Sunday, August 06, 2006



This is a real story that I have cherished for years and that takes me months to write except for its opening and closing. The way to start and end the story is completely inspired by a friend of mine.

The story tells about a college-time love affair arising in a trip to Tien Giang province. Love in this story comes and goes away as naturally and beatifully as many others.

I highly appreciate all the comments and sharings.


It is nearly midnight now. My wife has slept soundly whereas I have turned over many times, trying to make it easier to get to sleep, but failed. Maybe, the thing that occurred this afternoon causes the insomnia.

Today I took my wife to the hospital for a pregnancy test. On the way home we dropped into a coffee shop for a drink. There I unintentionally overheard a conversation from a couple of students at the table right behind us.

‘You know…’ said the boy with a slight trembling voice, ‘I hated you so much at first sight.’

‘Why?’ asked the girl.

The boy continued :’Because the way… the way you behaved and smiled at other boys.’

The girl raised her voice in a hurry :’How?’

‘To be honest I do not know exactly how the feeling was… but you didn’t make a good impression on me…’ the boy said with some embarrassment, ‘but my thinking has totally changed since the last trip with our class…[long pause] and I am probably beginning to like you.’

‘You know,’ the boy tried to hold his breath, saying with a low and prolonged voice, ‘I can’t prevent myself from thinking of you, my mind is filled with your image day and night… I think I… I… L – O – V – E you. So I wonder whether you feel the same…’Then there were some pauses between them.

I waited and waited but neither the boy nor the girl went on. Right then my wife urged me to leave. We quickly got out of the shop though I did not want to miss the rest of their talk at all.

Now thinking about it I really feel regret because of not knowing how the story will get along. My guess is that the female would share the male’s emotion. The story of the two young students brings back a lot of pleasant memories of my first love. The male student acted as I did to express my true feelings to my ex-girlfriend. It seems that my heart, at this moment, throbbing with emotions of the first love and that all the pictures in the past are coming back in my mind.

I gently roll out of the blanket to avoid waking up my wife, walking to the reading-room. In the dark I reach for the lamp on the desk and turn it on. After pushing back the chair, I sit down on it and pull out the drawer where contains my secret objects. From inside I take out an old photo album. I flip over its pages one after another. With eyes fixed on these photos I start to picture the sweetest memories of the college time to myself now, just as it was then. That was an unforgettable day in my life.


It was Sunday today. It was the first time I went on an excursion with my class.

I got up very early in the morning. The point we agreed to meet one another was in front of Cholon coach station (Cholon is an area in Ho Chi Minh city, where most of Chinese Vietnameses live and do business). I arrived there at 6 a.m as planned but didn’t see any of my classmates.

I said to myself :’Oh, I am the first comer’.

Next I opened my backpack and got out a dumpling that I bought along the way, slowly enjoying it. I both ate and thought of today’s trip, trying to imagine how wonderful it would be. The state of mind you are in before a long journey can hardly be described. That was an extremely great mood – the feeling of eagerness mixed up with expectancy for something to come. How much I loved this sort of feeling!

The weather was absolutely superb today. The sky was clear and deep blue without clouds. It was a nice morning with gentle breezes blowing over me as if I was sitting by a window facing the sea. The atmosphere in the station was pretty noisy, though just over six then.

Before several houses nearby were placed food stalls for breakfast. Scattered around there, outside and even inside the station were street vendors selling foods of different kinds, from liquid to dry. Some were busy preparing food for buyers, others were collecting money or returning change. Assembled on one corner were ‘Honda om drivers’. Some of them were having cigarettes, others were still drowsy. However, they were all awaiting coaches carrying passengers to come into the station in silence in the hope that they might receive a passenger who needs to be brought somewhere and earn a little money to be able to cover a day’s expenses. Slightly disordered as it was, somehow the scene impressed me.

Approximately 15 minutes later some of my classmates appeared and not soon later so did she. Although she and I were classmates of each other, we hadn’t talked to each other, even just once. One of the reasons was that I was too quiet to fit in well with others. In reality, I was too timid to start a conversation with other friends first, especially with the opposite sex. But what’s more important was that I used to have a bad impression of her at first sight and so I was always supposing that she was not a dignified girl.

I still remember very well. I once saw her using the shirt back flap of a boy who drove her home to clean his motorbike saddle before sitting on it. Since then I had prejudice against her. I always felt hate whenever seeing her go with boys.

Today she looked so graceful and neat in a light yellow pullover and the blue jeans, with a small brown leather backpack on her back, the color of which perfectly matched with her clothes. She wore her hair in a pony-tail that was kept in place by a sky blue hairgrip.

At her approach, she greeted us with a bright smile on her face. And everybody might agree the smile was as beautiful as the way it was. But to me, it was different; it seems that the more I looked at her smile, the more I hated the way it was. Even I myself didn’t understand why I had such a feeling. This appeared to be the same as what is often said :’The more you hate someone, it means that the more you like him or her.’ Around half past six, eleven of us among of whom consisted of six girls and five boys were all present. The class monitor and group head began collecting our money to buy tickets. Not soon later we all settled inside the coach. At 7 a.m the coach left the station.

The destination we were about to leave for was the home of our class monitor in Tien Giang province in the Mekong river delta. Unfortunately, the coach carrying us was so old and meager that it not only moved at a snail’s pace but stuttered out sounds like thunder. Nevertheless, this did not bother me at all because I was entirely appealed to the scenery at the roadside. I had a very good view from my seat, close up against the side window, with eyes fastened on the scenery running backwards along the road. I felt as though I was getting lost among picturesque scenes which could be seen in novels or movies.

