Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vere dignum et justum est

Good morning, greetings and welcome ! I would like to start with thanking everyone for their gracious comments about the last blog " The summer adventures of travelling", unfortunately since I am back at work I need to save up again for another holiday so I can write about new adventures. Unless Lonely planet, or I can start my TV series called Panda Gryills.

Phew what a busy fortnight with St Valentines day, wedding invitations, early mornings and late nights. Don't know if you can keep up, but of course you can! live life to fullest.
Alright lets begin, after reading Anh Do's book "The Happiest Refugee" I am super excited about reviewing it! Lets begin with what the title of this blog means. "Vere dignum et justum est", this literally means "It is truly right to give Him (God) thanks and praise!" I believe that Anh Do's book really incorporates this well and how we are so lucky and grateful to be in this country Australia. If it weren't for Australia I wouldn't be here writing this blog, and marrying the greatest beauty in Terra Australis. (Yes Lucy)

So Anh do
, story starts in the aftermath of the Vietnam War, his parents have just fallen in love on a train heavily controlled by the new regime, his uncles are in prison known as reeducation camps. One of these uncles actually has his intestines taken out for malaria treatment. My dad tells me he is living in Sydney now. The first chapter is full of love and drama, finishing with their narrow escape from the Vietnamese border patrol, and two, yes two pirate attacks complete with bearded Thai pirates.

However throughout this ordeal only one young man commits suicide, but the rest of the group of 40 survive and get processed offshore and await a country of asylum. Lucky for them Australia being such an awesome country accepts them. Like Anh, our family was in a processing camp in Thailand for 2 years and my parents were able to see Pope John Paul II how wonderful. As you are aware, Anh Do family is extremely Catholic, like many other Vietnamese refugee. For some reasons through out history the funniest boat people have come from Catholic backgrounds, like Ireland. I've always believe in my heart that if you had a Vietnamese and Irish family coming together it would be like comedy central.

As Anh grows up he talks about his many experience, his first love, his first fight and how it was a struggle financially to keep up with the Jones at Joey's. But financially they were never poor because, his mum a would be nun, would always shelter even poorer people in their home to show how well off they were. Wow, at this point I was almost in tears, yes a big guy like mean almost crying because like Anh we were never poor and created our own adventures which generally ended up with me being hit with a cane because growing up with 3 sisters they would copy me and end up with many cuts and bruises, thus my dad would take down the ring leader.

Now Anh is in uni and meets the love of his life, however she doesn't go out with him for 5 years but get engaged only after 3 weeks of dating. That's right Anh is the man!, no point in wasting time, because he quotes after his dad "If you meet a girl you like, marry her, don't wait. Because there is now and there is too late!". I just love this attitude to life, you've got to hand it to Anh with his never give up attitude.
It must be something with the combination of Vietnamese man marrying a White girl. The white girl really makes it hard for us, poor refugee blokes, gee whiz. Unlike myself, Suzy's parents take to Anh like white people to spring rolls. I guess I'll be bringing more spring rolls to the will be in laws in the near future.(hehehehehehe)

Anh and Suzy marry and live happily ever after how nice. I won't review any more of the book because I want you to read it because it's such a wonderful book. For me Anh Do's book made me understand why my dad always says " I am in heaven now, in Australia".

So at this point you're thinking where is Truong going with this blog, well please pardon me at the moment, my mind is totally distracted with getting married so I am so nervous and jittery like a jitterbug. But please bear with me, the main point of this blog is what to do as Australians with our superpowers.

Well as you all know the "Fair Dinkum" or "Give everyone a go" attitude is derived from the Latin dignum et justum est, so what is" just and right"? Simple, next time you go to the supermarkets just take your items to the check out chick instead of the machine. Because you are using your powers for good, keeping someone employed and using human interaction as opposed to a machine. We want to keep Australia from becoming a machine state where greed prevails, we want more Anh do's who gives up a high power coop orate job at Macquarie bank, to serve the community with his laughter. But if you haven't got a funny bone in your body keep the latter.

