All posts by jamaicaninchina

The Trivial Traveler

“Everyday People…”

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….

Upgrading RAM with a smile

….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…

“Nice to meet you! Come back any time!”
Conical Hats Homestay

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….

“You can try this famous store on the same street as your hostel. Once you come off the Dragon Bridge just keep going straight…”

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…

Thanks for the help, Khoa

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.)

“Would you like to walk with me?”

….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!”

Conversation while negotiating the organized chaos of Ho Chi Minh City

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…

“Sorry, sir. The line is busy right now. We will try again.”

…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!)

Note to self: I’ve got to start that calisthenics workout program so I can add a few pounds to my non-existent chest

….or Nok, my translator at the Yanhee International Hospital where I got my long-anticipated coffee colonic…(film at eleven!)

Nok, translator at Yanhee, Thai local married to a Filipino

…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…

Thanks, gentlemen!

…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!

Fellow nomad, Sam offers assistance
…while onlookers look on!

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 channelTo 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’s also the reason I interview and/or profile folks like Ronnie from Trinidad living in Vietnam, and Ken from New York now living in Kyrgyzstan, and(coming soon:) Bayo the personal trainer who moved from DC and is now giving unique tours in Brasil! So, trust me when I tell you that my experience is not unique, it is simply underrepresented!

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:

  1. “That which you seek is also seeking you.”

2. “Whatever you focus on will grow in your reality.”

Excelsior!!

Stay tuned!

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?”

 

 

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Jamaican in Bangkok! And the award goes to….!

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!

On a bus from the airport in Thailand

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!

Good Samaritan Nafeezah helps the wandering Jamaican!

 

Graciously waiting for the bus

Here’s the scene on one of the buses  I took to get to the hostel

 

We’re off to an auspicious start! More to come!

 

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Volunteer for Tourism Organization’s FREE tour of Saigon!

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!

Video clips:

 

Pi of Volunteer for Tourism Organization (VTO); find them on Facebook!
Strolling through Saigon’s Flower Market
Inside the Caodaism temple
The three saints of Caodaism

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

The Caodaism symbol: God’s left eye

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!

Durian rice for Pi

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!

 

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You’re quite welcome, Mr. Hung!

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!

https://www.facebook.com/hungshipebay/posts/1805438886191667

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!

From left to right Ý Nhi, Thảo, Ngoc Ánh , Mrs. Hà, Walt, Hòang Anh and Mr. Hủng . My last day at the Stingray Hostel in Da Nang!

 

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Jamaican in Saigon!

“Jamaican in Saigon!” I like the sound of that! Just landed in Ho Chi Minh city, formerly known as Saigon, Vietnam! Here’s a quick video from my Grab taxi from the airport:

Ms Vy of the Vy Khanh Guesthouse!

Ms Vy (pronounced vee), the proprietress of my new home in Saigon, Vietnam!

My room number in Da Nang: 302.

My room number in Saigon? 302! Hmmmm.

Yes, I’m a number 5 person for those who follow numerology!

Stay tuned for more adventures! Gotta run! I think I’ll head out to get a colonic. Yep, some people head out for coffee or drinks, others go to museums, I go out for intestinal cleansing!

 

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Participating in a Vietnamese job interview!

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!

Upstairs waiting for the candidates to arrive
I did my best to unobtrusively grab a shot during the first interview
Comparing notes afterwards

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!

From left to right Ý Nhi, Thảo, Ngoc Ánh , Mrs. Hà, Walt, Hòang Anh and Mr. Hủng . My last day at the Stingray Hostel in Da Nang!

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Preview: What do Vietnamese girls think about foreign guys?

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?” 

Should I do more videos like this?–Walt

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Say Hello to my Little Friends 2: Ronnie Defour, Trinidadian in Vietnam!

In this episode, we meet my new friend, Trinidadian in Vietnam, Ronnie Defour, who shares his experience thinking and living outside the box! Enjoy, and don’t forget to say hello to Ronnie on Facebook (see video)!

 

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A Silver Platter Day in Tam Ky, Vietnam

Every two weeks, hostel manager Hủng takes a 70 km drive south to Quang Nam province to a little town called Tam Ky to visit for two days with his family. With his 24-hour/on-site job responsibilities running the Stingray hostel in Danang, those two days are the only days he gets to spend quality, bonding time with his toddler son and infant daughter.

For this particular visit, even though one of those days was his birthday, and even though he’d never invited a hostel guest to his home before, he graciously requested that I take the trip with him to meet his family and spend the two days with him in his home. Of course, I accepted!

We set out at 10:45am on Monday…

Right before we left,, the ever bubbly, ever cute laundry service vendor Tham showed up to take the day’s hostel laundry (bed sheets, customer clothing, etc). She says if I want to come live in Danang, she’ll wait for me! I just may take her up on the offer!

