2016 – A Year in Review

Somewhere in mid-June 2016, I had insomnia due to stress, and for the first time in my life, there were nights when I had to punch myself in the chest for tears to flow out so that my preoccupied mind can rest. Anxiety had befriended me for more than half a year. The stressful conversion in career, living place and mindset was more painful than expected. But I knew this was the moment, either now or never. I needed a fresh wind of change before it was too late. Already at the beginning of the year, I got so fed up to teeth with Hanoi that I decided either to escape to Da Lat for a year or two or go to Paris. In the end, I chose Paris. Or, more precisely, Paris chose me. The day I went back to the glass pyramid of the Louvre, sitting by the stream in the dazzling light of a warm afternoon in early September, I finally came to believe that our long, fated relationship continued. My lover was as shining as ever, the same immortal beauty, the same sour and scornful temperament at times, but still she holds me dearly in her heart.

Settling down in a new city proved to be challenging. But I took time. I took time to let all the new layers of an independent adult life unfold. The furniture. The décor. The cooking. The chores and errands. School and work. Art and nature. Crazy days and quiet nights. The museums and bookstores. The gardens and parks. The ever-changing clouds above my Parisian skylight and the endless to-do list. I kept on saying to myself, “Lightly, baby, lightly.” One way or another, things started to fall into place, and so will the rest, I hope. No, it wasn’t easy. But yes, it was worth it.




30 came quietly but not unnoticed. Rather I’d been preparing myself for this milestone for more than a year so there weren’t any big changes inside out, but outside in, I started to realise tiny little things creep up on my face and body. Appearance-wise, I actually feel better than the old me 10 years ago after losing all the chubby cheeks of baby fat, and little freckles under the eyes were not much of a concern as I’ve never got a clear skin since my puberty anyway. So may I say, I’ve earned all these through the years I’ve lived? Beside those tired backbone and regular neck pains, things actually got bits better for my mental sanity. My mind has reached the peak level of health.

I’ve become much more comfortable in my own skin, I know what interests me in life and what doesn’t, I started to build boundaries and I’ve learned know how to channel my energy in the most efficient way. This literally means that I have stopped searching in the dark and found the things in life that truly make me happy. This is a great place to be in, especially in face of self-doubt and peer pressure.


Steering through life

Also at Tet Holiday last year, I told D. “I think there’s something wrong with the world we’re living in but I don’t know what it is and haven’t got time to sit down and think about it.” And I’m glad to say now that at school I’ve found the answer for that haunting question of time constraint and acceleration, of consumerism and attention economy, of culture industry and its symbolic signs, finally. Making sense of the world is extremely important to me for I need it to orientate myself through this chaos of saturated living.


First times in 2016
  • Go to New Zealand
  • Ride a hot-air balloon (giống bạn Mít đặc ^^)
  • Read psychology and get hooked!
  • Fall in love with two 90 liners in TV series (couldn’t have believed this day would come =)))
  • Set up an Instagram account (yes, I’m so very slow :-S )
  • Finish my first art portfolio and send it out!
  • Listen to classical music – I mean, really listen to it. I still remember one June afternoon, my tears flooded out right in the office at the ultimate beauty of Beethoven’s 5th symphony. For the first time in my life, I marvel at the quintessence of a piece of music not for its meaningful lyrics nor the sublime voice of its singer but for the melodies and the silence in-between its notes. Thank you Yoo Ah In and the great maestro Chung.


