Sapa, Vietnam

posted on 20 Apr 2013 18:24 by nathablog in FORBETTERSWEETLIVE

Hey!!! I’ve come to found the place where the city has left me alone, at last.  Where the people are nice and welcome because, I think, they’re craving for works and, yes, money. And all the tourists who decided to come here are mostly in group or kept to themselves. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for. I’m also looking forward to keep things to myself through the end of my stay in town, which for now I think it would takes two weeks.












In the highland, northern Vietnam, where I find this lovely town, I was hooked in the first moment at the arrival. The town set around the valley that you can see the very beautiful scenic rice and farming terrace. Off that, there’s nothing to do except you want to shop for some over expensive imitated hiking equipment. And for the unpredictable weather in the highland, I think, better stay in the hotel and keep up with what I’ve promised myself to do. (Or what I’ve been procrastinating.) Like writing and it’s the perfect weather for a writer to sit at the café and started to write, it’s not too hot and not to cold. Most of the time that I stayed here it’s misty and drizzled. I sat with my laptop in the café of the hotel with has this table with the warm sofas on both sides near the mirror. I admit that I just stared blankly outside to the empty street when it’s rain and occasionally there were tribes ladies who walked through the cold rain and smiled at me hopefully I would buy some souvenir from her, which I did. I have a cat who’s been slept on this sofa all day. He woke up and jumped to sleep on my laps while I enjoyed my coffee, which is better than Starbucks (and I loved Starbucks) and cost me less than 1 dollar. When we closed enough to become buddy, I named him ‘Cat’ so people wouldn’t think I’m trying to steal the cat or doing some stupid dump shit they didn’t get (such as speaking to the cat.)



 The point is when I’m arrived. I knew that I would easy to get overwhelm especially when entered new city or town. But for this town, I didn’t get overwhelmed by the beautiful rice terrace on the way up here or the urge to climb the highest mountain of Vietnam immediately. But, regardless to all of the above, I did rent a motor bike on the first day. The day that I arrived was sunny. So I didn’t hesitate to take the advantage of it. The ride was extremely fun, even though I was by myself and more or less scared that I might run out of gas on the way back to town. And after that day, it was misty and rained for four days.

Mostly I decided not to let anything happened to me for a while, because if it happens I will want to write about it, about everything that happened, even the slightest things. Call me sentimental but I am in such a vulnerable position. I even doubt that I made myself through this or tumblr or the post on tumblr from people that I followed made me easily to get hurt, emotionally. I think that’s good, nevertheless. It means I can appreciate things deeper than I thought I would before. Even now I usually cried at something I’m not usually cried at. Like when I see old couple holding hand or a tribe ladies walking through the rain with that genuine smile. I’ve to hide my tears under the Ray Ban. 

Now is the time to make you smile, I believe, I didn’t write this to show you how pathetic my life is so you could feel better. No, but I wanted to share how I feel and what I’ve learned in the language that I have to think twice before writing it. It may contain a lot of mistake, uncorrected grammar and other things. I hope that you can forgive me.

And smile because you have just read my thoughts. 




                                                       * * *

Those Who Can Do

posted on 19 Apr 2013 08:00 by nathablog in FORBETTERSWEETLIVE



When I was on the train from Hanoi to Sapa, on that first day before I even realized how underwhelm this town making me. I met Heather, a generous, former school teacher who left her husband home in NSW, and went to travels with her friend. She’s teach art (and, I believe, still does) and I studying architecture. She gave me her sketch books. She’s written her wishes for something I’m occasionally scared of. Future.

I’m so afraid of ‘what’s next.’

What if I fulfilled my dream of speak fluent English and write English correctly?

What’s the next thing I’m gonna need to accomplish?

I’m afraid that it’ll never end. That’s also what makes the life mean something. It’s really depressed not to do anything. I tried, honestly, it’s equally hard to stay still, not cause any trouble, or try not to overthink about dying or growing old.

“Oh, you’re a sentimental young boy.”

That’s what she’s said. And will say after she’s read this. But another thing is, she told me, “There’s the saying ‘Those who can do, those who can’t teach, those who can’t teach, teach arts or gym.” I don’t buy it. Because I think, those who can teach is those who can do and those who give.

It’s my time to be a receiver. I have no idea what I’m gonna do with my new sketch books, but I’m take it anyway. I know it sucks when you truly wanted to give something to someone but then they refused.

Thank you for giving me the sketch books Heather. Without you I don’t think this will happen.



           My first drawing in five years that wasn’t school assignment. 

