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 »

Climate Change is real. Face it and fight! If it’s not for you, it’s for your children!

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A fish dies in an empty dry reservoir in the central province of Ninh Thuan. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre
A fish dies in an empty dry reservoir in the central province of Ninh Thuan, Vietnam. Photo credit: Tuoi Tre

I have heard about “climate change” for a long while, but just like everybody else, I never really gave it a serious thought.

And things started to change from last year, when I watched this speech by Leonardo DiCaprio at the opening of Climate Summit 2014. I was deeply touched and fell in depression for quite some time, for it constantly echoing in my head: “…the economy itself will die if our ecosystems collapse…”. Ever since I just can’t help myself wondering what all of our “10 year plans” are for if our planet may not even make it until we succeed?

Probably up to now everybody is aware that more than 2,000 lives have been claimed by the extreme heatwave in India, “the highest number of casualties for more than 20 years” as stated on the Guardian. I could totally imagine this would happen to a country with that many of people living on the streets like India, under the heat of 48 degree C.

In my home country Vietnam, the situation is only slightly better, casualties and coma have been reported. Unicef’s climate fact sheet also suggests “an average annual temperature rise in Viet Nam by 2100 of approximately 2.3°C” and “Viet Nam is ranked 13th of the 170 countries deemed vulnerable to the impacts of climate change over the next 30 years and is one of the 16 “extreme risk” countries”. This year, our coffee exports drop 40% due to severe drought (we are the 2nd biggest coffee exporter in the world). And “the temperature hit 41.5 degrees Celsius, or 106.7 degrees Fahrenheit, in some central provinces” reported by Thanh Nien News. And in Hanoi, a video went viral showing someone frying egg and meat under the 40 degree C heat.

In other parts of the world there are consequences too. London suffered from serious flood in 2014; or a friend of mine in Wroclaw (Poland) said that he saw flowers in his garden during Christmas 2 years ago, which left me totally awed because I still recalled the snowy -20 degree C winter I went through in 2009 in the same city.

Obviously, climate change is everywhere, even though we all pretend like we don’t see it; or maybe we just don’t care because we can’t relate. Perhaps for those sitting in A/C rooms, moving around in A/C cars, the 2,500 dead in India is just a number, they would never understand what it really means.

(For more information on countries responsible for emission and countries vulnerable to climate change, check this carbon map)


Hanoi has recently been through extremely hot days. I was sick most of the time under that scorching weather. I could hardly eat or sleep, it was too hot, but still I refused to turn on the A/C (it might be weird for some if I say I feel guilty of my own carbon footprint for the thought that it contributes to the suffering of so many homeless people out there). And so, I woke up one morning after a few hours attempting to sleep with a swollen face due to heat allergy. Then came 3 sleepless nights of red rash covering my skin from head to toes, and also inside my throat and stomach. During that time my mind was full of negative thinking and I thought often about the people who died out there under the heat and tried to imagine the pain they must have gone through. And I wondered if this would be the “legacy” we leave for our kids, or grand-kids.. Probably from now on, every year would be a “record” year (of heat, of flood, of drought, of death..).

But now, a rational healthy me think more positively. Will we die that way or should we start facing the harsh fact and fight?

Apparently, this combat against climate change largely depends on Governments, but that doesn’t mean individuals can’t help, there are “only” 7 billion individuals on this Earth(!)

Recently I found this “fun” question on twitter: “On average, an American uses as much electricity in one month as a Tanzanian does in how many years?” – Answer: 8 years! – And that is exactly where we should start!

Saving our resources and reducing our carbon footprint whenever possible is a solution.  

Please think again when you have to turn on the A/C, and think again, and again when you decide to turn down the temperature. And then, do you need all those electric items on in the house? Even if you’ve paid the bills, just understand that if our ecosystems collapse your money is a mere piece of trash. The only question is: Do you really want to contribute to saving the world or you want to live like an ignorant citizen? Everything you do is affecting the Earth, and you can choose to go for the better, or the worse. Maybe try sleeping without the A/C for a night and if that is suffering to you then you can imagine how millions (or billions?) of locals in Africa and Asia are facing.

“We only get one planet. Humankind must become accountable on a massive scale for the wanton destruction of our collective home. Protecting our future on this planet depends on the conscious evolution of our species.” – Leonardo DiCaprio.

“The West is best. Or is it?”

