Friday, April 18, 2014

Living in Vietnam TODAY. A year since home.

         It's been a whole year since my last trip back to America.


      Everything has grown so much since then.

    Yet, I'm still the same in many ways.

2.8 years later and I'm still the same.

I still wake up excited when I see rain. Then I realize that I might have to commute in it. But I still appreciate Vietnam's rains just as I once did my first time here. The rain makes me forget about the humidity for a while. That earthy smell. Splashing other drivers. It's a pain. No rain poncho for me. But I still love rain, especially when I don't have to go anywhere.

I still get sick from eating food. Some days, I'll eat something- usually some veggies and then I'll have cramps throughout the day. I don't use public bathrooms, nor do I really want to in Vietnam. So I let myself strain. I clench real hard. Trust me, it ain't fun to hold it in when you're maneuvering a 300 pound something motorcycle through traffic. Sometimes it's so painful that I forget that I have diarrhea in the first place. Sometimes, I just forget about it, and then it roars suddenly back. Luckily, by then, I'm already at home. I still love that feeling of finally letting it out. Oh man, I have to..

I still enjoy the serenity of of living away from the hustle and bustle of D1. Rent is damn high. I wish it lower. But I still prefer quiet nights and day trips into the city feeling as if I was a tourist. I still longer for that feeling of just visiting. I'm still scared of the thought of no return flight home. I think about this all the time. I still prefer the modern and as far away as the real Vietnam as possible, because visiting the real Vietnam from time to time is much more rewarding.

I still feel the desire to travel Vietnam. Let's face it. I'm one of the most well traveled Viet kieus you'll ever meet. I have yet to visit Con Dao. Everything else has been done. I can't think of a notable place that I haven't some significant time in. So, what's left? Oh... there's still so much to tell and show. The hard part is finding the time to travel. I'm still f'n busy. I still have f'm commitments. If you stay committed to sharing SoJournaling Vietnam with your friends and family, I promise I'll stay focused on creating more travelogues. (at least for the next six months)

I still am single. And I'm perfectly okay with it. I still have western expectations for women here. I still want to be with someone wholesome and perfect. That type of person wouldn't exist here. I still have crazy expectations. I still haven't looked in the mirror under bright lighting. I'm perfectly okay with being single. I know life could be more fun with a girlfriend here, but life could also be filled with drama and restrictions. Cultural barriers still exist. A year won't change anything. A lifetime might not either. I've realized that no one locally here would be able to provide the verbal support that I need in my more native language of English. So in the meantime, I'll be hanging out with the homies instead.

Most importantly, I haven't lost my identity. When in Rome, do as the Romans.. F that.
I am who I am. A different environment won't change it. I still haven't lost my roots because my roots are in 714.

Time just flies. It just flies.
If you like this blog, may I suggest that you share it with your friends and family? I know there are many Vietnamanics out there. (did i just coin a new term?) YES! Share di. Cam on ca nha.

Some things I miss most about America:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Vietnamese Family. Visiting grandson vs. actual grandson.

           6:30 AM. I get a phone call. My first inclination was that my parents should know better than not to wake me up, especially since I just went to bed not too long ago. But after checking the screen, I realized that the caller ID read, "Grandpa"

          I grew up without grandparents. My father's parents were both in Vietnam and my mother's parents were both dead. The whole notion of grandparents is foreign to me. I really tried bonding with my grandmother when she was still alive. But early blog followers would remember how miserable and angry I was during her funeral. My grandfather now is the last remaining grandparent I have. I do want to spend more time with me. But unfortunately, our ideas and philosophy on life acts as a barrier separating us. I won't back down. He won't back down. I'll just end up offending him. Sometimes it's better to barely know someone. That way, you won't create negative impressions. I want my grandfather to think of me as the university graduate grandson who was studious and won awards. I don't want him to think of me as a person challenging traditional Confucian values. I don't want him to think of me as a risk taker, that would just worry him. I don't want my grandfather to know me too well, because he wouldn't be able to handle the real me because he's 98 years old.
It seems like the more time I spend in Vietnam, the image of who his only paternal grandson is have drastically changed the more he gets to know me. I'm not what he had envisioned.

