Chapter Two - the how of the edge

Normally you would expect details about the cities and countries here in Asia. Places and itineraries and schedules or tours and tips of places to see. I think all of that belongs with the millennial bloggers and their readers. I have a thing in mind to cover. Let’s call it the how thing. So let’s start.


The how is very important when you change lives and places and lifestyles. You go from a society which is managed, with traffic laws and methods and techniques to do things on the edge. Often none of those things are the same. How to come to grips with the differences? One relevant fact is it does not happen in a week or a day or really any amount of time. Time is a poor indicator of accepting the how of things. It takes slowing down and accepting that most Southeast Asian countries are completely different in the how of things. Start small. It’s hot most of the year. Other times it rains and is hot. People here know how to live in both. Just watch them.

With this comes a primary lesson of the edge and retirement. Slow down. Coming here was purposeful. Plans and schedules for how are optional. Expect the how to be different. Learn from it. From SIM cards to buying cheap clothing. A SIM card can be had just about anywhere. Jeans and sweaters are optional here in most places. How to get things done is often a major question I still ask. Eating is a how thing too. Food is important here. You can eat however you want. From pho to pizza. Tacos to banh mi. Its all how you want it. Countries like Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Laos offer so much variety of food because all the local people love to eat too! So the how of eating can be easy. Drinking is easy too. I love beer in the evenings. So does everyone else living here just about. One place I go serves ice cold Hanoi beer for about $0.75 a bottle. It’s hot here so a glass of ice goes nice. Here’s how!

Another thing with food and drink is tipping. Just do it. No one expects it or demands it but show your appreciation for the how of things by offering a gratuity. The smiles and joy of serving you are well worth leaving some small money.

Another how is travel. It’s cheap. I have problems justifying a six hour bus ride that costs $10 compared to a one hour flight that costs $25. I also want to get to the place sometime. Flying is just easier. Now with COVID-19 one cannot go internationally but often domestic flights can be had easily. I am going from Hanoi to Da Nang for $60 round trip in a week. It’s a cheap and easy way to go! There are so many other how things.

How to make Vietnamese friends? How to use money or credit cards? How to keep track of expenses? So making Vietnamese friends or Khmer friends or Singaporean friends is not hard. Let’s talk about making Vietnamese friends because I’m blessed with many of them. They are loving, dedicated, fun loving, food loving, coffee and beer loving people. Friendships can be found in the most innocent of ways. Meeting a tour guide or Vietnamese people out eating. Going to a museum or historical site. Coffee shops! They love to meet people. So if you desire friendship in most of the countries in the edge, you will not be disappointed. I have group of friends here that take me out for dinners, meet for coffee, love to just talk about life. All speak very good English. I met them because of my Vietnamese friend lily. She introduced me to her friends.

Money is not much different but how you use it is. There is no need to carry vast sums. No need to carry wallets. No need really for credit cards. You don’t need to carry a passport around either. Truth is you can go easily with less cash, no credit or debit cards, and no passports. Most economies are cash based but often using their own currency. Find a app that converts the currencies. Stay aware. In Cambodia the US dollar is the primary currency but you may get change back in Riel. I’ve never been cheated and mostly get a few thousand riel back if I use a dollar and the thing costs less. Be sure your USD are in good shape. No rips or missing parts or too old looking. How you trade large bills for small is the concern here. Money exchangers will give you change for $50 in USD. Just inspect the money and don’t be afraid to ask them to replace bills that are damaged.

My next part is the why of daily life. Stick around. You may not learn anything at all but perhaps it’s fun to read how one old retired guy gets by. See you then.

June 24, 2020