Sep 10 2011

2 years ago, I came to the place that I’d never dreamt going: Europe. As I was sitting in the transit area in Taoyuan Airport, I realize that I’ve been keeping an unspoken, subconscious dream, a dream formed merely on society’s expectation: The America Dream (dream of going to America)

For those friends who are kept out of the loop, I’m sorry I didn’t inform you earlier. I’m going on a 3-month software engineering internship with Facebook. It will start next Monday and ends in early December.

I’m now in San Jose, California. The weather is perfect, no rain, breezy and slightly cold in the morning and remains enjoyably cool throughout the day. The living condition here is good, as good as Europe so far (though public transportation sucks a little – but people mostly drive cars). That, plus the vibrant hi-tech community of SF Bay Area, I think if a foreign student doesn’t have a strong conviction to come back to serve his/her country, s/he will easily decides to stay here for good.

There are so many things/events going on around here, that if you don’t have a clue of what you want (or seems to want), you might easily get confused, and tempting to go to all of them.

Working for a big company has its perks, especially when one with big cool company (like Facebook). As I observed through the paramount benefits that Facebook gives its employees these days, I’m impressed and think Facebook has every extrinsic motivation covered to retain its people. From free lunch, free corporate apartment, free company shuttle bus, high salary, to unconstraint working hours and its constant stream of outdoor activities. For intrinsic reason, we will see when work starts.

But with the sort of emotions and feeling I’ve been going through the last few days (being a Facebook intern), I feel humbled to be reminded of one lesson: Never let the brand define you.

3 responses so far

The Game of Life

Sep 02 2011

(and what I learnt about life from playing Chinese Chess in High-school)

I used to play Chinese Chess (Xiangqi). In fact, I was very good at it, Bronze Medal (Individual Category) in Vietname Youth Chinese Chess Competition, Gold Medal (Team Category) that same year, and a countless medals city-level. I’m saying this not to brag. It simply means this: I enjoy challenging, heads-on games, like Chinese Chess.

But never did I relate this game to a broader game: the game of life.

The game of life is an interesting game, it’s similar yet different from all games I’ve ever played. A game is a simple concept: a scenario, a set of rules and a limited resources you’re given at hand. How different is this from your life?

The game of life appreciates and favors those who understand the rules. But unlike other games, in the game of life, the rules are vast, vague and left for players to find out. And rules have a new name in the game of life: wisdom.

And in the process of studying the rules, you acquire something intermediary, something that gives you an advantageous edge over your opponents: knowledge.

Unlike the game of chess (in which each game consists of 60 moves on average), the game of life is an enduring game, an 80-year long game. If you make one wrong move, no matter how bad it is, there is always a fix that works.

Instead of thinking about the mistake, what is your next move?

In the game of chess, 1 single move (no matter how smart) can’t help you win, it is a series of right and incremental moves that leads to victory.

In the game of life, the same thing applies. Don’t bet too much on a single decision. Bet on the ones following. So when I heard someone telling his story and conclude: “That was the single-most important decision in my life”, I know there’s much more to that.


There’s a saying: “Happiness is a journey, not a process”. By thinking life as a game, I grasp this concept much better. I constantly remind myself about the game of life when I get into tough situations, accepting the moves I’ve made, and start to think of the next move.


Treat life as a game, and see how good a player you could be?

3 responses so far

On Money

Aug 18 2011

(The few hard-earned lessons I got about money)

When I expected to get 400$ for a job I was about to do, someone helped me to get 1000$ instead. Surprisingly, I didn’t feel any better, as I thought I would. I felt bad, actually. To alleviate the guilt, I made sure I did 1000$ worth of work.

It’s not about how much they pay, it’s about whether you feel you deserve the amount. It’s not the more money you get that makes you satisfied, it’s the higher you think you’re worth.


When you’re doing well with your work, or happy with friends, it’s no problem spending more than usual to have a good break. But when you’re stuck with work, stressed with school, or just merely in a bad mood, you start to question if the penny spent is well justified.

It’s not about how much you spend, it’s about how the spending is justified, and most of the times, that depends on your mood and situation.


Remember this, always: What can be solved by money, should be solved by money.

4 responses so far

Happy Birthday Singapore

Aug 09 2011

Happy birthday, Singapore.

It’s amazing to see you grow all these years. 4 years living here, and you never fail to amaze me, every time. I’m sure there’s more to come.

And in your growth, I see myself growing with you. I am what I am today because of you. With your help, I’m on my way realizing my callings in life. I am grateful for what you’ve done to me.

Happy birthday, again, Singapore. I owe you huge.

2 responses so far

Pack Stuff

Aug 07 2011

I love to move house.

When I pack my stuff, I get to decide which ones to throw away, and which ones to bring along with me. Then I realized how little stuff I actually need to live by. The more stuff I’m able to throw away without hesitation, the more content I feel, as it signifies a way of life I’ve been trying to live: a minimalistic life.

Consumerism has deeply rooted into this society. And that is just sad.

