[Day 636] Instant karma

Last week, I was being a bad person.

One, a girl living in my house wasn’t very nice to me and my friend. She wanted to explain herself, but I just walked out on her mid-conversation. I wasn’t even that mad at her. I just don’t like people who aren’t nice to my friends.

Two, there’s that one American English teacher in Vietnam whose story has been upsetting me for a long time. First, he made a condescending video showing how his parents react to the way Vietnamese people speaking English to prove that Vietnamese English teachers can’t teach English, together with another video instructing Vietnamese people on how to dine with westerners. Dude, if you make your living in Vietnam, you’d better learn to dine with us, not the other way around. Continue reading “[Day 636] Instant karma”

[Day 636] Instant karma

[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture

Over the years, I’ve noticed three things about books about Vietnamese culture:

  1. 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.
  2. They all start with the war. Come on, the war ended 4 decades ago! There are so many more cool things in Vietnam.
  3.  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”

[Day 235] I need your input to write a bad-ass book about Vietnamese culture

[Day 95] How two penniless backpackers produced an award-winning travel show and got Anthony Bourdain on it

Two years ago, two backpackers came to me with an ambitious proposal. They were two American guys who just quit their high paying, Bostonian jobs to pursue the dream of having their own travel show. They had no money and no connection. Like all protagonists of rag to riches stories, all they had was an idea, load of enthusiasm, and–this and is different–an “eye candy.” Ray, the aspiring director, playfully pointed at his friend Mark, who was tall, lean with tousled hair and a sun-kissed smile. They wanted to have Anthony Bourdain on their show. They needed Anthony Bourdain on their show. The entire existence of their show banked on the participation of Anthony Bourdain. I didn’t quite understand their reasoning at that time–I didn’t even know who Anthony Bourdain was. But I figured it was some sort of fanaticism, and I’m drawn to fanaticism like a moth to a flame.

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The two backpackers with a big plan

Continue reading “[Day 95] How two penniless backpackers produced an award-winning travel show and got Anthony Bourdain on it”

[Day 95] How two penniless backpackers produced an award-winning travel show and got Anthony Bourdain on it

[Day 42] 10 amazing landscapes I have seen

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.

1. Bagan, Myanmar

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Bagan, Myanmar

Continue reading “[Day 42] 10 amazing landscapes I have seen”

[Day 42] 10 amazing landscapes I have seen

[Day 17] That feeling when you have to be protected from your own country

Since I will be traveling outside the US over the summer, my advisor *strongly recommended* that I visit the travel clinic before I go. So I did. I told the doctor I plan to visit the UK and Vietnam.

“UK is fine but for Vietnam, you’d need to be careful.”

Continue reading “[Day 17] That feeling when you have to be protected from your own country”

[Day 17] That feeling when you have to be protected from your own country

[Day 10] Timeline for all events related to the fish deaths in Vietnam

For those of you who don’t already know, recently there has been some social unrest in Vietnam. A lot of people went out on the street to protest over the mass fish death and the way the government has been handling the situation. As is the case with unrest, there are a lot of people spreading rumors and causing even more unrest. I think it might be helpful to just look at the facts. Below is a complete timeline of all those events: from when the fish started dying on April 6 to today. I only quoted accredited newspapers, and I don’t include rumors spread on social media. Please let me know if there is something I’m missing.

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Dead fish drifted into a dam near Lach Giang Seaport, Thua Thien-Hue. Photo: Thanh Quang/Thanh Nien

Continue reading “[Day 10] Timeline for all events related to the fish deaths in Vietnam”

[Day 10] Timeline for all events related to the fish deaths in Vietnam

[Day 5] How to become a CEO at 23

I first met Linh Tran Hai seven years ago when I was still an antsy teenager. At that time, Linh was 23 and the CEO of Lenovo Vietnam. I met him once, added him on Facebook and we went our separate ways. What would the youngest CEO in the country want to do with me anyway?

A few days ago, Linh messaged me saying he’s in Bay Area and would love to catch up. I jumped at the invitation. We had dinner, and I got to learn about his incredible journey from an unemployed college undergrad to a country manager at 23. Continue reading “[Day 5] How to become a CEO at 23”

[Day 5] How to become a CEO at 23