Posts Tagged ‘trip’

France trip, day 11

Today is my last day in France, and as such, it was not entirely eventful. My other uncle had left and my aunt was at work, leaving things to my uncle and my father and me. In the morning, we went to the store to buy things to bring back home with us. We bought things like Bordeux wine, cheese (including camembert cheese), butter, mustard, pate. I can’t wait to give them to friends! πŸ™‚

Then I spent some time packing up my things. Packing is just never much fun, and packing to leave for France and all its diversions is particularly not fun. I wish the trip was longer. Here are some things that I will miss about France:

β€’ The family that I’ve gotten to meet
β€’ Seeing things that make me say, β€œwow, that’s different”
β€’ Historic buildings
β€’ Being able to talk to some interesting people
β€’ Eating French bread and drinking French wine
β€’ The Paris transit system (RER) and its convenience

The trip back was not too tiresome and I look forward to new things now from necessity. Ah, Paris, how I’ll miss you. I hope to see you again one day. πŸ˜€

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France trip, day 10

I spent the first half of today with family. My father had bought a digital camera for Remy, and after he gave it to him, we spent some time trying to get it to work. So it happens, there was no memory card included, so my father will probably have to buy one in the States and send it over. πŸ˜† Oh dear… But despite that, I think that Remy liked the camera. He’s never had one before, I don’t believe. I know I would be happy to have gotten one.

My aunt is a funny woman. A very good humored lady who loves to laugh and tease. She asked to look at the photos I had taken on my camera, and then laughed at the funny faces that people made, especially those of her husband. πŸ˜€ I will admit that I took a lot of pictures when people didn’t expect me to, so there are some pretty hilarious faces. haha. She’s so fun and I will miss her and the family.

Afterwards, daddy and I went to some friend’s house to hang out. A very old friend of his showed up to see him, and it was touching how they connected again. I believe they were very close once. And she was so sweet and loving to me that I couldn’t help but like her. I hope they get to see each other again…

I go home soon. Makes me sad to go back… but at the same time, I’m looking forward to it. I have things to do in the U.S. that I need to attend to. Exciting things. God is good. πŸ™‚

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France trip, day 9

My days of doing nothing are spent in much contemplation. Perhaps I am wasting a bit of time here not going out, but sometimes not doing much can be a very good thing. I suppose I can’t expect to go into the city every day, and today is one of those days where it is probably better that I didn’t because today has been exceptionally cold and gloomy. It seems as if rain keeps threatening to come, but hasn’t quite managed to live up to its threat. πŸ˜€

Right now, there are a lot of people at the house. They are having a party of some sort here, maybe as a “we’re going to be leaving soon” type of thing. I’m not sure about it, but it is a little noisy, and earlier included Karaoke. At least it’s livelier now than it was earlier today.

I spent some time talking to my cousin over dinner, which is nice because I haven’t talked to him much> He usually stays in his room and though he speaks some English, I’m not quite sure how much he understands me sometimes. So we talk about simple things, like school, which I suppose is the most I can really expect. To get into deep conversations, either he or I would need a good handle on the other’s language. Hopefully in the future, he and I will be able to talk in greater lengths. For now, he is still young, and I’m not quite sure we’d have much to talk about now even if we did understand each other better.

I spent a greater part of the day in reflection and meditation, particularly on the topic of solitude. Here is an interesting quote from a book I’m reading:

It is the most basic human loneliness that threatens us and is so hard to face. Too often we will do everything possible to avoid the confrontation with the experience of being alone, and sometimes we are able to create the most ingenious devices to prevent ourselves from being reminded of this condition. Our culture has become more sophisticated in the avoidance of pain, not only our physical pain but our emotional and mental pain as well… We have become so used to this state of anesthesia, that we panic when there is nothing or nobody left to distract us. When we have no project to finish, no friend to visit, no book to read, no television to watch or no record to play, and when we are left all alone by ourselves we are brought so close to the revelation of our basic human aloneness and are so afraid of experiencing an all-pervasive sense of loneliness that we will do anything to get busy again and continue the game which makes us believe that everything is fine after all…
When our loneliness drives us away from ourselves into the arms of our companions in life, we are, in fact, driving ourselves into excruciating relationships, tiring friendships and suffocating embraces. To wait for moments or places where no pain exists, no separation is felt and where all human restlessness has turned into inner peace is waiting for a dreamworld. No friend or lover, no husband or wife, no community or commune will be able to put to rest our deepest cravings for unity and wholeness
” -Henry Nouwen, Reaching Out, pp. 16, 17, 19.

It’s one of those things that is sad and true at the same time. How often do we face loneliness and fear it? Would we not always rather be doing something to avoid the silence of ourselves? We realize this loneliness most poignantly not when we are alone to ourselves, but when we are surrounded by others and yet still feel that ache of loneliness that persists beyond the conversation and the noise. There is a need for more, to be understood fully, and if not that, then to at least be distracted temporarily. It is sad indeed when we cannot have perfect identity in others and in our things, but maybe this is a necessity. Maybe God uses this sense of loneliness, isolation, and alienation in order for us to understand our belonging, that we belong to him and are understood by him in a way that vast surpassess even the closes of our relations. I draw away and draw near to him in seasons, in gasps, only to find in the end that the intimacy I find in him is superior to the type of satisfaction that I at times desperately seek in others.

“But if You [God] were not incomprehensiblem You would be inferior to me, for my mind could grasp and assimilate You. You would belong to me, instead of I to You. And that would truly be hell, if I should belong only to myself! It would be the fate of the damned, to be doomed to pace up and down for all eternity in the cramped and confining prision of my own finiteness” Karl Rahner, Encounters with Silence, pp. 7-8.

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Wow, I can’t believe I’ve been here more than a week now. It’s crazy to think how quickly things have gone. It feels like I’ve only been here a day or so. πŸ™‚

Anyway, yesterday was largely uneventful. We were supposed to go to somebody’s house outside of Paris and spend the day there (family? friends? I am not certain who), but for some reason, they had changed their minds. I found this out after they had dragged me to the grocery store when I thought we were going to this said place. I was a little annoyed, therefore, when we picked up some things only to return back home.

There was nothing much for me to do after that. I went online a bit and read a lot. πŸ˜€ I ended up finishing Mansfield Park (I know I had previously said that I would be finishing up Emma, but I realized that I have no idea where I left off, and I may just re-read it entirely). I loved Mansfield Park. I would highly, highly recommend it as a good read. Needless to say, I devoured it in a few days. πŸ˜† The main character, Fanny Price, is very loveable, though her extremely timid character is hard to understand at times. It also has a cute, but cheesy ending. haha. My favorite. πŸ˜› Though to give it some credit, there were great twists in the end. Go read it!

My uncles, my father, and I went to their friends’ house for dinner. It was in Charles de Gaulle, which isn’t too bad by train, but we drove there. Traffic was terrible and we ended up taking about two hours to get there instead of one. And then we couldn’t find the house. The gps that my uncle has led us to a roadblock, and though not inaccurate, brought about confusion. Uncle Ba called the people who were to help us get there, but there was some misunderstanding, and we ended up waiting a much longer time than necessary. My dad and uncle even started suspecting the guy of playing a mean joke on us (something that I’ve seen and disliked about a lot of the Vietnamese general character is a distrust in other’s intentions, even those they know and are friends with, that are sometimes unwarrented), but it turned out to be nothing but a location issue. We found them eventually and were lead to the house, where they had a very good time. It is nice to see father catching up with old friends who he hasn’t seen in a long time and may not see again…

Such is life, I suppose. You can’t always be around your friends forever. I’m just amazed that my father has kept in touch or remembered so many people who he hasn’t spoken to for years! I wonder how many people I’ll stay in touch with now that I’m moving on to the next chapter of my life…

