Tag Archives: Singapore Expat Wife

Vietnam(Hanoi and Halong Bay) with a toddler 子連れでベトナム(ハノイとハロン湾)


I’ve always wanted to go to Halong Bay, but it’s a difficult choice since it’s a long bus/boat trip from Hanoi.  With two toddlers, we had our reservations. In fact, Marc, who is half Vietnamese, refused to go to Vietnam anymore while the children are young, since we had such a chaotic time on our last trip.

But when my sister casually pitched doing a sister’s trip to Vietnam, Halong Bay immediately came to mind. With an extra pair of hands, maybe, just maybe, I could pull this off.

I did ask Marc if he had any interest in coming along, but the answer was a resounding no.  He also suggested leaving Nina at home since he did not want to keep disrupting her school schedule and routine (we had just gone to Phuket a few weeks before).  He could put her to bed and help her in the morning.  She goes to daycare full time, plus we have an awesome helper that can look after Nina if need be.  Nina didn’t enjoy Vietnam last time either, so it was quickly agreed that Mila, who hasn’t started daycare yet, would come with me to Vietnam and we would go during the week, so the family could be back together for the weekend.

My sister was planning on a budget trip, but with Mila, I needed some level of comfort, so we decided on a budget of USD50-100 for our stay in Hanoi. We figured that should get us a decent accommodation since when we went to Ho Chi Minh, Marc’s grandmother was staying at a place for only USD30 a night (she negotiated the deal) and it was actually pretty nice. With no negotiator this time, we figured a 50-100 would be a decent enough budget. We planned to arrange an overnight trip to Halong Bay, staying in a hotel to for safety concerns.

We looked exclusively at hotels in Hanoi that had “Family Room” offerings, as I’ve usually found hotels that offer family rooms to be more helpful with a toddler.  We booked Tu Linh Legend Hotel since this one seemed to have a nice family room, was very responsive on email and was offering lower rates for advanced booking directly through the hotel. Even when we had to push the trip back 2 weeks because of my sister’s jellyfish accident, they were accommodating and re-booked us right away.

The schedule was pretty much a roller coaster ride

Mar.18 – Leave Singapore in the AM, arrive at Hanoi around lunch time
Mar.19 – Leave Hanoi in the AM, See Halong bay (Night at a hotel)
Mar.20 – More tour of Halong Bay and head back to Hanoi expecting to arrive around 4PM
Mar.21 – Leave Hanoi in the AM and arrive back in Singapore around 2PM

On the way there, we flew just me and Mila and she was perfect.  8AM, got on the plane, slept for the first 2 hours and ate the last hour.  We got off the flight and my sister was there, along with the hotel pickup. It was truly one of those moments when the stars aligned.  Hanoi was very hazy, but unlike the Singapore haze, it didn’t have that terrible burning smell, so it didn’t feel half as bad.

Tu Linh Legend Hotel is located in the tourist area of town and it’s pretty convenient to hang out around Hanoi. The hotel lobby is simple and clean, has comfortable couches, computers, a friendly doorman and lobby staff. Every single staff member was friendly, spoke English decently well and loved children.  They had tea, coffee, bananas and milk in the lobby and they were very good about refilling that tasty plate of bananas that Mila downed.

The family room was quite spacious, though from the photos on their website, I thought the room had two king beds; it turned out to be one king bed and a folding bed.  The folding bed was quite small and uncomfortable and I took the couch since my sister has a bad back and needed the bed.  She’s fairly picky about her bed, but was pretty comfortable, even with Mila rolling around next to her, so it was a nice space for a family.  I actually have this weird obsession with sleeping on the couch, so I was actually quite comfortable. I’m sure they had a baby cot if we had asked, but I knew Mila was going to end up on the bed anyway, so I didn’t bother.  As long as there’s enough room, we are good!
**When we came back from Halong bay and stayed another night, instead of the folding bed, they had a small mattress and my sister was happy to sleep on that. So I guess you can probably request it if you don’t want the folding bed**

There’s also a water boiler (meant for tea) for those of us who may want to take extra caution with washing water-bottles for the babes. I don’t usually sterilize water bottles for a toddler, but considering the bad water in Vietnam, the hot humid climate and other risk factors, while I travel, I sterilize the pacifier and straws and small pieces of the water bottle that accumulate bacteria quickly.  My kids have never been sick on a trip fortunately, and that’s one of the safety precautions I take.  It may be irrelevant, but better safe than sorry.

