Generosity, happiness, and spiritual emptiness
As always, so great to feel like I've gained insight from living like a local in Hanoi. I'll be wary of that "constant misery of always comparing yourself to what you might of, or should have been" – Thanks Chris!
Wasn't it Janis Joplin who sang "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose" in Me and Bobby McGee? I've always loved that saying.
Love the photography.
Great post and beautiful photos, especially the people. Love your photos and your observations. Just discovered your blog and subscribed. Keep up great work and thanks for sharing your stories.
What do you think about what this Japanese man has to say about Japanese culture?
Maybe what you hate isn't the culture of the United States, but the way you feel reading Twitter and the news. Here's some good advice about reading the news by another guy on substack. I bet it goes triple for reading Twitter.
Reading the news is the new smoking
I quit. I feel great. You can too.
Jun 14, 2022
"Especially compared to the US."
Why is your formula always the same?
Intriguing and fascinating article until your routine and all-too-predictable crescendo of US-bashing.
I get it: you dislike the US. Ok.
But try at least to avoid being so American-centric that every article has to revolve around the comparison.
You're writing for an American audience: I already know about the American experience in 2023. Tell me more about Hanoi.
Pls. I signed up for a one year paid sub and I hate to think that I've figured your curveball out already.
This post was wonder filled; reminded me so much of my travels to India. It was such an adjustment returning to the US and realizing I had felt more “welcomed” there than I did in my native country. I too noticed the spiritual decay of the US on my return, and would love your thoughts on that. Safe and happy travels!
Thanks for this. So interesting to see this from street level.
Comparing Vietnamese street life to Twitter seems off to me.
Great post, Chris. I must say, have read a handful or more, that it's clear how horribly drab and, well, crappy the US is - compared to Hanoi for example. Maybe it's just my love of a good picture, but it's clear you have to work hard to find one in America - in LA for example, and even then they have a distinctly meager quality. I live in France these days, and frankly, I only have to turn around to find endless beauty in architecture, plants, the ocean, mountains and cliffs - and photogenic cafes that serve great coffee. I seriously suggest you forget about the US and spend your time walking in places that give you pleasure and show you beauty - they are everywhere, except, it seems, at home.
This: Everyone is fighting. Everyone is angry. Everyone is mad. Everyone is bitter. About every little thing all the time. ... Yet we're miserable.
We left the U.S. four and a half years ago to become completely nomadic and what you're writing about here is probably the number one thing we've noticed as we've traveled -- almost everywhere we go, people are happier.
We're currently living in Sarajevo for six weeks, Bosnians -- not even thirty years out of a terrible war -- seem happier than Americans. Not much happier, granted, given their circumstances, yet still happier than most Americans.
Which is incredibly damning.
Amazing photos, by the way.
Amazing and beautiful. Thank you.
I know that Vietnamese use to be written with Chinese characters until fairly recently, but I was surprised about how much Vietnam reminded me of South China, even in the look of the buildings and streets, circa late 1990s. The Chinese Chess set even had the characters, some of the Tattoos were of heroes of China's Warring State Period, and near the end the shot of people doing Taichi near the river. The Vietnamese are definitely proud of their independence from China, but there is a strong affinity there too. (edit: I wonder if the Confucian moral code has been given Vietnam phonetics translation and is being taught at home, like it has been transcribed in South Korea).
Wonderful essay and photos! I’m a new subscriber and deeply appreciate this dose of sanity, reality and beauty -- ESPECIALLY after reading about what the Supreme Court of the United States did to us today. Condensed version: Global Warming? Bring it on!
It always struck me, when I moved to the US at age 27 from Southeast Asia, that people here talked about freedom, but never about responsibility. Maybe it's an Asian thing? Maybe it's a Catholic Jesuit thing? But the one thing I took away from my theology classes is that freedom has to be defined as "freedom For (being in the service of something bigger)," as opposed to "freedom From (whatever it is you think is oppressing you)." It was about - what is it you want to do with your life, besides survive? Is it that here in the US, because you know that no one is going to look out for you if you fail, then you have to fight desperately to grasp what you can? Whereas in parts of Asia, your family and friends will always be there to help you out if you slip, so you can afford to be kinder and more generous?