birthday,

33 YEARS IN THE MAKING (PART 1)

November 05, 2017 Crystal Phuong 0 Comments



A study by Friends Reunited, a British social-networking site, said that 70% of people over 40 years old claimed that they were happiest when they were at 33. It's my 33rd birthday today, and I thought there is no better time to share with you these images capturing my most contented moments, on my birthday. Thank you my girl, Zoey Bui for these beautiful photographs!



I looked at these photos over and over again and I still couldn't believe that I could look like this. These photos got me feeling emotional. 33 years are not long in a human's life, but it's certainly a long journey for me to be where I am today. 

Since I started this blog in 2006, I didn't share much about my personal life. But now, I'm at the point where I have nothing to hide, and I believe, the more we give, the more we receive. If you've been following my blog from the beginning, you'll get to know a lot more about me. But if you are new to this blog, this article would be a wonderful self-introduction indeed. 

So here we go!

I was born on November 5th, 1984 in Hai Phong, a small city in the North of Vietnam, near Hanoi. I was quite a chubby baby despite the fact that we were very poor. "We didn't have much food to eat"- said my mom. You can tell how skinny my mom, dad, and my brother looked. 



My older brother tried to hold me as I didn't know how to walk just yet.  


Since young, I already loved to perform either singing or dancing. Attention-craving since childhood, if you'd like to call it that way. Except for the weird hairstyle, I looked quite cute, didn't I? I was always invited to perform singing or dancing in my school, from kindergarten to primary,  This is a photo of me singing a Love song at someone's wedding at the age of 7 probably. How appropriate! 


and this is a photo of me, singing on High school graduation day in 2002.    


Here is another photo of me winning Miss Ngo Quyen high school 2002. It was the first time I've ever won in a beauty contest. To tell you the truth, years before this, I was so embarrassed about my body. I was the shortest one in the class, but my body developed faster than other girls. My fitness instructor and girlfriends often asked me "Why your breasts are so big?", "Why you are so tanned?", or "Why your lips are so thick?" etc. I didn't know how to answer and the only thing I did to avoid those questions was wearing boy's clothes most of the time. I was acting like a tomboy during my high school. If I didn't have to wear Ao Dai (Vietnam traditional dress) for the contest, I'd rather be in shirt and denim jeans. 




I wish I could have more photos taken during my secondary school years, but having my own camera was a dream back then. Most of the old photos here were taken by someone else and I just asked if I could keep some of them. When I was 9 years old, my parents went through a major downfall in their finance and career. They had to sell our house to pay for their debts and we started renting out a smaller house to live. I forgot how many times we moved. I was too small to understand what happened, but I knew we weren't in a good shape so I never asked anything from my parents. I tried to win a scholarship so they didn't have to pay for my tuition. I still remember there was a day my mother had no money to buy food for me and my brother. Luckily, I just won a writing contest with a $50 cash prize. I gave it all to her and we had a lovely dinner that night. 

After 10 years of living in rented houses, my dad managed to build his dream home on his own. This photo was taken on our housewarming day in 2003 and I could never forget how happy I was to finally have a small room on my own. 



Unfortunately, I didn't get to live with the family and enjoy my beautiful room as much as I wished. I passed an exam to enter a college of Ministry of Foreign Affair so I moved to Hanoi in 2002. That year, I started learning Ballroom dancing. My life changed. I was no longer a girl who felt embarrassed of her body and only wore boy's clothes. Dancing made me become more comfortable with how I looked. Who knew big boobs, tanned-skin, and thick lips could be advantages in Latin dance. I joined the first dance competition in Hanoi with my dance partner and we won the Championship. It opened up a new world for both of us. Suddenly, everyone in Hanoi knew us. We were invited to teach, to perform in every Christmas and New Year's Eve party from one city to another. I opened my own dance studio with my dance partner- turned boyfriend, taught 5 to 6 classes a day, and made a decent income at the age of 19. Life was good! 

Well, people thought my life was good. I smiled on the stage or in front of the audiences, but deep down, I was so depressed. I was struggling to deal with the relationship drama (like any other couples),  trying to finish my last year at school, running the dance studio, and acting like a talent management agent for both of us. It was too much to handle. I wanted to escape from everyone. Perhaps, my prayer was loud and desperate enough, it was heard. 

I applied for hundreds of scholarships online, submitted tons of documents, went for a few rounds interview with the Embassy and the school. A few months later, an acceptance letter arrived in my mailbox. I had a long conversation with my family. They didn't want to let me go at first, but they knew that they couldn't stop me. 

April 2005, I headed to the airport and off I flew to Malaysia with Bangkok Airways, feeling so excited about sitting on an airplane for the first time and being surrounded by fluffy clouds and beautiful sunshine (my childhood's dream). Why Malaysia and why Bangkok Airways, you ask? 

Well, that's another long story for another time! For now, thank you so much for staying with me this far!


Stay tuned for part 2! 

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