The room was also very clean including the bathroom so we were happy with the accommodation.  All of this for USD45 a night, pretty good!

Here’s the website for Tu Linh Legend Hotel and the tripadvisor reviews. When we went, there were not mane reviews, but it looks like it’s getting great reviews now!




妹は今回はセミバジェット旅行との事で、20から30USDの比較的安宿に泊まってましたが、流石に幼児連れて失敗したらきついので、私達がいる間はUSD50から100までで探そう、という事で、色々探しました。うちもホーチミンに行った時はマークのおばあちゃんの泊まっていたところにUSD30で泊まったけど、あそこの良かったので、ま、50から100だせば十分なところに泊まれそうだし、マークほったらかしの旅だし。後は、ファミリールームのあるホテルを探すこと。ファミリールームをわざわざ作ってるところはやはり家族連れに理解があるし、部屋以外の点でも融通がきいたりするのがうれしい。色々見た結果、メールの対応も早くて、大きめのファミリールーム有り、しかもアドバンスブッキングの場合はがっくんと値下げもしてくれる、Tu Ling Legendホテルに決定。こちら、出る3日前に、妹のクラゲ騒ぎで日程が二週間変わった時の対応も良く、ハロン湾ツアーも組んでくれたので、とっても助かりました。



Tu Linh Legendホテルは観光地のど真ん中にあって、とっても便利。美味しいものも回りにあって、ハノイをうろつくには申し分ないロケーション。スタッフは全員フレンドリーで子供ラブで英語も問題なく喋れる。豪華ではないけど、メンテのしっかりされた綺麗なロビー。コーヒー、紅茶、バナナとミルクはいつも補充されていて、実良はバクバクいただいてました。






The dining area for breakfsat

Tu Linh Legeng Hotel

The small bed, the couch and the king bed


The small couch area to hang out


Japanese, but a British mommy? (Part 2) 母としての言語はどちら?(Part 2)

What’s the Magic Word?

Several posts ago,(Here) I mentioned a friend (initial M) who was conflicted with her own linguistic ability as a mother.  She is Japanese and her dominant language is Japanese, but she is struggling with the use of Japanese with her daughter.  Well, I noted the other day that, even though she is trying to use Japanese more constantly with her daughter, she is still using English when she scolds, provides direction, or dictates for her daughter. When I asked her about it, she said that she is still conflicted when it comes to giving direction to her child.  She is looking for ways to translate how she speaks to her child in English into Japanese and running into some issues.

M and I have a fairly similar way of parenting. We both try to respect our children where we can, but at times, we scold (pretty harshly even).  The basics of Western (gross generalization here based on what we know of American and British parenting) style is to teach our children to say “please” by using it ourselves.  “Speak to a child as you would want to be spoken to”, is a golden rule. We repeat, “Please put your shoes on”, “Please finish that last broccoli on your plate”, “Please come sit next to mommy.” And we usually respond to most of what they say with “…and? where’s my please?” M, being more of a British mommy, does exactly that in English. Every action of her child starts with “Please”.

Here’s the trouble. The Japanese counterpart of Please is お願い or o-ne-ga-i. Simple enough you think.  So in Japanese, “Please come eat your dinner” would be, 「お願い、こっちに来て晩御飯食べようね」(Onegai, kocchi ni kite bangohan tabeyoune).  Now, if you are Japanese, this sentence sounds a bit off to you.  お願い in Japanese is not just a word that is similar in meaning to “Please”.  It also is the verb “to wish”, or “to request”, and that meaning is probably stronger when used in a Japanese context.

“Please” in English is a manner word.  You invite a few of your friends over for dinner, when dinner is ready, you call them over and say, “Dinner is ready, please come have dinner.” You’re not really requesting or wishing that they would come to the table, they came with the intent to have dinner and you invited them to your house for that purpose.  Therefore, in Japanese, the use of お願い in this scenario would not make literal sense. Even in English, you don’t need the word “please” to make sense, it just sounds nicer.

So as M is making the transition from her English to Japanese parenting, she doesn’t know what to do with her “please”. She feels like something is missing if she doesn’t say it, but in Japanese, it makes no sense.  In Japanese, manners are communicated by changing the whole sentence to the proper form.  For example, “Dinner is ready, please come have dinner” can take on the following forms:

With a very small (very) close group of friends, it would be,「準備出来たから食べましょう」(junbi dekita kara tabemashou)

With co-workers, 「準備出来ました、召し上がってください」(Junbi dekimashita, te-buru no hou-e irashitekudasai)

And so on.

