Back in Việt Nam


Tam Cuoc6

I am back in Vietnam. Tam Cốc to be precise. The above is a picture I took of a picture. Obviously, the original was taken by professionals on a perfect day and is touched up as well. Here is what  Tam Cốc looks like from where I am staying…on a foggy morning…

Tam Cuoc4

Recently, a friend of mine posed a question to me: “I would love to know how you occupy yourself in a foreign country with time on your hands and sightseeing is no longer on the agenda.”

Others have asked similar questions in the past and I have kind of answered those with counter questions in a blog post

I would attempt to answer the question; again not with a model answer but with some more questions or things to think about.

(Background information: Many of my friends are nearing the retirement age. As such, they are wondering how they would utilize the time, once retired. In a way, they are fortunate. For some, perhaps even for the majority, retirement may not even be an option because of financial constraints. For others, they may not have made it to the retirement age. They did not get to do the things they had put off until retirement because they passed away before they reached that milestone. It is a luxury to be able to ponder what to do with time on our hands. I am told by a local, that people working on this back-breaking task in the fields here would continue working till they die.)

Tam Coc countryside (1)

The short answer to my friend’s question: Years ago, I identified key areas to spend my time on.  It is irrelevant what they are because what  I have deemed as the most important thing in life may not be the same as what you may have concluded or may eventually conclude. Once you have identified the most important thing in life that warrants your time and energy – you can go on working on it – regardless of where in the world you are. As mentioned in a previous blog post – for me, being elsewhere outside of California or the US is primarily a cost consideration. Some call it geographical arbitrage.

Extended version:  I don’t experience boredom or loneliness, but I  do experience discouragement and doubts. Discouragement because I don’t see improvement in myself after all this time and effort. Doubts because I am not 100% certain that I am on the right path;  if I am actually living out my vocation in life. A few have actually said that I am ‘wasting my life’. I can only continue to examine my life on a regular basis and make any necessary changes. How one judges oneself, or how others judge a person is not important – if there is a higher authority judging us. So, ultimately, I guess, it is a question of faith. What do you really believe in? And does your thoughts and actions, and hence how you choose to spend your time concur with that belief? It is easy to find activities to fill up one’s time. The challenge is finding the ‘right’ activities.

At the greyhound races, as soon as the doors open, the greyhounds charge off with speeds in excess of 40 mph. They chase after a ‘rabbit’ with such gusto. I wonder if they know that the race was designed such that they will never be able to catch the rabbit and even if somehow they caught it, that it is fake. It is merely a mechanical rabbit.  Is whatever we are chasing with all our time and energy, real or worth pursuing? Anyway to be certain of it?

Comments, advice or suggestions are welcomed.

Cảm ơn

 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it”  Matthew 7:13-14



4 thoughts on “Back in Việt Nam

  1. Considering the political/social atmosphere here, my guess is that you are better off traveling. I prefer our foggy morning photo.  It looks more real. Jean

    From: The Happy Minimalist’s Blog To: Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 7:25 AM Subject: [New post] Back in Việt Nam #yiv7707674795 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv7707674795 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv7707674795 a.yiv7707674795primaryactionlink:link, #yiv7707674795 a.yiv7707674795primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv7707674795 a.yiv7707674795primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv7707674795 a.yiv7707674795primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv7707674795 | The Happy Minimalist posted: ” I am back in Vietnam. Tam Cốc to be precise. The above is a picture I took of a picture. Obviously, the original was taken by professionals on a perfect day and are touched up as well. Here is what  Tam Cốc looks like from where I am staying…on ” | |


  2. you always make me think 🙂

    Good to hear from you again. My friends Char and Dan who you once contacted about renting a room in their Cupertino house, were just in Vietnam, and are now in Singapore. So you are reversing energy fields 😉

    You can follow them on Facebook at Marshallsonthemove

    On Thu, Feb 22, 2018 at 8:25 AM, The Happy Minimalist’s Blog wrote:

    > The Happy Minimalist posted: ” I am back in Vietnam. Tam Cốc to be > precise. The above is a picture I took of a picture. Obviously, the > original was taken by professionals on a perfect day and are touched up as > well. Here is what Tam Cốc looks like from where I am staying…on ” >


  3. Peter,

    I agree that all we need is air, water & food. I am trying to figure out how to rid else, but I am in a tug-o-war with “stuff” & far too much living space…even if it is only a 600 sq-ft studio. I like this verse to remind me that my coffee creamer & IPod ain’t going with me: “For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.” – 1 Timothy 6:7




  4. Whatever you are chasing is always real and worth it otherwise you would not be doing it. The problem is not what you are chasing (doing), it is why you are doing it. And knowing why you are doing it. For example, telling someone, “I love you” doesn’t meaning anything until you are conscious of why you do it. If you do it just to get sex or just to get them to say it back, you may be disappointed. If you are saying so as a declaration of your love for them, then it is always worth it and real. You can extrapolate this to anything. Another example is jogging- for health; you would be disappointed because running causes all sorts of health issues with the impact on your feet and knees. And fitness and health are two very different things but most people confuse the two. BUT if you are running because you enjoy the adrenaline rush and the views along your running tracks, then YES it is worth doing it- no matter the health consequences. How can you be certain? You SAY. If you say you enjoy it, then you enjoy it. Who am I to dispute that? It is in the WHY and not what.


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