Everybody needs a coach

I had a long chat with a friend and business partner of mine yesterday after a long time. It’s fascinating that when you see yourself reaching a certain level of maturity and confidence, everything seems to fall in to place and you would be the one who define your own definition of success.

“If you are young and talented, it’s like you have wings” – Haruki Murakami.

I am so glad that I have been given many opportunities to watch, learn and experience various aspects of life and to meet people from different backgrounds and social standing. Although it’s not enough, and it might never be enough, and although at times I feel like I don’t really know what I want, but I’ve come into realization of knowing what I don’t want.

I don’t want self-help speeches, I don’t listen to TED Talks, I don’t have so many influencers in my life. Some people recommended me to listen to this and that talk in order to get some inspirations, I paused for a moment and think: Really? What if I am the one who do the talk? What if I am the one who inspires other people? Do I need to listen to TED Talks? I don’t know, maybe yes, maybe know, I will do when I feel like it.

When I was in my early 20s, almost a decade ago, I came up with this business idea of forming my ‘Beyoutiful’ project with a bold statement, which is to become 𝑉𝑖𝑒𝑡𝑛𝑎𝑚’𝑠 𝑓𝑖𝑟𝑠𝑡 𝑙𝑖𝑓𝑒𝑠𝑡𝑦𝑙𝑒 𝑐𝑜𝑛𝑐𝑖𝑒𝑟𝑔𝑒 𝑎𝑛𝑑 𝑒𝑑𝑢𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑖𝑜𝑛𝑎𝑙 𝑠𝑒𝑟𝑣𝑖𝑐𝑒 𝑏𝑟𝑎𝑛𝑑, 𝑑𝑒𝑑𝑖𝑐𝑎𝑡𝑒𝑑 𝑡𝑜 𝑤𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑛. Honestly speaking, I haven’t done much from the business operation point of view – only the very basic, but I would have pictured myself for a long time doing this. I keep telling people that I am not a type of alpha woman, I don’t even see myself as an ambitious woman, and I would be happy if I could see someone may have done similar things. But as far as I concern, I have not seen it yet, and I know I would get back to my project eventually.

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So when I said I wanted to provide assistance to enhance women’s lives in Vietnam, I’ve immediately received interests from both private and corporate sectors. Some asked me to be their private coach, but I wouldn’t want to call myself one. For some reasons, I get paralyzed when someone approaches me to say that they are a life coach or even a career coach – even for those who are certified by International Coaching Federation (ICF) because I find most of the time, those coaching speeches are quite plain and ordinary and predictable. But you will meet more and more people doing it and more and more people who need coaching in this modern life.

“It’s not about what you do but how you do it”. I keep saying this myself and try to maintain a fair point of view when and where I can and even to challenge my own status quo.

I never thought that I would need a coach. From a long long time ago, I decided that I would not have anybody that I would call “idol”, there’s simply no such thing, we are all people with strengths and weaknesses, and we pay for what we get in different levels. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe in metaphor, to see a role model so we can all learn to become a better version of who we want to be or what we want to be.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve got to know a coach from work opportunity. The power of attraction somewhat brought us together that he wanted to see if we can work on this coaching subject together. Coach Hoa Nguyen is an American Vietnamese with many years of experience in hospitality operations and business culture context. Hoa approached me on a day in the life of an experienced hospitality professional who would like to shift his career into a different direction. Hoa knew me because we had the chance to conduct an education session together. This time, he approached me and offered the chance to experience his one hour coaching session. I said yes, not entirely because of me would be keen on attending a coaching session but I would like to know how the session would be led by Hoa.

My experience with this person in a few words: I would love to meet to know this person more in the real life and I prefer much of an in-person meeting. The reason I’m saying this? I didn’t have super strong impression when we were communicating via virtual platforms. This gentleman indeed know how to master his listening skill and ask evoking questions when it is needed.

What did I learn from that one hour session?

