… from Vietnam.

While in a shop during our visit to Vinpearl in Nha Trang, I came across two poems I loved:

Đi khắp thế gian không ai tốt bằng Mẹ
Gian khổ cuộc đời không ai gánh nặng bằng Cha

Vietnamese poems and proverbs are very profound and beautiful, but definitely lose some of their beauty when translated. My best attempt to translate the two lines above would be:

Search worldwide and there is still no one as good as Mom.
No one is burdened more by the hardships of life than Dad.

Unfortunately, I didn’t purchase any merchandise because frankly, they were ugly. I did, however, make note of the poems though for future reference.

Luck would have it that the following day when we arrived in Da Lat and went to visit Dinh Bao Dai (the home of Bao Dai, the last emperor of Vietnam), I would come across these 2 lines again. A moderate sized boutique called Dang Viet which was located near the front entrance caught my attention. This shop specialized in selling hand embroidered paintings. We ended up buying 2 large ‘calligraphy’ paintings containing the above mentioned quotes. Love them.

They arrived back to Canada in one piece and now hang in our dining room. I guess to a North American, it may seem weird to have such poems/proverbs lying around your house, but they are very loved by Vietnamese people!

I do not remember the exact price… but I think it came to $100-something for both, a very good deal! They came with beautiful sturdy frames and humidity absorbent backing. Some paintings are amazing and come in all kinds of designs from full landscapes, portraits, floral arrangements, etc.

Check out Dang Viet’s website for some of their products!

And here are pictures of the ones we got:

Sacrificing my blood…

… to mosquitoes in order to take these pictures!

Hahaha. Yesterday after coming home from my grandparents’ house (see post below) I decided to take a look at my mom’s garden. Completely overgrown during our 2 months in Vietnam by the way. But I did see a bumblebee darting around the chive flowers so I decided to sit my butt down and attempt to take some pictures. Darn that bugger did not stay still… but what did I expect?

After about 10 minutes I had to abandon ship because I was being eaten alive by mosquitoes… they even got me through my clothes! Jeans dammit!

Hy sinh mau cua minh cho nhung con muoi de chup may tam hinh nay!

Hom qua sau khi minh o ben nha Ong Ba Ngoai ve thi co di ra tham vuon rau cua Me minh. Trong 2 thang di qua VN thi rau no moc tum lum luon roi! Minh co thay duoc mot con ong dang bay qua bay lai vong vong nhung cai bong he cua me minh, nen quyet dinh la ngoi xuong va thu chup vai tam hinh coi duoc khong!

Sau 10 phut thi minh phai bo cuoc va vo nha vi bi muoi chich qua troi luon. Nhung con muoi doc thiet… chich qua quan ao luon! Quan jean ma no cung chich duoc do!

My sad attempts… hahaha
Su co gang cua minh… hahah toi nghiep! Khong co dep gi het!

Click for larger!
Bam hinh de coi lon hon!

Where are you going?! Come back!!!
Di dau vay?! Tro lai day!!

My last and probably favourite one…
Tam cuoi cung va co the cai minh thich nhat…

Taking a stroll…

… around my grandparents’ garden!

Every spring/summer, my grandparents’ property comes to life as Vietnamese herbs, tomatoes, gourds, etc. flourish as they are carefully grown and tended to. Needless to say, the garden is my grandparents’ pride and joy… giving more fruit than the entire family can consume.

During our trip to Vietnam, one of the things we noticed about Vietnamese herbs is that… they are TINY! It is such a hassle to wash and pick through them after being so accustomed to the big leaves we grow here! I am unfamiliar with the process of growing them in VN, maybe they use chemicals or fertilizer, maybe not. It did make me wonder why their leaves are so small compared to here, where we grow them quite naturally!

Moi mua he/mua xuan la dat cua Ong Ba Ngoai minh bat dau co nhieu la, nhieu trai, va nhieu bong moc len lon va tuoi dep. Ong Ba Ngoai minh moi nam la co trong cac loai rau, trai bau, trai ca chua, v.v. Vuon cua Ong Ba Ngoai minh that la mot niem hanh dien trong mua he… trong nhieu den noi ca gia dinh an cung khong het!

Luc ve VN, minh co de y la… tai sao rau o ben nho the?! Rau ma nho xiu rua va lac cung cuc ma an cung khong ngon mieng bang nua! Minh khong biet o VN trong rau nhu the nao… co xit thuoc/bo phan khong ma nho qua, nhung o day thi minh cung trong rat la tu nhien o nha!

