Expatriate Life in Saigon in 2005

It’s been a while since my last blog simply due to my own laziness. Here in Saigon it is easy to become lazy and lethargic.

It is common knowledge that most people who come to live for any amount of time in Asia never want to go back to the rat-race of the West. This applies mostly to men since the women are very nice and easy going here. Also, men can be in control since they will definitely be richer than the woman and perhaps many men still need to feel in control of the relationship.

Saigon is a very small town and the business environment is unique. The Chamber of Commerce directories read like an old acquaintance book and from the outside it seems impressive since most of the long term ex-pats are here to lead their international companies in this market.

For me, I work at the Town and Country Club and it is my job to go to all the events and try to get more members for our club as well as more business. However, as most business people in medium size towns know, these events can seem boring after a while since you see the same people over and over again. On the other hand, you’ll always have someone to talk to. There are also so many young business people here and most of the Vietnamese Entrepreneurs here are also relatively young and rich. So it’s all very exciting for a while, but after a while going out all the time gets old like anything else.

Here is a snapshot of my usual week for those curious about life here for an ex-pat:

I go into work for a few hours and follow up with prospects for the club. Usually I’ll have a few lunch appointments during the week where I bring people in to the Town Club, have lunch and explain what the club is about. Monday night is either spent at home or playing darts. On Tuesday there is the darts league which is about 150 players and 12 teams. Everyone has their home bar and we play at different bars around the city. My team is the “Really Rottens” and we aren’t doing to bad at the moment. On Wednesday I usually hit the gym or go to the pool in the evening. Thursday is golfing night where we play under the lights at Saigon South on a short nine hole course and of course there are usually beers afterwards. Friday is like Friday anywhere, and there might be a party at one of the bars around town where you go and catch up with the people you may have not seen in at least three weeks. Saturday I sit on my computer most of the day and surf the net. On Sunday morning/afternoon there are buffets at the three biggest hotels for US $21 which is a nice treat.

I’m getting bored just writing this blog, but it was mentioned that others might be interested in seeing what life is really like for us here. It isn’t terribly exciting, but where else can you meet the whole town and always know people wherever you go who also happen to have a nice position in some international company. It is not luxurious in the least bit like Paris, Madrid or Tokyo but Saigon has it’s own charm. Everyone will smile at you here if you smile at them and finding a girlfriend is as easy as picking up a loaf of bread.

If you get tired of talking with the same people, the tourists also add a little spice to the mix. You can always go to a bar and meet someone who still thinks of Vietnam as exotic and be part of their experience. There aren’t many American tourists here yet, but plenty of Australians and Japanese. It’s always interesting to see what brought them here and what their lives are like back in their home countries. For some reason they all say we have it made here.

Their daily experience and mine are also quite different. I’m usually in suit pants a tie and on a motorbike. So I’m not bothered by all the vendors trying to sell their items like the tourists are. Should I walk outside in regular clothes and without my motorbike I too will be treated like a tourist and be bothered. But if you live here it will go away and become a rather pleasant place to live.

I really cannot express just how kind the Vietnamese people are. As a tourist they might seem a little pushy trying to sell their goods, but when you are not a tourist you can see just how great they really are.

By Mateo de Colón

Global Citizen! こんにちは!僕の名前はマットです. Es decir soy Mateo. Aussi, je m'appelle Mathieu. Likes: Languages, Cultures, Computers, History, being Alive! (^.^)/

1 comment

  1. Dear Mattador,
    Very Brief but to the point reply.
    I enjoy your discriptive stories of life in Vietnam. I must ask you though why you seem to feel the urge to express and reason your theories of these cultural, religious, political thoughts. This is not a critique but just a curious endeavour to see what you feel is missing in your life. In my experience, people tend to make up for what is missing in their life. Example, if I don’t have money I work to get it. If I don’t have spiritual contentment I seek to find it. If I am hungry I eat etc,etc. Once we have contentment we don’t seek to find ( unless we are greedy hence not really content) What I am saying is that once a need or want is fulfilled we cease to seek to fill that desire. It is a very basic breakdowm of our existence granted. What do you seek? Ask yourself. Why do you write this website and why do you fill it with these thoughts. Have you ever sat down and analysed yourself from a third person perpective? Read again you blogs and find answers in your theories and thoughts as to what you are seeking.Maybe you are trying to justify your existence to your friends, family or a mentor?
    Finally, don’t blame God ( or whatever you want to call it) for mankinds failings. God did not make us perfect, he just gave us the opportunity to achieve perfection. Next time you throw out at darts remember that perfection, even if ever so brief, is absolute. Nothing or no one can deny you that moment. When you reach and experience absolute perfection and feel how it feel to be like God. Unfortunately or fortunately, humanity can only hold onto those moments of perfection for a brief time before we transcend down to our imperfect reality. Like a perfect hole in one, a penalty soccer goal, a double rebound pool shot, a touchdown throw, a royal flush etc. We get a brief glimpse. Some people never do.

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