                                                         * * * 


I love this

posted on 15 Apr 2013 18:09 by nathablog

My Youth in Hostel

posted on 15 Apr 2013 07:05 by nathablog in FORBETTERSWEETLIVE

Early 20’s is the time for me decided to open the window to new experience, immerse myself with everything possible. It’s the time where you’d be overwhelmed by freedom and insecurities. I couldn’t change the way I was. Besides I couldn’t stop asking question about my future. It’s like everybody I met on the road seemed to concerned about it when they know that I almost graduate within the year.

Some says it’s avoiding reality –travels- but in the meantime this is also the journey to find new definition of ‘reality’.  I don’t think everybody should have a negative feeling once they’re hearing the word. Reality can mean happiness, and passionate. Depend on how you define it.

I’m writing this to you in the common room of the busy hostel in Hanoi, Vietnam. I want to explore my own region first before I go somewhere else like Europe or the States. For now I’ve got Burma and Laos –and now Vietnam and the next is Cambodia and Indonesia. (I’ll keep writing about it.) I’ve come to found that my broken English wasn’t get fix right away. Hostel’s where you started your trip alone in the new country and everyone doesn’t speak in your own language. Find time to sit still and listen to others and observing the city. I’m telling you, this city is basically a very big market. The entire city! If you ever been to Bombay and witnessed its craziness then I’d heard that this city is more dangerous. I almost killed by a motorbike that coming from every direction. You can’t walk more than 5 seconds without hearing the cars horn. Even when you sit at the street restaurant where you have to sit on stools to have a drink and you’d be curious why you didn’t get hit by a motorbike. The traffic system here wasn’t improved a bit since Hanoi’s citizen used to ride their bike, now they’d changed into motor-bike. And there’s not much of the traffic light in town. Which allow drivers to drive their car or their bike in any possibly directions. They’re not gonna stop or slow their vehicle and If you can survive after crossing the street in Hanoi. Then you’ll be a street crossing expert.




I give myself an A on street crossing. And a C+ on making friends. I know that when you decided to spend the night in the dorm room at the hostel. You have to talk to other travelers. Which I did, but not much.

I’m kind of kept to myself, more like, because of all the travel itineraries I’ve vaguely planned in mind based of the Lonely Planet, I’m here to write. I’ve met a Balinese who traveled by herself and have a talk one night. She climbed up in my bulk bed (she’s sleep on the lower) and tell me stories. Mostly about travel in Bali and Lombok and how her friend doesn’t want to go with her. And she’s the one who told me to write story about ’20 days drunk’ as the continuation from my previous entry ’20 days sober’. She looks very young. I’d thought she’s the same age, but she’s actually 33! This is the first time she decided to go and do this for her own good.

                ‘It’s now or never!’ she said.

                After she went off to meet her friend who she met during the trip from Saigon to Hanoi (her trip was from south to north, but mine is the opposite) there was this Canadian guy who came to talk with me. He’s made this very impressive observation about Asian people, especially those who live in SE Asia. He said, ‘It’s good to know that now you guy have enough money to travels.’

                Then I was like, FUCK YOUUUUUUUU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                Maybe he’s telling the truth, but it’s the kind of truth that only okay if we’re the one who speak of. More importantly, it’s kind of ironic because this guy travelling around selling stooooooves. I mean, you can’t say this certain thing to others if you’re still looking for some cheap travels. Now I’m good to see you have enough money for a plane ticket to seek for some cheap lives here.

                I’m sorry if I’d pissed you off by telling you this. But this is pisses me off and I still mad at this guy. And I think that’s why I gave myself a C+ on making friend.

                If I say I didn’t like it here I’d be lying. It’s the time for using all money you have and taking any chance possible and buy that ticket that will takes you to the new level of understanding the world and the people. It’s my youth and I didn’t earn that much money for luxurious hotels or the first class seat on the plane. That’s a different kind of travels I wish I could come across later in life, when I’m have enough money but less time to spend. And if you chose to stay in hostel when you’re old (and even with plenty of money),  people will judge you (because no one knows you’re rich), they’ll think you’re weird. I haven’t see old dude stay in any hostel from my witnessed. That I should take the advantage of my youth and spend it right with all the times and money I have. Maybe it’s not grand experience or anything. It’s just me trying to learn from what college didn’t teach me.

Now I’m so sentiment about living while I’m young. Then I figured out why I was so sentiment about it. It was because I only living my life day by day. Not purposeless, but full of procrastination. Even when I’m on the trip, I’m still postponing things away. Like I needed more time to adjust with the new city. This bed is so warm I want to sleep and then I would wake up and write later. It’s easy to think like this and then get depressed cause I’m realized at the end that I’m going nowhere, despite I was in Hanoi. I used to get this feeling back home in Chiang Mai. When I rode a bike and started to have new ideas. My eyes fixed to the street but my mind went somewhere else. From now on I have to remind myself that the road is no place for thinking. But ideas keep coming anyway. All I have to do is to try my best to remember it and not lose my head in it because I don’t want to risk my life with some stupid ideas, which seemed great to me at the moment and then it get staled. Writing all this makes me think I have to go out and find a night train ticket to Sapa: the town in the highland, northern Vietnam. I’d enough of this craziness on the street and the engine whine that never stops. I didn’t know anyone I can trust or travel with just yet. Part of it was my false because I was more or less kept to myself as well as the other tourists around me.  All I can say right now is I’m not doing bad and this is fine.