       The first thing he asked me was how come I haven't called him in three months. I remembered not calling him for two months, not three. I was still half a sleep, unsure why he would call me in the first place. Without a proper hello, a proper how are you, a proper hey grandson. How am I supposed to answer that question? I wish I could just tell him the truth. I wish I could just say that I wanted to call him, but there would be nothing to talk about just like every other time that I've called. I wanted to tell him that we don't have much in common and that anything new in my life would put fear into his. I wanted to tell him that I'm okay and that there's nothing to worry about. If I perish, he'll find out. I wanted to tell him that maybe I'm not that thoughtful and that I don't know what it's like to be loved with a grandparent. But instead, I chickened out and told him that I was just so busy. He wasn't happy with that answer.

       He kept at it, telling me that I am to call him every two weeks. I asked him if there was anything new. He said no and that he's old and sick. Nothing's new. Just old and sick. Just like every other damn time. I told him that I was going to Nepal. He warned me about how "dangerous" it could be. I chuckled a little bit, and added that I was going by myself, which alarmed him even more. Quickly, realizing what I had done, I stopped. He then added that I had to buy something for him for memories. I don't buy much when I travel. He was mad at me for not getting him anything when I went to India. I didn't buy anything for anyone in India because I was at a damn beautiful resort for most of the stay. Old people here seem to be very materialistic. My grandfather loved the fact that I bought him some Phu Quoc fish sauce. He still remembered that bottle from way back. Afterwards, I never got him anything else. I'm just not that thoughtful because I didn't grow up in a loving home. Remember, Lac Su's father said it best, "I Love Yous are for White People." The Vietnamese language can be very difficult to express affection and love the same way that English easily can.

        So a few minutes later our conversation seemed to fizzled and suddenly the connection ended without a proper goodbye. Locals here often will just hang out. There's no proper bye or confirmation. That annoys the shit out of me. I was pretty annoyed. This was not a good way to begin the day. I didn't appreciate being nagged at. My grandfather questioned why at 6:30 AM I was still in bed. It was so different when I was the grandson that was only seen three times. I remembered the first time I met him, I actually cried. But the more time I spent with him, the more Vietnamese he expected me to be. If I didn't know a certain word of cultural context, he would blame my parents for not teaching me. This would of course makes me mad. My grandfather has a weird love/hate relationship with my dad worthy of its own blog/movie. I absolutely despise it when people fault my parents whenever I don't understand something. None of my relatives have worked harder than my folks. They don't understand anything about America. They're actually pretty lucky to live in Vietnam. But that's besides the point I'm trying to argue here.

       I don't even know what it's like to be someone's grandchild. Remember, respect is earned. I don't believe in the whole ideology of without them there's no you.

      I laid there thinking about how I wanted to get closer with family. I resented the fact that there were relatives of mine that I barely knew. I still barely know them. I've tried. But it seems like the closer I get to them, the farther apart we grow. I rather let them have a fixed impression of me. It's difficult for them to understand that there are certain needs I have... such as AC and toilet paper. ... and free will.

My grandfather (seated) with his homies. circa 1950

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Vietnam Travel FAQs. Things to consider before you visit Vietnam.

        Here are some common questions that I frequently find in my inbox.

1) When is the best time to visit Vietnam?

     Short Answer: Whenever you're free. Stop bitchin' and just go.

 Long Answer: The best time to visit Vietnam is during December or January. The weather in Saigon can be very comfortable at night. The rains are easily forgotten because the skies remain relatively dry. The breezes at night are what I live for. Ha Noi during this time can be downright cold. But North Vietnam is best experienced this way. It'll feel so different than Saigon, I really recommend to experience Vietnam when it's cold. And yes, it does get cold. Other than that, the rainy season can be a burden for many interested in sightseeing. The rain is relaxing at times, but having your limited days revolve and depend on the clouds is risky.

2) What kind of tours do you recommend?

     Short Answer: Absolutely none. Stop being a bitch and just do it yourself.

Long Answer: Vietnam's tourism infrastructure is developed enough now that you can do many things yourself. You don't have to rely on tours or agencies to book tickets for you. Information is readily available on the internet. Many people speak English enough to get by. Plus, there are plenty of reliable guide books out there. Now for the lazy, old, or old and lazy people out there- I definitely recommend a tour of Ha Long Bay. I also recommend taking quick day tours into the Mekong Delta or to Cu Chi. These are so affordable, and you barely have to lift a finger. Everything is pretty much taken care. Remember, you get what you paid for. There are plenty of these options on De Tham or Pham Ngu Lao in District 1. But if you're adventurous enough, just do it yourself. It'll be more rewarding in the long run.  Other than that, I don't recommend any tours of Saigon as this city is best explored by oneself. If you need a tour in Saigon, then I guess you need someone to spoon feed you some pho too?

