Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year 2013's Eve

Hanoi is moving to the new year 2013 in very cold weather - about 12 degrees now outside. I am too lazy to go outside to enjoy the atmosphere of a new Solar year. So really a good time to write a new entry for the blog and a right time to look back the year of 2012 :-).

The most expensive thing I did was to buy a small flat (will be a cozy home) with so much support and encourage from some family and friends. Another good thing happened to me was to spend my summer holiday in Nha Trang and in the biggest "cruise" in Halong Bay - terrific. And my success in applying for the UK Visa was unforgettable. In addition, after so much effort, I could finish some difficult things. 

My work at university was not too bad and teaching went smoothly.

What I considered to be my little unhappiness was my son's rebellious behaviors. He is growing up and obviously his attention now is paid to so many different things, not as I expected. Sometimes, what he did really shocked me. Pity that now and then I lost my temper and got furious with him. I am learning to accept the fact that he is going to slip out of my hands and comfort myself that I have still time to guide him to the right track.

And I am still struggling to overcome bad things in my spiritual life in 2012 ... Some things turn out to be not what I think.


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Attending an important meeting

One aspect of my job is to attend meetings. Almost every week I have one. But today 's meeting was different. We joined the meetings with top leaders of the university. Compared to our university's leaders, we are nothing, just like their little children or grandchildren. We are too young. We spent most of the time in the meeting room listening to the principal presenting our 'development strategy' in the next few years. He is 85 years old and really an eloquent presenter. We like listening to him. Some deans and some key advisors gave some ideas about the proposal and some more  wanted to do the same. But time was limited and we have to continue next week.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Life is full of surprises

When I am in London, I am going to see "The Phantom of the Opera". The selection of the musical turns out to be a nice surprise to me. First, I was promised to be taken to the theater, a must-do thing when we visit London. Then I was given a list of so many interesting musicals. Wow, what to choose when I have no experience. Some of the musicals have film versions already and I watched them. So I chose "The Phantom of the Opera". At the moment I chose it, I just based on my own teaching experience. Somewhere in my English book, they mentioned the name. So let;s give it a try. But I did not know anything about the content. I guessed it had something relating to ghosts, scaring things. After we made the final decision and the tickets were booked.I thought I should read about the musical. What I needed to do was just to open my Tab. To my surprise, nothing scary in the musical. It turns out to be a love and mystery story. And immediately I fall in love with the theme song "The Phantom of the Opera". I watched it on youtube again and again. I must be really more interesting when I watch it live... Looking forward to that.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Winter 2012

Cloudy sky, light rain and cold wind are signals of winter. The temperature in Hanoi is between 16 and 22 degrees these days. Not too cold but it is time for me to prepare warm clothes.

In general, people do not like winter. Winter atmosphere often makes us feel bored and upset and cold. And romantic people like me easily  have the feeling of loneliness. :-)

I start work at 8 so luckily I don;t have to get up early in cold mornings. Anyhow, just 4 weeks to go we have teaching break of 2 weeks. Sleeping and eating time.

Sunday, November 25, 2012


I became an MC for our department's meeting by chance today. In the meeting we had six issues and we had seven vices so one vice had to be an MC and that was me. I have never acted like an MC before so I needed to prepare a little. Not easy to speak in front of lots of people, I must confess :-). Anyhow, the meeting finished successfully and one teacher told me that my voice via phone was very nice. Wow, who said I was sharp-tongued? :-)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Battery for Hp ProBook 5220m

This the photo taken on 12 September 2012, my laptop and its original battery. On that day my HP ran out of battery and it refused to charge. I found later that the battery needed changing. But not easy for me to buy new batteries for HP in Hanoi because my laptop seems to be 'abnormal' :-). My friend bought it for me in Bangkok. After failing to try to buy the battery in Hanoi I decided to use eBay for the first time. I found the battery online and I placed an order. Things went smoothly. However, I felt nervous about buying online. I told my friend that it was a new experience and that if I did not get the product as I wished I would stop using. Anyhow it is worth trying new things in life. A lot of people can buy online, why not me :-)? I ordered online and asked for home delivery but I did not dare to pay online yet. This step will be done in the future. Step by step :-) I paid for it in the eBay office on 6 Nov and today 20 Nov I got the purchase.

I immediately put it in the laptop and it worked. Phew... My ProBook 5220m becomes a nice "laptop" again, no part missing any more. Laptops must be on the lap, not always on the desk :-).

Monday, November 19, 2012

Party 20.11

20 November is Vietnamese Teachers' Day - our day. To celebrate it our department often give a party somewhere in Hanoi. Like last year, this year we had buffet party in Sen Tay Ho, about 10 km away from the downtown, a good place to eat so many different kinds of Vietnamese food. Luckily we had very nice weather: chilly and sunny. As usual, my two close friends-colleagues and I sat together and enjoyed food and chatted. After that we wanted to take some photos in such a nice surroundings.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Litle vegetable gardens

When there is more and more news about 'dirty' and 'dangerous' meat, vegetable and fruit, and when a piece of land is equivalent to a piece of gold in cities, such self-catering little gardens are not rare. Even they grow vegetables on the balcony and top of of the high buildings. In general, people make use of space and ground available in their neighbourhood to   grow their own vegetables. These are gardens in my neigbourhood, on the edge of a big lake. Luckily for those who have stayed here for a long time and luckily for those who live in villas. It is easy for them to 'occupy' empty lots of land and make them their gardens. I saw some old ladies watering vegetables and picking weeds. Perhaps, this is also their retirement hobby, "gardening". So peaceful.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Four years

What can you do in four years? Well, you can finish grades 6-9 (secondary school in Vietnam), you can finish a university program, you can start a new life and gradually get used to it, you can travel at least to 8 destinations in the country and abroad, you can end a sad relation and welcome a new one, you can see the growth of a child from a boy to a teenager, you can save almost enough for your own 'nest' and you recognize that you are 4 years older, old enough to feel happiness and old enough to feel sad moments which you can avoid in your life...

