Busy-ness!

I never truly believed when someone said he or she was too busy until I have become addicted to being busy. This is when I’ve realized that it can easily take me 20 hours to reply not-so-urgent texts; it takes days to reply my not too-urgent-emails-because they-can-wait and my Facebook inboxes are full of unread messages…

This is when I’ve also realized that, love/relationship is almost an impossible thing in this modern era. Perhaps the love is still there but we cannot see and hardly ever feel it because everyone of us is so full of our own Busyness. Some told me that he was so busy – I believed him but never truly believed. And then I’ve been becoming more like him. Except for the fact that I don’t live in hotel rooms and I do not hold a platinum membership from any Airline company. Working in the hospitality is tough. Even if I am entitled to work within office hours and only on weekdays, this job is as demanding as a super time stealer and already feel that I am over-loaded. What about you who has such an important job? What if I had to fly 12 times out of 7 days per week? Have I ever wished if I  could travel back in time? I guess not, I am so busy with my own Busyness and the good news is I seem to enjoy it very much. This Busyness has taken all our memories away. I have started to forget things and people and I’ve started to forget you… And I am sorry…

busyness

Life is Magnifique in Hanoi

life isNot too long ago I was in my 20-something crisis. I knew I was. I saw negative sides of things that I encountered on a daily basis with the highest level of disappointment I can get… I found nothing interesting in anything or anybody. That sounded so bad wasn’t that?

I walked along the rainy streets and I knew I had to make a phone call to a friend. 15 minutes later we got settled in one of the coffee shops near by. I asked if he could tell me the truth of how miserable I looked at that time… He was like ‘yeah yeah’ like it doesn’t even matter…and of course the fact that he did not show any sympathies to me at all made me a little angry… Then I decided to stop talking about myself. I saw the sparkles in his eyes and could not help wonder how he had been. I asked why he could be so happy. The answer was quite simple. He said he was happy because he loved all the things that he had been doing… Wasn’t that good?

But still, facing the fact that only him feeling good so it did not make me feel any better. I looked out the window and sighed: “Can you please tell me when this rain’s going to stop? I am so sick of this weather…” I said, with knowing that my friend might have been fed up with me already for ‘un-intentionally’ trying to turning him down… “I am so tired of this city. It’s always either too hot or too cold. And did you notice? The foggy and rainy weather has been like this for 1/4 of the year…” I continued.

Then he began – I think I only waited for this moment to hear his feedback. Because I know this guy will he super direct and straight to my problems.

“What’s happening with you?” He asked. “Are you trying to tell me that I am not acting like who I am? Like a normal me right?” I answered.

“Can’t be truer than that”. He laughed sneakily. I questioned him back: “Hey, I knew you also have a hundred things going on at the same time and you also changed your job last year… Don’t tell me it’s been a smooth process….!?”.

“Of course not… You had no idea how bored and disappointed I was when I had to quit the job. During my last few days at the office, apart from the day-to-day activities that we all have to accomplish, I had done something that I thought it was abnormal. I read through a 500 pages long book about Vietnamese history and now I feel like I have a new profession…”.

We laughed until his face looked a bit more serious again… “I think you should stop looking at the dark sides of everything. Of course you can leave if you don’t like this city anymore but you know more than anyone that there are goods and bads everywhere. Why don’t you look at this city to see our advantage of having seasonality? Other cities in Southeast Asia do not have that and they missed the opportunities to sell seasonal products and services…”.

“Okay!” I smiled and that’s when he knew that he made a clear point to me…

We kept the talking for another 15 minutes later before we greeted goodbye. 3 months later, I called him back and asked how he was doing… I know this is the man that I should be thankful for having him as a friend. And now, talking about seasonality, if you think Hanoi is the only capital city in Southeast Asia that has 4 seasons then it’s time to think again. We don’t just have 4 seasons, we have 12 flower seasons. I brought this idea for an internal presentation at work and received a number of good feedback… Let’s just forget about brand standards for now… I am just in love with the thought of me re-starting to have more of original ideas and finally get back to be my-authentic-self…

Ma Maison Saigon

After almost a year of following all the tweets, I finally made it to the Ma Maison Boutique Hotel Saigon last year on a business – leisure trip (November 2014). By previously knowing that the hotel address will not be easy to find, I did not get freaked out when the taxi driver didn’t even know about Ma Maison when I asked for the direction.

