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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/4/21

Escape from America: 90 Countries and Counting

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Message Linh Dinh
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With my Escape from America series, I've interviewed American ex-pats who have settled in Mexico, the Philippines, Hungary, Costa Rica, Brazil or England, etc., but you're constantly escaping from one country to the next, with the goal of experiencing all 180 of them! What made you choose such an unusual lifestyle, and how did you prepare yourself for it?

No preparation whatsoever and, in fact, no plan. I'd had what's called a 'liquidity event' back in NYC. Two, actually: a startup sale and then an IPO. Which just means I don't have to work again if I don't want to. I was burnt out. 15 years of 10 hour days, grinding towards some pointless goal of accumulation. When I cashed out I wasn't sure what to do next.

I looked around and decided it was time to leave NYC and the US in general. The path the country was heading down was pretty obvious to anyone willing to look.

So I threw a bunch of stuff in storage. Locked up the apartment. And left. That was 2017 and I've only returned now and then: for weddings or near-deaths. I hope to never have to return permanently.

In Tirana, I ran into a folk singer who performed in Turkish, but was actually an American! In his early 40's, "Dandelion Lakewood" left the States nearly 6 years ago, and has been in Europe ever since, mostly in the Balkans. Busking, he needs just $12 a day to survive. In Tirana, Dandy was paying $8 daily to share a room with another American. Dandy has slept outside, it's not a problem. Different people have different requirements. You're obviously in a different category, but most Americans with cash would not have made your choice. You told me you once drove from Atlanta to Juarez to sample an interesting Chinese buffet. Do you think you'll ever get tired of traveling? If so, where might you settle down, and why?

Right. And I don't make the money point to brag or anything. I just got lucky. Right place, right time. The bigger point I wanted to make is that guys like me are leaving the US in droves. Even before the pandemic. We are not better or smarter than those that didn't get lucky. But I think some of us realized that the "juice wasn't worth the squeeze". So we bailed. I feel a kinship with anyone that has left America, regardless of their situation.

In terms of traveling and settling down. I don't know. I have a reckless streak. I always have. Going to Juarez to eat Chinese food, or moving a bunch of gold over the Burmese border, or spending weeks in a Thai jail, or designing the interior of some Chechen billionaire's yacht. I just can't stop collecting experiences. That, to me, is real wealth.

I've been to around 90 countries at this point. There are a handful of places I could see myself staying long-term. For me, they have the right combination of cost of living/quality of life. Decent infrastructure. Nice people. Low-ish inequality coefficient.

They're usually Muslim/Asian countries. I think that was the biggest surprise. I want to avoid the forced degeneracy of the West. This is weird as, in my youth, I was the biggest champion of orgies and drugs and personal freedom and all that faux-liberal youth-culture decadent bullshit.

I like being around happy, multi-generational families. People eating together as a family or flying kites in a park or a group of old-timers nursing a 3-hour conversation over a cup of coffee. They still do that!

I am not ready to stop. Perhaps that is the recklessness I was referring to earlier. In German, real estate is 'Immobilen'. It's 'immobiliere' in French. Even without knowing Kraut or French, I bet you can deduce the meaning... purchasing a home renders one immobile. A lease is a landlock. You're stuck in one place, one culture, one point of view. To stay in the same place still seems like death to me. Or perhaps a series of small compromises, small deaths, that add up to a more prolonged expiation.

The goal of travel is to court and embrace discomfort. Otherwise, you're just a fat Boomer on a cruise!

What did you do to spend weeks in a Thai jail?! And how were you treated by the other inmates? To many white nationalists, Muslims are just low IQ losers, and Orientals are just conformists with disgusting culinary habits, yet both groups have managed to maintain their heritage, and hence dignity, better than the degenerate West. Is there any hope for white people, or are they condemned to rage impotently online as their societies unravel? Is Europe better off than America? And which European countries do you think have the best prospects?

The Thailand story is sad--and typical. I'll tell it here as a warning to anyone reading. This stuff happens and, in retrospect, you should not handle the situation in the way I did. Linh, you can chop this if you don't think it's relevant.

I was in one of those seedy beach resort towns filled with decaying, SPAM-tinted Anglo men and their 21-year-old Isaan wives, talking to as many of the men as I could, as they figure fairly prominently in a book I am working on.

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Linh Dinh's Postcards from the End of America has just been published by Seven Stories Press. Tracking our deteriorating socialscape, he maintains a photo blog.


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