Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

My Birthday

 So... people (and one person in particular - thanks bogwitch64 !) have been wondering how my birthday's been... and fair enough, I've been neglecting my LJ recently, so it's time for a decent update...

Came over to HK a couple of days ago to celebrate my birthday, accompanied by Malcolm, Nhu, and her parents. It was a fun plane ride! I finally feel sympathy for all those parents on flights with screaming babies! I'll never complain about them again!

(We tried our best to keep him quiet... but this whole idea of having to wear a seatbelt was just unacceptable to him!)

Nhu's parents have been quite excited, since they've never really been away from Vietnam (and Cambod ia, in her dad's case) before, so it was all very new. Malcolm has just been bewildered... "why has the scenery changed?", etc... though really, he's quite adaptable right now, so he's no more trouble than he would be anywhere else.

Spend the first day just walking down the waterfront, on a cloudy day, to Ocean Terminal, where there's a big baby shopping mall, and bought lots of nice things for Malcolm. Picked up some essential Irn Bru and Cherry Coke for myself while we were at it ;)

We were planning to go further afield today, but Malcolm had a bit of a cold, so neither Nhu nor her mum wanted to take him over to HK Island... so we ended up just eating a delicious Chinese meal nearby, and then hanging out in a pub called McLovin's, where I proceeded to consume lots and lots of cider. Certainly a good way to spend a birthday :D

But that was just the afternoon... for the evening had already been arranged. An excellent Japanese place, with certainly the best sashimi I've had in Hong Kong. Received some presents for myself, and even more for Malcolm :) After that, my dad convinced everyone to head over to Martini Bar in another nearby hotel, including Malcolm, as he wanted to introduce him to all his colleagues, many over just because there's a big trade show going on in HK right now (my dad's really excited about all this!)

So we did, and everyone loved him! Malcolm himself wasn't so sure about the whole thing, but he played along very well! And before we went, the live band sang happy birthday to me! (They sang happy birthday to some other random person first, but Nhu went up to them and got them to do it for me too)

So all in all, an excellent birthday! I hope it can be as good as this next year!
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

Citizen of the World!

Well, of two countries in it anyway :) Malcolm's Vietnamese passport came last week, and I went down to the consulate to pick up his British passport today. 

So now we're ready to go anywhere! And we're off to HK for my birthday in just two and a half weeks: me, Malcolm, Nhu, and her parents - which should be interesting. Her dad's never been anywhere beyond Vietnam and Cambodia, and her mum's never left the country before.
Malcolm won't remember this visit when he's older, of course, so we'll be sure to do plenty more through the years :)

(A few more pics through the link-pic below)

Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

Malcolm and Family

Today Malcolm got to meet his other set of grandparents for the first time... well, I say got to meet them, but got to stare curiously at them is probably a better we of putting it. Nonetheless, he got to spend some time with his other grandparents, who were overjoyed to meet him. It's nice to see them all together, and hopefully sometime in the not too distant future, he'll have a chance to meet his Scottish cousins too (and of course his other aunt and uncle.)

In other news, we put up our Tết tree... similar in concept to a Christmas tree, except much more leafy, and with many small oranges. We still have to decorate it (with suitable Vietnamese decorations), but the flashing lights (the same ones we used on the Christmas tree) are up already, and it's pretty nice.

The city is pretty crazy and frantic these days, with everyone rushing around buying everything necessary before everything shuts down for the holiday at the weekend (much of which won't open for another week), but out where I live, it's generally pretty quiet, as a lot of the foreign residents have gone. A lot of the Koreans are still around, and I thought they celebrated New Year at the same time, but beyond an increase in the number of rollerblading Korean kids at my apartment building, I haven't noticed much difference to that effect.

To finish up, here are the photos from Malcolm's first month ceremony and party. I'm sure we'll have more soon, but I'll wait till my dad and stepmum have departed for that...

The CeremonyThe PartyThe Presents

Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

Malcolm follow-up

Thanks for all the great wishes, everyone! We really appreciate them :)
(ETA: I was going to save time and use this as the default thanks for everyone I didn't reply to, but ended up replying to all comments individually anyway. Guess I'm in that kind of mood) ;)

I plan to do a decade-in-review type post sometime soon, and obviously, for me, 2009 was the biggest and best (it helps that I wasn't affected by the economic crisis.) Will see if I get any time to write that in the next couple of days (which may just be wishful thinking, but you never know.)

On another note, I guess we now know the date of the big party: in Vietnam there are traditionally big parties one month and one year after his birth - both based on the Chinese lunar calendar, not the western one. The first month party will just be something small, as he'll be a bit young, but the one-year party will be a big one, on December 18th 2010, I believe (I have to confirm it with Nhu, but that's what it seems like based on the calendars I've looked at.)

