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Vientiane, 2020

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      I’m in Vientiane, a sleeping beauty just starting to wake up. I’m typing this at Spirit House, because it’s quiet. Three tables away sit two middle-aged monks. Checking their smartphones, they’re just chilling. Puffing a cigarette, one flashes his purple nipple episodically.

      In his cage, a crested bird whistles, while others, flying freely, chirp. The Mekong is within sight but barely trickling. There are too many dams upriver, most of them Chinese. With its hand on the spigot, China has much of Southeast Asia by its yellow balls. It’s always soothing to watch the red sun set, right from here.

      After spending a week at the Davika Hotel, in a windowless room costing $20 a night, a bit too much for my taste and welfare, I’m now contentedly tucked into the alarmingly named Mixok.

      For just $11 daily, I might just linger here until death do us part, though this wheezing resthouse is likely to collapse before I do, in the middle of the night, under an impossibly huge moon. A final monsoon will wash us all away.

      My barred window looks into a narrow and pleasantly noisy alley. This is the tropics, man, where men, birds and/or insects are supposed to generate an unceasing cacophony. Within shouting distance, there’s the Lao Poet Hotel, but that costs $90 a night, and at the far end, there’s La Cage du Coq. It’s not a whorehouse, cockfight club or mixed martial arts gym, but merely a French restaurant, where entrees hover around nine bucks. No, thanks.

      Traveling alone, I’m accompanied by a French corpse. Montbéliard-born Henri Mouhot (1826-1861) wrote wonderfully in English, “It is only in the solitude and depth of the woods that one can fully admire and enter into the sort of harmony and concord which reigns in the songs of the various birds, forming such a pleasing kind of symphony that the voice of one is rarely overpowered by that of another; one can enjoy at once the general effect and the melodious note of the particular winged musician we prefer. Scarcely does the sun begin to gild the tops of the trees, when, alert and gay, they commence their morning hymn. The martins, the warblers, the drongos, and the dominicans, respond to the turtle-doves’ cooing in the highest branches. Music of a less dulcet nature is discoursed by the aquatic and rapacious tribes, such as cranes, herons, and kingfishers, who from time to time utter their piercing cries.”

      Even in a Lao city, birds still serenade all day long, so I’m happy to have a window again. The most blessed trees are riotous with twittering birds.

      Before dawn, orange clad, barefoot monks in single files make their rounds to exchange chanted blessings for food. Waiting for them on sidewalks, the devout sit on straw mats or low stools. In front of them are woven baskets and aluminum or wooden bowls containing sticky rice, bananas, money and/or bottles of water. Lao and Thai monks are forbidden to eat after noon, so many down soft drinks all day long, resulting in more than a few turning into virtual Buddhas, in form if not spirit.

      Also out are whores with verifiable snatches and ladyboys, trawling for drunk farangs. Seeing me wandering, a smiling beauty puts her hands together and stands on one foot.

      I had wanted to come earlier, but flights from Saigon were indirect and surprisingly expensive, and there were no vans or buses from Ea Kly, where I also lived. This time, taking a bus from Da Nang to Savannakhet cost me just $17.30, but I almost didn’t make it to the station.

      The hired driver freaked when I spoke to him in Vietnamese, on the phone. Soon after hanging up, he texted, “I’m sorry, brother, but I don’t drive Vietnamese or Viet Kieus. You should contact the travel agent for a refund.”

      At least he answered my call. “Brother,” I pleaded, “I’ve already booked a hotel in Laos, and I’ve returned my room in Hoi An. I’m standing in the dark, with my bags. Not all Viet Kieus are the same, and you don’t even know me. Just do me a favor, brother, and take me to Da Nang.”

      After fifteen minutes of haggling with him and the travel agent, the crank finally showed up, but only on the condition that he wouldn’t charge me anything, just to show that this was never about money. He just hated his fellow Vietnamese, at least as customers.

      With relief, I entered his car. As dawn paled, however, I got a closer look at this man’s face and realized, with renewed anxiety, that we had met days earlier.

      I had walked into his travel agency after seeing a board listing bus rides into Laos, “Brother, I have an American passport. Do I need a visa for Laos?”

      “Of course, you need a visa! You need a visa to enter every country!”

      “Actually, you don’t. Some countries don’t require a visa.”

      “They all require a visa!” He smirked.

      “Brother, I’ve been to about thirty countries, and many of them didn’t require a visa. I know.”

      “I don’t care if you’ve been to a hundred! They all require a visa!”

      Shaking my head, I had walked out, yet here I was, being driven by the same combative man. I was at his mercy. How does a guy like that stay in business? Who can live with him?

      In silence, we rolled up Highway One, on a stretch that had been littered with the mangled dead, screaming wounded and busted vehicles in March of 1975. Finally, the bus station came into view in gorgeous sunshine. I got on my coach.

      ORDER IT NOW

      The twelve-hour ride was uneventful. There were three rows of two-tiered sleeping berths, with each made for a stunted, bunched up munchkin. The two aisles were also packed, with one man forced to sit nearly the entire time. This scrawny and frowning dude could have gained a bit more space just by piping up a bit, for the woman right in front of him had too much room. A Gimpel the Fool type, though, he kept his peace.

      We passed through Quang Tri, then Khe Sanh. All along the way, there were many cemeteries embellishing the landscape, for most of them were quite gorgeous, with their graves inspiringly ornate, each a miniature Oriental temple. These cities of the dead looked better than the living ones, nearby. There were also many military cemeteries, where the unidentifiable also rested. We’re just pondering hash.

      Cramped, I didn’t rest much, but damn it, I was entering Laos, if they would let me in! The border paperwork went smoothly. Crossing into Poland from Ukraine three years ago, our bus was detained for nearly five hours. With their ultra cool yet swaggering passports, Americans may not appreciate how serious, and often even deadly, are borders.

      The bus was jammed with Laos and Thais. There were just a handful of Vietnamese, and only one white, a Swiss queer traveling with his Thai boy toy. At the last Vietnamese settlement, a handful of Bru beggars waited outside the roadside restaurant where we ate. The old women looked like driftwood in conical hats, windbreakers and sarongs, and the two boys, stunted and not too bright. It’s hard to think if your stomach is always resentful.

      Though the GDP per capita of Vietnam and Laos are roughly the same, the Land of a Million Elephants does look poorer. There are far fewer stores lining roads, and rural houses are mostly made of unpainted wood. Homes of two or more stories are seldom seen. Most strikingly, many fields are left fallow. The demographic pressure to cultivate each inch of land is just not as intense, as in Vietnam.

      Even in Vientiane, there are unpaved roads, with one stretch right by the Mekong, on a prime piece of real estate just 1.4 mile from the Presidential Palace. The country’s tallest building has but 14 stories. Not that I think Asia’s skyscraping contest is so wonderful. Six of the seven tallest on earth are in Asia.

      In Savannakhet, I was supposed to switch buses to go to Vientiane immediately, but rolling in, what I saw from the bus windows jazzed my interest, so I just had to get off for this one-night stand. Even with no hotel reservation, Lao money or working phone, I had to inspect more closely Savannakhet’s mysterious concrete dinosaurs at a roundabout, the Nuan Money Restaurent Guesthouse (with its two red lanterns dangling over a cheerless entrance) and the Macchiato de Coffee, with its trilingual confusion, London Tube sign and a red British phone booth, sans phone, fronting it.

      The bus station was a large pavilion, with benches mostly filled with rural folks, with some women in the traditional tube dress, the “sinh.” More were decked out in jeans, T-shirts, track pants or pantsuits, the last undoubtedly in honor of Hillary Clinton, even if they had never heard of the eternally cackling candidate. Run, witch, run!

      One side was a darkened row of sad looking doors, which I correctly identified as the station’s resthouse. That should be cheap, I reassured myself, so I’ll stay there, if I can’t find anything reasonable.

      There are only 50,000 Vietnamese in Laos, supposedly, yet during my brief stop in Savannakhet, I saw quite a few Vietnamese businesses, and it was at a Viet restaurant that I managed to exchange some money, actually. All the Savannakhet ATMs I had tried rejected my cursed card. It was no fun to trudge around in the dark, overburdened, without any cash.

      In any foreign place, a compatriot, or at least someone who speaks your language, can save your sorry ass. Traveling through Siam, Laos, Cambodia and Cochinchina, Mouhot routinely relied on white missionaries, though it must be added, local dignitaries often treated this farang with tremendous hospitality.

      Still, a man who had willingly left all that’s familiar to lunge into the unknown couldn’t help but be moved by each reminder of his heritage. One example, “The sight of the Cross in foreign lands speaks to the heart like meeting with an old friend; one feels comforted and no longer alone.”

      In Vientiane, I would run into many more Vietnamese businesses, two large Buddhist temples and, most remarkably, one devoted to Tran Hung Dao, a 13th century military hero worshipped for repelling two Mongol invasions. The profound depth of history is a comfort progress devotees can’t fathom.

      The 268-mile bus ride from Savannakhet to Vientiane took nine hours, but that’s because we had several stops, all longer than necessary, for Laos are relaxed. The bus was so packed, people didn’t just jam the aisle, perched on plastic stools, but were sardined into a semi-dark luggage compartment, among bags and a motorbike. Removed of its fixtures, the bathroom was also used for bags. Everyone was cheerful, however. Sometimes, Lao pop with its prancing rhythm would play over the speakers. At each stop, food and drink vendors rushed on to sell, most notably, various meats and even eggs skewered on sticks.

      Having traveled 350 miles across Laos, I haven’t seen one tusked animal, just a million statues of elephants. They guard gates, flank elevators and dangle their trunks from walls. I even ran across one with a buxom mermaid on top. I must say that the Lao landscape is much cleaner than Cambodia’s, however, and perhaps even Vietnam’s, not that’s saying much.

      There is enough trash, but they tend to be clear plastic bags. Degraded and murky with time, they lie still or gaily skip across the countryside. Maybe Laos don’t even see them, or consider this garbage a kind of modern foliage.

      If I was the President of Laos, I would decree that clear plastic bags be outlawed, and replaced with bright orange ones, so that they’d resemble leaves on the ground. Tourism will spike with this new slogan, “Laos, where it’s always autumn!” Or better yet, “Laos, the eternal Vermont.”

      ORDER IT NOW

      Compared to Vietnam, Laos has many more cars and trucks to motorbikes, but this can be attributed to the much lower Laos taxes on vehicles. A Vietnamese who does a lot of business in Laos, with about ten trips here yearly, has this explanation, “The car is a much bigger status symbol here. Unlike us, they would buy a car instead of improving their house. A rich guy in Vietnam might have two cars, but you’ll find many Laos with three or four cars, and they don’t put them to work, like we do. If we have several cars, they must make money for us, but here, they just use cars to drive around, for leisure.”

      He told me that on the Savannakhet/Vientiane bus. It appeared there were only Laos on it, yet here we were, two Vietnamese who quite by chance sat next to each other. A foundry owner, he’s also from Nam Dinh, my ancestral province, so we even talked with the same accent, more or less.