Monday, November 5, 2012

Certificate of ESP Online course

I got my certificate for a 5-week online course: ESP - Best Practices. The USA Embassy in Hanoi organised a reception dinner to give certificates to some eteachers. The dinner was in a cozy restaurant facing the West Lake. I have never met anyone there in person before except my Dean, who was also invited. I guessed his project at MOET must be linked to USA training programs. I really like my online course. The course has widened my knowledge about ESP. Hope in the future more courses are available for teachers like me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A big goal almost reached

It seems that I have almost reached one big goal in my life: buy a flat. I have always wanted to have a flat. Saving and waiting and saving and waiting for the prices to go down. Then suddenly I had a chance. Flat prices go down throughout the country. However, it was not easy for me to make my dream come true. I just afforded half of the flat and I had to borrow from my mother, my poor brother, my friends and a bank to pay for the rest. Everything went smoothly except the bank loan. To seize the loan I had to submit so many kinds of documents. And honestly no one likes paper work. I tried my best to get all the documents the bank required. Sometimes I felt tired and sad when things did not happen as I expected. I felt sorry for myself when doing these things on my own. But my friends always encouraged me. And what will be will be. Today I feel relieved when 80% of the payment for the flat has been settled. The remaining 20% will be paid after the flat key is handled to me (in some months' time). Just within 39 days when my brother said: "If Aunt Quyen buys a flat, I will lend you my red book so that you can borrow money from the bank" (15 September) I finished the job of buying a flat. I would like to thank my family and my friends for their supporting me. Also I would like to congratulate myself on all my effort to reach one of the big goals before the deadline. Dare to think and dare to do.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Favorite seat in the meeting room

Once a week we have a meeting. When there are so many things to deal with we meet twice a week. Not always fun when staying at school all day for me. This is my favorite sitting place, between Mai (on my right) and Hanh (on my left) - 2 of the 7 vices. Mai's chair is next to me. Opposite of us are the dean and first vice :-) and the 3 other vices sit at the next table. Perhaps we sit like this because we often are on time for all meetings. Responsible vices.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New experience

As a person who teaches English as a second language, I always wish to have a chance to visit (at least) the UK and other English-speaking countries. But for me and a lot of people travelling abroad is luxury. However, I have a favor. A short holiday in London will be given to me as a gift. Great!!!  I feel really happy. My dream will come true. But first VISA application.

Under my friend's guide (who has a lot of experience applying for visas) I spent time visiting the UK Border Agency website and applied online first. I read and answer questions carefully and honestly. If I had difficulties I stopped and asked for help. And my application online was accepted. I had to make an appointment with the visa section of the UK Embassy in Hanoi a week later. Within 1 week I prepared necessary documents to submit. Thanks to the Internet, I could find out easily where to have my documents translated into English and certified. I thought it was a difficult week for me. :-) But it gave me a new experience. On Thursday I went to the Embassy. They asked me to submit the copy of the family book with translation and certification. I knew it in advance but I got the book just on Wed evening (not enough time for me). I accepted to get back one more time with the book. The staff also advised me to write a letter expressing in detail my purpose to London. The deadline was by 4 pm. I came back home. On the way, I dropped by the translation and I arranged to get the book by 2.30 pm. When I got home I wrote the letter. I thought no more worry when I got back to the Embassy at 3 pm with all the necessary documents. But the next morning when I was in classroom the visa section called me and advised me to change the time to visit London. She said my planned time was too far (over 4 months) and the UK just issued visas 3 months before my departure but it will be valid for 6 months (my planned time still within their permission). That meant I had to change my hotel booking and time in my letter. I could not do that at university because power was off. It was OK with the deadline they said 1 pm on Friday. We still taught but I knew we could go home earlier than usual because of no power. I still felt happy. That deadline I could meet. I stopped teaching at 10 and went back to the staff room to return the class file. Suddenly I was kidnapped to a meeting. I could not refuse. Although sitting in the meeting I felt as if I was on fire. Finally it finished at 11. I rushed home and changed hotel booking and letter and emailed them to the visa section. At 12.30 I rushed back to university to attend another meeting. What a day for me ;-).

As far as I read on the Internet, applying for a visa like my own situation was often not successful (travelling alone as a tourist). I told my friend that I hoped I would get the visa but not too upset if I would not for the first time. What I get from this is a life experience. If I failed I would know what to do to succeed for the next time.

When my visa work finished last Friday, I felt relieved. And within a week I got the Visa, and I felt so happy.

Just have good preparation, just open to other people's experience and advice and open to new things in life plus your little braveness, you can do what you think is impossible for you.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Like brother like sister

This is a photo of my 2nd brother and me. He was born in 1970, 5 years older than me. And I look most similar to him among my other siblings. He cares for me and always gives me a helping hand when I need assistance. Perhaps that is because I am the youngest in my family and I get on well with him most.

