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Nha Trang, 2019

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Last month, I frowned on those who are drawn to the vagabond, rootless lifestyle, who think it is ideal to move from hotel room to hotel room. Guess what? I’ve joined them. Life is goofy that way.

After my mother-in-law threatened to stab me more than ten times, I left Saigon and stayed in Vung Tau for over a month. Days ago, I took a 11-hour bus ride to Ea Kly, where I still had my stuff. Arriving at 3AM, I was out of that hill town by 6:30. With a backpack and two bags, I paid $4 to travel 88 miles to Nha Trang, via two vans. You can’t even go half a mile in a NYC cab on that.

In the first van, our legroom was severely trimmed by bundles of bamboo rods, laid on the floor. It was a delivery vehicle as much as a passenger one. At one stop, a bag of iced chicken was left at a restaurant, for that day’s lunch. A Rade man bargained his fare from $1.25 down to 85 cents. When an old lady got off, she also knocked off her fare by a third, “Ten thousand are enough for auntie.” The driver just chuckled. He couldn’t chase her down and tackle her to the ground.

For just over $8 a night, I’m well tucked into a luxury suite at Queen 3 Hotel, right downtown. At the reception, I mumbled through my white, pho-flavored moustache and whisker, “How many days do I have to stay to get a discount?”

“There is no discount, uncle. We’re already the cheapest.”

And they are. In the lobby, four mismatched, ratty couches line one wall, where staff and guests often lie. Wrapped in a mangy blanket, a dark and skeletal young man sleeps dreamlessly with his mouth half open. Next to him on the floor, there’s a full ashtray and an empty can of Saigon Beer, lying on its side. It’s a war zone, minus the moaning and blood. A sign lists a thicket of rules in Vietnamese and English, including “No prostitutes to bring in here.”

The elevator can fit four severely malnourished individuals, stand pressed together, without anyone talking or breathing. There’s often some liquid on the floor for some reason, but at least it’s not piss. The button panel is held in place with plenty of clear tape, impatiently applied, with even his or her “fuck it” lingering in the stagnant air, like mist. It’s the hotel’s motto, to be muttered secondly by all who enter.

I have two beds to myself. Why can’t the CIA send me al pronto two or even three Swedes? With nothing to lose, I’m ready to be entrapped. “I love you both equally, Astrid and Ingrid, but one thing at a time, please. I only have four balls and three strikes left.” I’m swinging.

Water pressure in the bathroom sink barely exists, and the toilet must be flushed at least twice each time. All fixtures and porcelain are so old, they look suspect even when clean, but hey, I’m in a great location, right downtown. I even have a pseudo balcony that’s useful for hanging laundry, which I wash by hands, in the morose, I’ve seen it all sink. He, too, is on his last legs.

Every shelf tilts outward. Nothing is level in this room, but it’s probably better this way, to remind you that life isn’t fair. The paint job was likely done by a blind, depressed, arthritic and distracted monkey, but I’m sure he tried his best. All you can ask for is love.

In Brussels in 2003, I had a musty room near the train station, in a hotel mainly patronized by morose and prune faced Arabs. Two years later, my wife and I somehow survived three nights in Edinburgh’s Three Sisters, where all through the early hours, drunkards howled, laughed and staggered in the hallway, just outside our thin door. We felt like these blokes and birds were all in the same room with us. Worse, the bed was so lumpy, we had to sleep on the floor. It was a lovely city, though, one of my favorites.

In El Paso in 2006, I paid $35 for a room with no toilet at the dingy Gardner Hotel (where John Dillinger once stayed!). My sheet had cigarette holes.

Compared to all that, my Nha Trang suite is a Medici Palace, and who knows, maybe some Vietnamese gangster once slept here as well.

Twenty years ago, I had my beat-up glasses stolen on the beach in Nha Trang. Life was desperate then. This city is now a stylish resort attracting throngs of tourists, mostly Russians and Chinese.

White T-shirt on a tallish Chinese, “WE ALL START OUT AS STRANGERS.” Another dude, “BEAUTIFUL HELL,” with a beach scene, crudely sketched in black.

Chinese come here to be massaged and cheaply stuff themselves with Cantonese dishes. It’s almost like home, but much warmer, and more exotic than Hainan. Chinese see Vietnamese as wayward cousins. So close to Chinese, Vietnamese can’t stand them, and I’ll probably get beaten up in a minute for even writing that. Ukrainians are not Russians, Catalonians are not Spaniards and Scotts are not English, etc.

With beaucoup cash to be made, everyone gets along in Nha Trang, at least on the surface, so there are even Hungarian, Swiss, Armenian, Caucasian, Uzbek/Tajik, Turkish, Greek, Egyptian, Argentinian and Mexican restaurants. Miss Universe 2008 was held here.

Nha Trang is served by Cam Ranh Airport, just down the road. There are direct flights from 33 Chinese cities, and four Russian ones, including Irkutsk in Siberia. It’s 3-degree Fahrenheit there right now, compared to 82 in Nha Trang. Where would you rather be?


Solzhenitsyn, “You could count on a month with nowhere to go for a warm, not so much as a dog kennel. You wouldn’t even be able to light a fire out in the open—where would the fuel come from? Your only hope would be to dig, dig, dig, for all you were worth.”

