Wednesday, May 27, 2015

How you can help me ensure more amazing videos.



Do you want to see more videos of Vietnam and other places in Asia and beyond?
Then it’s up to you to help me to ensure that we have even more growth, which will enable
me to continue this. Remember, YouTube is just a passion of mine, it doesn’t pay the bills yet, and I am a one man operation (yes, I film and edit all of my videos), so I have to have many jobs just to support the continual progress of this channel. And we all know traveling isn’t cheap. Any money I make, I just pour into traveling and video production because I really believe in what I'm doing. Hopefully, with your help, the channel can grow and you'll get a lot more videos.

So these are the ways that you can help me if you appreciate the content these past few years,
especially the content within the last six months.

In no specific order.

0. Sponsor me to go somewhere or eat something.
Many of you are always suggesting that I travel to a certain city or eat a certain dish without realizing that traveling costs money. Some of you have requested and provided the financial means for me to
go to your hometown and to see specific things you wanted. The LZ X Ray video was an example of this. I’m not trying to get rich here, I just want you to know that making videos and going places requires money and time off of work- not to mention many hours of editing. So if you want to see something that matters to you - perhaps your old neighborhood, your childhood home, your friends, an area, a city, whatever, please send me a Facebook message at http://www.facebook.com/KyleLe.net and I’ll help bring back memories for you.

and another point I wanted to add is that I will not accept sponsorship of clothes or act as advertisement for anyone or any company right now. I've been offered many deals to either wear a shirt or say that I love something on video for money and I have turned everything down because the one thing that sets me apart from other blogs or videos of Vietnam is that I'm not for profit... I'm not trying to sell a tour or hotels here. I would like to make a profit for myself eventually of course, but I won't sell myself. Whatever you see on the channel is because I genuinely like it or I'm doing it as a favor for real life friends.

1. Share my videos with people who might like them.
It’s as easy as copying and pasting the link onto your Facebook wall or sending an email out to your
friends. You can even tag a person on Facebook. In other words, the easiest thing you can do for me
is to tell your friends and family about me. More people should know such content on Vietnam exists. The bottom line is there is no other channel on YouTube with as much Vietnam content as mine. I'm proud of that fact because I've worked and centered my life around showcasing Vietnam and Asia to people who might care, so a simple share will help me so much.

2. Follow me on social media.
Like my Facebook fan page at http://www.facebook.com/KyleLe.net
Follow me on Instagram and Twitter @KyleLeDotNet
These social media forms not only lets you be up to date with what’s going on, but they also give you previews of what’s going on. I’m quite active on Facebook and Instagram and doing so will definitely
help me out.

3. Like and comment a video that you actually like.
I know it’s mundane and trite. All YouTubers ask you to do it and there’s a reason for that. The more likes and comments a video generates the more likely that it will rank better on searches. This will help me long term in the event that people decide to search for Vietnam or Asia. This will help potentially get more fans and followers for me, which helps the channel grow. It’s also simple as hitting the thumbs up button whenever you click on the video. This will help my videos rank higher, thus open me up to more fans. You and I both know I should be getting more views.

4. Buy a T-Shirt. http://www.kyleledotnet.spreadshirt.com
I honestly will never get rich off of selling Spreadshirt shirts. I only make a few dollars off of each shirt, but any small amount will help in the long run. I’ll have more shirts up in the future. But in the meantime, get a classic KyleLe.net shirt to show your support. I also sell mugs!
5. Help me help others.
If you want to support one the charities or orphanages that I have featured on my channel,
feel free to send me a message on Facebook. If you don’t feel comfortable giving me money
then you can come to Vietnam and donate directly one day.

6. Feel free to write me. The best and really the only way to write is on http://www.facebook.com/KyleLe.net. Send me a message and tell me how you feel. I’m always interested and appreciative of people who write. If you have any questions on Vietnam that
Google might not have already answered, then feel free to ask me. I will respond back as I can. Once again, do not write me on YouTube or this blog. The spam is just too extreme and I don’t have the
time to sort through.
7. Travel yourself.
When you travel to Vietnam, don’t just stay in one city, but travel to the places that I’ve traveled
to and recommended. See it for yourself. Experience Vietnam like how it was meant to be.
Don’t listen to your parents. Travel to the north and see nature.

I know many of you are in no means to make a financial contribution and that’s perfectly fine.
But, as long as you guys share my videos with people who matter, then that’s enough. If you enjoyed a video, just spend two seconds hitting the Like button. That’s all I ask. It will really help me rank higher in searches and grow more. Please leave a comment on any videos that you enjoyed too. And the mere fact that you’re watching is awesome enough, but if you want to continue to see more videos, then you have to help me spread the KyleLe.net message.

 I’m at serious crossroads right now about the
continuation and longevity of this channel. Your support will keep it afloat longer, but it needs to grow a lot more for it to be financially possible to maintain at certain levels and beyond.

