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I guess we might need to see something cute on Mondays so I posted this picture. These ducks sometimes cause traffic jam in my area, but I don’t mind standing on the road side waiting and watching them. They’re like a little army made of cotton flowers, so cute and so well-behaved.

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This is a photo of a friend of mine playing the Vietnamese zither (đàn tranh) in an old coffee house in Hội An. She’s wearing a Northern style yếm, a top for young women in the old days, with a twist. I like this picture because it looks very Vietnamese! You can also see in the background a painting of Hội An town in flood season when it rains so hard the streets become little canals and people have to get around by boat. Some people call it “Asian Venice” which I think doesn’t do Hội An or Venice any justice, but it’s okay! You get the idea.

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I’ve decided to challenge myself by posting a photo here everyday from Monday to Friday every week. There are 252 days left in 2017 so I number each post /252 so that it’ll be easy for me to reflect at the end of the year. I’m doing this in attempt to improve my photography and also to share more regularly the beauty in Vietnam – its beautiful people, food and nature – which inspires me every day.

This is a picture of my friend wearing Vietnamese traditional áo dài in a coffee shop in Hội An. If you visit Hội An, you’ll notice this signature scene of women wearing flowing áo dài against the town’s iconic yellow ancient walls…

That’s all for today. See you tomorrow with another picture and another little note!

a quick vegan recipe: sautéed eggplant with garlic, chili and herbs

I’d never really liked eggplant until I moved to Hoi An. I used to think of eggplant as bland and a little soggy but Hoi An local eggplant dishes convert me to a die-hard fan of this vegetable. Read more

Northern Vietnamese Rib Noodle Soup Bowl

*There’s a video tutorial at the end of this post.

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I was silent last week on the blog because we went to Bangkok for a mini vacation. We had a lot of fun there just strolling around the city, shopping for cute, inexpensive hand-made T shirts, and eating mango sticky rice, a popular Thai dessert, for breakfast, lunch, dinner and after dinner snack.
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Just another day in Hội An

Last week my best friend from college was in town for a vacation. We hadn’t seen each other for more than two years, so it was so much fun to hang out with her in Hoi An. Actually the first time I visited Hoi An was with her back in summer 2008. We had just graduated from college and took a South-bound trip across Vietnam together. Hoi An has changed so much since then, and so have we. That summer night in 2008 we went out and ate Hoi An chicken rice and drank their bitter rice-based alcohol. Afterwards we walked back to our hotel at 10 pm, and along the way we got a bit scared and lost among the many dark, quiet, narrow back alleys of the old town. But of course nothing happened other than in our imaginations.

And we helped take a million pictures for each other. It seems like nowadays we don’t like being in front of the camera anymore. We’re a lot more interested in photographing other people and scenes. So this time we just walked the old streets that are so much more bustling than they were eight years ago, talked and took pictures along the way, stopped for a coffee here and there, and then walked some more. It was so relaxing to just do simple things with her. After all, it doesn’t matter where you are and what you do; it’s really the company that matters.

Here are some photos I snapped during the walk with my friend that day. I hope you like them.

Hoi An ancient town wedding
Hoi An is a popular destination for pre-wedding photo shoots. It’s not unusual to see brides and grooms here in the early morning, late afternoon, and even in the evening. It always makes me happy to see them looking so young and in love.

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Craig’s banana bread (photos)

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Living in Vietnam has shown me different impressive sides of my husband. Last month, he mixed an environment-friendly ant and roach killer from syrup and borax, and last week, he baked amazing banana bread. (I’m grateful he can do both because now that we have delicious sweet banana bread on our dining table all the time, the big ants really have to drink their special syrup.)
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Portrait| Katya in Hội An

I came across Katya’s cute and lively drawings on Instagram and fell in love with them instantly. I didn’t hesitate a second to ask her if she would be interested in trading a drawing for a photoshoot. The results are the lotus drawing you see in the blog header above and the photos below.

We took these on the streets of the Ancient Town of Hoi An one morning. Katya sketched out some ideas of how she wanted to be pictured, which made it easier for me as well. I like how the photos show different aspects of her that I feel in person: fun, calm, and mysterious. Thank you, Katya, for being such a beautiful model!

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“Greening” our tropical home

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We’ve been pretty busy for the past week “renovating” our house!

My feeling is that people here in Hoi An are very big on plants and bonsai. No matter how shabby a house might look, in its front yard there’re always frangipani, or some exotic, colorful tropical blossoms, or different kinds of palm trees and cactus. I spot people’s lovely plants and flowers every single day. I admire their beauty, and I get jealous! After one year of jealousy, I decided to add more green to our house and have been loving it so far!
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