My Celebrity Doctor 👩‍⚕️

Why would a doctor need a fancy photo-shooting at a five star resort? For fun? For her own interest? For her personal branding? Who else does she want to be?

On a not-so-beautiful day of May 2020 for me because the tourism and hotel industry has got the largest hit of the century due to the destruction of the corona pandemic, I received an influencer-cooperation request for a photo shooting project at TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An from my favorite make-up artist cum producer Kyo Phan. I would love to work with him of course then I asked if he could send me a detailed program of the cooperation for my own review. We had worked before on different projects with professional models or people who work in the entertainment industry. But this time, it’s not really about a model, not even an actress or a singer. He said it was about Kha Le, a businesswoman and an entrepreneur. Oh what? I think I missed something, she is also a doctor, a dentist to be exact. But why would she need such a fancy photo-shooting in such a five star resort?

I was like why? Why would a doctor need to have a fancy photo-shooting in a five star resort? For fun because she’s rich? Maybe? Or for her own personal branding? Perhaps she’s working on a project? Maybe…

So I did a bit of homework and googled her name. I didn’t have to wait long, a number of articles came up. Of course I would be able to tell which article is paid on commercial and marketing purpose and which one is not. But I do see something different. This woman has really made an effort with her personal branding. Here are some of my findings:

“For a woman, fashion is a joy” (Image: GlobalWoman.vn)

Then on a beautiful summer evening in Hanoi, I finally had a chance to meet with Dr Kha Le, after spending a few days of doing my own research about her and her brand TrendSmile also.

My first impression? She’s an elegant and a beautiful woman yet very friendly and quite easy to talk with. Just like how I was convinced by the way she carried herself, I guess she would do a great job to make her client trust and love her as long as they get to see her. I like her more in the daily life or even when she’s in a uniform. No matter what she says or what people say, she’s a doctor after all. And it takes years and brainwork, lots of brainwork to be a doctor. But here’s even a beautiful female doctor, there’s a difference, too👩‍⚕️

Dr Kha Le and her selfie – This picture is posted with permission 😇

“I am a woman after all, apart from being a doctor and a wife and a mother. I think it’s important that I have time to enjoy life. I have seen my female class-mates from university. Although many of us ended up becoming dentists, and then becoming wives and mothers of their children, but many are doctor – doctors by own means. They get stuck in their uniforms the whole time. Some of them even seem to look older than their age and tired. But of course they do look like doctors in the world that is defined for us with lots of ethical standards and sacrifices”, Kha Le said. Then she continued: “But I want more, I want to enjoy life, I am a doctor but I am a woman also. I want to feel beautiful and look beautiful. I believe we should never put a limit on ourselves, you can still be a doctor and a beautiful woman at the same time”. I am not sure about you, whoever might be reading this, whether you are a man or a woman, but I personally adore the type of woman who has her own interests and simply knows how to inspire other people even with a small act of her daily selfie as a way of saying hello to the world 🤳

Yes I do like her selfie too ☺️

Then it came to my turn to ask “So what do you want to do from now?”, looking at Dr Kha Le as she was about to share more.

“I’ve started Trend Smile for more than 3 years now. It’s not been easy but I think we’ve got some very first encouraging successes. I want to live a happy life and bring happiness to people by helping them to design the best possible smiles. Some people are simply not lucky enough to have a good smile to start with. But I always believe having a good smile can change someone’s life”.

At some point I am glad that I have met her. Although I am actually not a big fan of all these beautiful stuff. I called it beautiful stuff because I really don’t spend lots of effort of searching the definition of “the best smile” or “the best beauty smile” or whatever. But this doctor has convinced me that she’s really been trying to make a difference, even if it only started by becoming a beautiful and successful doctor who is good at inspiring people around her.

This Trend Smile brand is another interesting story. I was quite fond of the design of the logo to be honest, although I need to admit that I do not know much about design. But it looks clean, fresh and quite modern for me. Maybe it’s just my own opinion because I am a fan of minimalism. Unlike other dentist clinics who often use the drawing of a “tooth” to design their logos, Trend Smile’s logo was inspired by the idea of a circle hugging and protecting a human body. The logo was created with the belief that when you know how to take care of your dental health, you know how to care of your own body and soul.

Vietnamese idiom has this saying “Cái răng, cái tóc là góc con người”. It means the teeth and head-hair are considered as human figure, which gives the meaning to the most important parts of human appearance”.

