A Visit to Mai An Orphanage

Back in June, we donated some items to the Mai An Orphanage in Go Vap District. My son, Samuel was so happy to see the photos of the children enjoying their toys that he was convinced that we should visit the orphanage.

For two months, we’ve asked friends here in Vietnam for usable stuff that they would like to let go off to give the kids and staff of Mai An. On our part, we’ve prepared school supplies for the kids and was very lucky to get in touch with The Library Project headed by Angelique Masse Nguyen, here in Vietnam. The Library Project needs to have its own post entirely — as you cannot imagine the great work they do! So more on that later! :)

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So on a Sunday morning last August 23, we hauled all the stuff we’ve gotten from friends and headed to Go Vap. We got our trusted van from Duyen’s Van Rental that carried our group plus a number of odd-shaped boxes, a wheelchair, an easel, and 6 children’s bicycles.

The night before, we were racking our brains for the program and because of the language barrier, we were worried we won’t be able to do much. But you know what? We just let everything flow that day and it went so well. Sometimes having no program is the best program.

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When we arrived, Sister Chi who heads the orphanage welcomed us and the children wowed us with their welcome performance. We were so overwhelmed that the kids took time to prepare.

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Then afterwards, our favorite magician and cooking show entertained the children.

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Ultimately though, I loved watching the reactions of the kids and staff. They looked like they enjoyed the show so much and that just warms my heart.

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We ordered food from Jollibee and they were so good to send Jollibee, the mascot to present two dance numbers.

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From where I come from, Jollibee is famous and I’ve never had a Jollibee party — which is quite the norm back in PH to have your kid at least have one Jollibee party in his lifetime. :P So it was quite a treat for us too!

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And of course, the kids (and adults) just had to have their photo taken with the big bee.

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Then it was off to the second floor to view the newly installed book corner by The Library Project. Thuy of The Library Project was there to oversee and Anh, their intern, explained to the kids about book care. How many books did they donate? 200!!! Yes! 200! We were just over the moon!

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Our hearts went out to little Tam. He is one year old and we were all so concerned about how things will be for him. So imagine our relief when we found out from Hillary Brown of Helping HOW that Tam will get his cleft fixed and his eyes as well. They have great plans for him and he will also be taught Braille! They are also raising funds for Tam’s continued treatment, so if you can dig deep into your pockets, please head on to HOW to make a donation.

 photo Picture1_zpsb3gamaqy.jpgMy son Rafa just loved hanging out with Tam

Overall, it was the #bestdayever and the kids surprised us (again) with their handmade gift to Sam who was celebrating his 7th birthday.

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I don’t know how the Sister Chi and the staff do it but the kids are being brought up so well! And everything was just so well-organized.

There were just so much photos of this memorable day so here’s more —

 photo 20150823_105452_zpszhuulxfw.jpgPrayer before meal

 photo 20150823_100606_zpss3lvu2mr.jpgGetting warmed up

 photo 20150823_100507_zpsrbb9jmhc.jpgWith the magician

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Free play

 photo 20150823_094209_zpsp9ju4nfv.jpgHe just loves the camera

 photo 20150823_092607_zpsugujb1nt.jpgRafa found a new friend

My deepest gratitude to everybody who have made this all possible:

  • Hillary Brown and Kerri Galligan for allowing us to help the kids.
  • The Library Project for the book corner.
  • The big hearts of: Lauren Scott, Tallmadge Family, Hollinger Family, Alday Family, Balbon Family, Deticio Family, Frianeza Family, Genato Family, Luciapao Family, Maling Family, Paulo Family, Yu Family, Payong Family, Romero Family, Nguyen Thi Bay, and Guzman Family
  • Jollibee for bringing in Jollibee, discounts, and freebies!
  • Happy Birthday JSC for discounts on the entertainment! ;)

Thank you all so much!

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The Mai An Orphanage is run by the Love of the Holy Cross Sisters and houses some 22 orphaned children from age 0. The orphanage also serves as the school of the children. Their number will increase more this year.