The tone and the words used are very different.  And I’m making a lot of effort to keep the sentences similar.  In an actual proper situation, I would have an extra sentence or two apologizing for the wait, etc. and I would probably stop using the word table and instead use the term for individual seat. Even more complicated, in English, “please” is “please” whomever you use it with, in whatever situation.  In Japanese, it’s not so.

These are casual forms that sound like you’re just asking:

  • お願いね~  Onegaine~
  • お願いよ   Onegaiyo
  • お願い    Onegai

These are the more proper forms:

  • お願いします                        Onegaishimasu
  • お願いできますでしょうか    Onegaidekimasudeshouka
  • お願いいたします                 Onegaiitashimasu

There are many more, but I figured six would be enough to make my point. None of them really fit in with how a mother talks to a toddler, but they all translate to “Please”. The casual forms may become more appropriate when a child grows older, going to school on her own, and if you are asking them to pick up some sugar on the way home.

“Can you please pick up some sugar on the way home from school?”


Gakkou no kaeri ni satou kattekitekurenai? Onegaine.

That sounds much more natural in a mother daughter conversation.  Can’t wait to be able to have these conversations, but with toddlers, not there yet.  The very simple use of “please” in one language is very difficult in another.  So how do we address this?  How should a Japanese child request for things? ….That’s another topic for another time.


Mさんも私も子供を出来るだけ尊重しようとは普段から思ってるんですが、叱るとこはしっかり叱る、きつく言う、という子育てスタイルです。英語でそれをやる場合、Pleaseを頻繁に使います。“Please put your shoes on.” “Please finish that last piece of broccoli on your plate.” “Please come sit next to mommy.”みたいな感じにね。ま、最初はそこから始まって、だんだん時間が経つにつれ、崩れていくわけですが…

が、問題は日本語にPleaseに匹敵する言葉がないんです。ほとんどの辞書や学校で習うのは ’お願い‘ ではないでしょうか。でも、それが、実際に日本語にするとおかしいんです。 “Please come eat your dinner” が「お願い、こっちに来て晩御飯食べようね。」になると、おかしいですよね。お願い、には’Please’より、もとの熟語としての意味、つまり ’to wish’ または、’to request’ の意味合いが強いと思うんです。母親が小さい子供に晩御飯食べてってお願いするのはおかしいですよね。食べなきゃ後でお腹空くのは子供だし。(何故さっさと食べてくれな~い!?心の叫び)

考えてみたらPlease は英語ではマナーを伝えるために使う言葉と使われる事の方が本来の”お願い“の意味で使われる場合より多いんではないでしょうか。 例えば、前述の”Please come have dinner”も、友達が晩御飯を食べに来たとしても、普通に使いますが、別にお願いしてるわけでもないですよね、だって晩御飯に招いたわけだし、相手も晩御飯を頂くつもりで来たわけで、別にPleaseを着ける必要は特にない。でも、つけた方が優しい感じがするから一応つけます。そんな感じで使われてるPleaseの様な言葉をMさんは日本語で子供と話す時にどうしたら良いか分からなくなってしまっているわけで。英語での子育てで、いちばん大事にされているPleaseがない、となると日本語でどう子供に話しかければいいのかをまだ試行錯誤中。という話をして、私もそうだ!と気づいたんです。私もすぐに英語を交えちゃうのはそこなんだ!

日本語では、話しかける相手によって、話し方自体を変えて考えますよね。例えば、晩御飯の例で言えば、「OXちゃん、こっちに来てご飯食べようね」とも言えるし、「こっちに来て早く食べなさい」とも言えるし、それは日本人として母親をやっている人はきっととても自然に選べる言葉な筈なのに、Mさんや私みたいに中途半端になっちゃうと、どちらのトーンを普段使っているのかが分からなくなっちゃう。で、どちらもしっくりこない。英語では、Please come have dinnerの許容範囲が変に広い。子供じゃなくて、友人にも、会社の同僚相手でも、使えてしまうわけで。日本語では相手によって、「OXちゃん、こっちに来てご飯食べようね」とも、「準備出来たから食べよう」 とも、「準備出来ました、召し上がってください」と当然違う言い回しを使うんですが、英語では、”Please come have dinner” で全てオーケー。その手加減がとっても難しいんですわ~。(泣)