I have asked a few designers for what they think about this logo. They said, for a dental brand, they would prefer something shaper as it shows professionalism and accuracy.

I came to her dental place in Hanoi at 255 Pho Hue, I was also informed that she has another address in District 7 in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) since she knew that I live in Ho Chi Minh City now. My impression? I felt at ease, no stress because the design of the clinic and arrangement made us feel calm. I did some easy dental cleaning so it was not much of a big deal, but it was a totally a smooth process, it can be compared to the feeling of entering a Spa. The team including the doctors was very gentle, polite but still looking sharp and professional. I would definitely come back perhaps because of the dentists here who really have made me feel comfortable and safe ☺️

So that is it. Kha Le is becoming more and more admirable in her own way. I called her a “celebrity” doctor to hope that she will make her dreams come true. Be a successful and beautiful doctor, with a style! Let me share with you some beautiful pictures of hers taken at TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An. Looking at these images, I think I need to ask her to show her work license to prove that she is a real doctor, simply because she is too gorgeous to be a normal one. Thanks God she’s not normal and that makes her very special👩‍⚕️

I wish all women in the world would be able to find success, love and happiness no matter what they do. And the sky is not even the limit if you believe that so. Cheers to better days to come! 🍸

Try everything, keep the best!

I have recently decided that every time I see something good or someone who has done something that I found meaningful, I will make a record out of it. Either to give them a recommendation on Social Media or at least to write a blog post or to tell the story to related people that I know just to show my appreciation.

I first met this brother – Kyo Phan about 2 years ago when I was in charge of the Sales and Marketing activities for Legacy Yen Tu – MGallery. He was the make-up artist in the first photo-shooting project which I had the chance to take care of. He didn’t really have chance to talk much as was mainly for him to listen to me and to what other people had to say. We added each other on Facebook, occasionally “Like” and “Comment” to each other’s post but hardly ever talked, maybe once or twice because there was actually no reason to do so. We barely knew each other. I remember that one time I told him that I had a job change to Hoi An area.

About a month after, he contacted me and see if we could have a chance to work on another shooting, this time at TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An, the new resort where I am currently assigned to work. I would love to say yes but the resort was not ready, I referred his proposal to another sister property in the area so that he could still get the work done. Then he said, whenever I need something regarding make-up or taking profile pictures I would need to let him know. I thought it was kind for him to say so but didn’t really care much at that moment.

I guess about 2 months after we finally had the chance to meet again when I was back in Hanoi for my business trip, we met up over a nice dinner at Ming Restaurant of the Pan Pacific Hanoi. He wanted to introduce me to the lead model in one of his recent projects – Dr Kha Le from Trend Smile. And the moment he introduced my name and how we met, I was stunned. He said I was the one who took care of him so well in one of the best shootings that he has ever done. Because of me taking time to introduce to him everything about the Legacy Yen Tu, from the pottery and the meaning of the rice-husk wall so he remembered and the crew was able to capture the best shoots of the property and models.

Then we kept talking the entire evening and ended up having a nice drink at Angelina’s of the Sofitel Legend Metropole. He reminded me that we needed to do a shooting for me so we decided to do in a few days after. And here are the results:

This is the most like-able picture of the entire album. I do not know why people like it so much ☺️
For this picture to be done, it took me no less than 30 times passing the road ☺️
I think I actually look more like an actress in this picture.
Another “celebrity” moment ☺️
I don’t know how they were able to capture this look…
And this too ☺️
I think it’s kind of fun to do this once in a while ☺️

And only once in a while should be enough I guess. But the experience was worthwhile as I do believe that I had the chance to work with one of the best teams in the make-up and styling industry in Vietnam. Kyo Phan is definitely a genuine, fun and talented make-up artist. I was also blessed to know Duc Nhat, his hair stylish and especially Ms Mai Giang who did a great styling job for me on the shooting day. She was so gentle and caring and so humble for her own tittle as Vietnam’s Next Top Model 2012. I guess the next level of maturity when you know how to stop taking yourself too seriously.

Here are two of my favorite people: Mai Giang (Left) – Vietnam’s Next Top Model 2012 & Kyo Phan (Right) – The super talented make-up Artist 🤗

He is also a fashionista and a great model, too 😇

Đẹp bao nhiêu là đủ?

Hôm nay mình không thấy vui, sau khi nhận được tin là mẹ lại tiếp tục đi phẫu thuật thẩm mĩ. Ban đầu định viết lên Facebook xong nghĩ thôi lại mất công động chạm người này người kia nên quyết định xoá bài trên Facebook và để dành ghi lại trên blog để có thể mình tự ngẫm nghĩ được sâu hơn.

