June 29, 2010


It's still far yet, but I'm thinking of taking a day off on my birthday this year. It might sound stupid for you since I've heard that people take a day off on their birthday because they don't want to work on their special day (I'm not sure if it's truth tho), however, I haven't done it. As for me, the day has been something special, but not that special. It just hasn't been that different from other general days. I haven't gotten expensive things as a present from parents, but got some small money because the limit of the price was too low to buy something like what my friends got for their birthday (you will be shocked if I tell you the price). So I'd rather have gotten the small money itself. And since my birthday was during what is called summer vacation in old days, I was rarely celebrated by friends. Most of them forgot about it even they said something like "Let's do something on your birthday" before vacation started.

I also haven't gotten presents what usually girls expect their bf to give. I know that there are bunch of girls that want their bf to buy something nice on their birthday, but I think I'm a kind of odd girl. I haven't asked for birthday presents to my bf...correctly just twice in my life. I remember one of my friends said it was of course that her bf had to buy something she wanted on her birthday or Christmas. Actually, she was complaining about his sense because whenever they went out and browsing stuffs at the stores, she gave him some hints of things that were her taste. However, what he gave her on the special day was very pointless. She was mad about it, and complained while we were eating lunch, lol.

My memorial birthday was when I turned 20 years old. It was also during summer vacation and I was staying over somewhere with my bf and a few more friends for meeting. My birthday was already celebrated a few weeks ago when we did BBQ on the riverside, so I really didn't expect anything. I didn't even have the idea that they remembered the exact date. However, it happened. I was with some other people of from other universities, and my friends searched for me and took me to their room in the midnight. They told me that they bought a cake for my birthday, and celebrated my birthday when the day came. Actually the cake was a simple one, not exactly a cake, but a kind of sweets that they got at the souvenir shop at the hotel. It was such a simple thing, but I would never forget that day. I wept for the first and the last time in joy. Their simple kindness became the thing that I can't forget. The was definitely my best birthday in my life.

So, I'm thinking of taking a day off on my birthday this year. Thinking of past a few years, there was nothing special. I usually worked on my birthday. I went to part time job when I was student, and went work as well since I started working. I didn't do anything special. I even didn't meet my bf. It's normal to meet bf or gf on a day around birthday to celebrate however we can't do it on the exact day. However, I didn't do it. I even wonder if I was celebrated my birthday in person, lol. Maybe not. I even rarely received presents from them. I'm sure if I received something from someone I was in love, I wouldn't forget about it. But don't take it wrongly, I'm not complaining about it. I'm not saying that my bf was cruel or something since I was the one who usually told them I didn't need anything.

I said that not because I didn't want anything. I just didn't want to force them. If they give me something, it has to come from themselves. They don't have to give me a present because of birthday. However, if they feel like giving me something to make me happy on the special day, doesn't the feeling itself mean anything? So, I appreciate it and actually it's the thing that delights me the most.

Anyway, it's just a random thing that I felt like getting a day off this summer. I hadn't thought that way, but I just thought it would be like a small present for myself. I can choose how to spend whole the day not just after work. Everything is up to me :) It will be great, won't it be? :P However...I don't know if I want to do it just for enriching my somber days, lol. At least, I'm sure its not kind of a thing that someone gets hurt because of it. So, it will be fine ;)

June 23, 2010

All Small Things

"All Small Things". It's the title of the book. The book was one of books I borrowed from the library recently. I started going to the library again after a year because I wanted to borrow a book which a girl recommended me. The title of the book was "Tokyo Guest House" and its story starts from when Akio comes back from his half year trip to Asian countries. He used to stay at his girlfriend's apartment, but when he came back, she had been already lived with another guy. It was natural since Akio hadn't kept in touch with her since he quitted his job and left Japan all of a sudden. He thought he would stay with her again when he came back, but she was already gone. Since he didn't have anywhere to go other than his gf place, he was bewildered. However, he remembered about a woman he met in Nepal. She told him that she has a lot of rooms in her house, so he can stay there like being in a GH if he wants. The story is about his new life living there. The girl who recommended me the book told me that she vaguely knew why Akio's gf left him. As a girl, she understands what Mariko (Akio's gf) felt. She told me if she were Mariko, maybe she would leave Akio as well. It was a little bit interesting because her name is actually Mariko, and she was talking about Mariko in the story.

When she talked about the book, we were in a Turkish restaurant with another guy. We all were solo travelers who met in Vietnam and it was the first meeting back in Japan. Unfortunately, other people couldn't come since they live far away. Me and Satoshi were interested in the book and promised her that we would read it. Actually, she wanted to let her know what we think when we finish the book. She wanted to hear opinions from the both side; being as a women, and man. My action was very quick this time. Next day, after work, I dropped in the library and borrowed the book already. I read half of it at night, and the other half on the train next morning while going to work. Since I worked on the book so quickly, I felt like as if I was a firework which already finished burning. However, I understood what she meant. As a girl, I know what she felt. Akio wanted to talk to her when he came back. However, she didn't want to meet him. She even rejected talking to him on phone. In the last of the story, he finally meets her. And the words she says at that time is very impressive to me. Being a girl, I know what she means. I will feel exactly the same way...Actually, I thought about someone when I read it, and I'm sure she felt the way because she is in love with him.