He lives with my mother and his wife and 2 daughters in a small house in the suburbs. Although his life is hard (not much income), he is happy with his small family.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Visit to Thang Long Citadel

Today is still our public holiday in Vietnam. I decided to take my son to visit Thang Long  Citadel which is open to the public recently. A nice place in a busy city. The old structures were destroyed, few relics are left. The city authority is planning to make the whole area a museum/park in the next few years. It will soon become a popular tourism attraction in the capital.

Long time ago, in the 12-14th centuries or so, there were palaces where kings lived. Then the French occupied and built French-style buildings. After that they were home to the Ministry of Defense. Civilians were not allowed to enter. Now the Ministry was relocated to somewhere else and people can go to visit some relics such as steps with decoration of dragons, wells, drainage systems, foundations and walls of old palaces. In some buildings built by French we can see meeting rooms with the chairs specifically seated by famous Vietnamese generals during the war with the American. Even a tunnel for them to avoid bombs.

I really feel satisfied with the visit. I know some more about the history. The citadel is not too crowded, clean, well-organised, with so many trees and plants and paved pathways and some rooms displaying antique objects are even air-conditioned, which makes me feel so comfortable.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Long long long holiday

Our new school year has not started yet. Delayed and delayed and delayed until 27 August because our new buildings are  being finalizing. We planned to start at 6 August. As a result, this year I have such a long summer holiday :-). This year, almost all students  study at the main campus so we have different studying times for different cohorts. Second year students study from 8 am to noon and from 2 pm to 6 pm. I teach only 2nd year students. Lucky me, I do not have to start early.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Arrival of autumn

Today, according to the lunar calendar, autumn starts. However, the typical autumn climate has not arrived yet. Hanoi is cloudy and cool and sometimes rainy. However, the cool feeling really makes me low-motivated. I feel I am in the depressing situation these days. I try to keep myself not be too pissed off at nothing :-(.

Here is a view from my balcony.

Autumn comes, which means our school year is about to start. As planned first, the school year 2012-2013 was going to start on 6th August. But our new buildings are not finished as scheduled, our work is delayed until 20th. Two weeks to go. Too enough time to get prepared to return to work :-).

Promises, promises

"We make them, we break them, because some promises are very hard to keep. Here are the top six most common broken promises ...
1. I'll come back tomorrow. (plumbers, builders, electricians)
2. I won't tell anyone. (when somebody wants to tell you a secret)
3. This won'r hurt. (doctors, dentists, nurses)
4. I'll write. (new friends on holiday)
5. I'll pay you back tomorrow. (when somebody borrows you money)
6. I'll always love you."
(From English textbook)

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Holiday in Quang Binh

I was so lucky and happy when I had one more chance to travel this summer. After considering where to go, I made a decision: Quang Binh province. When Vietnamese people hear the words "Quang Binh" they immediate think of Nhat Le river, Nhat Le beach, Phong Nha - Ke Bang national forest and white sand and hot weather.

I planned quite well for this short holiday (I learned  how to make plan including the budget from my friend who has travelled a lot in his life). And then we set for the destination.

Everything went on as I thought and as I was told: the sea, the town, the landmarks in the town and caves. We could eat only seafood on the beach, no other choices. Honestly, I was a bit worried when eating seafood. Luckily nothing happened to us:-). What I expected most was to visit the caves. Quang Binh has got 2 famous caves: Phong Nha and Thien Duong (Paradise). The former was discovered long time ago and the latter was discovered in 2005 and it is a very long cave. I planned to visit Phong Nha (shorter distance from the hotel, cheaper, and easier travelling, just sitting on the boat and sailing through cave) but unexpectedly all the people in the tour group wanted to visit Thien Duong. So I changed my plan. Anyhow, I want to visit both of the caves. In the future I will visit the other.

When we went inside the cave, we all admired the beauty which Nature made inside the mountain, behind a very small gate with a diameter of about 1.5 meter. It is worth visiting...

Monday, July 30, 2012

Angry Birds

I was not a gamer. I hardly ever spent time playing games online or on computer or on mobile phone. But recently I has been introduced Angry Birds, which is very famous in the world. And last month, I got a very nice and unexpected gift Samsung Tab 2 10.1. That was also when I knew the name 'tablet computer'. I am really bad at what -so-called hi-tech :-). And as soon as I was asked which game I wanted to install on the tab, I chose Angry Birds. Then I like the game. I often play it when I have free time. Yesterday when I was looking for new clothes in a fashion shop I found this shirt with a lot of angry birds on it. I asked to to try it at once and it fitted me well. Honestly, I bought the shirt mainly because of the birds :-).

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bob's room

When our children are small and always with us, we wish one day they will grow up and be independent. When they are independent we wish them to be small and dependent on us... My son has been sleeping in a different room almost one year. I remember encouraging him a lot to sleep in his own room but not forcing him. Once he agreed to sleep in his own room but in the next morning I saw him sleeping on the sofa in the living room so that he still saw mum. And another day he also agreed to sleep in his own room but during the night when I woke up I saw him sleeping on the floor next to my bed. My friend told me not to worry when he was not ready to do that and that it would be suitable time when he did it himself. And that was it. 

His room has not changed so much since we moved into this flat. I hung some of his paintings on the wall and put our old bookcase which is full of his story books now and some albums which still make me cry whenever I looked our old photos. 