Mình luôn yêu mẹ nhưng thực sự thấy hai mẹ con có rất nhiều bất đồng trong suy nghĩ, ngay cả việc nên nuôi dạy con như thế nào là phù hợp. Mặc dù mình chưa lập gia đình và cũng chưa có con, nhưng ngay từ khi biết suy nghĩ, mình đã luôn tin rằng nếu có con mình sẽ nuôi con theo cách khác. Đành rằng việc làm đẹp là nhu cầu của mỗi người và mặt ai thì người đấy đẹp và chỉ cần mình thấy mình đẹp là được. Chưa kể quyền được quyết định sẽ làm gì với cơ thể mình thì về bản chất vẫn là của mình.

Nhưng nếu một khi đã kết hôn với người khác thì sao nhỉ? Cứ cho là cơ thể vẫn là của mình nhưng việc làm ảnh hưởng đến tâm lý của những người xung quanh và đặc biệt là cho chồng mình thì có đáng bị lên án? Thế nào mới là đẹp và đẹp thế nào mới là đủ?

Đợt gần đây mình có dịp gặp lại hoặc kết nối lại những người bạn mà lâu rồi chưa có cơ hội gặp. Khoảng 3-4 người gì đấy, và mọi người hay nói là: “Chị thấy em vẫn thế, tính cách của em lúc nào cũng thế từ ngày đầu tiên chị quen mày”; “Tớ thấy cậu giống hệt hồi 5 năm về trước bọn mình gặp nhau, mà nói chuyện với khách hàng cậu cũng nói kiểu này à?”. Một người khác thì luôn chắc rằng mình lúc nào cũng là nàng thơ của cậu ấy.

Mình vẫn đùa mấy mấy người này là nói rằng họ thật kỳ lạ, rõ ràng là mình thấy mình xinh đẹp hơn hẳn mà cứ kêu là nhìn vẫn thế là như nào. Thực ra từ nhỏ cũng do mẹ thường mang mình ra so sánh với những người khác và thường chỉ ra về những điểm không hoàn hảo trên cơ thể mình nên mình đã lớn lên và nghĩ rằng mình là một con vịt xấu xí.

Khi bước vào cấp 2, mình đã bắt đầu tự nhận thấy bản thân mình không hề xấu như mình nghĩ, mấy người còn bắt đầu “khen” theo kiểu thích phong cách của mình (đến giờ còn chẳng hiểu nó là phong cách gì). Một số người thì nói rằng: “Cậu không phải người đẹp nhưng rất có duyên”. Có người anh của mình nói rằng: “Em thật sự không quá xinh đẹp nhưng nếu bước vào một căn phòng có nhiều đứa con gái khác, em sẽ vẫn được chú ý”.

Và nếu chẳng may bị chê “xấu” theo kiểu không biết đùa hay thật, yêu hay ghét, thì mình cũng nhẹ nhàng trả lời theo kiểu vô thưởng vô phạt là: Thực ra ý, để tìm một đứa đủ xấu và kém cỏi như mình chắc cũng không dễ lắm đâu, nếu có thể tìm được một người thứ hai như mình và mang đến đây, mọi người nói gì mình cũng nghe. Mình cũng đã nói câu này, chỉ đổi lại cách xưng hô khi nói với mẹ, vì mẹ luôn có cách chê để con gái tự thấy mình xấu xí, kém cỏi để còn phấn đấu. Chỉ có điều, mình không mấy quan tâm đến những điều mẹ nói về sự không hoàn hảo của mình nữa, có thể là trước đây thì có, nhưng bây giờ thì hoàn toàn không.

Mình nói như vậy không phải để kiêu hay tự mãn gì cả, mà chỉ đơn thuần nghĩ là mỗi người sinh ra đều mang cho mình một sứ mệnh nào đấy và ai cũng là một phiên bản độc nhất. Và khi đã là một phiên bản độc nhất rồi thì tại sao lại phải cố gắng để biến thành người khác? Nếu may mắn thì sẽ có một cơ thể khỏe mạnh, một vẻ ngoài dễ thương và thậm chí là một bộ não siêu việt, nhưng về bản chất thì ai cũng có thế mạnh riêng. Có những người sẽ còn may mắn hơn khi sớm nhận ra giá trị của bản thân mình từ khi còn trẻ, để đỡ mất công phải so sánh mình với những người khác, để biết tôn trọng những cái gì là vẻ đẹp của tự nhiên. Với vẻ đẹp hình thức bên ngoài sẽ chỉ can thiệp vào vẻ đẹp này khi thật sự cần thiết và thay vào đó thì dành thời gian đầu tư để phát triển bản thân.