In any case, I found out that when there is nothing to occupy my time, I fall back to introspection, reminicing, and daydreaming. Not all of that is bad. It, in fact, gives a lot of time for God to work in me. I find that he speaks to me through the parables of my life, through comparing spiritual truths about who he is and what he has done with the actual things which I face in my day-to-day life. Not be be too specific I will say that today he has spoken about the depth of his love and what that does to my standing before him by using my own love and what that has done in my perception of those who I love. I am blameless before him not because I have nothing in which to find cause for blame, but because his love and the action of love in the cross has put me in a place where he no longer sees the sin. It is similar to what Hebrews testifies when it says that Jesus is our high priest who stands to make intercession for us before the Father and to what the Apostle John had written when he said:

This is how we know that we remain in Him and He in us: He has given to us from His Spirit. And we have seen and we testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of Godβ€”God remains in him and he in God. And we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and the one who remains in love remains in God, and God remains in him. In this, love is perfected with us so that we may have confidence in the day of judgment; for we are as He is in this world. There is no fear in love; instead, perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. So the one who fears has not reached perfection in love. We love because He first loved us (1 Jn 4:13-19; Holman).

Just something to think about.

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France trip, day 7

Today was occupied primarily with a trip to the MusΓ©e du Louvre. Father woke me up at 8am, and we caught the 9:30 train. It’s about an hour long commute, though it’s never too crowded until rush hour, and the stop was familiar since we had just been there the previous day. The museum was bustling with people. I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised, but in fact, I was a little taken aback by the amount of people and the noise created. There were definitely quite a few groups there as well. School children, tourists, artists painting/drawing. Not all of that was bad, but perhaps I’m simply more familiar with the Chicago art institute museum were it isn’t nearly quite as noisy or crowded and were it is often better staffed.

They have great exhibits at the Louvre. Their collection includes Egyptian artifacts, Greek and Roman sculptures, a variety of different decorative arts, paintings, and drawings. Naturally, my favorite are sculpture pieces and Chistian artifacts. I took more than a hundred pictures altogether, I’m certain, and I can’t wait until I am able to post them up. πŸ˜€ We left at around 4pm, yet the long time there wasn’t tiring to me. I wish I had a lot more time to explore. There really is so much to see that one trip doesn’t do it much justice. But that is all I have, so I will be satisfied with it. πŸ˜†

For dinner, the family and I went out to a restaurant to eat. We normally take meals at home, so it was nice. A short visit to some of their friends followed dinner, and now, I am tired and wanting to do a bit of reading before bed. I’ll catch you all tomorrow. πŸ™‚

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France trip, day 6

I can only be brief about the occurances of today since my father is waiting on the compter. So, for now, I will say that uncle, father, and I went back to Paris, to the commericial district first to buy a couple of gifts and to have lunch, then to the area surrounding the Louvre. We didn’t go inside the museum because of time limitations, but uncle and I shall do that tomorrow. Afterward, we went to see the area of contemporary art before coming back home. It was a shorter day today, but that wasn’t necessarily bad. It turns out, some friends of my father came over to the house, and I went with them to dinner. They were very kind people, very friendly and lively and agreeable to me. And though we went out for Vietnamese food, it was a good time. So, I hope that will satisfy your curiousity in brief. πŸ™‚

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Today, my father went with my uncle and me to Paris! It was exciting since I know that he has since been more interested in spending time with friends and catching up. But he has decided that it would be good also to see some of the city, and it has made me exceedingly happy to see that he is willing to do things that he is not naturally inclined to do. He and I are so different in some respects. He’s very social and loves to do things in large social groups, whereas I prefer solitary wanderings. It’s so strange that we’re related. πŸ˜†