3 responses so far

Thủ tục gia hạn hộ chiếu (renew Vietnamese passport) tại Singapore

Jul 30 2011

Do hôm bữa có chuyện cần phải renew passport lại, mà lên trang web của ĐSQ VN tại Sing thông tin ko đấy đủ cho lắm, làm mình phải hỏi vòng vòng & chạy đi chạy lại mấy lần. Hôm nay quyết định viết cái này cho những bạn sau này có nhu cầu, hy vọng nó sẽ hiện ra ở Google search.

Địa chỉ:
10 Leedon Park (S) 267887
Bus stop gần nhất: Holland Village (7, 61, 75, 77, 95, 165, 970). Xuống bus đi bộ khoảng 15 phút là tới.

Cần đem theo:

  • 2 ảnh thẻ 4×6
  • Passport cũ
  • Tiền mặt (ĐSQ ko nhận thanh toán bằng NETS/Credit Card)
  • (Update Aug 2016) CMND

Lệ phí:

  • Lệ phí renew passport: 105 SGD. Thời gian: 3 tuần.
  • Phí làm nhanh (nếu muốn): thêm 40 SGD (lấy trong vòng 1 tuần – 10 ngày).

Không giống như renew passport ở VN, bạn sẽ được cầm passport + student pass/long-term pass về nhà (ĐSQ chỉ cần bản copy của passport bạn thôi, họ sẽ photocopy ngay tại đó).

Hồi đó đi làm thủ tục khá lẹ, đến đó lấy 1 cái form điền vào nữa là xong, mấy chú ở ĐSQ cũng khá dễ thương và nhiệt tình nữa.

44 responses so far

Listen well

Jun 19 2011

One problem I unconsciously made frequently last time:

I was constantly trying to give people advice without trying to truly listen to their stories. Whenever a thought came up to mind while listening to someone’s story, I immediately either

  • try to cut him and speak what I thought.
  • stop listening to him, just waiting for him to finish his story, then I talk.

I was a bad listener. Or just wasn’t mindful enough.


People said I’ve changed so much ever since. Having fixed that bad habit is one of the changes I realized lately.


No responses yet

Về Huế

May 27 2011

Về Huế thích ngồi nghe bà với dì kể chuyện. Ngoại kể hồi xưa cả gia đình hơn 20 người đi chạy giặc, chạy từ trong thành ra ngoài thành, bom nổ nhà đối diện, cả nhà ngủ trong 1 cái phòng nhỏ xíu. Rồi bị bắt, mỗi người một nơi, ko tin tức trong 6 tháng liền. Dì kể chuyện đẻ 4 người con, lần nào cũng có bom đạn. Nghe mà thấy xót, thấy phục người thế hệ ba mẹ mình sống trong chiến tranh.

Rồi chợt nhớ đến Amir và Hassan (The Kite Runner), và nhận ra ngay tại thời điểm này vẫn có những người sống trong hoàn cảnh như vậy.

Về Huế thấy sự khác biệt xa giữa nhà ngoại và nội. Nhà ngoại khá giả, ko cần lo lắng nhiều về tài chính. Nhà nội nghèo hơn, nhưng con cái tập trung đông vui. Ngoại chỉ có dì và bà ngoại, con cái đều đi tứ xứ làm ăn.

Về Huế là thích người Huế luôn, ăn nói nhỏ nhẹ từ tốn, người hiền lành chịu khó làm ăn, ko ngại cực, ngại khổ. Dân lao động ở khu  Phạm Ngũ Lão (tourist area) đều nói tiếng Anh lưu loát.

Dân Huế đi tứ xứ làm ăn đều thành công, sao giờ Huế vẫn nghèo vậy anh?

Về Huế rồi là thích ở Huế luôn. Đứa bạn nước ngoài hỏi Huế như thế nào? Mình hỏi lại tụi bây đã đi châu Âu chưa? Huế giống vậy đó. Cuộc sống đô thị nhưng yên bình, từ tốn, ít người.

Về Huế thấy mấy đứa em họ mình đứa nào cũng chưa tìm dc lý tưởng sống. Nghĩ lại, thấy cái mà dân đây muốn dc giúp đỡ nhất là 1 cách nào đó cho con cái mình chịu học hành tiến tới.

Về Huế thấy ngộ ngộ, dân đây chạy xe ai cũng bật đèn pha, và quên gạc chân chống.


Ai muốn ra Huế chơi? Mình dẫn đi.


11 responses so far

Chợ sáng

May 24 2011

Sáng 7h đi với dì qua bên kia đường ăn bún, đang ngồi chờ bún, 1 chú – gầy, da ngăm đen, chạy chiếc xích lô cũ chắc cũng phải hơn 5 năm – bước vô hỏi cô bán bún 1 câu làm mình chạnh lòng.

“Bún có bán 5 ngàn ko o?”


Cuộc đời của những con người này làm việc có lười nhác hơn ai đâu?


No responses yet

Conscious Freedom

Apr 23 2011

This is beautiful:

 “Worship power, you will end up feeling weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to numb you to your own fear. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart, you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. But the insidious thing about these forms of worship is not that they’re evil or sinful, it’s that they’re unconscious. They are default settings.

The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.

That is real freedom. That is being educated, and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

– excerpt from David Foster Wallace, via Ted Gonder

No responses yet

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