Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When friends come to visit me in Vietnam / A loaded day.

     One of the best things about living in Vietnam is having friends from back home visit. I really get to brush up on my tour guide skills, and reflecting on old memories in new surroundings make me happy. Sometimes it's just great to pretend like I'm a tourist in my own city. Even though I've done many of the things I did yesterday many many times before, I tried my best to appreciate each place because like traveling or anything, the people make the place. Enter LAzee Luu and his girlfriend Candace. Luu has been to Vietnam a few times but most of the time he's just hung out with family. His girlfriend on the other hand has ever left America until this trip. I had one of the longest days and most fun days ever.

    At 9 AM I met up with them at the zoo after getting stuck in traffic. Believe it or not, but the Saigon Zoo is actually a great place to check out some animals you wouldn't see normally. There were tiger cubs and new giraffes on display. Contrary to what most people think, the exhibits were alright and pretty decent. In fact, the zoo in Yangon is a lot more depressing.
Luu had some bot chien at the zoo as I watched. Then we both glanced across the street at Vuvuzuela to see Vietnam's version of Hooters. They weren't open yet, so we went to the UP Cafe where the theme is upside furniture. As lunch time approached we hit up the Lunch Lady. This was my first time there after Old Boy told me how great her noodles were. I was skeptical at first, but the food was very good. The broth was excellent. The quality of her ingredients were no joke. They were much higher and thus her prices are a little bit higher, but not by much. You really get what you pay for. I will definitely come back in the future. And yes, there were plenty of foreigners there, as well as locals. The Lunch Lady thought I was a tour guide. I'll take it as a compliment. Then the touristy Saigon Square came into play. We strolled around for a bit. This was where Candace got her Saigon kiss as some dude parked his hot bike in the way and her leg hit the muffler. We iced that thing down as Luu and I sipped on sugar cane. Back in Saigon Square I managed to barter down a pair of earrings by 50,000 Dong. I felt extremely proud of myself.  Then we hit up Bui Thi Xuan to check out a software shop. I actually visited this place the first few days of coming to Vietnam. It's amazing what you can buy for a dollar. Then we swung by the backpackers area to exchange some money as well as to buy some trinkets and beads as souvenirs. Somewhere around this time and the midday heat demoralizing our souls, we headed over to the War Museum for a brief look at The War that resonates in all the souls of Viet kieu one way or another. There were so many foreigners there. It's an awesome place with cold AC, worthwhile to check out for sure. Then when we looked at everything, I took them to Binh Xuyen to eat some burnt rice and to do a little bit of fishing. At around 4:30 we embarked and hit crazy traffic and visited Tran Xuon Song St, which runs along a canal riverfront area in District 7. Some houses are built directly into the water with metal sheets. We strolled down this area a little bit watching the boats carrying fruit in. We mingled with the fruit vendors and pedestrians for a bit. Most of the sidewalk vendors didn't seem so friendly. Maybe it was because Luu took his shirt off for the world to see. We even met a dude who caught some catfish too. Then before dinner time, I decided to head back home to wash up and refresh. When we got into my building, the skies unleashed typhoon like rains and winds. We rested at my house a bit and Candace performed surgery on herself because her burn mark had blistered up from the humidity. Boy, was it humid and hot that day. I was going to take them on a walking tour of Phu My Hung, but the constant drizzle meant that we were forced to take a slow cab ride. I wanted them to appreciate the fact that Vietnam can be modern. Luu had scared his girlfriend into thinking that in Vietnam she would have to poop in a hole that she dug herself. I wanted for them to see the modernity and the Crescent Mall is a great place to show proof of that. We strolled around for a bit. We were getting hungry as I showed them the Star Light Bridge for a bit. Then on our way out we were approached by some gym employees who proceeded to give us a tour of the facilities. Nina and her boyfriend are coming soon. She is a gym freak. I wanted to scope things out for her ahead of time. But prices were incredibly high. I mean, Ho Ngoc Ha herself works out there. Maybe that's reason for me to join yoga? Afterwards we took a cab and picked Kikki up and ate at Oc Oanh. I tried some oc that I have never tried before. They were great. Thanks to Kikki for helping me eat the crab claws. I felt like a little boy who had to wait on his mother to feed him. By now I was pretty exhausted. All three of us were. We walked and seen more of Saigon in a day than most tourists will ever see it. We saw the richest and the poorest areas. We did everything. So it was time to bid farewell. A little somber. Hugs all around as locals looked at us and wondered why Asians were hugging each other. Since the night was still young and it was pretty rare to see Kikki, I wanted to make the most of it. So sinh to on Nguyen Trai followed, but unfortunately, that scene was either dead or dead from the rain. So we went across the street to Phuc Long Coffee across from the first Starbucks. They were about to close, and we sat there and sipped some milk tea for a bit before we were asked to leave nicely. Feeling like we had just gotten there, we opted to visit the backpackers area again and sat on the corner in a more quiet environment as opposed to the Crazy Buffalo intersection. The waiter thought that we were Singaporean because we spoke English so well. It was funny to blurt out Vietnamese and claim that I'm from Bien Hoa, Dong Nai. We spoke and sipped on our tea and whatever else we had ordered. The rains came down gently now. Then before I knew it the night was over. I dropped Kikki off at her house and rode home in a quiet taxi by myself barely able to keep my eyes open. When I got home I was fully alert even though I had to wake up and begin the workweek in a mere few hours. Then I sat down and wrote this and decided that I would write the whole day in one big unedited blob of a paragraph just so you get the idea of how loaded the day was. I'm going to miss my friends because a taste of home is always good. But I know that I have new friends here, and returning friends like Nina, Seb, and Marn will all be making appearances soon in the KyleLe.net universe. For the first time, thanks to some recent people who I met, KyleLe.net is starting to make more sense. the .net stands for Kyle Le's network for friends in Vietnam. It makes sense. It makes a lot of sense. I'll be in Bangkok very soon. Sorry for the brevity in blog postings. I promise to write more often. If all else goes well, I'll see Yangzom in a few days. Exciting times ahead. I want all my friends to get to know each other and hang out and have adventures. April is going to come over in October. I can't wait. Oh man. I can't wait. for new adventures to come. The best part is you're going to see it all.