So, the book "All Small Things" is one of the books of the same author's. A girl, whose name is Kayano feels that something is missing about her quiet love and asks her friend to tell her about the most impressive date she's ever experienced. The girl tells her about the story, and later, she asks her a similar question. The question is passed to people to people like a relay. Each story is based on the real episodes that the author got by a questionnaire, and you will be surprised how simple they are! But I believe happiness comes when such small things move your heart. Maybe it's not that dramatic nor gorgeous as we imagine. Actually, when I think about my happiest moment, it's always something not that special. For example, I remember I was very happy when my bf held me and said something while he was talking on the phone with his friend. The words were not that special, just something simple and the place was not special either. It happened while we were walking in the city...so, not such a romantic situation. However, I remember the moment somehow as one of the happiest moment being a relationship with him...I bet even he doesn't remember it. And why I wrote this post is just because I remembered about it when I passed the place with my friend today. Thinking about my happiest moment, I was surprised how simple they are. Even though it looked "nothing" for others, it was definitely "something" for me. However, I know however being simple, it's hard to impress someone on purpose. So, I want to treat such a little happiness which happened on me as a treasure, and hope that someone received such a little happiness from me sometime as well even I don't know.

June 17, 2010


I think, maybe the last a few hours before leaving for airport were a kind of most exciting time. Excitement and danger were two sides of the same coin. It wasn't dangerous in the end, however, it would have been my responsibility if something happened there. Simply, I had to trust my sense. My heart beaten fast when I was packed in the car with some Vietnamese and a Japanese. I was the only female there. I didn't know most of them. If I could say I know someone, it was Duong and his Japanese friend. That meant if I was kidnapped, and was killed somewhere, no one would know. I had a promise to meet up with Sakiko at 9PM at her hotel, however, I was sure even if I didn't appear, she wouldn't take is so seriously. Me and those guys left the hotel around 8PM and I was not sure where we were going. I was in a space where the language I didn't understand even a word flew back and forth surrounded by guys. I had a strange feeling inside there, which expectation and insecurity were competing.

After 15 minutes or so, our car arrived at a wedding ceremony hall. Duong and me got off firstly, and went through the door. He told to the receptionist that we were going to karaoke, and we went upstairs. Since no one followed us quickly, there were only me and Duong. I felt a little bit uneasy and asked him if we shouldn't wait. He told me they were coming soon, and we kept going up. And it brought me a coincidence. I don't know if it was on purpose, but all of a sudden, he asked me if he could kiss me. I was flurried and didn't understand what he said since I was busy to think what he held my hand for, and before I understood his words," he kissed me quickly. How dare he did such a thing!!! However, I didn't miss escaping from being hugged v(^_^)v But I'm sure I wouldn't have missed striking a blow IF he kissed on lips :P Thus, I placed him as a play boy, lol. I didn't expect I would be purposed to by a Vietnamese guy at a ceremony hall~ how romantic (j/k).

When everyone got to the karaoke room, they started singing. The karaoke machine was very high-tech...it was actually something similar what we saw in Japan 15 years ago or more I guess, and there were only Vietnamese songs. OK, there were some English songs as well, but I didn't know any of them. The only song I knew was 'Let It Be' and I didn't know whole of the song. I hadn't expected that I would go to karaoke with Vietnamese guys, so it was interesting. Everyone sang being drunk. I ate noodle with his Japanese friend seeing people making whoopee singing and dancing. It was such a surrealistic space.

At 15 to 9PM, I left there. One of them drove me to the hotel. Getting my backpack, I waited for Sakiko. On way to and at the airport, we chatted a lot. She told me maybe she would have fell in love with one of the guys we had dinner with if she spent time with him a few days more. I said, yeah you might be. Even I didn't fall in love, I also feel something special to people I met during my trip. It may be just one chance encounter in a short unusual life, and actually I'm sure it will be. However, therefore it makes a strong impression. I remember Duong told me not to forget about him. Surely, I will never. Maybe in the future, when I see pictures of Vietnam or eat Vietnamese foods, I will naturally remember about my trip to Vietnam. I don't think I will forget what I felt and experienced there because it was a part of my unusual life and He naturally lives there. I'm sure he will be the one if one of us forget about the other since I'm just one of those travelers who come and go in front of him as a manager of a GH.

