Monday, August 30, 2010

Work Update

I've been back in Vietnam for 3 weeks but I haven't worked much. I missed most of the summer classes and haven't had much luck getting hired in other schools. I applied at 3 schools. The first one, insisted that I work full time for them and become a teacher coordinator/program organizer of sorts. Not possible to do that at present because I'm going to HCM for a four week course in October and I don't want to commit to anything just yet. They said that they don't have a lot of classes at present because they just opened so they can't hire me part time, either. The second school, where Lyn works, let me do a demo class but I think the manager didn't really understand our conversation about my fee per hour. To be honest, I didn't either. :D The last one had me do a demo in front of the director, 2 teachers and a receptionist. They seemed very pleased but the director mentioned that they were also looking for a full time teacher. Like the first one, they're new and they don't have a lot of classes. I haven't heard from them but I will try to call this week to check in with them.

I still work for NES part time which takes care of my visa problem next month --- I have to pay a fee but at least, they'll be sort of supporting my stay here by sending in a pretend contract. I taught 3 classes last week including an adult class. The latter was funny because I couldn't remember half the acronyms the school came up with to label the grammar points. I just focused on giving them ideas, new vocab and correcting their general grammar and pronunciation. I'll be teaching 3 adult classes this week and 1 kid class. It's a bit weird to be teaching adults again after about a year of not doing it. On the upside, it's going to give me some classroom practice which I badly need for CELTA.

I'm doing the CELTA in October. For those who don't know what it is, CELTA is an initial qualification awarded by Cambridge ESOL for people with little or no previous teaching experienceAfter two years of teaching EFL, I've realized that I need the time to sit down and study. I also want to get certified because I don't have a teaching degree AND I'm not a native speaker. To most schools, the latter seems to be more important but the former should serve me just as well. It's not as if I can change my place of birth or the color of my skin --- not that I would want to. Besides, my goal for now, is to become a better teacher. After that, I want to work for a school for at least a year before I decide what to do or where and what to study next. 

I've got this 2 year itch that needs scratching but I don't know what profession I can go into next so for now I'm going to stick with this and be the best that I can be. Haha. Sounds serious right? 

Ditch the Disposables Challenge 2010

As I've mentioned, I've been seriously thinking of my throwaway lifestyle so I've been reading a lot of blogs and articles to motivate me and give me ideas. I stumbled on this. What better way to help me start being greener by making a 2 month commitment? They say that it takes 21-66 days to make and action a habit, so if I do something for 2 months, that brings me to nearly 66 days :D

Right now these are the stuff that I do and should continue:
  1. Use rechargeable batteries. Batteries are so cheap here in Vietnam and it would be easy to fall back into habit. I even bought some for my parents a while back. Good thing they bought rechargeable lamps (some with AM/FM radios) to use at the farm and for blackouts.
  2. Luckily, I grew up with in a household that uses dish towels and my housemates did, too. 
  3. I've got allergic rhinitis and there are days when it's so bad --- runny nose, seemingly endless sneezes ---tissue paper makes it worse so I use hankies or baby face towels. 
  4. I used to love wrapping gifts, I would make each one different depending on the recipient. Recently, I've been avoiding the use of wrapping paper and I've been choosing reusable bags or I don't wrap at all. Still thinking of other ways to wrap gifts without adding to the trash.
  5. Instead of disposable Q-tips, I use a small metal ear cleaner. It has a tiny spoon at one end, used to scoop out ear wax. 
And these are the stuff that I'm going to add to it:
  1. Ditch the 'poo ---> until I find baking soda and ACV, I'm going to be using warm water and/or lime/lemon juice to clean my hair and a bit of conditioner **cheating a bit, figured i can start with shampoo and go from there
  2. Use cloth wipes for #1 even when I'm out ---> gotta give the credit to my Mom, who started doing this years ago, much better for my V and the environment!
These are some of my "problems"
  1. Reusable shopping bags ---> I've got some for dry goods but I don't have anything for produce or meat. And I often forget bringing them because I rarely have a bag with me when I go out.
  2. Paper towels ---> my housemates (who cook, because I don't) use paper towels to absorb the grease of fried food
  3. Disposable chopsticks and straws ---> here in Vietnam, most takeouts (and even dine-in) include these. Even if you try to tell them you don't need them, they would usually forget and put it in anyway.
  4. Water bottle ---> even if I do insist on carrying my own water bottle, some places require you to buy drinks from them. Tap water isn't an option because there is no central water treatment here.
  5. Paper napkins/wet wipes ---> sometimes I have one or two hankies on hand but what do I do when I'm outside and I'm going to eat something very messy like crab? Not all restaurants here have a wash area
  6. Cleanser, laundry detergent, deodorant and other items that I can make ---> ingredients are difficult to obtain here. 
Plans *Buying these stuff but will have to wait for a couple of months. I'm not very confident receiving packages here as they might get lost or be tasked by customs.
  1. Sanitary napkins, pantyliners, 
  2. Wet bag for travelling *in place of ziploc bags
  3. Reusable sandwich bag
  4. Produce and insulated bags for fruits, vegetables, meat and other wet goods