3) Is Vietnam safe?

        Short Answer: If you have to ask me that, then please just stay home like a bitch.

Long Answer: Yes. Vietnam is safe. If you practice safety measures like not flaunting your smart phone in public towards traffic, then I promise you'll be fine. No one will kidnap you. I've said it before, I feel safer in Saigon at night then I did in Long Beach. Now, you do have to be careful when you're on a motorbike or on the back of a motorbike. Seriously, though, that is one aspect of Vietnam that might be considered more dangerous. Practice safety measures. If you never rode a motorbike before, you might not want to just jump on and drive it in Saigon's traffic. Even I limit my riding in the main parts of the city. Also, a car will always win when it comes to four wheels versus two. Remember that. Other than that, Vietnam's safe.

4) Should I eat street food?

        Short Answer: No, just starve like a bitch.

Long Answer. Absolutely. One of the most rewarding things about visiting Southeast Asia, and Vietnam in particular is eating like a local. The street food culture is prevelant here. There's street food on ever corner when the sun sets until the sun rises. I really recommend dishes like banh xeo Mien Trung or bo la lop. It's best to stay away from the tourist area for street food though. If you want real street food, just go anywhere else. There's decent grilled chicken places all over town. The place next to the airport is decent. The possibilities are endless when it comes to street food. Roasted or fried quail in butter from a cart? Hell yeah. I'm going to get some tomorrow.

5) How would you travel to Vietnam with kids?

         Short Answer. I wouldn't. I'd use birth control so I wouldn't be a bitch with kids.

Long Answer. Some kids love Vietnam, while others are going to be downright shocked. Depends on the kid. But I recommend taking things slower if you're here. Don't go climb a mountain, don't spend too much time on the road, and more importantly, don't exhaust them in the midday heat during the summer time when they're likely here. Do family orientated things, such as a visit to an arcade at any of the major malls or department stores. There are also a few amusement parks nearby that would entertain the kids for a day or two. Despite what trite people always gripe about, the Zoo is a great place to take kids. I really recommend it. If your kids are old enough, do teach them a little about Vietnam's history. I think they would appreciate the country a lot more. Their trip might be a lot more rewarding if they knew exactly whats up. If they're too young, you probably shouldn't take them on the trip anyways.

6) I want to ride from Saigon to Hanoi, can you advise me?

          Short Answer. No, I'm a bitch, I don't do that shit.

Long Answer. This idea has never even crossed my mind. I'm not wreckless like that. Everyone that has done it that I've spoken to have warned me how dangerous the mountain roads to Da Lat and Nha Trang can be. It's not something I'd consider doing because I value my life. Plus, sitting on a bike and cruising for hours on end seems pretty lame to me. My flat ass wouldn't like it. I'll do it for a few hours, but I don't want to spend a whole day being uncomfortable. I guess I would sleep pretty well at night, but I wouldn't do it. Before I leave Vietnam, I'll put my bike on a train and I'll ride from Ha Noi around the mountainous roads towards China. That would be fun. But yeah, I really can't advise you on that aside from just making sure you get a reliable bike. I recommend a full manual because thats what I prefer to use nowadays. Don't cheapen out when it comes to a bike, especially a Chinese copy. Make sure your bike has bright lights. Wear a jacket for safety. Try to get at least a semi proper helmet. Spend extra money, your life is really worth it. Or is it?

7) What should I bring for my relatives in Vietnam?

           Short Answer. Ask your your parents.

Long Answer. Money. Chocolates. Anything from Costco. The more famous and cliche the name brand the better. Perhaps you should try a USA T Shirt? People in the countryside aren't picky at all. They'll appreciate any gesture, especially Eagle Brand Medicated Oil ( The one with the shiny box ).
City people might appreciate electronics like an iPhone or a laptop. Even though all the major consumer electronic players have influence in all major retailers here, locals still prefer something hand carried over. It's that self hating mentality, I guess. If it's imported, therefore it must be better. Sometimes it's true, but it's not always true. But be sure to bring your relatives something. It's the culture. Don't just show up empty handed. They'll treat you a lot differently. Cash also is great. Maybe invite them out to a lavish dinner. I should really do that with my relatives one of these days.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

DOG CAFE in Saigon, Vietnam.

        When this concept opened I was a little hesitant to visit. My first encounter with the cats at the cat cafe wasn't all that pleasant. A concentration of animals just smell. They have a certain odor to them that I'm not used to. If you own dogs, chances are you are used to their smell. As someone who is rarely close to dogs, I'm a little bit sensitive to them. That and the fact that the Star Dogs Cafe is home to some pretty big Huskies. That's right, Huskies in Saigon's heat.