a lot more to come.


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Anthony Bourdain Vietnam and the Lunch Lady

       I've been getting requests like crazy to go visit the Lunch Lady. I don't do requests.
Luckily, OldBoy's a little bit nicer than me, and he decided to pay her a visit. The food was excellent he claims. The ingredients appeared to be of high quality, and her experience brewing up noodle soups must mean something. So in short, I can't vouch for her because I haven't tried her food yet. OldBoy liked it. I'm personally against eating nui with hu tieu, but that's just me. Enjoy the video. It's the most complete video ever attempted on the Lunch Lady. It took me almost five hours to edit because I had to sit through 30 minutes of OldBoy eating and slurping with saw grinding noises in the background.

     You might have noticed that my YouTube videos have seen a lot more girls as of late. Well, we're in the middle of ESTROGEN week on SoJournaling Vietnam. I'm going to feature more female friends to the Kyle Le Dot Net universe. I'm going to expand my horizons and not feature dudes all the time. So stay tuned for a lot more. All of your questions will be answered or ignored. Just stay tuned. Check out these two videos underneath:

Be sure to like my Facebook Page and share these videos with your friends.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

My Life in VIetnam as of July 2014.

      My life in Vietnam.

   Despite what you see in videos, there's other aspects that you don't see. I find it hilarious that people assume that I live off of YouTube or this blog. They ask me to give them a tour without introducing themselves as if I was just free without anything else to do. When I'm not working, I'm working on this blog or on YouTube. I am the only person who edits and writes this blog. Old Boy does no editing whatsoever. People ask where he is. He's working. How do you live a higher end life over most expats in Vietnam? You work harder than most expats. If you don't have a business or don't come from a privileged family like me, you have to work more hours to make sure your bills get paid and that you have enough to travel and hangout with your friends. I only have one day off a week and that day is used for YouTube or for creating more videos.

    So that's pretty much my life. I don't have a lot of savings because I spend most of what I have collecting moments through travel and through hanging out with people I like. Saigon and Vietnam is not that cheap. Going out and shooting a video that you guys watch for free isn't cheap. The time constraints, the transportation, the editing time, all of that isn't free for me. Many of you watch and see me out and constantly having a good time. Well, it doesn't happen that often. Weekends might be an exception, but I still have to wake up super early because I have early commitments on the weekends. I never get to sleep in even if I spent last night editing something. Sometimes I forget to eat dinner and go to sleep hungry.

    I generally wake up cold most mornings or covered in sweat. My bed is usually a mess. My house is usually a mess. The dishes might be a week old. My priorities seem pretty focused on YouTube now more than ever. My daytime and evening work actually comes second because I've gotten used to the groove of things. Finding ways to keep things interesting and not getting burned out is key. Most teachers don't last long in Vietnam for these reasons. Then again, my situation and work is a lot different. I'm not an English teacher. I can't handle more than six hours of ESL a week. Everything you do does get boring eventually. Every day seems to be relatively different even if it's still the same. Vietnam has a lot of potential for after work fun. Unfortunately, by the end of the night (yes, night, not day) I'm exhausted. I'll go home and work on YouTube for a few hours, chat with some friends online, prep and review material for the next day, and then usually fall asleep without knowing it.

     Where do I find time to travel? I take days off. When I travel, I don't make money. I try to squeeze in rare holidays, in between semesters, and if I'm lucky, I can make time up after the fact. But each trip I take, I sacrifice money. I come back to a load of work, and that's why traveling isn't always pleasant. I usually get sick after coming back. I hate flying. I don't really enjoy the actual traveling aspect that much anymore. But I do like being in new countries and different places. Speaking of which: Bangkok here I come. My travel plans for the next few months include North Vietnam: Ha Long Bay, Nam Dinh, Mui Ne. I also will visit Northern Thailand. Jakarta, and I'm looking at Sri Lanka as well. I do want to return to India quite badly, especially now that I have friends in every major city in India. I can't wait to go back to India.

