New Theme

January 26, 2007

With the new year I decided to sellect a new theme designed by Phu Ly.

The theme is call ‘Simpla’.  It’s so clean and yet not floating like the other themes which I saw that was too white and lack boundaries.

The other thing I like about this theme is that the dates are clearly posted.


WordPress Blogroll

January 12, 2007

ethnically incorrect




Letter’s Lives

January 12, 2007

Update: 3/16/07

Update: 2/5/07 Monday…A letter from France arrived. I suspect it was from Nath. He sent me a note apologizing for the tardiness and two exquisite tea stained calligraphy. I wish everyone apologize this nicely.

The Name of the Gold

Update: 01/11/07

I started my new year with a precious Letter from Lunarmusings.’s Lives

Update: 12/6/06

Writings inspired by Magic Paula’s question: “What is Time?” from the Letter’s Lives Group on Flickr.

A nomadic tribe wondering through a labyrinth carried by the wind
An ancestral grid dividing the chronology
the wind whispering it’s strange language for trees to decipher, transmute and deflect.
The days are a canonical mocking of our small existence.

Update: my letter to Lunarmusings arrived shortly after October 14. I wanted to mail it on time for October Friday the 13th cancellation date. I am glad that I can bring joy to others through my letter. I will work on a letter for my wife, and a few out of state friends. One I met at the Hungarian Residency, an other friend in Japan. I met Masao in college.

I’ve been writing more letters now. I sent a missive for my brother A’s 30th birthday.

On the island Pulau Bidong, I saw my neighbor writing letters all the time. I didn’t even know where the post office was on the island. I wished that I had writen. I was only ten years old at the time.

To Nath,

What’s the rule about posting photos of the letter i’m going to send to Lunarmusing? Should I not post the photo of my letter to her before she gets my actual Letter?


ps notice my name is french derivative. I don’t know the history of my name.

A few words about my letter to Nath. Nath has started a Letter’s Lives group on Flickr.
Some related links:

my wordpress tag Vietnam

To Whom it may concern,
I would like to write to Binh Danh and correspond with him on his visit to Pula Bidong. I lived there in 1978.
-Duc Ly

Hi Ee Lin Wan,
My name is Duc. I lived on Pulau Bidong in 1978. Thanks for your story. I’m trying to remember much of my experience on the islan. Hope you write back and share some more stories.

Some related links:

my wordpress tag Vietnam




This morning some one told me that Malaysia isn’t an Island.

Then I did a Google search on Pula Bidong which turns up Binh Danh’s project. I didn’t even spell it correctly but Google was smart to suggest the correct spelling. I’m excited. It triggered some memories. I remember lying on the island during Christmas time. The PA system broadcast Christmas music. We got better treats from the Uni-chief organization. I can remember eating chicken in a can. Yeah, there were parts of chicken complete with bones stuffed into a can. I remember missing family, other normal Christmas where I got to play with my neighbor’s train track toys.

I remember the same god damn PA system announcing the names of people who would be selected to go and I would be jealous because my name wasn’t called. I can’t recall the elation of the moment when they called my name though. I drop everything whenever the PA spoke, and I listen attentively to every word echoing through the hills.

I learned to swim on the island. My mouth takes in liquid salt, the sea water. The pajama pants I swim in is thread bare.

The refugee’s boats beached and then the weather would eat it away until only a small hull is left where color fishes swim among feces. Once the Boat is beached, the inhabitants would tear away at the planks and salvage every bit of wood for fire or shelter.

To pass the time, the men usually gather around the bunks and deal out hands of cards. They wager in Crackers or biscuits, each shape with its own unique currency. In dire times, the residents of Pulau Bidong consult the oracles that are on the faces of the playing cards. They were sure there were ghosts to communicate with. They ask when they would leave the island. They ask the spirits to carry messages back to love ones at home in Vietnam.

The Wells-I remember waiting in long lines to fetch water from the wells. The people who came before me dug the wells for fresh water. The sandy soil is sometimes red like the color of cinder or lava. The refugees would build a square or round wall often three or four feet high. We used whatever vessels we could find to carry the water. Some of the water containers were made from empty biscuit tins.

