Happy Year of the Goat!

You know how I often complain that Vietnam doesn’t have enough food-based holidays? I think I know why now. It’s because the Lunar New Year is like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Super Bowl all rolled into one. I’m currently stuffing my face and have been for the last three days or so. We had kind of a pre-New Year feast last weekend (when we made the rice cakes), we had one last night (for New Year’s Eve), we had one today (for New Year), and we’re going to have another one the day after tomorrow (for the end of the Lunar New Year holiday). So please, enjoy the photos of the feasts, the spring flowers in our garden, and the firework display, while I go sleep this off.

rice cakes by 14 shades of grey

kalanchoe flower by 14 shades of grey

camelia by 14 shades of grey

chrysanthemum by 14 shades of grey

camelias by 14 shades of greychrysanthemums by 14 shades of grey

camelia and bees by 14 shades of greypeach blossoms by 14 shades of grey

barbeque by 14 shades of greysticky rice by 14 shades of grey

barbequed meat by 14 shades of greyBarbequed pork and sticky rice cooked in bamboo stalks

new year feast by 14 shades of greynew year feast by 14 shades of grey
Bamboo shoot soup and sticky rice

new year feast by 14 shades of greyGlass noodle salad

new year feast by 14 shades of greynew year feast by 14 shades of grey
Slow-cooked pork and spring rolls

new year feast by 14 shades of greyBeef and vegetable stir-fry

new year feast by 14 shades of greyBraised chicken

firework by 14 shades of grey

firework by 14 shades of greyfirework by 14 shades of grey
Yeah, that’s a smiley face/Joker firework

firework by 14 shades of grey

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Da Lat, part II: Floral And Fauna

da lat flower - dogrose

 Da Lat is known as “The City of Eternal Spring” or “The City of Flowers”, so naturally you find flowers everywhere. One of the few touristy things that my family did while in Da Lat was to go to the Flower Park, and it was worth it. Yeah, you get the tour buses and the people who go there solely for the photo ops, but the place is big enough that it doesn’t really bother me. All the locals kept saying that the rainy season has ruined a lot of the flowers, so I can only imagine how amazing the city must look in the spring when all the flowers are in bloom.

da lat flower - fuchsia

da lat flower - bird

da lat flower - rose

da lat flower - wildda lat flower

da lat flower - rose garden

da lat flower - park

da lat flower - rose garden

da lat flower - parkda lat flower - tea rose

da lat flower - rose

da lat flower - hydrangea

da lat flower - tea roses

da lat flower - park

da lat flower - cosmos


Da Lat, part I: The Scenery

So, Da Lat. My dad had a conference there, so my mom, my niece, and I tagged along. It is actually the furthest I’ve ever traveled in Vietnam, and one of the prettiest towns I’ve ever seen. It’s up in the mountains, so the weather is super nice (aside from the humidity), and the landscape is absolutely gorgeous, all lush and green. Even the flowers seem more colorful. I didn’t get to explore as much as I wanted to – it’s to be expected when you’re traveling with a preschooler – but honestly, you don’t have to go out of your way to find beauty in this town. We stayed at this hotel on top of a pine hill overlooking a lake, so just walking down the hill and around the lake is enough. Most days, my mom and I just took my niece walking/biking and wandered around all day before meeting my dad for dinner. We didn’t really do touristy stuff, and I prefer it that way – no rushing off, no jostling with a crowd to see this sight or do that activity; it’s a relaxing vacation in its truest sense.

OK, I’ll just let the photos do the talking now 🙂

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery

da lat scenery


Flora And Fauna

chickens by 14 shades of grey

It’s been insanely hot this past week, too hot for outfit posts, so here is a random post of flora and fauna around our house, while I answer this fun questionnaire I got from Isabella’s blog.

1. What was the last thing that made you laugh out loud? I’ve been watching Father Ted again as a palate cleanser after so much Hannibal. It’s by the same writer of The IT Crowd, so it’s the same brand of humor.

ladybug by 14 shades of greybird by 14 shades of grey

2. What is your earliest memory? Gosh, let me think… Probably being terrified after lifting up a rock in our garden and finding a gigantic ant hill underneath. I must’ve been two or three.

3. What is the strangest job you’ve had? I haven’t had a lot of actual jobs so I’m not sure. But if anything you do for money count as a job, then I guess the strangest thing I did is having to dress up as a clairvoyant for a school fair back in high school. I told fortunes (which were actually daily horoscopes I got online) for 2,000 VND each – about 10 cents at today’s exchange rate.

4. If you could visit a time and place in history for one week, which would it be? Tough question. I’d say Ancient Egypt to see how the pyramids were built, but the Austen fan in me wouldn’t say no to Regency England either. Honestly though, I’m a history buff so I’d go anywhere, as long as it’s safe!