     I want to explore Saigon even more. There's still so many restaurants and cafes that I need to try. I promise to be more social. I've always touted myself as someone who doesn't need others to make me happy. But the honest truth is, the past few weeks and the last six months have been way more social than I've ever felt. I've stopped dating local girls. Instead, I use that money and time hanging out with like minded young expats. They don't necessarily have to be Vietnamese ethnically, but I find people close to my age the easiest and most relatable to get along with. I really have this blog and YouTube channel for bringing me closer to more like minded people. Despite being an introvert, I have to acklowedge the fact that humans are social creatures. I still have fun getting together with friends and going out and out as if we were back in California. I'm going to coin this period in my Vietnam life, the Social Peer period.

        I try to get fruits and veggies in whenever I can. It's not always easy living in Vietnam even though there are fruits all around me. I just don't have a crave for exotic Asian fruits like my mother would. I like apples. I like oranges. I like berries. I don't have a case or screen protector on my HTC One M7. I want to buy a new phone with a better camera and battery life, but then again what's ultimately the point? I'm pretty slow to edit, but I'm getting better. I've been doing it since I was in high school. My Thinkpad is four years old and it can barely handle HD editing. That really should be my biggest investment. I really do need to pick something better for smoother editing. From time to time I'll listen to Alicia Keys. People tell me I'm a good dancer. I just think they're just trying to be nice. Half of the time I'm sleepy. I'm horribly sleep deprived. I have horrible upper body strength. I'm one of the skinniest dudes I know. I don't know how to ride a bicycle.

       Even if Vietnam seems exciting compared to your lives. I want you to know that I'm not here on vacation. If I don't work, I don't get to live here. If I don't work as hard, I don't get to live the lifestyle that I want. That lifestyle consists of not having a budget and eating out and using taxis to provide you better video content. At first it was all for me. I guess, SoJournaling Vietnam travelogues are still for me and my memories. But this daily video venture.. I'm driven by your support. At the same time, I'm annoyed by older viewers. For the last time, I am not politically affiliated nor is my blog or YouTube channel. I don't care about politics. This blog isn't about Vietnam. My YouTube channel isn't about Vietnam. Both of these are about me and my life. Vietnam just happens to be in the backdrop. I don't read comments on here or on my YouTube channel anymore to be honest. There are just too many trolls and ignorant people. My time is better spent ironing my clothes or mopping.
If there's every a time that you want to contact me, the only way to do it is by my Facebook page.
When I say that I'm busy, it's because I'm busy. Most of my meals are spent in front of a computer screen trying to pack in the evening news or a professional wrestling match.

    I also take time out of the day to appreciate your viewership and loyalty. Whenever I watch anything on YouTube, I never feel the need to comment. But you guys are dedicating a lot of your time to what I produce too, and for that I'm thankful. All I ask from you is that you share this blog and my YouTube channel to your friends and family. Thank you.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Anniversary to me.

          3 years in Vietnam. It's hard to say. I can barely choke it through.

          The past three days have been incredibly action packed and more social than the last few months combined. Lunch with friends at Binh Xuyen 2. Anime Convention. Harry Potter Cafe. Japanese on Le Tan Ton, Another convention. Bridge walking. Ice cream. The Loving Hut. Quan 94. New sights in the city. Banksy Cafe. Random commercial shoot. More street food. Old colonial buildings. Failed ear piercing. The past three days have been so fun, and I didn't even see OldBoy.

       My life's about to get even more social. Nina and her boyfriend are coming. My friend April from Virginia is coming. I've made some new friends including Kikki, who will appear in a few more videos in the future. My other friend Patricia, originally from Spain, will make appearances in a few upcoming videos. It'll be interesting to see her perspective as she's someone close to my age and has spent the last four years in Vietnam.

       I really don't know what more to say. The next two weeks will be even more action packed. Summer session is winding down. I have a high school buddy coming over with his girlfriend next week. My other friend Kim will visit with her mom for a month. It's always good to see people from home.

        I still can't believe it's been three years of my life. What a journey so far. The past three days have made me really reassess my life and money and what's really important. I might forget about these days in the next few months. But it's really been fun. Even though it's hard to keep doing new things in a city that you've seen and experienced so much. But there's still more. There's still many other places left for exploring. I don't really need to travel anywhere really. It's all here in Saigon. With that being said, I won the photo contest from Oi Magazine. I won't use the prize this time because I'll be by myself. The hotel stay prize will be used next time when I visit Bangkok to go to Chang Mai in the near future.

      The next batch of videos will be really awesome. I'll introduce a few new faces to the Kyle Le dot Net universe. I'll still continue as long as you continue to follow. As always, please share this blog and any videos that you like with your friends. If you can just simply post a video to your Facebook wall or Google+ accounts, I would greatly appreciate it. Ultimately, there will be an end or a prolonged hiatus, but in the meantime, please help spread what I do and what I make. I just don't have the time to film, edit, and market. The latter you must help me if you want to see more. Spread this blog. Spread my YouTube channel. Let all of your friends who might be interested in Vietnam or Asia know about me. That's all I ask.

It's a constant grind. I have you guys to thank for being social and motivated to explore more. Sharing these experiences with you changed my existence in Saigon for sure. Three years is a long time, but knowing that I have a source to vent and express my craft, I'm thankful.

      I've told my friends how lucky we actually are to experience Vietnam. No matter how mundane it can get. There's always something if we're down to look... if we're down to take a long taxi ride.
Don't come with expectations. I've always said that I'm just looking for someone to share my life with. I guess that's you guys. I'm pretty happy now.

