Monthly Archives: January 2015

My Amsterdam winter rant

I don’t swear in Vietnamese but I find it rather acceptable to swear in English. So here it is: It is so freaking cold today. My Lithuanian colleague would disagree with me here. She once said Amsterdam didn’t have a real winter. But by being Vietnamese, I think I have the right to rant whether this is a freaking real winter or not. It was so cold that I couldn’t feel my ears on the way back from work. I suspect that I felt my legs only thanks to cycling. I love cycling but it is much less fun in the winter, especially with the hundred canals around the city. Days get so short that no matter how early I leave work, I’ve got no chance to distinguish the beauty of the canals from the darkness. It is mostly dark when I leave home for work too. So all ones get from those canals are the risk of falling into one and the moisture that comes in the wind. What is worse, this country is so flat that the wind just blows all the way through it. Last Saturday, it was so windy that I didn’t dare to dream of cycling. I know the Dutch still cycles regardless but this is not a competition. I am just a tiny Vietnamese girl who can’t even swim.

Picture this: It’s New Year’s Eve (or early morning New Year’s Day to be precise). It felt like below 0 degree. We were leaving a pub in the Jordaan after quite a few drinks. The Jordaan is literally made up by canals and bridges that go over them. It was so cold and damp despite the tons of fireworks exploded earlier that night. My bf was cycling with me on the back. That 15-minute ride felt like a week. Well, I exaggerated it a bit. My point is that Amsterdam winter is too cold and too windy. Days are too short. Nights are too scary when one has nightmares of falling into a canal. Did I say that there are too many canals? And that I can’t swim?

Man, I think I start repeating myself here. I just feel like a rant can actually do me some good after a hard long day like today. A kind of meditation. My apologies if you love Amsterdam or if you are in a even colder place, like Finland. Don’t get me wrong. I am utterly in love with Amsterdam too. However, there were days when I wish I were in Hanoi, on my scooter to a street selling hot, spicy and tasty snails.

My best friend

Tinh yeu cua to

Miki and I have been friends for as long as I can remember, though 5th September 1996 is when we first met. I don’t know when exactly we changed our relationship status from “good friends” to “best friends”. We never officially set a date – we are not that lame.

I remember having cycled through the granny Long Bien bridge, with Miki on the back and the blowing wind on the side. It might be then. Or perhaps when she put so much effort on helping me prepare a perfect Xmas card for a boy I liked. I think we put baby powder or perfume or both on it. We wanted it to smell nicely.  It could have even been the first day we met. She still laughs at how naive I was then. I didn’t know a thing about her but I took her to the class next door and pointed out the handsome boy I had dreamt of during year 5th. It might have been that I was naive, but my gut feeling of trusting her was so right. And for that alone, I count me lucky.

So much has changed since. We have moved to different countries, done various jobs. We changed dreams and went through break-ups. Miki has always been there for me when I needed. I try to do the same. We are not two little girls at school anymore. Life has not been easy but it has been much nicer because we have each other.

So happy birthday to you, my best friend. This can be a big scary milestone. This can also be just another number. If it’s up to me, I would take you to eat snails and make you watch an American comedy show. You probably rather eat bake cheese cake and listen to South Korea talent shows. Or you can compromise, have “nộm” and think about me. It is all up to you, my dear. It is your day. Make it or break it, it’s all yours. I don’t know how I would feel a week from now. But I “no” I will still love you in my 30s, 40s, and 50s… Or if I live to 100s, I promise I will still remember the story of the two little girls.

It’s 2015

So today is the first day of 2015. It’s 7:30 in the evening, and I am nowhere near recovering from my NYE’s hangover. Last year, I read on the Guardian that hangovers supposedly start to hit hard at the age of 29.

“What used to mean a slow start to a Saturday becomes something between a mild medical emergency and the strong suspicion that demons are trying to escape from inside your brain.”

I don’t know about you but I found this so true. Right now, I am lying in bed, eating Speculoos fudge from my Xmas present stock, and trying to make peace with those little demons in my head. Next door in the kitchen, my poor boyfriend is slaving away making the day’s second hangover cure: Spaghetti Bolognese. English breakfast was the first one. If one asks me about the bright sides of going out with a younger English man, I sure know the answers. English breakfast and spaghetti bolognese are not the particular reasons for my having said Yes to the Marry Me question but it is a package deal 😉

Yep, I am marrying my English man. 2014 marked the beginning of our engagement. I actually like wearing a ring. I have much less trouble with men trying to chat me up, unless it was in a dark packed pub when one failed to notice the sparkle from my diamond ring. Nah, I am just kidding. I like the ring because whenever I glance at my ring, I can feel his presence, love and commitment. It is a warm feeling.

But before you start asking me about when, what, where or about wedding and babies, please not. Those little demons just made another attempt to escape and I ran out of fudge a few minutes ago.

By the end of 2014, I felt like I was much wiser despite that fact that I had my only wisdom tooth taken out – but it is a different story. I started to take care of myself more. I ran and practiced yoga on regular basis. I mostly ate healthy food (except for Ian’s delicious pizzas but you wouldn’t judge me if you tried them). I drunk reasonably less (until the Irish and the Kiwis came for fireworks in Amsterdam, they said). I grew herbs. I enjoyed my little crochet projects. This is the one I am most proud of

Gau toy

All in all, I am pretty pleased with my 2014. The night-out that ended my 2014 was a bit on the crazy side but I was happy to catch up with some friends I thought I have lost since I moved away from Newcastle. We watch some amazing fireworks in Amsterdam. Having stood on a bridge over the Prinsegracht canal, we were literally surrounded by fireworks. The air was filled with whistles of excitement and smell of gunpowder. Needless to mention the dance of fire.

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When the clock stroke 30 minutes after midnight, we went back to the pub where the locals sang karaoke in Dutch. My feet were cold but my heart was warm. The alcohol in my blood loosened my inhibitions. I remember having laughed a lot. I remember one girl having told me that I have such a happy smile. She is not the first person telling me so but she reminds me of how lucky I am to be happy. That is all I wish for in 2015 I think: being happy.