I just bought one more set of bed sheet and pillow covers for him. I really like the new 'face' of the bed so I sat down and asked my son to take this photo of me. One day we will move out, but each room in this small and cozy flat is full of memories.

Monday, July 23, 2012

My 2nd class for kids

This is my second private class, 2 little boys and 4 little girls aged 7 and 8. They live near my mum's house. Like my 1st kid class, I use Let's Go textbook to teach them and other materials I made myself and collected from the Internet. I hope my little 'students' will find my class interesting.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer holiday 2012: Nha Trang and Ha Long

After a hardworking school year I spent a week away from Hanoi. I went to Nha Trang and Ha Long. A long dream came true :-).

It was the first time I visited Nha Trang, a very famous seaside city in Vietnam. I wondered myself why I had not been there before this summer. Perhaps I did not have a good mood for travelling in the past. It has a really beautiful beach and a well-organized theme park on one island. I was too old and too careful to play the adventurous games there but tried one. Mud bathing is also a new experience for me. In general, Nha Trang made a good impression on me and made me more sun-tanned :-). I will go back in the future.

Ha long is nothing new to me but my cruise in the bay is really excellent. I was lucky to be on the biggest ship operating in the bay. Before the trip I felt nervous (3 days on the sea) but I was given so much encouragement. I went kayaking again ( I was quite good at it after my first experience in Thailand), visiting a fishing village and pearl farm, cycling in Cat Ba National Forest and visiting some caves. Ha Long is beautiful and I won't forget my 3 days there.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Finally, our holidays come. Although we still have some work to finish, we manage to have as little work as possible on holiday. :-) Sometimes we have to leave duties behind to enjoy our lives for a while. After a week, I have to work hard at university again. Then time to have more relaxing time.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Goodbye to ESP course

It starts and ends, which is normal. We know that in advance. But I still feel missing it. Ten weeks is actually a short time period. No more waiting for 2 pm on Tuesday for new weekly assignments, no more  waiting for Saturday morning and Wednesday morning to check our marks... When I read our instructor's farewell words, I felt really sad. She did not forget to remind us not to stop learning. What I learn here may not be applied to the university's English program but I am sure it will be very useful for me in my teaching career. Many thanks for Sherie, our instructor, for my sponsors and for my friend who always encourages me.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grey hair

I remember when I was a little child I used to pick up grey hair for my parents. Time flies. Now my mum's hair is almost completely grey and she picked up grey hair for me. She said those who have hair like mine often have unlucky love life. She is still worried about me even I am almost 40. :-)

Believe it or not, there are so many grey hairs on my head. Easy to find them among my very black hair. My mum can recognize grey ones easily without wearing glasses.

Friday, June 8, 2012

ESP online course

I was lucky to be selected to attend an ESP course online in 10 weeks. As I mentioned in my discussions with other participants, ESP is not new to me. It was one of the subjects in my MA course i did 12 years ago. But honestly, this online course is much more interesting and I learnt a lot from it. Perhaps when we have experience, it is easier for us to understand what was complicated 12 years before. So far I have got full credits for my assignments and often get good comments from others. The course is really good for my  teaching. 

One person from Italy said  "I have enjoyed reading your post which is as usually short, clear and concise". She is so good at reading me. I like being short, clear and concise and simple in almost all of my assignments. Besides, I always meet the deadlines for submitting my assignments. I made a joke that I am very good at organizing my life except my love life :-)

One week to go  and then I can get a certificate. Really good, isn't it? I am looking forward to that.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Delayed birthday party

For a long time six of us haven't had a chance to meet. On the occasion of the end of school year and late celebration of my friend's birthday we decided to spend time out together today. As usual, we had a really good time together. Eating, chatting and laughing. Here we are sitting in a mushroom hotpot restaurant near Vincom, our favorite place. We look so happy, don't we? The next meeting will be in July.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Arrival of summer 2012

Welcome to summer 2012. Finally our academic year ended. Yesterday we marked this event with a buffet for all the teachers in the department. The party was given on the 17 floor of a building downtown. It was so fun chatting with colleagues not about our work. Although we stop teaching, we still have to get to university for exam supervision tasks.

Anyhow, a long holiday is ahead of me with some plans. 

I need to do assignments for the online course, which will 2 weeks. Really hard work. I need to register some classes for my son including art class. And I need to prepare some ESP materials for next school year planned to start on 20 August.

What I look forward to doing most this summer is to meet my friend and enjoy my holiday out of Hanoi. At least I will have some relaxing time for myself.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Teaching students of Architecture

I was not trained to become an ESP teacher. I did not know anything about Architecture. I did not know how to call parts of the building and I did not remember anything about Physics. Above all, I did know what art and drawings and sketches and CAD are. But I admire beautiful and elegant and great masterpieces of architects and civil engineers and I admire people's creativeness and imagination. For the improvement of English teaching at my university, our faculty's teachers are put into different groups responsible teaching students of different majors. I am in the group teaching Architecture majors. A demanding job.

Most of my students have very low level of English and they are not interested in English. Surely, English is difficult. If you do not work hard you won't master it. It does not matter with their first three credits. They study EGP (English for General Purposes). Easy to teach and teachers are familiar with EGP. But for their last credit, we are asked to teach them ESP (English for Specific Purposes). The teachers in my group have to try our best to fulfill this mission. Many difficulties do we face with. No good textbooks of English for Architecture available in Hanoi. Teachers have no experience in Architecture. What is called English for Architecture we have to use now is really not good. Besides we do not have much time to prepare our own materials... Believe it or not, sometimes I feel sorry for students. As a teacher, I wish one day we can design our own material for our students. I am on track to do that.