5. Have you ever talked or walked in your sleep? Talking, no (as far as I know), but when I was little, there were a few times I fell asleep in one place and woke up in another with no idea how I got there.

desert rose by 14 shades of greybaby chicks by 14 shades of grey

6. What is one form of transportation you haven’t experienced that you would love to use? (ex: hoverboard, dragon, etc.) I wish I could say dragon but I’m terrified of heights. I think I’d love to try horse riding.

7. If you could magically acquire the ability to speak any language perfectly overnight, which would it be? Realistically I’d say German because everybody in my family speaks German, but if it’s any language I’d like to learn something like Welsh or Gaelic.

8. What piece of clothing holds the most sentimental value for you? I’m not particularly attached to my clothes, so maybe one of my brooches? Simply because they’re vintage. Oh and anything that is a gift from my family and friends, of course.

baby chick by 14 shades of grey

9. How did you behave toward your first crush? HAHAHAHAHAHAHANO. Actually, all of my crushes have been either famous or fictional, so there is nothing to tell.

10. What is one book you wish everyone in your life would read? Anything by Terry Pratchett, but especially Good Omen.

orchids by 14 shades of grey

I think I’m supposed to give my own questions too, but I’m too lazy to do that, so feel free to answer these questions below in the comment or in your own post (and send me a link!)


New Year Flowers

camellia and bee by 14 shades of grey

peach blossoms by 14 shades of greypetunia by 14 shades of grey

wild banana blossoms by 14 shades of grey

  chrysanthemums by 14 shades of greycamellias by 14 shades of grey

rose by 14 shades of greygerbera by 14 shades of grey

Just some random photos of the flowers inside and outside our house. It has been unusually warm lately, so all the flowers are in bloom, and that was all the decoration we needed for the Lunar New Year celebration.

Anyway, the break is winding down, and everybody is going back to work tomorrow. I won’t have to get back to my students until the next after next (one of the perks of working at a college, breaks are much longer), though I’m getting back to my script reading job, so I guess the break is over for me too. But what a great, relaxing break it was. I didn’t do anything much except watching TV and snacking all day, but after all, isn’t that the best way to spend a vacation?

Just to show that I haven’t neglected the blogging world altogether, here’s a guest post I did for Eccentric Owl. I’ll try to be back later this week with an outfit post too.

And finally, to close off the Lunar New Year celebration, here’s a picture of my niece in a traditional Vietnamese tunic hefting a rice cake – this is as typical a Lunar New Year photo as it can get:

niece by 14 shades of grey


Angels And Insects

Remember that I said I was sick? It turns out the thing that gave me a fever was a staph infection under my arm. It’s not serious; I already went to the hospital to get it taken care of, but it’s going to be a painful couple of days with a lot of antibiotics. So… in the meantime, here is another picture post with random photos I took. Well, actually it’s not so random, the theme today seems to be insects and butterflies.

katydid by 14 shades of greyspider by 14 shades of grey

butterfly by 14 shades of grey

bird of paradise by 14 shades of greylantana by 14 shades of grey

green butterfly by 14 shades of grey

butterfly by 14 shades of greydracaena flower by 14 shades of grey

butterfly by 14 shades of grey


Spring Photo Scavenger Hunt

I was going to do a review of A Royal Affair today, only I’ve got nothing interesting to say about it. It is well-made and exceptionally pretty (without being cloyingly so, like Marie Antoinette), but it’s very much a standard period piece. If it’s your thing you’ve probably already seen it, and if it’s not, there’s nothing I can say to persuade you to see it.

So instead I decided to post random photos because it’s been a while since I did that. Besides I want to join the Photo Scavenger Hunt challenge, which includes these themes for March:

kitty by 14 shades of grey“Mad”: well, the kitty was not exactly mad, more like annoyed because I woke her from her nap

dalbergia tonkinensis by 14 shades of grey
“Wind”: the flowers of sưa (Dalbergia tonkinensis) signifies the arrival of spring in Hanoi

hen by 14 shades of grey“Eggs”: one of our hens in her nest amongst the bamboo

butterfly by 14 shades of grey“Yellow”: there’s no yellow flowers in bloom in our garden right now, oddly enough, so this butterfly will have to do (those are lemon flowers)

dalbergia tonkinensis by 14 shades of grey“Grand”: more Dalbergia tonkinensis. If these clouds of snow-white flowers aren’t grand, I don’t know what is

tree frog by 14 shades of grey“Balance”

banana flower by 14 shades of grey“Time”: the inside of a banana flower. Those white stalks will grow into bananas (or would have, if we didn’t cut this down to make into a salad.)

cocoon by 14 shades of grey“Matching”: a cocoon constructed from dried leaves.

dog rose by 14 shades of grey“Joy”: the first dog-rose of the season. It’s one of my favorite flowers.

cat by 14 shades of grey“Oval”: and I wonder why I keep stepping on the cat

orchid tree flowers by 14 shades of greyamaryllis by 14 shades of greyBonus: orchid tree flowers near Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, and amaryllis from our garden