Thus, my trip which had adventures and a slight romance(?) reached its finale. It was good I spent the last a few hours with Sakiko and talked a lot. It's an unfortunate thing that she lives in Hokkaido. However, I want to see her again whenever I get a chance...not just her, but everyone I saw there. I met a lot of nice people there! Maybe I will never forget about them, and I'm glad if they also remember about me sometimes when they look back about their trip. A guy's words pushed my back to Vietnam. I'm not sure yet, but a book that a girl I met there recommended may lead me to next place. However it seems that I can't be free for a while, I don't think I will give up jumping into an inordinately days with full of excitement. Hopefully, a year later, I'll be somewhere carrying my backpack again. Because, I find myself being cheerful when I carry my backpack♥


Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 14, 2010

A Street Discussion And The War Over Ao dai

As soon as I came back, Duong and I went to a stall to grab some beer with a Malaysian guy who stayed at his GH. Soon after that, his Japanese friend came to join us. He told me that he came to Vietnam because of job, got married and lives in Ha Noi now. He has been friends with Duong for 7 years, so whenever he comes to HCMC they meet up and have meal together :) Firstly, we were talking about his family. I asked him which language he used with wife etc. However, the topic shifted soon. We started talking about relationship.

It started from Duong's words mentioning about my watch. He just asked if I bought it at the market and how much it was. There was no wonder why he asked such a thing since I saw a lot of similar watches at the market, not just in HCMC but also in Cambodia even though I hadn't seen the exact same thing. However, the fact the watch isn't mine in the strict sense of the words made the topic expanded. When I told the story, he threw me a question why I didn't buy a watch for myself. I said, "Because, this is the only watch I feel like wearing as long as I keep it".

There was a change when I started wearing a watch. I hadn't wore watches for several years since wrist watches became needless things for me since I got a cellphone. I told a story behind the watch my thoughts and exchanged opinions. "You have an uncommon thought", said the Japanese guy when I finished talking. "Not everyone can be like you."

I don't know if my thought is different from most. What I know is, it's just my ideal yet and therefore I'm struggling to get close. I don't know if I can. However, at least, I won't forget about the discussion which was unfolded at a street corner somewhere in Vietnam with strangers I met by chance.

When the Malaysian guy left, we came back to his hotel. When I talked about Ao dai I got, he told me that he wanted to see me in it. I told him I didn't want to wear it because I had put it deep in my backpack, and I was too shy to let them see. There was another big reason as well. Ao dai are clothes that fit the body. Since my one is a custom-made one, so it's even more. Plus, I can't wear it by myself since because of the tightness. The buttons are crossing from my neck to underarm, and it doesn't let me wear it easily even more. However, Duong asked me again and again however I explained. I had never required by someone to wear something that much!! Lol. His friend looked a little bit amazed at his persistence. After a while, Duong had to leave for a bit, but he never forgot telling me to change before he came back. When he went outside, his friend and me talked about how persistent he was. I didn't have the will to wear it. But you know? I finally wore the Ao dai when he came back. I couldn't escape anymore when he had one of his staff help me with changing!

When I came out from the bathroom wearing it, he looked...happy...lol. We took a picture together and he told me to send it, thus I received his e-mail address. Oh, do you want to know if I actually e-mailed him when I came back? Yes, I did. Because I'm a nice girl :P

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 13, 2010

Vague Feelings

When I was walking, I bumped into Junko and her Vietnamese friend that I had met last night. They were resting at a stall. When our eyes met, they waved hands and let me come close to them. He had a coffee and it made me remember what my co-worker said; she told me to try Vietnamese coffee. When I talked about it, Junko told me to try his coffee. I sucked it a little bit. Mmm, it was thick and sweet. So I got one for me and kept chatting with them. I had already heard about their friendship last night, and it's like below.

Junko met him when she came to Vietnam last time. She was spoken to by a guy and it was him. She was told that it was the 3rd time they met the day but she didn't remember. They went to eat together and spent some time during her stay. However, she was not sure if he was a good person or not. But a coincidence happened when she was leaving Vietnam. She found that she had left her jacket at hotel. She gave him about 20$ in VND and asked him to mail it if he finds it. However, she actually didn't expect that she would get it back.

Let's think about it. 20$ is a lot of money for general Vietnamese. If he was a normal guy, he would receive the money and won't do anything. She wouldn't even know if he searched for the jacket. They just met there by chance and spent some time. That was it. However, he was not a normal guy. After a while, she received her jacket from Vietnam, and noticed that it cost more than she gave. Who spends own money to do that? He even might never meet her again. Especially, he is a shoe-shiner, so it's obvious that he isn't rich. Through this event, she got to trust him.

Talking to him, I was surprised at his modesty sometimes. I asked him how many people's shoes he cleans in a day. He said it depends on the day and he feels like working harder when he feels sad. I didn't know how much it costs to clean shoes there, so asked him. He told me he usually receives 10,000-20,000VND per one person, but he never tells them the how much he wants when they ask. "It's up to you." That's what he always says. Sometimes they give him only 1,000VND, sometimes, 20,000VND. When he receives just 1,000VND, he gets sad a bit but never asks more. He also told me that sometimes tourists like old Japanese guys gave him 100,000. In such cases, he receives just 50,000VND and gives the other 50,000VND back to them because he thinks it's too much for him. I was impressed to hear that. Junko said he doesn't receive such a big money from old people because they don't earn so much but it's obvious who has more money.

