Happy in Hanoi

(The best part of taking photos is sharing the image)

It’s time again for another blog update, granted this entry may be more of a photomontage as opposed to a meaningful narrative. I’ve been inundated with work, travel, visitors and all the stresses of daily life in Hanoi – but I can truly say that I’m incredibly content and happy.

Hoan Kiem Lake
(Pagoda in Hoan Kiem Lake)

(B&W Series – Duong Lam)

(Duong Lam)



(Ancient Village of Duong Lam – Latterite Brick Walls)

Our photography club has been exceptionally active these last few months – having had some sort of outing almost every weekend. These get-togethers range from exploring the Old Quarter of Hanoi to hiring a bus and driving to nearby ancient villages.

(Burning Incense)


Duong Lam ancient village, enclosed by rice fields and ponds – and located 50 kilometers west of Hanoi – has been our favorite destination (having been there twice). Duong Lam is still considered a typical agricultural village, which maintains many of its traditional activities. And its houses are famous for their reddish brown latterite brick walls.

(Photography outings all around)


(Communal feast)

(Man in Duong Lam)

I’ve been fortunate to have a string of visitors since moving to Asia, the latest being my dear friend, Tina, who flew to Vietnam for a visit. She’s been one of those incredible friends over the years who has visited me in every country that I have lived – including multiple trips to Jamaica, Malawi and now Vietnam.


She arrived in time for the Thanksgiving holiday – in fact, we booked a flight that morning to Hoi An – my favorite city in all of Vietnam – where we spent the long weekend shopping (Hoi An is famous for its tailor-made clothes), drinking fine food and wine, navigating through flooded streets (didn’t realize it was the rainy season), and taking cooking classes!

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(Hoi An)

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(Flooding in the streets of Hoi An)

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(Boats in the streets)

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I must admit, even after six times to this magical city, I still can’t resist the beauty of silk dresses, embroidered silk jackets, hand-made shoes and stunningly fitted blouses. I, again, went crazy and bought way too many items. And in the process, I may have been a horrible influence on Tina, who also splurged and had several articles of clothing made. Although I will say that life in Asia has done wonders for my wardrobe!

(lotus blossom)

(water lily)

The same day that Tina departed for her 50-day tour of Asia (I was just a precursor to her fabulous adventures), my good friends, Kate and Carl, arrived from Malawi!

(Streets of Hoi An)

(More flooding)


I absolutely adore Kate and Carl! My friendships from Malawi remain so meaningful. I experienced pure joy and pure hell in that country, and it was those close friendships that really got me through difficult times!

(Trying not to get wet)



(Rainy days)

Surprisingly, we have quite a large Malawian contingency here in Vietnam – 7 of us have migrated from Lilongwe to Hanoi! Kate and Carl are currently touring through the country, but we’re planning another Malawi reunion when they return to Hanoi over the weekend.


(Night time)

(Bamboo Bike)

(Some special occasion)

Last weekend happened to be the Angkor Wat Half Marathon in Siem Reap! The course was simply stunning! I kept thinking how lucky I am to not only live in a region that’s so convenient to travel, but also to afford the luxury of running in a race through the legendary ruins of Angkor Wat.

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(Ta Phrom)

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(Ta Phrom)

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(Ta Phrom)

Twenty-one kilometers of ancient history! The course started at sunrise in front of the legendary Angkor Wat Temple; and the course wound its way through ruins such as Banteay Kdei, Ta Keo Temple, Ta Phrom, Bayon, and the South Gate to name a few.

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(Sunrise at Angkor Wat)

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(Sunrise 2)

But the highlight was high-fiving every single Cambodian child along the way.

(Amy and David at Ta Keo Temple)

(Amy and David in front of Bayon)

(David at Ta Keo Temple)

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(Amy at Bayon)

The entire course was paved with beautiful kids, laughing, smiling, and holding out their hands waiting for the joggers to touch them as they ran by! I couldn’t help but smile and cheer right along with the bystanders!

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(Banteay Srei)

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I am also proud to say that I finished the race….and ran the entire way! Which is no small feat considering the fact that I hadn’t been training. I am sheepishly admitting that the longest run I had completed prior to the race was 3kms (and always with Chico – so I had to stop for the little guy to do his thing on every tree). Not exactly an aerobic workout.

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(Beautiful children of Cambodia)

(Banteay Kdei)

But something happens during those organized races. I get caught up in the moment, swept up in the energy of the crowd, and carry on as if I am some super athlete who has been training all the while. Surprisingly, I felt great all along the way. And aside from some seriously aching muscles, I remained injury-free.

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(Reflections 2)

The day after returning from Cambodia, I flew to Vinh City in the heart of Nghe An province to conduct data quality assessments. I truly love being in the field.

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And it’s a special time to bond with Ministry officials and workers who are on the ground doing their part to fight HIV/AIDS. I’m often overwhelmed by the Vietnamese’s kindness, generosity, and hospitality in the field – always going above and beyond their call of duty and insisting that we have dinner and drinks in the evening. Food, beer and rice wine are free flowing….and the mood is always good spirited. I need to get out to the field more often!

(Banteay Srei)


David and I are gearing up for our next adventure in India, where we plan to celebrate the holidays. Looking forward to ringing in the New Year in Kerala!

(Finish Line – after running 21 kms!)

Happy Holidays to all…and wishing each of you a happy, healthy New Year.

(Kate and Amy)

Old Quarter
(Streets of Old Quarter)

Good-bye Hazel!
(Friends in Hanoi)

Much love,

Official Half-Marathon Picks:

Amy1_Angkor Wat
(Amy @ Finish Line)

(Amy & David @ 18 kms)

(Crossing the finish line)

Amy 4

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