          Now, recently, it's been a popular trend for rich people to own Huskies, especially blue eyed ones. I guess it's just another status symbol. Another way to feel powerful through conspicuous consumption. A huskie dog would probably eat as much as a person daily. Surely, they require a lot of care and maintenance. They also run for several thousand dollars a pup.

        I've always had a fear of dogs. My parents never allowed me to keep one because they claimed we shouldn't play with our food. I've fantasized about being a dog owner when I was young. I thought of myself as the guy from Shiloh. I wanted a beagle for the longest time. I always thought they would make a good Kyle Le dog. But as I got older, I settled for frogs instead. Thus, this is probably why I've failed to be close to anyone in recent years because I never had a dog to nurture when I was younger. Heck- my mom gave my rabbit away just 24 hours after owning it. I remember how my mom used to say that rabbits need to be picked up by the ear. LOL.

       So there I was on a steaming hot day with Canh and Austin and a pile of dogs all around us wanting to sip our sodas. As soon as you walk in, the pack will instantly greet you at the metal gates. I brought a doggy bag with me because we just ate. The dogs picked up the scent right away and chased me for a bit. They were hungry as we later observed their lunch in action. We sat down and were weirded out right away. My mind was just racing with so many health code violations in America. I couldn't stop thinking about how unusual this concept was. I remembered how a dog could easily close down an entire restaurant in America, yet here in Vietnam, eating with the animals seems perfectly normal. After looking at the menu, I decided to play it safe and order canned soda because you can't just go in there and sit. You still pay no matter what. In a sense, it's a zoo of sorts.

        We mostly wondered how the owner could possibly pay the bills and hire staff. It seems like a novelty at first, but a second visit might not be on the books anytime soon. If you're a dog lover who doesn't want to clean up after your dog, then do check this place out. I for one, can not stand dogs in apartments. I don't know why or how some people are able to keep big ass dogs over here in their tiny apartments. Maybe I'm a selfish person? Maybe I'm a horrible person? I just can't imagine sharing my space with a dog. I can't get that close to any dogs. Can I even get that close to any humans? Some humans bite harder than dogs. Some human's barks are even more annoying.


The dogs get to roam around freely, but during meal time, they are leashed for obvious reasons.

Vietnamese food. Vietnamese People. Bo La Lop Longings.

         By the time this entry would be published, and by the time that video were to be made public, Anne and Marn would no longer be in America. As you already know, Anne left not too long ago after a not too long stay. Marn recently left, with a return to be rather uncertain. And just like that Kyle's Krew just got a little bit smaller. But let's face it. In life, especially here in Vietnam, people come and go. I've kinda gotten used to it. I don't fight it as much as I used to. It is what it is.

          Moments spent together should be cherished as much as possible. I want to appreciate every waking minute I have in Vietnam. I remembered how I used to love Vietnam and didn't want to waste my time when I was here during the third trip. But gradually, I would grow bored of it and then would want to go home. Living here is a whole different animal. I can't just go home or take random days off whenever I want. I have commitments. But in 15 days. I get to go to Nepal. I can't say that it's a dream come true. I've never dreamt about it. I knew it would happen. I knew that I would see Yangzom again, I just thought it would have been in Vietnam or Amsterdam. Who would have thought, out of all places, Kathmandu would be a reuniting place for us. I just can't wait to get out of Saigon for a week. I want to wake up in Nepal every day, and get out there and just be a part of it all. I want to just soak it all in, and stay outside of my hotel was often as possible I don't remember ever being this excited about any trip. If India was a dream come true, then Nepal is going to simply be a long awaited given event. It was bound to happen. But now that it's happening so soon, I'm still trying to cope with the thought. I just want to shout, "YES YES YES YES." How many fist pumps can I do before my elbows start getting tired? I get it I'm excited for Kathmandu.

         Back to bo la lop here for a bit... I think bo la lop wrapped with rice paper and veggies has to be one of my favorite Vietnamese dishes. The meat inside is fatty, lardy, and just plain delicious. You gotta sink your teeth into it when it's just barely cooled off. Once it gets too cold then it's a little hard to eat. The mayo dipping sauces is an interesting recent addition to this classic dish. The place featured in the video in District 1 is one of the best places I've had in the city, but then again, this dish isn't as prominent as let's say... com or pho. It's a night time food. It's meant to be eaten on plastic tables while breathing in the bike fumes. It shouldn't be eaten at a fancy smancy place. This is a new age hipster food meets granny panties all wrapped up in a delicious notion.

