Posts Tagged ‘saigon’

Less is More!

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

I’ve been excited to get this adventure underway and I may have started it off like I was running a sprint when in fact it is more like a marathon… well at least a 10K (I’m talking about a run people, not a tourney, haha.) I am only half way through this trip and I am exhausted. While I might be having trouble keeping my eyes open as I write this, it is a small price to pay to be able to share a hug, a laugh, or a smile, with the people that I am helping.

It’s very fulfilling yet humbling to be back in the place that I was born, giving to those in need. Most of them are very spiritual and through their Buddhist ways they find happiness in their life in which they have few tangible things. Even though I come to Vietnam a few times a year, every trip makes me reflect on and appreciate the simple things that we all sometimes overlook or take for granted. Even though I am here to help them, they actually have helped me also by showing me how they live such simple yet full and meaningful lives.

One of the reasons this charity journey has made me look inside myself more so than any of my previous is because it is by far the toughest that I have ever done. On all of my other endeavors I was up and on the road by 6am every morning to travel to my destination and I always made it back into the city by the end of that day. Not to say that the past trips were a walk in the park but there was a little more comfort and down time.

This trip, a crew of 20 and I were 15 hours outside the city and we continued to travel deeper into the countryside each day. Once we started nearing our furthest destinations I realized that we were unfortunately going to have to cut the last portion of the trip short; the dirt roads were no longer fit for cars because they were mostly sand and full of holes since the floods came through.

I actually made it to one more destination after the roads got bad because it was only about a half hour walk from where the van had gone as far as it could go. The route we took once we left the city allowed me to make several stops along the way to visit and help a poor village in Que Son- Quang Nam , an orphanage for the blind in Thanh Binh, an orphanage for new-born children in Phu Ninh, a village in Phu Yen where the massive typhoon Ketsana occurred, and a temple in Phu Yen that also suffered severe damages from typhoon Ketsana.

(village in Que-Son, Quang Nam)

(orphanage for the blinds in Thanh Binh)

(orphanage for newborn children in Phu Ninh)

(village in Phu Yen where the massive typhoon Ketsana occurred)

(temple in Phu Yen suffers severe damage due to typhoon Ketsana)

We spent a few hours at the temple before heading back on the road back to DaNang, which took almost 9 hours of driving. By the time I made it back to my hotel, which was around 12am, I was super exhausted but couldn’t fall asleep. I finally got about one hour of sleep until I had to get up again and head over to the children’s cancer hospital, where I had chosen 30 kids that were at their last stage, and granted each one of them their last wish.

My next visit was to the elders orphanage, a place that is always on my list to visit every year. It was sad to hear that a few old ladies had passed away since the last time I was there. But I was delighted to see the rest of the other old ladies happy and in good health. I was able to feed them all a nice meal, gave them a 7 item gift bag, boxes of noodles, and 50lb bags of rice.

The orphanage for the new-born was the most touching for me but each stop was very meaningful. I was told many stories along the way and a couple of them about the abandonment of the young and the old were quite heartbreaking. It’s sad that things like this happen but it is a blessing that there are places and people like the ones that I visited that have taken them in to care for them. The whole trip has been a wonderful experience so far and I am looking forward to a little rest and stage two of this little adventure which has already taken me to Saigon and will lead me to Hanoi for the finale.

Cheers!

The Next Chapter: Peace and Joy

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Right now, I have no idea what is going to happen next. What will be accomplished in the next year or two? I have high hopes but it is a great mystery. The way life is supposed to be. Filled with pleasant surprises and occasional let downs. But most importantly, I hope it will be filled with laughter and joy. I am so much more appreciative of life’s little treasures at this stage in my life, and so much better at brushing off the occasional let downs. I credit much of this to my Father and I couldn’t be happier about the way the last chapter of my life closed out.

(photo courtesy of Ian Morton ~ VinaPix)

I left you with the 2 year promise and I am happy to tell you that I have successfully kept my commitment all the way through to the final day. We had a ceremony with the Shaman to send my father’s spirit away in peace on Sept 6th. And to help my father on his way, I purchased 888 birds to release on his behalf. This is a very common activity done in the Buddhist culture, in the hope that such good deeds will earn them credits for a better incarnation in their next life, as well as helping their relatives in hell to win earlier release from their suffering. I originally wanted to purchase more than 3000 birds but my Shaman assured me 500-600 were more than enough. LoL. I might have gotten a little carried away! I decided I would do 888 instead because it is a very lucky number.

