Photo by Cindy

Dear friend,

I’ve been off the radar a bit, I wanna give you a life update from Saigon.

Why Saigon?

Cindy and I are in Saigon, because she’s working on her research for her PHD in Vietnamese history of the French colonial library.

I’m here just here for the ride.

Saigon vs Hanoi

Some notes:

Saigon is like NYC. Big city vibe.

Hanoi feels more like Paris. More romantic and traditional.

I miss my friends in Hanoi, like Chu Viet Ha, Duc, Thu, Jeff, Tim, and the entire Fulbright crew like Dave.

Cindy and I were in Hanoi for 8 months, and I’m pretty good in Vietnamese now. I can make good small talk with taxi drivers, and have casual conversations with any local Vietnamese folks. I learned how to speak Vietnamese with help from Cindy, and just trial and error, and this desire to communicate, joke, and connect with Vietnamese people.

I love Vietnamese culture. Their loyalty to family, hard work values, and economical and value oriented nature. They have a drive of hustling that makes most Americans look weak.

Living in Saigon, oh my God the food is amazing. We’ve had the best Japanese ramen, Indian food, and Italian food. We’ve barely scratched the surface. Funny enough, we haven’t eaten any Vietnamese food yet.

Hotel living

We’re currently in a pretty nice hotel, clean, minimalist, friendly, only $20 USD a night.

I love living in a hotel. Less stress. Everyday we wake up, I make a cup of coffee in the room. We go upstairs, and Cindy has breakfast. I make small talk with the staff in Vietnamese. I ask for 6 boiled eggs, which I eat around 9pm every evening for my “egg snack”.

We either walk or taxi to Cindy’s archive. I have about two hours to work at a coffee shop, to read, think, meditate, or study philosophy. The coffee scene in Saigon is phenomenal.

I’ve also discovered cacao nibs– no sugar, and has a similar effect of caffeine. No bullshitting, coffee and cacao nibs are a real “super food”. I credit cacao nibs and espresso to helping me be more prolific and productive in blogging here in Saigon.

We don’t eat lunch, more work at the coffee shop. We usually finish work at 4:30pm, and then eat a leisurely 3 hour dinner. We sleep around 9-10pm nowadays. Some nights I’ve slept at 8:30pm, and woke up at 4:30am to work at the hotel.


My current focus in life: study philosophy, and write. To create useful and empowering information about art, design, photography, and how to live life.

Everything I write and live works for me, not for others. But I’m really trying to learn who I am. And what kind of lifestyle suits me.

Certain things I’ve discovered about myself:

  1. I don’t like owning a car: I prefer Uber, and not being stuck in traffic, and the cost of ownership for cars. Aesthetically I like car design, like Porsche, Lamborghini. But I wouldn’t want to own them anymore.
  2. I can do a lot of work on an iPad. I’m writing this on an iPad, without that dumb keyboard. By using a limited device, I’m less distracted, and more productive.
  3. I don’t need to eat breakfast or lunch. Less money spent. More time to work. I just drink coffee and water, and have a big-ass dinner.
  4. I don’t need much money: just enough to feed myself in the evening, for espresso at the cafe.
  5. I am passionate about aesthetics and product design: things that have ugly design pisses me off, and literally gives me allergic reactions. I want to help design aesthetically beautiful, minimalist things. Kyoto, Zen, and Japanese aesthetics are sublime to me.
  6. The internet is awesome: ability to have access to all of humanity’s knowledge, and having the ability to contribute is phenomenal.
  7. I’m only “happy” when reading, thinking, walking, photographing, teaching, conversating, making poems, or sharing. I don’t care for entertainment.
  8. My ego and vanity is what helps me create.

Also being here, I’m more grateful. Grateful for my manager Neil for keeping business afloat. Grateful to Cindy for giving me a direction in life. Grateful to my friend AG DeMesa for helping empower the community. Grateful to friends and family back home. Grateful for you, for reading, sharing, buying HAPTIC products, and attending my workshops to support me financially.

It’s funny, I’m becoming more egotistical yet more grateful at the same time.

Life hacks

Photo by Cindy

Some life hacks that work for me to be more productive and happy and less stressed:

  1. Wear the same all black outfit everyday. My friend Kevin gifted me an “Outlier” black merino wool t-shirt, which is amazing. I also wear black polyester shorts, with black merino wool leggings I bought on Amazon. And now “Darn Tough socks” of merino wool. No more Uniqlo polyester stuff for me. All merino wool everything. And exofficio boxer briefs. Less stress.
  2. You’re infinite: realize we are always in a state of flux. We’re always changing. Yet, to be human means to keep creating, and making cool shit. And sharing it.
  3. Cacao nibs+ black coffee– apparently Voltaire consumed a beverage mix of cacao and black coffee all day, the secret to his prolific productiveness. It works for me too.
  4. No breakfast and lunch: seriously, we don’t need it. Just eat a lot for dinner.
  5. No email: focus on producing.
  6. No phone: no distractions. More focus on creating.

I’m also doing all my photography on my Ricoh GRII camera and the ERIC KIM STRAP. All black bliss.

What I’m reading

My iBooks shelf on my iPad.

I’m reading a lot of Nietzsche and Voltaire. Their stuff is so good.

Nietzsche: human all too human, genealogy of morals, antichrist, will to power.

Voltaire: wiki quote, and his philosophical dictionary.

Ethics by Spinoza. Sublime logic and philosophy on the proof of God.


DAMN. by Kendrick Lamar. Compton by Dr. Dre. The life of Pablo by Kanye.

Design muses

I really like the new Volvo car design. And I’ve been posting my mood board to ERICKIM.COM.


  • George Condo
  • Rothko
  • Edward Hopper
  • yohji yamamoto– Japanese fashion designer of “Y3”
  • issey miyake — Japanese fashion designer, who made Steve Jobs turtleneck
  • Basho zen haiku: inspired by Cindy’s film, and my friend Lyn Reeves who writes poetry


Cindy is also currently building up HAPTIC PRESS and making new products for HAPTIC INDUSTRIES.

Our aspiration is to make “HAPTIC” a melange of culture, writing, poetry, photography, art, products, and an educational platform. We want to create dope art, and reduce suffering in the world– through artistic empowerment.

Super proud of Cindy and our family for making the ERIC KIM STRAP and FILM NOTES


Salmon sashimi in Saigon. So cheap and good.

I’ve traveled a lot, and aspire to make more city guides, on photography food and coffee recommendations.

See all city guides by ERIC KIM >

So far I wrote on Hanoi, SF, and Downtown LA. More to come.

Everything is awesome.

“Everything is awesome, everything is good when you’re part of a team. Everything is awesome when you’re living the dream.” – LEGO movie

Life is good. I’m flourishing creatively and have the privilege to share.

I want you to become the best artist possible, with the maximum self confidence, and least concern of what others think of you.

So my parting words is this friend:

When in doubt, make more art.


Scroll to Top