Our first stop was the Arc de Triomphe. Amazing. You get out of the subway on the Arc de Triomphe stop, and the first sight you see is the Arc amidst the zoom of cars. The location is striking since it stands in the center of a loop where cars from twelve different directions converge. Not surprisingly, the street is too busy with traffic to cross safely, and thus, the only access to the Arc is via an underground pass. Once we got out to the other side, we took pictures to our hearts’ content. So many carvings on the Arc! We then got tickets to climb up the Arc and walked the 284 steps up to get to the top. πŸ™‚ There, we learned the history of the Arc (and of other arcs throughout Europe) and got the lovely panoramic view of the city. Trust me, the walk is worth it. The city is so much bigger than I had previously thought, and we could see some of the prominent landmarks. And after all those flights, the wind on my face felt incredible!

We took a bit of a detour to Chinatown, which was frustrating, and so I will not go into detail about that. However, our last stop was to the Basilique du SacrΓ© Coeur de Montmartre, an imposing Roman Catholic basilica on the hill of the city. Oh goodness! It is amazing in size and location. And though I wasn’t impressed by the Notre Dame cathedral, I was definitely loving this basilica. The only drawback is that they do not permit photos to be taken so that the peace and reverence of the sactuary is preserved. However, I couldn’t resist sneaking some shots (without flash and with the camera setting on silent). I guess this means that I’m a terrible person and will be going to hell. Eek. That’d be almost worth it to be able to take photos of the large, beautiful, gold-leafed mural on the ceiling. πŸ˜›

We go to Paris again tomorrow. The Louvre, perhaps?? Hopefully, it will not be as tiring of a day with traveling back and forth. It was so crowded on the train coming back home that I thought I would be smushed to death. >_< haha!

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Guess what?? Today, I went to Paris! I was worried; I woke up quite late since I had gone to bed at 4am local time (I did some reading after father and I got home), and upon seeing the family, I found out that my father was planning to leave again to spend time with friends. I was upset because I really wanted to go to Paris and had been told that I would be able to for several days. But, as it turns out, my uncle kept the promise he made to me yesterday, and he and I went to the train station together.

The first place we stopped at was the Tour Eiffel. I know that’s very touristy and predictable, but who can resist going? It’s much bigger than I thought it would be, a lot nicer and more majestic than I had thought it would be. I’m not sure why I thought it would be otherwise, but I was impressed. It definitely stands out, and I can see why it’s such a tourist spot. The architect did a good job. πŸ˜› Oh, and I also got some souvenirs. Yes, I am a tourist. What else did you expect? haha.

I did not think that we would be able to see another “tourist spot” since they are spread out around Paris in a way that would make it impossible to walk from one site to another, but uncle bought us a week pass to be able to use the transportation system without limit. Thus, we were able to go to the Notre Dame cathedral. It’s just like the pictures! lol. Very ornate carvings on the building face, a large interier with beautiful stations, vaulted ceilings, art work, and stained glass windows. It may disappoint you, dear readers, to find that though I thought it was beautiful, I wasn’t hugely impressed by it. It was as I thought it would be, as I suppose a cathedral should be, but it did not have a fearful or imposing air which I thought a cathedral would have. Sacred and sombre, yes, due to lighting, music, etc., but by no means intimidating. However, if ever anyone is strongly influenced by such things, it is a site worth visiting. A pilgrimage. πŸ˜› It’s probably as close to the idea of sacred space (found in the form of a building, that is) as I’ve ever experienced. Rest assured, I took may pictures. πŸ˜€

Tomorrow, we will see more. I’m figuring out the train and subway station pretty well. I can’t wait to do more public transportation. haha!

Hope you all have enjoyed taking this trip with me!

