Can a single, Jamaican, minimalist, vegan, author and nomadpreneur escape the rat race, reinvent his life, live true to himself, find love, happiness, organic food, but more importantly, an apartment with a kitchen, sunshine and a wi-fi connection in China and beyond without paying the ultimate price….the foreigner’s price?
Blog Mission: ” To create an alternative travel narrative to encourage people who can identify with me to break free and see the world fearlessly (and inexpensively)!”
Sam, whom you met in a previous episode, and whom I met in a “chance” encounter in a 7-11 store (but, as you know, there ARE no chance encounters) introduced me to Mango Vegetarian & Vegan restaurant and I haven’t eaten anywhere else since!
I didn’t order anything from the menu that first time I went (since it was after 5pm and I only eat one meal a day between 12-3pm), but I vowed to return the next day…and I did! It was, perhaps, a little awkward for Sam (eating alone, and all), but, as I tell anyone who invites me out in the evening, I go for the friendship and conversation, so please don’t be surprised if I don’t eat!
As I discovered in Vietnam and here in Thailand, too, even vegetarian and vegan restaurants often use sugar and MSG in the seasonings of their dishes, so it’s difficult to get a meal without those ingredients. Mango, however, does not! Yay!!
Location: Thanon Tanao, Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok, Thailand, just a short walk from Amarin Inn where I’m staying!
The menu was overwhelming! The have breakfasts, gluten-free, desserts, fresh-squeezed juice, raw meals and a HUGE selection of unique dishes! The next day, I ordered #41, the Quinoa Buddha Bowl Salad (“A high protein meal with healthy salad. Mixed greens, quinoa, sweet potatoes, barley, Job’s tears, carrot, flax seeds, chick peas, pumpkin seeds, black beans, mango, tomato, beetroot, avocado, and other seasonal fresh fruit”)
The serving size was so large that I had to request half of it “to go….” um, so I could order a second dish!
This was menu item #57 “Chick Pea with Mixed Vegetables Fried Rice” (“Fried rice with chick peas, barley, Job’s tears, vegetable and ginger in Massara spices sauce”) Heaven!
The next morning at about 11:15 (they open 10:30am), I returned to experience one of the breakfast dishes! It was earlier than I typically eat, but this turned out to be my single meal of the day!
This was menu item #18 “Gluten free pancake with choice of side.” (Pancake ingredients: Organic rice berry flour, Lord black grains flour, young coconut milk, coconut sugar, coconut milk and brown rice milk.) I chose mango and dragon fruit as my topping.
My new friend, Mango staff member and culinary advisor, Wan, is taking me on a journey through the 99 menu items! Things will only get better!
Culinary Interlude: I’ve eaten there three days in a row. However, yesterday, I spent the entire day and night until 11:30pm hanging out with hostel owners Kulyanon and Ahmad, helping them film and upload an interim Youtube video for the hostel, and then accompanying them as they visited family in various parts of Bangkok before their flight today, so I didn’t eat anything during the day (even though Kulyanon tried desperately to get me to eat something!)….
….and so, guess where I’ll be TODAY?? Wrong! I’ll be at MANGO, silly!
Come on! Don’t act like you’re not curious! Don’t pretend your interest isn’t the least bit piqued to see what it looks and feels like when 25 liters of warm, coffee-tinged water is introduced into the colon (no, not through the mouth…use your imagination!) in order to clean and remove toxins, debris, undigested food, impacted fecal matter, bacteria, parasites and mucoid plaque from the colon in order to improve digestion, nutrient absorption and essentially reboot the digestive system!
So, being the narcissistic exhibitionist I am and, perhaps, being the armchair voyeur you are, I’ve answered both our desires! Check it out! (It’s completely anonymous! No one–not even me–will ever know you watched!)
Note to the squeamish: Don’t worry, I don’t actually show the “stuff” coming out!