      In the mid 19th century, Laos was terra incognita to the West. Mouhot in 1860, “During the last twenty-five years, only one man, as far as I know, a French priest, has penetrated to the heart of Laos, and he only returned to die in the arms of the good and venerable prelate, Mgr. Pallegoix. I know the discomfort, fatigue, and tribulations of all sorts to which I am again about to expose myself; the want of roads, the difficulty of finding means of conveyance, and the risk of paying for the slightest imprudence by a dangerous or even fatal illness.”

      The first Westerner to reach Luang Prabang, Mouhot himself would be killed by this land he so adored and venerated. Buried in a nearly inaccessible patch by the Nam Kan, his grave is continually assaulted by the jungle, just like the Angkor Wat he so famously described.

      It’s eternally resonant, “One of these temples—a rival to that of Solomon, and erected by some ancient Michael Angelo—might take an honourable place beside our most beautiful buildings. It is grander than anything left to us by Greece or Rome, and presents a sad contrast to the state of barbarism in which the nation is now plunged.”

      So even the mightiest of civilizations can rapidly be reduced to destitution, squalor and ignorance. One day, you cockily and effortlessly build pyramids, the Taj Mahal or innumerable atomic bombs. The next morning, you’re panhandling outside the Japanese-owned 7-11 or shitting on the sidewalk.

      In 1975, Laos had just three million people, and it’s up to 6.9 million now, an astoundingly low figure compared to adjacent Vietnam’s 97 million, Thailand’s 70 million, Myanmar’s 54 million, Cambodia’s 16.6 million and, of course, China’s continent-bursting, globe-popping 1.4 billion. You can see where this is going. Laos’ underexploited space and resources are being eyed by its neighbors, plus a few others. Leading the pack is China, by far. It has huge construction projects all over Laos, with thousands of its own workers brought in. China’s also building a rail line, Lao’s first, from Vientiane to the Chinese border. When it’s finished next year, everything Chinese will be funneled into Laos at an even more accelerated pace. With its unprecedented demographic pressure, China has a plan to infiltrate everywhere.

      Vietnam, too, has designs on Laos, I’m sure. Always have. Mouhot wrote about Luang Prabang in 1861, “Were they not restrained by fear of the Siamese, and their horror of the jungles so prolific of death, this principality would soon fall into the hands of the Annamites, who now dare not advance nearer than seven days’ journey off.”

      As for the Thais, a third of their land really belongs to Laos, but that logic counts for nothing. Everyone takes what he can. Invading Laos in 1828, the Thais destroyed Pha That Luang, Laos’ most sacred stupa, and in their brief war against the French in 1940-41, they wrecked it again.

      Over drinks at Spirit House, Laos expert Mike Boddington told me that Vietnam is spending $100 million to build Laos’ new National Assembly. When someone spends that much on you, he wants to nudge up a bit, at least. Vietnam’s President Nguyen Phu Trong’s first trip abroad was also to Laos. Geopolitical jockeying is a universal game.

      Mike has a world of experiences of seemingly everywhere, but his special focus is Southeast Asia, with Laos his most ardent passion. Mike first came in 1994, “We flew into Vientiane on one of the old Chinese copies of a Russian twin-engine plane that accommodated about 50 people in cramped circumstances: there was a Boeing 737-200 on this route, leased from Iceland, but that day it was not operational because the pilot had been knocked off his motorcycle in Vientiane and killed.” Mike was the key figure in the creation of Cope, a center to help victims of landmines, plus others disabled. I’ll visit his home soon on the outskirts of Vientiane.

      North Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh Trails branched into Laos, so the United States dropped a record two million tons of ordnance on this poor country. These included 270 million cluster bombs, of which up to 80 million haven’t detonated yet. Each year, Laos continue to be killed by UXOs, so that’s the most tangible of the American legacy here. More abstract and unquantifiable, yet much more explosive, is the dissemination of an increasingly absurd and decadent American culture.

      Projecting power and sex, America enthralls, so on Vientiane’s tuk-tuks, for example, I’ve encountered several American badasses on windshields, dashboards and mud flaps. These include Al Pacino as Serpico, Sylvester Stallone as Cobra, and, twice already, even Stallone as Rambo! There’s even a Rambo haircutter, although its sign shows two blacks with huge afros!

      On one of the Rambo-adorned tuk-tuks, there was also an American Eagle and, oddly enough, Che Guevara! So the same driver idolizes a Commie killer and a killer Commie, but they’re both seductive images of power. Quantity and quality wise, no one sells this better than America.

      Traveling through Southeast Asia, Mouhot was repeatedly baffled by the apparent happiness of its people, despite their poverty, high taxes and/or oppression from their rulers. Laos were additionally cursed, “Their poverty borders on misery, but it mainly results from excessive indolence, for they will only cultivate just sufficient rice for their support; this done, they pass the rest of their time in sleep, lounging about the woods, or making excursions from one village to another, paying visits to their friends on the way.”

      ORDER IT NOW

      Before you dismiss the above as biased nonsense from a white racist, the Vietnamese foundry owner made very similar observations, “There aren’t so many foreign companies here because the Laos just aren’t that reliable. They don’t have the same attitude towards work as we do. After the 15th and 30th of each month, many won’t show up the next day because they just got too drunk after being paid.” He laughed. “They don’t eat so well, but they like to drink.”

      “What do they drink? Rice wine?”

      “No, beer. They love their beer!”

      Can’t blame them. Beerlao is excellent and cheap, and what’s wrong with just ambling to neighboring villages to chatter with your buddies, or plopping yourself under a tree, to reflect, doze off or hear birds singing?

      Buddhists value silence and stillness, and despite all of its modern convulsions, Laos is still a land of temples. With its spacious ground, each is a meditative oasis. A tuk-tuk driver may not recognize an address, but if you just tell him which temple it’s near, he’ll take you there.

      Calmed by Laos’ pace, I’m lingering.

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

       
      • Category: Culture/Society • Tags: Laos 
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      1. Biff says:

        In a weird sense of irony – I’m attending a birthday/going away party tonight(Bangkok) for a (American)friend who lives part time in Vientiane. He has a Lao wife and one year old son – he works on oil platforms out in the gulf and she has a desk job in Lao, and they seem to be stricken with immigration problems. He can’t immigrate to Lao and she can’t immigrate to Thailand were he has a visa, so he has decided to move his family back to(of all places) Philly PA. Good luck buddy!

        On topic, I hear a lot of glowing accolades about Vientiane from my friend and others(doing visa runs), and the romantic tale from Linh Dinh, so I am looking forward to a visit some day.

      2. “……..The profound depth of history is a comfort progress devotees can’t fathom…….”

        —-Well, there’s my take-away for the day….

        • Replies: @Stump
      3. OldGringo says:

        Thanks for the article.
        Interesting and informative as usual.
        Laos is a great place to visit. Much like Thailand was in many ways back in the day.
        You didn’t mention air quality. What about smoke-haze? Have they started burning yet?
        Here in Northern Thailand it has started already.
        Good luck on your travels, Lin.

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      4. I guess you’d better enjoy Laos while it’s still such a nice calm backwater.

      5. Stump says:
        @Fred C Dobbs

        Agreed. What a wonderful sentence and somehow comforting thought!

      6. whahae says:

        As the colonial French put it: The Vietnamese plant the rice, the Cambodians watch the rice grow, the Lao listen to the rice grow.

        I also remember reading an anecdote about an American missionary teaching Lao peasants techniques to increase their rice yield and this just leading to the peasants growing the same amount of rice and increasing their free time.

        We can learn a lot from the Lao.

        • Replies: @Fred C Dobbs
      7. Franz says:

        Calmed by Laos’ pace, I’m lingering.

        Ah, we could linger here once too. Memories!

        As a child I could still wander through apple orchards here in Ohio, close enough to the Lake Erie shore you could smell the humid freshwater toward the end of August.

        You could imagine yourself in the Forest Primeval, see yourself as Adam before Eve complicated things, grab an apple at midday and ignore lunch and supper because when we are at peace, the digestive tract just naturally takes a break. No expensive diets or exercise tricks required.

        In the Reagan years came the condos. Orchards that had stood since Johnny Appleseed were knocked down for McMansions and disposable upscale cookie-cutter apartments. The natural rhythm of time and space, scent and appetite were squelched. The landscape got ugly. The people got fat.

        In due course the 80s construction binge went to seed. The then-new expensive condos-on-the-lake look like bad ruins. When the lake water rose, sewage backed up into the units, and insurance wouldn’t cover it… Act of God, they said, and insurance is immune to that.

        Soon enough, the wrecking ball then the bulldozers will do their bit. Then the orchards will be back. The ghost of Johnny Appleseed will return, but a whole generation missed out on the days when people lived at their own speed, in their own time.

        Keep lingering, Linh. Humans are lucky sometimes, and the gods smile. They let us live in their time zone, and we have to appreciate it while we can.

      8. @whahae

        The Lao, among many….

        —-Recall hearing a story that when the potato became universal in Ireland, some English overlord calculated that the potato was such an efficient crop (time spent planting and harvesting vs yield in caloric value) that the average Irish peasant spent a total of only about two weeks a year actually “working the soil”….the reciprocal of which meant he could spend the other 50 weeks a year lounging and visiting pals in his favorite pub.

        This did not sit well with the English, but was viewed as plenty fine by the Irish.

      9. Anonymous[124] • Disclaimer says:

        I’ve been enjoying reading about Linh Dinh’s adventures in Laos on his blog, and, more especially, looking at his photographs.
        My impression of Laos was formed by a conversation I had with my uncle some years ago.
        After an off-roading accident that saw him and me upside down in his old Scout with gasoline pouring down on us and the engine roaring, a perilous situation from which he extracted us with calm efficiency, we had a long walk back to our camp. During it, he told me how important it was not to give in to fear and to keep your wits about you in a dangerous situation, and to illustrate that, for the first and only time, he spoke to me of his experiences as a helo pilot during the Viet Nam War, and in particular his participation in an operation called Lam Song 719, an attack on North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao strength in Laos in 1971.
        His job was to ferry ARVN troops to the battle zone. He told of going into a hot LZ and seeing ahead of him five helos on fire and spinning down, with South Vietnamese troops hurled out of them, flying through the air. He made it safely down to the LZ, hovering as the troops jumped out, but upon trying to lift off he was hit by enemy fire and crashed back onto the LZ, his crew chief being killed in the crash. The survivors were unable to move more than a few feet from the wreckage due to the intense fire poured into the LZ by the enemy. He said the noise of gunfire was louder than that of the firing range at Fort Polk and even shouting it was hard to talk to others. The ARVN troops could not move off the LZ due to the intensity of the fire, and every minute they took casualties even though they were just lying flat on the ground.
        My uncle and his crew were finally extracted when jets blasted the whole area with napalm and helos had a window to slip into the LZ and pick up the survivors before the enemy recovered and resumed fire.
        So that’s been my lasting impression of Laos — some remote hell, existing eternally in a murderous war. And then along comes Linh Dinh and his bus ride into a bucolic backwater with the usual crummy hotels and restaurants, littered with the dregs and echoes of the mass global culture that could be just about anywhere — Guam, Guatamala, Ghana. No signs of the mad fury of war, no armies hurling themselves at each other, using every weapon of human genius to kill each other.
        It leaves me wondering what it was all for. And glad that is now ancient history, forgotten by all but a few old men who sometimes tell their stories, but mostly never do.

        https://www.comanchero.org/NEWSWEEK_MARCH15_71_PG390001.pdf

        • Thanks: Dan Hayes, eah, Talha
        • Replies: @GMC
      10. Ko says:

        Yeah, well done. I lived in Vientiane for all of 2014. It’s a lovely country, and if I had to choose between Burma and Lao, I would choose Lao. Nevermind the rest of ASEAN, at least for me. Though I never spend much time in Vietnam, the rest of the region’s no place I wish to visit again. The people I spent the most time with loved their Beer Lao poured into rocks glasses filled with ice. They kept saying, “Bottoms up!” We always wound up shooting 50%, 25% and got wasted just as well as any way to drink beer. Lao’s got a dark side, though, and a wicked heart. Western people disappear all the time. It seemed every tuk-tuk driver had a wood box filled with drugs. So many mom and pop variety stores also sold pillows of weed and black tar. There are places outside of Vientiane where you can go to relax in a forest guesthouse and trip on shrooms for the weekend. But the further north one goes, the more danger there is. It’s fun that way. But I had the pleasure of only knowing of things. I met a guy, the minister of education, who went around to forested villages and any village during the American War and taught people how to eat the land and vegatation in order to survive. And many older people asked me all the time, “Do know about the bombing.” One place I found worth a few hours was the War Memorial Musueam, I can’t recall its exact name. That was worth the walk thru with my Loa compadres, who left me as we reached the American period. All invaders eventually left Laos. As you will Linh. Peace

      11. I wonder why this most recent article has not been posted on the home page. This may cause many people to miss it, as they may not think of checking in the “Columnists” section. I hope this could be swiftly rectified.