And, above all, I’m really happy now that I finally get the perfect afternoon nap! 






20 Days Sober

posted on 12 Apr 2013 11:17 by nathablog in FORBETTERSWEETLIVE

                   The whole March I was barely stayed at home.  I was out exploring, experiencing and learning a lot of things. I started the trip -at the very end of February- with one of my friend from college. It was the trip that we took the train heading to the south of Thailand: Bangkok, Hau-Hin and Phi Phi Island. We’re stumbled, even though we’re traveled in our country. We’ve met a lot of people along the way, but it was strange that no Thai people started a conversation or even ask where we were heading. And it was the foreigner, who wasn’t native English speaker that came to talked with us. On the first week of March. We were pretty much as drunk as we’ve planned.  What’s to expect when you go to the beach with friend other than to get wasted on the beach at night while the up-beat music playing in the background and you pissing in the sea and as well as throwing your shit out there! It was pretty long I couldn’t remember much of the details here but I’m gonna spare you something. I thought this trip gave me the break to have a glimpse of –I don’t know how to describe here- the best, a shot, in my life. I was on the beach, all by myself and walked along the shore which happened to hold the legendary beach party. A lot of tourists, locals who’s longing for party and who’s been sleeping all day long just to be able to stay put over the night at the beach. And then I heard the call from a guy: he’s an intern at the hotel I went to asked for the price in the morning, which I didn’t check-in to that hotel. But this guy remembered me and is calling me, not by name, of course. I turned and this guy just sticks around his senior at work and invited me to the pool table nearby.  I wasn’t finish with my vodka-Redbull but incidentally he came to me and tapped this plastic glass in my hand down to the floor and immediately replaced it with a freshly can of beer, which he’s opened it for me before. See! That’s the point. I was shocked but my facial reaction or even physical reaction turned to be some kind of astonishment (am I using the right word here?) I’m tend to say that I’m glad and more than welcome for that can of beer, and suddenly we became friend. It’s goes by very, very fast and I’m impressed. I still have that feeling sometime when I was in the camp and I was bored and don’t know what to do. I looked back to this moment and it makes me smile. 


The next morning I was ‘incapable’, ‘unfunctionable’ (this one I invented it, lol) to go snorkeling and all the tourist stuffs that I already booked the other day. And I missed the chance to go to the Beach’s film location, which is AWESOME!! (But I missed it anyway.) Then I started to think about another trip –if I can call it a trip- that I was supposed to go to this camp and build two small houses for people in the mountain. Not by me, of course, it would be some kind of punishment if I have to build two houses up there and live by myself for as long as it takes to finish the houses. Apparently it took 20 days to get it done. We have, almost a hundred of people who involving in the camp. Mostly students: poor skills, but willingly to carried on, and another skilled workers who’s working as the carpenter –but our houses are made of steel- in the wood-shop at our faculty back in the university. I was part of it. And there’s this regulations that everyone have to follow which is ‘No-Alcohol’ but before I realized it was just written there to show the sponsor and whoever that paid for the materials, it was too late. It was half way to the finish. Then everybody’s started to drink anyway.

My times at the ocean are behind me, and now is the time on the mountain. It was the hard times and I didn’t feel like I’m belong here or to the job that I’m doing. Part of it I wanted to go home but another just wanted to get it done. Even though everybody seemed happy when we’re allowed to drink, but I didn’t drink anything (Except wines on the last day.) Everyone seemed to either enjoyed or bored and we all wanted to go home. Those who drinking were all yelling and did lousy stuffs each night. And I wasn’t participate. I was in the tent nearby and heard the noise until the teacher came at midnight and the powers went off. Sometimes even the powers went off they’re still sat there and have serious talked about life and future kind of things people used to raise the topic once they’re gathering up around a bonfire. I have no problem with the noise and lousy thing they did because it’s happiness. I loved listening to them talked, though. I have no problem with happiness and that okay as long as no-one started a fight and began yelling in the bad ways.

