Photo Story: Hue, Vietnam

I originally wanted to make a DIY Hue guide but I realized I didn’t have enough information to write one. Haha. So I just decided to make this photo story! This is a collection of the pictures I took with my Sony a5000. And if you want to know why I chose to take the hard way going to Hue, you can read it here. Enjoy the pictures and hopefully you’ll get to visit Hue yourself someday ^^

Hai Van Pass
The first of our many stops. We set out around 6:00 AM, got some banh mi for breakfast and two-day water supply, then we were off to a 4-hour butt-wrenching motorbike ride. Let’s do this Hai Van Pass!
Hai Van Pass
The Peak. After more or less 30 minutes, we reached the peak of the pass where you can get some more supply, eat something, drink coffee, or gas up.
Hai Van Pass
Clouds all around. I also wanted to go up the platform where the three girls are standing but my short legs couldn’t guarantee a safe attempt so the plan was abandoned. It was a really nice spot though. A lot of couples have taken their prenup there.

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Buses and Thoughts

I hated bus rides… primarily because I had a terrible motion sickness when I was a kid, which, thankfully, is not as severe now as it was before (when I was in grade school, I would usually throw up even on jeepneys and taxis). And also because I get sooo bored.

Here in Da Nang, I take the bus all the time to and from work. It’s either that or I ride my motorbike, which I sometimes do when I don’t want to sit with other people (yes, introversion at best). And it’s only been recently that I started to somehow like being on the bus… especially the one going home. It just… gives me time to think. And I really love being left alone with my thoughts. Just to be able to slowly process them as I stare out the window… watching the setting sun paint the sky beautiful hues of orange and blue… ’til it disappears into the horizon, giving way to the street lights, the moon and the stars as they take their turn to give us light.

This is probably because I had to make a HUGE decision very recently (you’ll find out soon). And there were many times when God revealed things to me while I was on the bus home. I had to pray no one sees me as I let some tears slip because I couldn’t hold them back. And then very discreetly wiped them away like nothing happened. It looked exactly like some movie scenes where the protagonist cries on the bus. Drama queen. Ha! Makes me shake my head in embarrassment every time I remember.

I’m still not very fond of bus rides… especially the really long ones. But if God uses these travel moments to make me see the path ahead of me on a clearer, much better perspective… I’ll gladly hop on one.

Grace, purposes and unconditional love

Some days I feel like nothing much really happens. And some days it feels like the day is so packed I need to take a few steps back, go through everything that happened in my head, and write about it. Just like today (technically ‘yesterday’ by the time I finish writing this post I’m sure).

This afternoon, I realized I love how our similarities bring us together. But I love it more when our differences bring us closer. Just like in a family. We disagree. We mess up. We fight. It hurts because despite all those things, we love. Then out of that love, we forgive. Then understanding happens. Then acceptance. Then more love. And grace plays into action. And grace can be quite difficult to comprehend. Because really, who would give someone something they don’t deserve? Doesn’t make sense. And would be impossible with our own strength. But it is said:

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13

Then tonight at the English club, we watched one of Nick Vujicic’s motivational talks. He talked about choosing to speak life. How little words of encouragement have such a big impact on the hearts of the people who are hurting. That it saves lives. That saying good is more badass than bullying – because it makes you a real life superhero. *Can’t believe I just came up with that line. I’m feeling like Mystique all of a sudden. Anyway… moving on~

He talked about how he loves his life because he knows who he is and his purpose. And I feel like those are two of life’s most difficult questions to answer. And the sad fact is that most people don’t know who they really are. They just know what people think of them. They don’t know what their purpose is. They just know what others want them to do.

His message was so powerful I was low-key crying in the back. It reminded me of my old self. I thought I knew who I was. I was proud. So proud. Then the things I was trying to build for myself fell right in front of my eyes. I was lost. I was broken. Then He found me and made me whole again. His unconditional love humbles me. He reminded me that what I can or can’t do don’t define me. Because my identity in Him is secured and true and will never change.

Before I end this, I just want to say, “I love you.” Yes, you. The one reading this. Whoever you are, wherever you’re from. You don’t believe me? That’s alright. I wouldn’t believe it either if some stranger just walked up to me and said, “I love you.” Weird. But you know why I actually do?