      12. klcard says:

        I wonder about how Linh sets up his camera – so much saturation! Most of the photos just bleed colour. I find it interesting as it makes the subject so intense.

      13. @Franz

        Fuuuuuu…. don’t even get me started.

        I spent some time in the Newport Beach/Huntington Beach area in the 80s/90s and I saw a nice, funky, sleepy little Huntington Beach downtown turn from a place with cool little coffee/breakfast places (Sugar Shack RIP) and beatnik acoustic jam spaces and funky punky sk8 shops, surfboard places, you get the idea, turn into a plastic extension of Disneyland. I used to know a guy who lived in one of the old oil workers’ houses, we’d hang out and ride motorcycles and watch “Combat!” on TV in living black and white…. His brother lived in the other half of the shack and drove a cab, and when his brother wasn’t driving the thing, he’d take it out … “Hey bro, I know you just got up… cab’s all warmed up for you, full tank of gas, too!”

        There are/were areas that were major stops for migrating birds, the West Coast being one of the planet’s major “flyways”. I’m sure they’re completely covered with condos now.

        Pre-internet, SoCal used to be funky and slow and boring in the best ways. Now it’s Blade Runner minus the rain.

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
        , @Franz
      14. @Ko

        Ko – I’m too old and have an “iffy” back (accident years ago) or I’d get the hell out of the Evil Empire (US) by wetbacking it to France, do agricultural work and keep my nose clean and learn French, and I guess in 10 years become a French “citoyen”.

        The best I can do at this point is to aspire to retire back in Hawaii where I grew up.

        Everyone’s got these wonderful mental pictures of Hawaii, but indeed there’s a thriving heroin scene and many a mainland haole will be found nodding in the too-hot sun in Chinatown. There’s also various forms of meth, called “shabu”, and plenty of beer and pot, of course. Plenty of ways to get into plenty of trouble.

        This besides the fact that it’s really easy to fall off a sea cliff, fall off a cliff-cliff, fall off of even the most popular trails and deep into one of those swallow-you-up jungle ravines and never be found again. So if certain people don’t like you, well it was an accident.

        These non-US areas (or at least non-US-mainstream) are not populated by Oompa Loompas, there to entertain you.

        Years ago I had a Cambodian co-worker tell me about some mountain people called “Deka” who were so far back in the hills that they were nice and kind, and would help you if you got up their way. Maybe their area is all condos now…

      15. @OldGringo

        Issan and Laos are very similar-culturally and linguistically-and Northeast Thailand borders on Laos.

        Of course Thailand is wealthier than Laos and many Laos workers move to Thailand to work.

        Sugar cane in Northern Thailand burns so fast the haze does not last long.

      16. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        In Blade Runner, LA was Asian in the future. In real life, it is Hispanic.

      17. mungo says:

        They call it “Progress” but it only seems to produce refugees of the past….
        how did man learn to be so short-sighted?

        What a mess we made.

        Russel Means, a Lakota Sioux activist, stated that in his culture,
        every step taken must be with the thought of seven generations ahead.

        Our Culture has be judiazied – Money is the measure of all things.

        “I turn them into Jews.”
        Bernie Marcus- Co-founder of Home Depot

      18. I am Pat Hilliard, an American financial refugee living in Istanbul teaching English.
        I was a teacher in the US for 25 years and spent the last 8 years going bankrupt, “overqualified” for a teaching position, working 3 jobs and left the country at age 52 BEFORE I became homeless.

        I read your piece, Mixok in Laos, which was brilliant.
        I was struck by your fearless travel style that I am certain is possible because of your unique attitude, as well as you language ability.

        I wonder about the word “Mixot” – I’ve been unable to unearth a definition except for one reference to numerology: Life Path 9. Can you help me to understand why the name is significant for the Mixot Guest House?

        Thanks so much for your blog, your writing, and the poetry I have yet to read of yours (but I am pretty sure I will appreciate),
        Pat

        • Replies: @Linh Dinh
        , @Jeff Stryker
      19. God bless the Loatians and their beer drinking. Keep writing my friend, the world needs more people like you.

        So even the mightiest of civilizations can rapidly be reduced to destitution, squalor and ignorance. One day, you cockily and effortlessly build pyramids, the Taj Mahal or innumerable atomic bombs. The next morning, you’re panhandling outside the Japanese-owned 7-11 or shitting on the sidewalk.

      20. Muggles says:

        Another great travel essay by Dinh. He does this so we don’t have to endure the crowded, bumpy rides.

        Plus he has the patience and experience to absorb his surroundings. Talk to various people about their lives, what he notices, food and lodging, etc. It is a lot of fun to read. Plus very educational, since few of his readers will get to Laos, though via his commentators, some have.

        Yes, it is all going to crap. Crowded, polluted, crazy, full of newbies and various foreigners.

        Just read anyone travelling about 100 years ago to someplace they grew up. Same story pretty much.

        This will continue until Global Cooling kills off most of the population. Or something.

        Thanks Mr. Dinh.

      21. georgia says:

        “If I was the President of Laos, I would decree that clear plastic bags be outlawed, and replaced with bright orange ones, so that they’d resemble leaves on the ground. Tourism will spike with this new slogan, “Laos, where it’s always autumn!” Or better yet, “Laos, the eternal Vermont.””

        Having wasted several good years of my given life ‘promoting’ my holy national and/or european tourism’, I could not but appreciate the remark. Bless you, dear man!

      22. Vetran says:
        @Ko

        Agreed.
        Myself I lived 14 years in Vientiane (1998-2012) and had the best years of my life. The following five years in Yangon were dull in comparison.
        Yet, I’m not sure I want to go back as I may be disappointed … Looking at Linh pictures, looks like Vientiane has lost some of it charms for the sake of modernity …
        I remember early days when there were hardly any paved roads, mostly dirt tracks, and about one traffic light near Talat Sao… and off course just few cars as nearly everybody rode a moppet or a bicycle. Vientiane is a sprawling village in comparison to Bangkok metropolis … and there were rice fields 10 minutes away from down town Nam Phu.
        There were also a couple opium dens where I used to go sometime to relax after work in late afternoons… and you could also buy very cheap weed at the talat … Not to mention the wild parties at the weekend in Vang Vieng or in colonial villas where young expats and Lao returnees mingled to get wasted. Most of them fled the communist “revolution” of 1975 when they were young, even toddler.
        Today the big billboards that extolled the Pathet Lao virtues have been gradually replaced by the soulless brands of global consumerism, although the hammer and sickle flag is almost “de rigueur”, like the Stars and Strips in suburban America.
        In a nutshell, it was a great and peaceful place to rise up my two daughters.
        Gone are those days.
        Enjoy Laos and safe adventures, Linh. (The countryside has lot to offer. Still lot of unspoiled beauty, unlike disfigured Thailand)

      23. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @Patricia Lee Hilliard

        Hi Patricia,

        Many thanks for your kind words… I just asked a guesthouse staffer and he said “mixok” means “good luck” in Lao.

        Linh

        • Replies: @Tinamue
      24. @Patricia Lee Hilliard

        As an American, I’ve always wondered why it is so much easier to become homeless in America than it is in Australia or even second-world countries like Turkey.

        And why don’t people in Australia or Japan or other developed countries have to hold three jobs? Waiters in Australia or Japan seem better off than teachers in America.

        What is unique about US capitalism that so many middle-class educated normal people stand on the brink of homelessness?

        How is US capitalism different from capitalism in Australia or New Zealand or Japan? Why is there is so much more poverty in the US among the (Former) middle classes?

        Why is homelessness so prevalent in America? Why have wages in other countries like Australia or New Zealand risen but in America they have remained stagnant for 25 years?

        And why do Americans believe America is the greatest country in the world and the land of opportunity when obviously people are far better off in Australia or Japan or other developing countries.

        Finally, why has America worsened for the middle class and become poorer the last 20 years since I left in 1999? Is it America’s stupid wars? Stagnated wages? Loads of Mexicans? Military spending?

      25. swamped says:

        “…what’s wrong with just ambling to neighboring villages to chatter with your buddies, or plopping yourself under a tree, to reflect, doze off or hear birds singing?” Something Thoreau might well agree with as suggested by an apt observation in the indispensable Journal: “The really efficient laborer will be found not to crowd his day with work, but will saunter to his task surrounded by a wide halo of ease and leisure. There will be a wide margin for relaxation to his day. He is only earnest to secure the kernels of time, and does not exaggerate the value of the husk.” St.Thoreau never visited or spoke of Laos & most Laotians have probably never heard of Thoreau, but except for the unappealing Beerlao, they might have something in common. For as the sage of Walden sensed, “…for the most part it is as solitary where I live as on the prairies. It is as much Asia or Africa as New England.” Silence & stillness is to be valued no matter where you find it.

      26. utu says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        Read Alexis de Tocqueville

        “As one digs deeper into the national character of the Americans, one sees that they have sought the value of everything in this world only in the answer to this single question: how much money will it bring in?”

        “In the United States, the majority undertakes to supply a multitude of ready-made opinions for the use of individuals, who are thus relieved from the necessity of forming opinions of their own.”

        “In America the majority raises formidable barriers around the liberty of opinion; within these barriers an author may write what he pleases, but woe to him if he goes beyond them.”

        “I know of no country in which there is so little independence of mind and real freedom of discussion as in America.”

        “In no other country in the world is the love of property keener or more alert than in the United States, and nowhere else does the majority display less inclination toward doctrines which in any way threaten the way property is owned.”

        “Americans are so enamored of equality that they would rather be equal in slavery than unequal in freedom.”

        “Nothing conceivable is so petty, so insipid, so crowded with paltry interests, in one word, so anti-poetic, as the life of a man in the United States.”

