E-mail to Sophie 9.19.2004

Hello Sophie!

Nice to hear from you.  Congratulations with your new job, I hope it goes
well and that you enjoy it.

As for me, I’m still living in Japan but am moving to Vietnam October 1st.
I find the business environment much better there and hope to obtain a job
in importing, exporting or consulting there.  I traveled to Vietnam last
March with a friend and found that I truly loved the place.  I feel it will
give me more of a chance to develop and learn another language.  Aussi, il
y’a bcp des gens qui comprennent le francais depuis comme tu sais, Vietnam
c’etait une colonie francais.  I also have some Vietnamese friends who will
help me to adjust to the new environment.  I’m a little nervous to be
leaving the comforts of Tokyo however…..

I’m glad we can keep in touch Sophie!  I wish you the best!!!!


> Cher Matthew,
> Le temps passe et on découvre que cela fait des mois que l’on n’a pas
> donné de nouvelles à des personnes auxquels on pense pourtant toujours
> régulièrement!
> J’espère que tu vas bien et quand je pense à toi je me demande ce que tu
> fais et si tu te trouves toujours au Japon. Dis-moi…
> Je dois t’annoncer que ma vie va changer autour du 15 octobre. Je vais
> être la maman d’un petit garçon, moitié normand moitié ukrainien. Tout se
> passe bien mais je ne travaille plus et ne pense pas retravailler avant
> l’été prochain.
> A très bientôt de tes nouvelles, je t’embrasse et te souhaite bon courage
> dans toutes tes activités.
> Sophie.

E-mail to Mark 9.16.2004 – Vietnam Visa

Hello Mark,

Thanks a million.  I owe you an enormous debt of gratitude!!  I was
completely shocked when they told me that I needed special permission to get
a visa and so were the other 10 or so people waiting to get a visa.  They
didn’t even post it on their website!  I also called the embassy in
Australia and they told me they could help me get special permission if I
came to the embassy in Australia!  I don’t understand why the guy at the
embassy here is so extremely unhelpful.  I get the feeling he hates his job
and living in Tokyo.  He was also 15 minutes late in opening the embassy
which is unheard of for Japanese people.

Thanks again!!!



Ok. received your fax and have sent it on to the proper authorities. I am
waiting for them to get back to me about costs and then will let you know.

Ok. cost just arrived.

1. 45USD – (fee customs office and agent fee for Official Letter) this is
to make an Invitation Letter and also arrange things with customs here. We
will pay this here.

2. 95USD – (fee 6 months multiple visa)this is what you will have to pay
when you arrive at the airport in Vietnam with your two passport photos and
Invitation Letter.

Customs office is now closed in VN so the office that will work with them
will contact them on Monday. The Invitation Letter will be ready on the
24th at which time I will fax to you. This will be your temporary VISA
until you arrive in Vietnam and handover to Customs at the airport.

OK. That should be it. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Not exactly the president but a princess! Almost anyway. I don’t know if
she is married or not but you will have an opportunity to meet her.

I worked with KDDI on one project and yeah they kept changing their minds a
few times daily so not surprised on their international dial code.

So, for now just wait until the 24th for the fax.

Well, see you in a few weeks.



Thanks a Million!  I just sent my passport photo to you after deciphering
the incredibly complex international dialing code for my provider KDDI.
They change it every 3 days I think.

The 6 month visa would be excellent!  If I could go with the Multiple entry
visa that would also be very good.

Did you seriously talk with the president of Vietnam?  Your pulling my leg
aren’t you.

As for the invitation letter, I’m thinking that I could also take it to the
embassy and they could put the visa in my passport now which would be less
scary for me since I really hate cavity searches.  But I’ll do whatever it
takes to get to Vietnam!!

Thanks a million.  I owe you a night of drinking

Hi M,

No need to stress!

I have just got of the phone with the president of Vietnam. He told me a
friend of mine is a friend of his so no problem. I will arrange for a 6
months visa for you. What I will need from you is:

1. for you to fax to 84 8 xxx xxxx a copy of your passport (the page with
your photo).
2. do you need a multiple or single entry visa?
3. prepare 2 passport photos – you need these when you arrive in VN to
collect your visa

After recieving this information I will fax you a Invitation letter which
you will carry with you on the plane to VN. At the airport you need to
present them this fax, 2 photos and make payment at which time they will
give you a visa (after the full cavity search – ouch!!).

Let me know if you have any other people who need help with this. I can do
it for them as well (not the cavity search).

