Friday, February 25, 2011

Who Would Have Known?

"OH dance for me, you are Lebanese, come on, belly dance!"

EUH... is it scientifically proven that Lebanese blood is associated with belly dancing!?

"I don't know how to...leave me alone!!!"

I was never interested in belly dancing before coming to Ha Noi. To be honest, I always thought it was kind of old-fashioned  and lame. Out of nowhere, and because the studio was 5 minutes from my house, I started taking classes with my journalist friend Manon Aubel( We became "curiouser and curiouser"!

When you hear the word 'belly dance', you think Egypt, the Middle east, Arabic music, bellies, costumes, bling bling, bra's...
But you never think about Asians!!! We all know that belly dancing is practiced all around Europe and the US. But what we didn't know is that Asians love it!! AND especially Vietnamese women, who are addicted to it!

So Manon and I thought that's a good topic to work on. We met with Ara Hwang, who's a professional dancer from South Korea, and she guided us inside the world of the Rakassat (dancers in Arabic). Belly dancing is actually fun and not easy at all!
The article is coming out very soon!

The pics below were taken with my blackberry, inside the design studio of Mia (a renown belly dance tailor in Ha Noi).

Mai's Shop (Photo taken with Manon's Camera)

Backstage with Ara Hwang and Mai. (Photo taken with my Blackberry)

Manon working the camera (Photo taken with my Blackberry)

Special order: a belly dance costume made out of Hmong fabric (Photo taken with my Blackberry)

Belly dance Costumes (Photo taken with my Blackberry)

There's a nice selection of Jewelry (Photo taken with Manon's camera)

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hoody Nation #3

"How Exciting! The unknown world' coming t"

The words speak for themselves!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sun oi! Come out, Come out Wherever you are?

I like winter! but I definitely don't 
like winters in Ha Noi!
Don't get me wrong Winter, I don't hate you. 
I'm just not in the mood.
It's too cold. It's too grey. It's too misty. 
It's too sad. It's never-ending!

Sun oi!!!
I miss you

Where are you sun? 
I'm longing to see you
When will you shine again?
When will I feel you again?
I don't want to play Hide & Seek no more!
I must have the sun now!!

The Sun 
by Stephanie Kim 

The sun shines right at me, 
It makes me blind when it stares at me. 

I could see my shadow next to me,
So bold and black, 
But the sun fixes that. 

When the sun turns away into the clouds  
the world starts to darken.  
So dark and black. 
I wonder and wonder will it ever come back?

A trembling bench, my shadow, and I. The sun is omnipresent. Ben Tre, Vietnam

I wish I was standing there right now. Ben Tre, Vietnam

Pinkish Sunset. Mui Ne, Vietnam

Warm sand on my feet. Mui Ne, Vietnam

Sun shining on some of the 246 mini seashells. Mui Ne, Vietnam

Friday, February 18, 2011

Hoody Nation

So Vietnam is full of surprises. As an expat I like to wander round Ha Noi. It's surely a joy to the curious eye. 

One of the things that struck me and keeps on striking me is the hoody trend!  Vietnamese, male and female wear hoodies almost all the time. They are not only fashionable but also efficient, a smart way to protect yourself from the sun. Now, you might ask me what is dubious  about that. ahahaa those are not any kind of hoodies, they are hoodies with special statements, they hold "encrypted" messages on the back!
It varies from love messages, ads, numbers (or positions), to some philosophical statements. Most of the time, they are just a mix of random chosen English words blended together with no specific meaning. Sometimes, they just have one random word. It is fascinating! 

Thus I decided to dedicate a weekly post to the Hoody. It's my way to thanks the designers for entertaining me while I'm on the road!

Hoody Nation #1 (the "cave man" kiss)

Hoody Nation #2 ( Pink in different colors)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The more I wAnder, the more I love.

"I think us here to wonder, myself. To wonder. To ask. And that in wondering bout the big things and asking bout the big things, you learn about the little ones, almost by accident. But you never know nothing more about the big things than you start out with. The more I wonder, the more I love." 

Quotes from Alice Walker's book The Color Purple.

Wandering and wondering in Ben Tre, Vietnam

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Home sweet Home!

We are finally back to the capital! We have been on the road for 11 days, and God I'm glad to be back.
I freaking missed my bed, my fridge, my closet and my Lola d'amour!

Our trip was great, it was the perfect timing to escape the routine and greyness of Ha Noi and go explore the unknown Southern territories(first time in the Delta for both of us). Manu and I enjoyed every second of it. We left from HCMC by motorbike, direction south to My Tho ( the door to the Delta) and went down and up and left and right, and in circles probably at some point. Then all the way back from the north of the Delta to civilization. To finish the trip gracefully we rode 200km east of HCMC to the coast of Mui Ne. 3 days at the beach, kissing and sunbathing.

I have officially been all around Vietnam (NSWE), still haven't' seen  some villages in the North but I can declare I've seen and talked to Nguyens and Phuongs everywhere in Vietnam! (those are two of the most common names here). 

We also spent some time in HCMC! Contemporary and relatively developed Saigon:) I could live there but Manu is a 100% pro North Vietnamese.

M: No no no no qalas (failed but cute tentative to pronounce the Arabic word Khalas, which means finito, finish, end of discussion)we are NOT moving here!

J: But they have Louis, and Marc and Coco!! and they understand English!!
M: But we have Bun Cha, Ribs, vodka Hanoi and Bia Hoi and no need for understanding!
Hehe, a 100% Hanoian!
It is true however that HCMC is just another big Asian city,  whereas Hanoi still holds a lot of charm and character blablabla...
Now enough bullshit, back to the trip.

Here are some numbers:
- 11 days, including 8 on the road.
- 2 people (mon cheri & I!)
- 1 motorbike
- 1517 km's
- Approximately 30 cities
- 10 Ferries
- 25 Coffee stops
- 2 Flat tires
- 1 Boat trip down the Mekong River
- 1 Jeep Ride
- 2 Seasons of Bing Bang Theory
- 2 Ostrich rides
- 1 "ATV" ride
- 246 Mini seashells (which smelled so much, they ended up in the garbage)
- 17 normal size seashells
- 8 Chawarmas/Kebabs
- shit loads of beers
And 956 pictures.

I will be uploading pictures on the blog everyday or so.
So don't worry all will be revealed

Meanwhile, here's an "avant-gout"! 
On the road...

Global Warning: better to prevent than to cure

"Louiiiiiiiiiis! C'est toi la-bas dans le noir?"

A cyclo driver during nap time in Vinh Long

The sweetness of our room in Ben Tre

Tet Delicacies

In the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels

Blurry Vision

At Mui Ne White sand dunes

Friday, February 4, 2011

Something to think about

I stumbled upon this "philosophical" quote in the toilet of the Hanoi Rock Club. I thought: Hmm that's an interesting way to define time while relieving yourself, if you ever think about time while doing it. So on my second visit to the WC, I brought my camera with me. While a bunch of "happy" girls were waiting outside, I was trying to get a nice shot of the wall. 
Is time really the fire in which we burn? I don't really know, and to be honest I hope not. Because if it is so, it's a long and painful process. Anyway, the poet Delmore Schwartz apparently believes it does! 
On another note, I've been touring the Mekong Delta (southern Vietnam) with Manu on a red motorbike. I will not be able to update the blog until next week probably. I will definitely post some pictures when I'm back to Ha Noi. Until then Happy Lunar New Year of the Rabbit!