Archive for January, 2009

Out with the Old .. In with the New!

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

It’s a Beautiful day and I look back upon Vietnam with great happiness. I think I am going to be able to get back to a more normal blogging schedule. I apologize I’ve been travelling around Vietnam and spending a lot of time with family and simply haven’t been in front of my computer very much.

Now that I am in the Philippines, ready to play the APT Manila main event Day1B tomorrow, I want to share some of the moments that stand out most during my Vietnam trip.  I mostly want to share with everyone that I was finally able to fulfill my father’s two remaining last wishes before he passed away.

My dad had always wanted to get cremated then have his ashes placed right next to my grandmother, which was something I was unable to do for a number of reasons. Firstly, there were no spots available next to or around the area of my grandmother’s resting place. Secondly, my grandmother’s second husband side of the family disapproved and turned down my request numerous times, so without any paperwork and their family’s approval there was nothing I could do. After I returned to Saigon from my trip to Hanoi I decided to call the other family and try again, luckily through some negotiation and diligence I was able to fulfill one of his remaining wishes. On Jan 20th I brought my grandmother and her husband’s ashes over to Lam Te Temple.

My father’s other wish was to find and reconnect with my younger half-sister. I was able to track her down through the help of some other family members and I am so glad to see that she is much better off than I had originally heard. It was very nice to be able to reconnect with somebody who is not only my half sister but meant a lot to my father.

I was able to spend my first Chinese New Years in Vietnam and learn firsthand why my dad always wanted to be back in Vietnam for Christmas and Chinese New Year! It’s quite the celebration. They blocked off a mile of road near where I was staying and decorated the entire stretch of road with flowers, beautiful pots, lanterns and other decorations. There were tons of bright lights and it was a great big celebration!! And they decorated the flowers to be in the shape of an Ox because 2009 is the Year of the Ox!!

 

I was able to fulfill some of my charity work although I didn’t have the time to do the same type of charity I have in previous trips. Between the wedding, fulfilling my fathers last wishes and dealing with other personal and family matters I decided to donate money to numerous Temples and Monks and have them fulfill the charity work.

The one truly bad thing that happened to me while I was in Vietnam occurred when I first arrived to Vietnam. The main Monk gave me some bad news about a very precious item I had donated the year before. A beautiful Pagoda which was blessed and approved to be placed on the fourth level in the temple was stolen by somebody the day before I arrived.

I’ve felt extremely honored and always sensed a strong feeling of protection with me at all times knowing that the Pagoda I donated sat right underneath the temple’s big Pagoda. I quickly went back to the place where I had bought it in hopes of finding the exact one to replace it but no luck. After about three weeks of looking, I finally found another pagoda statue suitable and unique enough to replace the one that got stolen.

I also came across this description of my Chinese Zodiac sign which is the Tiger and it was so accurate I couldn’t believe it. I even passed it along to a couple of very close friends and they were astonished how closely it resembled me as well. I thought I would share this with you because it’s such a stunningly accurate depiction of my personality and life.

Year of the Tiger

(photo courtesy of (Doc) Phu Vu)

“Born leader” is the key word for the Tigers. They are always in the lead and are most likely the ones to cry out “Let’s Go”! Noble and Fearless, Tigers are respected for their courage, even from those working against them.

Tiger people are daring fighters, they are capable of standing up to the better end for what they think is right. Although they could be selfish from time to time in the little things, they are capable of great generosity. Tigers are unpredictable, always tense. and like to be in a hurry.

Tiger people are difficult to resist, for they are magnetic characters and their natural air of authority confers a certain prestige on them. They are tempestuous yet calm, warm-hearted yet fearsome, courageous in the face of danger yet yielding and soft in mysterious, unexpected places.

Tigers are very confident, perhaps too confident sometimes. Although they love adventures, and are addicted to excitement it is better not to challenge a Tiger’s confidence. They likes being obeyed and not the other way around.