Through these conversation, I found him a really nice modest Vietnamese guy. Being with them, I felt they were close and sometimes even looked like a couple. I had heard that they kept in touch almost everyday via e-mails, and he even told her that he loved her. She told me that she had told him she wouldn't be in a relationship with a guy who couldn't speak Japanese (he speaks Vietnamese and broken English a little) when it happened. And he started going to school to learn Japanese. She told him not to do such a thing but actually he keeps going...I have no idea how serious he is. Love makes a lot of energy to do something. I envied Junko a bit. But at the same time, I didn't want her to do something that would make him expected if she didn't have the will...However, I knew it was not my business.

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 12, 2010

Serious Talk On The Street

I left souvenirs in my backpack at the lobby when I went back to the hotel. I had already checked out the room in the morning when I left for Cho Lon since it was my last day there. When I came out from the hotel, I met Duong again. He told me to come with him, and we sat down on the step near by hotel and chatted. While talking, a lottery seller came and he bought a few. He told me that he would come to Japan if he wins. A few minutes later, a beggar came as well, and he gave him small money.

When I came to Vietnam, actually not just Vietnam but Cambodia as well, I made my rule that I wouldn't give money to beggars. It was not because I was stingy. I didn't want to give them an impression that they could get money from people whenever they beg. However, Duong gave money. Once I saw it, a small question came up to my mind.

"Hey, is it normal for you local people to give them money?"

"It's up to you," he said.
"If you feel like it, you do. If not, you don't have to. I give them money because they have tough life. They can't get a job"

Actually, a lot of beggars I saw there had something inconvenient. For example, some of them don't have a leg and walk on crutches. You can still see the scars which were left by the war. Actually, it might not proper to say "still" because the war was not so far in the past. I saw a lot of people that seemed to be injured by the war. And the most shocking one I saw was a male beggar who was sitting and screaming beside Ben Thanh market when I went there for the fist time. Almost everywhere of his face was inflamed and he looked ugly. I had never seen such a thing before. It was an shocking experience.

The topic sifted to about homeless people later. Since he said that there must not be homeless people in Tokyo, I told him that there are. He looked surprised. He told me that he didn't expect it because Tokyo is a city for rich people. "I know that maybe we look rich from Vietnamese eyes," I said. "However, it costs a lot to live in Tokyo. And since the economy is not so good in Japan right now, there are a lot of people who have lost their job and live in the park, station, or under the bridge." He looked surprised to my words and asked me if the government doesn't help such people. I told him things as much as I knew, but felt uncomfortable because the more I talk, the more I realized that I didn't know about society so much. It was a shame.

We moved to his hotel after while, but I told him that I was going to buy some water. The water in my bottle was already gone.

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

I Love Bargaining At Markets

I ate lunch and bought souvenirs when I got to Ben Thanh market. I always buy a T-shirt for my brother when I go oversea, so I wanted to buy one this time as well. I knew a store that sells T-shirts stuff with Vietnamese price even though it locates in GH area (usually, the prices around there are expensive than local price). I got to know that when I was talking to Satoshi last day and he told me that he browsed some stores, and the store was the cheapest. Since I checked the price at the store, I was sure that I wouldn't buy T-shirts if they showed me more expensive prices.

As I expected, a lot of people tried to trick me at the market. Since I didn't want to waste time, whenever I went to stores that had T-shirts, I asked the price and when they told me "foreigner price", I told them that I knew the proper price so I wouldn't buy with the price. Since they wanted to overcharge foreigners somehow, they always tried to trick me with saying something "this T-shirt is different, the material is good" like that whenever I told them the price. But what I saw at the market and the store were obviously same. I don't understand why some people never sell anything to us if they can't overcharge. They sell things with Vietnamese price to local people and get some benefit. So it shouldn't matter if they sell some of us with local price when they can't trick.

Anyway, I didn't buy anything at stores that obviously wanted me to overcharge me and never gave me a proper price, but finally got 2 T-shirts for my brother with Vietnamese price at a store :) It was a store where a mother and daughter (maybe) were. When I stopped by there and browsed T-shirts, they grabbed my hands, pulled me into the store and made me sit down there, lol. I asked the price as I had been doing, and they told me what I call foreigner price. So, I told them that I knew the proper price and was not gonna buy anything if I had to pay more than it. The mother and daughter tried to bargain somehow, but I didn't give way. Since I was sure I could buy what I want with the proper price at the store beside the hotel, I was not in a rush. Actually, I was about to leave there and they finally gave way. Thus, I got souvenirs for my brother with Vietnamese price :D

There was another stingy story. At a store, I found a cute chopstick holder set and it was 70,000VND. I asked if I could get it with 30,000VND, but the girl said no. She told me she would sell me with 55,000VND, and both of us could be happy with the price. However, I felt her attitude was something taking advantage of me, and it didn't seem she would give me a better price than it. So I left there. I was sure that I would find the same thing somewhere else. Actually, I found the exact same thing soon and it was 35,000VND. Of course I bargained there as well and got it with 20,000VND in the end :P I don't know if the price was reasonable, but it was good because the girl at the store was nice (might have felt so because of the other girl).