How quickly two hours went by! Finally, we reached a country station. Here, I saw vehicles of various kinds, from old buses with its coating of paint broken off to motor-tricycles. What a nice surprise! There was an unusual means of transport and it was, perhaps, the commonest here as it took up the greatest number. That was a Honda 67 (a motorcycle was made in Japan so long ago that I didn’t know what age it was) joined to a carriage behind which might be used to carry both passengers and freight.

After the coach had already stopped, we slowly got off. The monitor walked over to a Honda 67 driver, saying something to him and then returned and told us to get on the vehicle. It didn’t take each of us long to seek for a right seat on the carriage. With eleven of us in the carriage, it was a tight squeeze. Just a few moments later the driver started the engine and the vehicle wheels began turning. As the vehicle passed by a little country market, two female classmates asked the driver to stop there a moment for them to get some food. They suggested a boy should follow to help them when necessary. And it was me that volunteered to go together with them. About 15 minutes later three of us returned with three plastic bags of food and fruits in hands. And then we all continued the journey again.

After going over a short distance, the vehicle turned into a minor road of red soil leading off the main road. It was a small village road to be accurate. The farther we went inside, the quieter and more peaceful the space and surroundings seemed to be. At that time no sounds could be heard except harsh noises from the Honda 67, our voices and our laughter and several echoes of the dog barkings from far away. At the back of us a thick cloud of red dust stirred up into the air by the vehicle movements spread out everywhere. I could sense the scent of plants and soil blended with that of dust in the air, creating a special smell that I couldn’t identify what it was really.

All of a sudden I exclaimed :’Ah, it is the country smell that is often depicted in novel pages.’

On floating among thoughts, I was woken up when the vehicle stopped at the end of the road. The monitor told us to get off and wait him for a minute. As soon as he finished making payment with the driver, he turned round and said :’My house is just a 20 minutes’ walk from here. To get there, you must go on foot; all the way to my house is very wet and slippery, so please take off your shoes and sandals, leave you feet bare and don’t forget to bend up your trousers legs over the knees because there is time you have to wade deep-knee through water and mud.'

‘Are you ready?’, ‘Yes.’

The footpath ahead of us bent to the right and the left, then left and right, again and again that even I couldn’t remember how many times we turned. Along the way we went past two paddies and crossed a large pond over a tiny bridge that was, indeed, a coconut tree stem. Going through a lot of orchards, we was finally able to reach the destination.

That was a large house surrounded by a hedge of bush and small trees. We stepped inside it through a rotten wooden gate. Before us appeared a thatch-roofed and wooden-wall house of three apartments with a large yard in which there was an outdoor altar and two ponds in its rear with dozens of coconut trees planted at all sides. The monitor invited us into the apartment in between. Inside it, near the doorway, I saw a long rectangular wooden table of dark gray, with three stools of the same color at each side and a big brown altar of mango wood behind the table, on which worship fruits and objects were laid in order. On the right of the altar stood a little cupboard and on its left was an old sewing machine. There was a small round table on the right side of the room. On the opposite side was a shiny big divan.

We put our backpacks and handbags on the divan and sat on it while waiting the monitor to invite his parents to see us. As the monitor’s parents entered the room through a side door near the altar, all of us got up and greeted them. They were very hospitable to us.

‘Welcome you all, we are happy to receive you. Make yourself at home’ the monitor’s father said.

‘Thank you’ we said.

Next I assisted two girls in bringing food and fruits to the kitchen whilst the others together with the monitor went to the back of the house for face, hand and leg washing. After everyone finished the private clean-up, all the girls gathered in the kitchen, giving the monitor’s mother a hand in cooking whereas I and the other boys followed the monitor to a pond by the house. He selected a coconut tree, rich in fruits but rather tall, climbing up its top, using his feet to push all the fruits down into the pond. Coconuts one and then another, and then another… fell down and water was fired into the air in all directions whenever one coconut touched the pond surface. Waiting until the monitor climbed down, we, boys, used a long dry bamboo stem with a hook fastened on one end to pull coconuts onto the shore and then carried all to the front yard. And right there we broke some with a big knife, enjoying their delicious and nutritious juice and tender flesh.

Nearly 12:30 p.m all the cooking was done. Four boys of us helped the monitor lay the table for lunch in one apartment next to the main one. Meanwhile, the girls were busy with bringing foods from the kitchen and putting them on the table. At exactly 12:45 p.m all of us gathered around the lunch table. On behalf of the whole group the monitor declared the party open. During the lunch time we ate, laughed and made jokes of one another without stop. The lunch turned out to be a big party rather than an ordinary one since we sang and danced together incessantly. We also took a lot of photos on this occasion; and of course, those were the nicest and most amusing pictures.

The lunch ended at 1:45 p.m. Each of us looked for a place to take a nap. The girls occupied a room with two beds in the main apartment. The monitor dropped himself into a hammock two ends of which were attached to two wooden posts of the right apartment whilst I and the other three boys spread a cloth mat on the land floor of the left one and slept there. Until 3:30 p.m the monitor woke us up to make a plan for the rest of the day.

‘At first we will go swimming in the river,’ said the monitor, ‘then get back to prepare dinner. In the evening we are going to my uncle’s house for singing karaoke and after that return home for more activities until midnight, okay?’

‘No idea’ we said.