Có những điều mà chắc khoa học cũng chẳng chứng minh được, là có những người sinh ra đã có nhiều may mắn hơn những người khác, có gương mặt khả ái hơn, giọng nói thuyết phục hơn và được nhiều người yêu quý hơn. Người ta cũng chẳng cần ép bản thân vào một khuôn khổ rèn luyện và gìn giữ sắc đẹp nào cả nhưng vẫn đẹp hoặc chí ít cũng tạo được một sự cuốn hút nhất định, vì cái quan trọng không nằm ở việc mình có đẹp theo tiêu chuẩn nào đó hay không, mà quan trọng là ở thần thái, và thần thái thì xuất phát ở sự hiểu biết, hiểu mình và hiểu người.

Mình mong có thể nói được những điều này với mẹ, rằng mẹ không cần phải làm gì để đẹp hơn nữa. Ở tuổi của mẹ, việc chăm sóc sức khỏe và sắc đẹp là cần thiết nhưng vẫn nên để mọi thứ tự nhiên vì dù có can thiệp cũng muộn rồi. Và bây giờ dù mình có nói gì cũng muộn, còn bố thì rất buồn. Và mình cũng không biết phải bắt đầu từ đâu để mẹ không bị tổn thương.

Cũng không hiểu ai cho mình cái tự tin để nói mấy câu này, nhưng có lẽ vì mình tự thấy mình đẹp nên mình tự cho mình cái quyền, vậy đó. Một khi bạn đã nhận ra bản chất của vấn đề, các yếu tố cần và đủ cho cuộc sống của bạn thì những định nghĩa hoặc khuôn khổ của một sự chuẩn mực nào đấy cũng chẳng có ý nghĩa gì nữa. Thôi thì kệ, cuộc sống mà toàn đứa như mình thì không có lợi cho các doanh nghiệp trong thời đại 4.0. Thôi có người này thì sẽ có người kia vậy, giống cậu em mình hay nói là, chị ơi, “Cuộc sống mà” 😊

Nhưng giả sử, nếu mình dành nhiều thời gian hơn để trò truyện với mẹ, liệu mẹ có nghĩ khác đi?

The Little Bang Theory

It is said that a woman should never wear her hair over her forehead. God can grow hair wherever he likes, but no hair grows on the forehead.

I wish someone had told me this sooner because I used to wear a bang to cover my forehead all the times. As I was made to believe that I was not a pretty child to start with and not with a nice forehead so I would need to cover my forehead. Not until my teenage years, I came to the realization that I was actually not an ugly child of whom thought I was. And I as I grew a little older, I’ve been getting more and more comfortable with my own skin, the way I carry myself and the way I dress.

About over a year ago only, I have the feeling that I no longer feel comfortable for having to go to the hairdresser from time to time just to get a little cut on my bang to cover my forehead and I started to question myself:

1. Why do I keep doing this?
2. Do I feel confident with this look?
3. Do I want to change?

And here were my answers:

1. It was a long-term habit caused by my own perceptual adaption since my early childhood
2. No I am not
3. Yes

A woman should never wear her hair over her forehead. God can grow hair wherever he likes, but no hair grows on the forehead.

📷: Camellia Dinh

What about this “𝐿𝑖𝑡𝑡𝑙𝑒 𝐵𝑎𝑛𝑔 𝑇ℎ𝑒𝑜𝑟𝑦”? Although this theory came to me a bit later, but it proved me that I was quite right in a way. And here is a short description:

“A woman should never wear her hair over her forehead. God can grow hair wherever he likes, but no hair grows on the forehead. The forehead bone, the sinus bones or the frontal bone, is porous so it can function to transmit light to the pineal gland in the brain. When Ghengis Khan conquered China, he issued orders that all women must cut their hair and wear bang over their forehead. He knew this would keep them timid and subjugated. Believe it or not. The point is, you have a choice”!

The best version of you

It’s been a hazy Sunday afternoon today and I couldn’t get lazier. Life has changed a lot since my last blog post and I guess it was written 4 years ago maybe. The feeling is somewhat similar to what you do with a long distance relationship. You had spent so much time apart and you had so much to tell to the other person, but when you actually have the chance to meet and talk again, you simply don’t know where to start.