Thank you guys. New and old. Close and far.
Thank you to the people who have reached out to me through this blog and the videos. Thank you for making my Vietnam experience that much more grand. I don't know everything about Saigon and especially Vietnam. But through many of you, I've been able to have such spectacle days. The next few months are going to be so much fun.

Be sure to like my Facebook for a lot more content and pics from Vietnam not seen here or on my channel.


Monday, July 21, 2014

I survived another crash.

         One of my favorite cornering spots is a place near Phu My and the four way intersection leading towards Nha Be and eventually Can Gio. I've taken this corner hundreds of times on numerous bikes.
For whatever reasons this time, I turned a bit wide because I remember taking the corner at 80km an hour and when I came out of it I accelerated even more. Then this one seafood shop that I've been getting oysters from distracted me a little bit, and by the time I turned my head back on the road, I couldn't apply both brakes fast enough. I hit the raised curb, flew into a pole, the bike landed on its right side, and I flew forward. Now I recalled my moment of impact because of a nasty jolt I felt underneath me as my balls hit the gas tank. I don't remember anything after that but me already on the ground. I'm not sure how much time passed, but two guys came to my rescue. One of their voices kind of woke me up. When I got up to help them move the bike down, my knees gave way and I fell straight down. Thank God for knee pads. Before I knew it, they already lifted my back and set it upright again. I tried to give one of them money, but he took off. The other one stayed with me as I tried to get up a few more times, but couldn't. At this point in time, my private parts were just screaming in pain. I tried to put my gloved hands in my pants trying to find where my right testicle went. I couldn't feel it. I thought it had disappeared into my body or something. This was the most pain I've ever felt down there- Almost unbearable to the point where I thought I was going to lose my urine. I kept yelling fuck and shit. The one guy that stayed behind insisted that I needed to go to the hospital or call someone. Gas was leaking all over the place. I was still right in the center of the road again sprawled out over that grass on my back. The key was still in the ignition. Technically, anybody could have just stolen my bike then and there. I was so out of it to think such a scenario.

         I was determined to get out of there and to head home before my gas was out. I got up, joked with the guy a bit about how I wonder if I'll be able to have children. He wasn't laughing. He told me to rest and take off my helmet. I got on my bike and immediately felt pain in my right knee. The bike started just fine, but the steering was severely bent to the right. On the way back, I rode in fear and pain as the gas light kept blinking. I could smell the gas dripping away. Eventually, I had to stop at OldBoy's house because the pain in my groin was over whelming. I needed to just get out of that position and rested. I tried my best not to cry. I didn't want to cry in front of his daughter. They came to my aid for a bit as I laid in pain. I knew I had to just go to the hospital. But I was more concerned about the bike. So after about ten minutes I left and rode to my mechanic.

          I stopped to get more gas in Trung Son, to audible cries of agony. The bike stalled a few times at a few red lights. It rode fine aside from the bent steering. The forks are bent and the rim is also bent. I don't know if replacement parts are even available.  My mechanic insisted that I go get my body checked out to be safe.  He offered to give me a lift on his bike, but I didn't want to resume the position of having to spread my leg. So we hopped in a taxi and went to some hospital on Tran Hung Dao. I didn't have to wait long. I remember I was covered in sweat from head to toe. The doctor was about to examine my balls without gloves. Lol. I made him put on some gloves. He says a muscle or tendon is probably torn. The best thing to do is just to let it heal on its own. He bandaged parts together and said not to disturb it too much for a while. They gave me something there to ease the pain. I felt immediately better. I could walk fine, but my knee was ringing in pain. Without taking any scans he said that I had sprained it and bruised my right knee cap. But there wasn't any immediate concern. If I still felt pain after two days, I had to go see him again to get some scans. But he claimed that ball sack injuries generally go away. I don't know how much I trust him, but I woke up this morning feeling a lot better. My body is sore, but the body parts in question feel fine. It still hurts to urinate though.

            Thank God. Maybe I don't need a faster bike after all. I escaped. I felt extremely giddy that night hanging out with some friends. It could have been a lot worse. Wearing gear really helped me escape something more serious. If I had rolled in the streets or banged someone else it would have been a nightmare. At the end of the day I don't want to burden anyone, especially my parents back home. I'm so so lucky. I need to slow down. Vietnamese people can be very nice and helpful. If it wasn't for those two guys, I wouldn't have been able to bring the bike off from its side by myself. They both just picked it up for me like it was their own bike without any problems. Keep your eyes on the road.

Stay tuned for a lot more content in the next few days. The past few days have been so social that I haven't had time to even edit a video. I have so many amazing videos due up, including OldBoy vs. The Lunch Lady. You're not going to want to miss this. Man, what an amazing few days.

Check back soon.

Friday, July 18, 2014


       When I'm finally home after a long day, an overwhelming sense of relief usually invades my body. I made it. I did it. I survived another day in Vietnam. I'm usually sitting in my desk chair overlooking the mess on my bed with a sigh and another sigh of relief that the sun has set upon this sojourn for another day. The AC somewhere between 25 and 26 degrees C. It feels great to be cold again. Even though moments like these seem to be routine now: A long day out, a few hours in before sleep time to privately mingle about. Repeat Repeat Repeat. But, I know moments of calm never lasts long. Nothing ever happens again. Living life is like standing in the middle of a shallow river. Events and moments are like the water rushing in one direction. No matter how long you stay out there, you'll never feel the same drop of water again. This is what my life is all about.