Translator H.T. Willetts did one hell of a job, for sure, “Standing there to be counted through the gate of an evening, back in camp after a whole day of buffeting wind, freezing cold, and an empty belly, the zek longs for his ladleful of scalding-hot watery evening soup as for rain in time of drought. He could knock it back in a single gulp. For the moment that ladleful means more to him than freedom, more than his whole past life, more than whatever life is left to him.”

OK, OK, so present day Siberia is no gulag, but it might as well be, compared to paradisal Nha Trang, and that’s why half of the Russian Far East are lying on the beach here, it seems. Sated by sun and sea, they can gorge on pelmeni, borsch, chebureki and fried potatoes with mushroom, etc., at dozens of local restaurants.

Red Café’s menu is in Russian only, and the owner speaks no English or Vietnamese. You order by pointing at ambiguous photos, but since everything is pretty damn good, there’s no anxiety. In his faded dress shirt and jean shorts, the lanky owner, Anton, looks at you speechlessly with genuine concern.

Red Café is also a shrine to Russian patriotism. On one wall, there are framed photos of Stalin, Khrushchev, Breshnev, Andropov, Chernenko, Gorbachev, Yeltsin, Medvedev and Putin.


Communism is well dead across Vietnam, and nowhere more so than in hedonistic Nha Trang. One evening, I went to Killed Kenny Bar, a Russian hangout. The barkeep wore a Liverpool jersey and spoke a reasonable English. On TV was the Liverpool game from two days previous, a very narrow victory over Monterey of the Mexican League. He just had to see it again.

A native of Chukotka, that Russian region that nearly touches Alaska, he’d lived in Norilsk, Smolensk, Moscow and Saint Petersburg before landing in Nha Trang, just a year ago.

“How do you like Vietnam?” I asked.

“Oh, great place, great place! So beautiful, and the people are so friendly.”

“And perfect weather, too.”

“Yes, yes, perfect weather!”

All around Nha Trang, however, there are snowy images to celebrate Christmas. At Hoà Thuận [Harmony] Parish Church, for example, there is an image of a snow-capped mountain, a snowman and some Swiss châtel, nearly entombed in snow. Its nativity scene is flecked with cotton, simulating snow. Having never seen snow, most Vietnamese would rather be in Siberia right now.

Sitting at some bar I don’t even know the name of, I’m listening to a disco version of “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer.” You might as well point a Kalashnikov at my head.

There are many Vietnamese Christmas songs, actually, with most written during the Vietnam War. To give you a taste, I translate a portion of “Con quỳ lạy chúa trên trời”:

Kneeling, I pray to God in the sky,
Let me see the one I love.
I’ve suffered enough in life.
From childhood, I’ve tasted much bitterness.
I’ve been impoverished for twenty odd years.
With so many empty dreams, I have nothing.
Oh God! Oh God!

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Russian Far East, Vietnam 
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  1. Dumbo says:

    Merry Christmas Mr. Dinh.

  2. Jim Smith says:

    There are a lot of people reading you, Linh. There are a lot of people who care about you. There are a lot of people pulling for you. Realize that. Know it.

  3. Talha says:

    There’s often some liquid on the floor for some reason, but at least it’s not piss.

    When we were potty-training the little ones, this would also be a welcome occurrence.

    That Nativity scene is interesting, Mr. Dinh. I thought a lot of folks in Southeast and East Asia put an Asian flair on the virgin and child motif, no?

    This lot looks like a fully European-style one like I see driving around greater Chicago.


  4. Giang sinh vui ve!
    (Close enough for government work?)

    Wishing you the love of God and hopeful message of Jesus —

  5. Mr. Dinh,

    Thank you for all your directness and honesty, rare qualities in any era. May peace of heart and mind sustain you in the days ahead. May all the good wishes of your readers benefit you now.

  6. Stump says:

    Wishing you a blessed Christmas, Mr. Dinh. And thanking you for the gift of your wonderful writing!

  7. I translate a portion of “Con quỳ lạy chúa trên trời”

    Yes, I can detect the subtle influence of the Chanson réaliste there.

    Wishing you a warm and happy Christmas and a good start into a better New Year. I’m happy to be a Beta-reader if you decide to self-publish your next book.

  8. Linh Dinh is a CIA funded spook.

    NEVER mentioning the enormous destruction of the US occupation, yet obsessed with commies, Chinese, Russians, and manipulating dog whistle racism.

    • LOL: Brás Cubas
    • Replies: @Franz
  9. Nice diary/travelogue. You write very well.

  10. Merry Christmas, Mr. Dinh, everyone!

    Gloria in excelsis Deo!

  11. AaronB says:

    Don’t feel bad about joining the vagabond life 🙂 It is a beautiful life, I’ve lived it myself on and off by choice for many years, and will surely return to it. For some people, nothing is more satisfying – although a rooted life also has its appeal and is not to be undervalued.

    Every spiritual tradition celebrates the vagabond life in some way. Enjoy it!

    • Replies: @Colin Wright
  12. stevecel says:

    Do you have any offspring Linh or is all this just for nothing?

    • Replies: @unit472
  13. OldGringo says:

    Thanks for your observations.
    As usual, funny and informative.

