27 August 2014

370 Days Ago

53 weeks minus one day ago, I posted "The Beginning...

If only I'd known how completely clueless I was!

In that short time, my life has absolutely changed... and pretty much all for the better. It was definitely a beginning.
  • I fell in love with Việt Nam and its people, food, countryside, and even its major cities.
  • I realized that if I move to VN (or anywhere in the third world), I can retire today.
  • 98% of my worldly possessions are either sold or for sale 
  • The house goes on the market next week.
  • Less than one year after my initial arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, I will board an aircraft and head to live in Việt Nam with no definite plans to return.
  • Short of a few simple phrases and words, the Vietnamese language is an opaque puzzle.
  •  WOW!
Many years ago I heard Tom Peters speak at a convention. The only thing I remember from that entire convention was that he said, "If what you're doing does not scare you, then you're not doing enough."

Poet James Dickey famously said, "If your life bores you, risk it."

Do these two quotes mean that I feel my next adventure will be risking my life? Absolutely not! They do indicate what I've felt for many, many years... most of us sit within our comfort zones and grow old before our time, me included.

This is me stepping out of my comfort zone and suggesting you find a way to at least lean out of yours. You just may like the view.

24 August 2014

LBJ's Escalation in Việt Nam

As I divest myself of 98% of my worldly goods in preparation for the next chapter of my life's adventures, I keep mentally going back to the American War on Việt Nam.

What amazes me beyond words is that the overwhelming majority of the Vietnamese people, both young and old, warmly welcome today's Americans with no visible animosity. Is it the Buddhist influence? I am unsure I could be so forgiving...

Here is a link to the November 20, 2009 Bill Moyer's Journal program on why America jumped into VN with both feet. 

 Johnson's Escalation of Vietnam: A Timeline

This never-declared war resulted in the death of OVER FIVE MILLION Vietnamese (including 4,000,000 civilians) and over 58,000 Americans.

All for naught...

19 August 2014

Bumper Sticker Shock

A number of friends and acquaintances served in the U.S. Military during the Vietnam War, many in-country. Some of them are fairly regular readers of this blog and maybe one or more of you can help me with the question I have regarding a bumper sticker I saw this morning... a bumper sticker to which I reacted so negatively that my heart hurts when I see it in my mind's eye.

I rarely agree with the decisions made in the corridors of power that send men and women into the meat grinder that is any war (or "police action" or other bullshit term they use to convince the country that the bloodshed is necessary).  
American men born in 1953 received draft lottery numbers (mine was 287), though we were fortunate in that none of us were drafted into the Eisenhower/JFK/LBJ/Tricky Dick clusterfuck.

I therefore, will never have a clue what it is like to be on the front line--or even behind the lines--in war. I have massive respect for those who do know. 

What truly confounds me is the thought process that would cause a person to put a bumper sticker on his SUV that has the 101st Airborne logo and the words:


What kind of person brags about killing people almost forty years later? And why? Is there nothing else he's done that equals that time in Vietnam? Does part of him wish he were still there? Is he bragging?

The men I know who served hardly, if ever, talk about it. Coincidentally, a few hours after seeing the bumper sticker I found out that one friend I've known for seven years was there. It just came out in conversation that included nothing of the above...

The above questions are NOT rhetorical. I am asking because I really do want to know the answers... or at least one answer. Please help me if you can.

This all brings to mind another thought... if more Americans had a passport--the last statistics I read were that less than 20% do--and actually used it, we'd stop seeing people who look different than we do as "THEM" and realize that 99% of the world is one hell of a lot like us.

Please encourage EVERYONE you know to:
1) Get a passport

2) USE IT!

Get out and see the world! If not the whole thing, then at least one place that initially feels uncomfortable... and then stay there until it doesn't.

18 August 2014

Vietnamese ingenuity and creativity

I just found this collection of still photos of things carried on motorbikes throughout Vit Nam.

They show the creativity and ingenuity of the Vietnamese people in making do with what they have... and none of them surprised me.

Note: @3:44, the motorbike on the right is pushing the cart on the left via the foot connection; @5:15, the hogs are alive and in cages specially-constructed to carry them on motorbikes

11 August 2014

Very Nice Video

Check out this video: A Day in Vietnam

It's well-done... and may show you some of why I am moving there...