y new (well, not totally new though) hobby, which I’m taking on quite seriously. GPS tracking on iPhone showed that I can paddle some distance between 3 and 6 kilometers each training session, not too bad for a beginner, right!? For a side note: GPS feature of the iPhone 4S is amazingly good, comparable or better than many navigational devices. I’ve been wanting such a dedicated device like a Garmin anyhow, iPhone apps are features – rich, but the hardware is not ruggedised enough for serious outdoor uses (and it will not float on water too, like some Garmin does), I need to give it additional protections:

The 2nd and 3rd images: water proof bags for camera and other personal stuffs (phone, wallet, keychain, etc…), they’re really important as it rains cats and dogs everyday in Saigon, it’s now rainy season. The camera bag is very useful indeed, it permits shooting and some other (limited) camera adjustments while prevent water from leaking in, can be used for boating, swimming, fishing… but surely not for diving as advertised. Not only good for health, it’s a great pleasure to be in open air, on bobbing water, enjoy the wide sceneries (small flock of swallows follow above my boat all along the waterway), and go fishing occasionally too! 😀

Last image on the right: it’s extremely common for fisherman to catch this kind of sucker fish (Vietnamese: cá lau kiếng) nowadays in rivers and canals around Saigon. This is a dangerous remark for polluted water and unbalanced biosphere: the kind of fish is not native to the Mekong delta, it’s imported into the region from South America, originally as an aquarium fish, but now has grown into great quantities and threaten other fishes… The more we see this “sucker”, the less native species could be encountered! 😢

More photos here…

the man of wisdom delights in water…


ritten with a Bamboo stylus on iPad, using my inking mentioned earlier! A quote from Confucius’ Analects, and its partial, literal equivalence in English on this post’s title… Looks like there’s still lots of space for improvements on creating real, good — looking strokes (for Chinese round brush and other kinds of brushes). Really discontent with my Chinese handwriting ever since, it’s never been good enough for me, it’s been degrading greatly over time without practicing! My handwriting reflects my messy, chronically — undisciplined character! 😢

non, chéri

on chéri, non chéri, tu n’aurais pas dû partir ce soir. Non chéri, tu rêves de folies, tu as brisé tout ce que nous avions bâti. Ma première nuit sans toi, ma première nuit sans joie, sans toi, mon amour. J’entends les pas dans l’escalier, mais ils ne s’arrêtent pas ici. Et quand le silence soudain revient, j’ai si peur qu’entre nous, ce soit la fin de tout. J’ai même perdu confiance en moi, oui, je t’imagine dans d’autres bras qui, t’emporteront loin de moi, et de notre idylle.

Non chéri, non chéri, tu n’aurais pas dû partir ce soir. Non chéri, dans l’espace d’une nuit, tu as détruit tout ce qui nous avait uni. Ma première nuit sans toi, ma première nuit sans joie, sans toi, mon amour. Je vais je viens seule dans la maison, où chaque objet me parle de toi. Hier on était là tous les deux, et en quelques heures l’avenir me fait peur. Pourtant j’espère que tu reviendras qu’avant le matin tu rentreras, j’essaierai de ne pas te montrer toute ma peine.

Non chéri, non chéri, tu n’aurais pas dû partir ce soir. Ma première nuit sans toi, ma première nuit sans toi, sans toi mon amour!

femme d’aujourd’hui

Toi le symbole de toutes nos libertés,
Tu es la terre qui cherche sa vérité,
Détruisant des montagnes de tradition,
Tu reproposes une nouvelle version.

emme sous le drapeau de ses rêves, crie son nom, retire ses chaînes. Femme qui se soutient différente, que d’espoir sur la balance. Tu étouffes dans l’île de tes faiblesses, peur de ces blessures qui restent. Toi le symbole de toutes nos libertés, tu es la terre qui cherche sa vérité. Une femme d’aujourd’hui, une femme d’aujourd’hui. Détruisant des montagnes de tradition, tu reproposes une nouvelle version. Une femme d’aujourd’hui, une femme d’aujourd’hui.

Femme, une force qui vibre dans l’espace, tu es la passion sans arme. Femme, complice intime ou guerrière, un voile tâché de mystère. Toi le symbole de toutes nos libertés, tu es la terre qui cherche sa vérité. Une femme d’aujourd’hui, une femme d’aujourd’hui. Détruisant des montagnes de tradition, tu reproposes une nouvelle version. Une femme d’aujourd’hui, une femme d’aujourd’hui.

Nuối tiếc — Ý Lan 

Côn Đảo – May, 2013

he ATR — 72 takes off and heads for a due — south course. It’s been a long time since my last boarding an ATR — 72 airplane, perhaps 8 or 9 years already, and that time was not a pleasant experience at all. But this time, the same kind of turbo — prop shows sturdy and clean actions during taxi — ing, taking off and landing, leaves passengers with safe and comfortable feelings. Quite a short flight, 15 minutes of climbing, 15 more minutes in quite a low — altitude path, just a bit above the lowest cloud ceiling.

