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Meditations in Luang Prabang

this place is the epitome of focus on doing nothing. its not off the grid but it’s not most people’s option 1, 2, or 3 in Southeast Asia.

the irony is I have spent a full week in one place for a change and although extraordinarily chill, this place would not strike me as the place I’d love to spend more than a full week.

one thing I have come to grips with is it is very challenging to actively do little to nothing. I’m wired to challenge myself. something I’m realizing in my time meditating in the temples here as well as in the waters of Bali is that perhaps my incessant need to one up myself and everyone around me has soured me.

Buddha teaches they the entirety of our existence is one long struggle with suffering ending in death. I may be phrasing it in a depressing manner but I get the ethos. there are parallels to Viktor Frankl’s Holocaust read Man’s Search for Meaning.

some of the things I realize about my time here include an almost unhealthy need to constantly ugprade myself. perhaps it’s an insecurity, but I prefer to label it a nasty scar from spending so much time in Silicon Valley.

here i push myself to meditate longer with each passing day. I ask myself to read books to improve my speed and literacy. I use the silence and peace to write more. in this private enclave in a lost corner of Southeast Asia, one would think I could truly just chill. but the thoughts pervade my mind. the need to keep working on myself. am I missing a larger point about life?

one thing I will be more conscious of is not being so hard on myself. I’m not sure if others would describe my life as a success or a failure. good news is I care more about what I think than others. when I think of the entire body of work which is my life I would qualify it as a success that’s fighting to put a defining stamp of success for the world to recognize. but when I think of individual moments my mind always recalls my failures first. maybe this wiring is the very trigger which drives me forward, but I believe there is a healthier approach which can yield smoother results. a more loving approach.

I read a quote by the famous monk “walk as if your feet are kissing the ground”. there’s a profound truth here which completely alludes me today.

second, I always find myself comparing and reconciling with the world around me. I can feel it in the quiet moments when thoughts bubble up out of nowhere. again it stems from this obsessive pursuit to be better. I think of the surfers at Echo Beach. I think of my time with Patrick in the Philippines. I give everyone all the credit in the world but myself. I remember when I was young I did that to my own family. thinking that for some reason the right answers were always everywhere but underneath my own roof. Johnny and I had a conversation in Cambodia with a Frenchmen and I think now to his statement that in life we are all faced with big questions and often you won’t find an answer but rather a better question to ask.

Sometimes we get trapped in our own self image. it becomes an identity. mine to constantly fight against the grain, to prove I am right and smarter than everyone in the room which manifests via my predictions. I look back and realize that much more my success draws from these traits.

today I’m convinced there’s a way to flow through life instead of hacking at it. think of life like an ocean rather than a jungle. even my time at Cloudflare toward to end was a stark lesson relative to my start. my start was hacking in all direction, at all my problems, getting distracted by everthing. by the end I found a groove learning to build a real network and staying focused on a single lane. A lot like a surfer who is focused looking at the horizon for his next wave.

a path that’s more about reading the waves properly. that’s where my vision should be directed. today my vision is focused on finding the Golden Nugget in the jungle. Here forward I want it to be focused on riding the next wave.

there is a key difference between my jungle and ocean. it is one that’s been bugging me for a while now. the Gold in the Jungle is an observation without active participation. it is simply identifying coordinates on a map with a timeline. the Waves in the Ocean implies doing the above while understanding both myself and the target are in constant motion. it also means encountering wave after wave. being in the ocean means identifying the right wave but also being intimiately in the action. it asks me to deal with the situation as it comes. there is no hiding the ocean which I learned on multiple occasions on this trip.

it should be spent more on watching the waves

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Laos: Temple of Silence

the session started with 4 monks. 2 locals were present. 1 Italian girl who was dressed in a full robe and 2 french women who were passerbys that chose to attend.

the chants reminded me of school. right away I lost my place in the book. the syllables as read in English don’t match the way it’s said in Laotian. I was doomed from the start.