Well, I learn that when it comes into personal matters, things seem to be quite messy and confusing the way we try to express our own emotions and needs. Sometimes we might not even know our own needs. While there are people who have the tendency to think of themselves first, Hoa reminded me much of what he experienced from my sharing: I talk too much in the third person point of view and I do not talk much about myself – I think too much about what’s in it for them instead of what’s in it for me. I paused for a second and try to reflect, it’s quite normal when I think this way when I work in hospitality industry where we learn to put people first, but learning this from him would help me a lot as I know now that I need to make better decision that give myself a better life balance.

The other conclusion, I thought, everybody needs a coach, simple as that, no matter how great you are. Your coach doesn’t necessarily have to be richer, cooler and successful in all what he or she does, but they have a strong will to coach you to become a better version of yourself, I thought that is more than enough.

Coach Hoa Nguyen & Me

Image: Coach Hoa Nguyen (left) and me at Starbucks. We know we both looked tired after a long day but we are happy indeed with our progress.

Then I actually gave it a try to google my own thought of “Every needs a coach” and it’s interesting enough that the sentence itself is actually a quote from Bill Gates. I thought, well, maybe I am on the right track. Thank you Coach Hoa Nguyen again!

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Just a thought, 𝐢𝐟 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐥𝐥𝐲 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭, 𝐦𝐚𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐥𝐢𝐯𝐞 𝐚 𝐜𝐨𝐦𝐟𝐨𝐫𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐫 𝐚 𝐠𝐫𝐞𝐚𝐭 𝐥𝐢𝐟𝐞 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐞𝐧𝐭. If you still find yourself struggling with what’s got to do with the basics then perhaps you are not in a position to say a single word about other people and/or to judge on their abilities to do certain things. Work on yourselves and if you are on the right track, you won’t see yourself judging other people.

Here’s one of my favorite findings of all time “People transfer onto the current relationships the conflicts and assumptions generated in childhood relationships. They keep assuming that they are in the same constellation of roles and so repeat patterns of behavior. Most people experience their siblings, their fathers, their mothers and so on, on the job. Everybody has transference, the question is, how trapped are they in those patterns?” [Left on a mountain side, HBR 2006].

I have always thought that the worst advice that you could tell someone is to tell them to “Be yourself!”. Please don’t because yourself sucks. Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody has his or her own selfishness, desire, addiction and patterns. Try to be a better version of yourself instead. If you keep wondering how some people are the type of people you want to become, have you ever tried to practice and do the thing that they tell you to do? For instance, to overcome loneliness? to experience the same kind of pain? To sacrifice most of your leisure time to work on difficult tasks?

Although you can’t change the things you were born with, but you can always work on improving your mindset. I like it when I keep proving myself wrong from time to time. I used to think that I had ugly hands then once day I realized, my hands are not that ugly, in fact, they are actually quite pretty. And if my hands are ugly, then tell me what’s the definition of beauty? D’Art Chocolate has my hand holding the famous Phở stick 🍫

If you are judging what I am saying now, read the first and the last sentence again and again, they are 𝐛𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐭𝐞𝐱𝐭𝐬.The point is, 𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐦𝐞𝐞𝐭 𝐢𝐬 𝐟𝐢𝐠𝐡𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚 𝐛𝐚𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐤𝐧𝐨𝐰 𝐧𝐨𝐭𝐡𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐚𝐛𝐨𝐮𝐭, 𝐬𝐨 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐞 𝐣𝐮𝐝𝐠𝐦𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐚𝐥, 𝐛𝐞 𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐝!


The Future of the Past

Dear Santa Claus,

I heard Christmas is coming to town and I think I should start living and forget my age now. 2020 has been an absolutely eventful year, regardless of a pandemic still raging, life goes on and there’s still a lot of history left to be made.