Thank you guys.
I've purchased a 4K camera a few days ago and will hopefully make some videos in the near future.
4KyleLe.net!!!

Kyle.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Thoughts and more thoughts.

      After that two week travel stint, coming back and continuing the daily grind again has been debilitating for my mental state. When I'm traveling for that long, I want to go back home. When I'm back home, I want to be on the road again. Then I remember just how hot it is now and how difficult it can be to get a decent shot, I feel content sitting in an air conditioned room midday sipping away at coconuts. With that being said, June and July should see a lot of traveling. August should be calm, and September should be a bigger surprise.

      So many people ask me how I do it- how I manage to travel- well, I'm just like everyone else, except I work weekends too. I can manage time off if I plan ahead and make them up later on. That's why most trips only last three or four days tops not including holidays. I love day trips though. I can't wait to explore more of Dong Nai coming up.

      I ordered a 4K camera. You should see Ha Long Bay in 4K sooner than later. June and July video releases are seriously exciting. I haven't really edited much, but I can tell you to expect the best that this channel has ever released. You'll see me in Taipei, Alishan, and Kaohsiung. You'll also see several videos of Hanoi, a video on Nam Dinh, Ninh Binh for a day, Saigon in a Day part 2 where I go buy a tortoise, plus, you'll get to meet some really interesting people along the way. I'm so excited about the next two months.

      Bizarre Foods is airing the Saigon episode that features me June 1st. Monday 9 PM on the Travel Channel. I'll post the repeat air dates a little later. I'm a little scared at how I'm portrayed and how much screen time I actually got. It's something that I never even dreamt of. I never even had any ambitions because I never thought in a million years it would happen to me- or anyone important would find my content and like it at that level. Here's to the next few months.

      Moving forward life is really uncertain. You may have wondered why I stopped blogging about day in and day out personal matters. Well, it's because I'm at a point where either life is semi-trite (though never lacking drama) or it's because the issues are so personal that sharing them won't do anything but complicate situations and people. I like being a little bit disconnected from things at times. I wish I can have a day where I don't have to check mail or log onto YouTube or Facebook.
I'd like to just read a book or watch the many movies I'd been dying to see. I'm sick of watching movies on planes and dealing with the glare or the interruptions or the noise.

       The rain has been coming gently daily now. A few drops here and there followed by sunshine.
I've been leaving my bedroom window open while blasting AC at night. I usually wake up extremely sore and dehydrated from the AC air. It's so unhealthy. I miss that natural chilly California autumn air. I miss sleeping without AC. I tried sleeping under a fan but I woke up even more sore in the morning.

      Anyways. see you next time.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Vietnam's Political Prisons on Con Dao.

     You can go to Phu Quoc and completely miss the prison because it's not really close to any resorts of beaches. But you can't go to Con Dao and ignore the fact that Con Son Island was meant to house political prisoners during Vietnam's recent history. In fact, the resort that I stayed at was next door to a prison. I could see the prison and the beach from my window. This entry isn't a historical account. It's just my thoughts and experiences visiting a piece of unforgettable Vietnamese history.

      So it's as simple as this: islands make great prisons because it's harder for prisoners to escape. I can't fathom how beautiful Con Dao is, but how grim the prisons were. I stood at the front gates of various prisons and stared at out crystal blue waters. It was surreal to think about all the pain and suffering along against such beautiful backdrops. I wondered, if the French or Americans ever took time to appreciate Con Dao.

     The prisons were concrete hell. Spacious in its grounds, but life draining and cluttered in its cells. Big communal reasons stretched the property with high walls. I wondered how they built such a structure on such an island. Many parts of the island, including a pier utilized prison labor- often times to death. In fact, there was a pier that you'll see in a future video that cost the life of 914 people. They would drag boulders from the mountains down, then get shot or beaten to death and then their bodies would be flung out to sea.

     The first prison was definitely interesting, but I've seen some forms of it before. The second prison was much more gruesome thanks to the French tiger cages. These cages locked up prisoners and had an upper level walking area for extra torture. Then, I went to the American tiger cages which reminded me of a European dungeon-esque with huge metal doors. Once again, I wondered where did they get the doors from. The American style prisons were different because they put the prisoners towards the back of the front gates and the kitchen towards the front.

     The end of the whole tour featured a visit to the Hang Duong Cemetery. 700 prisoners were buried here. Their graves now marked with the same rocks that they used to carry down from the mountains were constructed by the government after the fact. Remember, 20,000 prisoners - 700 buried.
The famed martyr Vo Thi Sau is also buried here. The islanders really respect her and visitors often visit her to light incense. Basically her story was that she was a young teenager who killed a French captain and later was caught on a botched mission and sent to Con Dao where she was executed at the age of 19. She was pretty brave throughout the entire ordeal.

