15 March 2021

It’s Day 3 of quarantine.

I arrived in Ho Chi Minh City on Friday night, and have spent a full Saturday and Sunday cooped up in my hotel room.

Though “cooped up” is probably not the right word. I’ve splurged on a suite so I actually have plenty of room to move around. I figured if I’m going to be confined to a room for 2 weeks, better have the four walls as far apart as possible.

Quarantine life has been very pleasant so far. The bed is super comfortable, which is a big plus. Going to bed every night is a luxury. The furniture is well-designed. I’ve got an island to eat at in the kitchenette, a proper work desk set-up. There’s even a chaise longue by the large window where I can stretch out and gaze at the passing traffic below, which I did for a good half hour as the sun rose yesterday morning.

The food has been pretty tasty too. I went for the full-board option so I don’t have to worry about meals. And most of the things that appeared on the delivery chair outside my door have been delicious. Though I must say the portions have been quite small and I often end up hungry between meals. They also serve dinner pretty late (after 7pm), so what I’ve taken to doing is to save my dinner to eat the next day as I tend to have dinner around 5.

There’s also minibar and room service. Haven’t ordered room service yet and I’m not planning to. But I did order a small bottle of Merlot and a Saigon beer from the minibar.

In short: very pleasant.

I’ve been spending my time mostly in front of the laptop, either working or corresponding with people. I wrote all my friends to let them know I finally made it to Vietnam, and have been responding to their messages. There’s also a Facebook group of people who want to return to Vietnam of which I’ve been a member since late last year. It was a wealth of information for me during the run-up to the move, so I wrote up a nice long post to share my experience and “pay it forward.” I got some comments and questions on that so have been responding there too.

I also did a bit of reading. I finally decided to pick up Klara and the Sun, just because I know it’ll be a quick and enjoyable read. I’m probably 1/3 in and it’s proving to be another good read by Ishiguro. Not sure what I’ll pick up next.

Started listening to another podcast episode of How I Built This, this one on Patreon. It’s 88 minutes long and I haven’t finished it yet. I’m thinking of doing an exercise walk around the room while listening to the episode. That could work as an exercise routine. I did 2,000+ steps on Saturday just walking back and forth getting water, though my steps were significantly down yesterday. Not sure what I did differently…

It’s 14 days of quarantine, and I’m now on Day 3. Not long to go now before I’m reunited with my partner. It’ll probably be strange initially to be in his company again—today marks one full year of not being in each other’s physical presence. But we’re both taking two weeks off work to acclimatise and just chill. Which should be nice.

It’s Monday today, so my first work day in quarantine. I’m expecting to be very productive because of the lack of distractions. I’ve done hotel work-cations before and those have always delivered striking results.

I’d better get started with my day. Hope you’re all well.


7 March 2021

I’m breaking my Sunday rule.

Sunday is my no-laptop day, but today I felt an urge to blog.

Because today isn’t just any Sunday—it’s my last Sunday in Thailand. And I feel like I should capture my thoughts and feelings on this day.

So here I am, blogging on a Sunday morning.

Last time I wrote you guys, I was still thick in the process of getting my approvals for Vietnam. But that process quietened down a week ago when I finally managed to acquire all the paperwork, with the help of my lawyer for whom I feel an increasing fondness. The associate was even happy to put his personal mobile number as the contact number for the authorities to call me when in Vietnam. Not sure if this is standard practice over there, but I do appreciate it. Having a Vietnamese-speaking person I trust to liaise with the authorities is an assuring thing.

Anyhow, I’ve printed 2 copies of everything and neatly arranged them in a light purple folder, ready for the airport. The last piece of the puzzle is the Covid-19 test, which I’ll get tomorrow. If the result comes back, “Not Detectable,” then I’ll be set. I’ll email the airline everything on Tuesday and that should get me cleared for landing. There’s no reason why anything should go wrong at this stage, but I’ll keep my fingers crossed anyways.

Today is my last Sunday at home with my parents for a while… until I can come back to visit when Vietnam and Thailand finally open their borders. No one knows when that will be. So I’ll cherish today as my last Sunday.

Our plans are simple, as they always are on Sunday. Morning coffee with dad. Then lunch with dad and mom at a restaurant we recently discovered which has smashingly good food and a nice ambience. Then Big C for our weekly groceries. Then telly with mom. Then dinner with dad. Simple.

I woke up early this morning and opened the book I’m currently reading, Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh, but then changed my mind and decided to blog instead. Nothing against the book—it’s an enjoyable read. It’s the last paperback copy I’ll read before I switch to Kindle. I’ve got probably a dozen books waiting for me there, books I bought in the last six months in preparation of the move to Vietnam.

I was planning to start with the Dune Trilogy, but there’s also that new Ishiguro book that I definitely must read that’s hot off the printing press. Ishiguro is my absolute favourite author (sorry boss), and earlier this year I finally finished reading all of his books published up to then. But he just dropped a new one, his first after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature. So, expectations are high.