I read the English translation instead. I tried to find my groove. there were brief moments when I was in the moment. the awkwardness and feelings of being out of place were powerful . I was a foreigner wearing the wrong clothes with a temple filled with orange robed monks.

once the chanting ended there was a long period of silence. for how long I could not say possibly 30 minutes to 1 hour. for the first stretch I was in the zone. then in the middle my mind started to wander hard. a dozen different life scenarios played through my mind. my focus was lost. when it came back it was only half strength constantly finding reasons to no be in the moment.

when the long silence ended the 4 monks at the front facing forward turned around and faced directly at us. it was a intimidating as I did not understand the culture.

by the end of the chanting the 2 french passerbys snuck out. at the end of the long silence the 2 locals bowed respectfully and left. it was just me and the Italian with 4 monks.

the Italian girl gave her offerings of soy milk to the monks and shared some of her concerns. they said a prayer together. the head monk turned to me and asked where I was from.

we talked briefly. it was quite the initiation via silence. Laos is not atop most travelers lists, when I first arrived I felt the calm and almost not enough to do vibe.

after today I got my first sense that this is a strong dose of exactly what I need for my own personal development. this is the perfect place for cultivate my patience, bring my mind to the present, and chill the fuck out.

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Prediction: America vs. Coronavirus

this is all off the cuff but this is a rough cut of how I see things playing out, primarily informed by my understanding of our government, businesses, and citizens.

usa will handle this situation poorly. like many things which are on our doorstep it’s another once in a generation type of scare which makes it difficult to prepare for as there are few playbooks to work from.

in our case we have had the benefit of watching other countries deal with it before it hit our shores. sadly, it appears we have done little to prepare for it.

worse yet, the many cases of people citing they cannot and will not be tested. this willful denial of testing is so American. we cannot have a problem if the numbers say so. it’s a lot like our stock markets at the moment.

the difference with the coronavirus is that people die and the issue propogates exponentially when not dealt with aggressively on the front end.

here is my prediction: we are currently at 12 deaths and 225 cases. by end of March we will be well into the thousands with over half of the states reporting cases.

I don’t foresee the fed forcing cities to be quarantined and will leave that to cities and the cities will leave that to companies.

companies will be forced into a difficult decision and will likely offer optional work from home choices to their enployees. the real economy will suffer. the fake economy (the stock market) will flourish hitting new all time highs.

by end of April we will start to see the beginnings of the outbreak. the state and federal governments will begin to take more aggressive China style measures but unlike China we will have let the cat out the bag too far and our slow reactions will cause the recovery period to be prolonged.

this fear will sweep the nation while Netflix is in production making their next hit series documenting the Coronavirus.

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2020’s: Hot Mess Decade

we live in times of great dishonesty and fakeness. repeated fakeness is the poor man’s version of dishonesty. another term the poor use is hustle but let’s save that for another day. dishonesty without consequence is the rich man’s privilege.

the poor are faking it till they making it. that happens on Instagram. that happens in their shopping habits. the rich are drawing directly from the coffers of freshly minted money. that spigget doesn’t run dry until the revolution arrives.

so why bring this up? because with everyone playing this game together, the sober ones see the reality but are told it’s not cool to discuss and get swept aside. this is the natural progression of humanity. en Vogue always Trump’s the truth.

until humanity’s collective intellect rises we will always be driven by our basest emotional drivers. I’d give it another decade or two until the poor realize there’s a problem they’re willing to put their bodies on the line for.

people at the bottom knowingly get taken advantage of. on some level they must know at a certain age. for some they stick their head in the sand. for others they progressively think through solutions then come to realize there are only two. one requires enormous amounts of money. the second requires masses of human support.

the first option of making enough money is futile because that’s playing the rich man’s game. this leaves option two, which the rich man has also figured out through utilization of money to sway popular opinion through fake news, subtle advertising, paid influencer statements, etc.

so if societies problems stem from a lack of money but we also cannot outearn the rich then we are left in the position where we are helplessly complicit in being taken advantage of.

this is why after thousands of years the collective might of a herd of buffalos has never figured out they can easily out muscle a small pack of Lions.

the only conclusion you can draw from all this is the rich are good and getting better with each passing day. the rich are the living American dream. the poor fight to protect the rich because the rich are the poor man’s dreams. it’s a vicious cycle for the poor. and things will never change unless the poor make a move because doing nothing but running from the real threats is just being another buffalo on the Savannah.

