St. Joseph’s Cathedral, Hanoi

It wasn’t just once that I got lost in Hanoi when I was there last May. And every time I got lost, I found something interesting. One of those is the St. Joseph’s Cathedral. DSC_3026

This is the oldest church in Hanoi and one of the first structures built by the French colonial government. It looks a bit unattractive outside but it’s definitely wow when you go inside. I lost more than a thousand photos of my trip including photos of the church’s interior, sorry about that, but if you happen to visit Hanoi, don’t skip the St. Joseph’s Cathedral. It’s definitely stunning inside!

What Should I Read Next?

I’ve been contemplating what to read next and ended up not reading any the whole week. I last read All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and it’s one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Realization came that ending a good book is almost like saying goodbye to a good friend. Then you don’t know what to read/do next. Since I finished the book, I haven’t started another. I guess it always helps when you know you have something great to read next and yes I think I have a few great ones in my TBR shelf but this time I think it’s nice to ask you guys for recommendations.

Below is a list of what I consider reading next… Please feel free to write your recommendations whether or not they’re on the list, I’d appreciate it.

  1. A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
  2. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand
  3. Catch 22 by Joseph Keller
  4. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
  5. The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  6. Sleeping Murder by Agatha Christie
  7. The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal
  8. Aloft by Chang-Rae Lee
  9. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese
  10. The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht

Any better recommendations?

Happy weekend!

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Woohoo! It’s Thursday and it’s time to wrap up the week again! (Weekend here is Friday & Saturday.)

It was pretty much a boring week for me so I’m really looking forward to a productive weekend but I have no idea what to do, haha! Except for the usual Inday duties. 🙂 Do you have special plans? Please feel free to write your weekend plans in the comments section.

Happy weekend! 🙂

Red and Green

The Huc Bridge that leads to Ngoc Son Temple
The Huc Bridge that leads to Ngoc Son Temple

The Huc Bridge giving a nice contrast to the greens of Hoan Kiem Lake.

Pinakbet

I grew up in a home where every meal includes a vegetable dish. In my hometown, vegetables are cheap and always fresh and you can even harvest some from your backyard, specially sayote! (Now you know where I’m from!) However, where I’m living now for almost seven years, vegetables are not so cheap and fresh like the ones back home. You’re lucky if you get to find decent ones.

Anyway, yesterday after work, I decided to cook pinakbet. Pinakbet is originally an Ilocano vegetable dish that consists of vegetables available in your area/backyard basically like string beans, bitter gourd (ampalaya), okra, eggplant, squash and more and is then seasoned with bagoong (salted anchovies) but you can find different versions of it now where bagoong alamang (shrimp paste) is used.  Pork is usually added for more flavor but I used chicken since pork is not allowed here. 😦

I was thinking about including how to cook pinakbet in this post but decided not to anymore since we cook it differently from the usual way it is cooked. Maybe I’ll do that next time in a more complete and detailed post. But for now, I’ll just leave you with the end product:

My pinakbet :)
My pinakbet 🙂

Roger Federer Wins 7th Cincinnati Masters Title

I’m a huge fan of Roger Federer and I’m just so happy that he won his seventh Cincinnati Masters Cup a few days ago. I’m even happier that he did it by defeating Novak Djokovic! I have nothing against Djokovic and I really think he’s one of the best players out there but I just don’t like him.

Anyway, just in case you haven’t read about it yet, you can check the link below:

http://www.theguardian.com/sport/2015/aug/23/roger-federer-novak-djokovic-cincinnati-masters

Good luck in the US Open, Roger!

Happy Birthday Bro!

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My older brother and I shared a room since we were kids until he started college. I remember being fascinated by everything he tells me. He talks about stars, bats, video games, haunted houses and more. We’ve always loved the glow-in-the-dark stuffs in our room. I loved it so much when he reads books for me before we sleep or when he tells me stories about what happens in school that it made me itchy to go to the same school with him.

We basically enjoyed the same things but it was clear even when we were younger that we are different from each other. He has always been the shy, private, reserved type. And I have always been the extrovert. But even though we’re opposites, we always get along very well.

We had too much memories together. Concerts, horseback riding, bullying our youngest sibling, drinking, food trips, name it and we’ve done it! We even wore the same clothes!