In front of my grandparents’ house where they grow Spearmint
Truoc cua nha Ong Ba Ngoai minh, co trong rau Hung Lui/Nhui

Further in the front of my grandparents’ property, a whole variety of Vietnamese herbs
Phia truoc nha Ong Ba Ngoai minh, cung co trong nhieu loai rau

To the right side of the house, a number of Vietnamese herb varieties are grown
Ben phai cua nha thi cung co trong nhieu loai rau

The purple variety is called Vietnamese Perilla. One leaf is almost the size of my hand!
Rau Tia To. Mot la muon bang cai ban tay cua minh!

To the left is my grandma holding her Vietnamese Perilla. To the right, she is sitting behind Fish Mint (yes, it actually smells fishy) and Vietnamese Amaranth (taller plant).
Ben trai, Ba Ngoai minh dang cam rau Tia To. Ben phai thi dang ngoi dang sau rau Dep Ca (duoi chan) va rau Den.

A closer look at the Fish Mint and its flower
Rau Dep Ca va bong cua rau Dep Ca

To the left of the house, they have more Perilla growing, as well as Vietnamese Basil, Vietnamese Coriander, and Peppermint.
Phia ben trai cua nha Ong Ba Ngoai minh cung co trong rau. Co rau Tia To, rau Ram, rau Que, va rau Hung Cay

Vietnamese Coriander
Rau Ram

My grandma cutting some Vietnamese Basil for my mom.
Ba Ngoai minh dang lac rau Que cho Me minh!

To the left, the flowers of Vietnamese Perilla (bonus: bumblebee!!). To the right, the flowers of Vietnamese Basil.
Ben trai la bong cua rau Tia To (co them con ong!) va ben phai la bong cua rau Que

In the backyard, we have more Perilla, as well as long gourds, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, and chives.
Phia sau nha Ong Ba Ngoai minh co trong rau Tia To, trai bau, trai ca chua (nho va lon) va he.


My grandma with their long gourds.
Ba Ngoai minh voi nhung trai bau.

Tomotoes and cherry tomatoes.
Ca chua (chua chin nen con xanh) va ca chua nho.

Chives and its flowers.
He va bong he.

More Perilla!
Them rau Tia To!

My mommy’s birthday…

… was on August 20th!

It was very low key, my mom actually made her own birthday dinner which we brought over to enjoy with our grandparents.

The kids didn’t even get her a present! 😦 Mom, we owe you one!

Ngay 20 thang 08 la sinh nhat cua Me minh!

Nam nay khong co an lon, Me minh da nau an va minh da di qua an com chieu voi Ong Ba Ngoai.

May dua cung khong co tang qua sinh nhat cho Me! Thieu Me mot lan nhe!

Hover for captions, click for larger!
De con chuot tren hinh de doc loi chu thich, bam hinh de xem lon hon!

2 pieces of art…

… from yours truly. Hahaha

The first is a swoop mug I painted at The Mud Oven. Last year I received a gift certificate from my friends and finally put time aside to visit the place. Jenni and Anthony also went with me, it was a pleasant experience and I am impressed by the quality of the pieces (price wasn’t bad either). I’m sure I will be back sometime in the future.

The second piece is a fond memory from Vietnam when a group of us “kids”: Jenni, Andy, Cuoi, Phuong, Thanh and I went to Sau Con (a small children’s amusement park) for an afternoon. We all sat around for hours and painted clay figurines and let dry as is. This little guy was my creation! Cute? Hahaha

2 mon tac pham nghe thuat cua tay minh lam ra! Hahaha

Thu nhut la mot cai ly uong cafe lon minh da son o tiem The Mud Oven. Nam ngoai, mot nhom ban minh da tang mot cai phieu di son va minh da cuoi cung bo thi gio ra de di lam. Bua do co Quyen va Anthony di nua, 2 dua do cung co son. Di ngoi son thay rat la vui va yen tinh, chat luong cua hang cung rat la cao! Neu co dip sau nay minh se tro lai nua!

Thu nhi la mot ky niem vui cua Vietnam. Bua do mot nhom minh: Quyen, Duy, Cuoi, Phuong, Thanh va minh di Sau Con buoi trua va ngoi son nhung tuong dat. Ngoi son may tieng, kho roi dem ve! Con nay la cua minh son… de thuong khong? Hahaha!

Hover for captions, click for larger!
De con chuot tren hinh de doc loi chu thich, bam hinh de xem lon hon!

A delicious dinner…

… prepared by my mom today!

During our last night in Vietnam (which we spent in Saigon), Cau Bao took us out to have Cha Ca La Vong (La Vong grilled fish) for the first time, a delicious dish from Hanoi.

Today, my mom attempted to recreate the dish… quite successfully I must say!

