The Next 9000 Hours

A question: What do you do with a blog named 9000 Hours in Saigon when you no longer live in Vietnam?

This is something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and I’ve reached a decision. But first, some mildly digressive context.

Before Saigon, there was Rome. At the time I made the decision in my sophomore year of college to apply for a semester abroad in Rome, I didn’t exactly know why I was making the decision. Nor did I understand what a good friend who had recently returned from the same program meant when she told me something to this effect: You’re going to expect that this experience is going to change you in certain ways, but when all is said and done, those expectations will become irrelevant. You’ll have changed in ways you never imagined.

And she was right. I won’t go into the personal realizations that came out of that experience–they matter little to you, dear reader–but I will say I carried this knowledge with me to Saigon. Did I have expectations for what would come out of my time in Vietnam? Of course. But I went into the experience knowing that those expectations might become irrelevant.

So what did come out of it? I’m still processing that. If writing on my experience in Rome as part of an independent study in travel narrative during my senior year taught me anything, it’s that it’s rare to understand the process when you’re in it. Only reflection yields the lessons. Certainly, my role as managing editor at AsiaLIFE HCMC afforded me a fantastic career-building opportunity. It was a completely unexpected development, and one that I’m very grateful for.

So that’s the point, I guess–my justification for continuing to write under the banner of 9000 Hours in Saigon. 9000 Hours in Saigon is no longer about a place, but an experience that in part informs who I am as a writer and a person. The content that appears on this blog will be influenced by that experience and the many unexpected developments that came out of it.

I started this blog when I expected to be in Vietnam for a year, or roughly 9000 hours. A little over two and a half years (or roughly 22,500 hours) later, I’m back in the States. So it’s time for a shift. I will continue to write about Vietnam and things Vietnamese here, and likely, some more travel will seep back into these posts. As I process those 22,500 hours, the picture I imagine will become clearer. Here’s to the next 9000 hours.

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5 Comments

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5 responses to “The Next 9000 Hours

  1. Good luck back in the States, Tom! I found this post of much interest as in a few weeks I’m moving back to Australia…and my blog is called ‘A Girl in Asia’ – still deciding whether to continue it or not..

    • TJ

      Hey Liz, good luck to you too. We’ll have to share returnee survival tactics. I’m already blown away by how much I’m spending on coffee and food. I’m also missing my motorbike. You just can’t use sidewalks as a supplementary lane when driving a Ford Focus.

  2. From a girl in the states, I will miss reading both of your blogs from life in Vietnam points of view. This blog reading about Vietnam has fed my homesickness in the best way. Best wishes.

  3. Giao

    That much is true, Tom. We don’t ever understand the process when we’re in it. I wouldn’t know part of Vietnam means driving on sidewalks if I didn’t read this post.

    G’luck to you over there.

  4. your posts and work at asia life gave a different view of vietnam that many people do not know about. i am grateful for that. We’ll miss you and I’ll miss you and your work in saigon.

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