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Montag, 29. September 2014

About kinship and home

I always wanted to be that girl, who has been there and done that.

My parents taught me wherever I'll go and how far I'll come, I should never forget where my roots are. Talking about roots is difficult when it comes to a person like me. Sure, I know my parents are Vietnamese. Therefore, I am Vietnamese. My birth certificate says that, too. On the contrary, my passport says I am German. Do I feel like a German?
Well, I am German by choice. Every child of a Vietnamese immigrant couple, that was born in Germany before the year 2000 was not automatically a German citizen. But between their 16th and 23rd birthday they could apply for the citizenship. So I was not officially German until my 22nd birthday. That is quite late compared to my fellow German Vietnamese friends, but I hesitated: I wanted to stay Vietnamese as long as possible. Why, you ask? Because I never really felt like one or the other. And I would rather stick to my 'roots' than betraying my parents, I thought. (Since this year it is possible to have both citizenships, but not when I was going through all that stuff.)
You are getting older and you change a lot. For me this meant, becoming a girl who wants to travel. And it is a matter of fact that it is more convenient to travel around the world being German. No one will mistaken you for an illegal immigrant and you do not have to bother getting a visa for every country you are traveling to.
In addition, I grew up in Germany, most of my friends and part of my family are there.

All of the above being said... where/what exactly are my 'roots'?

When my parents are talking about my 'roots' they are talking about them, their home, the country they originated from and, above all, our family. Vietnamese child education is very Confucianism orientated. Respecting the elderly, which includes your family and strangers (the concept of filial piety), was one of the key aspects which I was brought up with. Simply means, until you can think yourself your parents are always right. And if they say your home country is Vietnam, you do not negotiate.
As I grew older, my parents grew wiser. They let me decide for myself. Maybe because they recognized that I haven't lost my roots (viet. phrase: mất gốc) like other German Vietnamese my age already have. Some of my friends and acquaintances are not able to hold a simple conversation in Vietnamese, they prefer to talk German. Which often leads to a language barrier between them and their parents. This is also the cause for many misunderstandings and a distant relationship. I often feel sorry for these parents because they work very hard to provide for their children, but at the end of the day they won't be able to communicate with their children properly.

I like being Vietnamese. The culture is fascinating, the language is beautiful (but in my opinion every language has its own beauty), the people are interesting and the food is incredibly good.
I like how Vietnamese people define family. For most of us, it's always family first. And by family we do not only mean our parents, grandparents and siblings. Family includes every aunt, every uncle on both sides of the parents, every cousin the parents have and their children, etc - basically your grandparents, their siblings and all of their descendants combined.
Also, my parents are divorced and happily remarried. That means there is more family for me to love, to argue with and to care about.
I like being part of all of this. Sometimes I am pretty proud to be part of it.
Would I call Vietnam my home? Despite the roots of my family (tree) being here...

I like being German. A lot of experience gained, a lot of lessons learned and a lot of friends made. Growing up in an open-minded and stable environment helped me to learn things my parents would/could never taught me. Also, German is the language I am communicating with the most.
I like the opportunities which were given to me during my time in Germany.
I like the way it shaped my character.
I love being around my sisters, who are currently living there.
But, is Germany my home? Although I was born there, lived there and most of my friends are there...

My roots are everywhere, because every experience and every person I met shaped my character. Every experience have made me who I am today. 

I like to see myself as a hybrid. - Not someone with a mixed heritage, yet with a mixed cultural background. By that I do not solely mean the Vietnamese and German culture. Since kindergarten I grew up around children with other nationalities than mine, it made me learn to respect and cherish foreign cultures and people. While traveling around for a bit and actually living in a different country, I realized I can easily make myself feel at home any place I travel to. Getting used to my surroundings quickly is one of my strengths. Further, I like to get to know different people, overcome language barriers, find common ground and possibly learn interesting things from them.
I do not see home as a location per se. It is true: home is where your heart is. It might sound cheesy, but I left little pieces of my heart everywhere I went in the past twenty something years. Because in my opinion there is always something beautiful in every place you go.
One thing is certain, a big chunk of my heart is always wherever the family is. Home is wherever my sisters are.

Right now I am on the search for myself and the place where I belong. Not everyone in the family understands that, but they will eventually. Because they are family.

much love
ML

Montag, 22. September 2014

MLtravels: My Tho


Vietnam has a lot to offer.