She used salmon fillets instead of the preferred ca lang (a type of catfish). Our fish was grilled… over an electric stove rather than charcoal but still tasty! The fish is grilled with green onions and dill (a combination I had never had before… very tasty) and eaten with noodles, roasted peanuts and green onions that have been soaked in vinegar. A special shrimp paste and lime juice sauce is also served with this dish.

A combination of unique flavours make this a must-try dish for me! I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂

Bua nay Me minh nau mot bua an that la ngon!

Ngay cuoi cung minh o VN (tren Saigon), Cau Bao minh co giac di an Cha Ca La Vong, mot mon an dac biet cua Hanoi. Lan dau tien minh an mon nay!

Hom nay, Me minh lan dau tien thu nau mon nay… cung rat la thanh cong!

Thay vi sai ca lang, Me minh sai ca salmon… va nau tren bep dien thay vi bep thang, nhung an cung rat la ngon! Ca xao voi hanh la va cay thi la, an voi bun, dau phong rang va hanh nhung trong dam. Mon nay cung co chan nuot xot mam tom voi chanh.

Mot phoi hop cua nhieu mui vi thom ngon! Phai an thu mot lan cho biet!

Hover for captions, click for larger!
De con chuot tren hinh de doc loi chu thich, bam hinh de xem lon hon!

It feels weird…

… not to be regularly blogging!

Putting together photo DVDs of our trip to Vietnam has been taking me much longer than I thought 😦 Picking out the accompanying music is also a pain in the butt! So far, there are 4 DVDs and I haven’t even started on the videos yet! Gah! Must work faster >.< I have so many other things I want to catch up on or start!

The next few posts will be recaps of certain events that took place during our trip (for those who are interested). They will be similar to my blogs while I was in VN… in much less detail because my memory is shot! These will be accompanied by appropriate pictures 🙂

After that… posts go back to normal!

On an unrelated note… Certain individuals dear to me are embarking on a trip today to meet with an important individual. One with the ability to change their lives and kick start their dream careers. Guys, I am thinking of you, wishing you luck, and hoping for the best! Awaiting your news!

Minh khong co blog thuong thay cung ky ky!

Lam nhung cai DVD hinh di VN da mat nhieu thi gio hon minh tuong tuong (chua xong nua)! Chon nhac de di theo voi hinh cung kho nua! 😦 Bay gio da soan duoc 4 cai DVD hinh roi… nhung ma chua co bat dau lam DVD phim nua! Aieya… phai lam nhanh len moi duoc! Con biet bao nhieu chuyen khac minh muon lam va bat dau nua!

Nhung blog toi cua minh se ke lai nhung ky niem cua chuyen di VN (neu muon biet thi doc)! Viet se giong nhu la nhung cai blog cua minh luc viet con o ben VN… nhung chi tiet thi se khong nhieu ban vi minh khong con nho het!

Sau do thi blog se tro lai binh thuong!

Mot chuyen khong lien quan: Minh dang nghi toi ban va luon ung ho! Chuc may mang va co ket qua tot! Dang cho nghe tin!

There will be…

… a delay in blog posting!

As I am struggling to complete the DVDs of our trip to Vietnam, my blog postings will be short and sweet (if any) until I have more time! Thanks for understanding!

Mọi người sẻ thấy mình viết blog rất là chậm trể! Xin lỗi nhe! Nếu có giờ thì mình sẻ viết blog ngắn gọn thôi! Tại vì mình muốn cố gắng làm cho xong những cái DVD hình và phim của chuyến đi VN! Sau đó thì sẻ có giờ blog thoải mái luôn! Xin thong cảm! Hihi!

Dear everyone…

… I am home!

6 weeks in Vietnam went by faster than I could ever imagine. We saw a lot of people, went a lot places, yet there never seemed to be enough time to get everything we wanted done.

Yes, I definitely slacked with regards to blog updates during my trip, but I promise I will update on everything in the upcoming days. I have to say, it might even take me weeks. Thousands of photos were taken and many gigs of video were filmed, so it will take me a while to sort through everything and put together a few DVDs! Everything will be done before Christmas, at the latest. Promise!

Even now, thinking about our trip to Vietnam – the people we met, the activities we did, the time we spent together, the memories we shared, the farewells… everything still brings tears to my eyes. My family in VN are not just family members, they are my strongest connection to my late father. When I’m with them, I see the resemblances, I see the differences, I see the shadow of my dad in their eyes. Especially you grandpa!

I miss everyone…a lot! This summer has been filled with some of my most precious memories which I will never forget. Thank you everyone for your hospitality and kindness during our stay! It was unfortunate that I wasn’t able to see and hang out more with certain people like So Nhu and Hia Hoang, but I was also able to become closer to my other cousins, especially Cuoi and Thanh, whom I adore! I miss you two the most!