        “I do not know if the people of the United States would vote for superior men if they ran for office, but there can be no doubt that such men do not run.”

        “Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

        “When the taste for physical gratifications among them has grown more rapidly than their education . . . the time will come when men are carried away and lose all self-restraint . . . . It is not necessary to do violence to such a people in order to strip them of the rights they enjoy; they themselves willingly loosen their hold. . . . they neglect their chief business which is to remain their own masters.”

        “Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul. The master no longer says: You will think as I do or die. He says: You are free not to think as I do. You may keep your life, your property, and everything else. But from this day forth you shall be as a stranger among us. You will retain your civic privileges, but they will be of no use to you. For if you seek the votes of your fellow citizens, they will withhold them, and if you seek only their esteem, they will feign to refuse even that. You will remain among men, but you will forfeit your rights to humanity. When you approach your fellow creatures, they will shun you as one who is impure. And even those who believe in your innocence will abandon you, lest they, too, be shunned in turn. Go in peace, I will not take your life, but the life I leave you with is worse than death.”

        “In examining the division of powers, as established by the Federal Constitution, remarking on the one hand the portion of sovereignty which has been reserved to the several States, and on the other, the share of power which has been given to the Union, it is evident that the Federal legislators entertained very clear and accurate notions respecting the centralization of government. The United States form not only a republic, but a confederation; yet the national authority is more centralized there than it was in several of the absolute monarchies of Europe….”

        “During my stay in the United States, I witnessed the spontaneous formation of committees in a country for the pursuit and prosecution of a man who had committed a great crime. In Europe, a criminal is an unhappy man who is struggling for his life against the agents of power, whilst the people are merely a spectator of the conflict: in America, he is looked upon as an enemy of the human race, and the whole of mankind is against him.”

        • Thanks: Biff, JohnnyWalker123
      27. @Jeff Stryker

        I live in the future, which is to say I live in the so-called “Silicon Valley.

        The thriving portion of the population is Asian. Sure, there are whites who are doing well, hotshot programmers sucked in from all over the US and Europe, mental outliers with genius-level math skills. The average white isn’t doing well and will do worse. But Asians here are doing well with all the classes, lower, middle, as well as wealthy.

        Language-wise, it’s elite to be able t speak Japanese or Chinese, but the language of the ruling class is English, while the language of the working class is Spanish. I don’t know Spanish beyond a few words and basic concepts like words being male or female, but I would actually lower my social status by learning it. It’s the language of the dirty guys/gals in reflective vests and overalls and rubber boots, who sweep and clean grease pits and do the “back of house” work at your favorite chic restaurant, and do the scut work in the fish dept. at 99 Ranch.

        The future is layered. Like castes and sub-castes in India, your race or background does, and will, determine what you do to make a living. It’s really not any different from the Hawaii I grew up in which was very segmented in this way. Imagine my surprise when I was back in 03 and saw whites working jobs they’d never have been able to get in the 70s or 80s.

        In my family, as near as I’ve been able to trace, my grandparents’ generation were upper middle class, and my parents spent a fair amount of time in the middle class. We kids, growing up, started out middle-class and quickly fell into poverty before we were adults, and have mixed success in rising out of poverty. The best solution has been to marry wisely, a thing I did not personally do but ti’s worked out for a couple of siblings. To stop the descent, the next generation probably ending up digging in heaps of trash to survive, none of us have had kids.

        But when you’ve gone through this kind of poverty, sooner or later you figure out who your friends are and it’s not White People(tm). Not even your relatives. Whites are united in a big universal Fuck You culture, and this is why the future is Asian on top, then Hispanic, then whites on the bottom, where they belong.

      28. @klcard

        You had to be a 1970s kid …. those old National Geographics were super-saturating before it was cool.

      29. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        We share a common background. My grandparents were solidly middle-class business owners. I was born middle class-the son of a scientist and an architect. Then my parents had a divorce and lost our house in the suburbs. My father lost a good deal of money in the 1987 stock crash. What remained paid for college tuition and I attained a useless degree. All I had entering adulthood was a middle class sensibility (Don’t have kids under 25, don’t do hard drugs, don’t commit crimes). My sensibilities actually put me at a disadvantage when I became part of the urban underclass as an adult-I had not been in fights since middle school and was not a drug dealer or very street smart.

        Once the US is Hispanic it is completely screwed. At that point, Asians will probably leave.

        White Anglo-Saxon culture is individualistic. Italians have that “my cousin Vinny” tribal attitude as do Jews. But Anglo Saxons celebrate Clint Eastwood who rides off into the sunset alone or Chuck Norris the “Lone Wolf”. In real life, the self-sufficient loner ends up homeless and tribalism rules the roost in a democracy.

      30. @Jeff Stryker

        Pretty much everyone but white Anglo-Saxons have a feeling of tribe or kinship. It doesn’t help that even if you tried to help one or more victims of hyperindividualism, they’d turn around and do something like steal from you, sue you, vote for the very same politicians who brought out the conditions that put them onto the street in the first place, etc.

        The Asians will not leave. They understand that natural resources including farmland are where it’s at, and the US has ’em.

        And I agree on being what I call “fundamentally middle-class”. I have zero criminal record, don’t smoke, no tattoos, etc. The underclass speaks a sort of mumbling, muttering patois I honestly can’t understand very well at all. Their lives, full of drama, fights, and the pursuit of drugs, are as unlike mine as could be.

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      31. Sgt Rock says:

        Glad to hear that Laos is a viable alternative for expats.. Always envied the Vietnam guys. Much better place for a war, and it seems that the warrior castes over there were much better sports than the shitholes were have been involved with for the last 3 wars. Always thought we fought the wrong gooks. But that’s the way of US foreign policy. Support the mobsters not the patriots. The difference in VN area of ops seems to be that the Viets would rather be poor than shit on. Have to admire that.
        And after the ecological disaster of Agent Orange, etc etc., a Westerner can still interact. Beats the hell out of places like Afghan and Iraq. Nothing there but sand and anal rape.

        Laos is my next vacation stop

        • Replies: @Ko
      32. Franz says:
        @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        Pre-internet, SoCal used to be funky and slow and boring in the best ways.

        Only time I visited there was as a sprout, much too young to take in any serious pukse of the area. But the famity in Redlands and the area I saw was a lot like the pre-rustbelt era in midcontinental US. You could stretch and enjoy things.

        The bad news on the horizon back then was how consturction firms would hire nothing but Mexicans. I had an uncle who built much commercial squats in the suburbs, He utterly hated hiring native born Americans of any type.

        Hiring illegals, I caught from him, made relatively weak men feel great power. I think the whole system knew that, and encouraged it. Power really is addicting. From the 1950s on, the regime worked hard to make straw bosses feel like kings.

        Happy to say, the uncle in question was not by blood. Married my mom’s sister. As a husband he was a jerk too, and I don’t doubt he had a low-cost foreign mistress or two. The whole “Reagan boom” produced a lot of lice like him.

      33. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        I think the Jews and a few Irish-Catholic stalwarts are so embedded so deeply in the US power structure that Asians cannot actually hijack eminent domain or acquire the influence of Japanese in Hawaii.

        But you never know. I cannot disagree with you. If the Chinese or Indians get America to run, we’ll miss Saul Hebowitz and Mick O’Brien.

      34. hhsiii says:
        @Franz

        Hey, ho, way to go, Ohio.

        My City Was Gone Hynde.

        • Replies: @Franz
      35. hhsiii says:

        Great piece, Linh. You need to put out the tin cup like Sailer.

        • Replies: @Linh Dinh
      36. Ko says:
        @Sgt Rock

        There’s plenty of anal rape in Laos. Bamboo has many uses.

        • Replies: @The Duke of Duck
      37. hhsiii says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        Or John Wayne shut out of the family hearth at the end of The Searchers.

        I just heard on Newyorker Radio Hour on NPR, whole show on mass incarceration, all the talk about 1/4 of all adults have a criminal record. But then I looked it up. It’s 73 million have at least a felony arrest. Not sure of the conviction rate, and from there incarceration rate.

        Then they had a whole bit about a guy who was convicted and admits he held the gun to a guy’s head in a car jacking (he was worried his buddies might shoot so he held the gun). He got a construction job at 46. Another about a guy who is now a lawyer after 9 years in jail (3 strikes conviction, drugs and felony possession).

        A lot of this mass incarceration is yes, non-violent, ignoring the violence attendant to drug trade, turf wars etc. But I get the complaints about mas incarceration.

        Sorry for the tangent.

      38. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @hhsiii

        I have a PayPal donate button at the top of my blog. I do depend on these donations to keep going.

        • Replies: @TKK
      39. Anon 2 says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        It’s becoming more and more clear every day that the United States, just like the Hapsburg and Russian Empires before it, is a “prison of nations” that are yearning to liberate themselves so they can breathe free. For me the most consciousness-raising book in this category was Joel Garreau’s The Nine Nations of North America (1981).

        The United States needs to break up into more natural entities. As they say: end the hate, separate. Perhaps the current events in Virginia will provide the spark that will start the conflagration. New slogan, “USA – A Prison of Nations.”

        • Replies: @Sunshine
      40. @Jeff Stryker

        If I had to be a Christian I’d be a Catholic. I’m employed by a Catholic guy and I’m really fucking impressed. After the first time visiting his family, I said to him in astonishment, “Your family doesn’t fight, not even over food!”. Catholicism has its problems, but at least they crack a Bible once in a while and read what their Jesus said – which is pretty much in line with what Mithra, Buddha, Rabbi Hillel, and so on said.

        But yeah, gotta love ol’ Saul Hebowitz, I worked for one or two of ’em and they treated me better than they absolutely had to which is more than I can say for the various ratbastard WASPS I worked for. Miserable bunch, I sort of look at WASPS as the same quality of people as Afghan assrapers just with better technology and table manners.

        • Replies: @Commentator Mike
      41. sb says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        Well Australia -which is a country you seem to have some time for – is (still ) very Anglo Saxon.
        They ( still ) constitute the majority ( which I guess may have been the case in the US for it’s first century )

        (Australia prefers the term Anglo Celtic which includes the Irish who, after all , came with the First Fleet and have long had a similar economic profile to the English and Scots with much intermarriage )

        A lot of social movements for the have nots like Methodism and the Salvation Army have Anglo provenance although it’s certainly true that Anglos have a nuclear family sensibility ( which is probably even more pronounced in the New World )

        My observation is that the American emphasis on constantly reinventing yourself is a nett negative for many people

      42. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        ‘… But when you’ve gone through this kind of poverty, sooner or later you figure out who your friends are and it’s not White People(tm). Not even your relatives. Whites are united in a big universal Fuck You culture, and this is why the future is Asian on top, then Hispanic, then whites on the bottom, where they belong.’

        You’ve definitely been hanging out with the wrong white people.

      43. Maybe somebody here could explain to me as I have done business with Australians, visited Australia, unsuccessfully tried to immigrate to Australia and have personally come to believe it is the best country in the world.

        Oh, its had its share of Martin Byrants and “Tough nuts” and meth is affecting the bogans but in general nothing like the poverty or mayhem of the US.

        So somebody explain it to me.

        Religion? Given that America is such a pious country, why is there such poverty?