“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future” – Theodore Roosevelt

Life is short, the world is wide. It’s quite interesting to realize that when you reach a certain age or a new level of maturity, there were things that could mean a lot to you then all suddenly became no longer matter. Some of the things that once made you feel so proud of who you are unexpectedly became so uncertain, and you started asking yourself a bunch of questions: “Is it true? Why didn’t I know this? Why did that happen? How should I live my life moving forward?”.

When I was in my early 20s, I used to be so proud of the fact that our Vietnamese alphabet is a Latin-based language system, thanks to the Portuguese who came and invented some 500 years ago. Not only the language itself looks so much easier and more friendly to read for most people sharing a similar language system, the invention of the Vietnamese alphabet was considered a victory against the Chinese rule, and there was no way that I would want to learn Chinese for whatsoever reason. However, only a couple of years after, I’ve started to feel lost in many other conversations, realizing that I would have learned so much if I knew a bit more of Chinese, or to learn how to read “Chu Nom” (The Vietnamese language using classical Chinese characters) so that we would be able to understand better the arts of Vietnamese calligraphy or to know at least what was written in many our historical places.

In July 2020, I was fortunate enough to get to know the concept of Y Van Hien, a made-in-Vietnam apparel brand for Vietnam’s traditional costumes and accessories. Not long after, I was introduced to Nguyen Van Loc, the founder of Y Van Hien and it didn’t take long either for us to became good friends and partners. In the beginning, it didn’t seem that we can do anything together as I have not been able to see the synergy in between our hotel brand and Y Van Hien.

Designer and Founder of Ỷ Vân Hiên – Nguyen Duc Loc has been in love with ancient Vietnamese costumes for a long time. He has devoted much effort to restoring and introducing the traditional beauty of these costumes to the public, especially to the younger generations.

The project was prepared in less than 2 weeks, as we only thought that during this Covid-19 season, it’s important that we need to keep our activities and souls alive. The below is simply my act of “copy and paste” from some of the published articles – texts are provided by me together with the images and videos from our media partners to give you a better idea of what we do.

Y Van Hien & TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An – The Future of The Past – Video credit: The Vows Film

Taking the occasion of the Germany Unity Day and 45 years of Vietnam – Germany 45 years of diplomatic relations, TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An – the first TUI Group’s flagship hotel in Asia and Ỷ Vân Hiên, a Vietnam’s apparel brand for ancient costumes and traditional designs have successfully launched a special project for the first time.

The project started with an event series called “The Future of the Past”, held by TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An and Y Van Hien, were successfully launched in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City from 08-11 September 2020 and at TUI BLUE Nam Hoi An on 03 October 2020. The project allows us to travel back in time to experience a fine selection of Vietnamese history, culture and arts, which were well perceived by all the guests and participants of various nationalities and culture backgrounds.

Founded in 2018, Y Van Hien Joint Stock Company is founded by Nguyen Duc Loc with a mission to recover and preserve the ancient costumes, as well as bringing these gorgeous costumes closer to the people. The company started making ancient Vietnamese costumes and accessories such as hair covers, shoes, and jewelry which are made by skilled craftsmen. Besides in-depth research, Loc visited relics, village houses and traditional weaving villages to learn more about making ancient costume designs. Loc also gets help and advice from researchers and experts on ancient costumes in order to comply with the sewing rules.

“After many fashion shows, more and more young people love them and look for products of Y Van Hien. Many Vietnamese students studying abroad come back to Vietnam and order our costumes for their weddings,” said Nguyen Van Loc – Founder & Designer of Ỷ Vân Hiên 倚雲軒


Located 50 km South of Hoi An on tranquil Tam Tien Beach, the newly five star beachfront resort TUI Blue Nam Hoi An beckons travelers looking for an authentic getaway showcasing both the region’s rich history and unique beauty while soaking up the natural splendor of the Quang Nam coastline far from the madding crowd.


