Boat in Vietnam

9 Months in Vietnam: A Love-Hate Relationship

Long overdue post: I wrote this whole thing on the 17th October 2017 – 2 weeks after I left Vietnam. I just never posted this. No reason why, I just didn’t. There’s gonna be some overlap with my 2017 review post as I initially wrote this about my learnings while living in Vietnam. Anyway, hope you enjoy.

Back in 2017, I moved (and lived) in Vietnam for nine months – mainly Ho Chi Minh City. Never in my life would I ever thought I’d live Vietnam.

Well, I’m Asian, so maybe it was natural that I would one day gravitate towards Asia.

Sure, I had in my mind that I wanted to live here, but not so soon, and at such an early age. I haven’t even got my life sorted. I just assumed I would move here when my finances were in check – probably in my late 20s, but I just assumed Hong Kong would be my first destination.

A Lot of Things Happened

Stuff I never would’ve imagined I would’ve done:

  • Attended a conference with successful online entrepreneurs, all killing it online and earning big bucks
  • Help build a marketing agency for SaaS (Software as a service) businesses
  • Witness the “rawness” of a developing third world country
  • Learn (tried) Vietnamese by hiring a private tutor – I gave up after two months
  • Meet influencers that I have been following online for some time – crazy meeting them in person
  • Partied with DJs/CEOs/founders/successful people
  • Lived in a penthouse-like apartment with other online entrepreneurs
  • Got scammed (and maybe nearly died?) by a fake taxi driver at 4 am – he was carrying weapons and charged me 10x the price
  • Joined my first ever mastermind
  • Became close friends with a guy I met through an online course I took
  • Became friends with successful (and semi-famous) people
  • Became friends with my first ever gay friend – dude is cool
  • Slept in the third biggest cave in the world
  • Made money for the first time online all by myself
  • Bribe the police after some crazy drunk antics

Not too much recreational things. It’s ok. I didn’t come to Vietnam with that intention. I came to create something.

Why the Love-Hate Relationship?

Thailand has a 50% return rate for foreign tourists. In contrast, Vietnam only pulls back 5% of visitors.

Disclaimer: This is based on my personal experience and opinion. If you get offended, that’s your fault.

Vietnam was a crazy and memorable experience, don’t get me wrong. There are certain things I loved about it, and certain things that I hated.

partyI loved the city nightlife. God, it was fun. I went out quite a lot

I hated the traffic. There are no road rules there. People would drive on the footpath and beep at you to get out of the way. WHAT. This is for people, not bikes…

I loved the entrepreneurial community. Everyone seems to know everyone which was cool. And the best thing is, they’re actually successful.

I hated how dumb people were (sometimes). When I say “people,” I mean the locals. OK, maybe I’m generalizing waaaaay too much, but I swear I met A LOT of the local people that didn’t have ANY common sense. I swear I don’t encounter this in other countries THAT much. Is it due to the education level there or something? Too racist? Don’t worry; I’m racist towards other races. Chinese – fucking rude (and I’m Chinese!) Koreans – obnoxious and arrogant. I could go on and on… but I’ll stop here…

I loved the coffee there. It was freaking cheap, and there were so many coffee shops there. The best part was that they’re all laptop friendly.

I hated the pollution – nothing much to say. The air is BAD and deadly. I got sick quite a few times from it.

I loved the street food. Cheap and yummy. That Pho though!

I hated the scammers. Sick of their shit. Can you just be civilized?

I loved the caves. Being able to sleep in the third largest cave in the world – freaking badass

I hate how Vietnam is actually not that safe. People will steal your shit the moment you look away.

Lessons Learned

OK OK, I know. I know, I’m having a rant. So here are some things I learned during my time in Vietnam. Here comes the mind dump.

1. Take more photos and videos

Maybe it’s me but my memory these days is pretty bad That’s why I NEED to take more photos and videos. Not just me, but you too. Memories are valuable. Hell, next thing you’ll know is that you’ll be in your 60s and wish you could reminisce the good old days.

Things you can do:

  1. Take a photo or video every day. If you take the video route, why not make a 1 sec video and compile all the clips in one? i.e., 30x 1-second clips = 30 days in 30 seconds. Download the 1 Second Everyday App
  2. Buy a decent camera or go pro. Yes, they are expensive but so worth it. Else, you can use your phone.

2. You don’t need to be smart to be successful

Being surrounded by these successful entrepreneurs, there’s one thing I noticed. They’re not any different than you or I. Like Tim Ferriss said, an expert is just someone who knows a little more than the average person.

3. Don’t learn something if you’re not serious

I hired a private Vietnamese tutor. I thought if I’m gonna be in Vietnam for a long time, might as well try to learn the language. To be honest, I knew I wasn’t going to be living in Vietnam that long. This made me not put as much effort into learning it. I don’t think I once studied it. There’s no point learning something new if you’re not serious about it.

4. Living abroad isn’t always glamours

Vietnam is quite a “raw” place, especially compared to a first world country like new Zealand. You can’t order food properly as the menu is entirely Vietnamese and you can’t speak the language. People yell at you, and you don’t know what is happening.

5. Materialistic things

Being in a place in Vietnam, no one gives a shit what kind brand your T-shirt you are wearing. I use to spend $100 on a t-shirt back in the days. Now, clothes are just clothes. People walk around with the cool branded clothes like Nike, Ralph Lauren, Gucci, etc. (these are what Asians think are “good” brands. They are overpriced and don’t even look good. Plus you’re just a walking billboard. These days, I buy non-branded clothes that look good (and comfortable).

6. Hang with people that will push you

I’m grateful that I could hang out with like-minded people. These guys pushed me towards my goals. If it weren’t for these people, I would not be where I am now.

3 thoughts on “9 Months in Vietnam: A Love-Hate Relationship”

  1. Yo Anthony, I was just curious but how bad is the bug bites out there in South East Asia? Lmao, that might be one of the things that would draw me back from wanting to go… That and the heat lol.

    1. I rarely get bug bites so it’s fine for me. It’s not a big deal for MOST people so you’ll be fine. You can just buy the insect spray if it’s THAT bad. But don’t let the bugs and heat stop you. It’s dope here

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