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 7, 2010

At Cho Lon

I didn't have anything specific that I wanted to do when I woke up next morning since I had already been to places I wanted to visit in past days. So I grabbed my map and went out for breakfast. Biting a bread, and sucking a mango shake, I decided to walk to Cho Lon area. Cho Lon is the China town in HCMC. Even though I knew that it was better to go there by using some transportation, I chose going there on foot as a girl who likes walking :)

I held my 1.5 liters water bottle and started walking. The farther I went from Pham Ngu Lao, the less foreigners I saw. It took only about 15 minutes or so to come to the area that I never see tourists. By the way, I do want to let you know that I really suck at the sense of location however I like walking around. I wanted to visit some temples there. Yeah, I got there somehow, but I don't know how many times I checked the map and how many times I was about to get lost, lol. Actually, when I got to the first temple, I was tired. There was no wonder. It took for 1.5 hours to get there since I didn't know the way, the temperature was around 40 and there was no wind. I was wearing a long sleeves jacket on the T-shirt, and I saw my sweat was obviously coming through the clothes and made them wet. I was also about to finish my water bottle. It was such a hot day as same as when I visited Hue!

Since I was so tired and felt maybe I would feel sick if I kept walking, I decided to take a bus going back to Ben Thanh. There was a big bus terminal in Cho Lon. I went there and asked a guy which bus to take. He told me I had to take No.1 and told me where I could take it. However, I couldn't find the bus when I walked toward the direction he showed me. So, I spoke to another guy and asked where I could take the bus. The guy told me that it was better to take a motor cycle taxi. He signed a guy beside him and told me he was the driver, and it would cost only 40,000VND (=2$). 2$!!! It might be just 2$ but 2$. It sounded expensive for me since I knew if I take a bus, it would cost only 3000VND (15¢). See how stingy I was!! I'm sure I can't avoid being overcharged or have to use something expensive that local people rarely use being a tourist there. However, I feel like trying hard in some degree not to be overcharged more than I need and want to use affordable transportation as long as it is not too uncomfortable nor dangerous. It might look stupid sometimes for othe tourists, but I believe that such an experience itself will be the pleasure of the trip.

Anyway, the guy told me to take his friend's motor cycle taxi so I could get there soon and if not, I would have to wait for more than an hour. I told him that I could wait having a lunch, but he seemed that he wanted take the taxi somehow and recommended me persistently. He also didn't speak English so much, so it was hard to let him notice that I just wanted him to tell where I could take the bus and it didn't matter for me to wait for an hour. However, he finally gave up. He noticed that I wouldn't be swayed however hard he try. Then, he told me that he would take me somewhere. I was a little bit scared and asked him where we were going, and he told me we were going to the place where I could take a bus. Thus, I was held my hand by a middle aged Vietnamese guy and was taken to the bus place, lol.

Actually, I noticed what the guy told me was a lie when I rode on the bus. It didn't take so long till the bus started. I vaguely felt that maybe Vietnamese people want to get money from tourists somehow so they try to trick us, but also can't be a really bad person as well.

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 6, 2010

Another Encounter

It was around 4PM when I came back to the hotel. As soon as leaving some stuffs in my room, I went outside. I was thinking of going to pick up my Ao dai to the store. When I came out of the lobby, I bumped into Duong (it's the manager's name who I talked about), so I said hi. He asked me why I didn't come and I told him I did, but the room wasn't available. He told me that he had an available room the day so I could stay, however, I nicely rejected it. It was troublesome to bring my backpack there, and I would have been charged for the room I had over stayed (the check out time was 12:00 I think).

When I met him, there were a middle aged guy (Satoshi) and a young guy (Yoshitaka) taking a seat at Duong's GH. He told me they were Japanese, so we said hello and started talking. They told me they were going to have dinner with a few more people, and asked if I would come with them. Why not? They guy told me they were gonna meet up at 6PM. Yoshitaka left soon but Satoshi and me stayed there and kept talking. After a while, he told me he wanted to go back to the room once so I left there as well and went to get my Ao dai.

When I came back, Satoshi, Yoshitaka and another girl were already there. We walked to the Sinh Tourist to meet up a few more people. Finally, we became a group of seven people. As soon as saying hi to each other, we moved to a restaurant that Satoshi wanted to go. We introduced ourselves there, ate, drank and chatted. Everyone's age is different. We live in different cities and have different jobs. What made us connected was that our nationality and the fact we met by chance being in the same city in same day as solo tourists :) Unfortunately, one of us was leaving in a bit. However, the rest of us went to a stall to grab some more alcohol after the restaurant. Being at the stall, a Vietnamese friend of a girl's joined us. We spent great time holding drink and one Japanese guy tried hot vit lon (an egg of duck's which the baby has already grown up inside). Since the stuff was something we could never see in Japan, and looked so disgusting to eat, we all surrounded him and took pictures. After the stall, some of use went to eat pho, but me and another girl Saki went back to the hotels. It was already late and we wanted to take a rest. Since she was going back to Japan by the same flight, I decided to go to the airport with her because she told me she had booked a pick up service. We made a promise when and where to meet up tomorrow evening, and said good night.