The ground, rivers and canals, stacks of clouds and their casted shadows on the terrain below, all in a bright sunny day, slowly passes by my eyes just like layers in a parallax scrolling game. When it started to meet the sea, where the plane’s low altitude allows seeing large ships and their long trailing wakes on the immense blue surface, the captain announced: “prepare for landing”, the island is just 50 miles off from shore, and the plane glides softly to the group of islands clearly visible above the horizon.

It’s only when the jet fuel smell soon faded away that I realized where’ve I been to, Poulo Condor, with it’s distinctively — sweet smell from a special kind of grass, after which the local airstrip is named: Cỏ Ống. This pleasant smell, together with smells of other kinds of flowers that I’d already known, fill the atmosphere all the way along the rocky coast to the island center, a tiny town, a fishing village to be exact. It’s strange that I immediately get a feeling of coming home, thought it’s only the first time I’ve been here.

Short and narrow roads with French colonial style houses, a post office, a police station, a “hospital”, only one gas station in town… At sunrise and sunset, public loudspeakers transmits in the air news of the day, and every hour, the post office’s clock tower rings a short tune and strikes the bell announcing time to the whole town. All of a sudden, I feel as if I’d flown back into a very old time, when daily life routines are bound to maritime practices, when not every home can afford a radio for news following, and a clock for time keeping!

Poulo Condor is the old name of the archipelago now called: Côn Đảo, its main island certainly has the hallmark of, a scaled — up model of, my childhood’s dream: tropical the island breeze, all of nature wild and free, this is where I long to be… It’s not that kind of straight roads with uniformly lined trees, all trimmed to the same shape and size, it’s not that kind of industrialized golf field grass, all mowed flawlessly. It’s almost un — touched nature, with thousands of different species, all mixes and struggles to create the uniqueness of this biosphere.

It’s uncontaminated salt — like white sand dull, and pure jade — blue water. It’s plenty of insects annoyingly flying around in the evening, while you’re enjoying some fresh seafoods bought straight from fishing boats on the beach! It’s the wuthering wind outside the windows which scares me a bit at 2 AM then I realized those sounds are just normal on an all — sides — sea — faced island. It deeply reminisces the smells and sounds of a small, then “half — civilized”, fishing village where I’d originally grown up!

The town lies in the middle of 2 ports: the naval port 12 km (road distance) to the south, and the airport 12 km to the north. Everything on the island is a bit pricy for tourists, since with the island’s self — productions are just some sea harvests, most goods need to be transported from land by ships, which depend on weather to operate. The main power plan, locates in southern outskirt, runs totally on diesel, and much everything depends on it: ice making, water purification, air condition… at night, to conserve electricity, roads are just barely illuminated.

Tourists would find some restaurants in town, but not any bar or discotheque. I think it’s better that way, don’t bring modern living with biohazard things here, one should come only for relaxing: swimming, coral diving, fresh foods, and the marvelous natural scenes all around. I’ve been to many beaches in VN, not yet to find any place where sand is such fine — grained and white, and water is such pure in splendid emerald or jade color tones like they are here at Poulo Condor.

Life is old there, older than the trees, younger than the mountains… in the afternoon, I was wandering around, dans la chaleur immobile, and found out that music on the island is quite outdated, mostly the 70, 80’s oldies, which can be both a good and a bad thing! To my surprise, many of them are often of good quality, Phạm Duy‘s songs are much very popular, in one occasion, I realize Hà Thanh’s voice in the air, some modern good pieces of Phú Quang, and one evening on the quay, I heard Sheila singing Poupée de porcelaine and many other French oldies!

Alas! At least there’re ones who have an average taste for music! Even the teens who stick their noses to the mobiles all the time here don’t listen to those contemporary “youth music” rubbish often. I guess, despite what we call “civilized”, for ones who were born in the purity of air and water, they naturally have the ability to judge what is a “below average taste”, and obviously have certain degrees of immunity to modern cultural diseases which are spreading our time like cholera!

On the east side of the island, where it faces the ocean and receives direct winds, the sand is whiter and more fine — grained, the forest is of mostly short trees and bushes. On the west side, where it is about 50 miles from the Mekong delta, the beaches’ sand is not such white, it’s yellowish, but the forest is taller and denser, almost can be called rain — forest. Along the coast, where small fresh — water springlets join the sea, mangroves and mangrove palms can be seen here and there, in small populations.

Just a few kilometers around the main island are colorful coral reefs, which are in better preserving condition than anywhere else in Vietnam. I’m not a biologist or geographer to know in depth about all this, but it’s purely pleasant when you walk around the land and sense that kind of fragrant, ripe — guava — like smell, it’s plainly wonderful when you can take a short nap, under shadow of the forest, with sounds of dozens kinds of bird around, to remind that there’re active and rich lives out there, in every corners of the island.