Afterwards, the monitor led us to a small river, just a stone’s throw from our place. He asked the girls to swim with the boys but they said no, for the simple reason that they had no swimming costumes with; furthermore, the river looked not very clean, which caused the girls to be afraid that there might be bad effects on their skin. This could easily be sympathized with as six girls were all Saigoneses (who were born and grow up in Saigon, an old name of Ho Chi Minh city before 1975). So they took great care of their skin at all times. That’s why all the girls just sat on the river bank, churning up water with hands and feet whereas we, boys, in pairs of shorts only, leaving the upper body part naked, jumping straight into the river. The monitor challenged us for a swim to the other side of the river. We nodded in agreement without thinking. However, the result was beyond our imagination. Just a few moments after the start he broke away from us a great distance and when he reached the other side, we finished halfway only. The monitor’s defeating us by a wide margin was not a strange thing for he was a son of the river country.

Across the river were thousands of water coconut trees (which may belong to the coconut family and often grow under water along rivers) and a big mango orchard in abundance, just between 20 and 30 paces inwards from the bank. After we all climbed ashore, the monitor asked us to trespass the orchard and throw at mangoes with stones. So many mangoes were on the branches that it was easy enough for us to shoot down a dozen very soon. Realizing we gained quite a large number, the monitor told us to pick up all the mangoes on the ground and quickly get away from the orchard. In order to avoid the orchard owner’s discovery, we left there as softly as when we came and swam back to the place we started from. As we set foot on the shore, it was nearly 5:30 p.m.

A beautiful day already went by, leaving me various kinds of emotions. I stood by the river, watching a beautiful sunset a moment in silence, then following my classmates to the monitor’s house. It was getting dark then and the most important moment in my life was coming near, too.

That evening we had two special dishes for dinner. We sat together in a circle on a big divan in the left apartment. First, we had bread and grilled chicken. The monitor’s mother treated us to three free-range chickens, two grilled and one for the gruel. So delicious was bread and chicken that we swallowed up all we could eat within less than a quarter.

Right then I was sitting on one corner, chewing the last piece of bread in a hurry when being startled by a voice from behind :’Please help me tidy up the table.’

I turned round and saw her. I didn’t know how long she appeared there. What a great astonishment to me! It was the first time she had words with me. The piece of bread seemed to get stuck at my throat though I tried to swallow it down. Not believing what has just been heard, I looked up and said :’Pardon?’

‘Could you help me tidy up the table, please?’ she repeated.

And this time I was able to become aware that what I heard was real.’Yeah, no problem’ I gazed at her in silence with a slight hesitation a minute and then said.

As I got up and intended to gather all the plates, the same voice behind me said again :’Please arrange in neat piles’. I’ll go get the kerosene lamp and shine it on the way to the washing-up place, okay?’

I turned round to glance at her and nodded :’Yeah, I’ll do it now.’

A minute later she came back, holding a lamp in her right hand. Then I just finished putting the plates one on another and wrapping up all the food remnants in a sheet of newspaper in time.

‘Now let’s go’ she said and stepped ahead of me. When we walked outside, everything was completely covered with the curtain of night. Nevertheless, thanks to the lamp light we were able to see the path paved with fragments of pottery and brick. The path leading to where we wanted was narrow and greasy. Both of us moved slowly and carefully for fear of falling down. Along the way she and I kept silent. The surroundings were so quiet that we could hear the successive croakings of frogs and toads in distance. After all we reached the washing-up place. Here I saw a large water tank and two basins. As I was going to put the pile of plates down, her voice continued to come out :’Please put them into one basin and I’ll help you pour water into it.’ I did as she told without saying a word, standing aside to watch her using half a dry coconut shell to fill the basin with water. After the pile of plates was immersed in water, she said :’Okay, that’s all. Let’s go back.’ Scarely had her words come out of the mouth when she walked away. I did the same, too.

On stepping, all of a sudden, she slipped forward dropping the lamp; but fortunately I was quick enough to grasp her arm and pull her backward to keep her from falling. However, I couldn’t imagine it was the pull that caused her to fall into my arms. It all happened so fast that I didn’t know how to react to it except for releasing her arm and backing up. But my reactive movements made her keep falling back and me more confused only to hold her waist firmly and pull her up. As a result she completely fell into my embrace and her back leaned on me. At the same time her head touched me softly on the cheek and her hair fell over my shoulder. At that moment I began to feel the touch of her body on my arms, a body that was, perhaps, as soft as velvet and the smoothness of her skin from which a comfortable warmth gave off and seemed to pass on to me. My face turned heated up. I felt that, right up to my arms as if there was a flow of electricity running through them and spreading all over my body, creating a great feeling somehow that I didn’t manage to describe and that I had never experienced. Maybe it is the feeling that a boy and a girl have a fleshly touch for the first time in life as well as that makes your whole body heated up, blood vessels strained and heart beat strongly and even more than that. At the same time I sensed a sweet smell, not the scent of flowers and even not that of a certain type of expensive perfume but the natural fragrance of a young woman from her body. That came through my nostrils and seemed to run up to brain, making me extremely easy and relaxed. Floating emotions were surging up inside me when I felt the tender touch of her slender fingers on the hands; those fingers tried to remove my hands from her waist. But I was holding her so close that she seemed to make a vain attempt. Not aware of what was occurring until she gently shook her body, I hurriedly let go my grip. Right in the minute that I loosed my arms, I felt a little push from her hands in the arms follow in the same direction I withdrew my arms. Right after being released she went away in a hurry. Things happened only in the blink of an eye and I made no reactions, just standing still there, looking her whitish figure slowly disappear from sight.

Alone, I tried to recall the last occurrence and adjusted my heart beats. I didn’t return to the house until I recovered myself. As I entered, nobody saw me. They were all having the chicken gruel cheerfully and she was spooning gruel into a bowl. I made my way straight to the divan and sat down on one corner. Thoughts were wandering through my mind when she came and said :’Have a bowl.’