        But bo la lop is great because it's a social food. You can eat pho alone. You can sit in a little corner and eat your com suon all by your self. But you can't just eat bo la lop alone. It's a food meant for family and friends. In my case, I once had a chance to eat bo la lop in Bien Hoa with Uncle 7 and his children. That was really special, except everyone was trying to get the two Viet kieu dudes to eat more than what we wanted. Uncle 7 kept ordering more, simply because he could. But now, more recently, it was my idea to get some with my friends. The same friends I've made here that have really shaped the last two months into something rather social and rather engaging. This won't be the last time, we'll eat this dish together. Sure, sometimes you'll see different faces. You'll meet new people. But in the end, the core will remain even after I'm gone. That core is Vietnam. Bo la lop will remain even after I'm gone.

       I can not wait for Kathmandu.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Guest Blogger: Dear You.

Hey You,
Yes, you. I hope you are ready. It is not going to be easy. In fact, it’s going to be extremely difficult. I’m going to be difficult. One day, I am going to wake you up early in the morning, and tell you that I want to travel. I want to see the world. I will also want you to go with me. Anywhere. Everywhere. We’ll explore the ancient ruins of Cambodia one day, and go deep sea diving in Bali the next. May be we’ll follow the Inca trail to Machu Picchu someday, and when we get there, dripping of sweat and short of breath, panting, and questioning our own motives behind wanting to do it, we’ll see the view, and we’ll break free and shout out our angst to the world. We’ll feel alive. We’d have lived.
There will be days when I will drag you to the nearest theatre just because they are showing Shakespeare’s Othello, or the newest version of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. And if you do commit the mistake of falling asleep while I am engrossed in the world of my literature fantasy, I will pick a fight. I may start questioning your loyalty. And you may quite possibly even have to take the couch that night. But please remember, I wouldn’t have meant any of it anyway. I’ll still wake you up with a hot mug of your favourite tea in the morning, and apologise with a cheeky little smile on my face. We’ll fall in love all over again.
And when we decide to meet your parents for the first time, I’ll have a nervous breakdown. I’ll annoy you with the dilemma of what to wear, or whether I need a haircut. What gifts should I get them? Do you think they will like me? How should I address them? Oh trust me, perhaps for a millisecond, you will regret the day you met me and fell in love with this nervous wreck of a person. We will eventually meet your parents and I’ll fall in love with their stories of your growing up years. Your setbacks and falls. They will make me realize who you really are. They will make me respect you even more.
There will also be days when I’ll spoil you. I’ll send you your favourite flowers with a little note of ‘I love yous’ with the hope that they will brighten your day. I’ll wait for you at the bus stop, or may be outside your office, and perhaps we can walk home together. And if it rains, we’ll race each other to the apartment where we’ll sit by the window and listen to the gentle roar of the winds outside. We will each hold a cup of coffee and see lives pass by in the rain outside. I’ll see an old couple pass by hurrriedly in the rain, holding hands, and shoulders for support. I’ll look at you, and imagine our old age together.
Please remember that I’ll also have days when I’ll be extra difficult. I’ll not want to get out of the bed, I’ll cry for no reason, and I’ll also ask you to go away. May be we’ll have our differences, and sometimes we’ll see our paths getting diverged further down the road. But please also remember that that will be the time I’ll need you the most. I’ll need you to cover me from the harshness of the world. I’ll need you to love me at my most vulnerable. And then the hopelessness will slowly begin to fade, the paths won’t be diverged anymore. I’ll drag you to the theatres as usual. But then again, I will love you that much more.
I’ll introduce you to my friends. I’ll take you for dinners with my parents. And quite surprisingly, I won’t really be quite as scared as you are, because I look at you and then ask myself, ‘who wouldn’t fall in love with you?’
We will do a million and one things together. We will travel. We will buy books from a vintage book store somewhere in the world. We will occasionally spoil ourselves with a breakfast at The Ritz. We’ll own a dog named Bambi, and we will absolutely love her. And then perhaps, one day whilst I’m reading by the fire, you’ll slip that ring into my finger and ask me to spend the rest of our lives together. We’ll get married at a tiny little white sand beach just off coast Hawaii, surrounded by a small group of people who have seen us at our worst but love us to death anyway.
Through the best and the worst of times, we will be together. Yes, I’ll drag you to the theatres still, but then again I’ll also agree to sit through what will feel like an eternity of formula one racing. We will spend the winters of our lives, wrapped around each other, reminiscing about our Himalayan adventures, or that summer we spent volunteering at an orphanage in Nepal. We’d have lived through it all.
And so, are you ready? Yes, you. Your name, I don’t know. But I hope our paths will cross one of these days. Or may be it already has and I am yet to figure it out. And if you already have, and are waiting for me, please be patient with me. I’m a bit slow in these things. But I hope you will realise that when I meet you, and see in your eyes the light I’ve been searching for all these years, I’ll have already chosen to spend the rest of my life with you.
So, if it is raining outside and you miss your bus, will you wait for the next one? Or if you find the urge to check out the new bookstore in town, will you trust your instinct and go ahead anyway? Because standing opposite to you at the bus stop, or sitting next to you at the bookstore cafe, I might find myself smiling at you.