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Tiki.Vn and Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland

So I jumped in the color crazy bandwagon. Hubby even mentioned that Tiki sells them at a much lower price.

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While browsing yesterday, I spotted a new book available, Millie Marotta’s Tropical Wonderland.

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I ordered yesterday and it promptly arrived today. It costs 68,000 VND in PNC but only costs 51,000 VND online. Plus 10,000 VND shipping charges. I know the difference is just a few dongs but I also wanted to check out Tiki’s service.

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So far, Tiki is the best online shop I’ve shopped in Vietnam so far. They deliver quick. They call way ahead of time that they’re on their way to deliver and they deliver right to your doorstep. None of those nonsense of me getting down the building and walking to the nearest landmark. :P

The website is in Vietnamese but Google Translate does it job.

Thanks Tiki!

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I was wandering around with Mom in Vivo City when we saw this quaint shop at the 2nd floor beside Sleep Boutique.

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My eyes were immediately drawn to the vintage items.

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And yes, you can purchase them. I really thought they were just for display purposes. :P

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Sometimes, I long for my own home so I can decorate as I please.

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I fell in love with items along this wall.

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Affordable wax stamps!

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And scrapbooking items were available.
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Here are some wax in assorted colors.

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More stamps. :)

 photo 11898534_10154081046372646_2260622090404301501_n_zpsquu7lcnm.jpgLots of vintage-designed notebooks.

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The bags were really nice too.

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And there were some aged leather goods.

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They’re open daily from 9 am.

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Motorbiking Essentials for Women

Like am an expert, right? LOL.

Fine, fine. I have no idea as to what are the essentials for women riding motorbikes in Vietnam but I do got a pair of eyes.

  1. Helmet – This one is for everybody. I still cringe at the sight of kids on motorbike with none on their head!
  2. Facemask – This one I don’t get. Why don’t the VN government just allow bikers to wear the full helmet with protection for the mouth area?
  3. Shades – Glare is always a problem on the road.
  4. Jacket – Who said jackets are for the cold season?
  5. Gloves – Especially for those sweaty hands!
  6. Socks – Specifically, toe socks. :P
  7. Shoes – Of course! But high-heeled shoes is normal.
  8. Wrap-around cloth – Yup! Am not sure if this is available elsewhere in the world but in Vietnam, those wrap around things that you used to cover the waist down is very popular.

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This one is usual for office-working women who have to wear short skirts. Pretty useful.

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I wonder what will people come out with next.

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Throwback Thursday: My Top 12 Family Computer Games

This is one of those throwback Thursday kind of posts.

My eldest son, Sam and I were talking a few days ago about computer games and I feel he finds that am not one of those tech savvy — if playing computer games is the benchmark for being called savvy nowadays.

Back in the 80s, we had one of those televisions that also served as a table furniture. It had an accordion like front cover so you can close it when no one is watching TV. It’s similar to the one below which I remember watching a number of Friday the 13th and Twilight Zone TV with my scaredy-cat brother.

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Then we moved “up” to compact TVs of Nivico that kinda looks like this:

 photo tv1_zpswyn222fi.jpgThen, Family Computer entered. Am sure my boys can’t imagine playing a video game using a small-screened black and white TV. But we did. And it was fun!

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Here’s my Top 12 Family Computer Games (in no particular order). Well at least those that I still remember!

1. Mario Brothers. Our neighborhood friends even came together to play almost everyday. And we even formed our “computer club” where we’d exchange tips and tricks on how to finish the game and get lots of lives for Mario and Luigi.

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2. Popeye. Not my favorite but was sure entertaining!

 photo popeye_zpsqp3vrcz2.png3.  The Legend of Kage which I could play for hours!

 photo legendofkage_zpszjfy36sr.jpg4. Mappy. Do you remember Mappy? This was great fun and it was such an easy and relaxing game popping balloons. :P

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5. Galaga?

 photo galaga_zpsk4r2vwx5.jpg6. If I wanted a bit of a challenge climbing slippery slopes, I turn to Ice Breaker.

