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Gooooood Morning, Vietnam - Tales from the sidewalk


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Feb 15, 2018
Have you ever looked back on your life and wondered... through all the crazy adventures, and extraordinary memories, how did I wind up here?

I was going to post the typical useless intro message, but then the prompt from the getting the most out of fastlane thread made me see just how dumb that would be. I am here for a reason. To learn. To Succeed. To move over to the Fastlane.

No, instead of the usual, I am going to give a breakdown of it all. My life, in all its glory, and misery...drastically shortened. What better way to join a community?

1987 is when it all started. I saw the light and emerged from the dark warmth that had provided so much comfort over the previous nine months...

...too far back? Alright, let's try again...

I grew up in a family of five children, myself being lucky number four. My childhood wasn't the most pleasant. Sure, I was provided for and my divorced parents always put food on the table, but there was so much more.

Not only did I suffer from depression throughout my teenage years, but I also enjoyed the comforts of some more embarrassing medical dilemmas. I won't get into too much detail and will let you use your imagination, but grade school was not pleasant for me. I had little to no friends all through high school and no real direction in my life.

After graduating high school, I did what every kid with no direction does, start looking for a way to pay for college. Through student loans and a few grants, I managed to sort it out. This is when I felt my life really started.

Finally, I felt like I was on my own. This was a massive stress release for me for some reason. I finally had control over my own life. This fact alone made previous mentioned medical problems practically disappear in what seemed like overnight.

I made friends immediately. The local frat houses provided for constant parties. Girls actually gave me the time of day. Everyone was new, just as I was...and this leveled out everything for me.

There wasn't a day that went by where I wasn't out at some party or event enjoying my life. Enjoying my life way too much I suppose. I neglected most of my classes and was on academic probation before I knew what was going on.

School is expensive. I certainly could not afford to pay out of pocket for another term and the probation took away all my free funding.

Shortly after, I moved in with my Dad at the age of 18. Talk about feeling like a failure.

The next few months had me searching far and wide for a job, an income, anything to get out of living with my parents as an adult. The search came up dry. It was a particularly bad time in a particularly bad location for finding unskilled jobs.

I then remembered about a few poker games I played back in my short college stint. I was a decent player...compared to my friends. This gave me an idea.

I dove head-first into as many poker books as I could get my hands on. I watched players online that I had known to be profitable. I studied what I could.

Then I decided to try and play poker online for myself. It wasn't half bad. I managed to make a bit of money over the next six months (took down my first $12 tournament win for $830, sweet!)...but I was still living with my Dad. My poker profits were not near enough to get out on my own.

One day...on a particularly lazy day, my Dad mentioned that I need to figure something out eventually and that he could not support me forever...and he was right, it had been too long.

Feeling almost out of options, I made my way down to a military recruiters office with the intention to join the Air Force.

Half a day later, I walked out of the recruiter's office having signed up to join the Army (damn! that was a smooth talking recruiter).

Being the lazy and out-of-shape person that I was, I figured I would probably fail out of basic training and be back in the same least it would buy me a couple of months.

Basic training graduation day was one of the proudest moments of my life. I felt like I had finally accomplished something in my life.

The next six years of my life were spent as a satellite communications operator in the Army. I had gotten to experience the ranks of private all the way to sergeant. I had gotten to live in Georgia, Texas, Colorado, Kuwait, Iraq, and had even found a wife (who was also a soldier).

In 2012, I decided it was time to leave the military. I had no real plans, but my wife was staying in and could support us for a time if necessary. She had gotten stationed in Alaska, just before I had gotten out.

In June of 2012, I had finally signed out from a life in the military and made the drive from Colorado( where I was previously stationed) to Alaska, to join my wife.

It was fun for a time. Had a dog, had a wife, had a stepson and was living a relatively settled down life. I found a job loading boxes for UPS at the airport (which I shockingly enjoyed for some reason) and was simply going through the motions.

About a year later, after more arguments and fights than I care to admit, I split up with my wife and got divorced (left after finding she had slept around..although divorce was already planned).