        Capitalism? Australian minimum wage is higher and this has not negatively affected the economy. One interesting thing about white proles in America is that they will eat up the BS of the 1% like it is caviar. When told that they cannot make a decent wage or it would destroy the economy, they believe this. Much like they will volunteer for wars overseas because some alcoholic bum like George Bush told them to.

        What is the difference?

        Maybe somebody here will explain to me why there are not armies of homeless on the streets of Australian cities?

        Why is crime lower in Australia and property value remains stable?

        Why are the inner-cities of Australia safe and clean?

        Why does Australia have a better infrastructure than America?

        • Replies: @Alfred
        , @Kim
      44. Talha says:

        drunk farangs

        Interesting…this word (Farangi/Firangi) is what the Persians (and is in use in Pakistan and India, derived from the Persian obviously) to refer to certain Europeans as well. It’s related to the word Frank.

        I wonder if the Laotians got it from there or just came up with it themselves…hmmmm….

        Peace.

        • Replies: @Anonymous
        , @White Monkey
        , @Biff
      45. TKK says:
        @Linh Dinh

        We work so you can loaf around SE Asia?

        That’s some balls.

        Laos has lots of Western hipsters in man buns and Tevas who came for the great caving and get hooked on heroin and hash. They don’t want to leave- but poster above is correct- all those Buddha calm smiles hide grave danger for whites if you aren’t careful in Laos.

        No mention that Laos is still officially Communist and has an 11 pm curfew ( officially).

        It is not a gentle land. Just like in Bangkok–white and Japanese faces only mean FAT WALLET.

      46. Alfred says:

        Thanks for reminding me that the world is a big place and that I have seen only a small part of it. I have lived in only 10+ countries after all.

      47. @Colin Wright

        I’ve been trying since I came to the US mainland to find the right white people and so far, no luck. Either rich assholes who’d kill you for the $5 in your pocket or underclass who’d kill you for the $5 in your pocket.

        • Replies: @Colin Wright
      48. @Colin Wright

        Hispanic-run American will look like a Brazilian favela. Spanish former colonies are corrupt poverty-soaked squalor from Manila to Medellin.

        The main Cholo in government changes every 20 minutes, usually as a result of coup.

        As for Asians seizing eminent domain of US landowners this probably would trigger a violent revolt. The old money US plutocracy might not be down for this, so to speak.

      49. @TKK

        Hashish is hard to get hooked on. I smoked hash all over the world from Ireland to India and nobody picks up a gun and tries to kill people to get more hashish.

        America is the most materialistic country in the world so what difference does it make if Laotians only want your money? As one semi-homeless American I knew once said, “the only difference between the Philippines and America is that I can have a food card in America. I’d still be sleeping under a bridge.”

        The difference is that in America you have to have a great deal more money while in Laos a man with $500 a month to spend is considered comfortably well off.

        As for curfews, the worst police harassment anyone will experience is on US streets.

        Mr. Linh, like myself, works overseas. By his own admission, he was employed in the US his entire life…which brought him zip. Zero. You can work for 30 years but the day you are unemployed and on the street nobody will care at all and police will harass you in America.

        Nobody cares how you earn money in the US only that you have it. If you are a Kardashian or a black thug rap star or pornographer who is wealthy you are far more respected than ordinary people who hold lousy jobs their entire lives.

      50. Anonymous[427] • Disclaimer says:

        A truly delightful read, Linh. You bring out the bright side and struggles of common folk. You describe them with an understanding only as a writer can who is from among them. You have your finger on the pulse of the folks you write about. I don’t know if I will ever visit Vietnam or Laos. But short of that, your pieces make gratifying substitutes.

        So even the mightiest of civilizations can rapidly be reduced to destitution, squalor and ignorance.

        If I could suggest a change in the order of such afflictions on the US, that of ignorance seems to be the first, with the others slowly working their way in.

        “Their poverty borders on misery, but it mainly results from excessive indolence, for they will only cultivate just sufficient rice for their support; this done, they pass the rest of their time in sleep, lounging about the woods, or making excursions from one village to another, paying visits to their friends on the way.”

        In some way this reminds me of Bertrand Russell’s essay “In Praise of Idleness”. Sadly what is described here is the scenario of a dying breed with the global reach of capitalism egging on people to work their asses off in the service of consumerism and hurrying to their graves. You could say the same thing about some African, Latin, other Asian and African societies.

      51. Thank You Linh, Always waiting for your next story! Cheers, Tom

      52. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        I said to him in astonishment, “Your family doesn’t fight, not even over food!”

        LOL! Expecting your boss in USA to be as hungry as some starving Africans!

      53. GMC says:
        @Anonymous

        Yep, I was in country then and everyone knew the story – Vietnamization worked in the South of the country fairly well, but on the borders – it was – deadly. Not uncommon to see 20 -30 slicks grouped together headed – west – with ARVNs – Cambodia and /or Laos. Different count , on the way back. Thanks A -124 and Unz and Linh.

      54. Anonymous[419] • Disclaimer says:
        @Talha

        As far as I know, Farang/Falang (R and L seem largely interchangeable in Thai/Lao) is just a corruption of Foreign.

        • Thanks: Talha
        • Replies: @Talha
      55. Mr. Hack says:

        For when you can’t find a window (or a hammock) leading to a “blessed tree”:

      56. So even the mightiest of civilizations can rapidly be reduced to destitution, squalor and ignorance. One day, you cockily and effortlessly build pyramids, the Taj Mahal or innumerable atomic bombs. The next morning, you’re panhandling outside the Japanese-owned 7-11 or shitting on the sidewalk.

        Perhaps you got it wrong. Building “pyramids, the Taj Mahal or innumerable atomic bombs” is what leads civilizations to “destitution, squalor and ignorance”.

      57. Very much enjoy your observations and your writings, Linh Dinh! Always look forward to more.

      58. So the cockroach like Chinese are going into Laos to crowd out the laidback locals … no country is strong enough to prosecute and jail too smart by half Henry Kissinger but he was the shithead who was involved in devastating Laos and creating the present-day monster of China.

      59. Alfred says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        I have lived in Australia – Melbourne and Cairns for almost 10 years.

        Australia had a whites only immigration policy. It was gradually dismantled between 1949-1973. They started dismantling it by allowing Greeks, Lebanese and so on to enter.

        I recent years, they have allowed people such as “South Sudanese” to enter. These people’s descendants have currently a monopoly on car-jacking in Melbourne. They are in direct competition for accommodation and so on with Pacific Islanders. Both peoples detest one another. Crime by the Sudanese against the Islanders is not being properly reported. Here is an example:

        Friends believe the boys may have been targeted in a gang-related attack

        How a petty argument sparked the murder of a boy, 17, just weeks after he moved to Melbourne – as his brother wakes up in hospital after life-saving surgery crying for his ‘best friend’

        They don’t mention that the “gang” is Blacks from South Sudan. The victims are Islanders.

        Dozens of Melbourne’s ‘most violent’ young people arrested (no mention of their ethnicity)

        But here is a photo that slipped through the censorship.

        https://imageresizer.static9.net.au/9JzG4FaHJK3UEuocgVwVN0fc7NI=/800×0/https%3A%2F%2Fprod.static9.net.au%2Ffs%2Fb47ecab4-ec3f-49b7-9316-c884a59a2fa1

        The point I am trying to make is that Australia is doing its very best to copy the worst of the USA.

        The first time I visited Sydney was in 1977. I was amazed that such a wonderful place existed in this world. I was determined to live there one day. Today, I would not wish to live there – except for certain suburbs. Certainly not in West Sydney.

      60. @Jeff Stryker

        Asians don’t need to seize eminent domain or anything so direct. Just keep importing fentenyl and such goodies, keep buying out richer/greedier Americans, keep things going the way they are and white Americans will die out. Not that much of value will be lost, mind you. But a whole generation now are simply not having kids, and increasing numbers are drinking or drugging themselves to death, and homelessness means you die in your 50s instead of in your 70s so it all combines to be a nice, quiet, relatively peaceful genocide but as I keep saying, like the Iks, there’s not much to cry over.

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      61. @Alfred

        No, it did not slip through censorship; it just shows a blank screen.

        • Replies: @Alfred
      62. Franz says:
        @hhsiii

        My City Was Gone Hynde

        Ye gods, didn’t even remember Chrissy.

        But I heard she moved to England and found the same thing going on there, so… no part of the old world of family cafes and ma & pop stores survives in the age of “click to order” which was predictable.

        “City was gone”? The countryside’s getting pretty ugly too.

        • Replies: @hhsiii
      63. @Commentator Mike

        You don’t know much about most Americans’ circumstances, do you? Fighting over food is a pretty big thing.

        • Replies: @Commentator Mike
      64. Franz says:
        @Alfred

        The first time I visited Sydney was in 1977. I was amazed that such a wonderful place existed in this world.

        Maybe not coincidental, but my time in the US Navy was up only a few years before then and an old WWII era Chief Petty Officer, retired, and I spent a few months roaming that area.

        The chief told me it was like the USA in the 40s and (very early) 50s. The gates were already opened by then, but even in Staten Island, where the chief was from, it was a nice white world. You could walk through NYC anytime night or day. No such thing as a “no go zone” and the word “teenager” had not been invented.

        We’re all on a descending curve, but the USA is now dipping the lowest. My guess FWIW is that Christopher Columbus had a contract for a 500 year pump-and-dump operation, and it’s now past it’s sell-by date.

      65. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        …I’m old enough to remember when crack cocaine ravaged urban underclass whites and I was in my twenties when blue-collar whites were transforming into frantic burglars overnight from crystal meth. I’m sort of weary of hearing that the latest generation of white proles has discovered some new soul-destroying brain-eating zombie drug. We’ll always lose part of a generation of underclass whites to drugs, sadly. I’m sure the meth heads I knew in the nineties are the parents of some of the young people dying of Fentenyl today.

        …Chinese are callous merchants. They created the Philippines drug war and they are importing the Fentanyl wasting whites in America. You may be too young to remember when they were battling it out with the Sicilians over heroin markets in NYC. Chinese sell drugs because people buy them. If monkeys had money, they’d sell them bananas. What can you do?

        …How do you have kids when you live at home when you are 30? You cannot raise a family in your folks cellar can you?

        …The funny thing about homeless is how fast it came on. When I lived in America, only winos and drug addicts in the last stages of hopeless addiction were homeless. Now the US looks like India.

        …I doubt the US would last long without whites as a buffer in the racial ecology between competing callous merchant races-the Asians, the Jews, the Indians-and the aggressive races whose violence rules the streets such as the Hispanics and blacks.

      66. Talha says:
        @Anonymous

        So do they use it for ALL foreigners or just European ones? That would certainly be a big clue.

        Peace.

        • Replies: @Vetran
      67. Alfred says:
        @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        Sorry. It disappeared here as well. It is the photo below this text “In total, 57 people were arrested as part of the crack down on youth offending across the state.” in the following article:

        https://www.9news.com.au/national/fifty-seven-youth-offenders-arrested-in-mass-victorian-operation-news-melbourne/e290311e-7da6-4bdc-9948-2480bde19d61

        It shows the police arresting a man who is being put into a police van. His upper body and head is covered, but he is tall, slim and his very black arm is visible. He is no aboriginal.

      68. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        ‘I’ve been trying since I came to the US mainland to find the right white people and so far, no luck. Either rich assholes who’d kill you for the $5 in your pocket or underclass who’d kill you for the $5 in your pocket.’