“We love because He first loved us.” – 1 John 4:19

Scooters, Mountain Passes and Faith

Scooters, Mountain Passes and Faith

Da Nang to Hue. 102 kilometers. 4 hours on scooter.

This is probably one of the craziest things I’ve ever done so far (if that even counts as crazy). I actually don’t do crazy very much. But when I do, I try make sure it’s going to be a story worth telling when I get old.

I was both excited and nervous the day we (I was with two other beautiful ladies. They were riding together and I was riding my scooter on my own) left for this old Imperial City. Excited because I would be riding my motorbike on my own through Hai Van Pass. And nervous because I would be riding my motorbike on my own through Hai Van Pass (yep).

Scooters, Mountain Passes and Faith
Surrounded by clouds.

Hai Van Pass was definitely challenging for a newbie rider like me. It is approximately 21-kilometer long and probably took us around 45 minutes to reach the end. That’s pretty slow I know but read the first sentence of this paragraph. And with it’s sudden turns and blind curves (and our occasional stops because my right hand was begging me to rest), we just couldn’t ride as fast as we wanted. A lot of my Vietnamese friends were actually telling me to find a male friend who I could ride with because the pass would be too dangerous and the 102-kilometer distance from Da Nang to Hue would just be too far for me. Or that we should just take the train and do easy. That’s when I realized they missed the whole point of my going there with my scooter. I didn’t want to do easy. I wanted to do life. So like what I usually do when I’ve already made up my mind – I didn’t listen. We all know that’s not a very good advice but some things you just gotta do. And I’m so I glad I did.

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Choices

Lagaw ni Joy

“Do you have any regrets coming here to Việt Nam?”

I don’t know why but I get this question a lot. From friends in the Philippines, my family, and the people I’ve met here in Đà Nẵng. I was out with some friends enjoying milk tea last night when someone asked me this question again. And one more time, I searched myself.

“No.” Was my response last night and for all the other instances before that.

Others probably think that my previous job is more ideal than the one I have right now. But they couldn’t be more wrong. The thing is, life is more than the number written on your paycheck. So much more than the amount you have in your bank account. And way more than what other people think.

I’ve been through hell and high water coming here. I cried tears I wouldn’t have cried if I hadn’t left my comfort bubble in the Philippines. But you know what? I would’ve missed on a lot if I hadn’t taken that leap of faith. I wouldn’t have met all these amazing people who inspire and encourage me every single day if I hadn’t burst that bubble and taken a plunge into living and not just existing.

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Homesick

Lagaw ni Joy

Something has been bugging me these past few days. It’s been keeping me awake until the wee hours of the morning and I couldn’t just put my finger on it. Or I probably already know what it is… I just keep on denying it.

If you’ve read my previous post, you’d know that I’ve been here in Vietnam for three months now. I’ve had lots of ups and downs, hits and misses, and I’m thankful for every one of them. Despite all the life drama, my heart is actually in a good place.

But as the Christmas season draws nearer and nearer, my heart is also becoming more and more restless. This is the first time I’m spending Christmas away from home. I honestly didn’t want to write about this. But I have to. Because I just need to acknowledge the fact that I’m missing home so much.

Lagaw ni Joy
Mama & Papa

I miss mama and her constant reminders and sermons. I miss her food. I miss how she would nag me about cleaning my room and then just proceeds to cleaning it herself. I miss papa and our discussions about politics, entertainment, business and basically just about anything under the sun. I miss how supportive he is of my food experiments. I miss his childlike enthusiasm. I miss saying the words mama and papa. I miss cooking for them. I miss seeing them even though we don’t always see eye to eye on some things.

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Xin Chào!

Dragon Bridge, Da Nang
Dragon Bridge, Da Nang

안녕하세요!

¡Hola!

Hello!

Kamusta?

So far, these are the only greetings I actually know how to say and write. You’re probably wondering why I made Xin Chào as the title of my post. That’s because… *insert drum roll please* … I’m here in Vietnam! Yep! That’s right! I’ve actually been here for three months now 😀

I’m here in Da Nang specifically and life has been hectic since I came here. It is also here where I’ve faced some of the biggest challenges I’ve ever experienced in my entire 24 years of existence. But you know what? I love it. Challenges and all. I’m actually living the life. Not the one I’ve always wanted, but the one God wants me to have in this season.

Da Nang
Da Nang

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