(photo courtesy of Ian Morton ~ VinaPix)

Quite a few interesting things happened during the ceremony that were truly surreal. I will save you the details because it’s impossible to believe unless you were there. I told a few close friends about the supernatural events I witnessed only because they truly know how skeptical I am as a person. It’s in my nature to analyze everything from all angles and look for alternative answers whenever something doesn’t seem right or logical. I am always processing info in my head to see if everything “adds up”. And I had no answers for what I saw except it was truly spiritual. I’ve seen a few magicians such as Chris Angel perform in Las Vegas and this was more amazing and unexplainable than anything I’ve ever seen before. Afterwards, I was assured they were very good signs and the ceremony couldn’t have went better; my Dad is in peace.

Once that Chapter closed for good, I flew back to Las Vegas for 5 days before flying back to Europe. My first destination: Venice, Italy. So beautiful!!! It is one of my favorite places to visit so far. I flew there for the Gioco Digitale ME tournament but I had some free time to check out the sites as well. Everything in Venice is accessible by walking or canals. Water runs thru the entire city and there were hardly any cars. It’s an amazing sight. I also had a film crew following me around to film the “Poker Diva Lifestyle” through the lens of Alexandre Henry. I am excited about working on this project as well.

The tournament itself was uneventful. I ran into a bit of a cooler on my final hand which knocked me out right after the dinner break. I flopped a set of 3’s on a J, 7, 3 board. Two spades on the flop. I bet 800 on the flop. And I was check called. The turn peeled off a 7(s) which was potentially a good card for me if my opponent hit a flush. We both checked the turn. I wanted to faint weakness in case he did hit his flush. The river brought a non-spade Ace. My opponent checked. I bet out $3,000 and my opponent check raised to 7k, I then pushed all-in and got an immediate call. I had a full-house and couldn’t imagine my opponent had a bigger full house. Sure, enough my opponent hit perfect perfect on the turn and river and flipped over A-7 for a bigger full house. On that note, I was out of the tournament.

After I spent a few days in Italy and wrapped up the Main Event, I flew to London and currently taking a few days to rest up before the WSOPE Main Event which starts on the 26th of September. The film crew for the “Poker Diva Lifestyle” will also meet me in London in a day or two and we will resume filming. Hopefully, I can give you a taste of the European lifestyle and culture. I really do appreciate the different cultures you can experience in such a short geographical distance. I have a week before the WSOPE Main Event starts in London. Now what?!? I am already getting restless. Perhaps I will catch up on emails and stay a little more socially connected.

I did want to send a special blessing to my friend Adam “DJ AM” Goldstein. May he rest in peace. I know it’s a little late but it was important to me to share a couple of moments from Adam’s life. To share with you what a special human being he was. I first met Adam approx 5 years ago at the Bellagio in Las Vegas. What many people don’t know is that Adam is an avid poker player. He loves poker!! He used to come the Bellagio about 2x a week to play in some relatively high limit games after spinning at the Pure Nightclub, a nightclub I often partied at and chilled to Adam’s awesome music spin. Over the years he played less and less because his Deejay responsibilities would keep him on the road more and longer. Usually, late at night after a Deejay gig. Sometimes he came alone and sometimes he would come with a friend or two.

(photos courtesy of Pure Nightclub)
(DJ AM and Liz Lieu in the house at Pure Nightclub)

At first, I learned thru Jonathan Shecter that DJ AM didn’t like me very much. At the time, I was playing in a 3 handed 80-160 limit hold-em game when Adam sat down and took a pretty good beating from me. At the time, I don’t think he really knew I was a professional poker player. On one occasion, I remember completely stripping him of his entire bankroll for the night. I don’t think Adam was making as much money back then because this used to really upset him and we developed a minature rivalry. Well, more of a rivalry on his part. I liked his action.

