This morning I woke up, saw this image, and tears welled up in my eyes. Tropical boys fighting in a snowstorm. Red flames burning on the white ground. They played a splendid game that brought hope to the hearts of millions of Vietnamese people who need it more than anything right now.
“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” – Billie Jean King
I have no doubt that the Vietnam team will play even more beautifully in the future, and that inevitably, they will be the champions.
I was enjoying a hot spring in Utah when a red-haired lady came to join me. Small talks ensued. I told her I was a creative writing student and I wanted to become a writer. She seemed confused.
“Do they teach Vietnamese writing here?”
“No, I’m studying English writing.”
“You want to write in English?”
Now she was really confused. I had an accent, I still do, and she was probably wondering how a person who didn’t even speak English could even dream of making a living out of it. Continue reading “[Day 473] Being a non-native English speaker writing in English”
Ho Chi Minh City administrators just released a video that is supposed lay out some etiquette dos and don’ts for tourists. Wonderful idea in theory, but the universal reaction I’ve received from foreigners living in Vietnam is:
Continue reading “[Day 247] Tourists to Saigon: “Are you f**king kidding me?””
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:
Survey for non-Vietnamese
Survey for Vietnamese
Thank you very much! The prologue to this book can be find below.
Continue reading “[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture”
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.
Continue reading “[Day 232] Patriotism for sale”
I just arrived in Vietnam realized that WordPress is blocked here. I keep forgetting that we have censorship. Some more examples of censorship in Vietnam:
Continue reading “[Day 220] WordPress is blocked in Vietnam”
As some of you have kindly pointed out, I haven’t blogged for a while. Here are two possible explanations:
- Juggling school, teaching, writing, and a decent social life is rough.
- I’m an unmotivated, lazy piece of sh*t.
So, to keep you up to date with my life, because you know it’s sooo exciting, here are some of the things that have happened to me recently, via Facebook:
Continue reading “[Day 207] Quick update on what I’ve been up to”