So what have I been doing over the past few years?

I am still a hotelier, but much different now. Not in a five-star city hotel where everything is just so close and convenient and professional like how much I wish I could have in my recent jobs. Although I do feel like I am going backwards in terms of system and technology but still, I am so glad that I got to see new things, new people, new challenges and finally managed to step out of my comfort zone.

I’ve changed my job twice (2018 and 2019 respectively) and currently moved to Saigon to live and work. Life has been fair to me I guess.

I have decided to go back to university after my first 5 or 6 years of work experience. For me this learning process has been quite complicated as how I find it, sometimes useful, most of the time a waste of time and money, but in the end, you’ll learn something anyway and you’ll hopefully get the degree, sooner or later.

I’ve got to meet new friends and re-united with some long lost ones. The best part, I guess is that I am blessed to be surrounded or under supervision of those who love me, to talk and laugh together during happy moments or to find ways to give me some comfort when I am weak.

“You haven’t changed a bit since we first met”. I have heard this several times from several people. Some told me: “You are still the same person that I met 5 years ago. My response was like: “What do you meant? How would that be possible? That’s not true, I have changed a lot, emotionally and physically, I am prettier, can’t you recognize?” I said jokingly. But obviously some people may perceive you one way while others see you in different way as how you allow them to see you. But for me, I think it’s quite true that I don’t change a lot, my habits, my way of seeing the world and seeing people. I just hope that if I had to change something about myself, that would be for the better, like how I am getting more and more comfortable with being my authentic self and to believe that I am a beautiful lady even with knowing that I do have lots of flaws and silly thoughts. Nevertheless, let’s keep calm and trust the process then, because I believe that the best version of yourself is always the current version of yourself, even when you are happy or when you are sad, when you are strong or vulnerable, there’s always beauty, if you know where to look.

This portrait is one of my favorite shots which was taken recently during my last trip back in Hanoi in July 2020. Some said it was definitely the best version of me while other said they would like to see me more in a natural and gentle form. Well, this is still me, a different version of me. This is just to show that I am capable of changing my style as I how I want to. It’s just the authenticity that I would like to keep for myself and the ones I love and treasure.

Okay that sounds very irrelevant but there’s a guy who keeps starring at me the whole time now as I am sitting in a corner of a coffee shop and writing my first blog post after a long time. Not that I am going to do anything about it, just find it quite amusing.

Saigon, 23 August 2020

Hakuna Matata

For one and many reasons, April had never been the favourite month of the year for me and for many of us who live in the city of Hanoi. It is Spring here when we would rather expect to see beautiful flowers, but in this fast-paced developing city with full of ongoing construction projects, the sky could not look any sadder and greyer. Although the weather is not too hot, not too cold but you could easily feel the wet, dirty, smelly, sticky and humid air. By this time last year, I spent most of my time thinking of all the happenings with life, career, relationship and of course this damn weather too.

Like a day dreamer, I walked along a rainy street and I decided that I need to see a good friend of mine. The appointment was set up in only 10 minutes later in a coffee shop nearby, I guess this is why he became such a good friend of mine.

“How are you?” I asked.

“Happy”  He immediately replied.

“Why? and How?”

“Oh you know, I’ve got to do what I like, I quit the job that feel so stuck at it after three years. Of course there was a time that I feel hopeless, I even spent a month reading an over 400 pages long book about history of Vietnam. You know I could be historian now”. “You?” – He laughed and asked me back.

“Miserable”. I answered then looked away through the window and sighed.

“What are you looking at?” – He asked.

“The weather. I am so out of this place…”. I replied.

“What are your problems?” – He started to look at me and ask…

“Many problems” – I replied and went on: “But I’d like to blame on this weather so neither me nor anyone else would have to take this blame.

“Then let’s talk about the weather… What do you hate about it?”. He asked.

“It is messy here, there are times of the year when it is either too hot or too cold, too humid or too dry. Now it’s been raining for the whole month and no one seems to work… What kind of place is this? People are going crazy and so am I”. I felt guilty that I called him all his way to see me then have to hear all this but I just could not help it.

“Did you think about the upsides of this weather?” He asked and laughed a little.

“Okay, tell me, what’s up?” I asked.

“It’s raining and humid right? So that they could sell more home appliances like dryers, like raincoats or umbrellas. They are produced for a reason you know… Think about the law of supply and demand… And now you’re complaining that we have too many seasons huh? Thought you would be happy that you will be able to wear change your outfits after each season. The fashion industry in a city of four seasons will mostly have more things to do and to talk about than an all year round sunny city don’t you think?”.