I haven’t put any alcohol in my blood for ten days straight, and from that point my head and ideas began to flows. Less bullshit, I swear. All I think about on my soberness was humanity and my travel itineraries to Vietnam. I read history of Vietnam and started planning what to do when I’m arrive. Which wasn’t enjoy the moment exactly. It’s another kind of enjoy the moment by looking forward to the possibly future. Everyone in the camp seemed to read book during recess or kept to themselves in the bedroom. I’m the only one who read guidebook. But for those of you who ever bought a Lonely Planet would know that it isn’t just a plain guidebook. It’s included everything you ever wanted to know about the country. I really enjoyed reading the history part while simultaneously planning the trips. I think it’s kind of a good life, isn’t it? (To live in the mountain and build a house together?) I brought a tent here, and 20 days is the longest times that I ever spent in the tent. Anyone who asks to see my book were curious about it. It like they’ve never bought a guidebook before in their lives. I don’t understand when I told them after the camp is over I’m gonna spend the rest of my holidays around SE Asia; start in Vietnam, and they told me I’m crazy.

Travel is awesome, and anyone who spoke against it was crazy or didn’t know how to travel.  Some people just don’t understand the idea of how’s spent money on travel can makes you rich, who’s rather spent their whole life in the pit with all new smart phone and technologies. They did travel, sometimes. But these people can’t speak English. So you know what kind of trip looked like. ‘Been there, done that.’, ‘Let’s take a picture in front of that fucking tower and get back to the car!’ kind of thing. With a bunch of people, and they’re followed the tour guide like the students in a school field-trips. I understand that there’re different levels of satisfaction to each person. Like those people, basically, doesn’t like travel that much. But there’s something that urge them to do, like when you see a pictures of your friend taken from Japan in Facebook, or the need to rewarded yourself after the long year of hard work. I understand, perhaps in their point of view they see me crazy. They might mean it, but in general point of view I don’t think I am crazy. I didn’t called them crazy or being ridiculous or anything because I understand.



My soberness brought me full-times concentration. I kept working secretly in my tent, where I slept alone and think and write stuffs alone. Here, my friend, I’m gonna reveal the titled of my first novel ever (that I write it in English) I called it ‘The Parachute’, which has nothing to do with Coldplay, I swear. It’s the combination between comic and fiction. So far I can tell you that it’s the story about the old man who went to paratrooping and the parachute stuck; he went down and he knew that he’s about to die.

When the houses finished, we had this goodbye party and we’re pretty drunk. Because there’s no work or anything to worry except to pack the bag and go home in the next morning. This wasn’t pretty much of a vacation but in the meantime I’d learned a lot. Mostly, to not hesitate to do more of what makes me happy. I found that some people I’d came across on the Internet or a few in real life who said that they’re lost or don’t know what to do with their lives. Who ended up doing a lot more than the rest of other people who said they’re already knew what to do in life or been told what they’re supposed to do. So, good for fucking them, if they’d never happen to have a question about what they’re doing with their life. I don’t know if it’s good to do all of what makes me happy but for now just a cup of hot coffee in the cold drizzling evening, or just throw the half-finished book and started to read the new one instead, to the magic of buying a new pair of shoes that can makes me happy and kind of giving me confident and, sometimes, even, the feeling like a natural high.

This is all I’ve got after the 20 days of soberness. But I’m telling you, ‘sober sucks! , sometimes.’

                                            * * * 

weird friend hurts the most

posted on 11 Apr 2013 18:18 by nathablog in FORBETTERSWEETLIVE


The weird friends, or the one who try to makes people laugh are the one who probably hurts the most when everybody left the party and he’s still there, in the room, alone. I used to be one of them, once, I think I liked to make people laugh; instead of laugh they turned to be some kind of cynical instead. It’s a childish thing, I guess, making weird jokes and pretended awkward personality or even impersonated your teacher or your other friend who’s also weird. Deep down it’s so sad. And we think the only honest way to show other people that you’re sad in the adult world is through humorous.

Me, for example, when something bad happens to me I used to make joke to find my way out of the grievances and tragedy. Like when my mom passed away or when I’d been discriminated. I don’t like other people to feel pity on me. I made joke and they laughed and that’s okay. And they think that’s okay. But the truth is that I am sad. And I am not ok.

The result of our innocence youth led to the day of the miserable adulthood and no one appreciate that kind of joke anymore and your weird friends were left alone in the corner of the room or wandering aimlessly around the room trying to make people laugh, but never goes into the serious talk and no-one took him seriously. That guy’s crazy. I bet you’ve heard this line more than once in your life.

Admit it, life wouldn’t be fun if no-one do something weird. I understand that there is someone who wasn’t sad, but who make joke out of everything. It’s the choice whether you’d be a funny guy without being sad inside or just to be a guy who makes joke just to hide your tears. No matter what it is, I have to remind myself to take care of my weird friends and appreciate everything they do. Be thankful for their weirdness, my weirdness.



                                          Because we’re all weird.

                                           In a very strange ways.

                                                           . . .


edit @ 11 Apr 2013 19:19:47 by TunG