Sunday Lunch

striped shirt black jeans leopard print flats by 14 shades of grey

I wore this to lunch on Sunday with a friend at this great little restaurant, in one of those old houses left over from the French colonial period. Whenever I go out with friends, it always strikes me how much of a hermit I am – other than my favorite bookstore (we did make a stop there after lunch), I have no idea where to eat or to hang out in the city. I like lounging at home, but sometimes I do feel I need to get out more, before I turn into Howard Hughes (minus the former glamorous life.)

striped shirt black jeans by 14 shades of grey

hanoi social club - grilled chicken sandwich

hanoi social club - pastaBooks and good food – what could be better?

striped shirt black jeans leopard print flats by 14 shades of greystriped shirt  owl brooch by 14 shades of grey

hanoi social club - exterior

Shirt: Forever21, Jeans: Hermes, Brooch: vintage, Flats: LA Fashion District

Frohe Weihnachten

christmas tree by 14 shades of grey

Christmas is a relatively new thing in Vietnam. Our Christian populations have been celebrating it for ages, of course, but it’s only in the last 10 years or so that it’s become more of a nation-wide thing. People don’t do anything much other than putting up a few decorations and playing Christmas music., but our family usually makes a bigger deal out of it, because of our connection with Germany – both my parents, my sister and her husband studied there, and we are lucky that their German friends still travel regularly to Vietnam and bring us things like fir boughs, spiced cookies, and stollen. So it may not be our big winter festival (that is still the Lunar New Year, which will be around February), but we do have a lot of fun celebrating it. Merry Christmas everybody!

christmas tree by 14 shades of greychristmas tree by 14 shades of grey

christmas tree by 14 shades of greychristmas tree by 14 shades of grey

christmas tree by 14 shades of greychristmas pageant by 14 shades of grey
My niece at her kindergarten’s Christmas pageant. She had a bit of stage fright (hence that less-than-excited look)

christmas pageant by 14 shades of greychristmas pageant by 14 shades of grey

christmas stollen by 14 shades of grey

P/S: Jess and I have decided to give SIA a break this week since it’s the holiday and all. We’ll be back after the New Year, on January 7th.

Cafe Lautrec And Joma Bakery

Since moving home my weekend has been kind of askew – I have Sunday and Monday free. Because of the time difference, Monday for me is still Sunday in the US and the place I freelance for won’t send me new work until (my) Tuesday. So most Mondays I’ve spent hanging out with Debbi. Today we went back to our favorite bookstore. There’s a Cafe Lautrec on the way, and seeing how this week’s inspiration for Style Imitating Art is Toulouse-Lautrec’s In Bed, of course I had to ask Debbi to take my outfit picture in front of it. It’s attached to a 5-star hotel though, so we didn’t check it out – it’ll be way too expensive.

Then we had a disgustingly good brunch (BLT on bagel for Debbi and a waffle drenched in butter and syrup for me) at the Joma Bakery Cafe, where we got the chocolate chip cookie last time. We haven’t been checking out the local food as much as we should, but in 95-degree weather, when you have a choice between an air-conditioned cafe and a street food stall… At least this place supports fair-trade farmers and even partners with an organization to help disadvantaged women, so you can feel good about eating there. After that, it’s another lazy afternoon at the bookstore. All in all, a good Monday.

My King Joffrey impersonating face… maybe?

Tunic & Oxfords: thrifted via Buffalo Exchange, Pants: thrifted

Presidential Palace And A New Favorite Hang-Out

Yesterday Debbi and I went to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. It belongs to a large historical site consisting of other buildings, where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked at for about 15 years. Being Vietnamese, I only think of it as somewhere you’d go to once in your life for a school trip and be done with, but for Debbi, it’s like a dystopia. And I could kind of see that. You are herded along this special walkway to get to the mausoleum; you have to check your bags, then check it again for electronic devices; the buildings are a mix between French colonial, traditional Vietnamese, and 1970’s Russian, and on top of it all there is a giant TV screen playing patriotic songs on a loop. No wonder she thought it was all a bit like stepping into Metropolis.

The walkway to the mausoleum

The French-styled Presidential Palace

Ho Chi Minh’s house (or “Uncle Ho’s House on Stilts” as the sign says. It sounds weird in English)

One-Pillar Pagoda, a temple in the area. Yes, I found the resident cat

I didn’t get a lot of pictures because it was too horribly hot. After we left the mausoleum, we went to this used bookstore that I knew Debbi would love but we haven’t got a chance to check out because it’s a bit of a hassle to get to. I’m telling you – we’ve found our new favorite hang-out. This is a place we can spend a lot of time in without feeling bad about it like the mall. It’s a tiny bookstore full of used (and some new) English books, and there’s a cafe across the courtyard that has all the comfort food from around the world. Best bookstore ever!

We’re in our happy place. Please do not disturb

Falafel (Debbi’s) and fettuccine with duck ragout (mine)

Glorious desserts – German plum cake for me and a chocolate oat cookie for Debbi

A word of warning the bookstore though: the second floor is decorated by these mildly terrifying papier-mâché masks.

Sweet dreams!