My Prediction: Trump reelected. Bernie should be president if people used their brains. we’ll never know since it’s not the popular vote that counts. the American people will continue getting scammed by the rich for all of 2020. China will take over during this decade in terms of sheer economic might. America slowly loses power and influence as its population becomes less intelligent as a whole and it’s leadership makes increasingly desperate moves to ward off collapse via debt through hyper inflation. we live in the era i call The Hot Potato.

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Nelstradamous Predicts: Novel Disease Normality

I can’t resist calling a bold prediction. Much like the concept of climate change 10 years ago was a novel concept. Today I foresee the rise of the quick mutating disease. Diseases like the Novel Coronavirus will not need to be described as Novel in 10 years as that will simply be the implied norm.

It makes sense. The more people the faster diseases can spread and if this round is any indicator, the disease has mutated whether by chance or skill into something which in it’s nature is extraordinarily difficult to quarantine.

With the rise of humans we have several factors which will guarantee this path. First we have the slow homogeneity of plant and animal species. This means diseases which spread need to battle less and less biodiversity which is a natural defense mechanism.

Secondly, the bottom 50% of the world is quickly pulling themselves from the 3rd world to the developing world. This upward mobility is fantastic yet looking at most folks in these categories hygeiene takes a generation or two to catch on. Basics like covering your mouth when you sneeze. This means a cohort becomes well off enough to widen their radius while maintaining poor hygeiene practices while being the most likely to carry diseases from the 3rd world which 1st world immune systems are not prepared for.

Third, technological advancements in science and transportation. Science will always play defense against disease so we can rule out ever getting ahead for too long. Transportation in the other hand is becoming more democratized and cheaper than ever. If Gen X traveled to 8 countries on average and Gen Y travels to 20. Imagine the disapora once Gen Z travels to 50 or more countries in their lifetime. That type of mobility is a nightmare for disease control.

Lastly, consider the impact of population density. Modern big urban cities sustain over 10M lives. Who knows how large that number may grow to in the next decade considering all the best jobs are concentrated within major metros. Seeing the drastic measures China is taking to keep the lid on the Coronavirus, ask yourself if this outbreak occured in New York how would we contain such a problem? Its hard to imagine New York locking down via coercion and fear. It’s very un-American.

Where is the silver lining in all of this? I’d say as of now governments seem to have a pretty good handle on these scenarios. Which I’m very impressed by. Listening if his scary the Coronavirus is it is wildly optimistic to know that it’s being contained slowly and strategically. Silver lining here is human beings survival instinct needs to be tested ever now and then and this test is showing that the alert system is still fully functioning.

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Confesssions of a Sick Dreamer

There are rare moments in life when things align. For the passionate man seeking his passion, life can often feel like one big misfitting shirt or worse yet an itch he cannot scatch.

WHERE MY OBSESSION COMES FROM

For me, obsession is someting I’ve never had difficulty finding. I’m a lefty with electricity flowing through my veins. An eclectic person. And it seems once you find the edge or the fringe, it’s not all too challenging for that place of discomfort for most to feel like home for me. And the longer I stayed the more made sense. While obsession with the pre-popular nourished my soul it simultneously alienated me from the norm.