My partner is reading it at the moment and seems to be enjoying it. So maybe I’ll start with that so we can talk about it soon. If I start Dune, it’s going to be a while to finish, it being three books and all. Ishiguro will be a quick read.

How did I get off on that tangent? Yes, the Delivering Happiness book. I’ll continue reading it tomorrow while off on my errands to get my Covid-19 test and see people in town.

To follow up from my last post from late January, I did get to work on my website, which is now live. It’s neat and functional. I still need to work on its SEO, but now that it’s live the impetus has died. I’m not looking to actively seek clients from the website anyways. It’s more a place for me to collect all my services in case someone asks. When I get clients for these services, it normally comes via my network. It’s unlikely to be random individuals landing on my site. Anyways, I’m happy the website’s finished.

I didn’t end up taking more subtitles work. I in fact decided not to so I can enjoy spending my weekends with my parents. The last subtitles project I took was in December of last year. This is probably the longest stretch without working on subtitles, and I’m looking forward to getting back into it once I’m out of quarantine and all settled in Ho Chi Minh City.

So that’s me and my thoughts today.

In terms of feelings, I guess I’m mildly excited that the move is finally happening this coming week. Maybe a little sad that today is the last Sunday I’m spending with my parents in a while. But mostly I’m looking forward to tomorrow, seeing good friends in town and also anticipating a negative Covid-19 test result. I find it hard these days to look too far into the future.

One thing at a time, one day at a time.

Oh! I also continued writing my book as mentioned in my last post. I’ve written a good amount and yesterday revised all of it (the first draft always sucks). I’m done with the Author’s Note, Prologue, and have started on the main content. I’ve even got some title ideas. But let’s keep all that under wraps for now.

Hope you’re all well.

With love always,


23 January 2021

First post in the new year! *confettis*

I don’t have anything in particular I want to report today. I just found myself with an hour on my hands and thought: hey, why not blog! So here I am.

While I’m here, let me write about what’s on my mind.

The past few months have been an exercise in endurance and dissociation. The good news is: I’m getting much better at it. The bad news: the end is not yet in sight.

I’m talking about setting up my company and preparing the move to Vietnam, which I’m still hoping will happen in March. Before I decided to set up a company to get an investor visa to stay in Vietnam, I was warned that it would be a long, arduous, and frustrating process.

And I’d say that it has been, but not necessarily because of the process itself. The process is pretty simple. The problem, I think, is the support—or lack thereof—I’m getting to navigate it.

The solicitor I hired to get the job done is getting the job done. So on one level they’re doing their job. But they could be doing so much more. When you hire an expert, your expectation is that they will walk you through the process, tell you what you need to know when you need to know it.

As you can probably guess by now, this has not been my experience.

Every step of the way has felt like a “guess the right question” game. Because if you ask the right questions, you will get the answers that you need. (Though of late, my questions are beginning to go unanswered.)

The problem, of course, is when you’re faced with a new process, you don’t necessarily know what you don’t know and need to know. Which has left me in a bit of a quandary.

Even the simple question of how I’m taking payment from my client is unclear. The legal company finance set-up in Vietnam being cumbersome doesn’t help. But the bigger problem is not getting briefed about the whole picture when I needed it.

So now I find myself in a situation where I’m not exactly sure how I’m going to be able to finance my living expenses. I thought I got it all figured out back in September 2020 and had forgotten all about it, until I received a crucial piece of information from my partner (not my solicitor) a few days ago.

And that’s thrown everything up in the air. A matter I thought I’d settled long ago again becomes an open case. Something I need to figure out. And when you’re navigating several processes at once, having an extra thing to figure out is not good news.

That’s the exercise in endurance part. Since September now, my mind has been asked to process ever more information, come up with ever more questions, make ever more decisions on matters in which I have no experience or legal knowledge of. With inadequate support from the people I’ve hired to guide me through the process (thanks guys).

With each hiccup, my mind has gone in overdrive, trying to grasp a situation with a dozen moving pieces. And there have been many.

So, company or not, I’m definitely coming out of this process with a much more enduring mind/brain/thinking capacity—whatever you wish to call it.

The second exercise has been in dissociation. And I’d say it’s the more important exercise from which I will benefit for the rest of my life.

(Ironically, I have my solicitor to thank for this. And I have a sneaky suspicion that in the very long run, this will be their legacy to me, and I will truly thank them for it. In the immediate run though, they’re just a basketful of frustrations. And grateful isn’t how I’d describe my predominant feeling towards them.)

To get back to my point, these past months have given me ample opportunity to practice dissociating my emotions from the many headaches I’ve faced. With each revelation of an obstacle, each near-miss, I’ve learnt how to not get drawn into it emotionally.