Eventually, about 1 years later we became friends and Adam told me about his feelings toward me. He told me, he thought I was cocky and it really irritated him. I never disrespected him or laughed at him but it was more my style of play that frustrated him. I am a very aggressive poker player and most guys aren’t accustomed to running into that type of aggression from a female. Anyhow, we shared a laugh about it and once we got to know each other on a more personal level, we grew to respect each other. And Adam did get the best of me a few times on the poker table. After a couple losing session to him at the Commerce, I playfully commented “Alright, we’re even now.. OK?” And he laughed it off. At this point, he was making a lot more money and I could tell the poker swings didn’t affect him as much.

One of the things I respected and admired the most about Adam was how much he loved his mother. His mother Andrea was the entire world to him. And I also admired how much Adam cared about people in general. One day, I was actually talking about charities with Adam because he struck me as the type of person that would care about that stuff, and I asked him some advice on some potential charities to donate too. He suggested I donate to MS research. Okay, so I asked him why? He told me his Mom had MS and they were very close to coming up with a cure and any additional help would be so beneficial. I was more than happy to do it. I started to donate to the cause immediately with a % of my winnings.

I also learned that Adam was donating a significant amount of his own personal earnings to MS research. Adam even told his Mom that I was donating money to her cause. One day, his mom even emailed me personally to thank me for my support for curing MS. I guess she was very pleased that one of Adam’s friends would also champion his cause and she was so thankful that she wanted to bake me a huge batch of homemade cookies!!

I continued to see Adam a couple of times a week playing poker and then he got more involved with bigger gigs and he was going to Las Vegas more often but we continued to stay in touch. When LAX first opened and I was just signing with the Martin’s Poker team he made sure I had a table and was taken care of. There was a huge mix up actually over my reserved table and when Adam got back to CA, he personally came to the Commerce and brought the Main manager down to personally apologize over the mix up and took care of the situation. And that was the type of guy Adam Goldstein was.

Over the past year and a half, I haven’t had a chance to keep in contact with Adam at all. We both had different priorities and poker wasn’t one of them. I don’t really know what happened in NY and what was going on with him, unfortunately. To me he will always be the caring and compassionate person who loved his Mom more than anything in the world. A generous person who would go out of his way to take care of a friend. It’s a sad loss. I hope Adam has peace and happiness.

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!!

The Best and Worst of Times

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

After a seventeen hour flight, I’ve finally arrived back in Vietnam on the 29th of July.  Eight months have already pass by since my last visit back to my homeland for my father’s 100th day praying ceremony, amazing how time flies by so quick. And now I find myself back again. This time is for the one-year anniversary of my beloved father’s passing and also I will be spending a few weeks doing my charity work.

I spent my first two days in Saigon to spend some time with my father at Lam Te Temple. Then I hopped on a flight to DaNang with my cousin, niece, and nephew for four days to start my charity journey along with my Teacher monk. As soon we got off the plane, I grabbed a taxi and headed straight to my Teacher monk’s temple to prepare all the necessities needed for the early trip the next day.

We were off and on the road by 6 am, drove five hours on rough bumpy roads to finally reach our destination. By the time we arrived, all the villagers were already at the temple waiting patiently.

Before I began passing out the much-needed food to these villagers, a ceremony was conducted by my Teacher Monk to honor me with blessings. I slipped into a blue robe throughout the ceremony which represents my status as his disciple. Being granted  Buddhism relics is one of the most precious gift for a temple, and I felt honored when my Teacher Monk showed me the 3 relics that was granted to his temple in DaNang.

It was time to distribute the supplies to the villagers when the ceremony ended. There are more than 200 homes in that village so it took us about 2 hours to give out all the supplies. As an appreciation, the villagers prepared a vegetarian feast at the temple for me and my family. This charity journey took over 15 hours on the road, but it was all well worth it!

It was my birthday the day after our charity trip. However, it wasn’t a good time for celebration because I’m here to mourn for my dad. I decided to go the temple to spend a peaceful birthday, my Teacher Monk conducted a four hour ceremony to pray for both my father and I.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my family, friends, and fans for all the kind birthday wishes. Much love to you all!

I spent the rest of that evening and the following day just playing online at Chilipoker. Then took an evening flight back to Saigon. I’m currently still in Saigon right now preparing a big praying ceremony for my dad’s anniversary on the 18th of August. I’ll be here till the end of the month, then I’m off to Macau. Take care till then.

Cheers!