All About Being Serious

Ha Noi, September 12th 2010

If you are a regular IES (International English Service) goer, you must be familiar with "Being serious about your faith, your food, and your fun." I have always loved that and that was exactly how I spent my day in Ha Noi on September 12th 2010.

Being Serious about My Food
I hate wasting time most and sometimes also money, just for food. I'm not the kind that will enjoy going round and round and round... just to find the best restaurant to eat. Being with a companion that will travel the mile just to find the best pho bo in Vietnam is just as tragic as being with a companion that will travel the mile just to find Mc Donald's for that's the only familiar taste. And if, your spending time for food causes me to loose my chance to photograph, I tell you that it feels like wanting to kill you. It's just that I don't have the guts to do that.

However, don't think I'm indifferent about food. First, if local food is within reach, I won't reject giving it a try. Second, as much as I can, I won't travel with an empty stomach. I calculate my itinerary with the the best option I can make with 3 regular meals kept in mind. I must eat when it's time to eat. If I know that I won't have a chance for a meal, I will prepare to bring some food or take an early meal. What I always have with me when I travel are fresh milk and regal biscuits.

Environment speaking, among all the 4 trips I have done in Vietnam, breakfast in Paloma Hotel was my best one. Although the view down there wasn't of anything particular, there were some greenery to see and fresh air to breath into. Being in a city called "Hanoi", I was extra grateful for that. There also was an electricity plug and free Wi Fi. Laptop, photos, free European meal, free Vietnamese coffee, warm Sunday morning sun -- on a balcony, I spell it p, e, r, f, e, c, t. Fresh orange juice was a bonus.

Oh ya, I forgot to tell you. This is beef stew. Once again, after all the 4 trips in Vietnam, I judge that Vietnamese know how to cook European food better than Indonesians. No wonder my Chinese-educated-Dad used to say,

"Being colonized is bad. But being under Dutch colonization is worst."


"Because other than prejudice against your own brother, they teach you nothing!"

Satisfied with the physical meal, next destination was spiritual meal.

Being Serious about My Faith
I had already put Paloma Hotel and Tay Ho in my itinerary when I accidentally learned about Hanoi International Fellowship through the internet. It's taking place at Hanoi Intercontinental Hotel, really not far from Paloma Hotel.

These are the worship team members praying together before starting worship service. I love to see that.

There was only 1 song leader and 1 back up singer, not like the churches I used to go to...

 ... nevertheless, I could feel spiritual warmth in their worship service. Some of the songs they sang were songs familiar to me.

Here are the music team members. Since I sat in the back row (I'm shy, you know :P) plus using only a cellphone camera, I couldn't capture the whole music team. They were of course far from IES Music Team, but still I did not enjoy any less.

"The universe declares Your majesty."

We used to sing this song, too, in IES. I love this verse. True, indeed, the universe declares HIS majesty. When I looked down through my plane window, when I looked out through my train window, I could not deny that.

The message that Sunday, was about the fact that GOD does exist.

Well... to be honest, this is what I miss in IES. A "choir" in my version is like this. A group of men and women divided into soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. 

I always love choirs, either religious or non-religious ones. Hearing them often thrills me just like looking at the magnificent sky below from my plane window.

Being Serious about My Fun
The worship service ended earlier than 2 hours as mentioned on the website. So while waiting for our rented car to fetch me, I had some time to take pictures of the surroundings of Hanoi Intercontinental Hotel -- in midst of the drizzling rain. Taking pictures, is my greatest fun.

I thought this was a river. But, according to Google Maps, this is part of Tay Ho or West Lake. So part of Hanoi Intercontinental Hotel is actually "floating" on Tay Ho.

 Really, really bad thing that I didn't bring my SLR camera with me. I saw several fishermen (?) rowing back and forth in Vietnamese typical round bamboo boat. In this photo it's the small figure in light purple shirt.

 Taking advantage of the cloudy flat sky, I turned this shot into monochrome. Not too bad for a pic taken with a cellphone camera. Don't you think so? ;-)

Our rented car from The Sinh Tourist still had not come. Suddenly, "Apa kabar?" meaning "How are you?"in Indonesian.

She must have spotted me out when I introduced myself during the worship service. She was a Vietnamese woman whose husband was working for Ciputra Company, a prominent property company in Indonesia. In 2005 Ciputra recieved "Foreign Investment Award" from the Vietnamese government for "Ciputra Hanoi International City". On this particular Sunday, Ciputra's name was somewhat like comfort for me.

Some time ago I watched Ciputra, the founder, being interviewed by Andy Noya on a talkshow in Metro TV. I shed tears like watching a drama movie. I was so moved by his life story of how GOD taught him a lesson through a great fall in 1998 which was actually Indonesia's national economic tragedy. I was impressed by Ciputra's frank acknowledgment in front of public about GOD's work in his business.

Being a Christian Chinese in Indonesia, just like Ciputra, I just wondered myself, if I were him, would I have the courage to do the same? Everyone knows that Chinese and Christian are both the minority in Indonesia. Would I even dare to say "Puji Tuhan" meaning "praise the Lord" like Ciputra did many times during his interview with Andy Noya?

When Ciputra failed in 1998, GOD proofed Himself to Ciputra faithful. Ciputra started to love GOD more since.

Some other women who seemed to be this Vietnamese woman's relatives, came to her. I overheard them talked,

"Heran ya. Tadi terang benderang. Sekarang kok hujan ya?"

They were surprised that it was raining, because in the morning the sun was very bright. I was, surprised, too.

Our hired driver finally showed up at the lobby. I returned to Paloma Hotel to do the check out and got my luggage. I met my friends at the hotel and got into our spacious-17 seater-rented car to next destination, not so far away: Bobby Chinn Restaurant -- for lunch.
Back to food...

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