The Future of the Past: http://oivietnam.com/2020/10/the-future-of-the-past/

Ỷ Vân Hiên & TUI BLUE Nam Hội An: Sự kết hợp giữa đương đại và truyền thống https://vntravellive.com/su-ket-hop-giua-y-van-hien-tui-blue-d31966.html

Project Director: Camellia Dinh

Ordinary. Trite. Childish

Hôm nay là một ngày tâm sự về phim Hàn Quốc và lan man về phim truyền hình từ hồi thơ bé nhân ngày não bỗng dưng không muốn hoạt động sau khoảng 12h trưa thứ 6. Hôm nay thực sự thấy không muốn để não phải hoạt động. Ai kêu nghĩ ra lắm thứ quá làm chi xong giờ mình không làm thì chẳng có ai làm cho. Đúng là một vòng luẩn quẩn.

Tiếp tục với chuyện phim ảnh. Có lẽ so với mặt bằng chung thì khi lớn lên mình là một đứa ít coi phim hơn mọi người khá nhiều, cũng ít khi đến rạp chiếu phim. Vì mình cũng ít khi đi hẹn hò, mà đối tượng hẹn hò của mình, trừ hồi còn học cấp 3 ra thì hình như chẳng có ai có sở thích này nên có vẻ như lúc nào mình cũng không quen ai để có thể hẹn-hò-theo-kiểu-các-cặp-đôi-bình-thường.

Hồi bé thì khác. Khi còn bé ơi là bé thì kỉ niệm của mình là hay theo dõi mấy bộ phim truyền hình khoa học viễn tưởng kiểu: “Thế giới bí mật của Alex Max”, “Cô gái đại dương”, Khinh Khí Cầu Của Giáo Sư, Ngôi Nhà Nhỏ Trên Thảo Nguyên. Lớn hơn chút xíu thì có mấy phim “thiên thần” kiểu rất chi là Mexico trong đó có “Luz Clarita – Thiên thần bé nhỏ”“Nhật ký của Daniela”. Sau hồi này thì là “Cô gái rô-bốt”, “The X-File”. Ngoài ra mình còn là fan cứng cực kỳ cứng của Pokemon. Đúng là ngày xưa có mỗi cái TV làm trò tiêu khiển.

Ngoài ra, thì từ hồi có làn sóng Hallyu du nhập sang Việt Nam, mình cũng biết đến hết mấy bộ phim từ hồi Anh Em Nhà Bác Sĩ, Mối Tình Đầu, Xúc Cảm, Cảm Xúc, Thành Thật Với Tình Yêu, Trái Tim Mùa Thu, Bản Tình Ca Mùa Đông và Tình Yêu Trong Sáng. Tóm lại là vì lớn lên mà xung quanh toàn mẹ, dì và hai chị gái 8x nên mình cũng coi phim cùng các bà, các mẹ và các chị.

Lớn hơn nữa rồi, mình chỉ coi phim ca nhạc teen teen kiểu “High School Musical”, “Begin Again” hay “A star was born” hoặc mấy phim hài hài mà không phải động não kiểu “How to lose a guy in 10 days” hay “Definitely Maybe”. Nhân tiện là mình rất thích anh Ryan Reynolds. Già hơn chút xíu, mình chỉ coi phim hoạt hình. Công chúa Disney ưa thích của mình là Bell trong người đẹp và quoái vật. Mình không thích Cinderella, chẳng hiểu sao không thích. Mình thích kiểu Vua Sư Tử, Coco, Zootopia và thích nữ hoàng Elsa trong Frozen. Nếu mình là trẻ con thì sẽ tranh làm Elsa.