  14. YOU all commenters,
    talk is cheap,its christmas,send the man some money!

  15. ꟻractured song lyrics:

    Frosty the Snowman
    Is a jolly happy nut
    With a corncob pipe
    And a corncob nose
    And a corncob up his butt.

    Frosty the Snowman
    Is a fairy don’t you see,
    But the children know
    He was once het’ro
    Just the same as you and me.

    There must have been some magic in
    That old corncob they found,
    For when they stuck it up his butt
    He began to mince around.

    Now Frosty the Snowman
    Is as queer as a three-buck note,
    And he’d vote for fudge-
    packin’ Booty-judge
    If he had the right to vote.

  16. Franz says:

    Linh Dinh is a CIA funded spook.

    God I wish I’d waited till New Year’s Day to read this.

    Could have started the ’20s off on the best laugh of the decade.

    Some of us can remember from our service days what real CIA birds look like, chappie, and Linh Dinh ain’t even close.

    And wherever you are now, Linh, the best Yule to you & yours.

  17. I check Untz obsessivly for your commentaries. There is something about the way you shine your Vonnegut-like light on the world that is hard to look away from. Hoping the spirit of Christmas offers you some peace during your pathological-like wanderings. Life is abrasive. It can either grind you down or polish you. Sometimes, as it appears to have done to you, it does both. Merry Christmas

  18. Merry Christmas Uncle Dinh.

  19. How about posting pictures of your lovely (I am sure because she puts up with your self-inflicted poverty) wife and that no good, knife wielding haridan mother-in-law of yours?

    Happy Christmas, Uncle!

  20. Alex says:

    Ah Linh, Linh, the mother-in-law won….she threw you out and you allowed her…you just empowered her you old feminist you….I bet she’s bragging all day about having thrown out that no-good son-in-law.

    What was the old snake’s complaint ? Couldn’t you let her give you a non-lethal defensive wound so you could have had the satisfaction of throwing her in jail or was this the perfect pretext to allow you to continue your search of the ultimate gutter to lay in ?

    Have you been able to patch things up with your brother-in-law after having told him his wife was a rent-a-whore ? I suspect the climb up the corporate ladder in the Ea Kly recycling industry came to a screeching halt not long afterward.

    • Replies: @Commentator Mike
  21. Merry Christmas, Mr. Dinh, thank you for the gift of your sentences that you gave all year long, they were sharp, gritty and spicy but I devoured them all and am still hungry for more.

  22. fnn says:

    And If we have to fight another war in Vietnam, it will be a lot easier because the jungles have been largely cut down and we can just fight it with infinite drones.

  23. anarchyst says:

    Merry Christmas Anh Dinh!

  24. jo6pac says:

    White Monkey says:
    December 25, 2019 at 8:21 am GMT

    YOU all commenters,
    talk is cheap,its christmas,send the man some money!

    Here’s were you can do the above

    Stay safe Linh and hopefully you can find some comfort catchup;-)

    • Replies: @steve12345
  25. Anon[424] • Disclaimer says:

    And ( US ) confederates and southwesteners will never be yankees Lin-Din , ton-tin .

  26. unit472 says:

    What a hateful comment. Mary had one child and what happened to him? Animals struggle to procreate.Intelligent beings want to know why!

    • Replies: @Druid
  27. Wendy says:

    Merry Christmas, Linh.

  28. @Alex

    Since Linh wrote:

    Arriving at 3AM, I was out of that hill town by 6:30. With a backpack and two bags,

    It doesn’t look good. This is turning out like a soap opera and we just have to wait and see what other snippets of his personal life and troubles he will be giving us.

  29. gavishti says:

    According to Hindu’s the eight kinds of prosperity are – Compassion, forgiveness, cleanliness, lack of jealousy, altruism, lack of greed, purity and self control. To me you are already prosperous, my wish is that you find contentment. Happy new Year.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  30. dvorak says:
    @Jim Smith

    There are a lot of people pulling for you.

    I’m pulling for Suki.

    • Replies: @Sunshine
  31. Chicagjoe says:

    Linh, I will arrive in Nha Trang on or around February 23rd to loaf around for a week or so before heading up to Dalat. I would love to buy you dinner and drinks as payback for all the articles I’ve freely perused over the years. If you change hotels send me an email and Ill try and track you down. Hope to see you soon….Chicagjoe.

    • Replies: @Truth
  32. Anon5000 says:
    @Jim Smith

    Linh needs to start a Patreon or some other way for people to support him financially

    • Replies: @duncsbaby
  33. Truth says:

    Don’t do it Dinh! It’s a Hasbra trick!

    • Replies: @Willem
  34. @Linh

    I spend a few months each year in NT. Great town.

    The nem nuong (sorry I can’t type diacritics on my phone) is excellent there. There are a few great spots in this intersection:

    I’ve been reading a bit about the Champa empire, as NT seems to be the Southern Tip, or the last remaining holdout before the collapse. The Robert Kaplan book Asia’s Cauldron has a great bit on it:

  35. eah says:
    @Jim Smith

    Linh doesn’t promote it here (he should really), but if you visit his blog (see link at the end of the post) you can help him in a concrete way by dropping him some cash eg via PayPal — right now, for $40 you can pay his hotel bill for an entire workweek (“$8 a night”).

