Posts Tagged ‘vietnam’

Life is Like a Box of Chocolates….

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Hey everyone! I’m sorry it’s been awhile since my last blog. So much has been happening, I’m not even sure where to begin. I think I will have to fill everyone in over a few different blogs so I would like to just focus on one thing right now…. my future life path.

Since the World Series of Poker this year, I feel like my life has been heading in a new direction. I’m not entirely sure what direction that is just yet, but I can feel that I’m on my way. My trip to Vietnam this year was an eye opening experience in so many ways, and it really got me thinking. Change is inevitable in life, and often quite desired. Even when it’s desired, it can be a very scary thing. I’ve been feeling a lots of changes coming on and just wanted to share a big one with you.

Moving forward, I will no longer be representing Chilipoker. We had a long amazing run, and I wish them all the luck in the world! With the landscape of poker having changed so much over the last few months, I can just feel that the winds are changing for me too. I have no idea if that means I’ll still be playing poker in my future or not. I might go overseas and play or maybe start moving in a whole new direction.

I’m not really sure what the future holds in store for me. What I am sure of is that I’m onto a new chapter in my life. I’m open to all possibilities and I’ve never been happier! I believe 100% that whatever is meant to happen will happen, and it will happen when the timing is right. So for now, I’m just enjoying the ride.

When I have something more exciting on this topic to report, you can be sure that you will hear it from me first. In the meantime, I wish everyone lots of love, happiness and success… and remember… life is like a box of chocolates… you never know what you’re gonna get!! 🙂

You only get one unique today. Ultimately, it’s not so much about where you end up, but how you get there. Enjoy the journey.…..

Joy and Light of Love ~ Liz

On the European Road Again

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Well, almost! I’m still handling last minute preparations before spending about three months overseas, and there is quite a bit to take care of. Besides finding a loving soul to look after Jace while I’m gone, as he’s not well enough to travel yet, there are all of the home details to attend to before I head out. And I’m trying to map out my entire trip and all of the tournaments I’m going to play. I’m exhausted before even getting on the first flight – LOL!

One of the most important things I’m handling before I leave home is the arrangement of my father’s three-year praying ceremony. It’s coming up later this week, and since I can’t be in Vietnam for it, I wired the money to cover all expenses and have been on the phone with my cousin almost constantly to make sure the organization and preparation is being done perfectly. The ceremony falls on the week of the Vu Lan Ghost Festival, which is a significant event for the people of Vietnam and throughout Asia, as Buddhist temples all over the region celebrate the deceased wandering spirits. And since the anniversary of my father’s passing happens to fall on that week, it’s an even bigger memorial, which features charity for those in need and a tribute to spirits. It’s the best way I can celebrate the memory of my father, and it’s very important that I make everything perfect.

(photo courtesy of Ian Morton)

“Vu Lan Festival” is believed to be the spirit month in Vietnamese culture as a way of honoring the dead. On this day, souls are believed to return to their former homes.

From this assembly, many Buddhist countries developed the custom of offering food, clothing and other items to hungry spirits in the month when the realms of Heaven, Hell and the living are open.

The object of this ceremony is to feed the hungry ghosts and to pray for their salvation. This ceremony is a way for people to meet their compassionate filial duty. During the ceremony, offerings are made to rescue up to seven generations of ancestors from whatever misery they might be suffering. During the month, every family can choose a day to present a feast and burn joss paper and incense in front of the house to invite the spirits to eat.

The most distinguished feature of the ceremony is the “offering snatching.” After the incense burns down, the neighborhood children are allowed to grab the food. No one will stop them as it is believed the spirits may be angered if they do so. The ceremony is also a great chance for people to express their gratitude to their parents.

One more tradition of this day is for people – Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike – who wish to express their gratefulness and appreciation towards their mothers, to go to a pagoda, often wearing a rose. Thousands of people flock to pagodas wearing red roses if their parents are alive or white roses if their parents have passed away. The rose has been a symbol of love and sharing among parents and their children regardless of social background.

Once that is ready, I can jump on a plane this week. The first stop on my whirlwind trip will obviously be London, as I need to check on my home there and see my beautiful cats that I miss so much, as well as some friends and colleagues. But the first tournament I’ll be playing will be the Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes that starts on Sept 2nd. After taking some much-needed time off to rest, do some charity work, and connect with friends, it will be nice to get back to the tables and play some poker.