He shut me up since then because I simply could not agree more…

I was asked to give lots of advices today to a new colleague of mine, who is an expatriate, completely new to the city and having full of doubts about herself and her future. We spent 03 hours of talk about everything then as soon as she started talking about the weather, I gave her a quick smile, realising the story is getting a little old. I said: “April showers bring May flowers, have you heard this before? I learned this some time ago.

And “Hakuna Matata” – I brought this from Lion King, it means “No worries”. Things will work out for the best.

camppretty_mayflowers

Brighter

Following one of my recent conversations with a close friend that I have not seen for quite a while…

Me: You know what, I do not have to wear uniform but as a hotelier, we often choose black as a safe colour for clothing. But recently I have decided to go for some brighter colours…

My friend: Like what?

Me: Grey. Don’t you think it have lifted up my dress-code in a whole new level of brightness?

My friend: Right. Can’t agree more…

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Photo Credit: Internet

Me [thinking]: And do not forget within one single colour like grey, there are even at least 50 Shades…

#business #relativity #greyisnotthedarkest #betweenblackandwhite #fiftyshadesofgrey

“Happiness…

all depends on a leisurely breakfast… “~John Gunther

Thank you John Gunther, although I do not know who you are but I would like to thank you for having given us this great quote.

And for me, happiness sometimes is just a matter of habits. It does not mean that you have to keep doing the same thing every day to say happy – because I am sure habits can change. Perhaps some habits can keep you happy for a certain period of time, some say forever but as you get older, many habits can change if you want to…

So how did I change?

I used to brush my teeth before breakfast – The feeling was just so unpleasant if my teeth were not brushed within 15 minutes after I woke up. I guess this was no difference compared to those  who hates the taste of toothpaste while chewing their breakfast. But my habit has changed after almost 20 years because I wanted to change… Yes I have been influenced by people, by the news and so on, and I have changed my habit as I decided.

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[Photo credit: Rebecca Hinson]

I chose not to be threatened or not not to be chickened out by the way things are said and done by most people or the way this society wanted you to be. I think I was fortunate enough to be born “above” average. I am happy with my Asian style look and happy with my imperfects. It has not been always the case (I used to think that I was a freak), but the older I get, I guess the more mature, I would say I have become. It does not matter so much  if I have the latest hair trend or the latest fashion update. To be honest, I never cared and I’m sure I never will… But the lesson that I learnt is, you need to freshen yourself once every few weeks with new things. It means you should not wear the same type of clothes for a long period but try to make some changes. I often get asked if I wear a new outfit but I would be asked the same question if I wear an-old-dress-that-I-forgot-that-I-had-for-ages, or when I tie my hair up, or when I suddenly wear a pair of ear rings or a watch… A new red crop top after 14 days of wearing black or a new tomboy look after a hundred day of being in princess style…I guess we all need a bit of abnormal time after time…

I decided that I would need to increase my frequency of having leisurely breakfasts after realising that I spend more days of my life washing my hair rather than having breakfasts, which is dangerous. I am sure my hair is not happy when I wash her everyday and my body hates me for skipping proper breakfasts…

Dear body,

I am sorry for all what I have done to you. I have with me my 4 weeks goal to gain 2kgs in the most healthy way possible. I am fortunate to have met a very good colleague that I sometimes make jokes that she is my mother because of the way she takes care of me. Today I promised her that if I could reach my goal in 2 weeks and there will surely be a reward price for her 🙂 #fingerscrossed

 

Sapa 2016

Well trust me, I know, I know, I was supposed to be sitting and writing 2 motivation letters which would need to be urgently sent to Finland by tomorrow for my MBA applications. But since I not yet have any motivation to write that sort of thing (Well I don’t even think that I actually want that MBA but let’s see…) so I am writing a quick post about of of my recent trips to Sapa.

So finally I could sneak out of the office after months and months of not heading to anywhere new. The trip was pretty quick and simple, just like how I wanted it to be.

The only advice that I can tell you all write now is that you don’t have to do what I do because the way I travel pretty much defines who I am so you do what works well for you.