    In El Paso in 2006, I paid $35 for a room with no toilet

    15 years ago I paid $95/night for a room without toilet/bath in Manhattan — I actually paid more to park my rental car in a nearby garage for the 3 days of my one and only solo visit to NYC.

    It’s really a shame about the shitty family problem and the way it’s affecting your life at the moment.

    • Replies: @eah
  36. Dingo jay b says: • Website

    Linh always takes great pain to say nobody is a communist in Nam. I guess we fought against just liberal democrats during the war. Viet vet

    • Replies: @Adûnâi
    , @vhrm
  37. Linh Dinh: “Another dude, “BEAUTIFUL HELL,” with a beach scene, crudely sketched in black.”

    It would be interesting to know if that was supposed to be ironic, or just something that got garbled in translation. In any case, it seems to me it’s an apt description of the world.

    Here are some lyrics from a popular song, giving thanks to God. Kinda Christmas-y!

    Thank you for the poets
    Thank you for their laurels
    Thank you for the nightmare
    Thank you for the unceasing pain

    Thank you for the bodies shattered beyond repair
    Thank you for the billion lives in hell because of you
    Thank you for the toil and strife it took to remain alive
    Thank you for the strength

    Isomodia, dearest Isomodia

    Isomodia 4x
    Isomodia 4x

  38. Hubbub says:

    Thanks for your insights. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year!

  39. utu says:

    “After my mother-in-law threatened to stab me more than ten times…” – Mr. Linh Dinh, it’s a time to come back to America.

    • Replies: @Anon
    , @Jeff Stryker
  40. @utu

    Really? To what? Minimum wage on the streets of Philadelphia surrounded by an underclass of black thugs and Mexican gangs and Opoid/Meth addicted poor whites? A homeless shelter where drug-addicted mental cases sometimes assault or rape others? A food card and some spot under a bridge?

    Which relative of Mr. Linh has a house in the suburbs with a warm guest room waiting for him?

    Leave his wife for that?

    If he spends all his money on an airline ticket what does he do outside the airport with no bus fare in Pennsylvania? If he does not have the airline fare the US government will probably deport him to the nearest US destination, Los Angeles. How long will you last walking the mean the streets outside LAX with no money and nowhere to go? How would he make his way from LAX back to Philadelphia or wherever some distant relatives might live?

    And if his relatives live in an unfamiliar city, how will he find a job there? How long will they allow him to stay on their couch? If you are roaming the roads of an unfamiliar city with no money some police will arrest you for vagrancy-at Mr. Linh’s age, this would be a dangerous couple of nights in some jail.

    If America offered Mr. Linh any options, why would he or the rest of us expats have gone overseas in the first place.

    You won’t actually get killed on Asian streets if you are poor. Other dangerous hostile races are to roving the concrete prepared to kill anyone without the barrier of a house or the distance of the suburbs to insulate them.

    You won’t freeze to death sleeping in a public park in Asia. Vicious punk teenagers won’t come along and do things that a child would not do to an insect.

    You can pick fruit from trees. You don’t have to go to a Mission and listen to some sermon just to get watery soup and a dry piece of bread.

    You won’t get the Sylvester Stallone/Rambo treatment from some overzealous local police offer about how homeless drifters are wanted and driven to the town limits with the smug faux-polite police line “I hope this ride helped you out” and busted if you return.

    And if you have $800 a month you are much better off in Asia. Ask any black American retiree in the Philippines who served in the US military and lived in exotic tropical countries who one day found himself back in the US inner-city surrounded by Section 8 and crack houses and gang violence. Ask the American white man I met in the Philippines sleeping in a wooden hut on the beach who lost house in a divorce and ended up in a downtown homeless shelter with a large nude black crackhead standing over his bunk in the homeless barracks masturbating on his head.

    For the US underclass and lower middle class, the third world is in America and not in developing countries.

    Moreover, the scummiest scum of US society cannot live overseas. You’ll never meet the inner-city cheap black thug or Mexican gangster or crazed white redneck homeless tweaker or Opoid addict or whigger or all the worst and most dangerous of America’s scum on foreign streets. They are always on parole, or in prison, or on welfare, drunk or high, pregnant, too ineducable to find foreign countries on a map, too poor to ever afford a plane ticket.

    A clean warm hotel in Vietnam is better than a low-rent US apartment complex with drug dealing neighbors and addicts and social pathology on every hallway and neglectful landlords and deprived kids of slutty single mothers and constant visits by irascible police officers and screams of domestic violence…

    Mr. Linh has had some disputes with his relatives, yes. But he is not sharing an awful walkup apartment with a middle-aged pothead or raucous college student because he cannot afford to pay rent by himself.

    He can walk away from his mother-in-law. In America, if you have no money, you cannot walk away from the horrific behavioral outbursts of the underclass. An outburst by a 250 pound black she-beast on a public bus. A sudden burst of unprovoked extreme violence from a black thug. A Mexican gang member who just got out of prison for second-degree murder who decides you are in his territory and doesn’t care if killing you sends him back to prison for life. The white trash child molester on the loose in your low-rent apartment complex. A redneck who feels slighted or is hallucinating on crystal meth and believes you are the devil and stabs you 47 times.

    There is no escape from these examples of underclass horrors in America if you earn less than $30,000 a year and are not living in the sticks which clearly Mr. Linh doesn’t.