Now most poeple arrive at an obsession which is commonly held: sports, movies, music, or religion itself. For me being a contrarian runs deep in my DNA. It springs from a seminal moment when I was younger when I was asked if I was left or right handed. I didn’t know the answer because I forgot whether which word mapped to which hand. So I just held up a hand. I let fate take the wheel. I did not know I had picked the losing team. Being a lefty is choosing to be on the team that dies earlier, is fewer, and is unnaturally difficult to write with – especially cursive. And perhaps greatest of all, lets face it life is designed for righties, and rightly so. It is at the end of the day against the grain.

So a mixture of these results in a person who when looking for obsessions tends to lean towards what’s off the beaten path. My whole life the contrarian. At a certain point in my life I believed being different must be good. After all if everyone maintains the same thought that thought is yet another pebble on a mountain yet the pebble by itself carries little value other than validating that you aren’t a trouble maker.

Let us review a short list of my “Lefty Obsessions” that have capitvated me over the years: (1) floatation tanks, (2) early pro-marijuana, (3) startups, (4) bitcoin.

MY DREAMS ARE SICK

Since the Coronavirus outbreak and being under the weather myself just recently I’ve thought a lot about disease – specifically mutations and evolution. I’ve often said the hero of one story is simply the villain in the other’s. Life is sick in this way, the right and the wrong is always a matter of position.

With any obsessions which may parallel a dream you’d like to make true the beginning and end are obvious but it’s everything in between which is nothing but pain and suffering mixed with a few bright spots called success. During this long process a dream tends to undergo heavy spells of mutation or evolution – not unlike this new Coronavirus. These are time when the owner of said dream is typically faced with some very sobering realities about the true nature of life. Dreams live on in conceptual form. The shape they end up manifesting in physical form are called compromise. This why in Silicon Valley they tell everyone to dream beyond big, because by the time all the whittling away is complete what’s left if once grand is typically normal. So if you start if you started with a Skyscraper you end up with a apartment building and if you dreamt of the apartment building you’d be lucky to have a house.

OBSESSIONS ABOUT SICK DREAMS

Lets be clear, it’s hard enough to simultaneously have an obsession that’s worth pursuing which will also have a tangible outcome. I can’t count the number of nights I’ve spend with a joint in my hand going around the carousel wondering (1) if any of this is worth it, (2) why did I choose to be left handed, (3) this is exactly what I’m supposed to be doing.

AFTER THE SICKNESS WORE OFF

I realized when I was sick I start falling back into my old patterns. Checking stocks prices, looking at news, watching a series on the rise of the Ottoman Empire – always looking for an edge in the my Silicon Valley life. But what actually surfaces when you’re sick is that (1) comedy not drama makes you feel better, (2) thinking too much about tomorrow is irrelevant when today is at risk, (3) looking at world news only makes you feel worse.

So after spending the past decade being too wrapped up in the moment and taking everything a bit too seriously perhaps this was the perfect point to draw a line in the sand. What would be next decade look like?

I’m willing to test out a less future obsessed mind. A present filled with worries of a future which may or may not come is of no use no matter how much energy I give it. Right now though I can use my time to simply decide what to do with today rather than decide my entire life.

Right now that means getting back to full health. I do not think I’ll ever be a person without obsessions. Right now there is a target I have locked onto dead center and I’d hoped it’d be travel or a hot girl but at this very second it is not. Perhaps that’s a story for another day.

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Coronavirus Got You Down Lately?

I booked a super early flight out of Vietnam heading towards Taiwan. Then I got my first signal: Sudden fatigue mixed with a sudden need to take a shit. See I was standing in line waiting for what should be a routine ticket pickup. Should’ve only taken 30 minutes tops but in Asia they’re airport ticketing and check bagging systems are all haywire and take twice as long.

I was the 3rd person up and I decided to deal with my body nudging me towards the bathroom. It sat there for a pretty long time really until I felt I had enough energy to drag all my stuff back out there. When I got back in line it was twice as long as when I had left it. Fuck.