My first impression was with Tam, a 16-18 !? little boy – hotel staff with a friendly innocent smile which definitely made me feel most welcome. He and another hotel staff greeted me at the entrance. They offered me a glass of cold and super sweet – I must say the sweetest glass of passionfruit juice (not because of the sugar but natural passionfruit) that I have drank in my life (So make sure that you will try when you’re there).

11756618_10201020403949593_1901963398_n

The check-in counter

I have heard of the big black and white cat living at the hotel (the hotel owner is a cat person) but I can’t even remember whether I have seen her… It doesn’t matter so much anyway because I am not very much fond of pets or animals and sometimes – oh no most of the times I even get scared of them – black and white (or black or white) cats especially.

The room is super cute – all I can say and I did feel like I was a princess in a Proven style building (I’m talking like I know what I’m talking about… Provence… France… French… :). And the princess was super easy on that day. She stayed in a small little room and in a tiny little bed but since she’s full of vanity so she enjoyed every single moment of that as well as every single piece of furniture and artwork hanging on walls…

11774563_10201010486181655_1190636649_n

11758816_10201010489421736_1800006205_n

11753849_10201010482861572_141369455_n

11774424_10201010487741694_367517505_n

Waking up at Ma Maison was another pleasant part. Of course, there are neither American breakfast nor club benefits. In here I was offered in a super simple way with a very simple breakfast menu of 2-3 items. Well at least they asked me how I would like the egg to be cooked and the egg was much better than many other places that I have been too. I’m sure my Aussie dad Graeme would love it to – He hardly ever complains about anything except for his infamous laptop which takes half an hour to get started. Perhaps the princess was super easy on that day – I do feel there’s more than plenty. If there’s a word to describe my feeling I would say “deja vu” is the one. This is the exact same feeling that I got when I was at Zen Valley Dalat which I don’t often get…

11791679_10201020404309602_488970527_n

By the time having breakfast, I spent some time chatting with Tam, the little boy that I met the day before. I asked if he could tell me the reason that he worked here whilst he is still so young. He said his family is from the South-Western Vietnam or “Mien Tay” is where it is called. His family could not afford to send him to college. Tam said he was lucky because he was the nephew of this hotel owner who brought him here and gave him this job opportunity so that he could work and save money to go to college in the future. His eyes got sparked when I said I was from Hanoi. He said he wanted to work for a hotel in Hanoi one day then greeted me politely before getting back to work. I was looking at his honest face and did not say much.  At the end I could only wish him all the best for his future endeavours…

11774755_10201010485261632_1640820791_n

11721387_10201010490781770_1296461170_n

Living the island

Picture me..

An 18 years old girl who recorded herself as the youngest and the only Vietnamese G.O at Club Med Lindeman Island. 48++ hours of work per day and 6 work days per week and only once per every 2 weeks I took a ferry to go back to the ‘main land’, work was hard but almost a worry-free zone just because there were no targets, no numbers nor any ‘mission impossible’ that was assigned to me at that time. Well, let’s be fair, neither me nor any employers should expect too much from a just turned 18 years old employee but I gotta admit that I had learned so so much from there… Sadly Club Med Lindeman Island was closed down in late 2011 and the property was sold to some Chinese billionaire… Anyway I hope they will turn the island into a new paradise with a generation view point…