The Falls – Sometimes we would fetch water from the water falls, but those were too far up the hill. People would wash their laundries and their bodies. The dirty run offs travel to the lower falls. If you want to bathe, you would have to find the highest fall in order to avoid the dirty run offs. As a boy, I witnessed the strange rituals of a public bath. Beautiful women nonchalantly bathe themselves in clothes. It was a strange sight. The clothes were second skins, wrinkled and shedding. When the threads are submerged in water, they become transparent to reveal the skin beneath. From the mixture of textile and skin a pattern emerged, a new creature emerging.

The Bakery – Early in the morning, my sister and I would go to the bakery. The man loads our cardboard boxes with warm loaves of bread, covers the top with a cloth to keep the heat. The steam rises in the glow of the sand ovens. Men stoke the fire, others knead the dough. We take them to the street and squat down to sell the bread on Vendor row. Sometimes we would have left overs. So my sister and I would open up a can of sardine, put it over a low flame. She slices the bread in half and I stuff the fish to make a delicious sandwich.

The Swimmers would gather at the rocks to journey out on a make shift raft to the merchant boats beyond. They would float back tins of biscuits, green apples wrapped in tissues, Coca Cola bottles. My Uncle bought a few of these merchandise and made my sister and me to sell it on the streets.

The Diarist-Every time I walk past his bunk, he would be writing some thing in a book or a letter. I wonder where he got the paper and pen? I suppose that image has stuck with me ever since and my affinity to write in journals or diaries. I had no scholarly obligations. What I experience I try to keep it all in my head. I didn’t have the luxury of pen and paper. The Diarist must have the fore sight to bring some along. If I did have a journal would I remember the details more clearly? Because each day it seems to have faded away.

The Bed-Sometimes, we wake up with tree saps in our hairs. During sleep, the barks of trees secrete their chemical juice, sticks to our clothes, pajamas, and skin. The men, usually, went into the forest with machetes to fall limbs and carry them to the place of sleep. They fasten the knotty limbs together into a platform, build posts and sink them into soft sandy grounds to support the bed.

The Skiff – In the evening, the metal skiffs mark the horizon. The twilight shimmering and reflected in the waves, marks the end of the day. The patrol boat crosses back and forth in the horizon.

The Cafe – At night, the scent of ground coffee beans brewing in the oceanic breeze. Lovers stroll hand in hand, their feet touching waves, sand creep between the toes. I will forever have an image of lovers sitting down, facing the ocean, an arm around a shoulder. The lanterns hanging from rafters, light the shop.

Bean Sprout – We cultivate mung beans into bean sprouts. We sow the mung beans into sandy soils, put up railings to protect the bed. Then cover the seeds to preserve the moisture. Slowly the beans sprout forth, like magic, like fables.

Some Related links:

2007/12/08/la-toan-vinhs-sketches-of-bidong – I decided to post this particular post in the time capsule under the category of memories with tags Palau Bidong. Years from now I’ll look back at it.

Images of Pulau Bidong found on the web.

Pulau Bidong Research



tags: , , ,


Name of the Rose

January 8, 2007

wikipedia The_Name_of_the_Rose

The following link provides some information:

On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbe Vallet, Le Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en francais d’apres l’edition de Dom J. Mabillon

“I completed a translation using some of those large notebooks from Papeterie Joseph Gilbert in which it is so pleasant to write if you use a felt-tip pen”

“large notebooks . . . felt-tip pen” (p. 1) [Eric Backos offers the following suggestions about the author’s emphasis on the material objects used for writing]: Authors often use seemingly irrelevant references to mundane objects to foreshadow broader textual elements. The importance of writing material is particularly prominent in fiction using the recovered manuscript as a plot device. Umberto Eco, Edgar Allan Poe and Paul Auster all use writing material for foreshadowing plot or to illuminate the inner workings of characters. Particular examples of writing materials as hints to the reader are found in Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” and Auster’s City of Glass.

