centered in japan

The one thing that was striking to me about Japan was the stark contrast between its vibrancy and tranquility. Somewhere between the crowded subways and the hidden gardens in parks and temples, a balance is struck. I’m sure it’s not a surprise to anyone who has ever visited Japan to acknowledge its remarkable sense of cleanliness and order. That same sentiment resonates throughout Japanese culture, a certain kind of beautiful obsession. I wasn’t sure if it was the newness of the city or I was just in awe in the presence of something marvelous. I was more attentive than usual…

the rain is here

Coming back from another run to the neighboring city, we met the rain at the entrance to town. At first just a few scattered specks, and before I knew it, my sunglasses were shrouded. In shorts and a T-shirt sitting in the back of my nephew’s motorbike, I was dusted in the softest raindrops. Every hair on my exposed skin stood up to welcome them. Out of the corner of my eyes, I can see the gray clouds hovering over every corner of the afternoon sky. I knew it was going to be a good one. Fortunately for us, my…

who we are

That’s how these things go. I’m always inevitably pulled into these awkward situations where I’m bound to engage in semi-formal conversations with neighbors and distant relatives all over this stretch of dirt path. Everything seems a little smaller every time I come here, from this dirt road to my grandparents’ house where I had spent most of my summers as a kid. The fact is, everything has gotten bigger. I can tell from the narrowing river inlet that has graced the front of our house for as long as I can remember. I’m reminded of how different we all are…

first day tet ’17

I’m wide awake. It’s almost three am. Exhilarated, jet-lagged, drenched in relief to have made it to Vīnh Long without a hitch. The long trip was anticipated but the jitters are keeping me up at this hour. It’s probably the lack of sleep, but who knows, I might have drank too many espressos at Taoyuan airport. Maybe I’m subconsciously celebrating Tet as it creeps up on this day. Even in this state of mind, I somehow feel at ease amidst the concert of frogs and insects outside my steel-framed window. It’s still pitch black outside, as black as I remembered….