Monthly Archives: October 2013

Traveller‘s mentality

tourist - to be or not to be

tourist – to be or not to be

As the tram was moving past Dam square in the very centre of Amsterdam, I saw three people taking pictures. One was correcting his pose with a grand building in the background when a friend held up a camera and the other gestured a thumb-up. If it were twenty years ago, such picture had have been printed out and stuck to the front room’s wall to show his visitors his travelling to Amsterdam. Today, it is more likely that one will share it on Facebook with friends, family and (mainly) jealous followers. I sometimes have a cynical feeling that Facebook is the true destination of some nowadays travellers / tourists. I also sometimes fall in the jealous followers’ trap. This morning, I saw on Facebook a take-in-Paris photo of a long-time-no-see friend, and felt a certain level of jealousy. A sensible someone might tell me to stop being silly because I myself am in Amsterdam – the gorgeous and relaxing city. There is a sense of free spirit in the air here – which is probably desirable to many travellers. Thing is that I did not come to Amsterdam with a traveller’s mentality. The meticulous search for place to make home and work to pay for bills has overcome traveller’s urge to explore and traveller’s impulsion to take pictures. Should it be for better or worse? Or life simply is of different modes for a traveller.


A letter to Miki

Dear Miki, 

I decide I will pick up running seriously as my new personal challenge: twice a week till I get really fit, and more importantly get rid of the belly you have pointed out. Probably you would ask about my reasons. Well,

Partly it seems easier to run in colder weather. Running here is nothing like when I joined you in that 5-hour mainly-jogging-plus-some-running session around West Lake in that scorching afternoon of April in Hanoi. It was hardcore.

Parks here are also quieter –which means it is more pleasant to run around and less embarrassing to pant like hell. Sadly, there is no fried egg with wormwood leaves (our “trứng ngải cứu”). I miss the one we shared in Lenin Park the other day. It was a nice day for a nice jog, was it not?

The main reason should probably be that it is time for me to stop idling around and get some real targets. Miki ah, it is scary sometimes not seeing what is coming. Everybody knows whatever will be will be, but it is not easy to not see where to aim in my walk through life. So I will run then, for a change. Sound more fun anyway, don’t you think?

Just so that you know – I have been missing you!



Bicycles in Amsterdam


Bicycles are at every corners of Amsterdam. They park or simply lie on the streets. Big chain locks accompany though. Apparently, bicycles tend to be stolen because they are quite expensive. Some second-hand knackered-looking ones cost more or less 200 euros in the shop near where I am staying.

People cycle fast here. It is exciting to see them disappearing behind buses and trams or appearing at the other end of bridges in a blink. So fast and so quietly that you sometimes don’t notice the cyclist until a bell tell that you mindlessly walk on the bicycle lane, like I did one or many times.

The bicycles definitely give out a charming vibe about Amsterdam. They are old fashioned compared with motorbikes and cars but somehow very trendy here. A slower pace of fast living. A simple way of moving forward. They definitely make life simpler as it should be.

1st day – eerste dag


I arrived at Amsterdam’s Schipol Airport after a 13-hour flight through eastern night to western night just about time for a good morning greeting to the beautiful city.

Sometime during the afternoon

We walked in a daze through canal belt to admire quaint buildings leaning against each other. We lost and found ourselves in red light district when the last of sunlight was still on. Girls in bras and knickers looked out from behind glass door to nowhere it seems. Strangely enough, they remind me of Barbie dolls in clear boxes. Some very sad dolls.


Collapsed in bed.

Jet lag vs. Quynh: 1-0