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(Tiếng Việt phía dưới)

Recently there was a talk show happening at Manzi with the participation of Nguyen Qui Duc, Phan Y Ly, Anh-Minh Do and MC Dang Hoang Giang that attracted lots of attention from young Vietnamese people. The “hot” topic was: “The West is best. Or is it?”; both the host and the three guest speakers were “international Vietnamese” who returned to Vietnam after spending many years abroad. And with those four “returnees” we could already assume their answer to the topic without even having to attend the talk. No, it isn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

On the topic of religion in Vietnam: So you really think we are atheists?

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The crowd squeezing each other to pray for a prosperous new year in Yen Tu Pagoda

Religion in Vietnam on Wikipedia proclaims: “Officially, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an atheist state”.

That statement is perfectly correct and needs no further argument. However, do pay attention to the keyword “officially”, because the actual question is: how about “informally”? Now, this gives room for debate.

Feudal Vietnam was mostly a Buddhist country but Vietnam under Socialism declares no national religion, and most of its population also don’t “officially” follow any particular belief. Normally, when we fill in application forms that asks for religions, we always tick “none”. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean Vietnamese people are all “non-believers” as reported. Read the rest of this entry »

An Introduction to ASEAN Blogger Community

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ASEAN-Blogger-CommunitySo after the Blogger Conference in Kuala Lumpur in March, I was lucky enough to get invited to the ASEAN Blogger Festival 2013 last month in Surakarta (often called Solo) in Indonesia.

That was my first time visiting Indonesia and also the first time I heard about an ASEAN blogger community.

Before my departure, Hanoi Grapevine had the initiative of posting the event on our website, with the purpose of sharing my experience at the Kuala Lumpur conference to encourage more young Vietnamese people to blog.

The post might sound quite a serious piece of news, but in fact the conference was much more informal and much more fun than all those guidelines and discussion theme.

The fun batik fashion show by ASEAN bloggers
A fun batik fashion show performed by ASEAN bloggers

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Malaysia Tourism Bloggers Conference and Lessons Learnt for a Vietnamese Participant

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Recently I had the chance to visit Kuala Lumpur again after more than 2 years. It came out all of  a sudden when Minh, a blogger friend in HCMC, gave me a call asking: “Do you want to go to a tourism blogger conference in Kuala Lumpur?” – “When?” – “Next week!”. And yes, from the time I heard about the conference until I headed to Kuala Lumpur to attend it was about 4 days, and the conference itself lasted 2 days only. But that 2 days was wonderful!

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I am an AIESEC alumna. I am a change agent.

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Diwali dinner with AIESEC Delhi University

If you follow my blog probably you have seen the word AIESEC popping up many times and may wonder what it is. Thus, I’m gonna spend this whole blog post just talking about AIESEC and how it has changed my life, or to be more exact, how it has changed my vision of life just like how it has altered young generations’ viewpoints during the past 60 years!

To formally introduce, AIESEC is the largest international student organization that presents in over 2,100 universities across 110 countries and territories all over the world, with over 60,000 members and hundreds thousands of former members that we call “alumni”. AIESEC provides its members with leadership experiences at a very young age, global exchange opportunities and incredible learning networks through so many national and international annual conferences.

However, to informally introduce, AIESEC simply is a great family where young people learn to take responsibilities, tolerate differences while broadening their knowledge about the world and striving to make positive impacts on their societies. Yes, thanks to AIESEC, kids grow up, fools grow wise and locals go global. Read the rest of this entry »

Updates on my life in Saigon

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Saigon at Night

Image source: www.citypassguide.com

Once again I’m leaving my city Hanoi to look for a new adventure elsewhere. Poland, then India, and the next challenge now comes from my own country. Yes, the destination is called Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon), a city in the South of Vietnam, also the biggest city of the country. I remember sometime ago a Saigon friend said to me that “Hanoi seems like another country to me”, I think I can now tell him the same thing “I feel like a stranger here in my own country”.

This is not the first time I’ve been to Saigon, but the last time was already 3 years ago when I was just a visitor touring around the city. So much fancy about Saigon then! Taller buildings, wider streets, friendlier people, better services, etc. But things have changed so much since, and especially when you live here it is a lot more different and more REAL than when you are only a tourist.

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India is a strange country..

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So up to now I have been living in India for 2 and a half months. And I’ve just decided to go back to Hanoi in mid-December, which means I have only 3 more weeks left. I’m pretty sure that I will be very sad when leaving.. About 2 weeks ago, I talked to a Serbian girl, and she said “India is a strange country. Can you tell anything here that is better than your country? For me, no, nothing! And I can complain whole day about what I don’t like here, but above all, I still love to stay”. In this term of meaning then India must be the strangest country I have and will ever visit.. Too much bad luck came upon me in the last 2.5 months but I have never really wished to leave..

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