    • Troll: utu
  41. roonaldo says:

    Quick, man–get that hotel room “paint job likely done by a depressed, arthritic, and distracted monkey” reproduced in a Miami art gallery and make yourself at least $120,000 like that duct-taped banana did.

    Best wishes and Merry Christmas!

  42. @Jeff Stryker

    I feel depressed after reading that. Do other Americans agree with that assessment ? Or could Uncle Dinh feasibly improve his situation at least economically by moving back to the good Ole US of A. Any serious suggestions ?

    • Replies: @Franz
  43. @Jeff Stryker

    I wish every would be immigrant would read this, and believe it. How the hell do those illegals get about and survive just walking into the country? It would seem that illegals are better off than poor Americans.

    Linh should get his brother-in-law to back him to open a small bar in one of these Viet holiday resorts. He’d meet a lot of interesting people to write about.

    • Replies: @Franz
  44. Druid says:

    I believe Mary had multiple children

    • Replies: @JEinCA
  45. eah says:

    Perhaps my comment had an effect –> link

    Thursday, December 26, 2019

    Thanks for a $50 donation from San Francisco!

    Thanks for a $5 donation from Santa Rosa, CA!

    Thanks for a $100 donation from Paonia, Colorado!

    Thanks for a $25 contribution from a long-time supporter!

    Thanks for a $50 donation from a new supporter!

    Thanks for a $25 donation from a new supporter!

    @Linh: You should add just a short sentence about (very much appreciated) donations with the link to your ‘Postcards’ site at the end of each article you post here on

  46. Adûnâi says:
    @Dingo jay b

    You fought for the geopolitical interests of the Christian Empire in America in defence of one band of shitskins against the northerners with a bit lighter skin, which were supported by another Empire – centred in Eurasia.

    Why not use nuclear weapons to annihilate them both for all eternity? Because the rise of an Aryan consciousness in America would have been a mortal blow to the egalitarian Empire of many colours. Racism is a far bigger sin than petty differences between capitalists and Communists, for all are one in individualist pleasure, as any drug addict will tell you.

  47. Willem says:

    It is. If you just look up chicagjoe’s record, you find he has just one comment ever on UR, and already posing as a close friend

    • Agree: Truth
  48. @AaronB

    ‘Don’t feel bad about joining the vagabond life 🙂 It is a beautiful life, I’ve lived it myself on and off by choice for many years, and will surely return to it…’

    You’re lying.

  49. JEinCA says:

    Mr. Dinh,

    I would love to see Vietnam and to walk through the streets of Nha Trang and take in the sights and sounds, tastes and smells of that city. However given the natural beauty of Vietnamese women it would have been better for me to do it as a single man. The last time I explored a foreign country (in the former Soviet Central Asia) I returned to America a married man (12 years later now with 3 children). If I was to visit Vietnam today I would probably return to the states divorced.

    Merry Christmas Mr. Dinh

    PS- My favorite line from this piece was “Sitting at a bar I don’t even know the name of listening to a disco version of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. You might as well put a Kalashnikov to my head!”
    I haven’t stopped laughing from that line.

  50. JEinCA says:

    That was a terrible lie perpetuated by Jews who had rejected Christ.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  51. duncsbaby says:

    Go to his website which is easily linked off of his articles & there is a paypal link. No need for the patreon middle-man.

  52. @gavishti

    So the Indians observe the good, self-restraining, compassionate points of their religion even less than we observe the good points of ours?

    • Agree: Commentator Mike
  53. @JEinCA

    Why does it even matter how many children Mary had?

    • Replies: @JEinCA
    , @gavishti
  54. JEinCA says:

    It is because she was a Virgin who retained her Virginity because the child she carried for 9 months in the womb was begotten of the Holy Spirit and was (and is) Our Lord Jesus Christ. That’s why it matters. For 9 Months God made flesh was literally inside the the womb of the Blessed Mother. Her womb was literally the Holy Temple of God Himself.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  55. Franz says:
    @Blinky Bill

    I feel depressed after reading that. Do other Americans agree with that assessment ?


    Parts of the Plain States and Rustbelt, in particular, are like the old Warsaw Pact nations where people would sell their souls to get the hell out… but usually have attachments/commitments preventing it. Or just too damned poor or entangled to leave.

    Anyway they don’t need to read the great works of existentialism. No Exit? Why read it when you’re living it?

    Think on it: Donald Trump created not one new middle class job for his base supporters. But he did create a nice bevy of new slots for illegals (exceuse me, refugees). Oh, as to upper class jobs: We must not fail to mention some fine six-figure enforcement-and-counseling jobs for the totally phony “opioid epidemic” the media keeps yakking mercilessly about.

    Getting paid high rates for a non-existent problem: Jobs of the future!

    • Agree: bluedog
    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  56. Franz says:
    @Commentator Mike

    I wish every would be immigrant would read this, and believe it.

    They won’t. Quite a few cogent reasons on their part:

    How the hell do those illegals get about and survive just walking into the country?

    Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus. Hebrew Immigrant Aid. Lutheran. Quaker. More. All immigrant aid societies in whole or part. The get ’em in and get kickbacks from local, state, and federal sources.

    The immigrant/refugee whatever will get set up with a minimum job; or just get a “grant” for his fine work at… whatever. Knew a caseworker who catered to Hmongs in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota. Not one Hmong male she knew about ever held a US job. But they all get grants from Uncle Sugar for reasons no native can fathom.

