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June 30th, 2017:

Diplomatting while jet lagged

On literally my third day in the country, I had the opportunity to diplomat. The consulate was invited to attend an anniversary event for a local large corporation. Because most of the senior people at the consulate are on leave or otherwise busy, I was given the opportunity to represent the consulate (and by extension, the U.S. government) at the event.

Luckily for me, the event was in the morning. I was still getting over jet lag, which means that I was waking up at 5:00 am. If it had been an event event, I might have fallen asleep halfway through.

Although Vietnam is not China, there are still some common cultural practices between the two countries. The level of formality when holding an official event reminds me of a royal ceremony from a few hundred years ago in Europe. They literally rolled out the red carpet for attendees.

Terrible quality pictures, because I was taking them surreptitiously with my phone, trying not to be obnoxious.

The event was largely a song and dance (literally at times) congratulations and retrospective on the history and accomplishments of the company. I was there to affirm the U.S. government’s moral support for economic development in the region.

The company literally has a theme song. It was performed with enthusiasm.

I enjoy these things. They give us a chance to build and maintain connections with the local government and businesses. There is little pressure on us, other than to “wave the flag” and show our faces. I met a few people, learned more about the local economy, experienced some more aspects of Vietnamese culture. The extrovert part of me really likes schmoozing.

It was unusualĀ  for me to be able to attend this event, because of the lack of senior people at the moment. But I hope that I continue to have opportunities to represent America at events like this.

Terrifying insect situation

We all have our fears. When it comes to tropical insects, I am what is known as a “wimp.” Ironic, considering I really wanted to move to a tropical country (I am also what is known as an “idiot”).

We live across the street from a large urban park. With trees and flowers. Which means insects. Plus we live in a tropical country. Which means tropical insects. Which of course are terrifying.

The building next to our apartment has these…growths under the ledge. How I wish that I didn’t see them.

What the crap is that under the ledge?

Because it is terrifying. Like something from a science fiction horror movie.

Is that a wasp nest?!

We asked the building management to address the situation in what, to my mind, would be the most responsible way possible:


But they told us that they were honeybee hives. And that they are everywhere near and in the park. I’m not sure if that was supposed to comfort me (it didn’t).

Look closely. There are three hives in that tree.


Less terrifying, but not much.

They say that the best way to overcome a phobia is extended exposure. Psychologists call it “de-sensitization.” Thanks, but if that means getting closer to these horrors, I’ll stay sensitive.