The Average Australian

It’s been a full schedule of meetings and gatherings since I’ve been in Australia. Christoph is back in the office while I’m in my final leg of this visit.

What struck Christoph and I on this trip was the fact that we are seeing so many different backgrounds and faces all mixed together. South African property agents, Pakistani taxi drivers, Sudanese Uber drivers, Indian retailers, Chinese bankers, German plumbers, Swedish waiters, Vietnamese beauticians... the list can go on and on. I’m certain we can find someone from almost every country on earth here but what is wonderful is that every one of them call Australia home :o)

Also, I finally have some photos from our time together in Perth and Sydney. Have a look in the Photo Gallery!

Happy Australia Day!

We've been in Perth together for almost a week and today will be our first 40 degree day. Ugh! Other than the sudden high temperature, we've been having a great time. It's been a mix of catching up with family, friends and having time to ourselves to soak up the sun and enjoy a slower pace before we return to Shanghai.

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Cottesloe beach: you can't tell but it was extremely windy and slightly on the cool side that day. 

Most of my friends also turn 40 this year and so it's been wonderful spending time together and celebrating where our lives have taken us...and how we've managed to stay in touch! Happy Australia Day and happy getting ready for Chinese New Year!

Thailand Travels

We three sisters had a fantastic time in Thailand! Chiang Mai was very special because of our friend DL who lives there. We spent the first full day visiting temples and sights and on our second day, DL took us to two very cool local hang outs. The Bua Tong Waterfalls and Huai Tueng Thao Lake are both located within two different National Parks. We were very lucky with the weather, it's still considered monsoon season at the moment, and had a dry day and so were able to clamber all over the waterfalls and then relax afterwards on the lake in bamboo huts with a grand feast of fresh seafood.

Bua Tong Waterfalls; that's me on the waterfalls, also called the 'Sticky Waterfalls', as you can climb up and down on the calcium deposits.

Bua Tong Waterfalls; that's me on the waterfalls, also called the 'Sticky Waterfalls', as you can climb up and down on the calcium deposits.

In Krabi, we were unfortunately hit with stormy weather for most of the time except for the one day we decided to try for the islands. We couldn't believe our luck and loved the day spent on the water with swimming, snorkling and sightseeing around the Phi Phi Islands.

Maya Beach; made famous by the movie 'The Beach'

Maya Beach; made famous by the movie 'The Beach'

Bangkok ended up being very hectic but also fun. The days were packed with massages, manis/pedis, shopping and chat time. We really didn't have a minute to spare! This was Alison's first trip with Linh and I and we naturally wanted to make it special for her. She is now back in Perth with hopefully good memories of our time together while Linh and I have continued our journey. We are currently in Yangon, Myanmar which has been amazing so far. The internet is patchy and so I will post proper photos after the trip. Happy days to everyone!

Vietnam: Week One

The past week has flown by! Since I landed it's been a wonderful mix of catching up with friends and family both in Saigon and Rach Gia. Linh and I have worked out that we have thus far travelled by bus, taxi, private car, motorbike and ferry. This evening we will travel by plane up to Da Nang; the only vehicles left to ride would be a bicycle and train ;-)

Although I grew up with Vietnamese food and have tried many dishes throughout the years, Australia does not have the full range of what is on offer here. So it's been great fun learning and re-learning names of dishes and regional specialties.

Top left and clockwise: cockle shells, flower blossoms, Vietnamese baguette, chicken noodles for breakfast, clams, Viet dessert, savoury coconut tarts, stewed fish and me in the centre with the biggest selection of edible jungle leaves that I have ever seen!

Top left and clockwise: cockle shells, flower blossoms, Vietnamese baguette, chicken noodles for breakfast, clams, Viet dessert, savoury coconut tarts, stewed fish and me in the centre with the biggest selection of edible jungle leaves that I have ever seen!

Other than food, family and friends, another reason for coming here was to try and get our birth certificates sorted out. I am told that I did have one, once upon a time, whereas Linh never had one at all! We'd therefore been planning this activity for a while, each time saying 'the next time we go to Vietnam together, we should get it done'.

In order to apply for our certificates, we had to travel to our birth place of Rach Gia which is 250 kms (or a 5.5 hour bus ride) from Saigon. It's a provincial city located on the eastern coast of the Gulf of Thailand and doesn't have much in terms of tourism other than being a ferry wharf for boats to Phu Quoc or Kien Hai islands. We have a few uncles and aunts who live there and other than visitng with them, it's not the kind of place you want to spend more time than you absolutely have to in the sweltering heat.

Bai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

Bai Sao Beach, Phu Quoc Island

We therefore tried to get there as soon as we could after meeting up in Saigon and after arriving at 5:30h on the Friday, we were at the Bureau of Births, Deaths and Marriages by 9:00h. After spending a relatively short time filling out the required paperwork (1.5 hours) and a small 'envelope of encouragement', we left for the island of Phu Quoc for the weeeknd. We ferried back to the mainland yesterday morning and by 14:30h, received our official birth certificates. The processing of our applications took only 2 and a half working days which is in fact quite speedy for these guys!