       Early in the morning, my natural clock will wake me. The alarm clock hasn't waken me up in ages. Even if I sleep late, my body seems to know that around 6 or 7 AM, I should be up no matter what. This can be problematic because by the midday and its unforgiving heat, I'm literally drained and walking around dead. Somehow I find the extra energy to make it through the dinner our without eating a proper dinner. Then I stumble home finally and feel sunken. I'll go to bed hungry at times because I just feel too lazy to eat. Sometimes I'm working on a video or a blog entry and forget to eat and sleep.

       At least I have peace and quiet from motorbikes and cars honking away at my insanity on the road. Nights are quiet. Nights are when friends and most of your readership and viewership converges upon this blog and my YouTube channel because fortunately for me, 50 percent of my followers come from America. I miss America a lot. I know that for the most part my days in Vietnam tend to be interesting. Perhaps more interesting than most days in America.

      People always ask me how's Vietnam, how's life? I always point them to this blog. But to answer their question and what seems like a month long trite series of entries without any set course or plan, I have to say that my life right now is great. It could be better, but I really have very little abnormal things to complain about. I'm more times happier than sad. I try not to let things bother me too much, and I realize that I have pretty awesome here because I understand the local language spoken and I can communicate back in ways that most expats never will. I really take pride in that more than ever when I realized just how the locals really call upon and treat foreigners. A lot of the white dudes here are referred to as "cai thang tay" Which means a westerner, but not in a very respectful way. It's hard to translate it. A lot of the disrespect is lost. All I know is that if my spouse or girlfriend ever called me cai thang Viet kieu, I wouldn't be happy. Yet, many "loved" ones around the white dudes refer to them as such. Ngoui tay and cai thang tay is very different. I also hear locals referring to white people as "nho" instead of Anh do or em do. Viet kieus can have a bad rap too, but when they're able to remain camouflaged if they don't speak too much. So, in the end of the day, being a Viet kieu here isn't so bad. I'm really lucky. I can blend in, but stick out if I want to.

       I also frequently get the question of whether or not I'm currently dating anyone. The answer is no. I haven't been out on a date or met any new girl since April or May. Either way it's been a while, and I don't see any immediate reason why I should begin something with a local girl. If it hasn't worked for the past three years, it's not going to last now. I'm also surrounded by like minded people who speak English a lot. I feel like my conversations in Vietnamese lack the depth of my wits and cultural references that I can speak with in English. I think I've blogged about this a dozen times before. I'm not of age to settle yet. None of my friends my age back home would ever consider dating or marrying a local Vietnamese girl seriously. It's our parent's worse nightmare. In the end of it all, I'm happy being single. I don't really have a void or need to be in a relationship right now. I'm not active in pursuing it as I once was. I'm content with the people in my life and out of my life. It'll come. Of course, I want to meet someone and fall in love. Of course, I want to take months and years to build something substantial and meaningful. Nobody wants to be 35 and desperate and have to settle for someone for their looks or for their mutual desperation. I would love to meet someone who appreciates me now and can look beyond flaws and faults at building something together. I'm fine now. I don't go to sleep with a broken heart anymore. I just feel so sorry for her.



Thursday, July 17, 2014

Vietnam motorbike license, packing a lunch, Bangkok to come.

        As I started to write this, I tried to hold back a burp which eventually propelled up my nose, and now I'm in tears from the outburst. I've been drinking club soda instead of water because I'm on a no carb diet for the next eight days. I'm on day four and so far it's been hell, but I'm managing it.

       It's been a struggle. Sudden dizzy spells. It seems like my adrenaline from the road stays with me much longer because my body is craving carbohydrates right now. The universe is really testing me. An ice cream woman who normally pedals away as if I was invisible, stopped suddenly and looked at me. Kids all around me are eating bread to torment me. I dreamt of a cheese cake.   So if you're familiar with the Atkins diet or a low carb diet, you'll understand that the first few days requires the participant to cut all carbs. I've been eating nothing but chicken and hardcore veggies. I havent had any rice or noodles in a while. This will last for about ten more days. Then I'll slowly introduce carbs back moderately into my diet. This whole process has made me extremely exhausted and my mind appears to be clouded as my body figures out the transition. Either way, I'm eating a lot of balut eggs and listening to Sean Kingston all day like a baby duck eating tool. You see the last sentence? That's the no carb brain doing the talking. Things can seriously be ridiculous.

       I packed a lunch the other day in small tupperware containers. That was the first time in my life that I did that. I have never ever packed a lunch for myself ever ever ever before. As I ate the chicken and okra and dark leafy greens, I couldn't help but think of white kids and how their mothers pack savory lunches for them. I was always so jealous that so and so had fruit roll ups with his or her lunch. I mean, I was never deprived of fruit roll ups at home, but I couldn't help but see the separation between my life and their lives from looking at  his or her brown bread stacked sandwich with a mustard smiley face and looking at my sloppy joe and tater tots. Boy, I was so envious of kids who brought hot chocolate in heated bottles during winter time as I stared down as my cold milk carton.