A spectacular entry written by Yangzom who is a far superior writer than me.  She is currently volunteering in Nepal right now, which is where I'll be at the end of the month.
That's right. SoJournaling Vietnam is going to Kathmandu. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Can Gio from Saigon. National Holiday and these titles suck now.

          It seems like it’s impossible to be on time in Vietnam. Most people who go to Can Gio tend to travel in the wee morning hours to avoid the sun. Unfortunately, for me and my crew, we couldn’t get up early enough.

         Another Vietnamese National Holiday meant off days all around, meant that the roads in the morning would be jammed packed.

         By 9 o’clock we were seated at a table patiently awaiting service. I’ve been craving some pho for days. That didn’t work out because the restaurant was so busy. Customers were moaning and griping. People sat around without any service. The waiters acted like there was no urgency to take orders. We said F it and walked out and drove around until we found a random com tam place after many other places told us they ran out. The later breakfast hours in between lunch means it’s very difficult to actually find something of quality to eat.

         The Nha Be road was packed. When we reached the ferry, the entrance was relatively hassle free.
I was worried about the ride initially because locals tend to rush and cram without realizing who was there first. People packed into the lines and packed into the side compartment to await the ferry.
When you board the ferry, please be careful. Seriously, you have to watch out because the grooves don’t line up perfectly between the boat and the land. A wheel could easily get caught and wedged in the middle and then you’re done for. I took a little angle because my bike clearance isn’t the greatest.

          The ride across was peaceful. A vendor served ice cream, and Canh and I ate away at some mad delicious 7,000 Dong ice cream sandwiches. On the other side of Can Gio it’s a little bit tamer than Nha Be. The buildings aren’t as tall and there are a lot less people. Before the ferry could full dock, motorbike ignitions went off, and the roar of exhausts echoed across the ferry. I felt bad for the man behind me because my exhaust tip was pointed directly in his face.

          So we were off.

      What a spectacular journey. The scenery and landscape changed from small town to rice lands to mangroves. The road there was relatively smooth and open. But you have to be careful. Roads aren’t imperfect. A random rock could make your trip miserable. The cruise was amazing. I took my bike up to pretty dangerous speeds at times because I could. Writing this right now, I definitely want to go back and cruise that road and explore more of the area. The heat was intense though. My face was completely drenched with sweat behind my mask. Sun burns all around.

       When we got there, the market area was crowded, and there were new developments along the beach that weren’t there a year ago. I was kind of shocked to see how many people there were there. The group and I turned left in search of a place to park. When we thought we found one, it turned out that we were parked on sand. My bike quickly sank, and some random dude helped me. Then on the way out, I hit a deeper bed and my bike toppled over with me. I was stuck underneath with my knee wedged into the ground. Austin and Canh helped me up. The bike wouldn’t start. I started panicking. My knee was stinging like crazy. Then I freaked out because there wouldn’t be any mechanic down there that could help me. I would have had to get a cart and cart it back to Saigon. Who knows how much that would have cost me. Luckily, a random guy saw me trying to start the bike, and we spoke a little bit. Then as I spoke with him, I realized that I was starting the bike while it was in first gear. A quick shift over to N and some slight hesitation, yet it was still able to start. So we I said thank God, and we got out of there. We went back to the market area, bought some seafood, waited two hours for it, and ate away. Then we made record time heading back. It was damn hot. I drank like three cups of sugar cane. It was so hot and busy. Clearly, there’s a market for day tourism in Vietnam.