Note: I am not an environmentalist. I think for the present, you can just label me environmentally-concerned. I was talking about less packaging with a friend and she started saying "Oh you're one of those environmentalists." I wish I were... But I'm too lazy to be one.

Blog Header Change

Decided to change my blog's name. I'm no longer 24 and it seemed like my focus has started to change. Plus, it's not as if I have a hundred followers. Haha.

note: former title was "24 in Viet Nam and Other Stories"

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Eco-friendly Party Tips

Day after the party, I was washing the dishes and started thinking of past parties/get-togethers and how much trash/clean-up we've had to deal with. My parents love throwing parties, my mom sometimes complains about the amount of work it includes but they'll throw one anyway.

I understand that it's something we can't avoid. After all, we all love spending time with friends and entertaining will always be part of our lives. I guess  the only way to go about it is to find eco-friendly ways to throw parties.

Invitations (and Thank You cards)

  1. If you really MUST send something on paper, choose recycled paper or easily-biodegradable ones.
  2. Send them via email, an evite, or set up an FB event


  1. Cloth napkins/towels instead of paper napkins/towels.
  2. Use a tablecloth that you can reuse or repurpose.
  3. Invest on lightweight but reusable dinnerware.
  4. BYOC- if possible, ask your guests to bring their own cups. It might be a bit too much for some but they'll find out the benefits when they're served more vodka than usual. 
  5. Have some reusable containers ready for leftovers instead of using cling wrap/aluminum foil/ziploc bags.

Food and Beverages

  1. Go healthy and organic as much as you can. Consider the guests coming in and their preferences.
  2. Consider the packaging of food items. n.b. my friend, Jo, keeps a cake box and aluminum-foil-covered-plate for her baked creations. If you can't bake, maybe you can keep a cake box and bring it to the bake shop when you buy cakes/baked goodies.
  3. Opt for finger food that you can place on cloth napkins instead of using flatware.
  4. BYOB - if it's a Bring Your Own Beer (or Drinks) kind of party, ask your guests to avoid cans and small bottles. Kegs and larger bottles are better -- in more ways than one. :D


  1. Opt for homemade decor that you can reuse.
  2. Make it balloon-free. Balloons are fun but they're rarely biodegradable and bad for the environment. Use chinese lanterns or felt banners instead.
  3. Do it outside or use natural light if possible.
  4. For party favors, choose reusable hats, canvas bags as goodie bags and environmentally-friendly items instead of cheap stuff that will end up in the trash in less than a day.


