Vietnam part II.

Hello from Hanoi!
Hello from Hanoi!

I can’t believe it has been two years already since I’ve last visited my home country. This time I stayed for almost a month and no, it was not enough.

The amount of love I receive in Vietnam is overwhelming. Even though everybody loves to pinpoint how fat I am. At first it would piss me off but then I realised that to Vietnamese standards I really was. Everyone there is almost anorexic-skinny and actually being fat is almost a privilege. Still, my ego got hurt. And it didn’t help very much that I was there exactly during Chinese New Year which means one thing: food. Lots, lots of food.

Chinese/Lunar New Year decoration shop
Chinese/Lunar New Year decoration shop
Traditional New Years snack: thinly sliced roasted coconut covered in sugar/coffee powder, sooo good!
Traditional New Years snack: thinly sliced roasted coconut covered in sugar/coffee powder, sooo good!
Visiting a Japanese restaurant was a bit of a cliché...
Visiting a Japanese restaurant was a bit of a cliché…
... and so was the Chinese restaurant...
… and so was the Chinese restaurant…
So of course we had to get the real deal! Vietnamese tofu with spring rolls and rice noodles, omnomnom...
So of course we had to get the real deal! Vietnamese tofu with spring rolls and rice noodles, omnomnom… Yes, real Vietnamese restaurants with the best foods are not too good at food decoration.. or hygiene.. 
I present you the best pho of Hanoi.. which means.. the best pho in the world?! :O
I present you the best pho of Hanoi.. which means.. the best pho in the world?! :O

As you can see, I had plenty of opportunities to eat and I did not hesitate, haha! I gained almost two kilos and as expected my cousins kindly informed me about my chubby cheeks.

This time I also stayed for a week in Hanoi which was the best part of my trip. I love big cities… who doesn’t? Probably only my grandpa and my mom. The difference between villages and cities is unbelievable. The city is always full of people, noises, honking cars, dust and pollution,   whereas the village consists of trees, farm animals and dirty toilets – that’s it. Every time someone forced me to stay at the country side, I died a little. Luckily my grandpa has lots of animals to play with and sometimes a 3G connection … although I barely survived.

oink!
oink!
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Villige life means lots of manual (dirty) work but somehow I was enjoying the bond I was having with my family.

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If I can recommend something, it would be visiting Keangnam Landmark in Hanoi.

The view from Keangnam.
The view from Keangnam.

However, it wasn’t the view that impressed me. It was the amount of fun that was placed in there! The whole floor was full of xboxes and playstations and 3D  Tv’s. And what not: there was a 3D museum! I must say my silly mind was having a blast.

HAHAHA! If you don't think this is funny, you really have an issue.
HAHAHA! If you don’t think this is funny, you really have an issue.
Do try the egg coffee if you have a chance! It is seriously amazing. I still prefer the original Vietnamese milk coffee but this was heavenly too.
Do try the egg coffee if you have a chance! It is seriously amazing. I still prefer the original Vietnamese milk coffee but this was heavenly too.

Last but not least, I also did a bit of shopping  because.. that’s what you do when you are a girl in a cheap country, right?

Got some Japanese beverages to remind myself of how great Japan was. I was really forward to drinking the matcha latte but my little fat cousin drank it before I could open my mouth. Sigh. So that's what it is like to have a large family.
Got some Japanese beverages to remind myself of how great Japan was. I was really looking forward to drinking the matcha latte but my little fat cousin drank it before I could open my mouth. Sigh. So that’s what it is like to have a large family.
My obsession with hats got even more serious in Vietnam. Bought this one for 290k dongs (approx. $15) at Hang Bong street.
My obsession with hats got even more serious in Vietnam. Bought this one for 290k dongs (approx. $15) at Hang Bong street.
Of course, I had to find myself a beret as well. Those are impossible to find in Prague! This one is from a Hanoian chain called Non Son, haha!
Of course, I had to find myself a beret as well. Those are impossible to find in Prague! This one is from a Hanoian chain called Non Son, haha! A bit pricy, around 970K (approx. $50).
Bought this to please my grandpa who kept saying "Don't forget your roots! You have to know your culture, ancestors and history of your country." And he was right. I better start with something funny though, like this little book!
Bought this to please my grandpa who kept saying “Don’t forget your roots! You have to know your culture, ancestors and history of your country.” And he was right. I better start with something funny though, like this little book!
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Pocky all the waaaay!