I will let you know soon the exact price you have to pay at the airport and
any other so you know what to expect.

Best regards,



Hi Mark,

This is M from Japan who visited in March this year.  I don’t know if
Phuong told you but I’m moving to Vietnam and will arrive on October 2nd!!

But I have a BIG PROBLEM!!  I went to the visa office today and they tell
me foreigners arriving from September 1st until October 15th need to obtain
“Special Permission” from the Department of Immigration Vietnam!!!  So I am
in big trouble here and I know Phuong went to America until October 1st!!
Is there anyway you can help me get this “Special permission” as soon as
possible?  I will be eternally grateful and take you out for a night of
drinking on my tab.   I have already bought my plane tickets to leave on
October 1st, stay one night in Malaysia and arrive on Oct.

I really am very stressed out about this..


Dude, I really need to talk with Phuong!!

 I went to the fucking Vietnamese Embassy today to get a visa and they say that foreigners and businessmen need “special permission” from the Vietnamese department of immigration for foreigners arriving from Sept 1st to October 15th!!!!!  So I’m really screwed here unless I can get that damn special permission.  I thought Phuong could help me with that.  When is he going to visit you?  Can you have him call me ASAP please!!! 

I’ve looked on the websites for information but am finding nothing!!


E-mail to Phuong 9.11.2004

Hello Phuong,
I’m preparing to leave Tokyo and I’m getting rid of all my things.  It is a little sad to leave Tokyo but I am getting excited about coming to Vietnam.  I’m sure I will have a better life there. 
Of course I don’t want to live in Hanoi, so I won’t accept any jobs there.  I have one interview at a consulting company in Saigon and they told me to come when I arrive in HCMC.  So I will go there on October 3rd for an interview.  I have also made contact with a few English teaching schools although I hope to find a business job soon and not have to teach English. 
I’ll arrive in HCMC on October 2nd at 10:00am on flight 750.  So I think I should be outside of the airport at about 10:15am. 
I’m happy for you that you will go to America and see Axel!  I’m sure that you will have a lot of fun and please say hello to Lizard for me!!!
See you soon and have fun in America!
Hey M,
How are you? I got your email last weel. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner. Have you prepared everything to leave Japan yet? Are you sad to leave Japan? Don’t be sad I think you will be happier in Vietnam.
Have you found work in Saigon yet? Axel said you only could find jobs in Hanoi but you don’t want to stay there. right? If you haven’t found work before you leave Japan, don’t worry, still come to Vietnam and I will help you find a job here.
I will go to America on the 15th of September and come back on the 1st of October. I will meet you at the airport on Octorber 2nd. Let me know your flight details so I can pick you up at the airport.
I will go to America to meet my goods friends there and Axel. I am sure that We will meet in Viet Nam on Octorber 2nd.
It is now 11:25pm on Tusday, I just came back home. I go to bed now. Have a good sleep tonight.
Take care!

