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:
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.
Today, I found out that something I wrote got featured on SFGate. Someone asked on Quora about the cheapest place to live for a year. I answered and SFGate republished it.
I have been to more than 30 countries in Asia, Africa, South and Central America and I would say that if cost is all you care about, regardless of the standard of living, you would have plenty of options to live under $300/month. Below are some of my favorites:
When we first arrived in Edinburgh, as an introduction to Scottish culture, they had us sit and listen to two gentlemen in suits talking in a monotonic Scottish accent for 4 hours. They had powerpoint slides and everything, and they just read things off the slides like tenured professors who have stopped giving a flying duck. I went out looking for water but before I knew it, I was walking to the nearby ice cream shop and ordered myself a nice, mouthwatering scoop. When I came back, Delenn whispered: “My god you missed it. This guy just read Scottish words off a dictionary for half an hour. Every time he finished a word I thought he would stop, but he just kept going.”
In the last few years, I have been very fortunate to have seen some truly magnificent landscapes. No, I’m not rich. I just really like traveling and I work hard to be able to travel. Sometimes I take the photos and just put them away. Today, I was cleaning my hard drive when I found these photos and thought to myself: “Let’s make a list.” Below are my 10 favorite places for landscapes. Most of the photos are taken by me or I hold copyright, and I have to admit I didn’t do these places justice.
So I met a white guy last night at a party in Edinburgh and he told me he liked me because, said he, “I really like Asian girls.” How is it supposed to be cute? It’s like saying: “I don’t care about you as a person. I don’t care what kind of shitty personality that you have. As long as you’ve got that chinky eyes and that petit body I’m gonna xyz.” Like I’m one of those mass produced dolls from China. Like millions of girls like me exist just for the sole purpose of satisfying your fetishism.