      After many months of waiting and with an attempt last month, I finally got my A2 license. For those of you who don't know this is a 175CC motorcycle license that was very difficult to get a year ago before Harley Davidson moved in. It would have cost a lot of time and money because a course was required. Trust me, this process was extremely time consuming for me and still really expensive.  Compared to an A1 regular scooter license that would have cost 80 dollars or less because I already have a drivers license, the A2 license requirements don't care whether or not you have a drivers license or not. I know there are online scams that claim that they can get you a license and you never have to show up. Be careful about getting a fake license.

       So why did I finally get a license? I know that someone of you think that a little money can get me off the hook, then you're absolutely wrong. I got a license for the following reasons: First, in an event of an accident whether it may be my fault or not, not having a license will get me in much deeper trouble. Second, I ride a loud motorcycle and might upgrade to something bigger in the future. If you ride around with a big CC bike and not have an A2 license, then you can kiss your bike goodbye. For the most part, if you ride around in a nicer bike and get pulled over and you do not have any license, then your bike can be confiscated for thirty days. Third, not everyone will accept money on the spot. The provinces are quite strict and are rather serious about enforcing the law. Fourth, it's the right thing to do. I wouldn't ride a motorcycle in California without an M license. What gives me the right to ride in Vietnam without a license? So for all of you who might be riding a bike, whether it be a 100cc scooter or a liter bike, I seriously recommend that you get a license. It's the responsible thing to do, and in a case of bad luck, it'll save you a lot of potential hassles.

          I know the blog has been slow. But life hasn't been that fast.
I'm going to go to Bangkok for a few days soon. My three year anniversary is coming up here in Vietnam. I might get a cake after my low carb period is over. A big big cheese cake.
As of this writing now, the little girl that my mechanic hit on my bike is getting surgery to her spine to push back her discs in place. The rehabilitation process has failed. I had to help them. Legally, I had no obligations. Morally, I had to help my mechanic and that little girl. Because of this operation I have to postpone buying a sports bike perhaps indefinitely. We'll see what happens. It just kinda sucks that you saved up so much money and then for it to disappear suddenly like that... but knowing that I'm able to help two people out in this circumstance. I'll move on and save some more. I just hope she's going to be okay so then I'm okay.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Vietnamese food in Vietnam: Com Trua is the death of me.

        It's a common misconception that Vietnamese food is cheap and available everywhere. If you're spending a dollar on a meal, then likely you're ingesting something really unhealthy. Then again, if you're a backpacker, you probably don't care. I actually care a lot. The majority of Vietnamese com trua proteins are cooked in lard or fried. If you don't believe me, buy some thit kho (caramelized pork with eggs) and leave it in the fridge. In a few hours you'll see layers of fat. The recent heat also means that people tend to oversalt their proteins to preserve it longer. I'm not even going to begin with sanitation and cooked food left out at room temperature issues. Yes, I still get the runs from time to time. The rice you're also eating is of the lowest of the lowest quality. Having eaten rice in Myanmar and India, the com trua rice is like eating cardboard. Even vegetarian food are fried or over seasoned with MSG. Are there healthy options in the city? Of course, but they're not convenient or affordable for daily meals. Vietnamese food might be tasty, but the majority of the dishes, including the wet noodles, are just masking the unhealthiness. People who eat com trua usually don't care about extra lard. In fact, they want to eat more of it. So this is also related to the Vietnamese food in America vs Vietnamese food in Vietnam. The American counterpart is far healthier and with better ingredients. I know for a fact my mother doesn't cook thit kho with fat nor do we eat the fatty part.

        It's no secret that I've been wanting to slim down a little bit. Sometimes I just don't feel healthy or energetic because all of my meals come from the streets. I just don't have time to cook food because I'm legitimately busy and because I don't really know how. But I decided enough was enough. Eating daily com trua meals mean that I'm putting extra lard, salt, and MSG in my body for no good reason. I also want to lean towards a low carb diet in my daily life. So I bought one of those ovens that cook food using a fan. I already own a little oven and a George Foreman grill, but this was supposedly a lot more efficient.

         Finally, a wise adult decision pertaining to spending money.

         The process itself is actually far more complicated than I thought. I would have to buy the proteins. That means stopping by a supermarket weekly. I hate having to park in structures or parking lots because my bike is not easily maneuverable. The proteins themselves need to be eventually thawed and marinated. I would also have to time the proteins to see how long it takes to cook. In the end it could taste like nothing, but that's not the primary goal. I know my cooking won't be any good, but at least it's an attempt at improving my life. I might not always have time during the weekdays, but I'll spend plenty of time on this new aspect on the weekends.

        I cooked some chicken and ate it with broccoli and some mystery root thing I bought. It came out pretty well, definitely better than fried chicken. I'm actually excited about this. It's a first step towards adulthood. I even started using a laundry hamper basket to put dirty clothes in instead of just throwing them on the ground like the past three years. I'm going to make an effort to use this oven often and avoid com truas.

So how do you survive Vietnam for long? Cook for yourself for most meals and occasionally enjoy street food or restaurants.

I appreciate all the mothers out there more so than ever. Cooking ain't easy. There's a lot of steps after the fact. .. . like cleaning the dishes...arghhhh

Be sure to like my Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/KyleLe.net to follow more of my life in between blogs.