There was a white family direct in front of me, highly neurotic. The mom waited patiently in line while the dad distracted their 2 boys outside in the fresh air. 30 minutes passed and they came back in to check on the status. They were shocked the line only moved about 3 spaces. As an entitled American, if I was at full strength I would’ve probably made a move even if only to talk to the ticketing counter to make sure we’d still make my flight but I was in too weak a state to make any sudden demands. Thankfully for my neurotic white american counterpart they went ahead and did it for me… it’s the American way afterall to complain and put your personal needs before those of others.

Apparently, the ticket counter was confident we’d make it. Call it a cultural difference as in America there’s no possible way you’re making that flight. The line itself looked like it still had an hour and the flight was leaving in an hour. That’s not counting the security checkpoint we had to cross then finding the gate. I wanted to make it but I was more focused on staying upright and looking normal for fear of being flagged a flight risk for appearing sickly. Turns out I made the flight no problems guess it all runs on asian time and although a bit frantic for the non innitiated it all somehow makes it on time.

Touch down in Taipei and head straight for the York Design Hotel where I booked one night. It was a concrete box which was measured for space minimalism. Didn’t worry me one bit as I just desparately needed a nap. Damn good one too. I woke up to my taiwanese cousin John asking if I’d like to meet for dinner in an hour. I knew this was one of my uncle’s last nights in town so I had to go see everyone. It was a great gathering, seeing uncles, aunts, grandma, grandpa, and all my cousins. I used all my energy celebrating seeing them that night. Then bam straight back to bed.

When your body feels cold and everytime you sneeze the soft spot on the back of your head hurts that’s a bad signal. I felt the need to close off all the airgaps in my blankets to make it as warm as possible which of course leads to a sweat box. So be it. I need to get over this fast. I looked over my symptoms and my conclusion was I was having caffeine withdrawals. Afterall god only know how many cups of coffee I was having everyday in Vietnam. They make a great cuppa joe in form factors we’ve not been introduced to in the west. This was my sentencing.

The next two days were as follows. Lots of time spent with my Big Uncle who was acting as host and caretaker. Things were up and down. Day 3 I finally decided to go to a clinic. They told me I was running a 100 degree fever which caught me by surprise as I didn’t feel hot at all just the chills. They ran tests on me and truth be told the night before I had trouble sleeping because the thought of having contracted the Coronavirus and giving it to my entire family was giving me nightmares. I knew I’d make it through whatever this illness is but the thought of giving it to my Uncles’ families, my grandparents! God damn that’d be tough to live with.

They took out a swab and in Taiwan people are so polite. The dear doctor was kindly telling me she was gonna shove something up my nose. I didn’t know how to just tell her i don’t care if she has to stab me in forehead just do it I really don’t care about the discomfort at this point. So she went ahead. And I’ve never felt anything to that far up my nose into some weird part of my skull and back out. I waited outside in the sun to warm my reptilian cold skin and made a few phone calls to friends. I felt partcularly bad because I was ment to meet a friend in the Philippines that next day but there was no way they would let me fly with a fever. I apologized, he was very understanding and wanting me to recover quickly. I heard my Uncle calling me to come in get my results.

The doctor brought me back into the room and I sat nervously and what she told me was possibly more confusing than what I expected. She basically said I had nothing besides a fever and diarrhea. I was suspicious about this as I had undergone all of the major symptoms of sickness outside of runny nose, phlemmy cough, or sneeze. Nonethless I was glad to accept a no verdict and grab some meds and get home.

At this point I had being sick down to an art. The apartment I was in had predetermined paths at all time of the day including a little time walk the streets to stay grounded to reality and test myself. Sometimes no matter how badly you want to feel well, only time can heal certain wounds. This was one of those trying times.

The next day I procrastinated in bed before going to National Taiwan University hospital. There must’ve been thousands of patients in that building. I thought it would take all day even with my appointment. I navigated through the hospital with the help of strangers. Finally found my waiting room and slowly sorted out how the system worked.