     So, I knew about the prisons before I came to Con Dao, but to experience them in the midday heat of the scorching sun on Con Son, made the history and the knowledge much more real. Sure, you can read books and look at pictures, but to be there and to pay respects to the fallen and those who sacrificed their lives. That's a part of Vietnam that we can't ever forget. I'm glad I went there. There isn't much English spoken on the island. So do your research before you come. You'll appreciate it more.

    I'd like to go to Dien Bien Phu soon. There's a lot of history there.








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Thursday, May 21, 2015

10 Million Views and my thoughts on YouTube "Fame"



10 million views and almost 26,000 subscribers. Unimaginable numbers to me.  

 Thank you. Thank you.

Bizarre Foods will air in less than two weeks. June 1st at 9 PM on the Travel Channel with five or so repeats to follow throughout the month of June.

Senior year in high school, I was voted as mostly likely to get famous.  
That hasn't happened yet, but
if one day I ever get famous, I’ll try not to change too much.

Becoming famous was not why I started my YouTube channel. I didn’t want to be known as the Vietnam guy. I just wanted friends and family to watch my videos and travels of Vietnam so that they can have a better understanding of why I was so in love with this country and why I left comfort for something truly challenging initially. Gradually, videos that weren’t that great escalated into more people watching and following. Do you guys remember how I was so against monetizing YouTube when I first started doing it casually? And sometimes now, my friends and I get recognized in the streets and people ask to take photos with me. I must have been recognized at least a dozen times these past few months and I really only stepped in front of the camera for the past seven months or so.  A friend told me he heard people talking about me in Little Saigon at a restaurant. Another friend said the guy on the plane coming to Vietnam next to him brought me up in their conversation. All of this is rather strange and gives me anxiety at times because of the pressure. I cringe when I hear the word famous spoken anywhere near my name. I actually don’t like it because it just adds more expectations on my shoulders. Remember, I’m doing this by myself with a full time job and two part jobs. That's how it's done. That's how I can afford to travel.

But no matter how much my channel grows in the next few months, I will never let anyone else
edit my videos. Even if that person is better than me or works faster. I take certain pride in being able to share my art with you. So if one day I reach 100,000 subscribers- I will still edit my own videos.
If I ever were to have a legacy or whatever because of my small duration on the internet, I want people to remember me as the guy who traveled all corners of Vietnam and produced videos showcasing this beautiful place to people who love this country. That's it.

I don’t want to reach that “professional” level. I’m happy with what I’m doing. I like how you all get a little sneak peek into my life. I like how I can travel with friends and occasionally ask them to hold the camera for me. Sure, it’s not a film crew, but I don’t want that. I don’t want to be at the level when this feels more like a job/work than it already does. I don't want a big fancy camera. I don't want multiple cameras.  I don’t want to be a YouTube presenter. I don't want to be a Viet kieu representative.  I'm not SoJournaling Vietnam's host. I just want to be Kyle Le, a guy who loves to experience Vietnam and share his experiences and life moments with you. Now of course, if the Asia Food Network ever contacted me, then that’s another story, but I’m referring to my YouTube channel when it comes to not wanting to take it towards a different or any more mainstream level than it already is. I only want to make videos about things I’m truly passionate about.

Sometimes, I feel like it’s hard for me to be 100% true to myself as I’m bigger and more popular.  It’s annoying and I’m sorry to my OG followers who know exactly what I’m talking about. I was never afraid to offend anyone in the past. Now, I have to be a lot more courteous and I hate that. It's hard to be neutral on a speeding train. Howard Zinn said it best. History majors will know Howard Zinn.

I love the fact that I can still answer all messages that I get on my FB page. If you guys take the time to write me, I’ll write back if you’re serious. And I do write back on FB. But I’m worried that one day I might not have enough time to be as helpful as I’d like to be. I love to help people who have serious questions about Vietnam or my experiences. I have a background in forums and message boards from helping people with their aquarium, Honda Civic EM2 problems, Japanese music, etc etc, so I love sharing my experiences in order to help others. Vietnam and my YouTube is just another continuation of my nature. My steady growth and still being relatively small has given me a chance to get to know some of you on a personal level. Some of my best friends have come out of this blog or YouTube. Don’t feel discouraged about writing me. It pains me to hear people say they're hesitant to write because they don't expect me to reply back. I'm not like that. Somebody told me that she had her sister read a message before she finally sent it to me. And today, I think that person is an awesome individual. I appreciate every comment and your time. Write me now when I'm small. And only write me on FB private messages.

I’ve said it before, if nothing long lasting ever comes out of this Vietnam experience in my life, at least I can proudly say to have met some decent human beings in this world who are similar to me someway somehow. People truly passionate about something that I’m passionate about to. Seriously, my viewers and readers truly love Vietnam. You guys truly love Vietnam, or else you wouldn't be reading this.  I’m happy I am able to bring  you guys  pieces of memory or introduce you to another side of Vietnam that you're not familiar with. People from all walks of life from so many corners on this earth who I would have never had the chance to get to know if it wasn’t for my small presence on the interwebs. For that, I’m truly grateful.