Here is my schedule of tournaments for the next few months:

September 2 – 7: Partouche Poker Tour in Cannes
September 9 – 12: Chilipoker DeepStack Open in Paris
September 23 – 28: WSOP Europe Main Event in London
September 29 – October 4: WPT London
October 14 – 17: Chilipoker DeepStack Open in Vienna
November 2 – 6: WPT Amneville in Amneville, France
November 20 – 30: Marrakech Poker Festival in Morocco
December 13 – 19: WPT Five Diamond at Bellagio in Las Vegas

It would only make sense that I should final table at least half of those and win at least one of them, right? 😉

It seems like a lot of travel, which it is, but I will have some time to relax in London for a few days in that time period, though I will be handling quite a bit of business when I’m not playing tournaments, as usual. And when I write it all out like that, I realize just how busy I am! I’d also like to include a trip to Vietnam to do some charity work before the end of 2010, but we’ll have to see how everything plays out over the next few months.

So, I hope to keep everyone up to date as I play in some of these European events, and I’m sure I will even see some of you at those tournaments! I encourage everyone to play the Chilipoker DeepStack Open events, like the ones listed above in Vilamoura, Vienna, and Marrakech, as the buy-ins are always €550 and start players with massive 50K chip stacks. And for those without the money to buy-in directly, Chilipoker has numerous satellites running to give away seats. Check out the website for details!

I’ll see you on the road!

Cheers!

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!

The BEST Birthday Gift Ever!

Saturday, August 8th, 2009

My second stop on my six-week travel venture around the globe was Vietnam. I wanted to start off my trip by doing what I love to do more then anything else…helping charitable causes and doing what I can to make someone else’s life a little bit easier and if what I do brings a smile to persons face, that just makes it that much more fulfilling for me.

However, this trip it was those I was trying to help that helped me in a way that I am truly grateful for and they made a special day in my life the most memorable day for me so far…MY BIRTHDAY!

Believe it or not, I have never been the kind of person that goes out and has a party every year August 2 comes around. I don’t find anything wrong with anyone that wants to celebrate their birthday and have a big party. I just have never had that same urge. I usually spend my birthday with family and close friends doing something low key. And the times I am traveling during my birthday, I usually spend it alone in my hotel room reflecting on things that has happened in my life and the things I can do to change my life for the better before my next birthday comes around. I am not telling everyone this so you feel sad or bad for me because I am alone on that day, it is a choice I make and it is how I like spending my birthday.

This year was different though. This year I got the best birthday gift ever! I was at my hotel in Saigon when a couple of my close friends asked me what I wanted to do for my birthday. I explained to them just as I explained above about what I normally do on my birthdays. But I told them this year I want to do something a little bit different. I told them, I want to help others on my birthday. I don’t want to spend it alone and I don’t go out partying but I do want to do something that will bring joy to others on that day.

After talking with my friends, one suggested I visit this orphanage he knows about that is in need of money so the children in the orphanage can go to school and get an education. He told me the place was about a 2-hour drive from Saigon and that the Sister that takes care of the place and the people there would appreciate any donation. I spoke with my friend some more and got the details I needed about things they do there. I knew after our conversation, I not only had to go meet these people but I had to go there and give them any kind of help and aide I could. Donating money is not a problem and I know that always helps but I wanted to do more. I then asked my friend to set up a time we could be there on August 2 and I asked him to not let them know that my purpose for being there was to donate—I wanted to surprise them.

Aside from the monetary donation I planned on giving them so the children there could get proper schooling, I arrange to have 2 truckloads of 100 lbs rice, a truckload of cooking oil, and a truckload of milk to be brought in with me. I was very excited to get to our destination the morning of my birthday. Honestly, I cannot recall ever being that excited about it being my birthday. And I believe that is because I really wasn’t excited about what day it was—I was excited about what I was doing that day.

When I arrived at the Thien Binh Catholic Orphanage, I was the one that got the surprise of a lifetime!

I was greeted by 130 smiling, laughing, excited kids and the gracious woman that has been running the orphanage since 1972 “Sister 7” (that is what I was asked to call her). I could not believe my eyes. I looked at my friend and asked if he’d told them why I was there and what I was bringing. He simply replied, “No, you asked me not to and I didn’t.”

Not really knowing what was going on and what I may be interrupting, I slowly got out of the car. I could see that they had set up what looked like some kind of celebration or party so I turned to my friend with a puzzled look on my face and he simply said, “Oh, I did tell them today was your birthday and they know who you are so they wanted to surprise you.”

