The Little Bang Theory

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

Fish or Factory?

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It could not get more dramatic than this, people in my country, in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam have been given a closed ended question of getting to choose between objects: Fish and Factory?

Both are worth having of course, and while many of us still do not know what I’m talking about, then here are a few facts from Channel News Asia:

1) In recent weeks, tonnes of dead fish, including deep-sea species, have washed up on the shores of four provinces along Vietnam’s central coast – Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue – affecting the livelihoods of fishermen and businesses dependent on the region’s seafood industry.

2) Local media reports had pointed to toxic discharge from a multi-billion dollar steel plant in Ha Tinh belonging to Taiwanese conglomerate Formosa Plastics Group, riling public anger against the foreign investor. Local authorities have also been blamed for being slow to respond.

3) Vietnamese authorities say they have found no conclusive link between Taiwan’s Formosa steel plant and mass fish deaths along Vietnam’s central coast. “Until now, after our investigation and evidence gathering, we have not found any proof to conclude that there is a link between Formosa, other factories, and the mass fish deaths,” he said in Vietnamese.

Anyway, the given question of fish or factory was merely raised by internet users then eventually went viral on social media. It has nothing to do with legality nor to give Vietnamese citizens the right to decide anything. The scientists and investigators will do their jobs, and the victor will write history after all. Until then, we shall keep this social media campaign going just to see who saves the factory and who protects the fish.

I never wanted to have to think that our lives are in danger so let’s be a little bit more positive on this. At least right now we still have the options to scale and to decide whether to prioritise the fish, fishery, the tourism industry or the steel industry or whatsoever… Because once we still have options then it might still not be end of the world.

More than ever, I am thinking of Karen Reid, in case she might be reading this, who was my lecturer when I was at my third year of university. 4 years after graduation, I still remember the question once she asked in our Event Facilities class: “What do you think is the best way to stop immigrants to a city?”

Whatever you are thinking of right now, I was thinking the same… Whether it is about visa restrictions, safety, weapon, education or things to do with money… Everything is correct, but there is one element that not so many of us could think of. She said one word: “Water”. If we stop supplying water in that one single city, everyone will start to leave. No water, no life!

Similarily, while talking about killing, many of us think of wars or weapons or diseases… just like what I have seen in one of the most recent Korean dramas on air: “Descendants of the Sun”, which my sister had successfully ‘trapped’ me to watch. But no, if toxic water which could kill tons of fish at once, no matter what the causes were, that would be as dangerous as the wars with guns. I wish we had another option to make it more of a multiple choice one rather than a closed question, it would rather be: 1) Water – 2) Fish – 3) Factory.

I don’t believe in a life that have either Fish or Factories or both but without Water…

Photo Credit: Pascal Campion

#fishorfactory

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.

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#From Work: Young & Innocent

#TinyStoryFromWork:

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To me, the worst thing about wearing a uniform and following the same dress code is the fact that you will not be able to tell who is who and you will not be able to tell if he/she’s got a style… Well, I am not going to have a uniform debate by the way, I am just making excuses for not knowing some of our junior colleagues’ names because they all look similar in their uniforms on a regular basis. But there’s one person that I am going to remember his name forever from today.

Where to start? I merely went for a general check up a V.I.P function at the hotel today to ensure the event was under control. Unfortunately, I got to know that it was actually not-so-under-control from the very first few seconds…

“Why?” – I asked the supervisor.

“One of our staff went unconscious for a few minutes in the V.I.P room and when the majority of guests had been seated”.

“Who? and Why?” – I asked while getting a little bit shocked.  I could not think of any suitable reason, did we make he/she work too hard? It was 12:00 and perhaps he/she skipped breakfast? “Was that a he or a she? Do I know him/her?”

“It’s a he”. She replied and continued: “I think you do know him. He had been with us for a long time but he worked as a casual staff. And today was actually the day that he has his officially contract signed with the hotel that makes him so nervous and then it happened… A bit unfortunate that there were so many V.I.Ps in the room but I hope they understood if we tell them the reason”.

“Where is he now? Is he okay?” – I continued.

“He’s right there, working like nothing has happened”. She answered.

“Oh”! I stopped for a second and looked to the right where the boy was standing to welcome the guests.

Yes, I do notice him, this tall and young male Sofitel ambassador who wears glasses, about 20 years old. He’s got a friendly smile with both politeness and shyness. At that very moment, I could not think of anything else – Who could be so mad at him now? And for taking his job too seriously? Hmmm I do not think so… Instead I thought it was cute and innocent of him – and I would say this frankly if and only if this did not make me any less of being a hospitality professional. I have not felt this way for a long time about someone I know. Perhaps it was just for a simple reason that I have met too many people, and yes including myself who often appear in the most ‘damn’ mysterious, confident and …fearless!

This ‘junior’ moment actually made me smile. I hope the boy is all okay now. But since he has taken this career so seriously and to the extent that he got so emotional like that, I hope he will end up being a good person and a good career advancement ahead.

And for me, it would be interesting to know what happened to Miss No-Longer-Afraid…!?

#IWorkInAHotel

W T F

Some of my favourite quotes at all times: After Monday and Tuesday, the rest of the week says W-T-F.

I firmly believe that your attitude decides how your day should be. But it does happens that some days are simply worse than the rest of other days, and we shall call it the terrible, horrible, no good and very bad day. I know someone has turned this into movie.

I have a terrible, horrible, no good and very bad week that I called a “W-T-F” week. Obviously, it stands for Wednesday – Thursday and Friday, in case you wondered.

Well I am a hotelier where getting feedback is a fundamental part. I am no longer surprised getting complaints from people so I am not here to talk behind my clients’ back. But I did meet some ugly clients over the past week: not so much about the ugly look (although there are some visually not-so-pretty ones) but mainly about the ugly manners and how they abused us as service providers and abused my colleagues.

Having said that, I don’t know how should I feel, I got angry for a second then I decided that I should not get angry anymore if we all know deep inside, everything happens for a reason: Many people lack of education no matter what age or what degrees that they have at hands; some people are treated the way they are normally treated and that they are too ordinary to know… And that is a terrible, horrible, no good and very very bad consequence…

 

 

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…

Talking to the Moon…

It’s funny how my phone could be instantly filled up with texts and calls and missed calls during day time and almost always in an absolutely silent mode at night. It actually makes sense because I set my phone on ‘airplane’ mode every single night… So that I won’t get disturbed while sleeping because of unnecessary notifications/the light and everything. And so that I wouldn’t have to wait for someone to text me or call…

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I’ve got in to an extreme case I guess. That guy who has plenty of problems but why can’t I just forget… It’s been to the third year already and I don’t think I can forget that person. I don’t know why it’s come to this. I should have forgotten him just like anybody else. I know I will but when?

Not that I keep holding on to him. I have let him go and completely let go of him too. If this is not love then I don’t know what it is… Addiction perhaps?

Who said we would never get the best out of everything? I am sure I did. And I think I am right. No matter what it is and how life turns out to be… I think I will just be fine. Isn’t that always true? Then I can say… Yes it is okay not to go back in time and make a wish that we could be together. I cannot hate you and I won’t. I think loved you (but not to dead) and it was just enough that I wish you all the best in life, even if it means we’re never getting back together. I want you to be happy – And as much as I would like to have my own freedom, I want to set you free to go after what you want in life.

Thank you for being a great part of my youth. And thank you for all what you’ve done, because I know, if this wasn’t because of you, because of me and because of us, I wouldn’t have become who I am today.

Goodbye!