‘Thank you’ I said almost inaudibly. I did not dare to look boldly at her then, just looking to the side but failed to hide the awkwardness when receiving the bowl from her hands. So not to expose the awkward posture, I lifted up the bowl to my mouth at once, first sipped the gruel, then gulped it down, pretending to ignore her. However, I occasionally took a clandestine glance at her and also came to find that she did the same for me when both of us, by chance, had an eye contact, which we had to turn away quickly to avoid out of embarrassment. During the time for gruel neither of us uttered a word, sitting there quietly, which totally contrasted with the noisy laughter and speech produced by the other classmates around. I was, then, racking up my brain for the answer to my own question :’What is she thinking of now?’ Perhaps, too deep in thought, I didn’t discover the bowl in my hands had become empty long. And she seemed to realize this the moment I directed a look at the inside of the bowl.

‘One more?’ she asked.

‘Yes, please. Thanks’ I replied.

Next, she took my bowl. She made it full of hot gruel and did not forget to lift some slices of chicken and put them into the bowl; then; afterwards, she handed it to me. This time she did not get back to her seat but sat next to me.

She looked at me and asked :’The gruel is delicious, isn’t it?’

‘Yes’ I said.

‘You know, I love it so much but I have not cooked it before; furthermore, I do not have the recipe.’

‘Why don’t you ask the monitor’s mother for it?’

‘Oh, that is a good idea.’

‘Why am I too silly to think of it?’


‘Not at all’ [pauses].

From a position close enough to her, I had a chance to take a better look at her. How stunning she looked in a short-sleeved blouse of light blue which fitted her like a glove and added beauty to her! On one side of her hair I found the sky blue hairgrip she wore this morning be replaced with a small lemon yellow hairpin. In the lamplight, she went bright crimson like a girl with the cheeks put on blusher when noticing me looking at her. She quickly turned away to hide her embarrassment but was betrayed by the hot blush that spread up into her face. I guessed that was either because of my sight or because of the embarrassing situation happening in the washing-up place a moment ago. After a moment’s observation of her, I summoned all my courage to give her a question :’Do you often cook at home?’ This was the first time I actively talked with her.

She said :’Not very often, I just sometimes help my mum with the cooking but I can cook only simple things. I learn it from my mum.’

‘In common sense, it is a start to become a good housewife in the future, isn’t it? I continued.

‘Yes, I think so. I want to cook well. I will ask the monitor’s mother for the chicken gruel recipe and cook it for you…’ she seemed to find what she just spoke sounded somewhat direct, so she stopped it right away. To help her through her embarrassment, I added :’Are you going to the house of the monitor’s uncle?’

‘Yes, of course. We will get there after dinner’ she quickly responded.

And we needn’t wait too long since the other classmates’ urging calls for cleaning up the table from behind interrupted us. She and I had to end our talk and gave them a hand.

About 8 p.m all of us assembled in the front yard to see the monitor light up three coconut leaf – plaited torches that he prepared in the afternoon. Of the three torches, he held one, the other two boys the remaining two and I took nothing. Waiting until we all formed a long queue, the monitor said :’I will shine and lead the way. The two guys with torches, one will stand between the queue and the other at the end. Are you ready? We start now, okay?’

‘Yes, let’s go.’

Then we began to depart for his uncle’s house. I occupied a position right behind her near the end of the line on purpose. After getting out of the monitor’s house, we carefully moved on a footpath lying between the paddy-fields and orchards. The path was not different from a tiny dyke built of earth, around 30 to 40 centimeters higher than the paddy surface, covered with weed, rather rough and just broad enough for one person to walk on. Luckily, this time we did not, however, have to wade through any water. So nobody slipped all the way. I wished she would fall again in order that I could have another chance to help her but things did not go as expected. Along the way we had some words with each other once again and it was her that started first, too.

‘Are you afraid of the dark?’

‘No, I am not.’

‘I am very afraid of the dark because ghosts often tend to appear in dark.’

‘So you must fear ghosts, right?’

‘No, I do not fear ghosts.’

‘You know, girls usually fear ghosts.’

‘So what do you fear?’

She used her right hand to hide her mouth and broke into laugh.[pauses].

Over 15 minutes later we reached the house of the monitor’s uncle. All his family was at the door to welcome us. They already cooked a pot of sweetened grapefruit porridge for us. The TV set and the karaoke recorder were turned on and video tapes and the song list book available near there. The monitor opened the program with a folk song. After that we took turns at singing a song. I looked through the song list but couldn’t find my favorite one. This resulted in my having to sit and listen to everybody. To my surprise, she also picked out a folk song entitled ‘The old time black bird’ instead of a pop song or so. In addition, what made me more astonished was that her singing voice sounded so harmonious and warm that all of us gave her a big round of applause after the song. I was deeply moved by her voice, which evoked my homesickness. Nearly 10 p.m we said goodbye to the family of the monitor’s uncle and left.

Less than 20 minutes later we were home and gathered in the right apartment for the last activity of that day. There we split into two groups for card-games. Each group of four sat together in a circle and of course, I chose the group which she belonged to. We just played cards for fun, not for money. At first we started with the game rule: the loser would have to drink up a glass of water but we changed it later because of finding that the rule was not interesting and amusing enough.

‘I think we can make a little change like this: whoever loses the game will be smeared on the face with soot and the winner is allowed to draw anything on his or her face, okay?’ suggested the monitor.

‘That is a great idea. It is very funny’ agreed we.

