Driving West in hát xẩm music


Cotton fields (white patch) along the roads.

All pictures were taken by Anvi Hoàng in the car on the move at 70-80 mph.

—– Bản tiếng Việt —–

The fun list of a driving trip is long. No wonder many Americans do it in an… American way. One day, I may do the same thing: getting an RV (Recreational Vehicle) and spending retirement traveling across America at leisure, savoring one sunrise and one sunset at a time. No hotels and no worry about bed bugs and germs are wonderful. I may not like the idea of resting at designated RV parks, instead of wherever I want to stop, but so far that is the best option over here. In the meantime, another American way of experiencing the country’s freedom and bounties is a cross-country driving trip. Our third one, in broad strokes. Continue reading


50 shades of green, and a dozen mood swings


—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Photos by Anvi Hoàng 

The trek down Mường Hoa valley is what it requires to experience 50 shades of green. From the beginning of the trail to the end: I was in the fog, then the fog was gone, it turned out to be cloudy, then the rain came, and the rain was gone. Continue reading

Đà Lạt (revised): In meditation – For memories lost and gained

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Xuân Hương Lake, late afternoon.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

There is an idyllic city up upon the mountains in the central part of Việt Nam called Đà Lạt. The last king of Việt Nam, Bảo Đại, turned it into his vacation home years ago. He brought with him the royal families and the distant relatives, the government officials and their families. My grand-father was among them. Continue reading

Đà Nẵng: Paradise and light

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Hàn river and Sông Hàn bridge: A bridge over ‘colored’ water.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Envied for its incredible blessings from nature, Đà Nẵng, located in the center of Việt Nam, is graced with a river across the city and miles of white sand beaches. Its beauty is enhanced these days with the accomplishment of two new unique bridges raising the total number to nine befitting a good luck numerology. Nearly three million tourists visit Đà Nẵng each year, and there is hope that the number is growing. I can testify to that. Continue reading

The fall and force of people from the North

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At One-pillar pagoda, Hà Nội, Việt Nam.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Travelling in Việt Nam these days, one could not help but noticing that most local tourists they encounter are from the North. Ninety-five percent of tourists that I met during my two months of travel from Sài Gòn to Sapa are from the northern regions of Việt Nam. Are they “cute Northern girls” who can steal your heart in a flash as a line from Phạm Duy’s song goes? Are they elegant as imperial citizens of the old days? Without trying to be poetic, I only have some observations. Continue reading

Boutique’s Best Breakfast


Good morning, Vietnamese way.

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

Your taxi arrives at the hotel and, from the blue, a bellboy appears opening the taxi door for you. He (mostly ‘he’) takes your luggage inside and asks you to have a seat. Then another hotel staff member approaches you with a tray in their hand on which there are cold towels for refreshing rolled neatly into round tubes decorated on top with a fresh purple orchid flower. Still another staff member comes and offers you nước sấu, a traditional Hà Nội cold drink. (In fact, the sweet-salty-and-sour drink is made from pickled sấu, the kind of fruit found in Hà Nội only.) You are served like kings and queens.

Continue reading

Đà Lạt: From a well-weathered traveler

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Sunrise over the lake

—– Đọc bài tiếng Việt —– 

People in Sài Gòn used to consider Đà Lạt a place they come to cool themselves down, especially in summer. I don’t think it holds true any more. The temperature in Đà Lạt has been rising up over the years to the point electric fans have been used in summer, a phenomenon unheard of approximately ten years back. Still, Đà Lạt has numerous other things to offer visitors from out of town.

Continue reading

Intimacy with Fullerton


Flowers on the side of the road.

–> Đọc bài đầy đủ tiếng Việt.

I would never imagine one day I would associate ‘intimacy’ with California. Neither could I believe the moment of intimacy happened when I was in Fullerton, Southern California. But it did. Continue reading

Xuân cám dỗ – Springing Irresistibly


Hoa cỏ – Weed flowers

Điều dễ thương nhất về mùa Xuân, ngoài việc nó là biểu tượng của sự sống vân vân và vân vân, là ngắm ông chồng .. ngắm cây! Sáu giờ sáng, khoác áo choàng dài, một tay cầm cốc cà phê, một tay đút túi áo, ông chồng sẵn sàng ra vườn. Nhẹ nhàng đi từ góc vườn này sang góc vườn kia, nghiêng người nhìn cây – thật ra nhìn chúng vẫn còn trơ trọi sau giấc ngủ đông – ông chồng … đếm lá non. Nghe tiếng gọi mình, tôi biết là một chiếc lá non vừa nhú.

Nhưng trong vườn còn nhiều thứ khác để ngắm nữa.

The sweetest thing about Spring, besides the renewal of life and blablabla, is watching my husband watching his plants. Six in the morning, in his robe, one hand with a coffee mug, another in the pocket, he is set to go. Moving slowly in the back yard from one corner to the next, he bends over the plants, still pretty much bare from the winter hibernation, he is counting the leaves and the buds. When I hear my name called, I know a new leaf is coming up.

But there is more in the yard. Continue reading