I was shocked at how quickly the line was moving and by the time my number was called I was in front of a doctor and explaining my situation. He was very understanding and a good listener. He prescribed me some new medication and sent me off. I went out to the main lobby and paid for the service and the medication. All said it only took 2.5 hours which is incredibly impressive considering it looked like hells waiting room in there.

That very next day i was still not better and at this point my paranoia was starting to grow. Could it be that I carried something insidious? How could I have diarrhea for 6 days straight? Today was the day I decided to go all in and eat until my stomach was forced to tell me otherwise. I ate 3 slices of pound cake for breakfast, followed by a big bowl of beef noodle soup for lunch, and 2 giant bowls of rice with dry pork.

The next day – the best news – i didn’t take a shit at all. I think I finally broke this damn case of the runs. Here’s the only strange bit. It’s that night now and I still haven’t taken a shit. I’ve never eaten a ton and not seen it come out. I guess it’s not entirely over but it feels like I’ve finally gotten a small victory.

I hope by tomorrow at the latest I see my first solid shit otherwise I have a whole other problem – I’m not pooping out anything! One day at at a time. Count every win where you can get them.

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Vietnam’s Golden Bridge, Ba Na Hills

The ticket to enter the park runs $33. If you opt for a driver to take you there that’s another $33 per person. If you stay the entire day you will likely spend another $15 on lunch, drinks, and snacks. If you stay for the entire day you can double that.

I preface with cost as it is not cheap. I was fortunate to have a motorbike and Raheem was a chance encounter I had as we were both returning our bikes the night before. He was American but living in South Korea teaching English and in Da Nang for vacation. I mentioned wanting to visit Ba Na Hills and he was game. It was a longer ride and further out of town than I had ridden my first day so I was planning to take a professional bus company but Raheem stated the obvious: let’s ride the bikes out there!

My second exciting challenge on motorbike just arrived. We agreed to meet at 7am to get a jump on the day. Tragically for me I couldn’t fall asleep until past midnight so I woke up feeling like I did back home before work wanting to stay in bed forever.

We grabbed the bikes. One tip is to have your motorbike company install a phone holder on the handlebars so you can see exactly when your next turn is coming. Excellent investment as you don’t need to ride risky holding your phone or stopping periodically to check your location.

The ride out of Da Nang was crowded which took my bike game up a notch. After the crowds disapated we hit a long stretch of 4 lane open road which only we were on. That was fun. That feeling of being on a wide nicely paved straightaway on a motorbike is a special feeling.

If you put directions into Google Maps it will tell you it’s 2 hours from Da Nang. The truth is it’s about an hour. The reason being is you arrive at the bottom of a mountain and take a 15 minute gondola ride to the top. If you actually drove all the way up the mountain it probably would be another hour incline. I was happy we arrived after 1 hour!

We went straight for the Golden Bridge. If you like taking photos and videos this place is heaven. The Golden Bridge is less impressive in person yet more impressive behind the lens.

Ba Na Hills is building out an entire theme park that’s made to feel like a posh Swiss town on top of a mountain. They also have actors which go around like characters during the day taking photos with guests and they put on an impressive dance performance to modern music. It’s a fun little big show.

The food they serve caught us off guard. They had skewers of crocodile and ostrich! Be prepared to spend some good coin there as you are the walking definition of a captive audience.

Like many activities in the SE Asia most ambitious people show up early and fight the crowds then find a hideaway during the sun scorching 11-2PM hours then get after it to close out the day.

We took so many damn photos by the time the sunset we some final shots. Raheem spotted a drone flying overhead so I whipped mine out for one last flight and boy am I glad because it turned out to be the best shot of the day.

I left feeling what every photographer after long long day of shooting must feel: exhausted. But I also knew the feeling of capturing that perfect moment at the end of a long day. That felt amazing.

The ride home was fun. We hopped on our mopeds and blasted down the straightaway and out of the town in the dark of night. I know what my french friend Mark was trying to communicate to me when he mentioned he liked riding at night. It’s something different. Daytime riding is scenic and exhilerating but nighttime riding is spiritually peaceful in nature.