I post this photo because my friend wants to see me with my students. Here I am with my first year students and I teach them EGP. But  next year they have to study ESP. Some students are very good and some are very lazy. most of them are from other provinces and cities not Hanoi.

Maison Sen with vices and dean

Hanoi is coming into summer. It is very hot and the temperature is high during the day. That is why a buffet in in air-conditioned and expensive restaurants is really a treat for us. As assigned, I was responsible for booking a table for dinner last Saturday in a very nice restaurant downtown: Maison Sen. Truly, the house is French style. Like other Sen restaurants in its chain, Maison Sen is very clean and beautiful (I always care for beauty and cleanness. I don't mind food they serve much because I eat simple and moreover you get what you pay :-).

I decided to take some photos for memory. In this photo, I am with Mai, my colleague/friend. The photo was taken from her iPhone by a waiter in front of the restaurant. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Poor working condition

Hanoi has been experiencing a long hot period since 30 April. The highest day temperature is about 40 degrees. In such a terrible situation Mai and me had to observe a teacher teaching in a classroom like this: 2 ceiling fans, one window, one door. Honestly, the students and the teacher could maximize their performance. They looked tired and sweated a lot. I feel so lucky when I don't work in the afternoon. So sorry for my colleagues and their students staying at school in the afternoon session. In addition, we have only one 10 minute break during one session according to the new policy at my university. That means in the morning we work from 7.30 to 9.20 and then from 9.30 to 11.20 and in the afternoon from 12.30 to 14.20 and from 14.30 to 16.20. What a timing!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Victory Day 2012

This year we have a long public holiday from 29 April to 1 May. Long enough for people to go away. For some reasons I decide to stay in Hanoi: shopping for some food and clothes, buying some books for my son and myself, buying a new helmet for my son (same brand but bigger size) and visiting my mum.

Hanoi is dry and really hot these days. According to my in my Nokia, the temperature in the next few days is the highest in May, 37-40 degrees. Terrible, isn't it? Hope no power off.

When I was at mum's place, my sisters were not there. In fact, no family gathering like when my father was alive. I remember those days my family often met and had a meal together. Now they are busy with their own family gathering. We visit our mum whenever we have time and as a result, we come back to the place where we were born and brought up at different times. We meet not as frequently as before.

Spending time there is always wonderful. I have the feeling that I am the youngest. My mum, my brother and sister-in-law really care for me. I never grow up in my family's eyes even I am almost 40 years old.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Apple iPhone

This is one of the staff rooms where we often have a break. This morning, a funny thing happened. As soon as we sat down at the table, 4 colleagues started to use their phone. And what a surprise to me, they were holding their apples in their hands: playing games. At once I recognized that and I took my Nokia to capture this scene. Who says teachers are poor? Please think again.:-)

Thursday, April 26, 2012


I have two older brothers and they both are married. So I have two sisters-in-law: one some months older than me and the other some years younger than me. In this photo, I am with the younger. We had this photo taken on the occasion my older made these home clothes for us (designer clothes, made for only us). :-) Sisters-in-law do not often get on well together. But our case is different. Almost no distance between us. We get on very well. My sisters-in-law are friendly and hardworking. They know how to take care of their family. My parents feel very proud of having them as two extra daughters.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Pink slippers

The class I teach on Sunday has got 10 pupils: 6 girls and 4 boys. Today when they were doing a test I stepped out of the room for a while and this was what I saw at the door 4 pairs of pink slippers. And they looked almost the same. :-) It proves that PINK is the color little girls like most. From toes to top, they like wearing pink things. My nieces have slippers, shoes, boots, sandals, clothes, ribbons, caps, handbags in pink. My colleague's daughter likes wearing things in pink too. What a strange fashion trend for me, who have a son.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Games online

We made a mistake when we let our son play games online. At first he said it was free. But recently we found that he bought so many cards to upgrade his account. The amount of money shocked us. I felt very sad. The biggest problem is not about the money lost but the trust between him and me. He promised not to play games online any more. Let see if he can keep his promise... Not easy to be a mum of a boy teenager.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Hard working

These days I have been sitting too much at the desk in the study. Working, working and working. Deadline, deadline and deadline. I try my best to finish all the work I am am responsible for in semester 2 before 10 April, so that I can contribute my time to my distance learning course which starts soon. I was feeling so happy towards the deadline I set for my self when I got another duty from the university this morning and deadline is 20 April. Troi oi. :-( So many things have to be done. Truly, I look forward to my long summer holiday.

I have just given up an afternoon class. I taught it for a teacher in my group. After 6 Fridays I felt I was not fit enough to work whole day at university. I convinced her to come back teaching. And I was successful.

I have promised with myself that I would not work full day. But sometimes I do not keep my promise :-). I want to help my colleague and I want to increase my income a bit although that small contribution to my income is not enough for me to buy new clothes.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sunday morning off

Today is an official Sunday I have the morning off: no working, which means no getting up early, no rushing to the class, but feeling so relaxed and comfortable.