    Other immigrant/refugees were let in for a minimum wage jobs, the Bush/Obama era ones. May of these jobs were of six months or not much more in duration. With one “injury” a public defender will have a workman’s compensation pension for them, and they’ll be set for life.

    I have seen American workers with years of service shoved off Federal disability or state-level compensation, but never a foreign born.

    They come here because all refugees and immigrants have what no working class American has: A network of well-heeled professional helpers. No downsized native born worker has this. No new blood strapped with student loans has this. It’s the program.

    Or as John Lennon put it in Working Class Hero: “You’re still fucking peasants as far as I can see.”

  57. gavishti says:

    • A man is in a terrible forest filled with carnivorous beasts which is surrounded by a net on every side that a terrible looking woman is embracing with her arms. He sees a giant serpents in the forest. Running here and there he falls down in a well which is in the midst of that forest and gets entwined in creepers coming down from a huge tree, he hangs upside down like like a giant jackfruit. He also sees an elephant possessing six faces and moving on twelve feet at the edge of the well. There is a beehive in the branches of a tree, with huge bees wondering about collecting honey. Though he was in this difficulty, the man continuously drinks the honey flowing from the hive, but his thirst is not satisfied. His hopes of remaining alive gets ignited. He then sees black and white rats gnawing at the tree and there was the fifth fear of falling down from the tree. His greed of honey represents the sixth fear.
    • This is an allegory, the desolate forest is the unfathomable cycle of life. The carnivorous beasts are diseases. The terrible woman is old age, destructive of beauty. The serpent is time. The creeper is the hope of remaining alive. The elephants face represents the seasons and it’s feet are the months. The rats are days and nights. The bees are desire, from which flows the streams of honey which are like the juices of desire. Those who are learned say that the wheel of life circles in this way. That is the reason why wise ones sever the noose that ties them to the wheel of life.
    Abridged version taken from The Mahabharata.

  58. Muggles says:

    Dinh is a natural travel writer with a keen eye and wit.

    If you return to the States please visit Houston Texas. One of the largest Viet populations in the US due to the war. Most very successful. Housing is relatively cheap, food is good, work is available.

    I’m sure you would be able to write about the reality of Viet life here that few of us have access to.

    Also, come in winter as weather is milder then. Though perhaps you prefer the hot humid stuff. Also Texas are not like Yankees for the most part.

    • Replies: @Loremipsum
  59. vhrm says:
    @Dingo jay b

    Linh always takes great pain to say nobody is a communist in Nam. I guess we fought against just liberal democrats during the war. Viet vet

    Well … Communists like that are mostly gone. From Vietnam, from the Soviet Union, largely even from China; because the West won the Cold War ( which included the hot wars of Korea and Vietnam)

    At least for a few decades. Your comment about liberal Democrats is not far off the mark in another way: AOC / Bernie / Warren types are, in some ways, trying to bring that stuff back in our own country.

  60. @Muggles

    I’d love to read a Linh travelogue in Houston.

    A lot of Houston and Bayou Viets are moving back from the States to Vietnam now. They’re opening crawfish boil restaurants all over Saigon!

  61. @Franz

    I speak from personal experience only. I fled Michigan with no kids, no spouse, no obligations. My roommate Stanley got a girl from his Polish-Catholic neighborhood in Flint pregnant and he was unable to leave. Ten or twelve years later, when I was in Dubai, we got in touch on social media. Flint was so awful by then I asked him-since he was divorced by then-why he did not leave. He explained that his house was worth nothing and he could not have paid anyone to purchase it. Stanley is a typical case of how someone gets stuck in the rust-belt in a ghetto.

    In order to leave you have to a) be young b) have a college education c) no dependents d) no spouse e) no debt f) a job somewhere. And many young people do leave as soon as they get the college degree. Hundreds of thousands of college graduates leave the rustbelt states.

    So then I moved to the Southwest. College-educated, energetic, but low-paying job. Then I discovered lower middle class Phoenix neighborhoods were the stalking grounds of drug-dealing Mexican gangs. I had a random encounter with some. Of course if you have money and live in Scottsdale or some other better-off part of Phoenix, you’d never meet any.

    The Opoid epidemic is no different that the meth epidemic, which was sweeping through the Southwest US at that time. Crystal meth had class demarcations. If you were a tweaker, you were probably a redneck.

    By sheer chance, my good friend from high school happened to offer me a job in Dubai. And I was young, had no kids and no house and family, so I simply threw my clothes into a suitcase and liquidated and left the United States.

    Some posters here have accused me of being “utilitarian” and a coward. I was surprised myself how little America meant to me and how little it offered when I first moved overseas. I did not miss it a bit.

    Now overseas for 20 years, occasionally the sad ends of people I knew in the rust belt as a youth have gotten back to me over the years, like Stanley my ex-roommate from Flint. I asked one guy, Brian, why the hell he didn’t simply throw his belongings in his SUV and roar out like the family in the Amityville Horror. Brian explained that his wife, a teacher, was licensed to teach in Michigan and he was up to his eyeballs in debt to pay the mortgage on a house nobody would by. They had in fact thought about getting in their SUV and simply driving South but then they would have to live in the SUV wherever the gas ran out. And Brian could not do that to his kids.