Just seven days, but a really good time for me. There’re days, the sea is so calm that I can lay myself half floating, half sleeping on its surface, about a kilometer off from shore for hours, just to catch the fishermen who pass by on their small boats by surprise (my swimming skill hasn’t been “rusty” yet, but it would need some practices before I can swim several kilometers without resting again). There’re moments of heavy rains, which pour water on one half of the island, masking everything behind a dim and dark curtain, while leave a splendid bright sunny landscape on the other half in contrast.

The gales here are strange indeed, they come out — of — the — blue, with very little warning signs, so speedy that sometimes, sailors on motor boats have to cut anchor cable to rapidly escape from them, in order not to frighten the tourists. Life on an island can be boring for ones who have accustomed to crowded urban, but not for me… already had in mind another plan, another idea for coming back here, in a time not too remote away.


y proudly – announced achievement for the last 6 working months, now is a registering (pending) patent in the U.S. It’s about create inking effect to handwriting on iPad (ideally with a stylus): you can apply many pen styles: ball pen, fountain pen, calligraphy pen, Chinese round brush, and different levels of ink wetness. You may have seen my handwriting in severalpreviousposts, but this is completely different, a big step forward, much more a realistic look like ink on paper. You need to see it in action to witness how interesting the “beautification effect” it is!

Different pen styles:

Different ink wetness:

Another writing example, a poem in both Vietnamese and Chinese:

And now, a real world application, my new year greeting card, hand – written on iPad, printed on paper, with my signature and personal seal on it. Old vintage things are not to be perished, they just come back in new neoclassical forms, to have “inflated”, “degraded” contemporary values reprimanded! 😀

je ne pourrais jamais t’oublier

Bên thành rượu tiễn;
Buổi chia bào bịn rịn những ai ai.
Khách ra đi nao nức bốn phương trời,
Người ở lại luống ngậm ngùi năm tháng cũ.

iens, bonjour, comment vas — tu, dis — moi? Dis, te souviens — tu encore de moi? Moi, il m’arrive souvent de penser à toi. Mais à part ça, comment ça va? Toi, vraiment tu n’as pas trop changé. Moi, tu sais, j’ai beaucoup voyagé. Oui en effet, j’ai découvert d’autres pays. Et toi, qu’as — tu fait de ta vie?

Je parle trop, tu es pressé, je ne voudrais pas te déranger. Si j’en dis trop, c’est pour t’aider, à retrouver le temps passé.

Est — il vrai qu’elle me ressemble un peu? On dit qu’elle a aussi les yeux bleus. Es — tu certain d’être plus heureux maintenant? Moi, je t’aime, je t’aime toujours autant. C’est la vie, on n’y peut rien changer. Nous sommes aujourd’hui des étrangers. Je vois très bien, dans tes yeux, qu’il n’en reste rien. Notre amour que tu es loin!

Je parle trop, tu es pressé, je sais, je ne veux plus te retarder. Encore un mot, et je m’en vais, tu sais, je ne pourrai jamais t’oublier!

Je ne pourrais jamais t'oublier 
Mưa trên biển vắng 

my favourites

ome of my favourite food and drink, photos casually taken everywhere, I don’t really remember when and where did I take them (I hate ‘check-in’ and all those map & GPS stuffs). My taste is quite narrow and conservative, I think, some are of Chinese origin, some of Northern Vietnam tastes, some Italian, some French, some sea food, but most are traditional stuffs native to my hometown, naturally!

đà lạt – nha trang – 2013

y (lunar) new year vacation to Đà Lạt & Nha Trang cities with hundreds of photos shot. This is my first attempt to capture the remaining Frech architecture in Đà Lạt: houses, villas, churches, as well as the old railway station of Đà Lạt… Also lots of photos were taken “on each and every kilometres” around Nha Trang: the old “wall city” in Diên Khánh, pagodas and churches in Nha Trang & Diên Khánh provinces. Ponagar tower, Nha Trang oceanographic museum, VinPearl and its aquarium, Hòn Bà height (1578m) where the old house of doctor Alexandre Yersin is still preserved… and many other sightseeings. It’s so good after a long working time, I’m on the road again, the weather is good, the sun is bright above the blue skye these days, and life always has a lot to see and learn!

paradise cave

eserting this blog for quite a long time, now I’m back with some updates: my last trip to Huế, Quảng Trị, Quảng Bình provinces, visiting some sightseeings: the Huế citadel, the 17th parallel DMZ, the Phong Nha – Kẻ Bàng national park… most of which I’d been to before, the only new thing is: Paradise Cave (Vietnamese: động Thiên Đường), a spectaculous cave of 31 kilometre length, of which only the first kilometre is opened to tourists. The interior is nicely arranged with white – light sources (good for viewing and photographing, it helps revealing the true colors of the stalactites and stalagmites). A hard – wood stairway would guide your footsteps through a path of 1.7 kilometre length, a few hundreds meters down, and rest areas along the way to stop and adore the splendid scenes. I was just simply breathless and wordless once got inside the cave, “Paradise” could easily be among the largest and most beautiful caves of the world, take a look at my pictures, it has the beauty and reminiscent of an imperial palace!