Category Archives: Random Memories


My nephew will be three this August. He asks a million of questions and he has a dozen of names for everyone, including himself. Mafo is one of them.


Mafo seems to come from a cartoon character who can transform into different things. It is just like how my nephew changes his lego from a chocolate cake into a dragon without much of a rearrangement. Quite the imagination that he has!

Sometimes it seems he repeats himself by asking everyone in the house the same question about twenty times a day. But if you keep talking to him, you will notice that he picks up your vocabulary and make it his own. Now I see why children can easily learn more than one language at the same time.

He also plays the same game and watches the same video over and over. I would get bored with his cake-making game after three attempts and only stay for his company. He would play it twenty times more, then move on to “really” make it with whatever toys he can find lying around. Sometimes he is so into it that it seems all real even for me.

My husband got Mafo to help him bake a real cake once and Mafo mixed the dough like a pro. I often wonder if he would remember, when he gets older, the time he made a real cake comparing to when it was lego or an iPad game. Probably not? 

Sometimes I also wonder if Mafo would be different to my husband once he realises that my husband doesn’t understand all the things he says. For now, Mafo asks him the same question, plays with him the same game and, when in the mood, tells him to go away all the same like everyone else. I like that!

Travelling means seeing a lot of people. I like to talk to other travellers as well as the local. But I know I always do a bit of judging before I open up to a casual conversation. I know it holds me back from some amazing exchanges, but I can’t help it. I am worried about getting stuck in a conversation with some creepy guy or a boring lot. I’ve been there before. But I hope I could be more like a child, like my precious Mafo, less judgemental and more open to imagination.


On the road again and missing Mafo dearly



Getting Married

Getting married should not have has anything to do with a big wedding. Getting married is about love, compassion and commitment, so you keep hold of the other person’s hands regardless tough long days. Your wedding day could well be one of those days if you have more than half a thousand guests and no time to eat. Ten years ago, I was on the “hosting team” at one of those weddings. Afterwards, I promised myself I wouldn’t get married if it meant I had to go through such a day. I was dead serious! But the couple has survived a lot more days that were way tougher. They are still happily married. So hell, I guess I could do it too.

Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-llove-hands-water-santallaI really believe it though that marriage has nothing to do with a big wedding. My fiance has recently read a lot of travel blogs. He sent me a post from a guy who advocates for travelling the world (instead of throwing a wedding party) before officially setting foot into your marriage life. He wrote something like If you still enjoy the company of each other after travelling together for a year, then it is very likely that your marriage would work. Of course, not all couples have to travel for such a long time first to stay married ever after. But when travelling together, you learn a lot about more about each other. You make decisions together, support each other and grow together. Most importantly, you know how to have fun together. So hell, it doesn’t hurt to do some travelling to top up that big wedding, right?

Truth to be told, it is not really gonna be a big wedding. There will only be a couple of hundred guests. And it will definitely be chaotic. But I do look forward to it. I like holding hands, you see.



My first Christmas celebration in was a modest and quiet gathering in Barnsley, a small town in South Yorkshire – somewhere you would think of when listening to Adele’s Hello.

It was December 2009. I spent the holiday with a cousin of mine and her family. At the time, I was barely used to the cold of a northern winter. In the three months up to that point, I was always in thick layers of clothes wherever I go, including going to bed. Born and bred in tropical Vietnam, English winter was alien to me. The most challenging part though was the darkness. Winter days were so short, and when it got completely dark around 4 pm I always felt the urge to curl up in bed and think of a warmer home where my family and loved ones were. Loneliness caught up with me soon as the light was out.

So I took up my cousin’s invitation without a second thought and traveled down to Barnsley from Newcastle in the Xmas break of my master. On Christmas day, her husband, an English man, roasted a beef joint and lots of vegetables. It was my first ever roast dinner. I have had many of those since, some close to extravagance, but I never forget that first one. It’s just like how people make a big fuss about first love. You might move on, but you never forget.

Barnsley was however not the kind of big towns where shop windows were filled with beautiful decorations and mansions went over the top with lights. Bus service rarely operated over the holiday and taxi fares were simply too dear for us to take a trip to somewhere with more going on. It seemed hard to keep the morale up when the juicy taste of the roasted beef started to fade. The days got shorter, the wind felt colder and the gathering wasn’t as homely as one hoped for.

I remember all the Christmases that came after Barnsley. I was up and down everywhere from a quiet, snow-capped village in the Lake District of England to bustling Bangkok of tropical Thailand. Much has happened in the last six years. I am no longer in contact with my cousin or few other people with whom I have spent the sacred holiday. A hint of sadness came each time I was reminded of that fact. Life moves on, sometimes for the worse, though mostly for the better as one would hope.

I am to England for another Xmas. I still find its winter too cold, regardless of all the talks about how mild it is this year. I still struggle with how quickly it gets dark outside. But I am sure this is gonna be a good one.

Never Miss a Memory

When I opened Facebook today to check up with work, I got another reminder to “Never miss a memory”. This is the new thing when Facebook reminds you about a photo that you uploaded the same day as today but xxx years ago, and prompts you to share it again. If you don’t do so, the photo will stop appearing on your feed, and your friends will forget about whichever the memory you have with them. It makes sense, doesn’t it?

I have received these reminders for a while now, but today it got my full attention for two reasons. Today is the first day when I make use of my boyfriend’s 27-inch retina screen while he slaves himself away at another office. Thus, when I opened Facebook, the photo from my memory was magnified about three times with a perfect resolution. It was a close-up photo of my ex. Man, the irony!

My memory went back to a night out with my team more than two years ago. Back then, I worked at the JW Marriott in Hanoi, and we often had colleagues from other offices visiting. That specific night-out was for one of those visitors, who happened to look a lot like my ex. After a few drinks, things got personal. I pulled out my phone, logged into Facebook, found a photo of my ex and showed it to the girls to check if they also saw the resemblance. That was the same photo Facebook showed me today.

There was a lot of “oh”, “ah”, “oaw” because they do look like long-lost cousins. My phone was passed around, reached my adorable boss, who also had had a few to drink. His reaction was: “Why do keep photos of your ex on your Facebook page?”. My response: “Why not?”

I didn’t think twice about that little episode until today when I saw the photo again involuntarily. It was from an album of six photos, each represents a year my ex and I were together. Six years was a long time for someone who just turned 30. It was a huge part of my early adulthood that nobody should take away from me even if I am no longer with him. That was why I keep the album, just like the mountain of postcards my best friend gave me throughout the years, or an old favourite book when I was ten even if the pages has started to go loose. The reason seems effortlessly obvious to me.

However, seeing the Facebook reminder today really made me think. Does memory really have to be shared and to be reminded of, or else they will stop to exist? I looked through the album once more time, switched it to private and closed the tab. I don’t need to worry about forgetting the past and losing a part of myself no more, I will always have Facebook to remind me (privately).


I am just kidding!