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7. The Elevator Man.

 photo elevator_action_remake_01_zpsbkzdj6ay.jpg8. Bomber Man.

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9. Contra. I don’t like gun play all that much but my bro did.

 photo contra_zpsmn8r7axf.jpg10. B-wings.

 photo bwings_zpsw0ylghtb.jpg11. Battle City. In this game there was also an option where you can build your own city — the makings of Minecraft. :P

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12. Highway Star. Before everything go complicated in Need for Speed, Highway Star was it. I was sooooo good with this game. :P

 photo Highway Star J_zpsgjzcbdex.pngThe Family Computer was quite popular in the early 80s when Vietnam just began rebuilding. So am guessing none of these games are familiar. Maybe NES made its way during the late 80s?

Anyhoo, yes, son. I did play video games. And was pretty good at it too.

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Hi5 Live!

Have you heard about Disney coming again for Disney Live Mickey Mouse Music Festival? Disney is coming again September 30 to October 6 (Ho Chi Minh City) and in Hanoi on October 9 to 11.

But boy were we all surprised last week when we learned that Hi5 was in town! Needless to say we had to scramble for tickets — that were sold in secret! :P Looked like it was exclusive to YouTV and sponsors only. We only saw a handful of foreigners in the event last Wednesday, August 5.

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Hi5 is now shown at YouTV daily at 6PM.

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So we caught them at Hoa Binh Theater last week and they had several shows in Crescent Mall, Aeon Mall, and Vivo City.

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Would have liked to see them perform again at the malls BUT my kids were uninterested! I could not believe it!

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My eldest son loves Hi5 but he kept on insisting that he liked the older group better. :P

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All I ever wanted is to have a photo taken with Stevie. :|


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What a Steal!

A couple of weeks ago, one my friends from high school visited and she’s been saying that their tourist guide has been warning them of people getting robbed in HCMC or getting ripped off. While I acknowledged that there are criminal activities in HCMC, being vigilant and aware of your surroundings when you’re out and about can thwart an untoward incident. And in my 6 years in Vietnam, I’ve never been robbed when walking the streets of Saigon.

Until yesterday.

 photo 11781796_10154037071917646_3861093248968193202_n_zpsmt05z8yc.jpgScene of the crime, Notre Dame Cathedral

I am sharing this experience not to scare people from visiting HCMC but to remind everyone that there are bad apples everywhere. And that in spite of being robbed, I still am grateful that what was only taken was a gadget that can be easily replaced (by a willing sponsor of course).

So yesterday, we got out from church at the Notre Dame Cathedral. We were waiting for friends, right outside the fully opened gate. I was holding on to my son while looking towards inside the church because my husband and younger son were still inside. The church attendant was stopping people from entering because the church will close for the morning. There were insistent locals (an elderly man and a lady wearing a hat) acting like tourists pushing me to the sides as churchgoers were spilling out of the doors.

I realize now that the man was distracting me when he spoke to me in Vietnamese while his partner in crime was unzipping my bag from behind. I felt the pressure of getting pushed ease up when the lady behind me suddenly bolted and that’s when I knew. Had I not checked my bag first, I would have caught them. But of course I just had to check. Sigh.

What an unfortunate incident. I am just glad that they did not take my wallet too. And that my phone was not too expensive. It’s actually a bit battered — well-loved and I know that they won’t be able to sell it for much. Whoever uses it won’t appreciate it as much as I do because of its sorry state. I just hope they won’t throw it away.

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Instead of going to lunch with friends, we had to go home and change our passwords. Hubby was trying to get me to change my account from his phone but in my mental state yesterday, I could not remember any of my passwords at all. When we got home and I felt more  calm, I finally remembered my passwords!

A friend was a bit surprised how easily I moved on from this episode. I am too. I know that the persons involved were desperate and most probably needed the money and I just pray whatever amount they can get from selling my phone would help someone in need.

As for me? It helps that I have a generous and understanding husband who replaced my phone and helped me change all my account passwords. For that, I am truly grateful.

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