She was not very good at playing cards. So the more games we had, the more soot marks appeared on her pretty face. I took this good opportunity to draw stars on her face, wherever the others did not put any marks yet with the point of my index finger. I love stars. I usually go out star watching by night as I have free time or I feel upset about something. I always feel at ease whenever I see the stars in the sky. I have a feeling that all the stars glittering in the sky, somewhere far away in the universe carry human beings’ hopes. Every star is one hope for somebody and so I intentionally gave her as many stars as I could and regarded it a way to send away my hopes that I myself had not, then, known what they were really. I just felt extraordinarily excited about that. I just felt as if I were going to obtain something extremely valuable. How much I loved this feeling as well as that when my finger touched her forehead, her cheeks, her chin and especially her lovely nose! And I even loved the feeling being touched on the face by her finger much more than that of touching her face. So I always tried to take advantage of any chances I have to offer her or the others good cards, willing to become the loser, then after that, to be able to keep enjoying the feeling of her finger sliding on the face. We played the game until 1 a.m the next morning and wend to bed.

That night I had a very sweet dream in which she and I were walking together on the grass, flying a butterfly kite in the clear blue sky and running to catch each other. Then we were lying on the grass, looking into the sky, telling each other about funny and unforgettable memories in childhood and school days. After that I saw both of us hand in hand walking to a lake near there, sitting down back to back when being woken up by one of my classmates who was pulling my arms up and down. What a pity! Such a beautiful dream came to a halfway close. I still remember very well that it was about 8 a.m then.

Not soon later we had bread and omelette for breakfast. At 9 a.m we followed the monitor to some orchards within easy reach of his house. We first visited the guava orchard, followed by the star apple and finally the plum. In order to go from one orchard to another we had to jump over a small ditch which separated the two orchards with its width of more than one meter. All the boys jumped over the ditch first and then turned round and put hands forward to pull the girls over. And that was the second time I held her hand. On this occasion we took a lot of photos. There was a picture that I hardly forget about; in this picture she put a big plum leaf on her forehead in a vertical position and tied it around her head with a string, one hand with a huge guava and one hand with a bunch of plums, standing by a ditch and giving a fetching smile. At that time I was standing right behind her, raising up one hand and making a V-sign with two fingers. It was the first time we took a picture together.

We spent over one hour hunting for fruits everywhere in the orchards. We were really lucky enough to taste the special flavors of the Mekong river delta fruits on the spot. None of us forgot to take some fruits home when leaving the orchards.

After having lunch and taking a quick nap, we all woke up and packed our clothes and personal belongings to be ready to return home. Over one day and a half I already wore all three pullovers I carried along and had no left except for a white shirt which was too wrinkly for me to put on. When I was turning round and round, not knowing how to solve the problem, she came and said :’Don’t worry, let me help you iron the shirt.’

‘Thanks a lot’ I quickly said with joy and stepped aside to watch her. How much I loved her slim figure the minute that she stood doing the ironing, the way she pushed the iron to and fro on the shirt, the way she stopped to adjust it, the way she was drawn to what she was doing, the way she folded up the shirt, the way she handed it to me when finishing the ironing, the way she looked at me then and the way her eyes gleamed with extraordinarily special excitement! What a great moment that I can’t help remembering forever! I wished that moment could last forever and ever.

About 2 p.m we said goodbye to the whole family of the monitor and set off for Saigon. Our coach left the station just after 3 p.m. By a strange coincidence, we might, once again, sit next to each other because the seat by her was empty. Not wanting to miss this chance I approached her, pointed at the seat and asked :’Do you mind if I sit here?’

‘No, not at all’ she said.

Probably, we were both tired enough after one last day and a half ‘s activities to fall asleep just after a few minutes’ talk. And not knowing whether things went by chance or not, I saw her head resting on my shoulder as I woke up. I first intended to wake her up but later decided not to. Then I couldn’t sense why I felt exceptionally happy; perhaps, partly because I was sitting so close to her, partly because the feelings of last night were coming back to me. I just let what was happening kept on happening as it was until the coach reached its station. That was the end of my trip.

That night I sat in my room for hours just gazing into the shirt she ironed, the only object of mine she touched, like being attracted to a dramatic picture, just smiling at myself over and over even I don’t understand why I had such smiles and trying to visualize things occurring through the last trip. Sometimes I rubbed on the shirt softly to feel its smoothness under my fingers. I left my shirt unwashed for days just because I simply wanted to retain the feeling of wearing a shirt not ironed by mum but another young woman as long as possible and I did not want the feeling of possessing the only wrinkless shirt in my college time to leave me too soon only to come back to the wrinkle clothes in my daily life. But it seemed not like that, either. I just wanted to keep the shirt of memory straight as it was. I was just afraid that the beautiful memory of the shirt would be washed away by water when it was put into wash.

Three days after the trip I had an English class. I got to school in a mind full of questions :’What should I do and what should I ask her when I see her in class?’, ‘How does she look today?’, ‘What happened in our trip is real or just a dream?...’ However, as I entered class, she was sitting at the table of the front row, where was my everyday seat, which totally exceeded my imagination. I just had the only choice that is to walk to the table and sit next to her while my heart was going pit – a – pat, but she did not seem to discover this. She naturally opened her English book, pointed to some words and said :’I do not know the meanings of these words. Can you help me, please?’

Like just escaping from a heavy burden, I felt so relieved, then replying :’Yes, this means… and that means…’ From that day on, we always sat together at the same table in our English classes. The relationship between us developed further day by day, too. Over one month later I secretly hid a note in her English book in the break time without being seen by anyone. In the note, I wrote her some lines :’I have a very important thing that I have wished to tell you about but no chances until today. After class I am waiting for you in the coffee shop behind our school. NO SEEING, NO LEAVING.’ That afternoon I waited her for half an hour when she arrived at our meeting place. After ordering some drinks, I made a great attempt to express my feelings towards her several times but failed to do it. I performed as badly as the boy at the beginning of the story did. A moment later she said :’I would like to take a walk in the park. Shall we get there now?’