I was not only immensely touched but I was speechless. And as I got closer to the table they had set up, I saw it. They had a HUGE birthday cake for me! On it was “Happy Birthday Liz” with a picture of the Queen of Hearts. I could not believe it. I have never gotten a birthday gift that was that thoughtful and it truly was priceless for me. And to add icing to the cake, all of the kids sang “Happy Birthday” to me. Sister 7 (who I am told use to be a Princess that lived in the royal palace of Thailand) then wished me happy birthday and gave me many good blessings. I thanked her and gave her the money her orphanage needed so the kids there could go to school.

I also spent that morning meeting the kids and talking with them as we handed out the cake I cut. I then went to the trucks that had come in with the rice, cooking oil, and milk I arranged to have brought there and helped unload them. I wanted to make sure the orphanage got what I arranged to be delivered and that everything was there for them.

Once all of the unloading was done, I got a chance to tour the orphanage and it was an awakening moment for me. This orphanage is not only for children, but for mentally handicapped adults, and elders as well. Those living there range in ages from 6 months to 80 years old. The children that are brought there either lost both of their parents or were abandoned by them. The elders that remain there either have no family to care for them or like the children, abandoned by the family they do have. Sister 7 has maintained the orphanage with the help of those that have grown up with her there and the influences she has that will give aide to help all of the people there.

As I walked around, I was so surprised to see so many happy and cheerful faces just living life, enjoying life, and full of joy. I say it was an “awakening” moment for me because I thought how do these people do it? I mean, how can someone be so fulfilled with a life in a small village with really no resources and nowhere to go? I could see what they have and it is so little compared to what I have and what I have seen in my life. I know that thought may sound horrible to some of you but I am being completely honest when I tell you that is what I was thinking. I wasn’t thinking it because I think I’m better then anyone of them. I was thinking it because really I was seeing first hand how in so many ways, they are much better people then most of the people I know…including myself. I mean, they are true survivors and they know what it means to enjoy the smallest things in life. They cherish their life and they know how to live with what is given to them without expecting or chasing for more. And that is something I truly admire. 

This experience has truly made this the BEST birthday I have ever had!

Cheers!

Blame it on Rio

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

I’m back in Vegas everyone!! I participated in my first WSOP event a couple of days ago. Event # 14 $2500 Limit Holdem (6-handed). I quickly built my chip stack to 13k after the first four levels of play, but ended up busting out late in Day 1 after going completely card dead after the dinner break. I’ve been back in Las Vegas for a week now. I was hoping to play in a few earlier events but as soon as I drove back from LA, I woke up the next morning with a bad cold flu. I had to wait almost a week until I was able to play my first event.

(photo courtesy of MadeInPoker.com)
(photo courtesy of Pokernews.com)
(photo courtesy of Pokernews.com)
(13k chip stack after 4th level before dinner break)

Since my last update, I made a sudden decision during my last week stay in London to hop on a plane back to Vietnam and spent a week there. I did some charity work for a few days and had an opportunity to clear my head from poker. This was my goal for staying in Europe and Asia for the entire month leading up to the WSOP, to mentally prepare myself for the WSOP and get myself spiritually and emotionally in the right state of mind.

While I was travelling through Vietnam, I had some amazing personal experiences that are a little difficult to explain. Through charity work, family, and friends, I was able to meet some very wonderful people in my recent visits. Some of the most wonderfully charitable and humble people I have ever met in my life. I had some eye opening experiences and moments that I cannot possibly explain in a blog. Let’s just say that I have a deeper understanding for life and my place in this world. I’d like to send out a very special thank you to Thay Hung, anh Phan, chi Thuy, and anh Banh for all the things they have done for me to make this charity journey a complete success!

(Xin thành kính cảm tạ Thầy Hùng (Hà Nội), người đã dành trọn tâm huyết cho chuyến làm từ thiện này. Và cũng xin chân thành cảm ơn anh Phán, chị Thuý, và anh Bằng đã cùng chung sức cho chuyến từ thiện này.)

Now that I am back in the states again, I am excited about playing poker again. I rarely get to step completely away from poker and I feel completely refreshed and with a strong desire to play really hard and put in the effort that is necessary when you are trying to navigate through some of these very deep and competitive WSOP fields.

I’ve only had a chance to play 1 day so far but I’ve noticed a trend where there are more and more unrecognizable faces every year. I am pretty sure some of these guys and gals are experienced and successful internet players so I always need to take caution and not assume I have a huge edge just because I don’t recognize somebody.

