I’ve just come back from a brief, uneventful trip out-of-country which mostly involved completing my manuscript and updating the blog.  Whenever I arrive back here I get depressed.  No whining, Nikki!  Okay, okay, but just let me say, I checked how many days I have until I completely finish this contract and I was not cheered to see that the number was two hundred and forty-fucking-five.

What is it, I’ve sometimes wondered, that I hate so much about this country?  Is it the fascism?  The stupidity?  The petulance?  The endless complaining?  The lack of basic services that even Cambodia has mastered, like water and gas?  The unenticing dating market?

Some time ago I realized no, it’s none of those things.  It’s not even the totality of them

It’s the lack of joy.

Looking back over the last fifteen months, I cannot bring to mind a single instance of joy in this country.  Not one.  Every day feels like a dull grind, like crawling through bitter treacle.

A land without joy.

I made it my mission to try to find some joy this year.  I went out more, spoke to more people, joined in some more activities.

No joy.

Now I’ve given up.  At home, when those maudlin thoughts attack me, I’ll try to stay slightly sloshed and distract myself however I may.  But there will be no joy for the next 245 days, except in those moments out of the country.  Perhaps it is my negative attitude that makes it so – but, I tried the positive approach and got no results.  I’m not going to go through the final months with a shit-eating grin on my face as I try to make the most of life in this God-forsaken hole.  Fuck that.

Grimace and survive is the plan.  Just like the locals do.


  1. Vincent · January 16, 2019

    I confess to doubting you. There must be joy there. So I googled “[name of your “here” location] joy blog” and read from the first hit that came up. I quote:
    “Rolling into the remote town of K**nd*r* we are happy to see it has power but no water. Every day the kids go to the well and manually pull buckets of water out for us. Again the smiles are evident on their faces and for them life like this on the edges is just totally normal. This same script between the two countries keeps playing out, one where in the regions without so called luxuries of life (or even necessities). It just seems that the average G**n**n has a life of joy regardless about what side of the colonial fence he landed upon. This all becomes clear and the story reveals itself when we head to the highlands for hiking with our guide the formidable . . . .”
    “Again no electricity, no running water and the nearest shop is hours away but it’s fairly clear that everyone is genuinely happy. ”
    “At lunch we talk with — to understand more about this way of life here in the regions. We find out he has been all round the world but he choose this area to live. Of all the places (he is an educated man) he chose a village with none of the so-called essentials of life to raise his family. This makes me ponder why happiness is rife here and arguably in shorter supply in our so called modern world. After previously traveling the world I came to the belief that the nicest people and strangely the most generous people in the world were not the richest but the poorest living the most simple of lives. I had no doubts on this however here am now questioning whether they may also get the mantle of the happiest as well and I get this burning feeling I could learn something from their approach.”


    • dickycone · January 22, 2019

      Sounds like a short-time English-only globe trotter who hasn’t been there nearly long enough to pick up on what’s really going on. The same kind of people who call me a racist for wanting Mexico’s immigration policy for the US and tell me how their two-week church mission trip to Uganda or Guatemala or wherever taught them that everyone in the world is mostly the same.


    • Nikolai Vladivostok · March 18, 2019

      This raises some interesting issues that are worth an in-depth response. I will post a response article some time in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. dickycone · January 22, 2019

    Good post. It’s almost impossible for westerners who haven’t experienced a third world hellhole firsthand to understand what you’re describing. I wouldn’t describe my wife’s country as totally lacking in joy, although it’s certainly in short supply there. It’s more a palpable horror that permeates everything and yet is difficult to put your finger on, and even harder to describe when you’re back in a civilized country. It’s why I feel such despair and frustration as I listen to all the nice white people around me enthusiastically virtue signal about opening the southern border. They have no idea what they’re inviting and there’s no way to make them understand until it’s too late.


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