‘Yes, okay, no problem’ I responded. We later came to Tao Dan park(the name of a park in Ho Chi Minh city). We took a long walk through the park. I just followed her alongside, not finding out any beautiful words to utter apart from nonsense like: ‘It is nice weather here… that flower looks so nice?... you love this place, right?...’ After the walk, we rested on a bench. There I continued to stammer :’I l-l-like you. I wonder whether you f-f-feel the s-s-same towards me?’ Then she said no words, just looking down as if she heard nothing. I couldn’t imagine how embarrassed I was when she made no reaction. Suddenly, she stole a kiss on my cheek and turned away. My heart beat more wildly than ever. My face became heated up. There seemed to be a current running throughout inside me. I took a quick glance at her and saw blushes on her face. [pauses].

’Do you L-L-LIKE me?’ I asked.

‘You fool, I already gave you the answer’ she responded and then got up, walking away. I hurriedly followed her. On the way to the parking place, I gently touched her hand and then caught it and then held it in my hand and turned to one side, pretending not knowing what I was doing, waiting for her reactions. She neither said anything nor withdrew her hand away but turned to give me a smile. In my mind, I said to myself with great excitement :’I did it, I did it’. It was the third time I held her hand. From that time forward we formally went with each other.

I can’t forget the day when our relationship reached a deeper level of intimacy. That day was just some months after the day she and I had a date in the park. It was a late afternoon. We caught a heavy rain on our way home from school. We had to shelter from the rain under the front roof of a roadside house. That was the most unforgettable place in my life where I had the first kiss with my first love.

It is nearly 3 a.m now. I put away the photo album and returned to bed with my wife. She is my second love. We did not have much time to know about each other before marriage. We came to marriage just six months after the two families’ agreed to let us date with each other. Now my wife is really the one who is living with me under the same roof and who is going to offer me a baby – the result of our love, not the girl of my first love. I think my wife is my only love now, the one who will go with me through all of my happiness and sadness as well in the rest of my life, not the girl of my first love. I actually feel I am not a good husband when I still think of the image of another woman after marriage. I do not know how my wife would behave if she knew I am still cherished the picture of another woman, not her in heart. However, I believe my wife can be generous enough to sympathize with me as she is. I say this not because I want to plead for myself at all but because I suppose each person in this world has some secrets that he or she wishes to keep in one corner of his or her heart, not wanting to let anybody know, even his or her spouse. It is essential that he or she be willing to spare how much of his or her life to share all the things in life with his or her other half. Perhaps, the common saying, ’Love that is romantic is often an unsuccessful love’, is always true. And my first love is such a love.

Written by Steven Le.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


There are some Chinese movies about love, which really move viewers. A typical one is the movie " THE SKY OF GREEN BIRDS " below in my blog. And now the movie " THE ROMANTIC BOXER " is another typical, personally. This movie has been broadcast from 5 p.m to 7 p.m daily since the end of July on HTV 7 channel . Below are some nice words of love that I am impressed most and that are mentioned in the movie:

" The human life normally lasts for at most 70 years. Of those years, the first ten years is the period of innocence and foolishness; the last ten is that of old age and weakness. Of the remaining 50 years, a half is the period of darkness; the other is the period of time for us to work, entertain and do many other things. Ask yourself how much time left is for love. So love as much as you can; love for love only, not for anything else; love with no benifit, no condition; express your true love boldly; devote all your heart to the one you love; don't be afraid of getting sorrow; don't care whether you will receive refusal or love in return. Sooner or later try your best to look for the other half, the one belonging to you . Then true love will come with you. "

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Yesterday, July 1st, 2006, I participated in the game show "Green Bamboo" ...

But it's a day of full of disppointment to me. I performed so badly in the game even myself I don't know how to explain.

Although I have reviewed, rather carefully to say, the Vietnamese idioms and proverbs in all the books that I hold, I failed the game... I get so disappointed about myself, how I performed, the way I acted and so on..,

Before I took the competition, I didn't think I would get such a bad result. Perhaps this is the first time the studios cameras on me and this might create some influences. But to be honest, the female contestant competing with me in the game was so exellent and that's why I failed....

An unforgettable memory in full of depression...

Saturday, June 24, 2006


What a bad day today! Now I feel extremely disappointed since Korea Republic was defeated 0 - 2 by Switzerland early this morning. Finally, my favorite team can not repeat the miraculous achievements as they did 4 years ago, when the world cup was held in their home. Even, this become more regrettful for Korea Republic because they have gained 4 points after one win over Togo and one draw against France in the two previous matches.

In the first match with Togo they didn't play as well as they could though the match ended in a win for them but later in the second one they seemed to start returning to themselves, a Korean team, who always plays with a highly courageous and not-afraid-of-injury spirit. As a result, they managed to hold France, the champion of the World Cup 1998, to a draw after a lot of great effort to even the score in the late minutes of the second half. After these two matches my hope towards one more win or at least a draw with Switzerland for Korea was actually raised up to a high peak but everything didn't go as expected.

In my opinion, Switzerland is entirely deserved for a win over Korea because they played so well throughout the game and especially they played successfully on both attack and defence. As for Korea, they lost this game partly because their playing tactict was rather simple and; more exactly to say, it seemed to be slightly inflexible and partly because they might not be well-prepared for this match. That is the reason why they have to say goodbye to World cup 2006 early.

