Monday, December 15, 2014

The Man in the Rain

It's about 9 pm and we stopped by an off-the-road 24/ hr diner to grab a quick bite before heading to our next destination of Hoi An. My chauffeur (his name is Thai by the way; a little cold but knows his stuff) goes inside and asks the lady of the house what they were serving.

I linger around outside for a bit to take in the rainy air. 

It was like being in the lungs of country; You could smell the whole spectrum of Vietnam here. The muddy humidity, the metallic rainy street, and the broth of various soups.

I canvased the surrounding area and suddenly I starkly paused. 

There across the street was a man with a metal grooved briefcase. He was standing by the restaurant roadside sign. From my inquisition from the crowd that was eating at the restaurant, he was a hitch hiker trying to get a ride up north. 

At that moment, I envisioned his whole life flash before me. 

He was born in an impoverished town blight-stricken by the war. Growing up he had to work hard for his living, educated by his parents and learning from their hardships. 

It struck a grievance in me. Poverty was still prevalent in the country, and even though there is an industrial revolution going on throughout the country, the people of Vietnam remained still and unable to grow. 

I could have easily been that man. 

Gratitude rushes through me for my parent's hardships. Without their struggles, I wouldn't have what i had today.

Remember that we all could have been that man standing in the street, waiting for a glimpse of hope to pass by.

With love,

[mr. white elephant]

Nha Trang

The coastal city of Nha Trang has left a special place in my heart. As soon as we rounded about the cliff that lead into the city, I knew instantly that I would fall in love with it. Growing up in Orange County, I was spoiled by it's iconic beaches and laidback lifestyle. But putting my toes in Nha Trang's silky sands generated a different kind of euphoria. 

I woke up that morning at 7 am restless to start my scavenger hunt, but when I stepped out my hotel gate and into the buzzing main street , I quickly realized that everything sold here was catered to the tourist community (fairly so). I didn't want to bring home something that anyone could get a local gift shop. I was looking for something magnificent and glorious and I knew that I couldn't find it here. 

So instead, I decided to take a ditch day. Oh how I wish I could take all my ditch days here. 

Great seafood, beautiful views and modern amenities. All of my favorite things. 

I took a walk along the freshly dewed morning sands and reminisced on the confusing scenery. The sky was a mix of sweet lavender and muddy steel. The mixture reminded me of a great cup of Vietnamese coffee; symbiotic and in perfect harmony. I wanted more and more. It was like a siren calling into the distance, teasing me to come closer.

This is as close as I could get to reverting back to my childhood. Nha Trang does that to you. There's a freakin' amusement park on an island for crying out loud. 


But I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Until next time, Nha Trang. 

With love,

[mr. white elephant] 

Sunday, December 14, 2014


My cross country trip begins at 4 am on the 8th of December. The city of Saigon (now changed to Ho Chi Minh City) was softly rustling at this time. I could see shop owners slowly emerging from their swift slumber to start another hectic day.

There is an eeriness that is evoked from the streets. 

The flowers in my neighbor's entryway were tightly blanketed by the vines that surrounded them and the creatures of the night roamed about freely, not afraid of the wrath of their benefactors.

I'm standing on the corner of a usually busy street completely in silence.  Within minutes, I was flashed downed by the car that would escort me to the northern city of Hanoi. 

As soon as I entered the vehicle, I became enveloped in shroud of sleep. Jet lag finally kicked in and before I knew it, I awoke with the sunlight kissing my face. We had stopped for a quick lunch break.

The smell of the sea brushed across my nose and suddenly I became calm and refreshed. We were on the edge of Cam Ranh, a local beach town. You instantly knew that this was not a tourist stop, but rather a common hang out for the local travelers. The scenery was very "asian Gilligan's Island". I didn't know where I was, but this was such a beautiful uncertainty. There were palm trees swinging in the distance with crafty hammocks tied tightly around their legs and white sand that glimmered from the sea water. This was not the Vietnam that I was familiar with but rather a conscious dream that I didn't want to wake up from. 