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Yup, I had a good time.  I love this country so much. And it might get repetitive but I have to say it. The people of Vietnam are AWESOME! Of course, they have their flaws that I do not appreciate very much. Such as disobeying the law on regular basis, drinking and driving, bribery and often even hypocrisy. Actually, I got so mad one evening, I sat down and wrote an article I call “where is the line between etiquette and hypocrisy”. Though I haven’t published it.

In Vietnam, like in China, customs and social behaviour are very important in order to maintain your “social status/face”. And I had to do it as well. There is this person I do not particularly like yet I had to smile cheerfully whenever I met her, I had to be absolutely polite and my parents would never allow me to express my annoyance. Which was very difficult for me as I am quite honest when it comes to expressing my feelings. In Vietnam, it was perfectly normal to talk to people in the sweetest voice possible and to offer them tea with biscuits. Then, after they would leave, you could gossip about them, their mother and the friend of their cousin’s wife.

But I just sucked it up. Who am I to judge. I conformed. I was the host in this country and if this is the cost I have to pay in order to stay, I’m willing to do so. I want to become a part of this world too.

To Rome With Love

They say that all roads lead to Rome and so did mine, eventually. We flew to Prague from The Netherlands with my boyfriend on sunday and on tuesday we were already landing in Fiumicino together with my mom and aunt.

The heat during our five-day-long stay was almost unbearable; 37 degrees on the streets (yuup, July). Now imagine walking around Forum Romanum and climbing Capitol HILL .. yeah. That’s why we look sweaty in most of the pictures with a tired smile. Nevertheless, I regret nothing!

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Hiya!

I’m not going to tell you what to visit and what not (although I would highly recommend fountain di Trevi from all the breath-taking places and an international food market at Piazza Vittorio Emmanuele). Italy was never a number one on my must-visit-countries-before-i-die list. Actually, the only reasons why I decided to go was a) my dad went last year without me and I had to beat him b) I had a wizzair premium membership and it was the nicest location that wizzair flies to from Prague. Man, I was a dummie! Italy is so great. Surprisingly enough, I haven’t eaten the best food in my life there even though I love to death sundried tomatoes, caprese, parmaggiano, etc. Maybe we didn’t went to the right restaurants?

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One thing is sure. We had the fucking best gelatos. It didn’t really matter which shop we chose. EVERY gelato in Rome was better than any ice cream I had before (and trust me, I had belgian and japanese ones as well).

I was a bit afraid of Italians, to be honest. They are so… Southern! Lol. I kind of expected them to fight with me because true Italians always fight in my head. Oh! Reminds me.. once I was having a transfer in Rome and NO ONE tried to help me even though I was asking desperately… I mean, I understand that they didn’t speak english (no, actually, why the heck italian flight attendants can’t speak english?!?!!) but they could show me the right gate with the international body language, yah? YU NO HELP ME?

Now, that opinion of mine is gone. We were getting lost in Rome constantly and people were coming and asking if we need help even when we were just studying a map. The strange thing that I noticed was that people who were helping us were solely those who looked like they aren’t… Italians. They were either black or they resembled gypsies. Maybe they have a better understanding for foreigners? I have no idea, but when in doubt, ask the man selling watches on the street, not the lady with Prada bag. :)

What I’d want to highlight in today’s post: the stronger the better. At least in Rome’s public transport, specifically buses. They can get crazily full and what native citizens have learnt is that they hold the doors at bus stops so that no one can enter. Which is not so bad when you are inside already. It gets worse later, when you need to get OUT. First time this happened to us we did not know about this habit so we just tried to get out “normally” by standing close to the doors. Pche! Everybody was ignoring us  and the doors remained closed. My aunt in anger and panic started beating a big guy in front of her, LOL. Some people were even swearing. Eventually we found out. You have to kindly ask the person who “holds” the door that you will need to get out next stop and they will let you. Crazy? Nah.

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Some facts:

  • Italians tend to not smile even though they might be kind
  • even thick dough-ed pizzas are considered good
  • why so many Koreans???
  • the sea is just 40 kms away from Rome
  • they look like they are always in hurry… but they take their time with everything anyway
  • very cheap bus tickets
  • there is no queue at Vatican museum
  • there IS a queue to st. Peter’s – a humungous one
  • Italian girls are so skinny and purdyyy!!
  • nope, 5 days is not enough
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Adiós! Haha, anyways, you can get away with spanish as well, Italian language is very similar. Forget english.. we no speak americano.