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 5, 2010

Mekong Delta

Next day, I went to Mekong Delta by one day tour. I'd already booked the tour before going to Hue :) I wanted to join the tour because I had read someones review on Internet, and it sounded nice. At that time, I've already gotten used to join tours alone. When I took a seat on the tour bus, I noticed a Japanese couple was sitting near by. I said hello and we had a small conversation. They told me the guy came there a few days ago, and the girl came just yesterday. She was wearing a big scarf over the jacket, long one-piece dress, hat, and also big sunglasses. It looked like she never ever wanted to be sunburned, so I mentioned about it, and she said yes.

Even I had them on the same bus, I didn't talked to them so much. You may wonder why, but the reason is simple. In Japan, we usually have societies which are called village society. If a group is already made with people who know each other since before, it's hard to get into the group as a stranger. Of course they let you join if you ask. I don't think they are going to reject you in a situation like this. However, I'm sure in most cases, you won't feel so comfortable being with them because the atmosphere will be something very familiar with them but with you. So, when we went somewhere and took seats, I tended to sit with other people.

We visited a rice paper factory, a coconut candy factory, and a honey bee farm. We also took a boat and a carriage to transfer. I got a chance to talk to several people during the tour, and whom I talked to the most were a couple from Europe (sorry, I forgot the exact country name), and a Singaporean lady. I purchased nice spoons made of coconut trees when I went to an island, and I can't wait to use them!! (Maybe I will use them when I leave home.) I tasted some booze that has snakes in it (the tour guide said the booze helps men to make babies!! lol), at the coconut factory and it was way too strong. I felt like my stomach burned up when I swallowed it! What I liked the best to eat/drink during the tour was a cup of tea we had at the honey bee farm. We squeezed a lime into a cup, put honey, and green tea. It was really great. I think I can make it at home as well. But one problem is, the green tea was what was different from Japanese regular green tea...maybe it was made from flower. I have to find it...or, maybe I can use black tea instead. Anyway, I enjoyed the tour :D

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

Back To HCMC

When I came back to Tan Son Nhut International Airport, the situation was similar as the other day when I got there for the first time from Japan. The time was around 23:00 because of the departure delay, and I was alone with my backpack. What was different was, I didn't have anyone waiting for me. I didn't book a hotel when I left Hue. I'd rather have chosen an adventure.

Wish list 5: Taking a taxi by myself and get to the place safely

As I mentioned before, I've heard that there are taxi drivers who want to trick tourists and overcharge for fare. I rarely take a taxi in Japan nor even in another country, so it was something exciting for me. Firstly, I thought about finding another person who wanted to come to the same area, but I didn't see anyone. It was nice if I could find some one to share the seats with because overcharging was not that bad however if it happened. What I had to worry was about the case if I would be taken to completely different place and surrounded by massive guys etc. It's obvious I will be in a big trouble in such cases. Being a young foreigner girl not having a sense of location there, taking a taxi alone in the night in a South East Asian country doesn't sound so safe. However, I made up my mind. I waited till a taxi that I know as one of the taxi companies that are supposed to be safe. And once it came, I went toward to the taxi straightly, and spoke to the driver. "Meter drive to Sinh cafe, Pham Ngu Lao, OK?"

I slided into the seat and the taxi started. I opened eyes widely and checked if the meter started working. I didn't know if he spoke English because we didn't talk, however, the driver looked a kind of a serious person. After 30 minutes or so, the taxi arrived at the Sinh Tourist. The fare was reasonable price, and I handed him some money. However, he didn't give me a change. Since he seemed like that, I told him to give me a change. However, the bill I got from him was less than it had to be, and how dare he asked me if it was OK, lol. However, I said OK. I decided to think the money as a tip because I had a safe drive. Anyway, I learned something. Don't give them more than exact price if you buy something at a stall or if you take a taxi. Probably you will have a hard time to get a change, nor it might be even impossible. It seems that they don't want to give money back to you once they receive, lol.

So, I got to the cheap GH area again. I remembered that the manager of the GH which I stayed at the second night wanted me to come back. I was not sure if a room was available, but went there to take a look. There was a guy in the lobby and I asked if there was a room. Unfortunately, all of the rooms were already taken. So I told him if he knew any places that I could stay with 10$. He helped me finding a room and I got a room at a GH which located diagonally the opposite from the GH.

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 2, 2010

One Chance Encounter

I went back to the bridge after spending some time at the riverside. It was already dim, and I walked slowly toward the other side of the bridge. Sometimes, I stopped and looked at the river. When I looked toward the supermarket, I saw a guy who made a peace sign and waved hand to me. He was at a outdoor restaurant beside the supermarket. I made a peace sign back and waved my had as well. Then, he waved his hand again and told me to come. I ignored it once, and walked toward to the other side of the bridge, but after a few steps walk, I changed mind and went back toward the supermarket. The guy looked at me again, and waved his hand and told me to come once more.

