JULY 24, 2021

12 years ago today marked the first time I was about to move to another time zone, GMT+8. It was a 15-day trip to Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan, China. My first ever long trip.

Cả đời quay đầu nhìn, năm phần hậu tri hậu giác, ba phần không thể làm gì, có thể có hai phần không oán không hối, coi như đáng giá.
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一生回头看,五分后知后觉,三分无可奈何,能有两分无怨无悔,就算值了。

Continue ReadingJULY 24, 2021

JUNE 30, 2021

It’s been 2 years since the last time I felt some place as home. Langmusi gave me a feeling of love, like Danba had done 10 years before. Maybe it’s where I arrived after half of the journey, I no longer felt like a passenger to a stranger place.

Bạn không cần tìm nhà cho tâm hồn, cơ thể cần nhà, tâm hồn chỉ cần cảm giác như ở nhà. Mọi thứ trên đời đều có thể cho tâm hồn về nhà. Chỉ cần bạn cảm nhận được cái đẹp, tâm hồn sẽ trở về nhà ngay.
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不用给自己的灵魂找家,身体需要家,灵魂只是需要家的感觉,天地间万物皆可以给予灵魂家的感觉,只要你一察觉到美好,灵魂即刻归家。
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You don’t need to find a home for your soul. Your body needs home, but your soul just needs the feeling of home. Everything in heaven and earth can give your soul the feeling of home. As soon as you perceive the beauty, your soul will return home immediately.

P.s.: Picture taken in Langmusi, Sichuan and Gansu, China in 2019.

Continue ReadingJUNE 30, 2021

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi

At 8 in the morning, I went downstair to have breakfast at the hostel restaurant. But I opted for a dish of Taiwan rice instead of the buffet. I decided to stay inside for the whole morning because I’d get tired of waiting at the airport later.

I checked out of the hostel at noon, and got to the airport by metro. Because I was 1-hour early, I tool a stroll around the airport and took some pictures. It seemed to change a lot compared to the picture of 10 years ago in my memory.

I guessed Langmusi was the best place of my trip. I even preferred Langmusi to Danba, but there was no special place I’d like to return. Next time, I’d like to see more of China besides Sichuan.

Overall, I have traveled 1,756km on this Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture trip, sitting around 29 hours 22 minutes in a car or a bus. And according to Pedometer, I have walked 262,269 steps during these two weeks, rounding to 125km on feet fortnightly.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Barkam To Mt. Siguniang

Barkam to Aba/Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture was like Kangding to Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, meaning it was the seat of the prefecture. There was a river flowing alongside the town, too. But I felt that Barkam seemed to be much less crowded than Kangding and had no sign of international travelers.

Today was a great public transport experience. Because the driver said 8:30AM the bus to Xiaojin would depart, this morning, I came to the station early to buy a new ticket. Turned out I was too early, again. The bus would depart around noon, again.

When I went back to the hostel for a seat, they invited me to have breakfast. So kind. Or they didn’t know that I had already checked out. And it was a square meal with green bean and rice porridge, two Chinese steamed buns (mantou), a boiled egg, peanuts, and pickled cucumber. Best breakfast so far.

It was a bumpy bus ride to Xiaojin via winding roads and passes. Sometimes, I thought the bus couldn’t get through some big stone piles on the road. But thanks to the onsite wheel loader and rotary mixer, plus the help of the bus staff, there was a connecting bus waiting for us somewhere on the way to Mt. Siguniang.

The 10-hour on the bus ride yesterday was not as tiring as 6 hours today; however, I enjoyed this crowded bus from Xiaojin to Mt. Siguniang, and moreover, kindness of Chinese people.

They stopped near the Changping Valley site under the rain, so I picked that hostel right there. Its decoration looked warm and comfortable.

The Changping Inn hostel’s owner didn’t speak English, but I found their bookcase interesting.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 10: Barkam To Mt. Siguniang

Ngawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Songpan To Zoigê Grassland

After one third of the journey, I discovered that I was able to buy a ticket, make a reservation, ask for directions, order food, etc. with my improving Chinese.