  1. Ask for or give gifts with social merit. If you don't need anything in particular and your guests really want to (and can) -- get them to donate to a charitable organization of your choice. e.g. my friend, Chell, holds her birthday parties at an orphanage. She brings food, drinks and little gifts for the kids. Donations are always welcome.
  2. Personalized gifts are a nice option for talented, crafty people. 
  3. Avoid disposable gift wrappers or unnecessary wrapping. Use newspaper with a funky twine, cloth or reusable gift bags.
  4. If you decide to go with a store-bought present, carefully select gifts. Don't just buy something because it's cheap or something expensive to show off. Choose something that the receiver will appreciate and will be able to use. 
  • Book lovers will appreciate books even if they're secondhand.
  • Buy items that can replace disposables. e.g Reusable shopping bags, produce bags, Skoy cloth, etc.
  • Buy organic.

Clean-up check this post for eco-friendly tips

  1. Choose eco-friendly cleaning products or better yet go with a homemade all-purpose cleaner.
  2. Think before tossing.
Ready for an eco-friendly party?

On Writing and Blogging

"Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret." 
-Matthew Arnold

I was never really good in writing. In class, people always assumed it was easy for me because I spoke fluently. Maybe they thought that the words that rolled out of my tongue could so easily be transferred to paper. But that wasn't so. It could partly be because I was lazy but then a big chunk of the problem was I couldn't focus on one subject long enough to write it all down. Ideas would pop into my head but I wouldn't take the time to jot it down. 

In college, I actually failed 2 (or was it 3) English classes because I couldn't handle deadlines. Plus, I skipped class too much, but that's another story. I would write other people's papers but could never finish mine. When I transferred to another university, one professor told me that I had an interesting writing style and I should pursue it, get more practice, blah blah blah. Obviously, I ignored it.

I started blogging just for kicks. I needed to kill time and to have an illusion of having someone listen/read my thoughts. After my disco night post, I spoke to my friend briefly about returning to blogging. And he told me that I shouldn't think twice about returning to it. Said I shouldn't waste any talent, mediocre (my word of choice, not his) as it may be. After a couple of posts, I find it easier to let my fingers do the typing and just let thoughts find their way out. Sometimes I still get stumped --- how to end a post, what title to put in, even what label I should choose! Am I writing to many things, starting too many ideas or going off track? Que sera, sera.

Write on :D

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage--as long as you edit brilliantly."
-CJ Cherryh

Hiring: Travel Gnome

Add caption
So I got a new idea from a travel blogger... Most people have pictures of themselves taken with popular tourist landmarks as background --- and then, there's a small percentage of people who bring travel gnomes then take pictures of them with tourist landmarks as background. For those of you who love getting your pictures taken, this may be a weird idea. But for someone like me who's very uncomfortable being on the other side of a camera, it is simply brilliant.

The Travelling Gnome Prank started in the 1980s, take a garden gnome from someone's garden, take it to a trip and take pictures of it on tourist landmarks and  return it to the owner *with pictures.

L-R Kitty, Rhapsody and Croc
Now, I have no plans of stealing garden gnomes and anyway, I haven't seen any here in Vietnam. Some people use dolls, some people use makeup brushes and some people even use water dippers. I, on the other hand, will most probably go with the stuffed toy turned into travel gnome. After all, my little stuffed friends will probably enjoy camera time more than I ever did. Big question is, which one will it be? Not that I have a lot to choose from. I'm in Vietnam right now so here's what I have to work with. Actually, the ones on the first picture are out of the running, since they are too big to carry around for travelling, I just wanted to show them off. Haha. Anyway, second picture --- just popped Santa-cork in, he's not stuffed. Or maybe I should use Santa-cork because he can stand on his own? BBall Guy doesn't like being on camera (or looks it). Scrump and Stitch both have a nice color that'll probably look best on pictures. Hmmm... I guess I can try them out around Vung Tau and Saigon before I decide. Oh yeah, I have 2 beanie babies in one of my boxes at Thea's flat. I'll get them later and add their pics.
BBall Guy, Scrump, Santa-cork,Stitch

Read about travelling gnomes:

Here are pictures of travel gnomes that aren't gnomes...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Not So Lazy Rainy Day

Lyn, my housemate, is celebrating her birthday today. I went out to buy cake for her this morning and it was a good thing, Dung, my other friend's Vietnamese boyfriend, accompanied me. You see, they usually layer their cakes with pineapple.... Pineapples taste good, but please, not on cake! He spoke with the girls at the bakeshops until we found two that had chocolate in it. One had orange frosting and the other had a thick layer of white frosting with a water buffalo on top. Dorky but I chose the one with the buffalo. Would've been stupid to avoid pineapple and go with orange frosting. :P
after candles were taken out
I went biking with Thea this afternoon. Talked for a bit over chocolate milk tea and kiwi milk tea (yeah weird, I know). Then we went around the city. It was nice to see the sights and relax while getting some exercise. It was raining a bit but it was fun. I miss my old bike, though. The handlebars on the one I have now is a bit lopsided so it's a b**ch to balance. On the upside, if I went biking everyday, my arm muscles would probably become more defined. Haha.

It's really pouring now... I usually think of rainy days as lazy days. But today-- even though I'm a bit tired from biking, I still want to go dancing tonight. It's been on my mind for days. I wonder if I can get them to go with me. I can go out alone but from previous experience, I'd rather not. People would always try to talk to me and they become more annoying when they find out I'm not Vietnamese. No fun at all. 

Oh well, we'll see. The night is still young after all.


We didn't start eating till 920PM, and Tin, Thea and Lyn are supposed to be in school pretty early tomorrow morning. So... no dancing, will have to wait till Wednesday next week. Hmft. Anyway, had a lot of spaghetti, grilled squid and the cake wasn't that bad. It was chiffon layered with bits of chocolate and raisins with white frosting.

To Do: No Poo

Another "go green" idea.

I can't remember when it started but hair fall has been my problem for years. You'd think Chewbakka was around by the amount of hair you'd find lying around. There was a time that I was so scared of washing my hair or even touching it, for fear of losing even more hair. I've cut my hair, tried various shampoos and hair treatments, but it still hasn't gotten much better. So next thing is to go natural. Might as well shoot two birds with one stone. 

I've read that some people have junked shampoo and just rinse their hair with hot water. Others just use conditioner. I want to ease my hair into it by starting with one teaspoon of baking soda with one cup of water followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse (2 tablespoons in a cup of water).

Got the following from this site:
  • Knead a few tablespoons of olive oil into your dry scalp and hair. Swathe your oiled-up curls with a shower cap and take a thirty minute breather... snooze, toss back a latte, whatever. Then just shampoo as usual to reveal a refurbished mane that even Fabio would envy.
  • Every night, rub your scalp and massage your mane with a solution of 50/50 distilled white vinegar and water. This homemade "hair-product-residue-remover" leaves behind the glistening, polished locks you've always dreamed of.

Some tips:
• If your hair becomes frizzy, try using less baking soda or leaving it on for a shorter period of time. Adding honey may also help. 
• If your hair becomes greasy, try using less apple cider vinegar, switching to lemon or lime juice, leaving out the honey, and/or using a comb instead of a brush. Also, make sure you’re applying the apple cider vinegar just to the ends of your hair. 
• If your scalp itches, try the following essential oils; tea tree, lavender, rosemary. If your hair becomes dry, try a tiny bit of oil (any oil, I use olive) smoothed on bottom of hair.