I also want to congratulate my friend Steve Sung for winning Event #4 for his first WSOP bracelet. Steve took home a cool $771,000. I’ve known Steve for a couple years now and he’s a really good guy and I’m extremely happy for him. And what Phil Ivey did in Event #8 isn’t very surprising at all but still amazing. Ivey is truly an amazing player and I heard rumors that he won close to $10,000,000 on a side bet for winning the Seven to Deuce event.

I’m hoping to have some of the same kind of success too and right now, I’m trying to figure out which events I want to play next. I believe there are 56 events this year so I have a long ways to go still and I’m trying to pace myself. I don’t want to burn myself out and throw money away when I enter a tournament. I really want to win every tournament I play.

I think there are a number of different places you can get WSOP results and updates. Keep your eyes out for me. Hopefully, I’ll make some big waves in one of these events soon and generate some excitement. Until then, I will keep you posted on my progress. I look forward to catching up with old friends in Vegas and most importantly enjoying myself but don’t be fooled. I really want to win that bracelet and will give each and every WSOP event my absolute best effort.

Cheers!

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!!

Dear Santa,

Wednesday, December 17th, 2008

Merry almost Christmas everyone! I think I have been a pretty good girl this year so I wrote to Santa and requested a few things. Before I show you my letter to Santa I wanted to talk briefly about this past week.

I haven’t blogged in almost a week now because I was busy playing in the Bellagio Five Diamond Classic. I am not going to talk about it too much here but you can read about it on my Pokerlistings blog which will be posted in a couple days.

Also, it is snowing right now in Vegas! It’s providing me the inspiration to write this blog. I already feel more festive. Although, admittedly, I am not a big fan of snow!! I grew up in Colorado and I have had enough snow for an entire lifetime. But I will make an exception because it’s almost Christmas. The two certainly go hand in hand. Well on to the letter…

Dear Santa,

This is Liz Lieu and I wanted to wish you a happy and festive 2008. I hope this letter reaches you well. I have had quite a year but you already know that. I feel pretty confident I was a good girl this year so here is my wish list and I hope you can make as many of them come true as possible.

(photo courtesy of Phu Vu)

It would be nice if you could arrange for my dad to visit me in my dreams. I’m not sure if you can make that happen or not. Maybe that request should go to God. But just in case, I thought I would ask you as well. I sure do miss him and would love to have him appear in one of my dreams in 2009.

I would love to receive a little puppy. Something small and feisty! Maybe she can scare all of the mean and evil people away. I think a cute little puppy would make my Christmas.

I wish you could deliver a “Secret Santa” who can step up and help me in my Charity efforts in Vietnam. I go back to Vietnam 3x a year and I never have enough to give to help everyone. I get together with Charity organizations and I’d buy staples of supplies and deliver them to the most impoverished areas of Vietnam. I also deliver money and supplies to the Children’s Cancer Hospital, the Elder Orphanages, the Children’s Orphanages, and to numerous Temples. The poverty and suffering is very eye opening.

If you cannot deliver a charitable check, how about passing on some good luck to help me win a Main Event in 2009. Just a little luck is all. If you cannot deliver good luck, why don’t we just eliminate some of the bad luck? I’m getting a little weary of poker players doubling up on me through 2 outers or 5 outers. Thanks, I would appreciate it!! 

Okay this list is getting a little lengthy Santa, I have to apologize. But another great item you could pass along would be the opportunity for my immediate family to spend more time together. All of us. My mother, sister, nieces, nephews and brother-in-law.

I wish for happiness and health for my Mom. She is starting to get a little older and it would put my mind at ease if she could stay healthy for this coming year and is happy with life.

Okay, my last request is a little self indulgent but it would be a terrific gift for the upcoming Vietnam trip. I would love to take some professional quality pictures of everything I encounter on my charity missions. One of those Nikon or Canon professional cameras would be perfect for the job!!

 

Well Santa, I could keep going but I know you’re awfully busy and this will pretty much take care of it for now. I understand that you might not be able to give me everything I request and honestly I would be happy if you gave me any one of the items I requested. I can work on the rest of the wish list on my own but if you felt it in your heart to deliver me more than one of those gifts, I would be very appreciative. Thanks Santa!! I will leave some cookies and milk for you. If you can just turn the lights off on the way out. Thanks.

Sincerely,
Liz Lieu