Me with my very official Vietnamese birth certificate :-)

Me with my very official Vietnamese birth certificate :-)

Having accomplished our goal, we bussed back to Saigon this morning and will fly to Da Nang in the evening. From Da Nang, we'll start our slow southerly journey along the coastline back towards Saigon. This month is hot and humid with the temperature currently reading 33 degrees Celcius while the 'Feels Like' number on my phone reads 46... I'm melting!

It's December!

It's been a while since I have written and a lot has been going on during that gap. Shanghai kept me occupied with a few visitors and then I headed to Perth for my return flight to Berlin.

I had exactly a week in Perth which ended up being exceptional. During this visit, I could really see how the city has changed significantly for the better, especially over the last 5 years. It has been slowly morphing into a cosmopolitan arena boasting artisanal small bars, chic restaurants and international cultural events.

I then had a few highlights which truly made the year end on a high note for me. Firstly and most importantly, I was able to celebrate my birthday with family and friends in Perth for the first time in 15 years! Secondly, I got to see Passenger busk in the city. It was only for one set but they were the best 45 minutes spent sitting on the State Library steps ever! And lastly, I got to hang out in the kitchen with my sisters. Who could ask for more than that?

I am now waiting to board my flight to Berlin. Christoph is still kept busy with his work and still in Shanghai but will join me a week later. I'm really looking forward to putting up our Christmas tree and decorations and getting into the season's festivities. I'm also hoping for a little snow to go with the Christmas theme ;-)

Happy Days

It's been almost a week since the big family wedding and I am happy to report lots of sunshine, warm weather and the final phase of my exhausting flu! Alison and Ben's wedding turned out to be a fantastic day despite the horrid weather; scattered rainstorms in the morning followed by heavy rains and hail in the evening.

Luckily, the whole event took place indoors and so we were all well-protected against the elements. I didn't manage to take many photos as we were all busy running around helping as much as we could. The day started with a semi-traditional tea ceremony, where the young bride and groom offer tea to their elders who in turn offer them gifts and their blessing. The ceremony took 1.5 hours with 4 of us shuttling tea cups to and fro to be washed and then served again. After a light lunch we made our way to the Chisolm Chapel where Alison and Ben exchanged vows and signed the registery. It was a beautiful ceremony.

Top left and clockwise, photos from after the tea ceremony: bride and groom with mum and the Ly boys, mum with the Ly girls, the Ly siblings and partners and Linh, Alison and I after she just changed into her gown.  

Top left and clockwise, photos from after the tea ceremony: bride and groom with mum and the Ly boys, mum with the Ly girls, the Ly siblings and partners and Linh, Alison and I after she just changed into her gown.  

The evening reception took place at the Mt. Lawley Golf Club, who did an excellent job with the catering and friendly service. It was definitely a very successful celebration and I loved that 8/9 siblings were able to meet up again- a very commendable effort by all!

The Eve Before The Big Day

I've been in Perth for just over a week and have been busy catching up with family and friends. There's been a lot of eating, laughing and no other feeling like that of having family around you :-)

Tomorrow is the day for a big family wedding: my little sister Alison and her fiancé are tying the knot! She's the baby of the family and each of us older sibling still remembers vividly back to the days when we used to change her diapers, bottle feed her and bathe her in the kitchen sink! And now she's gettng married! Gosh how time has flown by! So now I'm off to get some shut eye before the big day :-)

Left and clockwise: Linh and I, Linh and Alison, back to the days when I was on top of the world! 

Left and clockwise: Linh and I, Linh and Alison, back to the days when I was on top of the world! 

The Word Around Town Is...

I have been in Perth for a few days now and have been enjoying catching up with my various siblings and seeing how they are all doing. So far, I am happy to report that my mum and dad seem to have done a great job in providing us with the education, tools and advice we needed to ensure that we each had a good chance for a positive future. Good job Mum and Dad :-)

It was Father's Day today in Australia and so my siblings and I decided to go out to lunch and have pho in celebration of our Dad. The resturant we chose was in the heart of a Vietnamese neighbourhood; I mean where else would you go for good traditional pho? What ended up happening was that we ran into a few of our old customers from the days when we had our family restaurant and I learnt something new about myself.

Below is the gist of a conversation we had:


Friend: Wow! Hello everyone! Wow everyone is here! You all look great!
Us: Hello uncle (polite greeting term for any older gentleman). How are you? Good to see you. It's been a long time.
Friend: Yes, it's been long. And Anh, wow you look so skinny! You were very fat before... and so skinny now.
Me: Um, yes. I was fat. Thank you for noticing uncle.


The conversational exchange goes on for a bit with each of us updating the family friend on where we are and what we are doing and it ends with:


Friend: Yes, so good to see you all! Anh, ah so skinny!

We bade good bye to the uncle when shortly thereafter, one of our real uncles came in for lunch with his family... and guess what he said?


Uncle: Oh Anh, haven't seen you for so long. You not fat anymore! So nice!

After lunch, I asked my brothers if I am known as the fat Ly sister and it was confirmed, that yes, I am known as the fat Ly girl while Linh is the small Ly girl. Oh well...