Background: Ever since I discovered Jason Rupp’s Youtube video and his glowing recommendation of Yanhee International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand, for a colon hydrotherapy session, and the amazingly low cost (by US standards), I decided to check it out for myself! I’ve done colonics in the states, in Hong Kong, and now in Thailand (Hmmm. Is this a new type of fanatical-cleansing-thrill-seeking subset of medical tourism I’m pioneering?)
p.s. A friend saw a photo of me at this hospital and asked if I was okay
My reply: Yep, I am faaaantabulous! FYI: I do the colonics and oxygen therapies, and coffee enemas, and extended waters fasts as part of my normal, regular health maintenance (See my books, A Clean Cell Never Dies and Fast & Grow Young) to keep myself young and vital. Plus, I’ve been in in some high-pollution zones recently, so I definitely wanted to do a detox, AND you can’t beat the prices here in Thailand!
There is a specific reason I film and share what some might consider mundane travel experiences such as: who says hello to me, how we meet, who invites me to dinner, who gives me directions, who fixes my laptop, how to get a colonic in Bangkok (oh, trust me, that’s coming up!), where to buy cheap produce, how to purchase airline tickets cheaply, and other seemingly trivial traveler tidbits (and it’s not just narcissism!).
For instance, in addition to the tour guides, restaurant owners, and hostel managers you’ve already met, there was–among many others–the techie in Da Nang, Vietnam who upgraded my RAM and fixed a non-responsive USB port as a courtesy….
….there was Lala, the Da Nang, Vietnam hostel manager of Conical Hats Homestay, who came out to greet me as I walked through the streets…
There was the Da Nang, Vietnam appliance store rep who went out of his way to help me locate another competing store at which I might find a Lavalier microphone to record better audio for my videos….
In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), there was Khoa, the hotel tour clerk at a hotel around the corner from my hostel who printed out my inbound and outbound airline reservations on the hotel printer (at no charge) so that I could apply for my Thailand entry visa…
In Saigon, there was Bun, the cute shoe factory worker who interrupted me filming a video intro….
…gave me a thumbs up for my all white suit… (that’s the extent of my fashion consciousness: I can match a white top with a white bottom! I got this!)
…and invited me to accompany her on a walk through the park. (This was mostly done through “sign language” since my command of the Vietnamese language and her command of English were both minimal, so we used Google translate thereafter.)
….There was the Saigon Grab bike operator who, once I told him I was Jamaican, said he knew of Usain Bolt and taught me how to say Usain’s name in Vietnamese (I think). Then, after telling him I lived most of my life in the US, he–unprompted–went out of his way to point to his skin and mine and said that here in Vietnam: “we same,” and that “Vietnam people love everybody!”
In Bangkok, Thailand, there were the two customer service reps at Tesco Lotus who made calls to my hard-to-find hostel to help me locate it…
…and the laundry service operators in Bangkok a few blocks from my hostel who were up early, and who ironed my shirt for me the morning after I arrived since I never learned how to pack a suitcase like an adult. (Yes, I was half naked in their open front shop as passersby may have wondered if there was a new Jamaican striptease show in town!)
….or Nok, my translator at the Yanhee International Hospital where I got my long-anticipated coffee colonic…(film at eleven!)
…or Beta (spelling?), the Nepalese tailor at PresidentSuits who has lived in Thailand for eleven years, who suggested I change my style from casual-baggy-Thai-neru-mandarin-monk-in-sandals to something western-traditional…
Here! You can hear it in his own words:
…or the Nepalese electronics vendors at MBK mall who tried to find me a lavalier microphone clone…
…or Sam, a customer in the 7-11 convenience store, who welcomed me to Thailand when he heard me tell another customer wearing a Bob Marley shirt that I was from Jamaica…then offered to help me find an authorized SIM card dealer (foreigners can’t buy SIM cards from just anywhere! Ask me why.). Sam has lived in the US for many years, so it was quite insightful learning a Thai national’s perceptions of Thai people from both the inside and outside!
Yes, there’s a reason my travelogue includes these types of stories, and does NOT include much of the standard tourist sites while focusing more on the people and interactions in everyday places.
