesterday morning I heard on TV that the Sakura flower festival was held in Hanoi for 16 and 17th April (today and tomorrow). I know this kind of flower (Japan's national flower) but I have never seen sakura in real. They are really beautiful in photos. In my mind, the festival would display a lot of flowers and some typically Japanese things. I decided to invite my friend to go to the festival with me.

A long distance from my place to Giang Vo exhibition center housing the festival. When we got there it was crowded with young people (mainly students). Even a young girl recognized me as her former teacher. Honestly I did not know who she was.:-) The most noticeable thing was two trees of sakura: one plastic and one real. The real flowers must be much nicer in natural environment (in gardens or in parks). Anyhow, for people like me, chances for looking at real flowers in Japan and in Washington DC are zero, this festival is satisfactory. Sakuras look like Vietnamese peach flowers, which is what I know today. Not much to see in the festival except sakura.

On the way back, we dropped in a pizza restaurant. We ordered a very big and delicious pizza. But of course we finished half and we brought home half (my dinner :-)

My friend said that I shouldn't mention negative things about the festival but I felt that I missed something...

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sunday walk

Nice weather today: 25 degrees, sunny. It is ideal for outdoor activities. We decided to go for a walk. We haven't done it for such a long time. Usually we just walk around the lake once with two stops. But today one round and one stop. The cafe we used to go to was so busy this morning so we skipped it. We intended to buy some ribbons for my hair but I realized that the price downtown was cut-throat. I promised to buy them for myself in a market near my place, much cheaper...

On the way back to the motorbike, we took some photos to keep happy moments we had together. We have taken so many photos downtown. I am sure that anyone who looks at us must say we are such a nice couple. And how romantic we are. Once my friend said that when she looked at us she recalled her romantic moments with her husband long long time ago. She even thanked me for reminding her of the wonderful time she used to have. "Nothing lasts forever ..."

It is always wonderful to walk and chat together. But it is not easy to arrange time to do that in such a busy life... Perhaps, in the future, I can not go walking downtown often. You can not walk alone, can you? And you can not walk with the people who do not appreciate the walk, can you?

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Memorable Saturday

Today we decided to go shopping in Metro, a big cash and carry centre near my living place. I told anh that I wished to visit it and I thought he had a pass shop there. He said he did not have it but he would bring his passport and we could have a daily pass. I must say that it was a nice shopping time and we bought some purchase.

After shopping we went downtown to buy summer clothes. We dropped into Highland Cafe where we met for the first time. We recalled how we met and drank the same kind of coffee but in different cups. I played with his glasses and he took this photo for me. Troi, I look more than 50 years old.:-) Then we went to fashion shop Chicland. They are launching summer collections. Chicland is my favorite brand. Here we managed to update my membership card: VIP now. It was the time we paid we realized that we could not find the cash he withdrew from the ATM in Metro. What a disaster! Unlucky Saturday. Of course we still paid for two nice dresses but by card. I felt so sorry and regretted money being lost that I made faces (very ugly face at that time I thought) and he said why I seemed angry with him. No, not angry with him at all but just depressed by the incident. Big amount of money. Poor us. I said today I bought two very very expensive dresses.

Full weekend again

After a month I taught on Saturday I decided to stop. I gave the class to my colleague. As a result I have full weekend again. This morning I took my my son to school, I did not need to hurry as from Monday to Friday. Back home I made a cup of coffee for me, started the stereo (I chose the CD "Biet" - Goodbye, sung by famous Vietnamese singers), turned on my laptop and brought it to the dining table, facing the balcony now and sipping coffee and writing this entry. Lazy morning is ahead of me or I make it a lazy morning for myself. I want to talk about 4 things in this entry.

First, my lime plant blossoms. So many flowers on a small tree. Lovely isn't it. In addition, two rose buds are going to blossom. My orchids are still there. The balcony is nice.