Today is his birthday but sadly, I can’t celebrate it with him again. Sometimes it’s still hard to believe that we’ve grown this much already. (He knows how much I hate the idea before that he’ll someday get married and have children because when that happens, I won’t be his baby anymore.) But even though we’ve grown up, it’s nice to know that things are still the same as it was then. I can still talk to him about anything and he’s still very patient as ever.  I can never repay him for everything he’s done for me but I’m forever thankful!

Happy birthday, Kuya Kots! A lot of people say you are their friend but I brag about you as my brother! I miss you and I love you always! Mwah! 

Book #37 – 2015 Reading Challenge – All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Sometimes, you find a book with an amazing story and it’ll stay with you always. Book #37 for my 2015 Reading Challenge is one of these…

Book #37 - 2015 Reading Challenge
Book #37 – 2015 Reading Challenge

In All the Light We Cannot See, we meet a French blind girl, Marie-Laure and the young German soldier, Werner. Set in France in World War II. Two people. Lives changed. Then eventually crossed paths filled with beauty and heartbreak.

Amazing story. A book not to be missed!

Favorite quotes: “Open your eyes and see what you can with them before they close forever.”

“I saved her only to hear her die.”

“So how, children, does the brain, which lives without a spark of light, build for us a world full of light?

“Is it right… to do something only because everyone else is doing it?”

Rating: 5/5 stars

Book #36 – 2015 Reading Challenge – 4:50 from Paddington by Agatha Christie

Book #36 is another Jane Marple mystery by Agatha Christie:

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The story started when Ms. McGillicuddy, on her way to visit Miss Marple, witnessed a murder when her train ran alongside another. Nobody believed Ms. McGillicuddy since there were no other witnesses and no corpse was found. Only Miss Marple believed her friend’s story so her quest to find out the murderer started.

I enjoyed every page of this book and I loved the tandem of Miss Marple and Lucy Eyelesbarrow (one of Miss Christie’s best female character). I managed to narrow it down to two suspects about halfway through the book but one of them died a few pages later so I’m left with just one who turned out to be the murderer! Haha! I am a little bit bothered though that I didn’t find out who Lucy ended up with! 🙂

Agatha Christie isn’t called the Queen of Mystery for nothing — I’m officially hooked!

Rating: 5/5 stars

52 in 2015 – Reading Challenge

My friend and I challenged ourselves to read 52 books this year and since I just started this blog a couple of weeks ago, I was only able to start to post from Book #34. So here’s the list from Book #1 to #33…