 

Wil jij mijn valentijn zijn?

The past two weeks I’ve spent in The Netherlands, the country of tulips, cheese, wooden clogs and of course space cakes. That’s what this small country usually symbolize for foreigners. To me it’s a country of good-looking tall people (of whom my boyfriend is the tallest and the handsomest!) and a country of crazy crazy crazy carnaval that happens to be around Valentine’s (only in the south; and I usually don’t use words three times in a row but I’m listening to One Direction atm, haha)!

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And of course, I couldn’t resist joining this special event myself!  It’s SO cute! Every citizen is dressed up, people you’ve never seen before offer you fries, beers, some may experience first kiss or hangover. It’s a 5-night-long party that everybody should attend at least once in their lives. What is usually considered normal is not anymore, being insane and enjoying horrible dutch music remakes is a must. I bet you’d love it just as much as I did.

Meet my sexy boyfriend and his awesome dad!

Besides carnaval, I was just stuffing myself with food I can never get in The Czech republic. I love food so much, I would give up a lot of things in my life for good food :D.

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Japanese dessert made of creamy ice-cream covered in rice flour. A very tainting obsession.
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Tony’s chocolonely’s big enough for two, don’t eat when lonely! :) It won some dutch prize but it’s up to you to decide if deservedly (I myself found it quite average but better than Hershey’s or Milka). Beef Jerky was just a try because I’m somehow attracted to the food from The US. It was super good!!
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What can I say… The worst McDonald’s burger I’ve ever tried so far… I kind of miss it.
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Limburgse vlaai is one of the fluffiest and yummiest things you can get in The Netherlands, I recommend strawberry flavours or cherry/chocolate mousse.
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I just had to get those funny peppermints because they are so large and good and with the queen’s name on it – yumm!

Not the healthiest choices indeed but noone should be on a diet when having holidays! ;) My boyfriend and I were actively sabotaging a fit lifestyle. Once we were having actually a proper dinner at his grandparent’s – a dutch meal called stamppot which is made of mashed potatoes and any vegetable I think. We couldn’t bear the idea of eating like any other person, so after a delicious dinner (mind you, we already had a soup, main dish and a pudding for dessert) we went to local’s supermarket to get starbucks drinks and bag of potato chips with a special dutch sauce called Joppiesaus (my heart thingy). I’m afraid to check my weight now!

Sometimes we made breaks between meals and did something else as well. I love buying cheap yet pretty clothes (honestly, who doesn’t?) and my dear is so dear that he always take me shopping with a smile and wait for me in front of fitting rooms patiently. So our first stop from Rotterdam’s mini airport was to Rotterdam’s big and crowded Primark store. It wasn’t as full of nice clothes as in the summer but I managed to buy myself few stuff O:). Other shops that every hipster or fashionista (god, hahaha, that word is just funny) needs to visit are Brandy&Melville (!!!!! their stores are only in very few countries in the world, mostly just the US), American Apparel, maybe Zipper and any shop located at Nine little streets. For those we had to go to Amsterdam but visiting the capital is obligatory, isn’t it?

Though the main purpose of my visit was Valentine’s day. If you haven’t figured out yet, my boyfriend is very dutch (maybe a bit spanish, lol) and lives in the Netherlands. I can’t even describe how difficult it sometimes gets, having to live over 400 miles away from the person you love so much. I believe that what we have is somewhat special and unique, so unique that it already lasted over two years. Despite all the petty fights and misunderstandings (probably everything caused by me since my boyfriend is perfect in every way) we are still together and … invincible (at least I hope, I wouldn’t wish to read this again in the future crying because of being dumped, haha).

And we had a beautiful Valentine’s day! Although the weather was so bad that I got a cold, although I made him upset when I refused to visit the city of his first date with one of his ex-girlfriends (okay, but this is understandable, isn’t it? someone support me!? :D), although we bought a surprise bag of chocolate that was full of nougat that I don’t like, although we are so different from each other.

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P. S. I do think watching Django Unchained on Valentine’s day is the most romantic thing we could have done.