How do you relax on Sunday morning? Well, in my case, I like sipping coffee, listening to music, reading interesting articles on the Internet and doing some light housework, especially tidying my wardrobe :-). I can not enjoy waking up late on Sunday. Every day, my eyes open before 6 am.

Perhaps I should start doing Sunday morning walk next week. I delay this activity too long. It is a very simple but healthy exercise. Moreover, it costs nothing except a pair of shoes and an iPod (walking and listening to music) and luckily I have both already. Let's wait and see if I can do it next weekend or not.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Being an observer

After being shortlisted, new teachers have to 'pilot teach' and then they will sign a contract and become full time teachers at university. As vices, we are responsible for observing their teaching. Honestly it is really hard and boring work but we learn something from watching others. Some explain too much unnecessary things, some speak with a terrible voice, some look too serious and some make careless lesson plans. In the photo, Mai and I are on duty. We are busy for the next several days.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Summer 2012 to come

Summer is coming. These days in Hanoi the temperature is getting higher and higher, not much drizzling and the lower floors are sweating. Signals of hot and dry weather. No more heavy coats or jackets. Spring and summer dresses and skirts are being prepared. I was considering to change my hairstyle to suit summer weather but I never succeed. :-) Some time ago I once talked about my hair. I am quite faithful to it.

My summer should have been started with my holiday in Halong and NhaTrang. Pity that we could not. Sometimes unexpected things interrupt our life. My accompany suddenly had a pain in the back some weeks ago and more serious last week and now in hospital for surgery. It will take at least 6 weeks to be able to sit again. So the plan was cancelled. Perhaps I will choose another way to spend my 3 day public holiday alone from 29 April to 1 May. :-)

Friday, March 16, 2012

New Carrier

Our small rental flat has got one more Carrier air conditioner, raising the number of conditioners to 3. Too many for a small flat. :-) But we must have 3 for 3 different rooms. The new conditioner is a nice gift. We decided to choose the same model as the old ones. As a result, I searched for the old company who relocated a couple of years ago. The choice reflects one of my characteristics: always want nice things and the living place is a uniform of furniture... I will use the new convenience thing in about one month when summer comes to Hanoi with its heat.

I feel I am lucky to be able/decide to enjoy my life although so many difficulties are ahead of me.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Born to be a woman

By incident I was born to be a woman. Emotional, romantic, caring, always thirsty for loving and being loved, proud, jealous and lack of practicality :-).

I like caring for my family. I want to do housework myself and always do it as well as I can. Home must be nice: cozy and clean and well-organized. Meals must be simple and cooked from fresh ingredients. I do not belong to the kind of women who like cooking too many complicated dishes - so pity. My three sisters and two sisters-in-law are better cooks than me. Whenever we have parties or family gathering they are chefs.

As a mum, I am proud to say that I spent a lot of time with him when he was a little child. I did not work much to earn money but stay home to look after him. During his early years, I did not have much savings. I like picking up him from his kindergarten. Really happy when I saw his smiling face at the end of his school day. And in my eyes, my son is the best. Now my son is a teenager, he is quite independent, so I have more free time for myself.

In love, I used to be faithful. But I made a mistake. I demanded to be number one in my partner's eyes. I set some limits I did not want him to go beyond. I thought my love for him was enough to keep him with me. I am wrong. Sometimes we can keep a man's body by our side but we can not keep his soul and heart. I explained what I wanted and what I wished. Nothing was taken serious. We can share so many things in life but there are some things we can not. Selfish. And I stepped out of a love which used to be fancy in my friends' opinion.

Life still goes on without you wanting or not. Love comes and goes, which is natural. As a woman, I can not resist my destiny: happy and unhappy tears still remain in my life. Love and pain and loneliness and love in my life ...Is it natural? I was born to be a woman, and have to live to the end of a woman's life.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

3 years, 3 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Today is a special day for me, so special that I name my blog entry What does it mean? It marks the period of time I have known a person who turns out to be my soul mate. From the time we first met we felt there was something special between us and until now that feeling is still the same. Life always brings us surprises and he is one of the nice surprises I have received in my life.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Redecorating the flat

"Are you happy?" "No" "Do you want to be happy?" "Yes" "Change something". And we decided to change "something". Something in my case is my bedroom and my study. In the photo, I am in my 'new' study with a different background painting. It took me 3 days to rearrange the flat. Tiring work. But the result is perfect. My brother and cousin came to give me a hand with moving some furniture. I bought some artificial flowers to put in some places to make the flat nicer (However, I prefer fresh flowers). On special occasions, fresh flowers will appear in the living room.

I read somewhere that your living place reflects your life (and your personality). A nice, neat and cozy place makes you you feel happy. I once said to my friends that I did not have a house/flat but I have a home. I hope that a little change in the flat will make it "homer" and will bring me more happiness.

Saturday, February 25, 2012


This is the photo of my son, sitting in front of my desk, talking about the content of the old lessons, so that I can check if he remembers right or wrong before his teachers check the next day. In Vietnam, pupils are often checked on the content of old lessons before learning new ones and get marks. I often spend my evening checking his schoolwork. And we make it our routines. He studies in his room, then moves to mum's study, takes a seat in front of mum, gives mum his notebook and says "Mum, let's start. What is the question?". I read out the headings and he tells me what it is about. When he studies English, maths and physics I come to his room and gives him a hand if he needs. Luckily, he does not always asks me for help. He sometimes complains that mum asks him to do all exercises in his exercise books :-). But if you want to study well, you have to pratice a lot. If it is a difficult exercise, mum and internet are there to assist.