Things to do in Sydney

Gee whiz, i should stick to my day job and not explore human philosophy because my analogies don't sound like Plato at all, however I am good at Friday night dates. Lets me tell you what to do in Sydney.
The place to be is, Darlinghurst on a super post St Valentines date. OK so you did wake up enough after 4 early morning alarms on Valentines day, and couldn't make it to the flower markets to buy cheap roses, so you had to buy one from the man at the traffic lights.
You didn't get a booking at her favourite Japanese restaurant, and ended up at the Yerros shop in Marrickville and your card was a tad cheesy from the servo, because it was a Tuesday and being a Tuesday you had to get petrol, so to get a further discount on the fuel you needed to spend 5 dollars in store.
What to do now? Don't fret just make a booking at the Victoria Rooms in Darlinghurst, because if you really stuffed up big time this is the place to take your girlfriend/fiance/wife to, because generally men stuff up and you really need a trump card to make it up. This will surely get you out of the, does this guy even love me book, into the fancy diary with love heart lock book.

At first, the front entrance of the Victoria Rooms was very hard to find, and it was next to a restaurant that was closed down due to health regulations. In my head I was thinking, this place is really Victorian with sub standard neighbours, but as you walk up the stairwell, you are invited by a friendly guy called Jeremy who takes you to a booth. The lightning, the mood, the ambiance is all here for a "Oo, ahh, you are the best darling!" response because this time nothing is going to go wrong. The main reason are; the ambience, there are guy called Jeremy, they have fondue, and remember to wear a dark shirt just incase you spill chocolate on your shirt embarrassing your date.
As you approach your seating area, you are presented with wide variety of drinks and a shared menu. This is a great way to spend the evening looking into each others eyes over sweet or savoury fondue. Another friendly tip here for men who are not fondue specialist, remember to dip, dabble, drain, then slowly place the fork in your mouth, drawing it out slowly. Splendid don't you think, if you're in trouble for not doing anything for Valentines day, don't go sour puss on me, get out there to the Victoria Rooms.

Deo gratias.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Summer travelling within and with out.

Good morning, welcome and greetings to all. Happy new year, to all and everyone and it is so wonderful to be writing again. I hope that the summer holidays are still rolling on and we are slowly getting back to work and into another great year.

Well you might have missed reading According to Truong over the last summer, and I have sorely missed writing. However, our frail human nature does call us to rest and relax, so that we can travel within ourselves. So in this blog I would like to write about what really inspired me over the break and what really made me tick and tock.

Over the summer I was very lucky, well fortunate to travel to 3 different states of Australia and had both a wonderful and awful time at each location. In summary don't overdo a summer holiday it might sound like a great idea to do as much as possible, but realistically the internal travel which your soul needs only requires little physical travelling but much internal travelling. This sounds deep but all it means, go somewhere nice, pick a random spot and spend a few good days there soaking it up. Just like a red wine that needs to mature in a French Oak barrel.

Lets begin on how it went and what to avoid to all those budding travellers out there.

Sydney to Adelaide
Most memorable moment: Spending time with a little white dog called Tory.
Most beautiful town: Mt Pleasant
Worst cafe ever: Art house cafe/Roaring 40's cafe Angaston South Australia
Best bakery: Mt Pleasant Bakery
Best winery: Chateau Tanunda

How to be romantic in SA? If I were a married man and I were to plan another trip to Adelaide I would book a hotel in the CBD and explore the history of Adelaide for 2 days, then start the romantic wine tour of the Barossa valley. Starting early, the first stop would be Hanhdorf stocking up on German sausages for an afternoon picnic, then heading to morning tea in Mt Pleasant. Then I would head straight to Chateau Tanunda and spend 3 nights in this area. Buy 2 cases of Chateau Tanuda wine and spend the afternoon with sausages, cheese and wine. Simple as that.

Adelaide to Melbourne
Most memorable moment: Breathtaking view of Blue Lake
Most beautiful town: Mt Gambier
Best camp site: Mt Shank
Worst road ever: The Great Ocean Rd
Worst tourist destination: The 12 Apostle tourist centre
Over rated natural wonder: The 12 Apostles
Best food experience: Met wurst
Best customer service: Mary Mackillop Shop, shop attendant Penola " There is a 24 Mac Donald's in Mt Gambier!"