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Today, I spent a lot of the day speaking to the French… in English! The family and I ended up going to visit some more relatives. The uncle who is staying here for a couple of weeks have children who live in Paris. I was finally able to meet two of my cousins and their significant others. The male cousin is kind of an artsy type and so is his girlfriend. They live in a very modern apartment complex. It basically looks like a room in a warehouse. Concrete slabs, open, steel stairs, no distinguishable “bedroom” or “livingroom” area, etc. It probably wouldn’t be my first choice for a place to live, though one very nice thing about it is that, surprisingly, the complex has a mass of vegetation around it… almost overgrown by them. That does make the place pretty.

My girl cousin, Kim Trang, is only a couple of years older than I am. She seemed very nice and tried hard to speak in English so we could talk. She really wasn’t too bad at it. Her boyfriend was also very friendly, and he could in fact, speak a good deal of English. It was nice talking to him a bit and he seems to have traveled to many places as well. He’s been in Turkey, so I’m a little jealous. πŸ˜› It’s nice to speak to a French person… instead of a relative. ha!

Unfortnately, I was not able to explore Paris. Instead, my dad decided to take me around with him… which basically means going to his friends’ houses. I’m going to admit that I was a bit annoyed by this. The last thing I really want is to sit out and do nothing while my dad hangs out with people I’ve never met. But it turned out to be a good night after a little while. One of the houses we went to had people my age who spoke English, and I ended up spending most of the night talking to them. One was in a school of applied arts and I was able to talk about my major with him. Apparently, in France it is strange to be studying religion in general unless one is wanting to be a pastor or priest. Talking about it gave me some sense of satisfaction, because at the end of it, he was able to understand the complexity of studying in religion whereas he had just thought it as purposeless before.

So, I don’t feel bad about not being able to speak French. People here who want to practice English get a kick out of me. πŸ™‚ Anyway, there is so much more to tell, but this computer keyboard is frustrating to use. I’m sure some of you will hear more about it in person. Love you all!

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I’m still getting adjusted to the time difference. Today, I didn’t do too badly. I woke up at 8am then went back to bed to wake up later at 10. For some reason, I’ve had a slight headache today and yesterday evening, and I’m not quite sure if that’s due to adjusting to the time change or if that’s a product of dehydration. Maybe it’s both.

I spent a couple of hours finishing off Sense and Sensibility. I had started the book earlier this year but never had a chance to finish until now. Overall, I would say that compared to Pride and Prejudice, I wasn’t completely amazed by the book, It was harder to get into, the characters were not as memorable or lovable, and the storyline was far less interesting. It focuses on the relationship between the two eldest sisters, which was an different perspective to read than Pride and Prejudice, so at least that was good. But, honestly, the sister-sister relationship isn’t as relatable or as exciting to me, perhaps since I have no experience in that area. Mostly, I’m not terribly fond of the sibling relationships I see among people my age. Something about the constant bickering and the sibling rivalry just doesn’t really appeal to me. It irritates me, in fact. And my case against people who think that being an only child is “strange” or “bad” is that sibling relationships just aren’t that much better from an only child perspective. Sometimes, they are good and sometimes they are bad, not all too different fro, the life of an only child. But that’s neither here nor there… I plan to finish up Emma now, another one of Austen’s that I never completed.

Anyway, as I sat down with the family for lunch, I found out that my father had left this morning to visit some friends. Only he negelected to tell me. haha. I understand because he probably hasn’t seen the, for a long time, but this meant that I needed to speak to family without him… and it makes me wish I knew Vietnamese better so I could communicate with them. We managed, of course, and had fun stumbling to communicate during dinner. We also ended up going to a large mall in the area. Looking over things helped give me some ideas for presents that I’d like to bring back, though the only person I ended up buying something for was my mother. Oh yes, I did buy a hair clip for myself but that doesn’t count. πŸ˜› I’ll see what’s in Paris, but today was primarily an exploration day to see what the stores carried. A lot of it were things that could be found in America, certainly, but that’s to be expected. I’m excited to go to the city tomorrow.

By the way, the French eat a lot of cheese, bread, and wine. In case you didn’t know. πŸ˜›

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