What an amazing day. Raheem ended it with a seafood dinner to cap off an incredible day end to end. I’ll remember this day for so many reasons, many due to the fact that we took so many damn pictures to remember the place by 🙂

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Hacks & Hazards: Tonle Sap, Cambodia

Hacks

After a long tuk tuk ride (45 min) we arrived at the ticket counter. I read many stories stating the entry fee is $20. They asked for $30 and I thought he was overcharging us. I insisted and pulled up articles stating $20 but he showed me the price sheet at $30 which is steep. We hymed and hawed, seriously considering turning back and heading home. They guy suddenly broke said “ok $20”

If you have a drone and its quiet season you may be lucky enough to have a private boat sailing the length of the river to the mouth of the ocean. Don’t hesitate to ask the driver to slow down in certain areas.

Once at the ocean you are dropped off at a floating restaurant. It’s fun for about 15 minutes but there’s no where to go! Ask your driver to take you further out to watch the sun set.

If you have a drone this is a perfect place to fly it! Here’s my footage and it wouldn’t be nearly as spectacular without it.

A drone POV is actually amazing because you cannot tell how dense the forest is nor how isolates you truly are until you see from above.

HAZARDS

If you have a drone be mindful of the homepoint as your homepoint will be wherever your boat/controller are. I got lucky!

It’s quite a poor community so tip the folks that give good service or are genuinely helpful. The smiles or gratitude are worth every penny.

Don’t forget to actually enjoy the sunset! I was so fixated on getting the perfect drone videos and photographs that I realized I barely took the time to enjoy the moment! It’s very special but it’s really only a 1 day experience so don’t get too caught up trying to capture the moment, let it sink in!

I wish in hindsight I had parlayed the trip into staying with a local. That would’ve been a truly local experience well worth it. How many people can say they stayed overnight in a remote floating village to watch the sunrise, sunset with a local family! Homestays are super underrated and many locals are more than happy to have you.

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Hacks & Hazards: Saigon, Vietnam

HACKS

There are super attractive girls here.

If you want a local vibe I enjoyed District 4 the most. Spend a full day there roaming the streets and wandering into new stretches of the neighborhood you will find many hidden treasures.

If you miss home (and you’re Western like me) check out District 2 for the food, people and drinks.

It takes a full 3 days to get into the swing of things. It’s a fast moving city with tons of people.

Use Grab never trust the taxi meters. Added benefit Grab tells you your fare before the ride starts.

Count your change slowly and carefully. It’s common for the taxi drivers to short you especially when you first arrive and are still getting used to the currency conversion 4000:1

Great city if you have at least a week to kill there and don’t like to be a tourist. It’s a city that’s made for it’s people and it can be a lot fun.

HAZARDS

A lot of hustling and scamming. Trust your instincts.

Vietnamese are polarizing in personality. Most of the women are super sweet and friendly. Many of the men think they’re gangsters: smoking cigarettes, tattoos, drinking at all hours of the day, and willing to fight you. I got into it with some of the locals. You may get an occasional angry glare from some of them if you are recording a video and they’re in it unexpectedly.

For a big city there’s almost no parks or green spaces. District 1 is a giant tourist trap. It wasn’t for me but I already booked a hotel.

Brace yourself for non stop cigarette smoking and beer. The smoking is 24/7. Coffee is for 8-10am. Theres plenty of locals hanging out at the cafes having a drink by 10am.

All the major tourist attractions are well outside the city limits so be ready to go in longer bus rides if you plan to sight see.

Drones are illegal here. Allegedly it’s a militarized city.

Taxi cars are often not available unless you’re willing to wait. Be prepared to hop on the back on a scooter via Grab. Nothing can prepare you for your first ride. Hold on for dear life and be ready for a combination of shock, terror, and we as your grab motorbike driver drives the opposites way down a 4 lane road!