I still remember his first days at secondary school. He did not know that pupils are called to the board and answer teachers questions about old lessons. So when I told him to learn some subjects by heart he felt uncomfortable. Now he knows that mum is right. Thanks to "mum" home tutor, his oral test, 15-minutes written test often get high scores. About English, I teach him and a boy of the same age from 2nd floor on Tuesday evening. I really wish he can communicate well in English when he graduates from secondary school, at 15 years old. A long journey ahead for me and him.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Change in working time

We changed working time at the beginning of this week on request from the government to reduce traffic jams in Hanoi. Now we start work at 7 am and finish at 11 am, in the afternoon the working time is from 12.1.5 to 4.1.5. Early start early finish. Honestly, it has influence on my daily life. I have to get up early at 6 and try to leave home at 6.30. Getting up early is not fun at all in the cold weather. :-( Then I have to prepare breakfast for myself and my son, who leaves home much later than me. I have enough time to have a simple Western breakfast (cereal and milk) and enjoy coffee at school and during breaks I have some snack. I realize that these days I am not wearing any make-up. :-) I must look really modest. Perhaps, next semester I should choose to work 3 full days. So I can reduce the mornings I have to wake up early... Change is always difficult at first. But gradually people adapt to that.

Thursday, February 9, 2012


So I am fully 37 years old now. That means I am one year older than I was last year and L belong to the U40 league.

Since yesterday I have received happy birthday wishes from my beloved and friends. All of them wish me happier, more beautiful and more successful in my work and one person even wished me to have a partner to be not lonely any more :-). To my surprise, my first brother-in-law who is my eldest sister's husband, remembered my birthday.

The day before I entered my 38th year in life I suffered a terrible headache. I felt so sorry for myself. One of my best friends, Van, also had a headache last night. Both of us took panadols and today we met again at work we shared our story. Unluckily, we often suffer it. We just blame on change in weather and high humidity. But perhaps we have "fragile" bodies.

I should have organized a birthday party for my family and friends. Honestly, it is my wish. I can not do it during the week when the time is not suitable. I have free afternoon but my friends not. We can not have great fun in the evening when it is the time for our children to do homework and travelling by motorbike in the cold evening is not pleasant at all. I wish I had been born in summer :-). I also want to have a party with my family but we live far away from each other. As a result, no party at all right on my birthday. However, my close friends and I agree to have lunch together on Saturday and I think a small party with my family on Sunday.

Any wishes for myself on birthday? I wish to get smarter and braver to cope with difficulties I encounter in my life and those I stupidly make for myself. Some moments I feel I am too tired. Some moments I feel I get stuck. And so far I can not figure out the way I should live. I thought I was independent. It turns out to be that I am dependent emotionally and I could not let what should go go. That is why I wish to be smarter and braver after I have gained another year of age.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Vacation in BKK Tet 2012

A week in Bangkok passed so fast. We were satisfied with the decision to travel south on Tet holiday. While Hanoi was cold, Bangkok was so pleasant, not too hot, ideal for travelling around. It was really time for me and my son to explore cultural attractions there. Bob was really excited about his first trip overseas. He never complained about walking so much and eager to help mum buy tickets for skytrain and subway. About food, no Vietnamese food, which did not matter at all because he can eat fast food. He liked eating croissants. Every breakfast he took at least 2. What a boy!

Travel broadens your mind. Truly, each time I go to I find something new and impressive. This time they are Reclining Buddha, China Town, Bangkok from the tallest building, Dusit Palace and Vimanmek Mansion and the weekend market, Chatuchak.

I hope that after this trip my son's interest in travelling will be increased. And his travelling experience will be built up gradually.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lunar Year 20112, Year of Dragon

The Lunar Year 2012 has come. I got some wishes from my colleagues, friends and students and I replied to them. I felt really happy when one old student sent a message to me and then he called me to wish me a happy new year. He said he liked me and my teaching very much (although I did not do any favour for him :-)

I spent the first day of the new year with my son going to a pagoda nearby and visiting relatives, as a tradition in Vietnam. The weather was cold but not raining, so travelling outside was fine. After the pagoda, I took my son to my mum-in-law's house. She is staying home alone. The house big with four storeys but frankly it looks so dull and dirty, lacking personal care. I sighted sadly when coming into the house. Then I proceeded to Long Bien where my mum lives. I also visitted my mum's brother, my father's brother and my mum's aunt who is more than 90 years old. I had dinner with my mum and my sisters and brothers (not all of them because two sisters could not visit mum on the first day - one busy with her husband's family which is number 1 priority and one living too far, in HCMC). My eldest sister had a change: she used to have long straight hair, now she has wavy hair. Wow, I am very very surprised when looking at her. She looks younger and more 'up to date'. Among four sisters, she is the most modest... But now time to enjoy life, time to take care of herself after a long hard working life. I like her much. I also feel sorry for her because she can travel by car, train or plane. She spends her life just within Hanoi. My eyes once got wet when she told us that she has never been to some famous pagodas in inner Hanoi. Her daughters can not take her because they are busy with their own family. I promised to be her guide in the near future. Can you imagine that she lives just 7 km from Hoan Kiem Lake?