Second, summer is on the way to come. The temperature is going up. During the change from spring to summer, the weather is not very healthy, easy to get tired and even sick. Weather-sensitive people like me don't like that. These days I have been feeling not very good: emotionally and physically... But one or two more weeks sunny and hot days are here. Time to check light clothes: where they are, and wearable or not.

And, my rent is going to enter the third year. Two past years has left so many memories. I am prepared to live in the flat for the next one-year lease. No one is sure what will happen to them in the future. Maybe I will continue to live on the 10th floor. Maybe down to the ground. Wherever I live the time in Linh Dam is unforgettable.

Finally, work. Being a teacher is not hard work for me but being head of a group is not easy. Hundreds of multiple choice questions need editing and it is really time and concentration-consuming. For the time being, concentration is luxury for me. However, I will try my best to accomplish my tasks.

Now time for a pot of tea and enjoy the rest of Saturday morning.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Sad

Yesterday I got really sad news: my friend has got a new job in an African country and he moves in two months. The time I am afraid of has come... I feel really really sad. Of course, we still keep in touch but even this idea can't prevent me from crying. What a life! Meeting and departing...

Monday, April 4, 2011

Relaxing weekend

The title of this entry is copied :-). But I also had relaxing weekend. Last Saturday, I worked in the morning only. I spent the afternoon enjoying life and having my motorbike maintained. It took time for my repairers to change oil, change the seat lock, adjust the breaks and wash the motorbike. While waiting, I had my photos taken under the flyover in my neighbourhood. I told my friend that I really liked the rows of columns supporting the flyover, which remind me of columns in Rome. And I asked him to take some photos for me. Nice photo?

And yesterday I went to visit a new pagoda and a beauty spot in Ninh Binh province with my colleagues. The weather was fine for a day in the open air: a bit chilly, not much sunny and not raining at all. The Bai Dinh pagoda is new and built in a very large area, but still under construction. Maybe 3 years later it will be finished. Will be more beautiful and better organized. We felt satisfied with visit to the beauty spot Trang An. Clean and in order. The tour organization seems professional: boat rowers wearing uniforms and queuing to take visitors along the streams and through nine caves. So peaceful sitting on the boat and viewing the mountains around and feeling the coldness in the caves. We said Trang An was Halong in land. :-). What I also liked was about this place was the toilets were clean, which is rare in attractions in Vietnam.

I took some photos but not very beautiful because no sunny and a bit foggy and mainly because I am not professional photographer :-). Anyhow, I would like to share.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

New road to work

I live in the south of the city while my workplace is in the east. In the past there was only one way from home to work: Giai Phong Street - Truong Dinh street - Minh Khai - Lac Trung/Vinh Tuy/Vinh Hung (3 campuses) and on the way home: Lac Trung/Vinh Tuy/Vinh Hung - Minh Khai - Dai La - Giai Phong or Lac Trung - Thanh Nhan - Le Thanh Nghi - Giai Phong. Almost every day I travelled along these streets. These streets are crowded and sometimes I get stuck in jams. But they are in quite good condition and not too dirty/dusty. Recently to avoid driving in deep water near Vinh Hung campus, I have been travelling the number 3 beltway. New road, not much traffic, but very dusty, especially sunny weather after raining/showering. We have to travel in dust. Hair has to be washed more often, mortobike too. Once when I got home I found that part of my face not covered by the mask was covered by dust. Looking like a person from the Incredible family. :-) Not only on the beltway. If you travel in Hanoi, near the suburbs and near construction sites (many in the capital now) you will have the same experience: travelling in dust. Terrible if lorries or cars overtake you. Unluckily, I live in the outskirt. Travelling long distance to work, to the centre by motorbike is what I do regularly. I don't know when we can enjoy a clean (at least without dust) air in this city.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Modest plant

When I lived with my parents in a small village in Gia Lam District (now Long Bien), we had a lime plant by the pond. Lime trees need quite a lot water to grow up and be happy. So the location by the pond was ideal for our tree. It was very big with plenty of green leaves. And when it blossomed, the flowers were tiny, white and sweet smelling. Lime flowers are so simple, not so luxurious or colourful as other kinds of flowers. Women in the countryside are compared to lime flowers: nice and simple and modest. Hope I belong to this type of women :-).