In the beginning of this summer my family and I flew from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. We spent a couple of days in HCMC to visit family and friends (blog post coming soon). One day we decided to go on a day trip to My Tho, which is about 70km away from HCMC. It is a city at the Mekong Delta with a lot of delicious food. After all my stays in Vietnam during the past years I have never came around to visit the Mekong Delta, although this is one of those things/places Vietnam is famous for. (I had a sudden thought about Gordon Ramsay's visit to Vietnam on his 'Great Escape' series, where he sold Vietnamese vermicelli soup on a boat on the Mekong river. Even he has been there.) 
Since I am sort of having my very own 'great escape' right now, I thought it would be more than appropriate to finally go to see the Mekong Delta (or at least a small part of it). 
We booked a guided tour, because it is always nice to have a schedule to fit as much as possible in one day trip. It was about 600k VND (ca. 20€) per person, splendid lunch and all transportation costs included.



We had green tea with honey from a local bee farm.


I had a python around my neck. It felt weird because you actually feel every move the snake makes. (Fyi. Usually I do not like animals thaaat much but I am very fascinated by spiders, snakes and other reptiles.)


We had delicious fresh fruit: Dragon fruit, papaya, pineapple, longan and rambutan (not visible on picture).



We even tasted fresh handmade coconut candy. It was amazing how fast these people wrapped the candy.

We went by boat along the Mekong river to all the different little destinations to see stuff and enjoy food.
Vietnamese people are foodies. In case you did not know, now you do. Every time anyone from my family travels somewhere he/she will bring some delicious local products home to share with the rest of the family. So, guess what we bought... haha

much love
ML

Montag, 15. September 2014

Berlin: Shiso Burger

A light burger.




There are certain go-to spots for Asians in Berlin - Shiso Burger is definitely one of them. And yup this place is pretty hipster. (Didn't bother me too much though.)
We went there on a warm summer day and sat outside at a shared table with some guys. Because this place is so popular it tends to be crowded from time to time. If you mind sharing tables do not go there for lunch.
We had the Chili Lemon Burger and they were simply delicious! The bun was soggy after a few bites, but meh... - the sauce was the bomb! Another plus is they ask you for your meat temperature preference, which is always a good thing. (Delivering a satisfying/perfect result is another thing...)
I recommend getting sides as well, because the burger is fairly small and you will not get full just by having one burger. 
In addition, I don't believe the shiso leaf on my burger made this eating experience more exciting or more delicious. (A lot of people won't be able to tell if there were shiso leaves on their burgers anyway.) It is a nice gimmick to justify the name of the restaurant, that's it. 

The staff is very friendly and Asian. If you are in Berlin Mitte and are looking for a snack or maybe a proper meal, this place is worth a glance and a try. 

much love
ML

Montag, 8. September 2014

MLtravels: Tam Dao, Vietnam and the plan

 She is the kind of girl who can't seem to stay at one place for too long.

Hey, girls and boys! 
I left Germany and I don't know when I'm going to come back. Maybe I'll get tired of traveling and come back soon, maybe I'll take my time... 
Anyway, I will share my adventures with you. Hope you are as excited as I am! In the past few weeks I've done a little bit of traveling and of course there are a lot of pictures, stories and information to be shown, told and shared! Since I'm not doing much at the moment, except for planning trips, babysitting and getting fat, there should be a little challenge for me... 'What about being more active on the blog? A post once a week, maybe?', I thought. 
OK, I do not promise anything, but I'll try my best.

Back in July I knew I will leave Germany for a long time, so my lovely sister decided I should have a decent last meal at the Frankfurt International airport. As shown above creamy mushroom soup and roasted pork knuckle with mustard and bread were my choices. Airport meals are never that good but this one was still satisfying. After that meal my sister and I went on a long-haul flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. She already left, but Hanoi is my current home. At the moment I'm living at my dad's place with his wife and my youngest sister and the rest of the family is living nearby. Feels good to have family around. (My mom and my other sisters are still in Germany and I miss them a lot, but one can't have everything.) 


Only two days after our arrival we went with our whole family on a weekend getaway to the mountains, to Tam Đảo National Park. Even my 87-year old grandma went with us!
Tam Dao is only about 80-90km from Hanoi away, which makes it perfect for a weekend trip.
I loved the fresh breezes of air there, because Hanoi in the summer is very sticky, hot and dirty (okay, it's always dirty...). We didn't do a lot of sightseeing, we rather enjoyed good food (one time we had hedgehog...yup hedgehog), had family table tennis tournaments, took long walks and played cards a lot. 


We also hiked a little bit to see waterfalls (last picture) and we drove to Thiền viện Trúc Lâm Tây Thiên Temple. Though the whole trip to the mountains involved a crazy lot of stair climbing I still felt relaxed and well rested after the few days and the breathtaking views were totally worth it. 




much love
ML