I'm also in a photo contest with a local magazine right now. First place prize gets to stay at a 5 star hotel in Bangkok. Please click on this link and like the photo for me because I AM GOING TO BANGKOK EARLY AUGUST!!!!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Back from Pleiku. But not Back.

     It was as if Pleiku saved several days of rain and decided to empty it all out on my last day there. I woke up feeling beyond groggy because I didn't sleep very well the previous night. Being in the field and away from it all really spooked me. I had a hard time being alone in the darkness for once. The winds were purposely trying to keep me up.

     I ate a banh bao with some coconut filling that I purchased the night before. I wolfed down a Choco Pie from a pack of two in the snack bar. I drank a diet coke as if it wasn't a hotel diet coke. It's funny how things have changed. A year ago I probably would have ventured out in hopes of saving fifty cents or something and bought my own snacks. But now, it was just one of those days.

      I realized that I give up too easily. I probably don't understand the true struggles of hardship of local Vietnamese people making ends meet each day. If my life was unstable, I can't imagine just how theirs truly is. Even people close to home, close to me, face similar situations. Life really isn't that bad right now. It's uncertain and lacks mental stimulation at times, but it's not too bad. I really have no reason to be depressed.

     I watched the rain for quite a while. Feeling lethargic, I didn't really want to begin the day. But I did anyways. I walked along the hotel's street and found myself at Com Ga My Tam, a popular fried chicken rice joint, and ate by myself outside in the rain. The waitresses tried to convince me to come in, but I was okay. After eating I walked some more and reminded myself of my first time in Pleiku. I recognized familiar landmarks like temples and whatnot, but I didn't see the two prominent people I encountered last time, the xe om driver and the lady selling balut eggs and mango on the streets.

     There isn't much in the city of Pleiku itself. It's an awesome little city with wide streets and modern amenities. The weather is probably the best thing about it. Despite being July, nights were chilly for me. I didn't even use AC. A track jacket would have been perfect in the evening. Humidity was pretty much non existent. Supermarkets abound at every corner. Shops that cater to pretty much any need are here. I wish I could live there. The rains came and came.

      And later that evening when it was time to head back, I realized that I didn't have much footage from Pleiku this time around. I didn't and couldn't make a SoJournaling Vietnam video because everything that was noteworthy of filming in Pleiku was already done. The last day there was spent in insolation again reminding me of later days in Nepal not too long ago. It was fine though. I had a relatively empty head and an empty stomach for the better half of the day. The chicken and rice were starting to get nasty after the sixth or seventh time I ate it. I'll be back though. That's for sure.

     I met a girl in Pleiku. I really thought she was cute, but then I realized she was just too simple for me. Her soft spoken northern dialect reminded me of such a soothing calmness that filled the air. She was the xe om driver's daughter. Dinner was spent with her the night before. And it's funny how the driver called out his son in law and the son in law's sister as well. I didn't have any problems paying for a decent meal, but it just kind of reminded me why I shouldn't be with a Vietnamese girl to begin with. It was like having dinner with the in laws. Yet, I was extremely uncomfortable because of language and lifestyle differences. Despite graduating from a university in Saigon, she couldn't secure work and had to return home to seek a miniscule job as a receptionist for less than 200 dollars a month working every single day. I really liked her. But I couldn't imagine myself with her because of our differences. It's rather tragic. I kept thinking to myself if only she was in America. So many times I meet extremely beautiful girls, yet all I could do is just turn the page on them because I don't want to waste both of our time. No matter how often or hard I've tried, I can't get pass cultural and mannerisms. In the end we'll just lose respect for each other. I think the xe om driver and his son in law was pressing hard for me to get to know her more. One of them even suggested that if I stayed for a month, her English would get better. Nothing will come out of it like always. It's such a pity, but it's just how things are now. I don't have anyone in my life right now. I haven't felt excited about being with or seeing any local girls for a long time now. Things have changed, especially since something important in my life will come over in a few months to see if she can survive Vietnam for a bit.

     As I boarded my flight, I'm reminded constantly again why I'm not suitable for Vietnam at times. I stood in line patiently. Three people just walked up and proceeded in front of me as if I was invisible. Two of them were cute girls who I probably would have approached to start a conversation. But after just cutting like they owned the line, I really had nothing to say to them. I quipped at them a bit at the end but they just didn't care. They were too "hot" and fragile looking to care about manners. Boarding the plane was a complete hassle. There was no organization. Why didn't they make wider aisles on airplanes so that I wouldn't have to rub up against people who try to push me even though I had no where to go. When I stepped into the cabin, there was already a line of people waiting to get to their seats. People would find their seats, throw their bags over head, and just stall around or back for whatever reasons. An older man behind me was literally pushing me to the point where I felt his fingers on my back with pokes. I almost just hurled my elbow around into his face. Instead, I just chose to ignore it and kept my anger inside. I had no where to go, yet he pushed me wanting me to grind up against the old ladies in the middle of the aisle.

       I hate flying so much.

       I hate flying with people who don't wear deodorant. Most of the people on the plane didn't have deodorant on.

       When I landed, I made a mad dash out of the airport. I ran as fast as I could outside glancing at awaiting faces. Why did I even hesitate? No one was waiting for me.