       After I crashed, I wasn’t really enjoying the trip. I knew something was wrong with the bike, aside from the brand new mirror that I just bought because earlier in the week somebody stole one of my mirrors. The ride back home wasn’t as pleasant because there were many little rocks on the road, way more than the road going there. We sipped Monkey Island because it was getting late. After taking my bike to my mechanic, he test drove it, and told me right away what was wrong, and we both agreed something was off with the bike. So I’m bike-less for a few days. The damage will be in the hundreds of dollars. The morning after I couldn’t lift my left arm above my head and my shoulder blade is incredibly sore.

      Sorry for the relatively condense and short entry, but I'm lingering in pain.

Oh, and I didn't record a single video because I forgot to bring batteries for my camera.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Party and clubbing in Vietnam. How my opinions have changed.

     So most of you know that I hate clubbing in Vietnam. I'm not a party type of a guy because I constantly want the attention on me. Well I think after Sunday night, I'm starting to not resent it as much as I have in the past. (You can read past articles of my experiences here:

 It's not really that bad, but it's not really my cup of tea either. Let me explain.

     My friend rented a villa in one of the most American streets I've ever seen in Vietnam. These villas were located deep inside a wide alley in District 10. When the taxi pulled in, I swore I was back in Orange County for a brief moment. It was spectacular. I was mesmerized and blown away that such a neighborhood existed right underneath our noses.

      The house itself was off the hook. You're just going to have to wait and see the video. What a simple, yet amazing example of just how modern and westernized Vietnam could be. Each room was basic, yet modern enough to remind me of just how poor I was/am in America and in Vietnam. Heck, they even had a drying machine. Though the interesting thing is that the houses lacked privacy. I felt like the homes were a little too close for being over a million dollars each.

    I was already dead tired from the days previous events. I don't have Sunday mornings off. I tried to sneak in a few hours of sleep here and there before the pregame, but things didn't go my way. I hate prepping myself and beautifying myself. I hate wearing a lot of gel, and ironing, and trying to look good in darkness. I wasn't really there to impress anybody, so I decided to wear a black dress shirt with a lot of white stains... mostly because I didn't have any other clean shirts.

     When I got to the villas, I bought some noodles in the streets and ate it in there. It was kinda of surreal to eat something worth 15,000 Dong in the Great Gatsby's house.

      Then we hit the Kumho clubs. Met up with a few of my friend's friends.. about ten or so ladies who frequent clubs more than I frequent fish stores. It was kind of weird because I went out on a few dates with one of them, and I stopped responding back to her after a while because I got bored. She immediately called me out on it. That was semi-awkward, but we were able to talk briefly. It didn't really help me break the ice with many of the other girls though. These girls didn't really seem all that social. Maybe it's because I didn't look like I had any money? Let's face it, these girls are definitely not the hottest or cutest, but they had some pretty damn nice women bodies. Without make up, they're pretty average to below, but my God, with heels on, they weren't lacking anything physically. T and A galore. And none of them had any hairs on their legs. They actually looked clean, despite lacking substance.
Then again, I wasn't there to chit chat, I was there to get F'ed up to forget the fact that I'm not over a girl from down under. Maybe the alcohol would make me forget for a bit?

      I actually didn't mind the club. It wasn't crowded. We had the best table overlooking the entire place. There were soft seats to sit on. There were half naked girls dancing on stage. The girls around me smelled nice. Very little cigarette smoke around me. The fruits were tasty. Watching the girls dancing by the railing was like being in a sexy colonial B flick. For a Sunday night, man that club was busy. As if if nobody had jobs...

     I recommend going to a club at least once in Vietnam. It's a social mind fuck because there are people who are over dressed and people so under dressed that it's sad and funny at the same time. I mean, dudes were wearing slippers. Some girls wore these high cut jeans that looked so nasty because it made their butts all sunken in. I thought it was my ass I was staring at at times. The age range can also encompass a high range. There were dudes that night partying with girls that looked like their nieces and daughters. There were also young looking groups too poor to afford a table, so they just stood around. Oh, and it's kind of funny how staring is still somewhat okay here, but definitely more limited. And waiters? They dance too. Security? Everywhere. Staff acts a little bit differently here though. They all cater to your ever need as if you're a baby. They just want the tip of course. They don't really respect you, especially if they call you Anh. But none of this really affected me, therefore I was able to enjoy my time better than my previous clubbing experiences.