 

Outside waiting for our cab
Four of the eight passengers in the Da Nang to Tam Ky SUV! Her name is One, and she’s a high school English teacher in Tam Ky.

We got to Hủng’s village in about an hour and then walked around a bit to meet neighbors and see the nearby lake….

Walking down Hung’s street towards his home.

 

Nearby lake. We passed banana, breadfruit, noni, lemon and other fruit trees

Then, we had lunch (Kudos to Hủng’s wife! Best of my trip so far!)!

Lunch with three-fourths of the family!

Later, we picked up his son from school, went shopping for food for dinner, and then just hung out for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I met his mother and father who live next door…

Dinner time in Tam Ky

The next morning we headed out to the Tam Ky Cafe for some juice (for me) and coffee (for Hủng).

Tamky Cafe

Oh, remind me to tell you about the lady who pulled up a chair at our table, leaned in to eavesdrop every word I spoke, followed me to the men’s room (as I attempted to lose her!) and even jumped in front of my camera as I attempted to take a photo of the grounds near the cafe! Yep, remind me to tell you that story!

Um, excuse me….

Update: Just before I was about to post this, I discovered Hủng had captured the encounter and he just sent me a photo of that special lady in red! 

Keep in mind this is 8am on a Tuesday morning!

We left in a hurry to escape the stalker, and then went to visit Phu Ninh Lake, home of the hot mineral springs!  On the way there, we passed a road with rice drying on blue tarps on the street.  Note to self: I’ve got to stop and get some on the way back!

Drying rice along the roadside

We arrived at Phu Ninh Lake, paid our entrance fee and shared a ride up a hill to the actual site grounds and a few photos with Hậu and Thủy. Nice to meet you, girls!

Sharing a ride with Hậu  andThủy

 

Beautiful scenery at Phu Ninh

 

Next, we boarded a boat with several other passengers for the scenic tour of the lake!

On the lake

We stopped at a deck in the middle of the lake to experience the hot mineral springs being brought to the surface by a pipe way deep below the surface.

Getting water from the mineral springs

Then, just before the hour long ride ended, we approached a small island….

….and fed monkeys who (yes, I said “who”) gathered at beach side as the boat approached! Seems they may have done this before!

Monkey. See.

On the way back, we stopped at one of the homes where the harvested rice was drying, and I offered to purchase a half kilo or so to take back home!

I found a willing entrepreneur and made my purchase! Don’t ask me when I’ll get a chance to prepare this as my hostel does not have cooking facilities. I may have to resort to my tried and true Coffeepot Cookbook techniques!

Another satisfied customer? Time will tell.

Once we got back home, Hủng’s wife and mom had prepared a lavish meal for lunch! So, let me see if I understand this correctly: everything (all 7 plates in the silver platter including the bánh xèo*) are specially-prepared vegan versions just for me, and the other food is for the three of you??)

*Bánh xèo [ɓǎɲ sɛ̂w], literally “sizzling pancake”, named for the loud sizzling sound it makes when the rice batter is poured into the hot skillet is a Vietnamese savory fried pancake made of rice flour, water, turmeric powder.

You’re kidding me, right? This is about THREE days of eating for me!
Hanging out after lunch as the dishes are cleared.
Hủng’s daughter, mom and dad

Yep, some days, everything is served up on a silver (or red) platter!

 

Addendum:

Later in the evening, I entertained some kids in the neighborhood and family friends with videos and photos from my travels (um, or perhaps, as my friend Rogelio said, the Jamaican in Tam Ky WAS the entertainment for the evening!). (OF COURSE I showed them the Macau bungee jump! What did you expect??)

 

It was a great time meeting and getting to know the family and experiencing life in Tam Ky. We leave tomorrow to head back to Da Nang, but I WILL be back! Check out Hủng’s facebook post of our day.

 

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In and out and about! People and places!

Some random shots out and about Vietnam!

Manager Hung requests a shot with me and my books for the hostel Facebook page
Anh joins the photo shoot
Hostel mates, George, Victor, Aaron from Hong Kong!

Synchronicities, past life regressions, light workers, parallel universes, extra-terrestrial origins, soul age dating tips, Qigong, sauna detoxing, coffee enemas, Quantum Healing Hypnosis Technique, and yeah, there was lunch, too…vegan style with some new friends in Da Nang:

My kind of crowd!
Chris, Alya and Josh. Meet them all in a future episode of “Say Hello to my Little Friends!”

And for the Filipinos….

Jollibee in Vietnam

And for the Jamaicans…

Bata Shoes in Vietnam
Dragon Bridge
traffic circle statue pointing toward Le Duan Road…on my way to Hoi An

 

Touring Hoi An with student guide, Viet

 

My first creation of pottery…Hoi An
Viet, tour guide from Danang Free Tours

 

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