However, I always love Korea anyway because they are the only Asian football team that has made a deep impression on me for many world cups. Hoping that one day Korea will be alble to play football as equally as others in Europe.

Friday, June 23, 2006

The World Cup has come

An unforgettable moment in the world cup time.

At last, The World Cup 2006 has already come after four years of expectation. And now I can eat, sleep and live together with World Cup for over a month. My favorite soccer team is South Korea. In the previous World Cups I always accompanied with the South Korean team in every match they played regardless of whether it occurred in the day time or late night and shared happiness and sadness with them as well. In the World Cup 2002, which was first organized in Asia in both Japan and Korea, the Korean team played so well that they managed to advance to the semi-final only to lose 2-3 against Turkey in the match for the bronze medal. It was the time that I enjoyed the greatest moments of victory along with them. What a moment I could hardly forget!

In this World Cup 2006 in Germany, South Korea falls into the Group G with another three teams: France, Switzerland and Togo; this is not an easy group for Korea to continue to advance to the 1/16 round match at all since there are two European football powers in the group. So to be able to reach farther, Korea must beat Togo, the team considered the weakest one by specialists. Finally, they managed to beat Togo 2-1 in the opening match, which causes me to believe that the door for them to advance farther has really opened wider; especially after the draw match 0-0 between France and Switzerland. I hope that Korea will be able to play a wonderful match with France in the next one; at least they will be able to hold France to a draw. And in the coming match I expect the player, Lee Chun Soo, will keep on scoring goals as he did in the opener.


A new year is coming very and very near. Today it is December 31st, 2005 and it is nearly 8 p.m now and we will say good bye to the old year and step into the new year, 2006 in less than 5 hours. Despite knowing the next new year will come as it does every year, I still have a feeling that something extremely hard to describe stays around and around inside me. Probably I will have a sleepless night outside together with friends to welcome the new year as I often do every year.

What about you? Do you share the same feelings with me? If yes, please express yours and on the occasion of the new year 2006, I wish all good things will come to everybody. Okay, I have to stop here because some of my friends are urging me to our meeting point to be ready to welcome the new year.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Christmas is coming nearer and nearer

Christmas will soon be coming round again. The weather is getting colder and colder. Along the streets, in late afternoons, especially on Saturdays and Sundays you can see sweaters coming in various colors and sizes be displayed on sidewalks for sale. Many motorcyclists on way home from work spare a little time to stop by the street and pick out some sweaters suiting them in both prices and fashion styles. The noisy sights of buying and selling get Saigonese people 's life near Christmas to be busier and more interesting.

At night, make a tour around Saigon downtown and you will find the city seems to be brighter and more colorful than normal days with the appearance of hundred thousands of Christmas electric lights scattered everywhere. On passing by large hotels, luxury restaurants or shopping malls, slow down and you may see big Christmas trees decorated with a lot of electric lights and ornaments together with a lovely snow man and well-prepared presents of every color and size around. This will be a good place for families with children or young couples to take photos as a memory.


After the suspect in the case of Zi Hue 's husband is arrested, she is not in danger any longer. Wei Wu keeps on getting to and out of Zi Hue 's house as frequently as he did when he was still her bodyguard.

The movie really turns to another milestone when Zi Hue discovers that her husband has an illegitimate son named Le Le with his ex-lover. For the time being, Le Le is living together with his grand father or Zi Hue 's father - in - law while his mother is working away from him as far as America. As not being able to take care of her son, Le Le 's mother must ask Zi Hue 's father - in - law to replace her to look after him. Zi Hue doesn't know what her father - in - law has tried to conceal until he becomes very ill, failing to care for Le Le and finally coming to her for assistance. Once again, the bitter truth inflicts more pain and suffering on Zi Hue but she agrees to help her father - in - law to take care of Le Le while he is being treated in hospital. And from the day Le Le gets to live with her onwards, Zi Hue 's life has gradually changed for the better. It is because she now has someone to look after, to care for, to cook for and more important, to educate. Her life is not so bad as it was during the time she lived in daily great torments of losing husband. However, Zi Hue has also a lot of difficulties teaching and treating Le Le as he just misses his mother at all times and is indifferent to her. But Zi Hue is eventually successful in getting on well with Le Le. And it is Wei Wu that contributes to her success by staying around to motivate and help her through all the hardships in both physical and mental life. Not soon later, Zi Hue 's home opens to welcome a new member, Dou Dou, who comes to live, study and play with Le Le as a friend. At this time, Zi Hue is playing the role of a teacher and mother when having to look after the two children. Days pass by; the greater affection Zi Hue feels for Le Le and Dou Dou, the deeper her love towards Wei Wu seems to grow. And Wei Wu also recognizes this special sort of love in Zi Hue but he always tries to pretend not to know about it at all whenever Zi Hue mentions the relationship between them. Despite Wei Wu 's avoidance, she keeps on waiting until he is courageous enough to naturally express his true feelings. Up to now, it is obvious that we have known Zi Hue and Wei Wu are a couple in this movie.