When I reached the edge of the bridge, he left the seat and came to meet me. I went down the stairs and said hello. He seemed to be a normal guy that was around my age. I asked him if he spoke English but he didn't seem he could. I told him that I could only speak Japanese and some English. He told me to come with him anyways. Since he didn't look dangerous, I walked after him and went to the table which his friends were waiting at.

There were 3 other guys surrounding the table. I asked them if anyone spoke English, and one of them spoke a little. They asked me if I was hungry but I told them I was not. They offered me beer as well, but I nicely rejected it. It didn't seem that they were gonna harm me, but since it's not good to receive food from strangers, I didn't. I thought I shouldn't choose a way that had possibility to be dangerous. However, they ordered a bottle of water for me and since they opened the water in front of me, and the glass was the one that the waitress brought. So, I decided to receive it. We had small conversations via the guy who spoke English. I got to know one of them was a doctor, and the guy who brought me there has a Japanese relative who lives in Tokyo. Actually, he had a plan to visit Tokyo near in the future. He told me he wanted to know my address, but I didn't feel too comfortable to tell someone such a private information. However, I told him my email address and told to text me if he feels like it. Even I haven't received message from him yet, it's alright. Maybe that was an one chance encounter with general local people and I had fun.

After spending time, I left there and went back to the hotel. On my way to the hotel, I met a guy who was selling pictures. He told me they were his work and they looked nice. I bargained with him and got 4 pictures as a souvenir. Around 8PM, the bus came to the hotel and I left the city. Bye bye Hue, I definitely spent some relaxing time there :)

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

A Wild Girl On The Riverside

When I came back from the tour, I still had some time since the girl told me the flight would be delayed. The original time was 20:10, and it changed to be 21:55. I had booked a pick up service to the airport and she told me I should come back to the hotel at 7PM. Since I had a few hours left, I decided to walk around the city.

Checking my unreliable map (lol), I found a sign of a market on the other side of the river. I was not sure if it existed, but decided to take a look of the place. The view from the bridge was a kind of beautiful, but it was still hot. When I came close to the other side, I noticed that there was no market but a big SUPERMARKET!!! YAY!!!

The supermarket looked very new and there were a lot of stuffs. I remembered I couldn't find rice papers when I dropped to a supermarket on the way to the restaurant with Fredy last night, so I wanted to to buy it and some other things like yogurt or something to eat as well. When I went to the other supermarket, the store clerks didn't understand English at all. I asked them if they had rice papers, but no one understood me, and they told me they didn't have. So I wondered if they really didn't sell rice papers because spring roll is such a popular food in Vietnam. Anyway, I asked someone in the supermarket if they had it but they said no. I was disappointed but tried to make sure if they really didn't have rice papers, and finally found it by myself. How dare they didn't want to sell rice papers to a foreigner, lol.

At the supermarket, I bought those rice papers, a mango (again!), yogurt and an ice cream :) There were some tables for the small restaurant area in the supermarket. However, since I didn't think it was nice to eat what I bought there, I went out and walked toward the river. I was a little bit worried if I couldn't find a place to eat at the riverside since I had an ice cream in my bag, but soon, I found a bench under a big tree in the park beside the river.

I think it was the most relaxing moment I had in my whole time in Vietnam. The park was quiet and the sun was going down. The air was slowly becoming cooler, and the wind from the river was inexpressibly comfortable. I wished I could sleep and just spend hours there! When I was eating things I bought, I found a local middle aged guy over there looking at me sometimes. I bet he was wondering why a strange foreigner girl was biting a mango under the tree. Too bad I'd left my knife in my backpack at hotel!! You can imagine how much I was disappointed when I found out. But it was not that bad because I still had some wet tissues in my bag to wipe everything afterwards!

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam

June 1, 2010

One Day Tour In Hue

The people who joined the tour were kind of a group of lazy people. We visited 5 or 6 places during the tour, but most of them didn't go everywhere. It was because the tour guide told us the first temple and the second one were kind of similar things and if we didn't feel like going, we could skip some places and wait on the bus. He also told us we could also save money if we skip some places.

Actually, the fare to go inside of each place was kind of expensive as a fare to visit somewhere in Vietnam. However, each fare was 3$ or so (I don't think it's that expensive, do you?), and thinking of how many times I visit there in my life, I didn't think it was better to skip any of the places. However, people really didn't get off the bus when we got to the second temple and I was surprised how lazy people were, lol. Yeah, it was kind of understandable that they didn't want to get off. The temperature was 40 degrees and there was almost no wind and also no roofs protecting us from the strong sunshine on the long way to the temples from the gate. However, the number of people who got off at the second temple was too small. It was only a few Vietnamese, me and another foreigner guy.