How to be romantic on the Adelaide to Melbourne road trip? The only way to be romantic on a long haul road trip is to give yourself a time frame and then extend it by 2 days. I would firstly spend at least 2 nights in Mt Gambier to camp around the Blue lake area. There has always been something about the colour blue, blue skies, blue seas, blue eyes, blue Groper, blue lake. It's such a beautiful colour and to see a huge lake in this amazing bright blue color is truly a blessing in blue. Did I forget to mention blue is beautiful.

Moving on towards Melbourne, I would stop in Portland. If I were a married man with 2 kids between the ages of 5-12, Portland would be a great destination to try for a third child. It is reminiscence of 18th century England where Piers, summer carnivals, and trams kept smiles on people's faces and ice cream on shirts. An era where people like myself could whistle tunes composed by Sir Hubert Parry. An era where pipe smoking and port drinking were the norm and for ladies ice lemon tea with a hint of Bombay gin. Nice.

Moving on towards the Great Ocean Road and the 12 Apostles. I would have to say is something that I would never do again even if the Victorian government gave me a research grant to explore the possibility of extra-terrestrial activities at the Thunder bird launch site. Furthermore, if the Federal government, appointment me minister of hanging out I would avoid set my leather sandals on the Great Ocean Rd. I don't know why it is one of Australia's must go places. It is over crowded, the road is poorly maintained, you can barely see over the edge and to add salt to my leg wound, the 12 Apostles centre located at the 12 Apostles tourist site did not sell any Australian made Fridge Magnets or any other souvenir for that matter.
If you were going to see the 12 Apostles, to follow Jesus and be a disciple, to become a fisher of men, if you had a vocation and you're looking for that Alleluia moment be wise and don't go here because all you'll get is crowds, heat, helicopters, no fridge magnets and only 10 or maybe 9 Apostles left.

Melbourne to Davenport
Best moment: Screaming out greetings to local people in Davenport as the Spirit of Tasmania cruised into port.
Best dining experience: On board the Spirit of Tasmania Restaurant
Worst part: Disembarking and going through quarantine

New to sailing or cruise ship? I am, a great way to experience this at a relative low price is go on the Spirit of Tasmania. So you're married and your 10 year anniversary is coming up? You're mortgage is half way through and you have 4 children under the age of 10, but how to work within a budget? The spirit of Tasmania is the way to go here. It gives you good bang for buck value.
Basically, I would pack as much food as possible into the family Tarago or Landcruiser, take the food out as we board the trip, bring the food into the private cabin. Eat as much as we can then set everyone loose on the ship for 8 hours. Since it is a ship, minimum supervision is required, however there is the fact of rough seas and falling overboard. But that risk is low because the guide ropes are strong.
On board, there is face painting, arts and craft, movies, alcohol food, shops and levels to explore. The trick to smooth sailing is preparation, book a private cabin, bring your own food or buy hot food it's very cheap, and sit back and relax.

Tasmania, ah Tasmania I would love to write about it again, but sadly like the hops, barely, and malt.The main ingredients of a good ale, the mixture was right, but the fermentation process turned out sour. The yeast was to blame. Turning a potential great refreshing ale into soy sauce.

I hope everyone enjoyed the first blog of the year, reflecting back on the blog I have come to the conclusion that we humans are just like parts of a good wine or ale. We were made in the image of God, perfect, plum and pristine, Shiraz Grape, or tall, bronze with a bountiful blooming head like a stalk of barley.
However as we get mixed up, combined, crushed, blended in this journey of life, all the good parts are there. But as we ferment into something beautiful, such as champagne or ale. We have to be careful and on guard that we don't get mixed up with the wrong yeast. We know that yeast is a catalyst and it can turn good things into great things, or good things into awful sour things that we want to spit out followed by thorough rinsing with water.
So lets become Don Perignon Champagne, or Don Rosendo Salvado Abbey Ale. Just stay away from whatever yeast that might ruin a good vintage, and if you're like me a good strong, dark Ale.

Things to do in Sydney, it's going to be hot hot hot hot hot, and I did forget to say Hot. If you are unaware many Asian communities will be hosting Lunar New Year festivals throughout the city. But the place to experience Vietnamese food and culture, is to head to Fairfield Showground to the annual Vietnamese community Tet Festival. If you have been devoutly following Luke Nguyen's cooking adventure and been dying to experience the rich flavours of Indo China this is the place to be from Friday to Sunday.