To understand that reason, however, it may first be necessary to understand the mission of my Jamaican in China blog, facebook page and Youtube channel: To create an alternative travel narrative to encourage anyone who identifies with me to follow his/her passions, become a nomadpreneur if they wish, break free and see the world fearlessly (and inexpensively)!
As part of my PassionProfit philosophy and formula and nomadpreneur escape strategy, I’ve met and coached people who wish to travel, but who are afraid of how they will be received overseas. They don’t see themselves in many mainstream travelogues and guidebooks and so, they believe such travel is for others they can’t relate to. They worry about prejudice, about negative attitudes, about global perceptions and, faced with such paralyzing fears and unaddressed concerns, and no one to model, they never take action (plus, they are afraid it will cost too much)
My self-appointed mission, therefore, is to move such individuals to action. How will my mundane travel experiences accomplish that, you ask? Well, several years ago, I learned a little secret when I was part of a sales team with ACN (American Communications Network), a network marketing company. We learned that if you want to move someone to action (in ACN’s case it was to purchase a service or to sign up as a sales rep), you must take that individual through a process that has him or her thinking the following three thoughts:
1. “Me too!” (In other words, they need to relate to you and/or your background, personality, nationality, ethnicity, gender, etc., and see themselves in you)
2. “This makes sense.” (They must see the logic and/or common sense, or practicality or necessity of the action you wish them to take)
3. “I can do this.” (They need to be shown the details of how to do the thing you wish them to do so they can imagine themselves doing it and feel capable of doing so.)
Using a similar strategy, my mission, through this blog is to show the little human interactions of overseas travel, the smiles on the streets, the camaraderie, the welcoming gestures–the little things that can make or break a travel experience– and to show the images and videos of these that you won’t see in the mainstream guidebooks and travelogues so that readers who are fearful of travel for any reason, and who can identify with me in some way, can think to themselves: “Look! He’s just like me (Jamaican, Caribbean, skinny, vegan, former employee, civil engineer, of African descent, etc.), and he’s having a great time! He hasn’t been kidnapped! People are friendly! (And it doesn’t cost as much as I thought) Wow, if HE can do it, then maybe I can, too!”
It exists for the express purpose of showing a reality others can point to and model in order to help them evolve into the sort of traveler they wish to be! If not for you, then please share this blog, and Facebook page, and Youtube channel with someone you know!
Finally, I’ll share two thoughts that are essentially saying the same thing and that I’ve found to be true in my life:
“That which you seek is also seeking you.”
2. “Whatever you focus on will grow in your reality.”
Walt F.J. Goodridge
The Jamaican in China…and Beyond! “I share what I know, so that others may grow!”
COMING SOON: “What’s in my suitcase?” (Confessions of an alternative-minded, health-obsessed, vegan nomad!”) Excerpt: “No, officer, the white powder in that plastic bag is Diatomaceous Earth. The other one over there is Non-iodized Sea Salt. That one over there is Bentonite Clay!”
“Sure, no worries, but, um, could you take the handcuffs off me now please?”
Wow! I’ve only been in Thailand for 3 hours, and already it’s the top contender for the “Most Helpful People” award! As I walk around following the directions to the hostel I booked, at least SIX people (women, but one guy, too) have walked up and simply asked “Where are you going?” or “Where are you trying to get to?” and then offered bus routes and other directions to help me get there!
The first person to do this, however, and thus the first person I’ve met in Thailand, was Nafeezah who asked, “Can I help you?”then took the time and energy to guide me around the confusing bridges and stairways of Victory Monument to find the number 28 bus!
Here’s the scene on one of the buses I took to get to the hostel
If you’re ever in Ho Chi Minh City (also known as Saigon), contact Volunteer for Tourism Organization and arrange a free tour of the city! VTO is comprised of local volunteers who wish to meet foreigners and practice their language skills!
I met up with my tour guide, Pi at 2pm. After visiting the popular Flower Market, Pi and I hung out for almost two hours in the Caodaism temple waiting for the rain to pass, learning a lot about Vietnamese culture, norms, and of course, Caodaism!