When I got married and lived on the top/fifth floor of a building in the city. I wanted to have a lime plant. My father bought for me a lime plant, and I put it in a big pot. Nice plant: green and large leaves, and it even produced fruits. I liked it very much.

Now life has changed. No lime plant by the pond anymore. Part of my parents' land was sold. I do not live on the fifth floor floor anymore. I could not take the plant with me when moving out. It is too big and the pot is too heavy to carry. My father passed away ... When I decided to have my 'babylon garden', the first plant I thought I would buy was a lime plant. It is growing well here and is going to blossom soon. It seems that I am good at growing plants. (My fate is water according to Chinese astrology and plants are wood. Water is good for wood. That is why I have a nice garden on the balcony :-)

Last Sunday, I went to a wedding in a village in Thai Nguyen. There I saw flowers of a grapefruit tree. They reminded me very much of my father. He planted grapefruit trees in our garden, long time ago...

I realize that I still miss the time I lived in the village. And I still have something modest. Life in the city changes me a bit. Deep in my heart I am always a woman from the countryside and I wish to carry that part of me to the end of my life.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Nasty weather

I thought coldness of the winter had gone. I put away Bob's leather blanket a couple of weeks ago. But in the last few days Hanoi has been experiencing another bad weather: cold (9 degrees) and showering/drizzling. Unusual in mid-March, when summer is coming. Not comfortable at all travelling in such bad weather from home to work on a scooter. In addition, it makes the clothes hanging on the balcony not well-dried. I have to use the heater to dry them. Anyhow, we are still lucky when living in the middle of the sky :-), the floor does not sweat at all. People are easy to get tired and bored or even sick when humidity is too high. According to a weather forecast it will be sunny this weekend. Hope the forecast is accurate - we are going away this Sunday. Not fun at all if it rains.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

13 years

Yesterday was 13 years that I got married. A milestone in any woman's life. And like any woman in the world, I expected/hoped/wished/strived for a happy marriage. I was a little dreamer (still now) when I thought we needed only love to ensure our marriage. Life proves that I am wrong. Terribly wrong. Love is one of many factors...

13 years is too short compared to our life but long enough for me to experience happy and unhappy, sweet and bitter/painful moments in a woman's life, love and hatred, faith and betrayal, weakness and strength...

Life is not always as we wish. It is a bit difficult for me to accept this to be honest. But I have to...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Nice flowers

Recently, I have been a bit busy: preparing tests, marking papers and editing materials. Life is not easy for a teacher cum assistant dean :-). I make a list of things to do from now to the our summer holiday. More than ever do I realize that being a good leader is really hard work. And what I receive in return mostly spiritually-valued rather than financially-valued. However, I shouldn't complain, should I? Sometimes I have the feeling of being in a race and of course I don't want to be a loser. I have to spread my work, set deadlines, and feel happy when I meet them. This afternoon, I marked my students' papers. I treated myself some time to write a new entry and to show the basket of flowers my students gave me on Women's Day.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Party with colleagues

Yesterday evening our department gave a buffet to celebrate Women's Day. 45 adults and 7 children turned up. Not all the teachers and staff. I know the number accurately because I was assigned to pay the bill. The restaurant is Buffet Viet in Tang Bat Ho Street. I arrived at 5.50 pm because we ordered for 6 pm but it did not start until 6.30. Good food, good atmosphere and good chat. We first went here to say goodbye to the old dean. So yesterday was the second time. We stayed there until after 8 pm. I was one the few people who came first and also one of the few people who left last. However, it does not mean that I ate a lot ;-). Just because I like punctuality and I had to pay the bill. On the way home, I travelled in rain. Terrible weather.