        The next couple of days have been tormenting. I haven't regained my strength completely back because I haven't hard time to just sit down to relax. I can't sleep at night.  Nonstop work has driven me silently insane. In fact, I'm writing this right now with one hand and eating my lunch with the other. I need to just take time and sit for an hour or two and just do absolutely nothing but stretch and relax.
We'll see what the weekend brings.

        Also a quick sidenote, if you ever needed to contact me about anything, the only way to do it is through my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/KyleLe.net
Leaving a comment here or on YouTube is unlikely to be answered or answered by someone not me.
In the meantime, enjoy this video I pieced together.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ia Drang Valley LZ X-RAY Today 2014.

     I honestly don't know very much about the Vietnam War. I knew and still know very little about the Battle of the Ia Drang Valley. I was introduced to it through Mike from NY whose dream the past few years has been footage and pictures of what Chu Prong Mountain and some landing zones look like. Before my video and pictures today there has been no recent up to date footage of the area because this is a restricted area.

      This was easier said than done.

    Nobody in Pleiku seemed to know anything about helicopter landing zones. In fact, my driver who touted himself as someone really knowledgeable of the area because he went to war himself, didn't know the difference between Highway 14 and 14C. I had to do the navigating and you know how horrible I am at that. The 3G in the area was spotty at best. At times it didn't work.

     Heading south on 14, you'll hit a junction where you can continue going straight towards Buon Ma Thuot, about 150 kilometers away, or you can veer right and be on 19, which will eventually take you straight to 14C. Road markers are prevalent and easy to follow. The roads however are a challenge. The big roads were prone to construction. The small roads were prone to mud and roaming cattle that seemed oblivious to bikes. Trucks did a lot of damage to the paths, so sometimes going off the trail was the only option. Sometimes trucks would run me off the road too.

    When I got to the end and finally hit 14C. I wasn't sure where anything was. All I had were pictures that I didn't study very well. I just saw We Were Soldiers too. I saw the mountain and immediately recognized it as Chu Prong Mountain. There was no doubt about that. I attempted to go find Albany using the GPS coordinates that I had looked up, but my 3G and phone weren't that great. I didn't know how to properly do it. But by the time that I started to trek towards the area, some guard told me to get out. I didn't necessarily obey because I knew I had to get X Ray at least. That was still the main objective. So I stood there at the intersection studying my phone and the map for the longest time. I was able to conclude that it was a left turn, but I didn't know where it was exactly. All I had was the point of the mountain to be sure. Yet, as you heard in the video, I wasn't sure if that was X Ray or not.

     Nobody seemed to know.  I had wandered off and asked people in the area. They didn't know anything specific because most of them didn't study the history well enough or they were just new to the area. Therefore, my driver was absolutely no help to me at all. He wandered off to look for gas, and I found myself at a random clearing that I assumed was X Ray. Fortunately, it was. After receiving confirmation, I can say that I am the only person to have captured X Ray recently. The last photographs and videos were taken over 10 years ago. When I was done and the driver didn't come back, I hid in the bushes and had flashbacks of war time as if somehow in a previous life I was involved in the war. I felt like I was a part of it was I got on my hands and knees to avoid passing motorbikes. Hiding behind a shrub and tree didn't help much in the end. Another guard came up and I was busted. This time, it was more than just a warning. The rest is history. I'm not going to go into too much details about what happened after. But remember, 14C borders Cambodia and it is an off limits and restricted area. You can not just wander into it.

     So I left unsure whether or not I had captured the proper footage. The second ordeal lasted much longer, and I was exhausted. But I still had to check out Plei Mei, which housed a large American base camp back then. Now, it's mostly just farm lands and ethnic villages. No traces were left over. Even on Highway 25, there were relics and old plane landing strips that still remain. The ride there was once again grueling. The roads were just awful to say the very least. The ethnics weren't too friendly. The cows owned the road. But one thing was for sure, having been in some of the most remote locations of this country, that road south of Pleiku inward between 25 and 14 had to be some of the most away from civilization feel ever. I was dropped off for a bit in the middle of a village as my driver went ahead to try to fix a flat. I walked by and saw a bunch of stares from ethnic children and women. They were hesitant of strangers. They weren't as friendly as the Sapa people. They probably have seen very few outsiders with cameras in this neck of the woods. This deep deep neck. Not too long ago this area was nothing but forests. Now little communities sprung up. The ride through Plei Mei was just simply a ride. Nothing more, nothing less. But I felt incredibly vulnerable out there and quite far from California for a change.

      So that wraps it up. Through various strokes of luck I was able to find LZ X-Ray with limited resources. I didn't get to Albany though because I didn't have time nor permission. I wish I had known more about it before visiting. But now, I'm fascinated with this region and more on the war. In the future, I hope to do something like this again. If you liked the video or the following photos please consider sharing it with your friends and sharing the link to this blog entry as well. As always, if there are any questions feel free to contact me direct on http://www.facebook.com/KyleLe.net
A comment here or on YouTube might not be replied back or even seen by me because I don't always get to all of them.


IF ANYBODY WANTS TO SEE ALL 300 photos that I snapped of the area, send me a Facebook message and I'll link you up to my One Drive Folder.