    My own brother, much more academic than I am, fled Michigan at 17. He managed to obtain a scholarship to UCLA and eventually earned a PHd in urban planner. For most of my life, he rhapsodized about how progressive and wonderful Southern California was…until his daughter was born. He moved from California just to send her to a decent public school. And he lived in Orange County. But by then the Mexicans had turned the place into a giant Tijuana Donkey Show barrio.

    • Replies: @Franz
    , @RadicalCenter
  62. Republic says:

    Don’t you live in Thailand? Why don’t you write about life in your country? I understand that many expats are being forced to leave Thailand due to new visa laws.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  63. @Republic

    I’m disinclined to comment on the place I live, much less operate a blog advertising who I am in real life.

    Southeast Asia in general is not going to discourage retirees because too much of the economy is dependent upon them. Like 10-20%. Visa laws won’t change that much.

    Most of the non-expats who post comments have no clue about life outside the United States and I even detect a vague enviousness from some of them who obviously married, had kids and are “entangled” as our great commentator Franz put it in places they cannot get out of. Their statements are moronic. Medical Tourism exists for a reason, for example.

    At any rate, the Southeast Asian experience is different for everyone and half of this is luck.

    But I can make a couple of observations-

    In other developed countries like Japan or Australia lower middle class law-abiding decent people are bearably well-off but in the US, being lower middle class/working middle class and white is dreadful. I’ve been on the margins of society because of a meager pay check and it is awful to be around the underclass (Of all races) in low-income neighborhoods. The screams of domestic violence from the next apartment…the drug-dealing neighbor whose junkie customers go in and out…the black thugs…the Mexican gangs…the child molesters like Epstein on the loose looking for neglected teens to victimize. Why endure this when you can live on $1000 in Southeast Asia.

    You probably won’t be mugged or menaced. There is not much animosity between Asians and Caucasians. You’re not going to be a victim of mugging or violence in Asia. Go to any inner-city or barrio or even a neighborhood on the periphery, it’ll happen. Asians don’t play the knockout game and 250 pound she-boons don’t have sudden outbursts on Asian public transport.

    Personally I like warm weather and I would not live in Florida or Arizona because of Cholo Mestizos/Latinos.

    Much is made of foreign sex tourism in Southeast Asia, but to my way of thinking there is nothing worse than the sight of 250 pound black crack whores or meth-ravaged rail-thin white hookers on public streets. Prostitution is legal. So what? Its legal in Vegas as well.

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  64. Sulu says:

    What was it Twain said? “The only thing worse than a young pessimist is an old optimist.”

    • Replies: @RadicalCenter
  65. Franz says:
    @Jeff Stryker

    Some posters here have accused me of being “utilitarian” and a coward. I was surprised myself how little America meant to me and how little it offered when I first moved overseas. I did not miss it a bit.

    How could you anyway? Geo W. Bush all but said it’s nothing but a work-transit camp with an upper tier of plutocrats exixting to “match people to the jobs”. Exactly like Maggie Thatcher when she said countries are just a “figure of speech.”

    Actually British ex-pats and retirees have loads of info for retirees and stuff, and actually have little settlements of their kinsmen in Portugal and some of the Mediterranean islands. They tell me it’s a matter of who you know. Like I still remain in touch with Filipinos I served with in the navy, and I’m hearing good stuff for experienced people in industry with money to invest in the Philippines.

    The USA isn’t hopeless, it’s just hopeless in it’s current configuration. Nobody thinks it can take another decade of squid ink news and tax cuts that send industry overseas. Just about tapped out.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  66. @Franz

    Anybody male can live overseas if he has no family. In Southeast Asia it is easy to exist. And if all else fails, spend $10,000 and open a girly bar. Those rarely fail. The lowest they clear is $1000 a month.

    You can get by with $400 a month in the Philippines.

    I’ve been in Southeast Asia for years.

  67. Franz says:

    I’ve been in Southeast Asia for years.

    Those of us who didn’t stay single probably envy you some. Still, I lucked out with the little woman and given the nasty American sluts I managed to avoid, I count her as fair dinkum.

  68. @JEinCA

    I understand in the sense that I was taught that, as well, but never believed it to be true or understood how Jesus would become any less divine, good, or admirable if his mother were not a virgin.

    I don’t know how to say it without sounding rude or insulting, which is definitely not what I’m trying to do. It just seems like the virgin birth may be yet another legend or custom that our forebears borrowed from preChristian religions, Zoroastrianism or some other.

    And again, whether Mary was a virgin would not affect in the slightest my admiration for Jesus, his compassion, his dedication to principle and telling the truth as he saw it even though he knew it would bring him torture and death, and his sensible, loving teachings.

  69. @Jeff Stryker

    Since we know both middle-aged and younger people who left regions of the USA with poor economic opportunity and/or unaffordable taxes and housing costs, moving elsewhere in the USA and bringing their spouse and children with them, that part of your reasoning is not persuasive.

    It is absurd to claim that someone in the USA with children is stuck forever where they are.
    I’m not sure why you think that we will buy that.

    Your friend’s wife could and should have obtained teaching certification in another State, or simply moved to a less impoverished, less dangerous, less African part of your home state, such as West Michigan. The claim of being trapped for decades doesn’t fly.