Turns out that Pi–who, coincidentally, is originally from Quang Nam province where I volunteered a few weeks earlier—had JUST attended his graduation ceremony that same morning, and was now officially out in the Vietnamese workforce with a degree in Human Resources!
Interestingly, “…Adherents [of Caodaism] engage in practices such as prayer, veneration of ancestors, nonviolence, and vegetarianism with the goal of union with God and freedom from saṃsāra [the cycle of death and rebirth to which life in the material world is bound]….” You can read more on wikipedia
After a failed attempt to find a veggie restaurant for me that didn’t pre-season with sugar and MSG, Pi got some food from a street vendor, and we hung out under a canopy in front of a shuttered storefront and chatted until the rain passed!
It was a great way to spend an afternoon, and I have another tour scheduled for Monday with a different guide! Meanwhile, please help Pi grow the organization to keep the volunteers busy and serve foreign tourists as well ! How? Simply contact them through the VTO Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/vtovietnam)and arrange a free tour for yourself (yes, tips are accepted!), or share the page with your nomad/traveler friends or social network!
While I wander about Saigon, I don’t want to leave you without something to read! My friend, Mr. Hung, from Da Nang, wrote a touching thank you for my gift to him of a copy of Turn Your Passion Into Profit….Click on the image to read his Facebook post and please leave a comment or like for Hung!
Hung gave me an “I Luv Da Nang” t-shirt (Vietnam Large)! And now you know why I wear loose fitting shirts!
Hey Hung, according to my friend, Don C., on Saipan, you may have a career in adult entertainment!
And as a follow up to the job interview post,
The first interviewee– Ý Nhi– pictured in the photo from the interview (and far left below in blue shirt) was offered the position, she accepted, and started the very next day–which was also my last day at the hostel! The staff had a farewell party for Thảo (sitting next to her) whom Ý Nhi was replacing!
Talk about an alternative travel narrative! One of the benefits of an extended stay at a new destination is being there long enough to make real friends and to be invited “on the inside” for rare opportunities. So, on the next-to-last day of my three week stay in Da Nang, Vietnam, Hủng invited me to help him interview four candidates for a receptionist position at his hostel. I would be a “company representative” sitting at the table with him and Ánh, one of the current receptionists. I jumped at the opportunity, then allowed my mind to process what this would entail, as well as what new things I would learn:
How do twenty-one year olds in Vietnam approach the job application/interview process? What are appropriate (and inappropriate) questions to ask in Vietnamese culture? Will the interview be conducted exclusively in English or will it include Vietnamese? What sorts of questions will the candidates themselves ask? How will the post-interview job offer and rejections be handled?
I immediately started writing some questions based on my PassionProfit philosophy & formula, and to further prepare, I searched online for other unique interview questions to ask. Here’s one I found that I asked one of the candidates: “In completing a project, is it better to be “perfect” and a bit late, or “good” and on time? (What do YOU think? Comment!)
Each interview lasted 15 minutes, and afterwards, Ánh and I gave Hủng our recommendations. It was a very insightful way to spend an afternoon and offered the sort of peek into regular life in Vietnam you won’t get sitting on a tour bus!
As I compose this entry, today will be my final day in Da Nang, Vietnam, at least for a little while!
ADDENDUM: The first interviewee– Ý Nhi– pictured in the photo above (and far left below in blue shirt) was offered the position, she accepted, and started the very next day–which was also my last day at the hostel! The staff had a farewell party for Thảo (sitting next to her) whom Ý Nhi was replacing!
You asked for it, you got it! Here’s your chance to hear it not from me and my observations and experience, but from an actual, living, breathing Vietnamese girl! Ánh and I chatted for about a half hour about everything from life in Vietnam, political freedom to dating, marriage and more! This is just a TEASER, a very short preview to whet your appetite! If you want to be notified about the full interview, please subscribe to the Youtube channel….AND, ask Ánh your own questions in the comments section, and receive an answer!
“What do you (and your girlfriends) think about foreign guys (African, Asian, European….um, Jamaican)? Any biases?”