Saturday, February 28, 2009

saigon pics 2

Some more pics from the Saigon portion of our trip... we love taking pictures of everyday things when we travel, since other people's ordinary is extraordinary to us.
An average utility pole in Saigon... they all looked like this. I would hate to be the utility person or electrician.
Merchants rolling racks of shoes down to the night market. They were rolling a bit too fast for me too browse though.
Assortment of tropical fruits at the Ben Thanh Market. I still haven't tried durian (the spiky one on the left)... it has a very very strong pungent odor, well more of a funk... but apparently it's supposed to be really tasty. It is banned in most all the hotels due to its funky nature.
A yummy gourmet Vietnamese sandwich (banh mi thit), soup, and coffee (not pictured)... all for $4.
Notre Dame Cathedral... yet another leftover from French colonial days.
A cute couple getting their wedding photos taken in front of the cathedral... and in true Vietnamese fashion, they are on a scooter!
More scooters!... people wear masks to protect themselves from pollution. A lot of women also wear masks, hats, long sleeves and gloves to protect themselves from the sun, since lighter skin is seen as more beautiful (I profess that I, in fact, did the opposite and tried to get a little tan). Will post more pics of other areas of our trip in a couple of days!

Friday, February 27, 2009

saigon pics

As promised, I am posting some photos of our recent trip to Vietnam. This batch is a selection from Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City). My overall impressions of Saigon - a huge vibrant city with elements of east and west. There is a mix of traditional street market culture juxtaposed with high end western luxury stores. Streets are packed with an infinite amount of scooters and constant hustle and bustle. Everyone here is super friendly and always happy to see you... the overall population is energetic and young (a huge amount born after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975). The food is awesome with a great selection of Vietnamese, French and other international selections. Would I go back?... most definitely.
Vespa by the Ben Thanh Market, the central market downtown.
Everyone has a scooter in Vietnam... and it feels like they are all on the road at once. Not uncommon to see a family of four (baby included) all riding on one scooter with their dog and shopping bags tied to the back.... I have no idea how they balance it all, but they do. We stuck to walking, since it was safer!
Inside the Ben Thanh Market in the fabric section. The market is a massive space that sells everything under the sun - fresh produce, live seafood, toiletries, clothes, shoes, watches, DVDs, fabric, jewelry... the list is endless. I had my first crack at haggling here.
Yummy spring rolls... just one of the many Vietnamese dishes we gorged ourselves on. Our average bill for a nice restuarant dinner for two (including appetizers, entrees, and two beers) was about $7 - 10. Beer was only $1... so needless to say, there was a lot of beer flowing on our trip.
A lot of colonial architecture is still present, leftover from the French.
Statue of Ho Chi Minh (or Uncle Ho, as he is also known), who led the Vietnamese Independence movement and established the communist-governed Democratic Republic of Vietnam.
Sunset on Saigon from our hotel rooftop. I'll post more photos soon!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

collage: kitten chasing a bird

Ok... this jet lag business is getting a little bit ridiculous. I swear, my sleeping patterns are more like a cat these last couple of days. I wake up at 3 or 4 in the morning with tons of energy and then by noon I am in dire need of a cat nap. Yesterday night I fell asleep on the couch at 8pm, only to wake up at midnight to move to the bed and fall asleep again. Hopefully I can shake this pattern off soon!!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

home sweet home

It feels so good to be home! Our trip to Vietnam was fantastic, but it does feel nice to curl up in our own bed. I am still walking around like a zombie trying to recover from my jet lag and now also trying to get back into the regular groove of things. So hard to get into work mode after a vacation!!! We're still going through all our photos, so in the meantime, I thought I would post a crafty item I bought while on our trip. She was so cute, I couldn't resist.... she is even wearing the traditional Vietnamese dress (ao dai)... I probably should have packed my suitcase a bit better though, since I kind of squished her conical straw hat.

Monday, February 23, 2009

collage: yellow bird

We're flying home today! It's going to be a brutal flight.... nine hours from Saigon to Tokyo and then an eight hour wait until our next long flight back to Vancouver.... arghhhh. Something tells me I am going to need some sleeping pills.... I wish I could fly like a bird, but I guess that would mean i wouldn't be able to sleep.

Friday, February 20, 2009

leaving the beaches of vietnam

We have just arrived back in Saigon from Nha Trang, and I still feel a little wired from all the traveling. Nha Trang was awesome.... lots of sun and sand along with the laid backness of most beach towns. We did a nine hour boat tour yesterday where we got to snorkel, visit some local islands and swim, as well as visit an aquarium that had sharks and sea turtles... although one of my most favorite parts of the trip was when my husband Roger was dragged on stage to sing "Yellow Submarine" with the local boat band, who also happened to be the crew, oh, as well as the cooks. I think I drained most of our camera battery filming that sequence. I was a little nervous getting on the boat - fear of sea sickness, food poisoning, and inadequate bathrooms kept flooding my head... but alas, everything was fine... yay! I braved the seas, ate mystery dishes including some fruit and even used the creepy squat bathroom (oh the horror). We're here until Sunday and then its back home to Vancouver... I can't believe time has gone by so fast!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

happy valentine's day! - encore

Ok... since Valentine's Day falls on the weekend this year, I figure instead of posting just the one card, I would post another today to keep the love vibe going all through the weekend. xoxo.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

happy valentine's day!

