Christmas in Berlin!

We are currently in Berlin and are counting down the days until Christmas! After spending three months in Thailand, it's been wonderful to feel the cool crisp air on my face again. Mind you, the first couple of days felt like I was going to freeze but once I got used to wrapping up in all my layers, it's been refreshing!

The apartment has taken on it's annual festive look and we hope that snow will allow us a wonderful white Christmas! Fingers crossed!

For those cold evenings, my kind of 'soup' ;-)

For those cold evenings, my kind of 'soup' ;-)

Normal for Many, Unusual for the Norm

I thought this would be a good time as any to share a wonderfully confusing story as to why I have two birthdays.

After having recently celebrated my real birthday- ie. not the one listed on my passport, many of you may also know that I have another one coming up in a month. It's been a running theme of my existence since arriving in Australia in 1980.

I won't go into a lengthy refugee story but here's the gist of how it came to be. At the end of the Vietnam War, many southern Vietnamese fled the country in fear of the Communist regime's repercussions. My parents were among those who sold everything they had and boarded a fishing boat bound for Malaysia. We were unfortunately pirated and thrown off our vessel. The fishing boat sunk, along with all official papers we had, among them, our birth certificates.

Background note: Culturally, Asians don't give birthdays much significance. Most Chinese - Asians register the Gregorian dates as the official dates for births but will also tell you the Lunar dates of when they were born. It's awfully confusing sometimes. What is significant, however, is the year in which you were born as the Chinese zodiac supercedes many beliefs. Therefore many Asians can easily tell you which animal sign they are instead of their birthdate. I grew up being recognised as a dragon... born 1976.

Back to the story: Given Vietnam's realities at the time, my grandparents never found it important for their children to be comprehensively educated. Upon immigrating to Australia, my parents realised that a good education was key to their children's future. In doing so, they went slightly over the top; while registering us for residency, my parents 'cheated' and made all of us older. This effectively made sure that we could start school a year early.

As you can imagine, this whole deceptive plan made most of us siblings want to find our real birthdays. As luck had it, the hopsital that we were born had meanhwile burned down, so their archives were no longer available. In my case, however, thanks to my maternal grandmother, she had one single photo of me as a baby. On the back of it she had recorded that I was born on December 4, 1976 and discharged from hospital two days later.

Top and left: Me as a baby and the incscription on the back. Right: My officially registered  birth date.

Top and left: Me as a baby and the incscription on the back. Right: My officially registered  birth date.

Have I confused you enough? The December birthday is important to me because it retains my dragon traits; yes, dragons are also very proud creatures. Whereas if I were to have been born on January 10, 1976 that would make me a rabbit...and that of course would never sit well with me as I have a brother who is already a rabbit.

So as you can see, I'm giving myself the hassle by insisting on being a dragon and I'm very aware that many Westeners will still find it difficult to understand why. I just can't drop my unofficial/ dragon birthdate. So poor Christoph has to put up with remembering both... which reminds me; I'll be turning 39 next month but only turned 38 last week! Lol

King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 87th Birthday

Also known as 'Father's Day' in Thailand, today celebrates King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 87th birthday! King Bhumibol Adulyadej is the longest reigning monarch in Thai history and the world's longest current head of state. His reign began on June 9, 1946 and his coronation was held on May 5, 1950.

The people of Thailand are devoted to the monarchy and as a sign of that devotion and respect, wear the colour yellow on this public holiday. Why yellow? It's the king's favourite colour :o)

Over the last couple of days, Christoph and I have seen a see of yellow whenever we are out and about. As an observer to this tradition, I find it very touching and profound to see how the people of Thailand love their king so much. How great is it to be so loved by the people you watch over? It's truly inspiring.

The streets are full of supporters.

The streets are full of supporters.

Image credit: www.kauaikimonos.com

25 Years of Reunification

November 9 marks the day that East and West Germany officially reunited 25 years ago. We would have loved to have been able to be in Berlin for this extraordinary celebration, but alas we will make do with a toast to our beloved city :-) Prost!

Top clockwise: OM at the East Side Gallery, Brandenburg Tor, Reichstag, Linh at Bernauerstrasse and the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz.

Top clockwise: OM at the East Side Gallery, Brandenburg Tor, Reichstag, Linh at Bernauerstrasse and the Fernsehturm at Alexanderplatz.

November already?

As a younger Anh, I used to be so impatient with so many things. Tomorrow couldn't have come around fast enough and the days seemed to drag on and on and on. Now with each passing year and no matter how full or empty my agenda is, time simply flies by which is mind boggling! Does the appreciation of time come with age?

November five years ago, Christoph and I were on our year-off and thoroughly enjoying Cape Town. That was five years ago already?! Even though our current situation seems similar to back then, we are definitely still happy to make the most of the time we have on our hands.

It won't be long until we see the end of this year but I still have so much to do before then! Love it!

Top and left: Cape Town, 2009. Right: Phuket, 2014

Top and left: Cape Town, 2009. Right: Phuket, 2014