New apartment, by the big lake in Hanoi. This whole district is the expat’s mecca. We talk a big game about navigating foreign cultures but when we get here we just make Little Americas. I found pizza, found the gym for the Brits and Australians, found the chilly café for bankers in pink shorts, found the safe clean supermarket for bankers’ wives. Everything nice, nothing unfamiliar. But when I email back to the grandparents you better believe I’m achieving fluency in Vietnamese and forming lifelong bonds with the locals.
The other foreigners don’t like new arrivals. Or actually it’s just me they don’t like. Mostly tall, handsome white guys who are very pissed that I, an even taller handsome white guy, have materialized to absorb attention. I give a polite nod; their eyes say I’ll tie you to a cinder block and drop it in the lake. Some kind of Darwinian panic, they see the Vietnamese pussy pipeline being cut off. I could tell them that they don’t need to worry, I’m awkward and plus I already have a girlfriend anyway, but I’d rather watch them suffer.
So anyway, our apartment. We left the hotel with the Chinese business delegation and their weird no-sideburns haircuts, and this Indian film crew who had leering at girls down to an art. Now we’re moved in. $500 a month for a place so big I have to text the girl to see what room she’s in. It’s a good deal, but not to me. Rent was free in Korea. But it wasn’t worth it to actually be with the Koreans, their suicide work ethic and byzantine corporate bullshit. Now that I’m gone I have to pay for a place to sleep again, like the other 100% of the world. It’s annoying. I still have no job, nor have I begun looking for one. I’m falling without a parachute. Yet somehow I’m not alarmed, I’m actually pretty comfortable in this situation. Unfortunately, I’m used to things working out and breaking my way. Some part All of me still believes, despite my astounding mediocrity across all facets of my existence, that I’ll be staggeringly wealthy one day soon, despite not having even a vague plan for achieving this. I read an article once in TIME saying that most people think that, and would do better to snap out of it. I think it’s more comforting not to.
It’s the rainy season. Mosquitoes, humid air curling my passport pages. Vietnam has unlimited 3G but that’s like having an unlimited supply of Pony Express deliveries. 3G should maybe be written as 1G. The webpages load, but forget about the images. I have to plan out my YouTube selections in advance, take a shit while the videos load. And I can’t see my WordPress stats which has forced me to achieve a Zen detachment from the metrics of writing.
So it continues. Tomorrow is another day as a basic guy abroad, waiting for inspiration to strike. I might learn how to count to 10 in Vietnamese, but also I probably won’t.