Today we stay home. We wanted to prepare for the trip which starts tomorrow. So far everything is ready. Two suitcases for mum and son, money, important documents and tickets. A week away is really good for me to refresh before I come back to work on 5 February. As planned we are going to explore Bangkok.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Tết Nhâm Thìn 2012

Thế là một Tết nữa đã đến. Tối nay là tôi giao thừa, sự chuyển giao giữa năm mới và năm cũ. Bao nhiêu vui buồn lẫn lộn ngày cuối năm.

Thừa hưởng truyền thống tín ngưỡng của người Việt từ mẹ, tôi đã làm đúng những gì mẹ thường làm: làm bữa cơm cuối năm cúng trời đất, tổ tiên và cúng đêm giao thừa... cầu xin trời đất, tổ tiên phù hộ cho bản thân và gia đình một năm mới gặp nhiều may mắn và mạnh khỏe.

Đêm giao thừa năm nào tôi cũng nhớ đến bố nhất. Mọi người nói đầu năm mới phảỉ luôn vui vẻ để cả năm được vui vẻ. Nhưng tôi không làm được điều đó. Nghĩ về bố và tôi lại khóc... Cấu xin bố phù hộ cho cô con gái "rượu".

Một năm trôi qua, và đây là những gì năm Tân Mão mang đến cho mình.

Về công việc: không có gì phàn nàn, dạy tất cả các buổi sáng tại trường. Ngoài ra còn có 2 lớp riêng tại nhà mẹ, tuần dạy một buổi, vừa có thêm chút thu nhập vừa được về gặp mẹ. Một niềm vui nữa là được nâng bậc thù lao, từ 85k đồng 1 tiết lên 90k và sau đó được chuyển lên một bậc nữa theo quy định mới về tăng lương chung của nhà trường. Mặc dù được tăng kép, song với tình hình lạm phát hiện nay ở Việt Nam khoản tăng đó chẳng đáng là bao.

Về con trai: Bob đã thực sự "lớn", đã ngủ riêng phòng và thực sự không muốn mẹ can thiệp vào thế giới riêng của tuổi mới lớn. Tôi đã thấy hụt hẫng khi cảm thấy minh và con không còn được kết nối như trước. Nhưng đó là điều tất yếu. Con lớn lên và dần xa vòng tay mẹ. Kết quả học tập của con không tệ, đạt học sinh giỏi. Tuy nhiên môn Toán (8.0) Bob sẽ phải cố gắng hơn trong hoc kỳ 2.

Về nhà ở: vẫn chưa có khả năng mua nhà.

Về du lịch: Được đi khá nhiều trong năm 2011. Và sang mùng 3 tết, sẽ mở đầu bằng chuyến đi Bangkok với con trai. Năm nay tôi cũng sẽ đi du lịch vào mùa hè, đang nghĩ đến việc đi nghỉ ở miền trung hoặc miền nam.

Về chuyện tình cảm: Mọi thứ vẫn đang ở phía trước, và vẫn còn mù mịt. Bạn tôi đã khuyên phải dứt khoát và sau đó bắt đầu xây dựng lại cuộc đời. Tôi đã tiến một bước xa nhưng vẫn chưa đâu vào đâu cả. Đôi khi mình đâu có quyết định được số phận của mình. Tôi muốn thế này nhưng tôi lại không đạt được mong muốn đó. Vẫn cô đơn và nước mắt. Tôi không nói từ hy vọng nữa... What will be will be.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Get ready for Tet 2012

January 2012 is quite busy for me. My holiday in Da Nang, my son's birthday, my preparation for Tet and preparation for Bangkok vacation.

After Da Nang trip, I continued to work until 14 January. Very comfortable teaching because this semester I teach 3 classes of first year students and 3 classes of TOEIC.

As a teacher I have a long Tet holiday, 3 full weeks. I have a lot of time to prepare for a simple Tet and get ready for the trip abroad. I made a shopping list and went shopping in Fivimart where I have a membership card with a discount of 5 %. For Tet, I still wish to buy some fresh vegetables and some flowers. My sister in law promises to present me two square cakes and one chicken :-)... I also attended my friend's late birthday party. Always funny when gathering with friends. Then I had my motorbike serviced as well. Good to do it. I need to travel around on the New Year's Day and the second day. About Bangkok trip, I have made the programme and got the budget. I checked the weather there, fine summer weather is waiting for us. Bob has got his first suitcase. It is a good brand because I want to invest in long-term things :-). I hope the trip is going to be fine. And I really look forward to it.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year 2012

This year I decided to spend my 3- day solar Tet holiday in Da Nang and Hoi An, welcoming a new year with my friend. We visited the ancient town of Hoi An and Ngu Hanh Son tourism zone in Da Nang. We intended to explore more but it drizzled, which limited our destinations.

This is the second time I have been to Da Nang and Hoi An. So I felt a bit more confident when strolling around.

Hoi An ancient town is very small and full of tourists. They ban motorbikes and cars some time to make it a pedestrian zone. Within an afternoon you can visit the whole town on the river of Thu Bon. We bought some tickets and visited famous places such as the Japanese bridge, museums, assembly halls of Chinese and handicraft workshops. We did not forget to buy some souvenirs.

In Da nang, we climbed Water Mountain, one of the five famous mountains representing 5 essential substances called (Iron, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth). In the previous time I climbed up and down. This time was different, we went up by the lift and we walked down. Much easier but still tiring for me :-). We managed to get to the highest peak of the mountain.