It's a perfect day to kiss and hug a loved one, family member or friend... or maybe even send them a card. I remember in elementary school, there would always be a classroom party on Valentine's Day. Everyone would tape a big manila envelope to the front of their desks, and we would all walk around and deliver each other's cards, all the while ingesting mass amounts of sugary treats. Too bad we still don't have this tradition as adults... although I guess it would be a bit weird and might create "harassment" problems in the workplace... so perhaps, best to leave it to the kids. Happy Valentine's Day!

vietnam on valentine's day

It's Valentine's Day here today in Vietnam and there are vendors up and down the narrow streets of Hoi An selling bunches of roses and chocolate. Given that I feel like I am melting every time I go outside, I'm thinking buying a box of chocolates on the roadside here isn't that good of an idea. Today we headed up to see the Marble Mountains... basically a series of pagodas and worship sights that have been literally carved into the mountain and its many marble caves. Why I thought it would be a nonchalant easy promenade, I'm not sure. At times we were scaling narrow slippery steps in the dark with our guide reassuring us that all was OK.... all I kept hearing in the back of my head was an ambulance siren. It was well worth it in the end, I'm glad we did it. As for Hoi An, it such a cute town... I have already broken down and got a pair of sandals made as well as a winter pea coat... Roger broke down as well and got two jackets made... now we just have to figure how to get it all into the suitcases. I think we have to leave here soon before we buy too many things! Will update again soon when we're off to Nha Trang!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

vintage marimekko

I love Marimekko patterns. One of my most favorite pieces in our house is a framed vintage Marimekko wall hanging that we stumbled upon at a vintage furniture store. We didn't buy it at first, although I longingly thought about it. Then by pure chance, we saw it for 50% off, so we snapped it up! I wish we had more wall space in our house to add more Marimekko!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

vietnam continues

Yesterday we said goodbye to Saigon and left to venture to Hoi An. What a huge difference -- from urban sprawl and bustling city life to scenic views of the countryside. We are on the top floor of our small hotel, with an excellent view of an expanse of rice fields.... its beautiful! Roger woke up to a distant ringing of a gong travelling accross the fields. Walking around the old town last night, there are rows and rows of shops lit up with beautiful Vietnamese lanterns as well as rows of tailor shops ready to make anything from suits, to shoes to backpacks... all customized to fit. I am looking at my suitcase and thinking... I should have really brought a larger one. I wouldn't be surprised if many of these shops can make luggage as well, so perhaps my problem is solved. Ok.. off to trek to the old town and discover the sights. Will update again soon!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009


One of my favorite childhood shows was an animation series called Barbapapa. Originally created as a series of books, Barbapapa was a shape changing fella who had a wife and seven children (also shape-changers) who would use their special powers to help people, rescue animals, and do other acts of kindness. I slowly began collecting Barbapapa stuff about ten years ago after I found an old book in Amsterdam. Now my shelf is lined with over twenty books, and yes I will admit I also have the keychain, soap dispenser, coin bank, salt + pepper shakers, tea pot...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

good morning vietnam

It's Sunday here in Vietnam, and it still feels so surreal that we are here. I am still pretty jet lagged after the 23 hour flight, but it seems to be getting a little better today, despite the 80% humidy. We are staying in central downtown Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and things here are very very different than the slower pace back home. I am quickly mastering how to cross the street... well, more like run like the wind across massive intersections of crazy scooter armies... its like one big game of frogger here. Also have had my first authentic bowl of pho (beef noodel soup) here as well as had a crack at bargaining at the local market (I think I need more practice). I can't upload any pictures from where I'm staying, so it'll be text blogs while I'm here... although I think it will be hard to even capture what it feels like to be here in just pictures alone. Will update again soon!!!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

collage: the bird stole her camera

I am writing this post ahead of time since I anticipate jet lag... its' going to be a very loooooong flight. Before we left, my dad gave me a lecture on traveling safe and to watch out for pick-pockets. Anyways, it reminded me of a collage I had done, so am posting it up!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

collage: first class

We are leaving today for our trip to Vietnam. I am a little nervous since it will be quite a long flight... we are flying from Vancouver to Tokyo, and then from Tokyo to Ho Chi Minh (Saigon). Even though we are flying economy class (which they call "leisure class" now), I am hoping the ride will be a comfortable one... its going to be a long ride. Something tells me there won't be any lobster thermador served onboard though. Will have some posts on auto-pilot for the next two and a half weeks... but I'll try to post updates of our trip once in awhile from Vietnam!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

painting outside the lines

I love the retro feel of paint-by-numbers. I was so excited to see that you can still purchase them from my local craft store. So I bought a bunch and decided to start painting. Well, since I love to bend the rules now and again, I decided to turn mine into a more abstract piece. Can't wait to start the next one!

Monday, February 2, 2009

collage: boy and beaver

As you may know, the beaver is Canada's national animal. On first impression, it might not seem like a very cool animal... not like a tiger, bear or mythical dragon. But what other animal can make a giant house in a river, all the while sporting a big toothy smile! And once you take into consideration that the beaver stands for industry and perseverance, it actualy makes perfect sense as a national animal. The odd thing is though, I have grown up in Canada all my life and have yet to see one in the wild. My last "sighting" ended up actually being a muskrat.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

collage: yellow bird

My middle name is Quyên (pronounced kwee-en), which translates into a type of bird in Vietnamese. Some people say "Queen" or "Quinn", which is fine by me, since it still sounds nice. Apparently, this is one of the reasons my mom chose this middle name for me – since some Vietnamese names mispronounced phonetically can sound... er, not very flattering.