Although it only lasted for 6 months on the tropical island but I am so glad that I made it there – it was definitely one of the best 6-months of my entire life to be able to live in one of the greatest places on Earth and meeting some of the most amazing people in the world. My island’s friends are the one-of-a-kind friend in the world: my bestie Phillipa, my Aussie dad Graeme and my favourite handsome English Joe who are always on my side no matter what happens…

GO

Me, 18 years old at Club Med

8

The 8th hole

go2

With my favourite GMs and GOs

38718_1166092409786_3634715_n

The heart shaped island from the WhitSundays, Australia

Namaste

I know this is just the beginning of 2015 but I’ve just had one of my best moments of the year catching up with some amazing friends and people, this includes the Sajus…

I met Saju in back in 2010 when we were at the Hyatt Hotel Canberra. He was ‘the Chef’ and I worked in Food and Beverage as well as Sales and Marketing department. Except for the fact that he is Indian and he cannot swim – he admitted in front of everybody when we were playing the ‘Who’s Who game’ at the hotel – we knew nothing about each other until we both came back to Vietnam…

In 2012, he got a job promotion at a five star hotel in Saigon and by that time I also left Australia for home in Hanoi. I took the occasion to meet my old colleguage again in one of my trips to Saigon and got to know his family, his beautiful Croatian wife Mirjana and his gorgeous daughter plus personal assistant Kylie.

We met again in Hanoi yesterday and the day before as they went for a trip in Hanoi and Ha Long Bay. Oh my god, Kylie surprised me as she is a lot taller than she was before… Kylie loves winter so she seemed to enjoy it very much. However, the Hanoi weather has not been very pleasant as we’ve been experiencing to the extreme of the unpleasant days with cold wind air and too much of winter rain.

I enjoyed my time spending with them as well to get to know the ‘insights’ of how it’s like to get married with a Chef and got to know a bit of here and there… Europe, India, Australia and Vietnam… We literally include almost everything in our conversions and sometimes they even went up into becoming some ‘big’ husband & wife arguments but I guess this is just how life’s supposed to be. Mirjana was like: “Camellia, don’t get married and don’t have kids”. I just can’t help smiling looking at how happy they are and I could not see anything which is more lively and more beautiful than that…

I had one of the best Indian meals in my life at Namaste Restaurant in Hanoi… I just tried everything that I was advised by ‘the Chef’ and they were all so good.

10904907_10200335197819868_1949878629_n

10933076_10200335198059874_1775576001_n

It must have been not so difficult for Indians to become vegetarians they have such a wide variety of choices when it comes to vegetarian or vegan food. I told the family that I wanted to become a vegetarian. Just got this feeling recently… And perhaps 80% vegetarian is a better target as it is not easy to be a vegetarian when you are part of the food and service industry and especially when you live in the society where people show absolutely no respect for animals as many of them still think dog meat is a type of food to eat…

Despite of the cold and rain, the Hanoi trip was good for us, I still feel like I am a ‘tourist’ sometimes – it happens when you travel with people coming from different cultures who look at your culture in a different perspective…

Life is full of coincidences. And I think I must have made Mirjana super happy as well. She might probably thought that she was the only Croatian in Vietnam. We were walking along Nha Tho street where the St Joeseph’s is and I suddenly realised that I knew someone also from Croatia who lives in Hanoi. Coincidentally, they were all at the same place at a perfect timing and just good enough for me to get everyone from the small little Croatian ‘community’ to get introduced to each other in a short period of time. Mirjana was so happy that she couldn’t speak a word after the encounter with not only one Croatian guy but also another one and another guy who is Croatian’ son-in-law. She asked me as if I knew everyone in this city which just made me smile… I took a step back to think of another coincidence, it was about an Austrian man who I’ve got to know for quite some time and once we went for dinner together at Da Paolo Westlake, he was so surprised that he could hear the ‘Austrian’ sound from another man who was dining in the table right next to us…

I said to the Chef: “Hey Saju, I think just maybe, if someone thinks he/she is the only person who has ‘unique’ nationality in this city, they should come and see me as I will be able to help them find a friend who comes from their own state of origin…”

