[Hanoi] The Good, The Bad, The Fav, The 1000th

*** Good buy of the month: L’Occitane’s Pure Vegetable Lavender and Shea Butter Extra-Gentle Soap

Yes it may be a mouthful but it’s delightful. See, I’ve never been a big soap or skincare product maniac to begin with. But, I was just strolling around waiting for a movie, and the L’Occitane shop drew me with its fragrance like a moth to a flame. After quite some sniffing and label-reading, I picked this up and I’m liking it a lot so far. Very soft, moisturizing and aromatic to the skin. Oh and yes, extra-gentle too, as the title implies.

Now it might just be advertising for the gullible few like me,  but I like the fact that the soap is fairtrade, made by and sold to support women in Burkina Faso. The women’s group that works with these products has grown from merely 100 to now 12,000, l’Occitane claims. Apparently, according to tradition, only women are allowed to touch the fruits of the shea or karite tree, which are considered “sacred”. They crush the nuts of the fruits and grind them into the shea butter that we know. As you can imagine, I overwhelmed myself with L’Occitane’s traceability videos to all of the ingredients they use. But it’s great because despite learning so much about knowing where your products come from in college, it’s really hard to actually sit down and find out in real life.

*** Bad buy of the month: The squishy yellow chicken toy

Courtesy of SpoilUrPets

The lack of a proper name for the bad buy of the month expresses how disappointed I am with it. The story needs to start with my dog. I have 2 dogs, one of whom is a “slightly” chubby…okay, no, I’ll be honest, overweight sausage-looking german shepherd named Sparky. In an attempt to get Sparky “fit”…

1. Plan A; I tried walking him. See, we have a yard so Sparky has never been outside of the house for a walk, ever, throughout his entire nearly 10-year doggie life. His initial response: “Oh cool, yay, I get to go outside”..and then “Shitt..what is that string you’re putting on me, I wanna go homeee”…Result, no I didn’t walk the dog, the dog walked me ..back home.

2. Plan B: I tried cutting down on his food. Maybe I overdid it, but Sparky was moping around life-less after just the first day of diet, giving me “I’m whining and dying” glimpses..my mom got anxious and interfered with two bowls of doggie treats…mission fails but Sparky was relieved 😐

3. Plan C: I tried buying a toy. Google tells me ” You should play with your dog, buy him a toy, he’ll be so excited and will be active whenever you play it with him”. Yes I’m gullible, and it’s google, don’t we all at some point put google on a pedestal? Anyway, this is where I spend an hour, trying to find the perfect toy in Hanoi for good old Sparky. By the 3rd petshop I went to, I found the “one”…an elastic, defeathered (not a word, but you get me), yellow chicken…and it makes a squeaky sound everytime you press on it. With much excitement and anticipation, I bring the toy home, and take it out of the bag. Sparky already took a step back…I squeaked the toy thinking it’d get him into the playing mood…Squeakkk…His tail just dropped like a rock, his face pure “WTF” mode……Squeakkk (shouldn’t have done it the 2nd time), he turns 180, and runs like the wind into his little doggie house…Yes, the squishy yellow elastic chicken scared the living day-lights out of my 50-pound german shepherd. The chicken is now decoration in my room…I couldn’t leave it out in the yard either, because Sparky freaks out each time he sees it….Horrible buy. Btw, the picture is purely descriptive, the chicken doesn’t look like that but that’s how a normal dog should react to the chicken toy, no offense Sparky.

4. Plan D: None yet…

*** Favorite things as of now

– My Nikon 35 mm 1.8 lens: Twas on the wishlist last month. C got it for me and it’s abso-stunning!

– Hue imperial food : I’ve never been to Hue, but I got to taste some at a shop in HCMC and the dishes are definitely wow-ers, very intricately made, decorated beautifully. Note to self: find a place in HN to eat and take photos / save money for Hue trip 😀

– GRE flashcards: got these from a friend, little bit heavy to carry around, but it’s interesting having that feeling of studying again

– MAC Studio Sculpt Concealer: If you said this to me a year ago, I would have had absolutely no idea what it was. Work has taught me a thing or two about having to do your own make-up and this has been a life-saver. Great and easy for covering up on face.

*** The number 1000

If you happen to be in Vietnam, there is no way you haven’t heard the phrase: “on the occasion of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long -Hanoi”. The day will be this Oct.10th, so the hype is present on every corner of the streets, every shop, every show on TV, every single project, every person…and no, not just in Hanoi, but across the whole country. Working in the news, I get really frustrated. As much as this is such a grand day for Hanoi, my hometown, I don’t understand how saying everything is related to the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long – Hanoi makes things better. For example, Construction of a bridge in Can Tho —> this is in honor of the 1000th  blah blah. Man writes book in Ho Chi Minh City —> this is in honor of the 1000th blah blah, Temple opens in Central province —> this is ..1000 blah blah.

Better yet, the number 1000 has been taken way too literally. This past Mid-Autumn Festival for example, a newsline read : ‘1000 poor children given Mid-Autumn Festival in honor of the 1000th anniversary of Thang Long -Hanoi’ . Remember, no more no less, that 1001th kid can kiss this celebration goodbye, and if you’re not poor, goodbye to you too! Next headline: ‘1000 gold-plated dragons make Vietnam Guiness Records’ …welll, duh, it’s not like some other guy will be siting around, trying to make more than that number of gold-plated dragons. Next headline: ‘1000 turtles on display and for sale at Botanical Gardens’, ‘1000 eggs with written calligraphy shown to public’, ‘1000 dragons on Bronze drums’, 1000 this, 1000 that, millenial celebration, grand ceremony, Hanoi’s big day, dragons, turtles, and then more dragons.Oh goodness, please make it stop… Don’t take it so literally!!!

As for the vibe here in Hanoi, it’s getting more crowded everyday, and there have already been warnings to hotels not to take any more reservations. I’m getting scared, crossing my fingers that I won’t have to go outside on Oct. 10th./.

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