To a point where my feeling train now goes like this: first, surprise (What!?) Then panic (Shit, shit, shit. How do I solve this!?) Then slight annoyance/frustration (Damn you person X). Amusement (It really does get worse!) And then just: Ah well. Shit happened, now gotta fix it.

The thing is: that feeling train comes and goes quickly. The succession of feelings is quite intense when it’s there. But once it passes (and this is usually in minutes, though for worse offences this could be hours), it passes. Gone, nada. I don’t simmer in frustration or anger at my solicitor or whatever has broken in the process.

And that’s made my life much more pleasant than it could have been.

Yes, the anxiety of going through the myriad of processes not knowing when something might break is still there. And I guess the next step for me in the path to becoming a Dissociation Master is to learn how to let go of that anxiety as well. But there is no frustration, no anger.

Just meh.

And I love it. I love that I’m able to not be constantly frustrated with my solicitor, that I’m able to laugh about it to myself. That this process isn’t doing my head in (as it probably would have had it happened a year ago).

I’m not sure why I’ve gotten better at emotionally handling things. Maybe it’s the meditation… it probably is to a non-negligible extent. But I think the endurance is also feeding into it. My mind has been tested so much to the point where it’s grown numb. And I think that numbness is spilling into my emotions as well.

There goes my wacky theory.

The mind will always find something to worry about. But paradoxically because I’ve had so many things to worry about in the past months, my mind seems to have become numb to them, and what would have been intense worries is now a much more manageable low-level anxiety.

Also, because shit keeps hitting the fan, I’ve developed perspective. What seems pressing/world-ending in the moment often isn’t. And the next day it just becomes another problem to solve. So I allow myself a brief ride on the feeling train, and the next morning it just recedes into the background. And I find other things to occupy myself with.

I’m thinking: while all this is going on, I might start building my company website. It’ll be a fun thing to do and divert my attention away from the mess of the company set-up.

Or I can just continue writing my book. That’s a different endeavour altogether. I started writing it the other day. This in itself was a milestone. But I haven’t gone back to it since.

Taking more subtitles work would also help. That would certainly turn my attention away from company stuff to subtitling. It’s quite an immersive experience and having to manage the time between my full-time job and subtitling will give me plenty to think about.

Anyhow, this has turned into quite a long post and I can feel myself starting to ramble. Let me recap:

  • Higher endurance
  • Better dissociation
  • Low-level anxiety
  • Finding diversions

How has the new year been for you guys? I hope you’ve had fewer headaches than I have.

But who am I kidding? We all have our own headaches, and plenty of them.

As my boss would say, life is about trading bad problems in for better problems. And I’d certainly say the problems I’m having now aren’t bad at all.



5 December 2020

It’s been a roller coaster of a few months, in some ways and not others.

I’ve pretty much settled into my new job, which by now is 3 months old, though I still am amazed every time I’m having a conversation with Mark. It’s pretty surreal to be communicating with your favourite author on a daily basis. But this part of my life has more or less stablised.

The roller coaster has mainly been regarding my move to Vietnam. First it seemed like everything was set and all I had to do was set the train rolling, then there was a snag, then there was a breakthrough, then I was dragging my feet for a week or two because I was so apprehensive about navigating the muddy waters, then there was another breakthrough, and now finally the process has officially started.

My application to start a company in Vietnam was submitted to the authorities earlier this week, and after a bunch of paperwork and applications for various approval letters which thankfully my solicitor will take care of, I should be clear to fly to Vietnam in March 2021.

This is much delayed from the original move date of July 2020. Even when my partner and I had accepted the reality of Covid, we still were aiming for September 2020… and then Christmas, then mid-January… you get the idea.

But those were all dates we set ourselves, guesstimating when the Vietnamese border would open for commercial flights from Thailand. We were hoping I would be able to enter Vietnam by those dates.

March 2021, however, is based on an actual timeline of how long each approval process would take. The process kicked off this week. Now, finally, the countdown clock has started.

Another roller coaster has been with my social life. The past 4 months have been a whirlwind of meeting up with a core group of friends and getting to know them better over long dinners and drinks. I’ve enjoyed this immensely, and I think it only hit me a few weeks back that life in Vietnam will be very different socially. There I won’t have this wonderful group of people I’ve only recently started to call my friends, and it made me feel a little lonely. I felt so down that I actually missed my parents, which is new to me. I hardly ever missed my parents before, even when I was living in the UK for many years.

It was a tough week of feeling sad, lonely, and demotivated, but the feeling has passed. And now I’m back to enjoying my social life, but also my solitude. This week has been a week of staycations. I was staying at a business suite during the week doing a ‘workcation,’ and enjoyed the solitude immensely. This morning I checked in to a proper fancy hotel for a relaxing 3-day staycation with my best friend. And I’m writing this while waiting for her to arrive.

It’s going to be great. I already love the room and the service.

Hope you all have been well and your life has been rolling and/or coasting nicely.