Eco’s fictional translator in The Name of the Rose foreshadows the success of his mission with a comment about the practicality of his equipment and the enjoyment, even recreational quality, of translation. “I completed a translation using some of those large notebooks from Papeterie Joseph Gilbert in which it is so pleasant to write if you use a felt-tip pen” (Eco 1). Further, the translator admits writing “out of pure love of writing” (Eco 5).

While Eco and Poe use quality to foreshadow events favorable to their characters, Paul Auster uses the reversed approach. In City of Glass, Daniel Quinn, already fallen from poet to hack writer, begins his final collapse with the purchase of a cheap notebook after having been “always on the lookout for good spiral notebooks” (Auster, New York Trilogy, p. 46). Yet Quinn is “at a loss to explain to himself why he found it (the cheap notebook) so appealing.” Auster further illustrates Quinn’s slide into insanity with the change from a fountain pen, (unmentioned, but evidenced by spent ink cartridges on Quinn’s desk.) to a pitiful $1 ballpoint (Auster 63).

Eco uses a more complex approach to writing materials in the monastery of In the Name of the Rose. The Abbot’s display of the wealth of the monastery to William and Adso exposes the Abbot’s pride, vanity and avarice. “It is the most immediate of the paths that put us in touch with the Almighty: Theophanic matter” (Eco 145). Similarly, as the monks use the finest materials available and labor arduously to copy crumbling texts, the quality of the writing materials illustrate pride and vanity rather than devotion to God.

Young Adso is drawn into the Abbot’s argument and, while observing a rubricator at work, muses that “the sheet would become a kind of reliquary, glowing with gems studded in what would then be the devout text of the writing” (Eco 185). Adso then makes the mistake of assigning God’s power of life giving to the copyists. “They were producing new books just like those that time would inexorably destroy� therefore, the library could not be threatened by any earthly force, it was a living thing” (Eco 185). Of course the reader knows the gods never take hubris lightly, and these passages foreshadow the eventual destruction of the monastery. The roles of writing material permeate In the Name of the Rose; however, the subtleties and complexities are too many to call this fine thread of scriptocentric hints a “clew” without indulging in a very great vanity. Even the fictional translator and the aged Adso apologize for interpreting their own work. Repentance and penance would be in order for the critic if not for Eco’s indulgence: “Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the discovery of readings he had not conceived but which are prompted by his readers” (Eco, Postscript to The Name of the Rose, in abridged form appended to the paperrback edition of the English translation; p. 506). Perhaps, then the highest aspiration of a critic is to be today’s rose and not yesterday’s prick” (ibid. Eco 502).
Squidoo Paper

I visited the Muzeum Powstania Warszawskiego. It’s a fabulous renovated building open about a year ago. It used to be a factory.

Inside the Museum

Inside the Museum

Warsaw Uprising Museum



Old Typewriter of the Print Room

Warsaw Uprising Museum

my two photos group.  Soon to add more.



“Abus ride or taxi ride to the north, off ul Grzybowska, is the Museum of the Warsaw Rising. This impressive museum commemorates the 1944 Polish revolt against the Nazi occupiers of the city, via exhibits, photographs and audiovisual displays.” – Tim Richards of Lonely Planets Travel Guide.

Nowy Rok

January 4, 2007

Happy New Years!

I’m back from travels afar. Time is a funny thing. I’m loopy from Jet Lag.

Airline magazines are inspirational. I read them and day dream of all the times I can have to do the projects. I discover thing which I like and dream of having.

I watched ‘The Illusionist’ a beautiful film with cleaver plot.

But in reality time is limited.

Sometimes you wake in the odd hours of the night and plan in your head what you want to do the next day. When you wake, you are tired and can’t accomplish as much as you want to.

At the Cafe Goethe of Frankfurt airport, a woman sitting next to me is writing in her pocket Moleskine journal. She unwraps the plastic skin away from the notebook and proceed to write immediately, filling up the page with her thought.