Sede Vacante

The light is on but no one is home.

Archive for Vietnam

Airports suck more at 1am

I’m at the airport, again. But this time at the ungodly hour of midnight, waiting for my crap 1am flight with Cebu Pacific.

I was hungry and knowing that they don’t actually feed you in these budget flights, I got myself a sandwich at the airport concessionaire. It was a dry, cold ham and cheese sandwich. It was crap, which wasn’t a big problem except the bastards charged me 7 dollars for it. Godammit, this is Vietnam. I can get my pipes cleaned for that kind of money. And the little old lady manning the counter didn’t even have the courtesy to give me a reach-over.

Grr… we were supposed to board at 1230pm.  But hey, the plane just arrived, which means its delayed by at least 30 minutes again.


There are no windmills in Vietnam

So why VN?  Hahah… it’s business. Or in my case, pride. I’m not stuck here because of a sense of duty or a desire to keep my job. I really do want to see this company fly. Failure blows, and so long as there is someone willing to keep trying, I’m staying. It’s just sad that we made so many mistakes along the way with these guys.

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A few beautiful days

The past few weeks have been utterly miserable for me.  I won’t get into the details of why; suffice to say that I’m definitely not happy with what is going on.  I feel broken and incomplete, and altogether disgusted with everything.

Just as things got almost unbearable, I got a few beautiful days.  Like a lover teasing me mercilessly, she gave me a kiss right before I lost my mind.

Anyway, a few photos of my beautiful days on the next page.

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Finally coming home with lessons learned

Bubble of home.

It’s been an interesting 10 weeks to say the least. It’s the longest I’ve spent out of the country, and away from my wife since we tied the knot so many years ago. I signed up for this gig because I wanted to learn some new things–always a good thing for old dogs like me.

Perhaps it was apt that I ended up in Ho Chi Minh. I don’t think I would have learned these lessons anywhere else. In most other places, it’s so different that the novelty lasts quite a bit, and you can easily distract yourself from the strangeness of a place by the fact that there are new things to see. The funny thing is that HCM is a lot like Manila. The area where I live in, Phu Nhuan, reminds me of the backroads of Cubao or perhaps Old Manila. Just when your mind is about to adjust to a level of comfort something just slams into you that reminds you that you’re not back home. You’re in the twilight zone, in some strange twisted mirroring of the reality you used to call home.

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I was there: helmet day 2007.

Some day, while talking to friends over cà phê sữa đá, a teenager in Viet Nam will look at his shiny motorbike helmet and marvel at the thought that there was a time when no one had to wear them. He’d imagine a long bygone era when beautiful long hair would flutter in the wind, and every now and then you’d see a bright crimson streak with bits of that hair and brain and think to yourself: how poetic it is when placed against the dull gray of the pavement.

Lookit all the helmets!

Today is helmet day. From this day forward all passengers and operators of open-air motor-driven vehicles are required to wear helmets. I may have missed the fall of the berlin wall, and the first (supposedly) democratic elections in Iraq. But I was in Viet Nam on helmet day, 15 December 2007. Let the world know.

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Children of war

This post is dedicated to Peter, Vic, Henri, and Erik, all survivors of war.

I’ve always been fascinated by war. The morbid drive to see people getting killed is only a small and primal part of it. Death, after all, is a proper subject of wonder–an inescapable aspect of our being, and yet totally unfathomable. No, my fascination stems from the fact that extreme circumstances provide an excellent backdrop to bring out the extremes in human beings; both the best and the worst; mass-murderers and heroes.

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It may look like coffee, but it’s really ROCKETFUEL!!

A typical serving of ca phe sua da.

This is cà phê sữa đá (kah fay suh dah). The good people of Vietnam claim that this is simply an indigenous concoction made of very strong robusta coffee mixed with a generous helping of condensed milk served over ice. That’s a lie. It’s really just too much caffeine, too much sugar, and too much lactose served way too cold. In the past few weeks, I’ve begun to suspect that there’s probably a lot more going on here than just coffee and condensed milk.

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