Best of 2016


  • What Money Can’t Buy: Read it! You won’t regret!
  • How to Be Bored (and the rest of “School of Life” series): my life saviour, truly
  • How to Think Clearly: it’s just fun to count how many bias my mind commits itself to haha =))
  • Happiness by Design: the first foundation in my pursuit of happiness


  • Little Forest: serene and reassuring, it’s my visual hideaway. Sometimes when stressed out, I just play the movie in the background and go on doing housework.
  • Spirited Away: again, I’m so lagging behind, hic. Have I been under a rock or something?
  • Our Little Sister: elegant, beautiful and heart-warming
  • Brooklyn: it’s the movie that made the decision to quit my job and move to Paris for me
  • Sado (The Throne): Yoo Ah In – omg, he just shines. After Dong Wonie, he’s the one that makes me admire deeply for so much talent and charisma
  • The Handmaiden: it’s provocative, sensual and utterly beautiful
  • The Danish Girl: I would never look at my beloved Eddie the same way again T.T


  • A Secret Love Affaire: oh, Yoo Ah In, Yoo Ah In! You are in! Again.
  • On the Way to Airport: this ‘adult-themed’ work is like a watercolour painting version of drama. Dịu dàng, dịu dàng, dịu dàng.
  • Reply 1988: Watched it twice. Will never forget nor recover from it.
  • Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo: fun, cute, light-hearted, super duper entertaining. SWAG!!!
  • Descendants of the Sun: Who says “lọt hố rồi thì chỉ còn vật vã chờ đợi như chó chờ xương”? :'(


  • Seoul Blues: realised I’m very Asian at the core after all the years of denial and escapism
  • La Collection Chtchoukine (LV foundation): it’s TOP! Cezanne, Matisse, Van Goh, Picasso… you name it. But the painting that impressed me the most was “Lilas under the Sun” by Monet. The muted blues of spring sky and lush green tones of the foliage, the pinkish purple and violet blues of the flowers, the hidden faces of young ladies under the shade like a little surprise, all this captivated me for nearly 10 minutes, and somehow, at the end of it, I finally got hold of the ‘flow’ in his impressionist paintings.


Other Great finds:
  • Flow magazines: slow, quiet living
  • Rougier et Plé: the art and craft heaven!!!
  • Vintage flee market in Square du Temple: a super nice surprise
  • Local Marché Bastille


For 2017, I have one or two ambition to focus on, but the most important of all, to be resilient in face of failure. Let my skin get a bit thicker! And also stick to the 3 Ps: Practice – Patience – Persistence. No matter how hard it is, never let go. Keep on fighting a good fight and staying hopeful. This world is big and there are a lot to be done.

Happy New (Lunar) Year!!!




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Ha Dinhreply
29/01/2017 at 23:50

(This is when I suddenly realised that I haven’t commented on a blog for so long and now have no idea to express my feelings)… Always love your writing and your thoughts. There’s always this nostalgic, but never sorrowful, feel about how you observe and interpret the world around you. I just love how, through your writing and sharing, you come across to me as an old soul with such an optimistic and youthful heart. And very interestingly, by reading your blog, I have also reflected on my soul, my life and my take on the world I live in. Thanks again for this wonderful blog. It’s so very lovely to get to know another side of you beside this incredibly intelligent and competent aspect that I knew at college 🙂 Happy the year of the rooster! I hope Paris treats you well!

30/01/2017 at 22:52
– In reply to: Ha Dinh

Thank you for your kind words and encouragement. I’m very touched to hear that this personal blog of mine can transmit something positive to others. Have a happy holiday and a great year ahead, too! 🙂

11/02/2017 at 21:30

Congratulations on a well-lived year! I can see some parallels between your 30th year and mine 🙂 Some people are lucky to have found and built the life they want earlier, but for a lot of us, the 20s are when we struggle to find ourselves, and 30 is just the beginning. I hope your next decade will be full of happiness and fulfillment <3

P.S.: I cannot believe you hadn't seen Spirited Away! It's my all-time favorite anime (I haven't seen Your Name yet, so technically there is a possibility this might change, but I highly doubt it). Apart from the wonderful personal growth story, the movie is the quintessence of Japanese culture. Sigh, just thinking about it makes me happy (^^)

16/02/2017 at 10:10
– In reply to: Lan

I know right? The story itself and every little visual details are just so amazing that I wanna cry. I mean I’ve seen other Ghibli works and like them but I still don’t really understand why I procastinated for so long to watch it :'( I haven’t seen Your Name either but I’ll wait till all the raving dies down a bit to have a more neutral approach hihi

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