Trưa Vắng

Ước mơ đầu tiên của mình là trở thành ca sĩ. Từ năm khoảng 7, 8 tuổi gì đấy thì mỗi năm thay đổi ước mơ một lần. Bây giờ thì mình biết mình đang làm gì và muốn gì nhưng mà chẳng biết phải đặt tên cho cái nghề đấy là gì nữa. Nhưng dù làm nghề gì đi nữa thì cũng chẳng hiểu sao cứ mỗi lần gần đến sinh nhật là lại muốn… làm ca sĩ, thực ra hơn cả việc muốn làm ca sĩ thì mình muốn hiểu về nhạc lý, muốn có người hướng dẫn luyện thanh và muốn có thể chơi giỏi một loại nhạc cụ nào đấy hơn. Hy vọng là không phải đợi đến già mới có cơ hội học... 🙂

Ngày xưa hồi mình làm cho một resort (khu nghỉ dưỡng) ở bên Úc tên là Club Med, nếu ai đã từng làm việc cho Club Med thì sẽ rất quen thuộc với mấy từ G.O; G.E hay G.M. Mấy đứa như mình được gọi là G.O, viết tắt của từ (Gentil Organisateur) được coi là các nhân viên đại diện của Club Med; G.E (Gentil Employé) thường là các nhân viên có thể hoặc là người bản xứ và thường tập trung ở khu vực ‘back of the house’ (khu vực phía sau) và G.M (Gentil Membre) là để chỉ các vị khách đến nghĩ dưỡng.

Điểm khác nhau chính giữa G.O và G.E là các bạn G.O mặc đến 7 bộ đồng phục khác nhau cho 7 ngày và mỗi tối lại được yêu cầu mặc trang phục theo mỗi chủ đề khác nhau. Các G.Os thường làm việc vất vả hơn và cũng đồng nghĩa với nhiều quyền lợi hơn. Ngoài 8 tiếng làm việc (vất vả theo từng bộ phận) thì thông thường các G.Os sẽ có khá nhiều các nhiệm vụ khác nhau. Nếu như các G.Es chỉ làm việc hết giờ rồi đi về thì G.Os làm việc xong rồi thì còn có rất nhiều các hoạt động khác nữa. Một trong những đặc điểm rất đặc biệt của Club Med so với tất cả các khu nghỉ dưỡng khác đó là văn hóa của Club Med. Các G.Os của Club Med ngoài những công việc chính ở các bộ phận như thể thao, ẩm thực, spa, buồng phòng, lễ tân thì ai cũng sẽ có chung một “công việc” buổi tối đó là chia sẻ các trải nghiệm trực tiếp cùng các G.Ms.

Cam 4
Hồi này tròn thật đấy. Nhân tiện chỗ đang đứng là Jetty, vì mình làm việc trên một hòn đảo nên chỗ này vừa để đón khách, vừa để tiễn khách.

Club Med theo mình được biết là khu nghỉ dưỡng duy nhất trên thế giới để nhân viên ngồi ăn trực tiếp cùng khách hàng và tìm hiểu về trải nghiệm của khách hàng khi nghỉ dưỡng tại đây. Vào 8h tối thì gần như tất cả các G.Os sẽ trở thành ngôi sao trên sân khấu vì tối nào cũng sẽ có các buổi biểu diễn khác nhau theo từng chủ đề. Nói là gần như tất cả tức là có một số G.Os không thể tham gia trực tiếp vì làm ở bộ phận ẩm thực nên thường phải ở lại nhà hàng khá muộn và rất hiếm khi tham dự các buổi biểu diễn. Mình thích các buổi biểu diễn từ đầu đến …gần cuối. Nói vậy vì kết thúc buổi biểu diễn đã từng là nỗi ám ảnh của mình vì ai cũng phải nhảy theo một vũ điệu kỳ quoái mà được gọi là “crazy sign”, mỗi người có thể nghĩ ra một “crazy sign” khác nhau và mọi người sẽ thực hiện theo điệu nhảy đấy. Hồi đấy mình ghét trò này vì thấy cứ ngớ ngẩn sao ấy, bây giờ thì đỡ hơn một tí vì nghĩ lại nhiều lúc cũng thấy vui. Có một lần mình không phải làm tối nên ngồi xem biểu diễn, xong đến giờ có cái “crazy sign” đấy, mình không kịp trốn nên cứ bị kéo lại, nhưng mình cố gắng từ chối vụ nhảy nhót đấy thế là bị hai bạn G.Os khác phê bình là mình không làm việc hết mình.