Since no one else came to see the temple, I got a chance to talk to the foreigner guy. He spoke to me and asked me where I was from. He was from India. He told me he joined the tour with his wife and little daughter, and they were waiting on the bus. I thought his wife was an Indian as well, but when we went back to the bus, I noticed she wasn't Indian. She is Vietnamese. She told me she had learnt Japanese for 3 years and used it when she worked at a Japanese company. However, when she changed her job, she lost the chance to use it and it went away. So like this, because I didn't skip the second temple, I got an opportunity to talk to his family and ate lunch with them during the tour. When we were at a restaurant, they told me that their daughter's name was Sushi. Since it sounded like sushi, I said, "oh, it sounds like Japanese food". And then, she told me that since she loved sushi so much, she named her daughter Sushi as soon as she was born. It was an interesting story, but I was not sure if she was serious, lol.

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Washing = Meditation

Next morning, I woke up to find something was weird. Hmmm, a little bit warmer than it's supposed to be? And, where is the wind???

I was sure that I left the air conditioning and fan on when I went to sleep. (You won't be able to sleep if you don't leave them on. It was really really hot. I'm sure you can die!!) However, both of them didn't seem to be working. Even the fridge was not working.


I had an idea. I've heard such a thing happens often in that country. It was around 6:30 in the morning; the time everyone wake up and start using electricity!! Since they have poor source of supply, it's sometimes gone especially in the morning and evening. However, I've heard that places like hotel that foreigners stay have generators, so we don't feel it however the it happens. OK, it was not my case then. Buy I was not gonna complain about it because where I stayed was not a "good hotel" but a "cheap GH", lol. I woke up and started preparing for going out. While washing faces and doing stuffs, I felt the temperature was getting higher in the room. The electricity never seemed to be recovered...I went downstairs to reconfirm my flight to HCMC today (I tried to do it yesterday but the hotel girl told me she couldn't because the office was already closed at 5PM!!), and asked her to make sure if the electricity was gone. Yes, it was gone. She told me it would be recovered in an hour. Since I had to leave for the tour in 30-40 minutes, I had to give up using it. DAMN!! I wanted to blow my hair with a hair drier!! Lol.

Since it didn't seem like I had a time to go out for having breakfast, and honestly, I was not that hungry as well, I ate biscuits I had brought from Japan and kept preparing for checking out. I remembered that there was something that I had always felt every time when I washed clothes there:

It's more like a life itself if you compare with trip when you travel alone.

Yeah, actually it was. However I haven't lived by myself, the impression existed in my mind as an idea that never swayed.

During this trip, I searched for a place to stay over almost everyday. Went somewhere to eat alone. Sometimes I bought food at a stall and ate at a park. I bought fruits at a market and peeled them with a knife at hotel. Every night, I washed my laundries with a soap at the washstand, strained a rope between somewhere in the room and hung those laundries with pinches. I felt like keeping living like this forever. Washing clothes at night was actually the time for meditation. It let me erasure thinking about regular life I have in Japan which I spend most of the time at workplace everyday. It made me miss the days in the past sometimes as well and I wondered if there was another way. But the answer was always same: Maybe not. I think I've tried my best at that time.

There are a lot of things on my mind that I want to tell if I think about something. However, it doesn't make sense as the situation doesn't move. I know there is nothing I can do by myself being in the small empty room. I have my key taken away and the room is locked from outside. All I can do is to wait and take advantage of the situation if the key man comes. I don't know if he comes and don't even think I can react well however he comes. But at least I know myself in the room is just a part. I can't kill her, but maybe I can live even though I miss her. Honestly, recalling is tough sometimes. However, I felt the time saved me from some negative feelings I had like sadness or loneliness while washing clothes because my heart didn't sway but stayed neutral.

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The Right Person

Having a dinner with Fredy was really great. I ate alone many times during my trip. I didn't dislike it, but it's better to have someone to eat with because we can talk and share many dishes, right? :P We ordered a salad(?), fried vegetables and meat, and a grilled fish :) The atmosphere of the restaurant was relaxing, and seemed that maybe what foreigners like (as my sense). That was good the place was not formal nor high-ended, lol. If it was, I would have been embarrassed. Because I've been living simply and haven't been to really good places :P

After eating dinner, we decided to go to grab some alcohol at another place. It was still around 9 o'clock or so when we finished dinner. We walked for a bit and found a place to drink. The place looked nice as much as the restaurant we went. We took seats upstairs and ordered drinks. The air was not hot anymore, it was rather comfortable, and I liked the neon lights decorated around the restaurant.

While drinking, we kept talking. The topic we talked about there was mostly about relationships I guess...In a moment, he talked about "right person". I know many people used the words; "he is not your right person", "don't worry, you will find a right one and will be happy", "I met a right person", etc. and those words had never moved my heart. He told me he had been through tough experiences, but now he was happy with a right one. When I heard it, a simple question came up to my mind. Please do not misunderstand me. I didn't want to be rude nor mean to him. But it was something that had been always vague in my mind. So, I said something to make sure that I didn't want to make him uncomfortable or something, and then, threw a question that I'd always had.

"Hey, how can you tell that she is the right person for you? You may break up with her in the future."

I got an answer for the question and it was kind of understandable. I felt like, "ah, he thinks like that", but thought that I would never get a clear answer for that because maybe there is not a real answer that everyone can say this is the real answer. Anyway, I really hope that he will be happy with her :)

Web album: A Trip to Vietnam