The Ritual

To cope with the ever-changing world in which we live in, Paul Mc Cartney sings we be prepared to live and let die. For me, I prefer to have a ritual. For many years, whenever I am in the posh Naka Meguro, I buy a sesame bagel from a small shop. Next, I buy a caramel flavoured coffee from a combini. As I rest by the river, this one pigeon with a missing foot always drops by to pick on the sesame seeds.

Ticket to Childhood

Dear Mom. Life is dull here in the far away land. No one loves me, and I eat boring things.

In Saigon, we met for the LearnCamp - we discussed how to learn better and the latest research in Brain Science. After the LearnCamp we dined at a cafe founded by a popular author. Nguyen Nhat Anh wrote the book Ticket to Childhood - a collection of childhood stories of growing up in Vietnam. 

Long lost friend in an alley

Early this decade, I sometimes ate at this street noodle vendor in Saigon. She always fed me an extra fried egg, and when it rained, she found a dry spot for me to sit. Since 2016, once I started spending more time in Vietnam, I tried to locate her. Locals told me that the neighbourhood authorities had chased away the street vendors, many took up other occupations or went back to the provinces. Today I was in a small alley, and I felt a tap on my arm. I turn around and find my favourite noodle seller. She has a shop of her own now. In Saigon, you should always walk into a random alley. Something magical often happens.

The Che Seller of Saigon

The Chinese style dessert seller at 31 Nguyen Thai Binh, mixing up a Che (Vietnamese for dessert), is a joy to watch. Don't know how to speak Vietnamese? No worries, just point at the ingredients, the Che seller will make sure that whatever you pick will refresh you. A good resting place after that late evening walk. The communal seating around the cart encourages new friendships.

Ocean, Vung Tau

I want to take the ferry out instead of the bus. The girl at the hotel asks me whether I know how to swim. Seems the ferry has a record of breaking down, or the girl is a secret bus company agent. (Vung Tau, Vietnam)

A world so perfect

"Sometimes, all you had to do was exist in order to be someone's savior"

 I always recall this line from a Japanese novel when I meet the che (dessert) seller around 15b Le Thanh Ton. She grills the sticky rice encased banana (chuối bọc nếp nướng) and makes the world perfect with that warm smile.

Train trip to Ipoh, Malaysia

Ipoh was a town in Malaysia I visited some years back. Now there is a fast train connecting Kuala Lumpur to Ipoh. My interest was also piqued when I found some photos of fancy new cafes in Ipoh. It is a pleasant town to spend a day or two. I like the colonial buildings and the food here.