  1. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey – Who decides who’s sane & who’s not? cuckoo's nest
  2. The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – A quiet novel that contains so little action and yet carries great, gentle power.
  3. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn – A psychologically twisted portrait of relationships gone wrong.
  4. Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote – Highly readable writing style.
  5. The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd – For fans of historical fiction or simply of a good story. invention of wings
  6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon – I’m not sure how true in real life this portrayal of Asperger’s Syndrome is but I think that it is very well written.
  7. The Body in the Library by Agatha Christie – A mystery that will keep you in suspense while keeping a smile on your face. body in library
  8. 12 Years a Slave by Solomon Northup – “What difference is there in the color of the soul?”
  9. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera – A kind of book that requires a little more attention than usual but worth reading.
  10. All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven – I know a lot of people were raving for this book but I’m definitely not the target audience for this one.
  11. HHhH by Laurent Binet – A book so good even though I already knew the outcome. HHhH
  12. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami – It’s not quite as good as his other books but I love it. Still Murakami. Weird and wonderful.
  13. Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson – It’s not quite what I was expecting and it was so easy to figure out the outcome.
  14. The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin – Truly a page turner! Finished it so quickly. Highly recommended! aj fikry
  15. The Pact by Jodi Picoult – My third Jodi Picoult book. A tragic event turned personal family tragedy. I like the book though it left me with a lot to think about.
  16. By the River Piedra I Sat Down & Wept by Paulo Coelho – “Love perseveres. It’s men who change.”
  17. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – While I personally think that suicide is stupid, I would recommend this book. I like the way the book’s written, alternating Hannah & Clay’s points of view within the same chapter. Truly a page turner because you want to find out who’s next on the tapes. I was so relieved to find out that Clay isn’t included for bad reasons. I can’t say I agree with all of Hannah baker’s reasons why she did it but I still enjoyed the book and would recommend it.13 reasons why
  18. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand – One of the best stories I have ever read! What can I do but recommend this book? True to the book’s title, Louis Zamperini’s life’s one of survival, resilience & redemption. It’s just very unfortunate that evil Watanabe (the Bird) was never tried as a war criminal. I’m left with an unsatisfying ending but very real. unbroken
  19. Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie – The “dangerous” Miss Marple was first featured in this book. Suspenseful. Surprises and false leads.
  20. Of Mice & Men by John Steinbeck – Crushing! john steinbeck
  21. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell – Enjoyed this book because it felt real though the ending was a bit rushed.
  22. Perfect Match by Jodi Picoult – I like Jodi Picoult’s works, but this didn’t make it high on my list.
  23. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern – Wonderful! Magical! the night circus
  24. The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden by Jonas Jonasson – I was literally laughing out loud while reading this. Fast-paced & entertaining. the who saved
  25. I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak – A simple, heart-warming book that makes you think and want to do better for yourself and other people.
  26. True Believer by Nicholas Sparks – A simple, captivating, romantic read. As always, Mr. Sparks has his way of giving life to his characters, making it so real. A great read about taking chances and following your heart.
  27. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax – “…remembering is not enough, if it simply hardens hate.”
  28. At First Sight by Nicholas Sparks – This completely broke my heart so I’m not going to read any book of Mr. Sparks any time soon.
  29. A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami – The title itself tells what the ending’s gonna be. Really loving Murakami more! a wild sheep chase
  30. The Thirteen Problems by Agatha Christie – A nice exercise if you like to guess “Who did it?”
  31. I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai – The start was a bit jumbled up to the middle part that I found it hard to continue reading this book but the last few chapters got a lot better. It’s a brilliant story, it’s just the way it was presented that I didn’t like.
  32. The Moving Finger by Agatha Christie – Love the love story and the nasty mystery.
  33. A Murder is Announced by Agatha Christie – Being able to guess who the killer is in this book just makes me feel good and clever. Haha! a murder is announced

There goes my list. Let me check yours! 🙂

Book #35 – 2015 Reading Challenge – A Pocket Full of Rye by Agatha Christie

Book #35 for my 2015 reading challenge is:

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In this mystery is a very unpleasant family — not very likeable characters, specially Mr. Fortescue. The nursery rhyme, Sing a Song of Sixpence, is used in the plot of this book.

Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye;
Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie.
When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing,
Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before the king?

The king was in the counting-house, counting out his money;
The queen was in the parlour, eating bread and honey;
The maid was in the garden, hanging out the clothes,
When down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose.

Although this is a Miss Marple mystery, most of the job is done by the police, which is a little disappointing because I really like this grandma! Anyhow, just when I thought I can already predict the murderer, things just got  twisted again! Very smart really, Miss Christie! But I really liked how it all came together in the end.

Favorite quote : “Old sins have long shadows.”

Rating : 4/5 stars

Chicken Island

Chicken Island, Halong Bay.
Chicken Island, Halong Bay.

Among the thousands of islets of different sizes and shapes in Halong Bay, this Chicken Islet/Island is my favorite. I’ve heard different stories about this islet when I went to Vietnam last May.

I wish I could take photos quite well to bring justice to this beautiful islet but unfortunately, it’s the best I could make of it. So you can just search better photos in the internet or go visit it yourself and be amazed not just by this Chicken Island or Kissing Island (however you want to call it) but the entire Halong Bay.

Book #34 – 2015 Reading Challenge – The Girl You Left Behind by Jojo Moyes

I usually spend my free time reading books and I challenged myself to read 52 books this year.

Since I just started this blog a few days ago, I’ll start sharing the latest book I’ve read. I’m not going to write book reviews though. I’m not one to write book reviews… 🙂

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Book #34 is The Girl You Left Behind. This is the first book I’ve read written by Jojo Moyes. Touching & heart-breaking but heart-warming in the end. Looking forward to more of her works.

Hello World!

Oh yes, hello world! Welcome to my world!

I think you must know as early as now that I’m not a writer/blogger. I only created this blog because I’m bored (?) and I’m starting to lose interest with my job. So just for the sake of doing something, I created this.

I don’t have any idea what to post or what to write about so to anyone who happens to visit this blog, please be patient with me.

Enjoy the mess, homo sapiens!