Because Tigers are urgent people and always in a hurry to get things done right, they usually choose to operate alone. Tigers like to work, they are hard-working and dynamic. If you assign a task to a Tiger, the job will be undertaken and accomplished with enthusiasm and efficiency. Tigers make money, but they are not directly interested in money. Still, the Tiger needs not worry about money: just when he fears the money is gone, more seems to show up.

Tigers are sensitive, emotional. They are capable of great love, but they become too intense about it. They are also territorial and possessive, if you are a friend of a Tiger, he wants you to take his side against the bad guys and because the Tiger is so adorable, you often do. As lovers, Tigers are passionate and romantic, but the real challenge for the Tiger is to grasp the true meaning of moderation.

The Tiger, the living symbol of strength and power, generally inspires fear and respect. Tigers’ compelling dynamism, intense activity, independence and curiosity about others make them irresistible, persons of multiple charms; Tigers attract followers and admirers. The Tiger is courageous, active and self-assured, and makes an excellent leader and protector. However liberal-minded Tigers may be, they are passionate, rash, and resist the authority of others. Although they are selfish in the little things, they are capable of great generosity, even of altruism, in the larger. Tigers are men and women of action, thrust by destiny into the spotlight.

Tigers are fearless creatures in as much as they blind themselves to dangers and impetuously rush in where more cautious individuals would fear to tred. Outspoken in the face of injustice, their strong humanitarian instincts will not allow them to pass by if they see a wrong perpetrated upon another.

Tigers tend to renounce confining traditional roles, opting for a more unfettered life. With a wide ranging mind, they can adopt any number of careers. Their many experiences serve to enrich their life and add depth to their nature. Material benefits matter little to them.

Tigers have an inborn magnetic personality that attracts people to them like bees to honey. Warm-hearted, sociable and friendly, they are characterised by their frank, honest and open approach. Their immense kindness and generosity will always shine through except when crossed or backed into a corner, for then they can become vehement and ferocious.

Solitude is often the price Tigers pay for their position of authority, but they become accustomed to it. Better still, they draw on the experience, gaining new energies and great strength.

Chinese say the life of a Tiger born at night will be less hectic than that of Tigers born after dawn and above all, those born around midday. It will be a stormy life full of dangers, but the Tiger will never be bored. Neither Night Tiger nor Day Tiger will have an easy life. The Western term for a particularly fierce woman is “dragon lady,” but the Chinese call her an “old tiger lady.” For this reason some Chinese avoid having children in the Tiger Year — for fear of having a daughter.

The lucky Tiger represents the greatest power on earth, and is the emblem of protection for human life. A Tiger in the house minimizes the Three Great Risks — thieves, fire, and evil spirits. If there are two Tigers in the house, however, one of them has to go!

Happy Lunar New Year Everyone!

Cheers!

In Good Spirits

Wednesday, January 14th, 2009

Sorry for the infrequent updates on my blog. I want to tell everyone I am still in Vietnam and all is well. I’ve been doing some sight seeing with my cousin and even had some spiritual enlightenment during my adventures in Vietnam.

(sight seeing in Hanoi with my cousin Thuy)

Wikipedia defines spirituality as such:

Spirituality, in a narrow sense, concerns itself with matters of the spirit, a concept closely tied to religious belief and faith, a transcendent reality, or one or more deities. Spiritual matters are thus those matters regarding humankind’s ultimate nature and meaning, not only as material biological organisms, but as beings with a unique relationship to that which is perceived to be beyond the bodily senses, time and the material world. Spiritual also implies the mind-body dichotomy, which indicates a separation between the body and soul.

Yes, whatever Wikipedia just said!! I had one of those types of experiences in the past week, actually several and they are experiences you cannot explain in the logical and physical sense. At the risk of sounding crazy, ha-ha, let’s just say I’ve had some eye opening visits with some very spiritual people including some very high ranking monks. It’s been a very good experience and I have some renewed joy for the upcoming year.