Cuoi, who will be my text buddy and confidant now that I’m home? Sad! I miss you a lot! I admire your perseverance and dedication in pursuing what you truly want. We are similar – who cares what other people think and say and follow your heart! I hope you soon achieve all your dreams!

Thanh, since my last visit 3 years ago, you have grown up so much! You have matured into a wonderfully thoughtful and responsible girl, I am so proud of you! You are an amazing older sister, I was never a fraction as good with my siblings as you are with Khoa! I am sure you will keep it up!

What a wonderful thing the internet is. I love that we are now easily able to keep in touch with one another and be a part of each others lives. You guys know where to find me!

Chào mọi người… mình đã về nhà rồi!

6 tuần về Việt Nam đã qua nhanh hơn mình có thể tưởng tượng. Mình đã gặp gở được nhiều người, đi thăm viếng được nhiều chổ, nhưng lúc nào cũng thấy là không có đủ thời gian để làm xong mỗi thứ mình muốn làm.

Mình đã chắc chắn bỏ bê viết blog trong lúc đi về Việt Nam rồi… nhưng hứa là sẻ cập nhật về mỗi thứ trong những ngày tới nhe! Nhưng nói trước là có thể tới vài tuân mới xong! Mình đã chụp hàng ngàn bức hình và thâu biết bao nhiêu ‘gig’ phim, nên soan xong hết sẻ rất lâu! Mọi thứ sẻ được làm xong chậm nhất vào Noel! Hứa đó!

Tới bây giờ, chừng nào nghĩ tới chuyến đi về Việt Nam – những người mình đã gặp, những hoạt động mình đã làm, thời gian mình đã ở bên nhau, những kỷ niệm mình đã chia sẻ, những lời tạm biệt với nhau… mọi thứ vẫn làm cho mình rơi nước mắt. Gia đình của mình bên VN, đối với mình, không phải chỉ là người trong nhà thôi, mà cũng là kết nói mạnh nhất mà mình có với người cha qua đời của mình. Chừng nào ở với chúng, mình có thể thấy những thứ gióng ba mình, mình cũng có thể thấy những thứ khác biệt… mình có thể thấy được cái bóng của ba mình trong đôi mắt của gia đình. Nhất là côn!

Nhớ mọi người… nhiều lắm! Mùa hè này đã có rất là nhiều kỷ niệm quí báo sẻ không bao giờ quên được. Cám ơn mọi người đã tốt lòng và chăm sóc mình! Tiếc là mình ít có gặp và chơi chung với vài người như là Số Nhu và Hia Hoàng, nhưng kỳ này mình đã được gần gũi nhiều hơn với những anh em kia! Nhất là 2 đứa mình yêu thương nhiều – Cuội và Bé Thanh, nhớ 2 đứa nhất!

Cuội ơi! Chế về rồi… ai sẻ làm bạn nhắn tin và tâm sự với chế bây giờ đây? Buôn! Nhớ cưng nhiều! Chế ngưỡng mộ sự cống hiến của em và sự kiên trì theo đuổi những gì mình thật mong muốn. Chị em mình cũng gióng nhau – không nghĩ tới những gì người khác nghĩ và nói về mình, chỉ theo đuổi những mục tiêu trong tim mình thôi! Chế chúc em sớm ngày dạt được những ước mơ của em!

Thanh ơi, từ lần trước chế về tới giờ, em đã lớn lên biết bao nhiêu! Em đã trưởng thành một con gái tuyệt vời chu đáo và có trách nhiệm, chế rất là tự hào về Thanh! Em cũng là một người chị rất là tốt, chế hồi đó chc không có bằng một góc của Thanh! Chế nghĩ là Thanh sẻ tiếp tục tốt như vậy với em Khoa! (:

Ah… internet là một thứ rất là tuyệt. Chế rất là thích có thể dễ dàng giữ liên lạc với mọi người. Nếu muốn kiếm mình thì biết làm sao rồi đó nhe! Hôm nay viết tới đây thôi! (:

[PICTURES] July 14, 2010 (5:00pm local time, 6:00am EST)

These pictures go with the earlier post: July 14, 2010 (5:00pm local time, 6:00am EST)

Hover for captions, click for larger!


We then went to visit Ong Ba 7 but they weren’t home. They had left on vacation with their son Cau Phuong to Nha Trang!

Nevertheless, we made ourselves at home and ate with Cau Duy Anh, another one of Ong Ba 7’s sons. It was quite comical to see him trampling through mud and sinking in just to help us transfer fruits from their vuon onto the boat!