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 »
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 »
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..
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 »
Myanmar, with its numerous magnificent Buddhist temples, has become the most appealing and exotic destination in Southeast Asia, even to other ASEAN fellows. The country only opened up itself in 2012, and only from Oct 2013 could a Vietnamese passport holder like myself enter the border without having to acquire a visa.
Most people say now is the good time to visit Myanmar before it is fully touched by Western influence, but my feeling from a week rushing across the country (23-31 Aug 2014) is that it is already quite integrated. And someone even said to me Myanmar would develop fast, even quicker than Vietnam before. Perhaps.
A few things to be aware prior to the trip:
1. Traveling in Myanmar is NOT cheap. I often say traveling in Laos is more expensive than in Vietnam, then traveling in Myanmar is even more expensive than in Laos. Note that fact and prepare your budget. I say, modestly you would spend USD 300-500 in a week. There are entrance fees for Bagan and Inle Lake (we skipped Mandalay so I don’t know if there is any entrance fee there), there is no entrance fee for Yangon but tourists have to pay to go in almost all of tourists’ attraction sites here.
2. Internet in Myanmar runs at snail’s pace. It almost doesn’t work in Bagan, and is very limited and slow in Inle Lake and Yangon. Thus, write down and print everything you need in advance.
3. Burmese people are generally nice and lovable, even the street hawkers. Don’t be too hard on them, spend your money! (Probably this will change soon when too many tourists come in and ruin the people’s purity, just like what happened to Vietnam or Cambodia)
4. Don’t miss Bagan in your travel itinerary. It’s like Cambodia‘s Siem Riep or Vietnam’s Hue. It’s the country’s legacy. Probably visiting once is enough, but it’s a MUST. Read the rest of this entry »
Last week I came to Phnom Penh and spent two wonderful days with my lovely Cambodian friend Kounila Keo. I first met her from the ASEAN Blogger Festival in Solo Indonesia and we’ve been talking a lot ever since, but we could only meet again just now.
It was not the first time I’ve been to Cambodia. Last year in March I took a package tour to Phnom Penh and Siem Riep. The advantage of taking a package tour is that you have most of the popular tourists’ destinations checked, you don’t have to plan for your trip, and in fact it is also relatively cheaper than going by yourself (seriously!). However, after the package tour experience I told myself “never again”. I don’t like going in big groups, especially when people are loud or slow, and I also prefer having more than 20 minutes at Phnom Penh Central Market (What’s up with the tour guide giving us only 20 minutes in the market?)
Let me start my blog by saying this: I LOVE Laos! I seriously do. This country is such a beautiful and peaceful haven for anyone who dreams of an escape from the bustling Hanoi. The laid-back lifestyle here has earned Laos its nickname “Lao PDR = Lao Please Don’t Rush”. Everything is sooooo slow here. No, I am not complaining. That’s just a fact and the more I discover the country the more I fall in love with it..
Last year, after coming back from Saigon, I actually even planned to move to Laos, I tried to send my CV around but unfortunately my attempts didn’t work out. It was also a shame to admit that I had lived next to Laos for almost 30 years but never been there once, until 2 weeks ago.. Read the rest of this entry »
“Small” mentioned here is applied for both luggage and travel group. Trust me, I’ve experienced enough pain traveling with big luggage and large group that I have learned “never to do it again!”
In my first trip abroad to Poland I brought with me a huge 23-kilo suitcase, plus a backpack, a small purse and a laptop, so those made 4 separate items in total. And it was funny how I ended up using only half of what I brought while still having to buy extra stuff during those 3 months. I carried with me high-heel boots, piles of clothes (since it was winter), hundreds of medicine types which I never used, but didn’t even think about bringing a hair dryer, slippers and an electrical adapter. Fail!
And another funny fact was that I managed to get my laptop lost right on the first day in Poland since I forgot it in the taxi from Warsaw airport to the bus station. However, during my solo and tiring trip across Europe under the snowy and gloomy sky I sometimes thought actually I was lucky not having to bring with me another 3-kilo laptop bag(!) Read the rest of this entry »