Along my spiritual travel, I was also able to get in touch with one of my long lost half sisters. Without getting into detail, she’s going through some tough times but is in good spirits and an extremely smart woman. I had a very good and long conversation with her and I hope to be able to update everyone on some really good news and share more about this situation at a future date.

This trip so far has had many twists and turns. I did take a sight seeing trip this week. I visited many of the famous and popular tourist spots around Hanoi, Vietnam and on this trip I was even able to go by my old childhood home. This was before Colorado when I was very young. Our old neighbors still lived next door!! I learned my dad visited with them before he passed away last year.

Fifteen new homes have gone up since I left and the area is more developed than when I was a kid but many of the same landmarks still exist and I was glad to be able to chat with my family’s old neighbors that I hardly even remembered because I was too young. They told me stories of my dad and mom back in those days and it brought cheer to me. I never knew that I was actually born into a wealthy family. All the photos you see below are the lands that use to belong to my family, including the temple that still stands today.

(family neighbor)
(family neighbor)
(entrance to my family’s temple)
(family temple still standing)
(100+ years old)
(private praying room)
(main praying room)
Right now there is a lot of preparation for the Chinese New Year which happens on January 26th. In Vietnam, the Chinese New Year is a much larger celebration than the New Year we celebrate in the United States or Europe. According to my Zodiac sign, I anticipate a very good year in 2009. I look forward to the New Year more than most.

I have two more weeks in Vietnam before travelling to the Philippines for the APT event in Manila so I hope to share some more stories and updates about my travels.

Cheers!

Greetings from Vietnam!!

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Here’s a quick little update from Vietnam. After a 16 hour flight, I arrived just in time to spend NYE with some family. After I settled in of course!! The trip didn’t really start off on the best note. It rained non-stop once I arrived in Saigon. At one point, I guess too much water accumulated on the roof and something was wrong with the drainage so it flooded the upstairs at my aunt’s house. There was water everywhere and we spent a couple of hours pitching in and draining the water the best we could. Eventually we stopped the leak and cleared out the water. I was finally able to get some sleep!

The next day was the day before New Year and that evening a bunch of us gathered together and headed out to a popular night spot, called the Volcano!! The weather was nice so my niece and I went for a walk around the city to see all the beautiful lights and decorations before heading out for the 2009 countdown. Tina’s husband Hoa reserved the best table/section in the house, right above the dance floor and DJ booth. We stayed until about 2am and I celebrated my first official NYE in Vietnam.

The next day I had to do some shopping for a more traditional looking Vietnamese dress for my niece Tina’s wedding. I found some great material in this soft green color and I had a dressmaker follow a set of designs I had. The dress came out beautifully and I was pleased. Unfortunately this day didn’t end quite as smoothly either because I dropped my blackberry into a puddle of water. The phone worked fine but the trackball couldn’t scroll up or down so the phone was pretty much useless. I couldn’t get to any of my applications or my address book. So, I went out and spent $300 for a new phone which didn’t work either because it wasn’t compatible with my service provider. Argh!

Finally, the day of my nieces wedding arrived and it was a great wedding and ceremony. My niece is marrying a very kind and generous man. He is also quite wealthy and the reception was very beautiful. There were more than 700 guests invited to the reception at the Rex Hotel and I can only imagine how much the whole event cost. I was able to spend some time with the groom, Hao and his family and they are very respectful and kind people. I am so happy that my niece found a good man who loves her and will take care of her.

I am in Vietnam for a couple more weeks before heading off to the Philippines. I will continue to visit the temple my Dad is placed at and visit with my half brother and sister in the upcoming week. For now, I am with my aunt, cousin, and nephew in Saigon. I plan to do some charity work as well and travel all over Vietnam. I will keep everyone posted as soon as I can. I am not exactly sure how much I plan to blog while I am travelling but I will do the best I can. I hope everyone had a great New Year and 2009 brings everyone cheer and joy!!