Next thing to do is make a list of the stuff I need and hit the imported goods store... Will update later :D

Friday, August 27, 2010

My Fair Lady

Ladycup LOTOS
This is a picture of my menstrual cup with it's cotton baggie. After careful research and much deliberation, I took the plunge and ordered one from Ebay. I got it for $22 (USD), shipping to the Philippines included. I chose this particular brand because it's the smallest and squishiest. I used it for the first time this month. First time I tried it, it just wouldn't go in. I must have done all the folds I learned but it just wouldn't go in. So I left the bathroom, rested a bit and when I tried it again, voila, no trouble at all. It popped open without any prodding and only leaked a bit before I took it out. It wasn't that uncomfortable but I was annoyed by the stem so I cut a bit of it. I can't remember how long I left it in but the second time I used it, it got stuck in my vjj for hours. I was a bit worried but I read on the forum that sometimes it happens and the more I worry, the more stressed I'd be and I really wouldn't be able to take it out. Anyway, the second time it popped, it really hurt and I figured twice for my first time was enough. Boiled the cup and put it away. I think I only used 4 sanitary napkins for my whole cycle.... Still trying to gather courage to use a menstrual cup for the entirety of my next cycle. 

Maybe I should invest on cloth pads. 

P.S. I ordered some cloth pantyliners from Etsy for light days and backup for my menstrual cup. Really going to try to eliminate this disposable item from my list.

Throwing Away the Throwaway Lifestyle

I got into the concept of environmentalism when I was in college when I joined my school's environmental organization. There were some things that were easy for me to do but there were some that weren't. Until now, I'm still struggling with doing what needs doing without offending acquaintances or alienating friends and family.

In a little more than a month, I'll be living alone. Really alone, no housemates or friends around. I'm taking the time to inspect my lifestyle so I can be ready to make some changes. I want to escape from a throwaway lifestyle.

Step 1: Organize ALL my things. I've accumulated stuff and brought in a lot of things from home. I need to make sure that I'm not buying things I already have, or things I don't really need.

Step 2: Consider alternatives for disposable objects.
-menstrual cup and cloth pantiliners to replace sanitary napkins
-wet bags instead of ziploc bags
-reusable utensils and cups/mugs instead of plastic dinnerware
-recyclable toothbrush and razors
-cloth towels and wipes
-reusable bags instead of plastic bags

Step 3: Avoid creating trash.

Gotta be ready for the challenge. Wish me luck.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


  • February 2008 --> went to Vietnam, started working at NES (Natural English School)
  • May 2008 --> from Thuy Van St., moved to 15 Tang
  • late May - August 2008 --> substitute teacher at VT Kiddie Group
  • December 2008 --> Christmas vacation in the Philippines,
  • January 2009 --> went to Caramoan before going back to VN, holiday in Siem Reap, decided to come back to the Philippines
  • February - April 2009 --> bum
  • April 2009 --> packed my bags and went back to VN
  • June 2009 --> N3 (NES kids branch) opening
  • August 2009 --> Tito Joven died, emergency leave
  • December 2009 --> first Christmas away from home, spent it with Gilda's family in Phnom Penh
  • February 2010 --> 2-week trip to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore with Ate
  • April 2010 --> quit being manager of N3, became a part time teacher
  • late June 2010 --> left for the Philippines for a much needed R&R, fix documents, etc.
  • August 2010 --> back to Vietnam
  • October 2010 --> CELTA at ILA Vietnam - HCM


Sometimes it amazes me how most everybody seems to be growing up and moving forward while I'm still stuck, stumbling and uncertain of what's next. A lot of my friends think I've got things figured out and because I don't have the responsibilities they do --- it means I'm doing what I want to be doing. But how do I do that when I don't even know what I want.

When I was back home in the Philippines, I got to talk with some friends and some of the stuff I heard scared me. My Neverland neighbor said that he's hanging on by a thread and might be growing up soon. Another said that he's with a job that pays the bills even though he doesn't really enjoy it anymore. More of my friends are getting married and/or having babies and sometimes I feel uncertain as to whether we're still on the same page. Some are contemplating making the big move abroad and living there for good. Yeah, I'm working abroad, but it's because it's convenient. While I'm here I can delay making the big decisions that need doing.

I like me. I like my life... being a little sister with the mentality of a little sister --- I can do what I want when I want to and if I don't know what to do I can run to someone ---- that kind of thinking. But until when can I do that?