        I moved up to ‘provincial’ Oregon two years ago; my only regret is I didn’t do this ten years earlier.

        Typical — and I do mean typical — experience. We’re at a yard sale, and I pick up some book of old photos that’s marked three dollars. So I get out the three dollars and go up to the woman minding the till.

        ‘Three dollars? Oh, she can’t have meant this. Fifty cents.’

        My daughter ran off the road in the snow on her way up to see us at Thanksgiving, and her car was perhaps behaving a little strangely. Something broke, alignment off?

        So we took it into a shop around here I once used for an alignment. Twenty minutes later, ‘nope, everything looks fine.’

        ‘So how much do I owe you?’

        ‘Nothing. We didn’t do anything.’

        Seriously. And it rubs off. I see some old guy trying to get a sack of fertilizer onto his cart at Costco, and without thinking, I give him a hand.

        I never would have done this in the Old Country. I know the names of every one of my neighbors and have had dinner with two of them. Back in the Bad Place, I had neighbors who lived across the street for fifteen years and I never learned their names.

        It’s not paradise — but it’s a hell of an improvement.

        So you’ve been going to the wrong places.

        • Replies: @anarchyst
      69. @TKK

        We work so you can loaf around SE Asia?
        That’s some balls.

        LD was only answering the suggestion of another commenter that he should “put out the tin cup” like Steve Sailer. But I guess you, as a conniving, pilpul-pushing Jew, have still not gotten over LD’s handful of Jew-related articles that sent you and AaronB into implacable, revenge-against-the-goy mode.

        AaronB seems to have slacked off, after the hyper-pettiness of his anti-Dinh fixation was pointed out, but it looks like you are still here to attack anything LD says with the relentless (if often covert) animosity that is the hallmark of the Jew personality.

        And the “Laos-is-a-cruel-place” addendum is just a bonus, I guess. Do you think maybe LD is colluding with the Laos Tourist Authority to lure in white and Japanese wallets to this ungentle, communist land?

      70. Vientiane in particular seems (or at least, when I was there a decade ago) to strike the perfect balance in SE Asia between reasonable personal security, availability of Western comforts, and ridiculously low cost of living- and so the place is infested with make-work Western NGO staff. You can go to the stroopwafel cafe and enjoy your nitro cold brew to the sound of two dozen twenty-something whites with button-up shirts and clenched anuses filling out spreadsheets detailing how many peasant farmers the latest sodomy initiative will reach. Uncle Sam (or more likely, Johnny Canuck) is picking up the tab.

        Of course, at least these striver snipdicks pay their tabs and don’t cause trouble like meandering white homo sexpests and badly-behaved Aussie peasants fresh off the AirAsia bogan bus. God help the Lao.

      71. @Jeff Stryker

        “why do Americans believe America is the greatest country in the world and the land of opportunity when obviously people are far better off in Australia or Japan or other developing countries.”

        According to the IMF the United States is #10 on the list of 2018 GDP. Australia is #17, Japan is #28 (Qatar is #1)

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(PPP)_per_capita

        Seventeen or so nations will throw you in jail for questioning the Holocaust. America’s moving in that direction, but it’s not there yet.

        America’s troubled, but it’s still the prom king compared to the crippling restrictions on freedom everywhere else on our first-world planet.

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
        , @sb
      72. Vetran says:
        @Talha

        The word “farang” is used exclusively for Caucasian/Westerner …, but doesn’t have necessarily a racist meaning.
        But farang khee nok is a slur that applies generally to poorly dressed Caucasian lacking manners and by extension can also be interpreted as poor, since many backpacker are to “see the world on a dollar a day”. Can be translated as “White trash” …
        “Jek” for Chinese and “Khaek” for arab/indian, are derogatory … as well as “Baan Nok” for country folk.
        “Nikro” used to be for black people, but nowadays “khon Afrika” or “puu ying dam dam” are more common!

      73. Ko says:
        @TKK

        You think all writers make full of shite Tom Friedman money? If I had extra I’d give him a donation. I don’t know Linh and it’s not up to me to defend him, but give, or not, no need to insult. There aren’t many writers like LD that are worth the time to read. Producing consistently good writing is the opposite of loafing – it’s work. And from what I can tell, you enjoyed the read, or the comments spawned from the read, enough to reply, so pony up a buck you cheap prick.

      74. Anglo Saxons are the most individualistic and rely the most strongly on a leader directing them the right way. It seems counter intuitive but we need somebody to organize us. Then we are strong.

        Now that our elites are not longer Anglo saxon, it’s not surprising that things are going bad for us. Alone, we’re just a bunch of selfish lunatics doing random things.

        United under a leader, with a cause, we become the most powerful people on earth. A group of people who’s motivation comes from within is undefeatable.

      75. @Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid

        You’d never know that from the general state of the urban underclass in America. If you had to choose between sending your son or daughter to public school in Japan and public school in the US, you’d choose the former.

        I’d be surprised if you will go to jail in Tokyo for denying that. Germany maybe.

        US laws are selective. Like child support. Just as black men can father five kids and never pay child support but white men will be arrested by a SWAT team, blacks can be as anti-Jewish as they want and will never go to jail.

        Australia might be more PC. But there is not the horrendous squalor of the United States you see in the rust belt or the decaying infrastructure or homelessness. White despair seems worse in the US than other First World countries.

      76. hhsiii says:
        @Franz

        Yeah she sings about pretty countryside being gone there, too. I haven’t been in a while. Used to visit my cousins in Canton.

      77. Kim says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        Martin Bryant was a false flag set up to take people’s guns.

      78. @Franz

        My boss goes on and on about how great England was, the rail system and the theaters and various live acts, the food, the relatively cheap living, etc., not realizing that he was there just before Thatcher destroyed it all.

        I had a co-worker in the mid-80s tell me New “Zayland” is just like the US in the 1950s, anyone could afford a house yadda yadda …. we all know those days are gone.

        I think it comes down to living in areas that are too low-profit for what Dmitry Orlov called the technosphere, to want to bother with. Not that there are many left.

        • Replies: @Plato's Dream
      79. @LoutishAngloQuebecker

        Yeah, a strong leader, like Drumpf, or Schickelgruber, or Musso, or who else? George Lincoln Rockwell aspired to be our next great leader, and he even had a great sense of humor. How about David Duke, or James Wesley, Rawles (he actually puts the comma there).

        So let’s say it can be done. We now have a USA full of nothing but Anglo-Saxons. It should make South Africa look like a Paradise because it will be a land full of the same inbred, drug-huffing louts I have to avoid like the plague around here.

        • Replies: @Colin Wright
      80. anarchyst says:
        @Colin Wright

        You are absolutely right…country folks are generally more helpful and trustworthy than city types.

        Here in rural Michigan it is not unusual to see unmanned vegetable stands with a coffee can (with a rock inside to keep the can from blowing away in the wind) used to deposit money for vegetables purchased.

        Recently, purchasing pond supplies from a local vendor that did not accept debit or credit cards, the owner offered to allow me to take the materials and “pay them on my next visit”. Now how many businesses in urban areas would be so trusting?

        Not long ago, our local hardware store suffered a power outage. The proprietor of the hardware store gave customers flashlights so that they could shop during the power outage. Try that in an urban or suburban area. Both flashlights and merchandise would be gone.

      81. @Talha

        Seems to me that word is derived from the word France,at least here in Thailand.

        • Replies: @Talha
      82. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        ‘… So let’s say it can be done. We now have a USA full of nothing but Anglo-Saxons. It should make South Africa look like a Paradise because it will be a land full of the same inbred, drug-huffing louts I have to avoid like the plague around here.’

        At this point, I’m going to ask something.

        Is the problem you or them?

      83. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        Whites are united in a big universal Fuck You culture, and this is why the future is Asian on top, then Hispanic, then whites on the bottom, where they belong.

        Yeah, except it’ll still be Whites bringing you your electricity, putting out your fires, enforcing the law, raising and delivering your food, all things you haven’t the brains, brawn or balls to accomplish for yourselves, another big fat Fuck You from Whites. What will be wonderful is when you’re set upon by Blacks, abandoned by Whites to be sucked dry by the Jews and are retconned into another privileged group by liberal White Feminists, faggots and trannies of the press, another big fat fuck you from Whites. Want to know the very best big fat fuck you from this White ‘on the bottom’ hetero White male, you asshole? I don’t have to be around your sorry, no-account, Third World Asian, Black, Jewish or Hispanic dumb ass, even if you transplanted here to live like a flea on a host. You just go ahead, turn your little corner of a U.S. Blue state or city into a Dinh paradise as depicted here, you shit in the streets, run everything down and all. But I won’t be there to help raise it back. Fuck you. You fucked it up, YOU fix it. Did I mention Fuck You? Let me do it now. Fuck you. Whites are never on the bottom, except in liberal newspapers. YOU are the bottom, all I have to do is point to your home countries, the original shitholes. As so you shall forever remain. Your proclamations are mere protest to which I reply, Fuck You. You got that one part right.

      84. Talha says:
        @White Monkey

        Makes sense…”French Indo-China” and what not. And the Persians did derive it from Franks as well. I just thought it interesting how the terms are so similar across the two distant cultures.

        Peace.

      85. Biff says:
        @Talha

        nteresting…this word (Farangi/Firangi) is what the Persians (and is in use in Pakistan and India, derived from the Persian obviously) to refer to certain Europeans as well. It’s related to the word Frank.

        I wonder if the Laotians got it from there or just came up with it themselves…hmmmm….

        The term is at least a couple of hundred years old, and nobody knows for sure how it was derived – probably similar to the way the term ‘mangosteen’ was developed. The urban legend is that a Farang was at a fruit stand and there was some purple looking fruit(monkoot) and he asked if they are mangosteen? and the lady at the stand kept saying monkoot, monkoot, and he kept asking back; mangosteen? mangosteen? and finally she gave up and said “ok mangosteen” and the term stuck. Now at times you see mangosteen in English and monkoot in Thai.

        • Thanks: Talha
        • Replies: @Anonymous
      86. @Stonehands

        Mustn’t disturb the other players, although a Tiger Roar would not be inappropriate.

      87. @Vetran

        Khee nok means bird shit,but its still way above khee maa (dog shit).

      88. Abcd says:

        Bad travel planning, Mr. Dinh. Or should i say, no planning at all. And the first part about your struggling with the travel agent seems fictious to me. No driver in VN refuses a fare from anyone unless of course the passenger is a total asshole. That much i know, having been traveling in VN for the last three months.

        • Disagree: Biff
      89. sb says:
        @Nancy Pelosi's Latina Maid

        Look up median wealth rather than GDP per capita for a better measure of how the average Jo in various countries lives
        Remember that the US has a very rich 1% and a huge underclass

        There’s a lot of economic activity that doesn’t really contribute to living standards .In the US the giant medical and legal industries stand out as super expensive burdens on any cost benefit analysis

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      90. @Vetran

        In Hawaii, “Haole” originally meant any foreigner; it actually meant “those who have/are of iron”, iron being the new miracle material to the Hawaiians, so much so that they’d get the nails out of Cook’s ships and so on, and Cook was killed in an argument over a ship’s dinghy which they really could not afford to let the Hawaiians have.