Next, the movie concentrates on another couple, Zi Qiang and La Man. While Zi Hue is trying to overcome her loss of husband, Zi Qiang gets into troubles. Particularly, his computer network company goes bankrupt and even worse than that, he later knows he is suffering a severe brain tumour. He is told that he just has three months left to survive unless being operated immediately and even in the case he agrees to have an operation; the possibility of success accounts for 50% only. At first depressed by his business failure and later by the serious disease, Zi Qiang feels lost and hopeless. That is why he gives no thought to continuing to exist in this world rather than ,which he thinks as a release for himself and his sister as well. At these hot moments of the movie, the other half of him, La Man appears and comes around his bed through days and nights with no complaints. And it is La Man that seems to be a wonderful source of consolation and comfort or something like a log of wood in the vast deserted and icy ocean for him to grasp to go on living and combat his disease. La Man 's noble love is more clearly shown in her being willing to marry Zi Qiang before he is taken to the operating theatre. At the beginning, Zi Qiang assertively says no to La Man 's suggestion but at the end he changes his mind due to her holly love. As a result, his operation goes more perfectly than expected and their love comes to a happy close later. In contrast, the relationship between Zi Hue and Wei Wu breaks up as he frankly suggests seperating from Zi Hue in order to get married to another lady. This event occurs so quickly that Zi Hue hasn't really known what is happening. This time Zi Hue 's heart is almost broken as she always considers herself as a person that can understand Wei Wu most. After all, it turns out that he is not a true man which is supposed only to be able to find after being selected from thousands of men as she thinks. Following the movie up to here, I think TV viewers probably get totally disappointed about the character, Wei Wu; but the truth is not the same as what we see by apperance. In fact, Wei Wu just makes believe to marry a woman that needs a husband to be eligible to inherit her father 's fortune on the condition that he will get a large sum of money to settle all the costs of Zi Qiang 's operation in return. Wei Wu acts this way because he can't stand seeing Zi Hue cry on her own due to not being able to prepare enough money for the operation after running everywhere to ask for financial help. Nevertheless, he finally fails to win himself. He actually realizes how much he loves Zi Hue when he enters the marriage register office with an entirely unfamiliar woman but not his true lady. So right after that he is determined to delay the date of marriage registry until the eleventh hour, just one day ahead of Zi Qiang 's operation. Fortunately, La Man 's father pays for Zi Qiang 's operation before Wei Wu has to make his final decision. After Zi Qiang 's operation, Wei Wu dare not tell Zi Hue the reason why he acted like that for fear that he might hurt her one more time. However, thanks to his true love for Zi Hue, the woman that he ,first intended to get married to but later did not, is so much impressed that she automatically gets to see Zi Hue and tells her about all things. Knowing this Zi Hue is extremely happy because what she imagines about Wei Wu is completely correct. After that, in order to express all his love, Wei Wu hands Zi Hue his diary, which contains all his confidences and secrets.

Near the end of the movie, Dou Dou leaves Zi Hue for the reunion with his father just released from the prison. Some days later, Le Le 's mother gets back from America and takes Le Le with her, too. Zi Hue has to see her two children off in tears. From this time forward, Zi Hue 's home is absent from children 's laughters and voices but it will not be so cold as it used to because she already has Wei Wu to talk to and to share all happiness and sadness as well with.

Finally, the movie closes with the scene of Zi Hue and Wei Wu 's happy life in their cozy little home.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Good evening!
I am a very movie lover and I have been thinking that I will have a good chance to give some of my views on movies that I have watched and today I can really get my heart 's desires. Here is one of my most favourite Chinese romantic television movies that I am going to write about:


The setting of the movie is set in both modern and ancient Beijing city of China in the first years of the 21st century. The movie mainly revolves 6 main characters: Zi Hue, Wei Wu, Zi Qiang, La Man, Dou Dou and Le Le. Among them, Zi Hue and Zi Qiang come from the same family and Zi Hue is Zi Qiang 's sister. Next, Wei Wu has been Zi Qiang 's closest friend since the college time while La Man, a successful businessman's daughter, is going with Zi Qiang. And finally, it is the two children: Dou Dou and Le Le. Dou Dou is the son of a close friend of Wei Wu, whose father is behind bars while Le Le is an illegitimate son of Zi Hue's husband.

The movie starts with the scene in which Zi Hue is living happily with her newly-wed husband, a famous lawyer, whose name is Shan Guang in their new apartment. Not soon later, Zi Hue receives bad news that her husband is killed by one of his clients in a lawsuit that he takes charge of. Not having had enough time to keep calm and got through her loss of the affectionate husband and torments as well, Zi Hue is told by the police that she is in danger becaue they haven't been able to seize the suspect who might be involved in her husband's . Worrying about Zi Hue 's safety, Zi Qiang asks Wei Wu to protect his sister as a bodyguard. During the time being close to Zi Hue, Wei Wu gradually notices an extremely deep love towards her husband always exist inside Zi Hue 's heart. That she has such a plain love gets Wei Wu to fall in love with her and he himself doesn't know since when he has got love towards her....(to be continued).

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Some useful websites

My email address:
Some useful websites:

Government bodies & social institutions
- Communist Party of Vietnam
- The National Assembly of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs
- Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Culture and Information
- Ministry of Education and Training
- Ministry of Planning and Investment-
Ministry of Science and Technology
- Ministry of Transport
- Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development
- Ministry of Fisheries
- National Administration of Tourism
- Directorate for Standards and Quality
- General Department of Customs
- Vietnam Railways
- Vietnam Medicine
- Embassy of Vietnam to the USA
- Transfer of Knowledge Through Expatriate Nationals programme
- Department for Administration of Foreign Employed Labour Force
- Hanoi Posts and Telecommunication
- Ninh Thuan Posts and Telecommunication
- VCCI Data- Vietnam Software Association
- Vietnam Association of Photographic Artists
- Association of Vietnam Student
- Vietnam Union Science and Technology Association

Cities & Provinces
- Hanoi
- Ho Chi Minh City
- Da Nang
- Dong Nai
- Thanh Hoa
- Phu Yen
- Bac Ninh
- Tay Ninh
- Quang Ngai

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