A Bookworm in 2020: My Top 5 Reads of the Year

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Let’s make it clear that 2020 is not a harsh year at all for an extra-introverted bookworm living in privileged conditions (having food, a shelter, and a job) in one of the safest countries in the world from Covid (if you don’t know, please Google the Covid situation in Vietnam by yourself as I’m not going to discuss this abundant topic anymore).

This year I have managed to read some of the greatest and most iconic books of their genres in both fiction and non-fiction. Being an eclectic reader, I read a wide range of topics spanning science, dystopia, history, mythology, fantasy, mystery, warfare, crime, thriller, education, philosophy, psychology, drama, sociology, spiritual and religious subjects in both fiction and non-fiction. Throughout the year I have read in full a total of 29 30 books, besides the required academic reads for study and research purposes, plus no less than a dozen manga series (let me be honest, I’m a total manga & anime freak). For a hard-core bookworm, everything thinner than 300 pages deems too light, and I constantly find myself reading books from 500 pages up. On average I probably read between 50-100 pages every day this year. Some friends tell me they can’t read because they don’t have time. Well, who does? I just cut down on sleep time, and also allocate none for nonsense gossiping and useless socialising. Easy. 

Below are my 5 best reads of 2020, which are also 5 of my most recommended books for anyone to read in their lifetime. There are several ‘honorable mentions’ at the end that you may find interesting (off-topic alert: ‘honorable mentions’?! Sounds just like DumbMojo! Oh wait I don’t call them DumbMojo, I stole the title off one of my favourite YouTube channels called TwoSetViolin – just follow them already – everyone deserves some good comedy and classical music!) Read the rest of this entry »

Green Seed Fund Bookshelf – Tủ sách Quỹ Mầm Xanh

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***Kéo xuống để đọc tiếng Việt***

As the Green Seed Fund coordinators & our friends are all sort of bookworms, these birds of a feather have decided to flock together, opening our bookshelves to circulate hundreds of fictions & non-fictions to other like-minded bookaholics, while helping to raise fund for the children in Tay Ninh province.

We offer 2 main “renting” locations: in Hanoi (near Giap Bat train station) and in HCMC (Nguyen Luong Bang, D7). Our bookshelf policy is as follow: Read the rest of this entry »

2019 Lunar New Year Road Trip: Tay Ninh – La Gi

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This lunar new year’s Tay Ninh – La Gi trip was my most recent road trip (after the epic 6-week tour-de-Vietnam in late 2017) and also the first one after more than a year settling in Tay Ninh as part of Teach For Vietnam’s fellowship programme. It was a 700-km motorbike drive from where I’m living in Tay Ninh (Suoi Day commune, Tan Chau district) to La Gi and back, together with some short excursions around the town and its surrounding areas. Read the rest of this entry »

Cảm ơn nhé, London

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Những người bạn của tôi từ Palestine, Cuba, Indonesia và Serbia – những người đã là London của tôi

Đã lâu lắm tôi mới lại “chắp bút”. Cũng đã gần 3 năm kể từ ngày rời London mà tôi chưa từng viết một chữ về thời gian sống tại đây. Tôi không nhớ London nhiều, cũng không giữ được liên lạc thường xuyên với những người bạn đã chia sẻ cuộc sống cùng tôi tại nơi này, nhưng mỗi khi nghĩ tới London, những kỉ niệm vẫn sống động trong tôi như mới ngày hôm qua. Có lẽ khi ta có quá nhiều điều để viết thì ta lại chẳng thể viết được gì, cũng giống như khi ta càng lớn lên, càng biết nhiều hơn về bản thân và về thế giới thì ta lại càng nhận ra mình quá nhỏ bé, quá ngu dốt, và tốt hơn là mình không nên nói gì cả.

Tôi đã từng yêu thích viết. Qua những con chữ, tôi cảm thấy tự do, tôi có thể viết những điều mình không thể thể hiện được bằng lời nói. Thế nhưng cũng đã lâu rôi, vì nhiều lí do, tôi không còn viết được nhiều như mong đợi, và thậm chí hơn 1 năm nay, tôi gần như đã ngừng viết.

Bỗng một vài tuần trước, tôi nhận được email từ ban biên tập trang blog của cộng đồng cựu du học sinh Chevening Việt Nam yêu cầu đóng góp bài viết, tôi mỉm cười và chợt nghĩ có lẽ đây là một dấu hiệu nhắc nhở mình chăng? Vì thế, tôi đã cố gắng “đúc rút” 1 năm của mình tại London trong bài viết dưới đây. Bản gốc đăng tại mindthegap.vn.


Tôi theo học tại trường chuyên ngành nghệ thuật và công nghiệp sáng tạo Goldsmiths tại Đông Nam London, nơi mà tôi luôn tự hào khoe khoang là “khu vực cool ngầu nhất thành phố”. Theo một số báo cáo, Đông Nam London là khu vực cực kỳ đa dạng sắc tộc, nhưng cũng là một trong những khu vực có nhiều vấn đề xã hội và tội phạm nhất. Thế nhưng trong con mắt của đám sinh viên đầy chất “nghệ” và “phá (cách)” chúng tôi thì Goldsmiths và Đông Nam London là khu “hịp” (hip) nhất, “ngầu” nhất, không đâu bì được. Này là những quán bar nằm sâu dưới đường tàu điện ngầm, này những tiệm cà phê nhỏ xinh phong cách rất nghệ, này những công viên xinh xắn, những nhà hàng của đủ người Thổ, Trung Đông, Caribbean, Đông Phi, Thái, Nhật, Việt. Sinh viên Goldsmiths thì sành điệu, triết lí và “phi chính thống” khỏi nói – “ạt” (art) mà! Tôi nghĩ cách mạng và sự thay đổi xảy ra được trên thế giới này ắt phải nhờ có những con người như ở nơi đây! Read the rest of this entry »

If you were an animal what would you be?