      So what's changed it for me? Clubs are still fake. Yes. Fake people, fake tits, whatever. But in all honesty, the music wasn't bad. I actually liked some of the songs. I think there was a One Direction mix in there and you all know I love them. If you don't think so much about it. It can be a fun place to just go and listen to some music with your friends. Dance a bit and just burn a few hours. It kind of reminded me of India for a moment, and how I really missed dancing. I think India changed it for me. I wasn't that bad.

        Then the group made sure they left, and quickly proceeded to the villa. By the way, some of these girls own their own cars. Yeah... some dudes out there really must have that much disposable income huh? The girls got comfortable by changing their dresses and jeans into cotton one pieces. The music continued on. Chao and mi goi were prepared because at that time nothing else was open. Lol at the girls slurping up noodles. There's actually some substance in these girls... especially when they were drunk. I was actually starting to carry an interesting conversation primarily in English with one of them, and then I got really fucked up and the rest I can't write about because my family reads my blog.

         I woke up the next morning after sleeping for an hour to complete chaos and destruction around me. I felt so deprived and sunken in. Good thing we didn't have to clean up. What a disaster. One of my friends Blackberry was missing along with his chord. His assistant came to pick him up because work was a few hours away. Then it was my turn to leave so I bid all the sleeping people  farewell, called for a cab, and hopped in. Vietnam the morning afternoon was actually a pretty interesting place. I never felt as distant from it as I did in that long cab ride home. I ordered two pizzas with slurred Vietnamese. I showered and ate them. Then I slept for most of the day. Two days later, I'm still feeling the side effects. No regrets. Despite what I did- going against my usual moral confines, everything is an experience in its own rights. I'm happy I was able to act my own age for once. I'm glad I was able to step over the boundaries of my anxiety and worry. Lol, I made sure the knives were all hidden in the house. Now am I going to do this every weekend? Hell no. Am I ever going to this again? Probably not. But I'm glad I did it. Hopefully there won't be any long term side effects. Thank God party girls aren't clingy.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The best Vietnam travel documentary to Quy Nhon ever.

        So finally after months of slow painful editing Quy Nhon was released earlier today. Arguably, one of the best SoJournaling Vietnam videos to date. It's also the last video to use my old Canon HV 30. It's an end of an era. Or the beginning of one depending on your perspective.

       Quy Nhon was all about timing. I really had no plans when Judd and I boarded that train. I knew virtually nothing about the area. All I knew was that the train passed by it sorta, and I wanted to use the train as my primary mode of transport. A lot of footage was cut. We met a funny British dude that due to pacing reasons, I had to ultimately leave out. Hurricane Haiyan made the first few days interesting, yet it was hard to capture those moments of uncertainty as people filled sand bags all over the place. Nearing the end of the first day, Judd and I just sat around semi-bored with really nothing much to do. Some temples were on the list, but you've seen so many temples that it's not even funny anymore. Then timing was also right, and four dudes rolled up, and our two groups merged, and we instantly became friends. They really helped make this trip memorable because the storm never came.

     The video itself is a little bit different than previous videos not only because it's longer, but also because I tried to experiment more with camera movement before cuts. So, some of those weirder sudden zoom ins and outs or side pans and then cut to a different scenes were all planned. I didn't become lazy and didn't edit those out. I wanted to see how it would look. In the end, I'm pretty content with it. Like I said before, cinematography is a favorite part of filming for me. I enjoy framing a shot and praying it comes out right without a viewfinder.

      It's also pretty evident throughout the piece that Ngoc still is on my mind. There hasn't been a day that goes by she doesn't cross my mind. I'm trying my best though, time erases everything. It's just a matter of time before I can function normally without wondering what did I do to deserve such drama that's still affecting me as I write this. I can't help but feel sorry for her. She had it all with me. I worshipped her. I would have put a ring on that if she actually existed. I was only able to afford the Yamaha FZS because I spent months saving up and starving myself knowing she'd be here so we could do things like together. Of course that never panned out, so at least I'm left with something besides bitterness and a slow indifference. I just need some more time, and things will be more than fine.

If you liked the video, please share it with your friends and family.
Let's make this the best SoJournaling Vietnam ever. 

Monday, April 7, 2014

I have a song about me now!!

Yes I do.

Thank you to Antti Luode. For those of you who don't know Antti Luode has graciously allowed me to use his original music on the majority of my videos. Without him, I wouldn't know what to do.

Check the song out. This song will be in the last SoJournaling Vietnam video ever.

For more of his music visit

Thank you Antti.

My ego is about this big right now (--------)
Stay tuned for SoJournaling Vietnam in Quy Nhon to be released very soon.