Though the bus departed at 10:00AM, it reached Zoigê Grassland aka Ruoergai Marsh at 12:30PM. As I was at a higher place than Songpan, I saw no trees, only grass, goats, yaks, and tents which reminded me of Tagong Grassland in the Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture.

I thought I would be here at 2PM. Luckily, I had enough time to find out the bus to Langmusi at 2:30PM also passed Huahu/Flower Lake. So I bought the ticket for 21 yuans (26 and we could go to Langmusi).

A woman took us to their hotel. 4 of us shared the 2 bedrooms in a room. I didn’t feel at ease but I hope I could sleep tonight.

I then found a big restaurant where many people was having lunch. I decided for a bowl of beef noodles. Hmmm, too much noodles and too little beef. Too salty as well.

We strolled around the bus station as we waited for the bus. Zoigê had something that reminded me of Kangding, maybe because it wasn’t as dull as I had thought. It had so many uptown-like stores. Maybe I was the first Vietnamese to have been to this town.

It took us 45 mins on the bus to be at the so-called Ruoergai Wetland National Nature Reserve. Because it was rather late, I was worried of the bus going back, I asked some travelers to find out how much time needed for this place. It took me 2 hours instead of 1 like they said.

It was so cold and windy here (8-9 degrees celsius) despite sunshine, with not many flowers to see. If I were here in late July (as my initial plan), flowers would be in full bloom. However, I’d never seen so many gesanghua in the wild like in here.

When I was walking and waiting at the gate, I found out there was no bus back to Ruoergai. The taxi driver from Langmusi didn’t accept the bus fare. We went back to Ruoergai with 100 yuans (25 each). From what the driver said, I guessed Langmusi was not so far away.

Finally, I had a normal rice meal with eggs and tomato soup which cost me only 5 yuans in a Ruoergai restaurant.

Continue ReadingNgawa Tibetan And Qiang Autonomous Prefecture, Day 6: Songpan To Zoigê Grassland

Trekking Ta Nang (Lam Dong)

My company organized a 2-day trip to trek Ta Nang for managers. Despite advice to practice before the trip, I didn’t think it would be as hard a the hikes/treks I did in Kangding, Danba, or Garzê in 2009. Turned out I was wrong somehow.

The day before the trek, we finished our work early and left the office for the Tan Son Nhat airport. We flew to Lien Khuong Airport at Dalat and then checked in to the hotel.
The next morning, we started off quite late, and only after the farm truck arrived at a small house did we begin to really walk off the paved area, around 10AM. It was very sunny, but I didn’t feel any tired in the morning because we only walked through a meadow. We were taking a rest real soon, around 1PM. After siesta, I began to realize that we had to climb over some steep slopes. Only at those places was I slower than others.

We reached to the tents at Ta Nang top at 4PM. Too early. I learned that we walked just about 8km today. My thighs hurt a bit.

I had a really fun night with my colleagues. We had a warm dinner by the fire, then we sang the night away. Though I brought my own backpack all the way up to the top, I had to admire the health of porters who brought almost everything that we needed.

This was the first time I slept in a tent on a mountain. It was a good experience though.
We woke up early the next morning, and helped unload the tents before going down. Because we had to take the flight home in Lam Dong, we didn’t have a chance to continue but go back. The road was not too difficult but there were many turns. Unluckily, I saw no waterfall.

Still I had the fear of crossing a very tiny tree bridge over a stream.

We were present at the small house around 10. I really walked slowly on the way back to talk with some female colleagues my age. The best thing about this trip was to connect with other managers.

I guessed I’d have a good tan now after the trek, and sore legs for a few days ahead.
The top wasn’t as high (as in China), my health wasn’t as good as I had been 9 years ago, but I wanna trek more mountains after this tiring trip.

My new pair of trekking shoes were a bit damaged after the trek. I’d have to bring them to the seller to repair soon.

Check out the video of the trip done by the organizer team:

Looking back at the trip, it was my most memorable moment in this company. The previous company trip wasn’t as delighted.