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“If you were an animal what would you be?”

Recently when I looked at my blog’s draft posts, I saw this one which was drafted 7 years ago and never published, along with other dozens of unfinished pieces. It’s amazing how one could have so many ideas to write about and then end up finishing only one of them annually, or at least it’s my case. However, it’s also great to observe how one has changed throughout the years. Below is what I wrote in 2012 vs. 2019. Read the rest of this entry »

6 Weeks of Road Trip Across Vietnam

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My super Honda Wave that carried me through the rain and 700 km on the Ho Chi Minh trail from Hanoi to Dong Hoi

Vietnam is a long-shaped country with varied climate and landscape that differ greatly from North to South. Whether it is high mountain, jungle, desert, ocean, the country has it all to offer. Taking a road trip across Vietnam has been my dream trip for ages, but I only got the chance to realize it late last year (Nov-Dec 2017), when I finally had a career break to be free for a long holiday. Read the rest of this entry »

Solo Travel across the Hakuna Matata Land aka. Kenya

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Nairobi’s view from the hill in Uhuru Park

Hakuna Matata, it means no worries! – If you ask, it’s not an artificial phrase made exclusively for Walt Disney’s Lion King blockbuster, it’s a real sentence in Swahili, the official language of Kenya, and it does mean ‘no worries’. Hakuna Matata, yes, in Kenya that’s the way of life, just take it easy, relax and enjoy!

Why Kenya? – Friends would ask. Well, it’s the rhythm of Africa! I have always been fascinated by the innate ability of singing and dancing by each and every African I have met. They were all born with rhythm, and their music always seem so cheerful, no matter how harsh life is. I’m more familiar with Ugandan bands as I have lots of friends from Uganda, but during 2 weeks in Kenya I now also have Kenyan names in my playlists. Here is one of them:

I already attempted to go to Kenya in 2008 when I applied for an internship with AIESEC in Kenya but didn’t succeed. And then, when I was in London I asked myself, why not now? And there I went, it took me 10 minutes to book the tickets. Nothing is more fun than deciding a trip out of the blue, especially when it is a place you already dreamed of a long time ago. And again, Kenya for me was not about the safari or the wild animals, it was about the people and the life that should have been mine long time ago. I spent roughly 2 weeks in Kenya from the 10th to 25th September 2016.  Read the rest of this entry »

The most beautiful love stories in the ancient Greek Mythology (cont.): Adonis and Aphrodite

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4 years ago, I started a series of my 3 picks for the most beautiful love stories in the ancient Greek Mythology. I quickly finished 2 stories but then have never found inspiration to finish the 3rd one.

However, it’s kind of ironic for me that no matter how much I try to brand myself as a “travel & lifestyle blogger”, my most popular content is still the Greek Myth love. Probably it is because more than ever, love is what we are in need in this ugly world of conflicts and selfishness. Hopefully, when all the thirst for money and power reaches its limit, humans will eventually come back to the basics that they have forgotten along the way: love, and humanity.

Before going into the 3rd story, don’t forget to go through my 2 previous posts:

1. Psyche and Cupid:

This is my favorite romance of all time. It’s the story about a strong-willed princess fighting for her love. According to me, it’s this mortal girl Psyche, but not any immortal goddess, the bravest and most decisive female character in the whole legend. Her story is utterly beautiful, which reminds us how love can create wonderful and incredible things in this world.

2. Orpheus and Eurydice:

Orpheus is a very unusual type of hero in the Greek Myth, also my favourite male character. He is not a muscular wrestler who built glory upon killing and blood, but a musician whose incredible music talent touched the heart and soul of everybody and everything in the universe. The love story though is a tragedy, it’s just as beautiful as the music of the legendary Orpheus himself, the greatest musician in the history of the entire mankind.

3. Adonis and Aphrodite: Read the rest of this entry »

Morocco along the Coastline

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A view to Jemaa El Fna, Marrakech, Morocco
A view to Jemaa El Fna, Marrakech, Morocco

To fulfill the promise with a friend, there I was, in Morocco, only 4 months after my first trip in December. I rarely go to a place twice, but for Morocco I did it. Someone once told me that once in a while travellers found themselves in a faraway land, but I never believed such sentiment until my time in this country. The feeling I had there was very much like home, like I have found a place to belong..

Read the rest of this entry »

Solo Girl Travel in Morocco

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Aït Ben Haddou village, west of Ouarzazate city

My first travel out of the UK (*) was to Morocco from 15 to 21 December 2015. From a random tourist knowing nothing about Morocco, those great 6 days turned me into a total lover of the country. With great music, great food, beautiful handicrafts, vibrant urban livestyle, a diversed and interesting culture, stunning landscape, and most of all, wonderful people, the country has totally won my heart.
Read the rest of this entry »