E-mail to Sarita 9.8.2004

Dearest Sarita,
Congratulations on the engagement!  I’m extremely happy for you and wish you the best.  Please be certain to send me your address around the wedding date so I can send you a nice little exotic present from Asia. 
I always enjoy hearing from you and reading your insightful e-mails.  You are the only friend I have who can write an intelligent e-mail with no spelling mistakes and proper punctuation. 🙂  Also, it’s full of good solid information instead of those ridiculous forwards I often receive.  I also think it’s important to keep in touch with old friends and to be honest, you are the only one who I actually keep in touch with throughout the years!  Being abroad for the longterm causes many friends to fade away much more quickly.  I’m always astounded when I take the time to survey my life and realize that most of my friends are married (many with children), have houses and careers already!  I don’t like being considered an adult and prefer to think I stopped aging at 24.  Simply writing my true age and then acknowledging the numbers I’ve written is distressing. 
Also, congratulations on your first serious teaching assignment.  It makes me smile to think that a friend of mine is now a true teacher!  But then again, I realize that Tory Jacobs (remember her?) is a high school Spanish teacher, another friend is a high school French teacher and an old fraternity brother was actually my T.A. in my last year of college. (But that is another story all together.)  Again, I’m forced to realize that we are in fact adults.  You are well on your way to being a prestigious professor!  Congratulations. 
As for me, my life will also soon change dramatically.  I’ve decided to leave Japan and move to Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Vietnam.  I was struggling the last few months of Japanese class trying to decide my next move when I took a Spring Break trip to Nam with an equally outgoing friend.  In Vietnam I discovered a paradise yet undiscovered by the world.  There are not so many tourists there due to the image of war and thus many beautiful beaches yet undisturbed by commercialization.  The people are extremely friendly even in the face of their insurmountable poverty and if we can accept that the beggars are just good people trying to make a living in their unjust circumstances then Vietnam truly is a paradise.  It was during spring break that my next move was revealed and I knew where I would go next. 
I have many clear headed reasons for such a move and I’ll share a few.  In Tokyo, if I chose to work in the business arena, then I would be a “Salaryman” who works all day long, is paid a lot but then must spend most of it due to the high cost of living.  This place is a concrete jungle and there is no room to think.  The #1 recreation here is drinking and that is no good for long-term health.  Also, Japan and America are mature markets while Vietnam has just unregulated (quite a bit anyway) and is growing very fast.  If I move there, I can: learn a new language, visit a beach with no tourists every weekend and thus think and write more easily, get a more exciting job where I make a difference, become even more knowledgable about the world.  Also, I have a few powerful Vietnamese contacts there including the son of the Chairman of the People’s party Ho Chi Minh, and the director of a computer company.  I’m going to stay at the directors house while I get settled with an apartment and job.  We actually met them by chance at a bar while on vacation.  They immediately took to us due to our outgoing personalities and ability to understand broken English easily. 
As for Americans, I understand your point all too clearly.  You probably don’t want to get me started on them but here it goes. I have no intention to ever go back to America and I actually don’t like associating with new American ex-pats.  Some of the long term ex-pats are ok but new ones are morons.  They are the most uninteresting, unknowledgable, monolingual buffons who actually support Prez. Bush!!!!  Nobody, and I mean Nobody supports President Bush abroad since his foreign policies have made the entire world unhappy.  My image of America is formed by the media and when I see so many people cheering for his rhetoric who understand nothing about what is happening makes me very sad.  I have almost come to believe that “the people” shouldn’t be allowed to govern themselves if half of America believes that Sept. 11th is related to the war in Iraq and Cheney can say things such as “If you vote for Kerry, then another terrorist attack will happen.”  I am thoroughly disgusted and have had thoughts of changing my nationality. 
As for pop-culture, I’m currently listening to the internet radio and the song is Outkast’s Rose which main lyric is “Roses smell like poo poo” or something like that.  American culture is going down with the speed of a 400 pound olympic diver.  When I return they always ask me if I’ve seen “The Bachelor” or Donald Trump’s show.  Actually, when I went back for a family reunion in Tahoe there was a show on called “Who Wants to Marry My Dad!!”  Needless to say, I’m never coming back to America if fortune is kind to me. 
Ok, I’ve written a novel.  Actually I’m due for a major website overhaul and I’ll put more writings and pictures up in the  months to come so you can keep tabs on me.  Sorry for my rants!!!
Hi M,
How have you been during the past few months?  I hope you’re continuing to enjoy Japan.  You have the most fun and exciting life of anyone I know.  Life has thrown us a lot of surprises and exciting things recently, so I wanted to fill you in!
First of all, Jorge proposed recently!  Our wedding is set for August 2005 in Austin, TX.  We are super thrilled and our families are delighted too.  Jorge even called my dad the night before he proposed to ask permission.  The next day we flew out to Cape Cod, MA, for a vacation with my family, so it was really fun to see them face to face and celebrate.
Jorge came to Spain to visit me while we were all there.  He and I were not dating at that time but he LOVES Spain and understands why I’m crazy about it. SO he shares my passion for international travel and getting to know new cultures, which is important. In fact, we were considering moving to Spain together a couple years ago, but then I was advised that I should just start my Ph.D. was I was still pretty young–after all, it’s a 5 to 6 year program.
Also, my folks have recently bought a home in the Austin area.  They are tired of cold winters on the East Coast, so they’re planning to move down here within the next few months.  Austin is so fun that everyone who visits us just loves it–and some people love it so much they decide to move here.
This summer was busy because I “taught” my first class to undergraduates.  It was a two-hour statistics and w
riting lab twice per week.  I had to prepare lectures to them about various topics, and also have them work in groups and advise them as they completed their research projects, etc.  It totally took over my life for about nine weeks, but it was an adventure and it was fun.  I’m doing the same class this fall, but the challenge is to balance it with my own classes and research projects.
I can see why you’re happy to be in Japan.  Americans in some ways are learning to just watch TV and not think for themselves.  It’s scary.  It’s better to take an active role in life, just like you are!  Anyway, can’t wait to hear about all you’ve been doing.
Talk to you soon.