ABOUT ME, BRIEFLY
ABOUT THAM CHEE WAH, BRIEFLY
I have redefined retirement at age 23. I have a lifestyle where I do the things I like, with the time I have and still get paid for it. I designed my freedom these two decades, traveling to more than 40 countries. I run a successful business doing consulting works as a Corporate Writer, Corporate Emcee, Event Producer and a Workshop Facilitator. I am also a talk-show host on an Internet Radio station with two programs "A Course In Miracles for Work-Life" and "Freedom Speaks". Life is Healthy, Rich & FREE! You can design this lifestyle according to your willingness. I hope mine will inspire you to achieve that freedom too.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Hoan Kiem Lake, Hanoi
I was just lucky, I guess, to have such a wonderful weather when I was in Hanoi in November last year. Bach told me that they just had a week of flood, over knee-high water covered the whole of Hanoi after a continuous rainfall for days. It took the cityhall almost a week to clear the debris and mud that flooded the city. Cars were damaged and so were properties.
When I arrived, it was just a week of settling down after the flood. Everything seemed normal to me, if I was not told of the flood, I wouldn't have known. I did notice mud on the sidewalks, but that was like some leftover from construction sites. I was surprised when Bach told me about nature's onslaught.
Hanoi seems to be so resilient to a lot of going-ons or had-beens. And yet so humble and hard-working. It was really relaxing sitting beside Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Returned Sword) while watching so many people also sitting around enjoying the peace albeit the noise of traffic around it. Everyone was doing something but I did not feel the busy-ness. Someone will approach me and tried to chat me up asking questions, speaking good English, about where I was from, what do I do, where do I lived, what is it like in Malaysia, and finally asking if I would like to get some of his books and postcards. I often like to talk to these sales people, I like the sincerity in them, I like the way they approach a sales and I also like the way they ask questions. They were so friendly, they were really interested to know about me as I would be interested to know about them too. I will look at the products, if I want to, I will buy but if I do not want them, I will just politely decline. The conversation was always smooth and no hassle. Anyway, I always welcome sales talk, I really like to just listen with an open heart, there is always something I can learn from the person who sits in front of me.
I sat at Hoan Kiem Lake overlooking the Tortoise Tower which has its remnant in the middle of the lake. The weather stayed between a cooling 20℃ to 28℃, a perfect temperature to sit outdoor. They have planted a lot of willow trees all around the lake, some have bent so low, they almost touch the water. The willows take to the flow of the wind and just sway softly along as if that is what they are there to do - all day long, just dance to the mischievous play of the wind.
I just sat beside the lake and read Somerset Maugham's "Of Human Bondage". Looking up occasionally to see people walking past and enjoying tea and having lunch everywhere beside the lake. I was impressed with the way Hanoi has built itself to be like a garden city where their citizens can come out to sit and play in the open. I guess we did not have that here in KL, no wonder the scene of people having food in a group at Hoan Kiem Lake fascinated me so much.
Just walking around the lake will bring you to the island-temple known as Ngoc Son Temple, very picturesque footbridge. I did not go in because I was more captivated with the scenery outside the temple. It was founded in the 14th century.
Bach told me later that the Vietnamese don't actually have a religion. So, I said what are they praying in the temples here in Hanoi. He said they are just praying to the ancestors. So, their ancestors become their "god", and this is passed down through generations. As far as he knows, there has never been a good teachings of Buddhism although Christianity has taken root after the war.
And I also learnt another thing, the people have to pay for education in Vietnam. I told Bach that in Malaysia, education is free from 7 years old onwards until we are 18 if we choose to stay on to study. Aren't we a fortunate lot to be Malaysians?
And then, more Pho for me. This was the first bowl of Pho when I arrived in Hanoi after getting the train ticket to SaPa. I sat down for something to eat. Looking around me, almost everyone ordered the same bowl of noodle. Since I could not communicate, I pointed to the bowl of noodle the person in front of me was eating, and then raised my index finger to show that I wanted 1 bowl. The shopowner nodded his head. A few minutes later, I was served a delicious clear soup Pho with duck meat. I asked the person sitting in front to take a photo of me eating Pho. Hahaha, tried to make friend while eating.
This last photo showed that these are all the "luggage" I had for my 5-day trip to Hanoi, SaPa and BacHa. A small pack and a sling bag. Oh yes, and my Somerset Maugham's engaging read.