I don’t want life to change too much for the time being. I’ve had potential life changing opportunities arisen so far and I’ve turned them down in favor or creating my own content. Work related to local film and TV production has sprung up which would allocate time away from my YouTube. I don’t want to quit working as hard as I do because if I had a lot of free time, if YouTube was my full time gig, then I’d be bored. I’d like to work less in the day time, but I’m still not ready to make that jump because at the end of the day, the bills need to be paid and I’m still too small to even consider YouTube as a viable way of making a living. That would be awesome if that happened one day though, but in the meantime, I just have to keep working harder.

I’ve heard many times before that when a person gets famous, they tend to change. They tend to be different and forget their roots or their old friends.
I don’t think that’s always the case. At least it won’t be for me. I think when someone gets famous, they tend to get busier, and thus they have a lot less time for bs. If people are famous, they spend a lot of their time remaining famous or excelling in their craft. They don't forget- their lives just pick up.

So I don't really want to be famous because I fear that I'll change for the worse, but of course, I want more views and more subscribers. It's a tough situation- it's a double edged sword. The important thing though is I want to share Vietnam with more people. And of course, I want to make more money so I can afford to work less and rest- have weekends off- sleep more than a few hours a night- stop falling asleep in my editing chair - maybe see all the movies I’ve missed over the past few years. Maybe have a more open schedule to travel to more places. Those things can change, but I don’t want myself to change too much.

Thank you guys. Xinh Cam On.
Now, where's my cake?

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A good day in Singapore: Travel Guide

      I just wanted to share what a good day in Singapore was like the last time I was there.

 If you recall, I traveled with Valerie and met up with Annabelle who is half Vietnamese half Chinese Singaporean. I think she also carries a French passport too. Anyways,

 We started the day off at Sentosa which was really easy to get to via Singapore's efficient and easy to navigate public rails system. I actually had a lot of expectations for this place because I've never been there. In my mind, I imagined a whole video dedicated to it. But when I got there and saw how crowded it was- mind you it was on the weekends- I still felt uncomfortable because I didn't know what to make of it. You don't really feel like you're on an island because almost immediately along the first stops, you see Universal Studios, and then it hits you- damn you poor in Singapore.

I just wasn't feeling Sentosa because I'm not a beach guy and most of the activities were geared towards families or people with money to spare. I didn't really want to spend money on activities that required effort or much energy. Universal Studios would have been cool though, maybe I'll go somewhere down the line, but I didn't want to be disappointed because I've already been to the Universal Studios in California and I wasn't down for waiting in lines in the heat.

The most memorable thing about Sentosa was going into the gift shop underneath the Merlion. The AC was so strong that I just wanted to stay in there forever. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Sentosa sucks, I'm saying it just wasn't for me because I'm from California and I'm not much of a baller in Singapore.

Afterwards, we went back to the VivoCity, which also acts as the Sentosa Station, and had lunch at the beautiful food court. Seriously, the aesthetics and quality of design in Singapore is top notch. The food was also delicious too. Mall food courts aren't always as you'd imagine. The food can be really good compared to street food. Remember, you often get what you paid for.

With the sun blaring down midday, I wanted to just stay put, but for video purposes, I felt like I had to do something. I knew that I wanted to end up at Clark Quay around dinner time, but I wasn't sure what to do before that. And it just so happened that there's a river boat cruise service that has a canopy. In fact, the boats are electric and are practically silent. The tickets were affordable too- I don't remember how much exactly, but it didn't break the bank. It was a great way to kill an hour or so. The views could have been better with the city lights on, but nevertheless, a day ride was cool either way. You get a different perspective of Merlion Park and the smaller waterways too.

Afterwards, I walked around Clark Quay for a bit. Restaurants in Singapore sure aren't cheap- they're practically higher end American prices and Clark Quay reminded me of Fashion Island. For whatever reasons, I opted to drink that night. I usually never drink in front of ladies because I tend to lose myself easily after a beer or two. But, lately, I've been drinking more than usual. Hmmm problems brewing?

Towards the end of the night, everybody agreed on dim sum. I haven't had this in a very long time, and I missed my chance in Hong Kong because I was an idiot. But I wanted to at least try the Singaporean kind. And what a great idea that was. Thanks Valerie. Our hotel was actually a few blocks from this famous place on Jalan Besar. So we were able to walk back to help the food digest afterwards. Dim sum in Singapore is highly recommended.

Enjoy the pictures and video..
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Vintage KyleLe.net narrative - think of this video as a mini "SoJournaling Vietnam" travelogue.