    As for “having to” live in the SUV and break down wherever the gas ran out, is there no way for this family to cut unnecessary expense and save the slightest bit of money, over several years if need be, to prepare for a move? What do they spend on television each month? Video games? Xbox subscription? Alcohol? Tobacco or marijuana? Dining out? Lottery? Other vices and luxuries? New rather than used, older rather than newer vehicles?

    Many American families who say they can’t afford to move, or to save or invest anything, can’t afford it because they choose to spend what little they have on nonsense and pretend that’s unavoidable. Not saying it is easy for them to save, or that this criticism fully applies to everyone, just that it seems to cover a lot of the excuse-makers. Stuck for a while, sure, but stuck forever? Not credible for most.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  70. @Jeff Stryker

    Just a quibble: prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas. State law allows only counties under a certain population to allow prostitution if the country so chooses.

    The low maximum-population threshold was chosen so as to prevent Las Vegas and Reno from allowing prostitution. That doesn’t counter your main points.

    As for your guarantee of not being mugged in Asia, give me a break. My wife is from the Philippines and absolutely a westerner / white person can readily be mugged there just like an Asian person can be. I’d expect pickpocketing to be much more common than a violent confrontation type of mugging, but both are there in meaningful numbers. Japan and South Korea and China may be quite different, better, in this regard.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  71. @RadicalCenter

    The people I remained with from college weren’t smoking marijuana or drinking much by the time I got in touch with them a decade later.

    Stanislaus “Stanley” the Polish football player I knew at Central dropped out of college when he got a Polish-Catholic girl from his neighborhood pregnant. This limited his employment options. An incomplete degree in advertising is not going to go very far.

    You are quite right, by the way. For a family to move to another state takes a few years of saving and planning-if they have any savings.

    Having said all that, my brother left Michigan at age 17. He moved to California, where he managed to acquire a scholarship to UCLA and lived happily in Orange Country for years. He would often rhapsodize how far ahead California was and how incredibly progressive. But around the time his daughter was born the Mexicans had really transformed Southern California into a Tijuana Donkey Show and he could not afford private school so he moved to another state just send his daughter to a decent public school.

    To really get an idea of how bad the US is, my grandmothers condo which she bought for half a million in Greater Detroit (Warren) was worth the same as my house in Thailand when we sold it. Its value had decreased by 500%.

    Anyhow, anyone who wants to leave the US badly enough can do so. And in my case, I actually held better jobs overseas than I would have in Michigan, so my resume benefited from living overseas.

  72. @RadicalCenter

    There’s been a few violent muggings. Chuck Norris was making Missing in Action in Manila and was mugged and knocked unconscious (My PNP friend had been hired as a security guard for the film back in 1984).

    I suffered a burglary, a pickpocketing on a Jeepney and an attempted laptop snatching in Cebu city…this was at the height of Shabu abuse and all of these perpetrators were meth addicts according to Cebuano witnesses.

    …But I’d walk through Manila before I’d walk through Detroit or Baltimore.

    Violent confrontational mugging involves strength and size. In America, one particular group of people is on average fairly strong and large. In the Philippines, on average, whites are generally bigger and stronger. That is what it comes down to. Filipino women, poor or no, won’t try to strong-arm rob a white woman. White women are generally bigger and stronger. But in Detroit, back when white women still lived there, female-on-female strong armed robbery was common where a black female teen would simply overpower a white woman to rob her (There was famous caught-on-camera case at a Polish festival where a white woman was nearly strangled by black women trying to tear off her pearl necklace).

    As for prostitution, I don’t know why this is a big thing for posters who try to claim that men in Southeast Asia are disgusting “sexpats”.

    Southeast Asia never had 80 prostitutes killed by one serial killer like the Green River Killer. To see the lowest and most vile form of prostitution, visit your nearest truck stop where Meth poster hookers hang around. An Asian bar girl is not as offensive as a 45 year old white rail-thin tweaker at a truck stop.

    In terms of race and danger, you’re a shit ton safer in China or Korea surrounded by Asia people than in the US inner-city. Of course you can get into some serious brawls in low bars in Asia, but your chances of having Koreans or Chinese simply jump you with the intent to kill you in Seoul or Beijing is low. Very low. Its not low in the US. It happens everyday. It comes down to the basics of size and ferocity and fast-twitch muscles. Its not strength, because whites always when hammer throw and power lifting competitions. But when somebody is fast, ambushes you in a surprise attack and is attempting to do as much damage as possible you are in grave danger.

    Would you walk through Beijing or South Chicago or Detroit at night if you had to parachute out and land somewhere and those were your choices?

    Personally, I’ve lived overseas a long time and the closest I probably came to grave injury was in Phoenix because I was unintentionally in the path of Brown Pride gangsters.

    • Replies: @Truth
  73. Truth says:
    @Jeff Stryker

    … Well now Stryke-Dawg, there was that time with the belt in India…

  74. @Sulu

    Indeed. I’ve gone from being cautiously optimistic to being incautiously pessimistic.

  75. Abcd says:

    Don’t lose passport, Mr. Dinh.

  76. The woman wearing the white t-shirt with only the word MAKE legible is hot af. I can’t be the only gruber who thinks so but if so I don’t care.

    Well done, sir.

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