“Ordinary. Trite. Childish”, câu này dịch sang Tiếng Việt là “Tầm thường – Kịch tính – và Trẻ con” mình mượn trong bộ phim Thế Giới Họ Đang Sống (Tên Tiếng Anh: Worlds Within). Đây là một trong những bộ phim mà mình khá ưa thích. Một phần vì thích Song Hye Kyo và hồi đấy cũng thích cả anh Hyun Bin nữa. Nhưng không hiểu sao giờ mình chẳng thích cả Hyun Bin, mặc dù mọi người khuyên là nên coi The Crash Landing On You – tên Tiếng Việt là Hạ Cánh Nơi Anh. Chị gái mình cứ nói đi nói lại là hay hơn phim Hậu Duệ Mặt Trời nhiều. Tóm lại là mình không muốn coi thử, vì có thể thử xong rồi sẽ thích xong lại mất công coi đi coi lại. Còn nếu không coi thì thôi, vì không biết và không trải qua thì lấy đâu ra cảm xúc nhỉ?

À thực ra còn có cả phim Trung Quốc, cổ trang các kiểu, kể ra tuổi thơ của mình cũng hơi dữ dội và lớn lên cùng những bộ phim. Thỉnh thoảng hát mất bài tiếng Hoa như sự thật mà hát xong chẳng hiểu mình hát cái gì. Về phim Trung Quốc thì lớn lên chắc chắc phải kể đến Bao Thanh Thiên, Tôn Ngộ Không, Ỷ Thiên Đồ Long Ký, Thiên Long Bát Bộ. Mình không coi Thần Điêu Đại Hiệp nhưng vẫn biết Dương Quá và Cô Cô Long. Sau đấy thì là loạt phim của nữ văn sỹ Quỳnh Giao – series Hoàn Châu Cách CáchTân Dòng Sông Ly Biệt. Ngoài ra nữa thì cũng có vài bộ phim TVB kiểu “Gia Hảo Nguyệt Viên” và phim Đài Loan thì không nhớ nổi tên, chỉ biết toàn phim dài và không bao giờ kết thúc.

À còn nữa, có một phim Singapore mà mình đã theo dõi và rất sợ, đó là “Cánh chim cô đơn giữa biển người”, bây giờ hỏi vì sao sợ thì không biết vì không còn nhớ nữa, nhưng hình như là vì có ma đó.

Ngày xưa chắc hồi đỉnh điểm của sự thích phim Hàn Quốc là Trái Tim Mùa Thu. Hồi đấy còn đọc rất nhiều báo chí và hay đi sưu tập ảnh. Thực ra ảnh là các chị sưu tập thôi, hồi bé mình đâu có mua được mấy cái đó, nhưng mình có một nhớ rất là dai dẳng. Có một đoạn giới thiệu về bộ phim Trái Tim Mùa Thu mà mình vẫn nhớ như thế này: “Đọng lại trong bạn, là tình yêu trong trẻo, qua sự diễn xuất chân thực của một thế hệ trẻ diễn viên Hàn Quốc mới, đẹp đến nỗi khiến chúng ta phải xao lòng. Đó chính là những gì được thể hiện qua bộ phim Trái Tim Mùa Thu, phát sóng lúc 21:00 giờ trên kênh VTV1”.

Hồi đấy mình cũng thích anh Won Bin lúc đóng phim cùng Song Hye Kyo xong về sau hết thích vì thấy chẳng có phim nào anh ấy đóng xuất sắc hơn.

À mà có lẽ mình hiểu tại sao mình không thích Hyun Bin nữa rồi. Giống như cái cách mình đã từng rất là thích Song Joong Ki, khi còn đóng phim và còn là một đôi với Song Hye Kyo. Thì ra là vì mình thích Song Hye Kyo hơn cả hai anh chàng kia và mong cô ấy được hạnh phúc. Suy cho cùng, không phải vơ đũa cả nắm, nhưng chẳng phải phần lớn những người con trai đều tầm thường, đôi khi có chút kịch tính nhưng về cơ bản vẫn là trẻ con không?

Ảnh này do chị Hoàng Anh chụp, bị mất cái khuyên tai xinh đẹp kia. Hình như mình bị mất hơi nhiều trang sức và tiền bạc trong cái năm này thì phải, may là người thì (trộm vía) vẫn nguyên vẹn.

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 😇

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?


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