Nói chung là mình hơi bị bực mình vì cái lời phê bình đấy vì mình biết mình là một trong những đứa làm việc vất vả hơn ai hết, chỉ có điều là hình như đây không hẳn là văn hóa của mình. Thôi chẳng cãi nhau với họ nữa, dù sao họ cũng chẳng phải sếp của mình, nhưng mà vẫn bực. Chắc tại khác văn hóa.

Mà đúng là khác văn hóa ấy. Hồi đấy cứ khoảng 3 tuần hoặc 1 tháng một lần là ở đấy lại tổ chức một cái “G.O meeting”, lúc đấy tất cả các G.Os mới sẽ đứng lên giới thiệu bản thân xong lại bị yêu cầu…nhảy nhót 😦 Hôm đấy đến lượt mình, mình nói với bạn Chief of Village (General Manager) là mình hát có được không và may quá bạn ấy đồng ý. Hồi đấy mình vẫn xì-teen nên mình hỏi các bạn ấy có biết “High School Musical” không. Sau đó mình bắt đầu:

“Na na na na

Na na na na yeah

You are the music in me

You know the words “Once upon a time”

Make you listen

There’s a reason…”

Rồi có một buổi tối đến vụ phải hát thì các bạn G.Os kia có vẻ ít người hào hứng, lúc đấy thì sao không có ai thể hiện hết mình đi. Thế là mình lên hát, mình nhớ mình lên hát vài lần. Một trong những lần mình nhớ nhất là hôm đấy hát “Oops I did it again” – Britney Spears. Thực ra đấy là lần đầu tiên hát bài đấy nên chẳng hiểu hát hò như thế nào, chỉ biết lúc hát xong cái bạn hôm trước kỳ thị mình chạy ra ôm mình chặt một cái nói là “Well done darling, I’m so proud of you”. Mình chỉ nói là không có gì đâu, chỉ là mỗi người có một cách thể hiện khác nhau thôi. Nhất định sẽ có một lần nào đấy mình sẽ viết một bài tiếng Anh về chủ đề này, để nói cho bọn Tây nó hiểu là ngôn ngữ cơ thể không phải sở trường của người châu Á.

cam 2
Mình nhớ gia đình này ở Melbourne, có lần đến Melbourne chơi có gọi lại cho họ. Ôi nhất định hôm tới phải có bài viết về Club Med một lần nữa.

Ước gì hồi đấy có ai quay phim chụp ảnh cảnh đấy, thế mới biết nó vô giá như thế nào. Thôi hôm nay quyết định sẽ ngồi nghe mình hát, kỉ niệm lần đầu tiên đi thu âm khoảng 10 tháng trước. Bài hát này lấy cảm xúc từ chuyến đi công tác Đà Nẵng. Hôm đấy đứng ở bờ biển một mình đợi chị đồng nghiệp xong nhìn thấy cảnh hai bác lớn lớn tuổi ngồi với nhau rất tình cảm thế là bị ám ảnh đến hôm về đến Hà Nội. Sau đấy nhân dịp cậu bạn mở phòng thu thế là thu âm thử luôn. Bài này vẫn còn nhiều lỗi nhưng mặc kệ đi, hy vọng nếu đi thi Vietnam Idol chắc vẫn được đi gửi xe.