I flew across the country from Alaska to Georgia where my older brother put me up for a bit while I sorted out my life. My older brother also convinced me to buy a motorcycle which started a new love for me. My first bike was a Kawasaki Vulcan 500cc. Smaller bike, but I had some great adventures with it...most notably a 1600 mile trip around Florida (riding the keys was amazing).

While I was living with my brother, and while not out riding, I was throwing out resumes and requests everywhere to try and find a job once more. Six months had passed and nothing really bit...other than some small companies that seemed a bit shady.

[At this time, it is important to note that I filed for disability upon leaving the military for a sleep apnea diagnosis that I had while in the military (as well as using a CPAP machine to help with proper breathing during sleep).]

After six months of no serious job replies, I got a letter in the mail saying my disability request with the Department of Veterans Affairs had been approved (a full 1.5 years after leaving the Army). Not only were they going to start giving me a paycheck and health services based on this disability rating, but they would also give me backpay to the tune of $11,000.


This is the most money that I had ever seen outside of a military deployment.

First thing first, I took my brother and his family out for a small vacation for supporting me in my time of need. After that, I didn't really know what to do.

I had started getting interested in travel blogs online and reading a bunch of them. These people were my age. They were traveling all over the world. The budget travelers? They were doing it on next to nothing.

I had nearly $10k in the bank and no prospects of a job coming in. I decided to go for it! These travel blogs have inspired me. I bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok, Thailand scheduled two weeks out. I had no real plans and was scared-to-death...but at least I was doing something on my own.

A week later...and a week before my flight, I received a phone call. The call was a major government contractor that I had applied to quite some time ago. They were very interested in me. They even began to toss out offers almost immediately (to the tune of $70k/yr).

...if only they had called a week or two earlier. I had psyched myself up for this trip to Thailand so much that I declined the job. I also ended up declining the second one from a different contractor that came a day before my flight.

The day finally came where I boarded a flight and went to Thailand. This was probably the most scared I was in my entire life. I had limited funds in the bank, no plans, and no idea what to do short of walk off the plane on the other side.

I arrived in Thailand, went through immigration, and left the airport. I grabbed the first taxi to the only part of the city that I had heard mentioned from travel bloggers (but knowing nothing about it).

I paid the taxi driver and stepped away from the car with my bag in hand. It was a complete culture shock. The people and cars and motorbikes heading in every direction and in a seemingly chaotic fashion. Horns, and crowds, and street vendors selling all sorts of weird looking creations. Not to mention a distinct smell in the air that can only be described as week-old dirty diapers that had a run-in with a flamethrower.

I was completely on my own...

As I am not trying to write a book here, I will sum the rest in saying that it has certainly been an adventure. I have spent nearly a year in Thailand, a single month in Laos, over three years in Cambodia, and have just recently moved to Vietnam.

I have had adventures ranging from souped-up death canoes flying down the Mekong river, to illegal cross-border gatherings with girls and gambling, to partying all night in a jungle rave only to wake up in a completely different city by the time all the drugs wore off.

It has certainly been an event-filled trip. I have stayed in Southeast Asia since that first trip to Thailand at the end of 2013. (save a 3-week trip to the USA for my little brother's wedding).

I am currently living in Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City to be exact). The adventures have tailored off almost completely. I still receive a small monthly paycheck from the VA to the tune of about $700/month, but the thrill has all but worn off.

As crazy and event-filled as my life has been, I want more. I have gotten to the point where the only way I will truly realize my dreams of total freedom is to build wealth. The freedom of time is already in my possession, and for that, I couldn't be happier. However, I am still significantly limiting the possibilities of what I can do due to my limited financial range (after rent and utilities I'm down to about $400 for the month...hard to find cool adventures on that when I still need to feed myself).

This is why I am here. I want to build a monthly income that will allow me to do whatever I want without ever having to think of the financial limitations. I want to be truly successful.

As I read Fastlane, I was truly inspired... I am finally ready to begin my journey to financial freedom.

I'm Dave, and I am a 30-year old wantrepreneur. Let's get started.
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Antoine Lacoste

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Feb 16, 2019
Ho Chi Minh City
Hi David, still in VN one year after this post ?
It seems that we are not a lot in this forum to live in Vietnam.
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