I knew Sapa was not a huge town – even though it is part of Lao Cao province, which is in fact, one of the largest provinces in Vietnam and famous for having hundreds and hundreds of mountains including the Fansipan – the tallest mountain in Southeast Asia – also known as the Roof of Indochina. I know thousands and thousands of young and old people want to get to the top of the mountain for at least once but for me it might not be the case… I have climbed a few high mountains so not that I am weak, lazy nor having Batophobia (A new word that I have just picked up for those who are afraid of height), I just don’t want to do it here…

For those who travel from Hanoi (like me), you could either travel by coach or by train to Sapa. I wanted to do the train but my nephew and many other friends said it is better if we travel by bus because it is faster and will go direct to Sapa. The train would take longer and only get you to Lao Cai City and you will need to take a one-hour bus to Sapa. I heard there have been a few ‘luxury’ tours by train now which have been operated by Victoria Sapa so that the luxury travellers will have the best of everything… which would be pretty nice to try… I have only travelled by train twice in Vietnam but I must say that I was very happy with the train facilities on my last trip, which was almost a year ago compared to how it was back in 2008.

We had purchased the tickets in advance and got onto the coach at 10PM. Think the name of the transport provider was Camel. This reminds me a lot of the time I travelled by Greyhound or Murray from Sydney to Canberra and vice versa. I consider myself as a super easy-to-be-pleased traveller because I slept almost all the way from Hanoi to Sapa. When I woke up, I heard some people talked about how they got panicked that night when the coach was driving up to the mountain. We got their at around 4:30AM and the bus driver was nice enough (I’m sure this is how they operate the tour) to let us sleep for another 1.5 hours after we reached Sapa. We all know this is good because we can rest a little more (there is absolutely nothing to do at 4:30 in a 5 degrees foggy whether) and so that the driver can rest too after a long hours of driving.

So we made it there – my cousin for the second time but me for the first time. I asked if my cousin was so sure that she wanted to go for the second time and she said it was always different when she travels with me – I am not entirely sure about that…

I like to do it my way, I know. Many friends told me that I do not have to worry about accommodation because I can easily find it anywhere. I will never listen to that advice because firstly, I am a hotelier, I need to experience the service so I would choose carefully where I would like to stay and secondly, I am a female travel, I want to make sure I am safe – so that I can sleep well at night. (I had this experience once when I was so new to Sydney and I was ‘brave’ enough to book a budget hotel at King Cross – Oh tell me about it… For me it was absolutely a terrifying experience right in the first moment I got there. Everything in that place reminds me of the video “We found love” by Rihanna… so with no hesitation I immediately book an #AccorHotels right on the next day… Maybe I am just not the right person for that travel style – I would never be ready for be coming a pack pack-backer…

I know I made the right choice to ensure I have everything on the book. I knew that I would stay at the Hill Station when I am in Sapa so I immediately checked with Soeren, the owner of the Hill Station if the rooms were available on my travel date. He told me the only date he had room available was on January 31. I was like… perfect, so I will take my annual leave on January 31 – I would travel on January 30, as soon as I finish work and I can catch the night coach and get there in the morning of January 31, 2015 and celebrate NYE there and leave Sapa on January 01, 2016 in the afternoon. That should be more than enough for a small town like Sapa anyway.

It was more or less, a little different from what I imagined of The Hill Station and its collections but it is overall a very pleasant experience. I got one of the nicest rooms (All rooms are nice and there are only 3 rooms available) so I consider myself lucky.

Although the whether wasn’t that nice but it was definitely not a big deal for me. I know I can always have fun in all whether conditions. Here are a few things that I would like to list for my trips in Sapa:

  1. Hotels – yes plenty – so don’t worry but don’t be so reckless anyway because if you travel in high season and you don’t want to sleep in the mountain then better get yourself a room before you head to Sapa. It is COLD there 🙂
  2. Food – Yes – I never knew Sapa is famous for FISH (especially Salmon) and wild animals (of course – there are trees and forests everywhere) but please don’t eat them. The funny part that I found was that I did not have food on the streets. There is something about me that I did not noticed so much until I have my dinner booked at U-Sapa. I was having dinner with my cousin and suddenly noticed that we were the only 02 Vietnamese in the dining room. The rest are foreign tourists and yes there is a Vietnamese lady too but she was with her foreign boyfriend. Anyway,  whether they are foreign or not has never been my issue… Could it be the reason that I entered a dining room with full of foreigners? Have I become one of them? Hmmm Still I am just not into street foods especially on rainy days…
  3. Foot massage: It is quite obvious that you can get a local “Dao Do” foot or body massage for no more than $US 3 per half an hour. I wanted to try but we spent too much time for eating and shopping so we completely run out of time for the massage…
  4. Shopping: This is one of the most fascinating experience. I never worried so much of being ripped of here. Who would and who could RIP ME OFF by the way?  Perhaps they can do that on foreigner but please I am Vietnamese. Those Mong kids who try to sell you a 0.5 cent key ring or those ladies (young & old) who try to sell a beautiful necklace for $US 2? And one of the sales lady was just so funny and at the highest level of honesty. She thought that we were students and had no money so just try to lower the prices as much as possible… For that only reason we have come back to her 2 times in a row whenever we need to buy some things and did not bother going to other stores… I must say that I really had good laugh while making a deal with them. I had bought so so many products before I left Sapa but let me guess, it did not cost me more than $US 60 for all the souvenirs, which include 02 of my favourite scarfs; 4 beautiful necklaces; 01 bracelets and over 50 hand embroidery products of all kinds. I don’t know if I should be happy because I’ve got so many products for a good price or I should get upset because what we pay for such beautiful things are so cheap and the human workforce and women are extremely under appreciated and the kids are sent to the market to sell stuff instead of going to school…. IMG_1935.JPGOverall, the experience of Sapa was good. I had a great stay thanks to the hospitality of The Hill Station staff and many other people. Hope to go back there again on a sunny day…

Headphones

I’ve lost my headphones. I have been looking for days but still haven’t seen them anywhere. I was thinking of purchasing a new pair of headphones (which I will need them eventually for so many different purposes) but I stopped for a moment and think…

Would it be better if I quit wearing headphones…?

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I have got into a habit, or it must have been a formed of addition that I need to have my iTunes and my headphones on whenever I get out of the house or office or when I get onto the bus. This is when I enjoy the most of my guilty pleasure – all types of song that I keep changing all of the stations so that the song would match my flow of thoughts. I guess it is the same for almost everybody these days. Is it wrong if I just enjoy my music, hello?

I feel thankful towards whosoever invented the headphones. Just about when I asked myself this questioned, Google helped me pull off the answer right away. His name is Nathaniel Baldwin, Canadian. He was a great inventor but a terrible businessman – as usual. Thanks to Nath anyway for all what he’s bought to human-kind but still, wearing headphones the way we do today doesn’t seem to be a good habit. The need for significance, the need for non-disturbance, the need for having ‘me’ time having been increasing. Everyone has their headphones on these days and communicates by commenting on Facebook posts.

One of the bus assistant yelled at me once for having had ‘ignored’ him completely while being asked for checking my bus ticket.

My dad got upset with me once the way I spend my time on my smartphone and how he saw me with my headphones on while walking home…

Obviously, I did not listen to what the person who sat next to me when they asked me what time it was…

I saw some Chinese guests who walked into our hotel lobby this morning wearing face masks. I hate seeing that. They looked weird, so weird, even if they were just being extra careful. But I really thought that they should not be travelling if they were so careful. There’s a life to enjoy, and your face is not what to be hidden. This maybe, one of the reasons why I am so thankful that I am not born Muslim. Please don’t take me wrong if you are Muslim but I just love the way people could live for who they are without having to hide themselves from layers and layers of costumes that belongs to the ancient school of thoughts. I never liked people who wear face mask by all means, except when you are a doctor, or when you are a patient… No one could ever recognise you if you keep putting your mask on…

And this may be time to take off your headphones just to listen to what others have to say… I know one of my problem is that I could get to the extreme level of ignorance. 2 years ago I read on the news, people said Vietnamese was on the world’s list for top ignorant index. Again I don’t know how true it is, to what level that they can measure this index. But last weekend, I saw a woman, who was riding her scooter on the road with her baby, connected to her by a seat belt who were both about to fall over from the scooter when they almost got hit by a car. Two men, with active mouths, two legs and two arms with full fingers were standing next to her and keep shouting: “Move, stand up!”, talked to the woman. Just by the time I walked by and saw the picture, I run into the lady and the baby who almost fell over because the mother, on the one hand, trying to hold the baby behind her back, on the other hand, reaching for the scooter which the seat bell was attached. I held on the baby and shouted to the guys who was less-than-a-meter-away: “What are you doing? Why don’t you come and help her out?”. Thanks god, the two guys eventually woke up, so we did not have to see a crying mother and the baby was threatened to dead.

I asked myself, what happened these people? They weren’t wearing headphones. They were capable to help, who have eyes to see, a brain to think but why no one reacted?

#madworld #coldworld #coldhearted