        But it’s come to mean white. Black is popolo (there are little black berries in Hawaii called popolos, that don’t taste like much but we ate ’em anyway – kids are weird) and Japanese was “Kapani” but if you catch a local of Japanese descent in a fit of pique, you may hear him refer to Japanese from Japan as “Buddhaheads”. Chinese are pake, Portuguese are “poat’a’gee” with a hard g, and I guess the latest group to get a name are the “micros” or Micronesians. For the most part these names are merely descriptive, and only pejorative when “fuckin’” is said just before it.

        • Replies: @Spike Gomes
      91. @Jim Christian

        did Mom forget to put a juice box in your lunchbox again?

        • Replies: @Jim Christian
      92. @Jim Christian

        Yup. They will never be us, hence they want to stamp us out. Even seeing a white person causes a burning jealousy and hate from most non whites in this world.

        Will it work? I don’t know but we need to smarten up. The current “white guilt” stuff is whites who are embarassed about their abilities… who try and bring themselves down to they feel equal with the POC people.

        • Replies: @Jim Christian
      93. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        did Mom forget to put a juice box in your lunchbox again?

        That all ya got? I thought so. They know you’re Pajama Boy back in Detroit? Plaid go big in San Jose?

      94. @LoutishAngloQuebecker

        The current “white guilt” stuff is whites who are embarassed about their abilities

        Well, it’s White MEN that are supposedly the target of crush. One of the latest is, they want the term ‘manhole’, meaning entrances to utilities like sewers, electrical and water, things only White MEN work in, now to be called people-holes, or some such because seeing ‘manholes’ triggers feminist man-haters.

      95. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        Alex,

        You’re absolutely correct that I have no idea about American circumstances these days. But I remember that when I used to travel around USA in days gone by, the portions of food and drinks they used to serve in fast food restaurants were absolutely huge and for a fair price. I actually used to offer to pay more for less, as I didn’t want to waste food and throw it away, with people starving in the world and all that, and used to get strange looks like I was some weird guy, although the food was crap (GMO) and not to my taste, and I was more concerned with keeping slim, fit and trim. So why are Americans so obese if food is such a problem that people have to fight over it?

        More recently I’ve noticed that in high class gourmet restaurants they’ve started serving in two foot wide plates one square inch pieces of food that you have to pay through the nose as if some kind of specialty delicacy, but that’s beside the point.

      96. Anonymous[419] • Disclaimer says:
        @Biff

        In Malay/Indonesian, mangosteen is called Manggis (man-giss). It’s probably a bit closer than the Thai one.

      97. @Jim Christian

        Hm, neat ad. I really hope medicare for all passes.

        Why in hell would anyone be jealous of white people for being white? I dunno what universe you come from, but in mine being white means being last in line for everything, and you have to work harder, be smarter, etc just to start to stay even. You’ll still probably be paid less.

        When I was in Hawaii, as a 20-something, I actually thought maybe (a) white are in danger of dying out and (b) if I got to an all-white area I’d get away from anti-white discrimination.

        Well, (a) whites are not in any danger of dying out. There are tons and tons of ’em. And (b) Yes, moving to a white area means anti-white discrimination is less of a thing, but then you’ve got to subscribe to some really kooky and frankly scary politics to fit in.

        Keep in mind white nationalist groups tend to be self-correcting. In other words, they tend to kill each other off.

        So why get all butthurt on here when you can leave for the “American Redoubt”, Rawls’s proposed White Homeland, have 15 kids, and so on?

        And as far as invention goes, pretty much everyone invented everything. An entertaining way to learn this is the PBS series “Connections” which is brilliant. Even I got raised with “dark ppl no invent nothing good” but that’s not the truth. Some pretty bare-ass close-to-the-earth living “savages” have invented some pretty useful stuff.

      98. @Commentator Mike

        Literally fighting over food for the calories has not been a thing I’ve seen since the 1970s, but people do bicker over the leftovers taken home from Outback Steakhouse, or the chicken that was marinating for guests coming over tomorrow and why’d you have to cook it for yourself tonight etc. Google “shooting over bowl of corn” it happens. It mainly comes down to general fighting over things, food just comes up most often – as in any group living situation.

        But my boss’s family all seem to get along really nicely because why fight? It’s more pleasant not to, and it’s not a put-on thing like I’ve seen among the most dangerous backstabbing sorts of WASPS but natural. The family is Polish Catholic and Mexican, well, Catholic too, so that may explain it. I was raised (WASP father) to dislike Catholics and I’ve got to say, they’re awfully nice people by and large.

        I agree on portion sizes – immense.

      99. wholy1 says:

        Thank you again , Linh. Don’t know if you will ever equal a contemporary Li Bai but you’re definitely working towards it!

      100. TKK says:
        @Ko

        You must not work.

        Been to Laos. His experience is different because he is Asian. He gets cheaper prices, less hustle. Any white reading who believes they are going to live on $20 bucks a day is being mislead. They simply will not give you the same prices.

        Was reading to see if LD went back and rescued the child from physical & mental abuse. He didn’t.

        He cowardly abandoned the child to LOAF around SE Asia.

        If you find his bi- monthly simple observations worthy of your money- go for it.

        But, he’s begging for money so he can goof off. If you had an ounce of intellectual integrity, you’d admit that. His donation button is a monk’s beggar’s bowl, sans the “purple nipple”. (Is that your genius?)

        How is he different from a welfare queen who keeps a blog? He believe he is entitled to loaf and scribble some observations and we should give him money. It’s entitlement. It’s ballsy.

        Calling a stranger on the Internet names makes you look hysterical and as if you have no life to pour your energy into.

        It’s like knocking on my door to tell me you don’t want to talk to me.

        I know someone who LD interviewed. I am going to find out what you have donated to LD.

        You can bet on it. Let’s see if your money is where your big punk mouth is.

        Right on!

        This is where it gets interesting.

      101. @sb

        If you are successful in the United States it can be one of the nicest countries in the world to live.

        But there is no overall concern for the general standard of living. In Australia if schools or neighborhoods or infrastructure were as poor as parts of America your Prime Minister would be sacked (Look at how the bush fires affected him).

        In America, if you have no money you deserve to suffer. If you are a poor white prole whose parents were only 19 when you were born then there is no concern for your safety in public schools where gangs rule the hallways selling drugs and sexually bullying 13 year old girls.

        Should you win the lottery-and this has happened once or twice-the same police who treated you with disdain will become obsequious, your low-rent apartment will be replaced by a sprawling mansion, your children will attend the finest schools in the world.

        As an Australian you’d be surprised at the geographic demarcation.

        Ten miles from suburbs where ordinance complains if your lawn is overgrown are inner-city neighborhoods where the body of a gunshot victim will lie in the road for an hour before the police arrive.

      102. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @TKK

        Hi all,

        So this hysteric is calling me a coward for not staging a Rambo like raid on my in-laws, to “rescue” my nephew, whom I have no legal rights over. And my writing is just loafing or goofing off.

        My columns here is called Postcarder from the End of America, and I’ve published a book called Postcards from the End of America, so I’ve written many “postcards.” I write about places.

        It is not just sad, but sickening, the low level of public discourse one often finds online, but this is just another sign we’ve reached the end of America. Is there any civilization left to salvage?

        Linh

        • Agree: Oscar Peterson
        • Thanks: bluedog
      103. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        Actually, haole comes from ha’ole. The ‘okina (glottal stop) was dropped in colloquial pidgen english (hao does mean “iron”, so I can see the mistaken etomology there). The word comes from “ha” (breath) “a’ole” (without). Most popularly its attributed to the Hawaiians believing Captain Cook was the god Lono and thus not a living breathing man, but a more germaine explanation was that foreigners couldn’t speak proper Hawaiian and thus were without breath.

      104. sb says:
        @Jeff Stryker

        I’ve spent time in the US and am aware of it’s vast diversity on many variables.
        One thing I was struck by is how so many Americans have travelled so little in their own country -not to mention abroad .
        Of course the American System means that only the well to do can afford to ever take significant time out from making a living

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      105. @Jeff Stryker

        So true! In fact years ago someone pointed out to me that wherever you find a rich area, there’s a poor area right nearby, and it’s true. Newport Beach and the richer part of Costa Mesa has the poorer part of Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. Santa Barbara has the south end of Santa Barbara. Palo Alto has East Palo Alto. The rich need somewhere miserable for the hired help to live.

        And it’s just like you say. The US is actually pretty nice if you’re in the top say 5% (I want to say top 10% but not really, the lower half of the top 10% are starting to run scared now) and you’re callous enough to tune out the misery around you.

      106. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @Linh Dinh

        P.S. I want to address something else here. In an article that’s focused on so much else, TKK is suggesting I’m misleading readers about the cheapness of Laos, in that you can survive here on $20 a day, which in fact you can. I said I moved from a $20 hotel room to one costing just over $11, and in fact, anyone can do this. It’s not because I’m Asian, as TKK bizarrely accuses. In fact, Laos have a much lower opinion of Chinese and Vietnamese than they do whites, but this is besides the point, but this is PRECISELY what a guy like TKK would do if he wanted to disrupt this comment stream.

        Here’s, he’s charging that I’m a coward for not defending a child, think dead refugee baby lying face down on Greek beach, and dishonest for suggesting that a foreigner can survive on $20 a day in Laos (which in fact he can, but I never said this in the article), so I’m a coward and a liar.

        “Oscar Peterson” points out that my “handful of Jew-related articles” have sent TKK and AaronB “into implacable, revenge-against-the-goy mode,” and if this is true, then I’m not surprised at all, for I’ve seen it so many times before, and not just against me, of course.

        Is there anything uglier (and more genocidal) than this deeply dishonest, sneeringly contemptuous and insanely vengeful culture?

        Linh

        • Replies: @utu
        , @Mike P
        , @Ko
      107. utu says:
        @Linh Dinh

        “…if this is true…” – Yes, it is.

      108. @sb

        Australian waiters can go on walkabout.

        In America wages are so low that much of the labor force is on Food Stamps while holding down a job.

        To some degree, the poor contribute to this because anything regarding social responsibility is deemed Communist. The oligarchy can use this “Red Scare” even though the Berlin Wall fell 30 years ago.

        Of course raw capitalism affects poor whites the worst. But they are the GOP auxiliaries for the 1%, most of whom hold them in contempt and don’t care if poor white kids are raped in lousy public schools.

      109. @Spike Gomes

        Nope sorry, ha’ole thing is historical revisionism.

      110. Tinamue says:
        @Linh Dinh

        It actually means “(to) have luck”. If you wanted to expand on that to have good luck, it would be “mixokdee”.

      111. Mike P says:
        @Linh Dinh

        They are not content with having driven you out of the U.S. – they want to deny you a livelihood abroad also, which is why they pursue this smear campaign. I guess the proper reply to that is for us other readers to pitch in with some donations, even if symbolic.

        As to your question from up-thread, yes, there is a civilization left to salvage, and your writing makes a contribution. It is unfortunate that a man of your talents has to catch a moment in history at which simple truth-telling is enough to be banished from polite society, but it is precisely those who keep telling the truth regardless that preserve the flame.

