Before selling my soul to the Computer Science god and enjoying all the privileges an elite education could provide, I was a reckless hitchhiker. For 9 months, I hitchhiked across Africa. Hitchhiking was also my main mode of transportation in Israel and South America. The highlight of my existence was when I was featured on the list of “fantastic hitchhikers” by the Lonely Planet author Anick-Marie Bouchard. Continue reading “[Day 703] What’s it like hitchhiking in the US”
I was in Orange County visiting the Vietnamese community and this showed up in my inbox:
This made me feel a bit rebellious so I wanted to do something different. Kieu, my super cute-and-kind host, recommended a great place for a way overdue haircut and while I was there, I decided to dye my hair. Continue reading “[Day 696] I lost my hair virginity”
… is that their horses have fabulous hair. Their hair is long, silver-blonde, blowing in the wind in such a way that it always covers one of their eyes like they are in a One Direction’s music video. The government has long decided that those horses’ hair is the most attractive thing about the country, besides Viking fish snack, licorice chocolate, and renewable energy, so you can see those horses posing everywhere. You can see them on the front page of magazines, on advertisements, and of course, in real life.
Btw, their licorice chocolate sucks. I got some as a gift for my friends and they’re using it to play pokers, as in if you lose, you have to eat it. Thanks, guys.
Thing 1: Dani and I knew our AirBnB was exactly downtown when we saw downstairs a drunken girl trying to catch a cab and the driver trying not to run her over. Then she screamed at him.
Thing 2: People cycled to pubs. We were wondering if it was legal to drink in public when we saw two guys casually pedaling by with beers in their hands.
Thing 3: It’s possible to accidentally walk into a sex bar. We were happy to finally find a bar without cigarette smoke then we realized there was something odd about it. There were only old white men and young Thai girls. Everyone was staring at us. Men were thinking about how Dani lucky was (at least I’d like to think that) and women were thinking that I was stealing their customer.
Thing 4: All the travel guides that tell you about the 10 things you must eat in Copenhagen are lying. There are only three things that people in Copenhagen eat: Chinese box, Doner kebab, and crepe. I think they might have potato and bread too but I’m not so sure. Continue reading “[Day 495] A few things about Copenhagen”
Over the years, I’ve noticed three things about books about Vietnamese culture:
- They are all written by foreigners. A guidebook to a country written by a foreigner is like a cookbook written by someone who has only had experience in looking at the food. There needs to be a book about Vietnamese culture written by a real Vietnamese.
- They all start with the war. Come on, the war ended 4 decades ago! There are so many more cool things in Vietnam.
- They all read like textbooks at best and phonebooks at worst. I believe that books should be not only informative but also entertaining.
I’ve spent the last two years interviewing many people: foreigners who have traveled in Vietnam, foreigners who have lived in Vietnam, foreigners who have never been to Vietnam, Vietnamese who have lived overseas, Vietnamese who have never been outside the country, etc. I’ve combined their opinion into a book called “How to not get your ass kicked in Vietnam: The native’s guide”. But I still need more input to make the book as comprehensive as possible. So please help me through this short survey:
Thank you very much! The prologue to this book can be find below.
I just finished reading “I am Malala” and I realized that I’m not patriotic. I never talk about Vietnam the way Malala talks about Swat valley, how she yearns for the mountains, the trees, the people of the valley. If she is traumatized that she is displaced from her homeland, my whole life I’ve been working to be able to be away. If she talks to her friends in Pakistan every day when she’s in England, I talk to my family probably once a month and my friends back home around once a year.
I don’t miss home. I don’t have that overwhelming sense of pride when I tell people that I’m Vietnamese. It doesn’t matter to me if I was born in Vietnam or in England or in Malawi. I took no part in deciding where I was born, therefore I deserve no pride in my nationality.
Asher Leiss is a good friend of mine who once spent 5+ years bumming around the world. He’s now based in Taiwan to learn Chinese, and is kind of a celebrity there because he has explored hundreds of waterfalls and documented them all. Talk about passion. Check out his website and Facebook to see a crazy white dude jumping off different waterfalls.
When Paul told me that he’d drop out of school to travel for a couple of years, I asked Asher to give him some packing tips. Paul found them helpful, so I hope that you find them helpful too. I’ll also prepare some packing tips and post them soon-ish.