Unemployed, Alone and Often Confused — And Loving Every Minute


Posted on May 23rd, by James in Ho Chi Minh City, Photography, Travel, Vietnam. 24 comments

Since I quit my job last September to take a trip around the world, life has been pretty great.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still unemployed, alone and often confused. But that’s mostly by choice.

I pretty much live here.

Well, maybe not the confused bit. While life is made much easier by knowing how to speak Vietnamese and  being able to navigate Saigon’s legendary traffic, certain things are taking some getting used to ― like where to find things. For instance, when I first moved in, there was no shower rod or curtain in the bathroom. (Most Vietnamese are used to splashing water all over the bathroom and letting it dry.) Lots of older hotels (and most homes) still have a shower-right-over-the-toilet combo. While Saigon is slowly becoming more Westernized, Bed, Bath & Beyond still hasn’t made it here.

What? You can even shop late at night AND in your bathrobe? So lucky...

So it’s basically a matter of finding out where the industrial / home maintenance shops are clustered and then going from one to the other to ask. Believe me, my map is well worn… Moving to a foreign country always has its inconveniences, but I’m trying to embrace them rather than focusing on how different (and at times, irritatingly so) life is abroad.

Now about the unemployed part… You see, I intended to have a 6-8 month cushion of savings where I wouldn’t have to work. My entire life, aside from the odd 2-3 month trip somewhere, I’ve either been in school or working. I couldn’t imagine what a life of leisure feels like. I mean, what would you do all day? I imagined my life as a Bon Bons commercial, whiling the days away eating chocolates and reading witty internet blogs (OK, fine, fine, and watching funny youtube videos about lazy harp seals with which I can fully identify…)

This is me. Except it'd be at home. And I'm a guy....

After a month of apartment hunting and a trip back to Cambodia to lug the last of my belongings over, the last month or so has gone in a blur. My mornings are enjoyably spent doing volunteer work. My afternoons are spent playing tennis at courts just five minutes away. (Cost of the court? USD 3 per hour including the services of a ballboy who expertly picks up balls using a long-handled dustpan and bin.) Other times, I explore the city and take photos or conduct interviews for stories I want to write about. Then there’s Hulu. Loves me some Hulu.

But the most exciting thing that has happened in the last while is that I made it to the Top 25 Finalists in Conde Nast’s Dream Trip Photo Contest. Out of more than 20,000 entries, one of my photos got selected. How awesome is that? And the grand prize is a $25,000 trip to anywhere in the world. I simply cannot fathom spending that much on a trip but I’d do a heck of a job trying!

See? Even Uncle Sam wants you to vote for me...

So please spend 30 seconds to click on this link and vote for my photo. You can vote once a day for the next two weeks. C’mon. It can be your good deed for the day. You will be absolved from holding doors open for old ladies, giving up meat (or your subway seat) or donating to pesky charities. Simply vote for me and your good deed is done! I’ll even send you a postcard when I win…

Voting is simple. All you have to do is click. Lather, rinse, repeat once a day for the next two weeks.

Update, May 24 @ 10:08 am: I am overwhelmed by the response I’m getting from friends, former colleagues, editors, the travel blogging community, people I’ve only crossed paths with, but who’ve gone over and above by forwarding this post, re-tweeting, posting on Facebook. I have no words. You guys are just so awesome. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart! Keep voting guys and stand to win your own $23,000 Kenyan safari. It can happen for you too! Look where dreaming has gotten me!

Note: I’ve obviously been very bored busy trawling the internet for image generators that you see in this post, all for you, dear readers!

Ransom note: I found this very cool site that generates ransom note style magazine letter cutouts. While there were many, this one was definitely the best. Check it out! You can even insert your own photo in the background. Very handy for when you can’t be bothered cutting out letters for your own ransom note…

Street Sign generator: A pretty nifty site which allows you to generate tons of custom pictures. Warning: You will spend way more time here than you planned…

Uncle Sam poster generator: Another huge time suck but with lots of images to goof around with…

Photo credits: Bed, Bath and Beyond and Barbie dolls

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24 thoughts on “Unemployed, Alone and Often Confused — And Loving Every Minute

  1. This article is hilarious. Lather, rinse, repeat… Ha! Ha! Ha! And oh yes. Have voted, will vote once each day for the next two weeks..all the best and yes, the pic is indeed beautiful…

    • Thanks a million! If I win, I promise to send a postcard to everyone who voted for me! That’s a LOT of postcards, yo! Tell your friends!

  2. Aw geez, now you’ve gone and added yet aNOTHER digital time-sucker to my plate. Thanks a BUNCH – NOT! ;( I couldn’t help but whittle a street sign for “HOPELESS” “WANDERLUST” – *perfect* to dress up my “Proof Positive: I’ve Have a Gob of Nomadic DNA in my Genes” post at TravelnLass.

    And yup, I voted today. Didn’t realize it was still going on and one could vote daily. Truly loved your submission – both the pic, but especially the prose.

    • Thanks, Dyanne! You’re the best. Actually, the voting for the Finalists just opened up less than 24 hours ago and goes on for two weeks. The contest for general entry has been going on for a few months now. There is some majorly stiff competition, though, so I’m not holding my breath…

  3. There! I did my good deed for the day… I voted! Just because you made me laugh :) ) Oh, and also YOUR photo is gorgeous! —I meant your Entry Photo :P — And I will keep voting every single day for the next 2 weeks :D
    I wanted to Tweet your article but you have no Tweet button on your blog :( ( Anyways, I tweeted manually … Goodluck!!

    P.S. Get thee on twitter!!

    • Thanks, Jenn! You’re awesome. Twitter, huh? I’m so behind the times. Plus, my web designer who put this site together is actually a friend and did it for a very reasonable price (free!) so I can’t be too demanding. You should have heard some of our conversations.
      Him: You need to start doing SEO stuff.
      Me: SEO? Is that like the CEO’s cousin?
      Him: (Audible sigh) All you need to do is…
      Me: (eyes glazing over, soundtrack of Charlie Brown’s teacher running through my head).
      haha. Thanks for voting. A postcard is coming your way! Tell all your fabulous friends!

  4. Haha! You’d better listen to your friend…he knows what he’s talking about. Get SEO’ed, get Twittered, and get Google+ed … it’s just a few more Share buttons at the end of your every posts ;)

    • I TOTALLY need a “Blogging for Dummies” class. I’ll even wear the dunce hat. Or maybe I should just hire a team of elves to do all that hocus-pocus new-fangled Internet work…

  5. So… question: Is the tied up Barbie picture one of your own? Because if it is… it might be past time for you to be getting a job. Not judging. Just saying. Ok, I’m judging. Put the Barbies away and pick up the wanted ads.

    • Ummm. No. As much as I’d like to claim Tied Up Barbie as my own, I simply can’t. Someone else beat me to it. I’m not saying I’ve never tied up a doll… just that I never had the energy to photograph it. tee hee hee. Now cutting out letters for ransom notes is another story… I don’t even want to think about having to work but life is pretty expensive here. I miss Cambodia!

    • Thanks, Andi! I do admit I’m having a pretty good time. Now if only it wasn’t for the pesky business of actually having to find a job and having income…

    • Cool, huh? So many cool programs on the internet nowadays. I’m trying to limit myself or else I’d lose countless hours finding the new best thing!

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