Continuing our countdown of 2018's most-read posts, here's #7, a Q&A with Karin Esterhammer about her book So Happiness To Meet You, originally posted on Jan. 14.
Karin Esterhammer is the author of the new book So Happiness To Meet You: Foolishly, Blissfully Stranded in Vietnam, which focuses on her family's experiences living in Vietnam. She worked for the Los Angeles Times for 15 years, and currently resides in Los Angeles.
Q: Did you know when you first arrived in Vietnam that you'd
be writing a book about your experiences?
A: I didn’t. I started writing emails to my friends and
relatives. I was so excited about what I was experiencing, I wrote emails
nearly every day. A few months later, more than one person said I need to write
a book. Books are much harder to write than emails, so whoever recommended I do
Q: What do you think are some of the most common perceptions
and misperceptions about Vietnam in the United States?
A: That the Vietnamese still hate us is a misconception.
That’s definitely not the case. We were treated like family the whole 2½ years
we were there. People might also think the country is still third-world. No entirely.
Its GDP is consistently 6.5 percent. They are catching up with the world of
technology, business and tourism.
Q: Of all the experiences you had during your time in
Vietnam, were there a couple that especially stood out?
A: Simply watching people. The streets are amazing. So much
activity, noise, smells—life going on. But my favorite experience was going to
an orphanage twice a week to help hold and feed (and change diapers) the
babies. It was pure heaven. They desperately needed the human touch and I
wished I had more arms. At least I could share some love and kiss their little
Q: How did your experience in Vietnam change you and your
A: We lived in a fairly poor neighborhood. The people were
so happy despite having very little. They were generous beyond measure, taught
me how to get along with less, appreciate more, and pay more attention to
family. I really came back changed.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: Mostly marketing my book. It takes as much time as the
writing of it. But I also look forward to writing a book about our son, who is
autistic. Vietnam really helped him come out of his shell, as well.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: The title of the book, “So Happiness to Meet You,” came
from a neighbor who said that. I thought it was so adorable and it makes a