        • Agree: bluedog
        • Replies: @Ishteyaq Shiblu
      112. @Mike P

        Don’t believe anything you read on social media. It’s too easy to fool people in the “U.S.” Another tragedy. Only people who refuse to lift a finger and research themselves or go and search out others believe a word of this crap. But that’s not the point, watching you is. Why does it happen? Zero consequences.

        • Replies: @Plato's Dream
      113. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        “…just before Thatcher destroyed it all”.

        Not that I’m a fan of hers, but Thatcher had little left to destroy. The decade before she came to power saw “the winter of discontent”, the 3-day working week, power outages, garbage piled up on the streets etc. From what I’ve heard (it was before my time), England was a nice country to live in until the late 60s, when it received the triple whammy of mass immigration, Labour governments (and militant unions who supported them), and a shift in cultural attitudes.

        If anything, Thatcher restored some of the social fabric (at a price…), before Mssrs Blair and Brown dealt the mortal blow.

        • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
      114. Mike P says:

        Don’t believe anything you read on social media.

        I don’t spend much time on social media. I do read Linh Dinh and believe that he is genuine – not just in the sense of being a real person, but of saying what he thinks and feels.

        Of course, anything and anyone could be fake – tell us something we don’t know. I’m with my old mother on this, though – she prefers to not think the worst of people, even if that means that she is going to get duped now and then. She is happy, and so far, she has not lost her shirt; and all who know her adore her.

        • Agree: Talha
      115. @Ishteyaq Shiblu

        “Don’t believe anything you read on social media.” – yep, even Abe Lincoln used to say this.

      116. @Ko

        Go back to a fag site dude. Obviously you have a thing for having bamboo shoved up your ass. Fucking perv

      117. @TKK

        Good observation. Living the bum life in the lowest priced countries may seem like something out of Hemingway, but it’s kind of sad. Giving up a child to live the Lo Life is something that isn’t worthy of emulation, nor the adulation that followers give. And yes, Asian is different for Asians, the most racist folk around.

      118. Ko says:
        @TKK

        I’ll talk to you even though you seem like an idiot. Consider it a bit of a pavlonius treat. Let it be know Tin Kan Kan, there’s always something to teach an idiot who judges other people. See that? Now you know. Well, that’s enough out of that. Now think hard on something biting and clever to say. I won’t be here to read it.

      119. @Linh Dinh

        Is there any civilization left to salvage?

        My magic 8-ball says, “Not really!”

      120. @Plato's Dream

        Not that I’m a fan of hers, but Thatcher had little left to destroy. The decade before she came to power saw “the winter of discontent”, the 3-day working week, power outages, garbage piled up on the streets etc.

        This is even referenced in the 1974 Richard Harris film, Juggernaut, a full five years prior to Maggie.

        “Doesn’t anyone in this bloody country work anymore?”

        Couldn’t find the YT clip, sorry.

      121. @The Wild Geese Howard

        Hm! I’ll have to try to find that film. Adam Curtis covered in at least one of his excellent documentaries, the few-day weeks and power outages and so on, the unions, etc., but he mentioned not a whit about the effect of mass immigration in this.

        Even the VIZ Comic, which I consider the journal of record on English life and esp. on England (not Britain’s) capital Fulchester, soft-pedals the immigrant issue. Dr. Chakraborty is always there to patch Big Vern up, and even looks in on other characters. It’s pointed out that the local “paki” store owner speaks far better English than Tasha Slappa or her mam, and when Mrs. Brady Old Lady bitches about the “coloreds” being fast and getting the best hats at the hat sale, indeed, while she’s going on, a “colored” old lady does zip in and get to purchase the most huge, flowery, outrageous hat.

        • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
      122. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

        alex-

        Here’s the Juggernaut trailer:

        It’s a pretty good slow-burn thriller featuring Richard Harris as a world-weary bomb disarmament expert. Several spoiler clips are available if you want to get a better feel for the film.

        • Replies: @Talha
      123. Talha says:
        @The Wild Geese Howard

        Wow – what a cast! I’ll have to put this on my cold, rainy weekend list.

        Speaking of Richard Harris, I assume you’ve watched “Wild Geese”?

        “Emile! Emile!”

        Peace.

        • Replies: @The Wild Geese Howard
      124. Chinaman says:

        So the same driver idolizes a Commie killer and a killer Commie, but they’re both seductive images of power.

        killer commie kills for money, commie killer kills to keep his money.

        Money is power.

      125. @Talha

        Speaking of Richard Harris, I assume you’ve watched “Wild Geese”?

        Yes, I have.

        Congratulations on being the first commenter here to decode part of the information encoded in my nom de plume!

        • Thanks: Talha
      126. potwash says:

        Family is paramount, but, often, your real family doesn’t share the same dna…Brother.

      127. Ko says:
        @Linh Dinh

        Yes, guesthouses are abundant in Vientiane. They are generally decent places, and not expensive. One needn’t be of Asian descent to get a good room in a family run guesthouse for as little as 9$. It’s probable TKK is an ignorent person, and that he has no idea, as a tourist or traveller, what life is like beyond trip advisor.

        Sadly, I feel dumber than people like TKK. I lived for twelve years in Burma, a year in Lao and Thailandia (as my Brasillian dad-in-law calls it), and on Java. I have no idea why I thought I could live back here in again. Teaching at Uni here is like walking onto the moive set of Idiocracy and finding your life is the script but you didn’t write any of it and you can’t get out. It’s bizarre, and I wish I could return to SEA right now but I have to wait. Pray for me, please!

      128. @Jim Christian

        Partly wrong the Whites will not be the police or the firefighters; these are for under-represented affirmative action types. Bringing in the food and electricity is and will be a White enterprise.

      129. Sunshine says:
        @Anon 2

        I second this. The Nine Nations of North America was very influential to me as well. Also “Albion’s Seed: Four British Folkways in North America”. I cannot recommend them highly enough, honestly.

      130. Sunshine says:

        Linh- I am curious to know what your take is, on this coronavirus. What are they saying in Laos and Vietnam?

        • Replies: @Linh Dinh
        , @Linh Dinh
      131. @Ko

        One needn’t be of Asian descent to get a good room in a family run guesthouse for as little as 9$.

        I’m one of the whitest dudes around and I managed to find a family-run place on Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia for $13/night.

        It was a terrific little place. I consider it the best bang-for-the-lodging buck I’ve had to date.

        I have no idea why I thought I could live back here in again. Teaching at Uni here is like walking onto the moive set of Idiocracy and finding your life is the script but you didn’t write any of it and you can’t get out. It’s bizarre, and I wish I could return to SEA right now but I have to wait. Pray for me, please!

        Are you in Laos or another country right now? I spent over four years in Africa, so I understand some of what you’re going through. Will send some positive thoughts your way!

        • Replies: @Linh Dinh
      132. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @The Wild Geese Howard

        Hi The Wild Geese Howard,

        TKK just introduced this strawman issue to suggest that I’m a liar. He has no knowledge or, frankly, any interest in the cost of traveling in Laos. As several others have pointed out, he’s just infuriated that I’ve stated, repeatedly, that the genocidal state of Israel shouldn’t exist.

        As is becoming more evident by the day, Israel has long been the biggest threat to world peace. Israel is a purveyor of holocausts.

        Linh

      133. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @Sunshine

        Hi Sunshine,

        After a hellish minibus ride from Phonsavan, I’m now in Luang Prabang. It was like a six-hour roller coaster. It had everything but the corkscrew.

        At the end, a lady just in front of me mumbled to herself in Italian, “Now, I’ve seen every mountain in Laos!” She had also taken a mini bus from Vientiane to Phonsavan.

        As for your pork question. It’s now twice as expensive in Laos, and I’ve noticed that my servings of udon with crispy pork have often come with very little pork, so that’s the bottom line.

        One night in Phonsavan, I had stewed pork with eggs, a very traditional comfort food, and it came with just tiny bits of pork, yet four eggs! so the proprietor was likely compensating.

        Vietnamese eat even more pork than Laos, so much grumbling there too, especially since it’s Tet there, a time for much feasting.

        Linh

      134. Linh Dinh says: • Website
        @Sunshine

        Hi Sunshine,

        Buslagged, newsstarved and humping bushes, I totally misread your question, but I’m somewhat caught up after reading Karlin’s and Derb’s reports. There is no panic in Luang Prabang, where I’m at, but that’s about all I can say. There are many Chinese tourists here, but Wuhan is quite far away.

        Laos do eat many wild animals, and strolling through a local market here, I spotted a couple of grilled animals even I couldn’t quite recognize, and I’ve eaten just about everything. If it’s served to me, I’ll eat it!

        Linh

        • Replies: @Sunshine
      135. vhrm says:
        @Ko

        idk where the “here” is where you’re teaching uni, but i don’t get what you’re saying.

        I’ve never been to SE Asia (or Asia at all) but from Dinh’s writings this past year it’s not exactly Wakanda.

        Sure a cheap hotel and cheap food is nice and, if you have some income or savings, you can live a life of leisure for a lot less than you can in the West. But of the people he’s written about… how many of them would you like to be like or hang out with except out of anthropological interest?

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      136. vhrm says:
        @Linh Dinh

        i appreciate the explanation, but in surprised to see that this guy got under your skin so.

        Is this guy an important personage of some sort? i assumed he’s just a random heckler.

      137. @vhrm

        Well if you’re from the hardscrabble streets of Philadelphia it is more engaging to interact with quirky foreign business people in Asia than Opoid addicts in the frigid gutters of the rust belt.

        A bungalow in Asia is nicer than a threadbare low-rent apartment filled with druggies and domestic violence screams echoing down dingy hallways.

        The worst people I have personally met as an American are the US underclass-the Cholo gangs of Phoenix, the black thugs of Southeast Michigan, the meth-addled white trash-although there are dangerous people everywhere. Hands down, you are safer in Asia then any US city.

      138. vhrm says:

        Fair enough on that,
        but Ko says he’s a University instructor somewhere (if i read that correctly) presumably in the west. So he hadn’t been cancelled, outsourced or relegated to minimum wage yet.

        Seems a little premature to just retreat to the beach and wait for death…

        • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
      139. Sunshine says:
        @Linh Dinh

        Thank you Linh! Stay safe and I appreciate both answers.

      140. @vhrm

        Few expats sit on a beach and wait for death. They run businesses or work. They marry and have families.

        As a lifelong expat we have the following qualities-

        1) General self-centered psychology. My grandfather took me to football games in Ann Arbor and was himself part of the community and I did not care from an early age. I was indifferent to community ties (Though I had strong familial ties) and was primarily interested in my own quality of life. This is a core quality of expats-I recognized it in Fred Reed. If your highest priority is your quality of life and self-interest, you may end up an expat.

        2) You experience the worst aspects of US life. I experienced Cholos, black thugs, white trash on the margins of US society as a young man. Many young people do, but the experience disgusted me so much than when an offer to work overseas came my way, I was only too happy to never return to America for the rest of my life. I feel nothing.

        3) You’re dynamic. Some personalities are resentful but have no initiative. Many people I knew disliked Michigan but would not get off their ass leave.

        4) You have no responsibilities. I was so young when I left America I did not have a house, a family or a spouse. All of the things adults do I did overseas-have a career, get married, have kids, buy a house, run a business.

        5) You’ve been in other First World countries like Australia and understand that America is not the best country in the world.

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