So if any of you were ever thinking of coming to Vietnam (you know who you are!), that'd be the time to do it. (good time for the weather, too) ;) Circumstances being what they are, of course, that may not be possible, but just in case...
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

Something Wonderful

Malcolm Pham Miller, born 4:35pm, 28th December 2009, 3.8 kg (about 8.4lb) and very healthy. People are saying he looks like his grandad (my dad), which may be true, though I think he definitely has Nhu's nose. He's an adorable little thing, and we're really... looking forward to all the wonderful times ahead :)

 Here are a few photos from his first day!
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

A Step Up

My school recently made available 10 "full-time" positions. There were 19 applicants. I was one of the successful ones :)

The "full time" positions are not really a whole lot different to the "hourly" position I had before. They involve a couple of extra responsibilities, but a whole lot of extra cash, so naturally I went for it. I wasn't sure I would get it, as these positions are typically filled by people who have Masters degrees or 10-15 years experience teaching, neither of which I have... but evidently, my application and interview went well, and I got the job!

Very happy, and pretty much perfect timing for me...

...talking of which, I should have even bigger news to report soon, possibly even in the next day or two :)
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

And while I'm at it...

In 2010, garunya resolves to...
Take evening classes in neon.
Tell my family about narrow streets.
Become a better yangshuo.
Stop writing with maryrobinette.
Give some jawas to charity.
Admit my true feelings to rpanne.
Get your own New Year's Resolutions:

Ok, I can get with most of these, but I think if I was actually writing with maryrobinette , I doubt I'd be making a resolution to stop!
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

The Twelve Days of LiveJournal 2009

Last time I did this was 3 years ago, and there are similarities, but it's not exactly the same. Most notable is the fact that "Five" involves delicious sugary substances in both instances, and "a something in a something" involves fantasy, but different fantasy, in both instances :)

On the twelfth day of Christmas, garunya sent to me...
Twelve himalayas drumming
Eleven foxes piping
Ten orang-utans a-leaping
Nine wombles dancing
Eight storms a-milking
Seven geckos a-swimming
Six planes a-writing
Five bo-o-o-ounty bars
Four snow monkeys
Three fox spirits
Two opium wars
...and a buddhism in an asian fantasy.
Get your own Twelve Days:
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

A Bit of Me(me)

Questions from athenais

1. What is the most interesting name among your ancestors?

I haven't really looked very closely at my ancestry, in fact, and don't really know much beyond my own ancestry. My cousin looked into it once for a school project, however... the only name that really sticks in my mind, within my family tree (puns intended) is a woman named Margaret Twig.

2. What's your favorite guilty pleasure?

I don't really have many, although that's mostly because I am shameless in my tastes and feel guilty about nothing. Well okay, there is one... almost every time I go overseas, I indulge in a McDonald's Big Mac meal. Doesn't matter how good the other available options are, I just have this craving for it, and we don't have it over here.

3. You can prove, absolutely, that God exists. Will you tell?

Hmm, difficult one, but I don't think I would. It wouldn't stop arguments about the nature of god, after all, so wouldn't stop most of the major disagreements/conflicts going on... If it was "you can prove that one belief system's very specific god is real", I still wouldn't want to, as I'd feel that that would be detrimental to world diversity in general (but depending on the consequences for nonbelievers, maybe I'd have to!)

4. What's your favorite Olympic sport?

Last time around, it was the Torch Extinguishing event.... got quite competitive :) (that was really the only part that I paid attention to - I was at work during most of the opening ceremony, so missed that too)

Sometimes I watch downhill skiing in the Winter Olympics if I catch it, and curling is always fascinating to watch...

5. Do you think you'll ever move back to Hong Kong?

Can't give a definite yes, as it depends on jobs more than anything else, but it certainly remains as a future plan and isn't likely to lose that status any time soon.

Thanks for those! Since I don't spend enough time on LJ any more, if anyone wants to send me another Q or two (anything you're curious about, or any interesting sort of Q), then go ahead :) And if you want 5 Qs for yourself, let me know and I'll think of some.
Chris at Waterfall in Dalat

TAR: Sean Penn, Cambodia

Hey look, it's the place I had my stag night!

Anyway, they fucked that one up. didn't they? Sad to see them go, because they were a good team that I'd have liked to see make it until the end, but it's one of the basic rules, isn't it?

Unlike many people, I don't mind the poker girls, so don't mind that they were saved because of this slip-up (although to be honest, I don't see them lasting too long anyway - I'm really rooting for the Globetrotters, and hoping that Lance leaves the race as soon as possible.)

The logistics was also interesting... if the teams had been allowed to take buses, they could have ended up in central Phnom Penh even earlier than the plane ride would have allowed (because they couldn't get a plane until the next afternoon. The buses wouldn't have left until 6am, but that would have got them to their destination about 1pm, probably about the same time as plane passengers cleared immigration.)

Also, taking a tuk-tuk in Phnom Penh when you can take a taxi isn't the best idea. You might save a bit of money, but taxis go a lot faster, and there's no crazy traffic there like in Vietnam.

Also, that whole helmet task was obviously a set-up. There's no way a family of four would just happen to be passing by, who would also be willing to buy a set of helmets for $10, from a couple of random foreigners!