Random thoughts and some photos of the Oregon Coast last year

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My mother-in-law is as cute and pretty as a doll. She was picking wild flowers for the house.
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I love wild flowers!

When I first learned about El Nino in middle school, little did I know that years later it would affect my very own cooking blog!
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Beautiful Hội An | Early morning coffee

This morning I got up really early and took a walk in the old town of Hoi An. My new friend, Trang, a Hoi An local, took me to a street coffee place that was crowded at 6:30 am. 6:30! Yes, you heard it right!

Below are some snapshots I took during my leisure walk!

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Avocado and strings of steam rice cakes wrapped in banana leaves. The latter became my breakfast soon after that.
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Trang showed me how to get to some nice local tailor shops and a beautiful hidden beach this morning. Can’t wait to check them out. It’s never too late to have the real local hook-up.

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Beautiful Hội An | Chula House

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Laura in her Hội An Chula House, wearing her husband’s design. Her hair pin is a dried plant she picked up on the street while taking a walk.
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The house has Hội An’s signature yellow walls and roof tiles.

Laura and Diego are a Spanish couple living in Hanoi, Vietnam. Their fashion brand, Chula, makes lively, sophisticated couture designs with tropical inspiration. Last September I took a calligraphy workshop in their riverside house in Hội An and I knew I had to photograph it someday. The ground floor is dedicated to an Artists in Residence Program where artists can host workshops and art programs. The pictures below are of their second floor, which is the living area. Despite it being quite small, about 60 square meters (around 650 square feet), this space is very thoughtfully designed and charming because of its bright colors and unique furniture.
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Tết – Vietnamese Lunar New Year

Vietnamese Tet takes place at the same time as Chinese New Year and Korean New Year because we use the same lunar calendar. However, we celebrate with food and customs which are unique to Vietnamese culture. 

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I also carried bunches of flowers on a scooter like her, but nobody took pictures for me.
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Buddha’s fist fruits. I’m not sure if they’re edible but many people place them on the altar because, well, I guess they do look like Buddha’s fists.
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Lanterns, vases and ornaments for Tet in Hoi An. In the North we don’t use lanterns.
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Cages of best cage-free chicken for Tet
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6 am in the market
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Dried fruits in the market

Tet has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was small, Tet meant a week off from school, which was the biggest fun followed by new clothes and lucky money. Read more

Hội An Mornings (Photos)

I had never been a morning person until we moved to Hoi An. During our first week here, because of jet lag, I got up early and went into town for coffee, and that has been my morning ritual ever since. Morning is the most beautiful time of the day here, when the whole town is calm but cheerful, quiet but up-lifting. Early risers drink tea, read newspapers, play chess on the street. (Craig mentioned some interesting observations of morning activities here.) I love sitting in the corner of an old coffee house, sipping my coffee, watching people and occasionally snapping a photo or two. This morning I came across these pictures of friends and strangers that I took in the morning hours that I’ve been accumulating over the past few months.

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A dreamy / sleepy boy sitting on the sidewalk when his parents were having breakfast in our favorite coffee shop. Behind him was a street vendor carrying heavy baskets, selling noodles for breakfast.

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A trip to Hội An Market & a seafood feast

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There’s a wide variety of exotic fish in Hội An Market, a lot of which I’d never seen before. I don’t even know their names.
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She was really proud of her giant king prawn and told me to feel free to photograph it!

For such a small town, Hoi An never ceases to surprise us. Almost every week, we discover a new cozy restaurant or a charming art gallery. We came across The Little Menu restaurant a month ago and immediately it became one of our go-to places for comfort food. Chef Sơn Trần (pronounced sʌn chʌn), founder of the restaurant and Herbs and Spices Cooking Classes, is as passionate about cooking as sharing his knowledge and expertise. His love for cooking and passion for Vietnamese food is very contagious. I couldn’t help but ask him to teach me some of his signature recipes, and luckily Craig and I also got to follow him to the local market, where vendors greeted him like a family member.
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Da Lat – A Vietnamese Colonial-Era Time Machine

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I remember many years ago watching the old Mel Gibson, Sigourney Weaver film “The Year of Living Dangerously” one rainy afternoon on television. The otherworldly mix of Southeast Asian climate and emerging communist revolution against the backdrop of decaying colonial elegance made for an almost unbelievably beautiful setting. I remember most clearly a scene in which the main character, played by Mel Gibson, was on the run and hiding in the highlands in an old colonial hotel, sitting by the pool while his caretaker’s wife swam amongst the leaves and lillies covering the water. It was the perfect all-in-one picture of the beauty of decaying colonial decadence, enjoyed by the very people it once cruelly oppressed.
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An Hour in the Old Town of Hội An

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Last April I started reading Happier at Home, in which the author shared that she felt more grateful for her neighborhood by looking at it with tourists’ eyes. That way she could stay excited, curious, and appreciate the familiar beauty that she from time to time took for granted.

I often remind myself how lucky I am to live in a World’s Heritage Old Town, where people come from all over the world to see its unique calmness. Occasionally, however, I would forget. I would let busy plans occupy my thoughts and assure myself that I would still have plenty of time to enjoy this town.
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How Sapa, Vietnam can fulfill your childhood social studies dreams

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Standing on the edge of a childhood dream

When I was 10 years old I had to create a model of something from a foreign culture for my social studies class. I remember looking through my encyclopedia (yes, very pre-internet) to see what pictures caught my eye and might be somewhat fun to make. I remember that I kept coming back to a photo that I had seen before, that depicted terraced rice farms somewhere in the world (now I know it was in Vietnam) and so I spent about a dozen hours with cardboard, construction paper, glue, markers, toothpicks and lord knows what else, in order to create a plausible facsimile of the the amazing picture.
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Us in Seattle in June

Craig just told me to be cafeful not to be boiled when taking a shower. It’s the hottest day of the year so far here and our solar water just reached 97°C (206°F, near boiling). In times like this, I find myself missing the cool June days on Fox Island.

It was a memorable two-week stay – the end of an exciting cross-USA road trip and the beginning of a much anticipated adventure – our move to Vietnam. We took time to enjoy the wonderful weather, lovely neighborhood, delicious summer fruits, and amazing company of Craig’s parents. Those were carefree days. The only thing that I had to think about was what to make for a dinner I wanted to cook for him and his parents. They were all happy thoughts.

Here are some photos we took by ourselves on a vacant lot in front of Craig’s parents’ house.

Washington Pacific Northwest sunshine travel

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