Continue ReadingTrekking Ta Nang (Lam Dong)

I Would Wanna Be a Jumper

I watched “Jumper” all over again. I watched the last part yesterday on TV. I couldn’t get it out of my head. I’ve let my freak flag fly. Actually, flying could metaphorically comes a poor second to “jumping.” I don’t wanna fly no more. No catapult, no gliding, no paragliding, not even hang gliding. I just wanna “jump.”

If there was life after death, I wouldn’t wanna be a bird no more. I would only wanna be a “jumper” so that I could say like David Rice, “Let me tell you about my day so far. Coffee in Paris, surfed the Maldives, took a little nap on Kilimanjaro. Oh, yeah, I got digits from this Polish chick in Rio. And then I jumped back for the final quarter of the NBA finals–courtside of course. And all that was before lunch. I could go on, but all I’m saying is, I’m standing on top of the world.”
I decided to take the red pill. Can somebody come show me how deep the rabbit hole goes, NOW?

My first jump would be to Danba. It would be great sitting waiting watching the sun setting in a watchtower. Arghhhhhhhhh, all the imagination about where I would go if I could teleport myself made the day more damning than ever.

Continue ReadingI Would Wanna Be a Jumper

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi, Transit In Guangzhou

I didn’t have a good night sleep so I felt a lil bit tired after waking up. Alex said that he didn’t wanna miss breakfast. Alex looked forward to a Western breakfast, but they served a Chinese one. Ha ha! But I liked this kind of a light breakfast.

We rent a bike next door, at Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel, to cycle around the block. It was great to ride in Chengdu because there was no rain nor shine. I realized that the Chinese girl style of riding bicycles and e-bikes was a lot different from the Vietnamese ones. They rode bikes like guys did. No exception! It was raining a lil bit after our 3 hours of cycling.

Checked out of Angelica Hotel 5 mins before 12 noon. I liked the advertising panel near the hotel that says, ‘Red is the new attitude.’ At last, I bought some cookies as a gift for our colleagues. We had a simple lunch in a near-by store with vegetables only.

Because we still had a lot of time, Alex wanted to try a real coffee. In a building, we found a coffee shop which looked normal from outside but was of high class inside. The expensive Italian coffee here cost a lot more than what I ever tried in Vietnam.

Again, we got on the wrong bus 300 to the North Bus Station instead of the airport. At last, the bus made it to the airport soon enough for us to board the plane. We had a lil bit of trouble because Alex used his name to book my ticket, so we needed help from the China Southern Airlines for some changes.

There was no delay, but we still ran at Guangzhou Baiyunport again because I wanted to be sure we could be on time for the next international plane to Hanoi. I had a fever and was afraid of the health check and customs clearances at Guangzhou and Noi Bai airports. But turned out everything was okay. We arrived at Noi Bai airport at 10:30 PM.

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 15: Chengdu To Hanoi, Transit In Guangzhou

Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 14: Danba To Chengdu

We got up very early, packed up very fast. We shared a cab with an Asian guy, costing 3 yuans each. We were early for the bus so I had a light breakfast. The drive to Chengdu got us stuck in 2 traffic jams, one of which was caused by our bus driver. He hit a car and quarreled with them for about 1 hour. The we got stuck in another traffic jam spot somewhere near Ya’an where we had been stuck on the way to Kangding on day 3 (???).

We returned to Chengdu around 7 PM. Sim’s Cozy Garden Hostel was all booked. Because we had no advance reservation, we went to the hotel next door called Angelica Hotel (安祺高酒店). The price here was cheaper, and I thought this was the best accommodation we had stayed in China so far.

We went to eat noodles and wonton dinner at the place Alex picked the last time because he liked the noodles here a lot. The weather was kinda hot so I didn’t enjoy my wonton much.

We counted money. Except for the camera, I only spent very little here. That was a surprise to me! But then think again, we ate little and I must have dropped some weights after this trip.

We’ll have breakfast buffet at the hotel restaurant the next morning. Yahoo!

Continue ReadingGarzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, Day 14: Danba To Chengdu