In this moment, I felt like anything could be achieved if I said it out loud. 

Ballet dancer? Done. 
Guerilla-style nature photographer? Easy-peasy. 
International Singer? Do you have to ask? 

It was like living in a world of blissful stasis. 

With love, 

[mr. white elephant]

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Warning 10% remaining

It has been about 6 days since I left Ho Chi Minh City and 6 days of encountering "10% battery remaining" Stupid me forgot to bring along an charger adapter for my macbook pro. You become rather crafty when trying to find a three-pronged plug. I have done the following so far: 

1. Ask hotel concierge to unplug their own macbooks so i can charge my own. 

2. Unscrew a plug covering with a keychain screwdriver in hopes to find a missing plug head.

3.  Attempting to use a mini fridge adapter as an alternative charger. 

All which have failed. 

I apologize for the delayed posts but hopefully I will find an adapter charger soon. 

With love, 

[mr. white elephant] 

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Palace

Upon entering my childhood home, I realized how drastically my imagination had refurnished my memory. Being only 4 when I was last back, I visualized it as a palace with a spiral staircase at the heart of a gentle fortress. Back then, being only about 3 feet tall, the home looked like a mansion. I remember looking upon the living room and encountering porcelain Arabic flooring in kaleidoscope shapes that glimmered far as the eye can see and rustic window cutouts that looked like they existed only for kings.

Now as an adult, I see that the floors were were slightly less glamorous and ended abruptly upon a six yard radius and the window cut outs were more for ventilation and light entry rather than opulent decor.

But standing on the spiral staircase and looking around at the being the home use to be made me nostalgic for my childhood. Growing up as an immigrant child in the United States, I was only given what sparse memories I inherited through photos and stories dictated by my parents. Here I stand having my memory of this majestic palace worn with age and replaced by the dire need to learn more about my past.

I'm coming to find out that this trip will not only be about finding treasures, but also about finding myself and the part of my life that ceased to exist when I stepped foot on that plane in 1993.

With love, 

[mr. white elephant] 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Flight

34,000 feet in the air with nothing but Tyler oakley's podcast, psychobabble, and leftover Gardettas sparked a memory of a day off I had a week ago. It was raining that day and I was scouting thrift shop locations for Vietnam , and to my dismay, ended up with only dead-ends. I learned later that day from my mother that thrift shopping in Vietnam is more word of mouth rather than 'Google this' or "yelp that".

Mother knows best. 

I can't believe I'm in the air somewhere over Osaka and circling through my 'treasure map' for the most appropriate route for the next two weeks. I feel very fortunate for this experience and I realize that it's an opportunity that i need to utilize efficiently. 

"This needs to be done. This has to be done right" I keep telling myself. 

Tomorrow starts the beginning of RE+PURPOSE.

With love,

[mr. white elephant]

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Another Beginning

I woke up at night a couple of weeks ago pondering about the direction I wanted my company, Project White Elephant, to grow into. I knew that the basis of the project was to unify local artists to create a more potent creative community. However, there was something missing from the equation that I couldn't put my finger on. There wasn't enough depth invested into the project and thats when it hit me. I felt the project was limited, primary by myself, and if it had any chance of survival, I needed to take it a step further.

So comes the revival of mr. white elephant.

Within the next two weeks, I will be traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia in search for hidden metropolitan and rural treasures that evoke emotion and life when in your presence. I also need it to be appropriate for a project called RE + PURPOSE that will be developed and realized sometime next year. A little summary? Think beautifully aged and worldly treasures repurposed into unique and extraordinary apparel. That's all you're getting for now.

I really can feel it. 2015 will be the year for this exhausting behemoth to be born and polished for the world to see.

In addition to becoming a treasure pirate, I will also be the documenter for this trip. I will try my best to upload at least 5 times a week to share with you the outcome of this journey.

I would kindly appreciate a little hand holding during this process so any suggestions on where to go or what to do would be great.

Now to find to an answer to the age-old question,

"how the hell do I pack 12 outfits into a carry on duffle?"

With love and admiration,

[mr. white elephant]