Thursday, April 29, 2010

Vietnam. Picking your nose?


That is the question, my friend. Come on, be honest guys... how many of you out there actually secretly pick your nose in public when you think nobody's watching? You know, when you're driving down a quiet road with tinted windows and your convinced that no one can see, you go for it...and pick a good one! Right? Guilty as charged. You know it, I know it.

Well, in Vietnam I don't go by a day without spotting someone picking his or her nose. And no, it’s not that nobody's watching or if they are alone in room, it’s in public... just going for it! It’s just the culture. It’s disgusting, right? But secretly deep down there are some of you thinking, brilliant! It’s the Vietnamese who’ve got it right.
So the answer is YES… if you’ve got an itch, pick your nose.

This photo is actually a photo I found on Flickr, dedicated to spotting Vietnamese nose picker. Good job mate.

As from today, if I spot a nose-picker, I will post it on my blog!

On the streets

When I’m driving down the streets I have spot all people from retailers, construction workers and people waiting at the bus stops, just picking their nose away.


It’s unfair to ask someone to enjoy a good meal, when they have a nose itch, right? So you pick…dude. “Just do it” That’s what nike tells us. Get comfortable before you eat. Men, women, grandma, grandpas, children, they all do it, which in the western world it would turn you off from a good meal. But it’s a routine here.

Working environment

Now this is the one place where I’m strongly against nose picking, but true story:
I was interviewing a person for a very senior position in my company. She had a good CV, good interpersonal skills and was doing really well in the interview until [imagine the “Jaws” build up music just before the shark attack]… she did a quick-picker! Woa What?? I was a little taken aback by it all. Anyway, she got the job. I got over that fact that she was a nose-picker and her skills were perfect for the job description. I realised that as long as I’m living here, I’m going to experience the nose-picking incident.

However, there is a no nose-picking policy in our office!

Romance Gesture

Another true story: Gross. A guy once expressed that he liked me and asked me out for coffee and [“Jaws” music] slipped in a quick-pick as well. That’s totally hot? A quick thought process in my mind: Vietnamese? Yes. Effective pick up line? No. Date? No.


So if you’re travelling to Vietnam and you pick your nose, no one is going give you an evil stare like if you were in Australia.However, as an expat, foreigner, VQ, or some one with class, I recommend that we stick to some ground rules.

Don’t pick your nose in the following situations:
  • · In a professional environment
  • When your dining
  • When you are talking to someone
  • And don’t go for the big ones in public. Quick picks are ok
  • In particular, don’t pick when your around other expat, foreigners or VQ, because you will get the evil stare!

In summary, “Just do it” if you have to. Follow the simple rules above and you should be fine.

You’ll find that I’m not going to write about the typical things you expect in a travel blog like, how beautiful the sunset is, the traffic, and all that. I will write, with real insights and thoughts from some one whose trying to live an Australian lifestyle, here in Vietnam.

I will label my story titles as:

  • Vietnam. Discuss Vietnamese culture, lifestyle, etc
  • Business. Share my business venture
  • Flashback. Share my experience in the past.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


When you tell your friends that you're moving to Vietnam, I can guarantee you will not receive the same reaction as if you were moving to London. Quite the opposite. Here is how it goes:


You: "So I'm moving to london..."
Friends: "Oh that's great. I'm so excited for you!", "You're gonna have a blast!"


You: "So I'm moving to Vietnam..."
Friend 1: "Why? But it's a third world country"
Friend 2: "Are you sure you're making the right decision. You are so brave"


Firstly, it's not a third world country. It's the country, which is experiencing the fastest booming economy since China ten years ago. There's a lot of exciting developments happening here that is not really exposed to people back at home. And trust me, if you're here on a tour to experience the culture, you will take away a perspective of Vietnam as oppose from living here.

Top 10 good things about Vietnam

In no particular order,

                                                                       1. Free Wi Fi everywhere
It's true. There's Wi Fi access in every almost every cafe in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Not so much Hanoi, but in HCMC you can work or access your email everywhere for free. So you can work, chat, or play games from just about anywhere.

2. Everything can and will be delivered for free

Shops will deliver everything; big or small order it can be delivered with no extra delivery costs. I ring to order lunch for about 30,000 VND (approx AU$1.70)... And what... you deliver? Fantastic!

3. I have a driver!

Give him a few drinks and he claims he is the number one driver in HCMC. So I'm not Kevin Rudd or anything, but I have a driver to take me to and from work and all the meetings during the day. I would never be able to afford one back at home. It's just unheard of, unless you're filthy rich, right?

4. The people

There's the good & bad in every culture. However, since this is a "good" list so I will say good things only at this stage. The people are very family orientated, so when they are your friend they will treat you like their family. Well almost anyway.

5. It's cheaper to live

It's not as cheap as it used to be, but paying $2 for a standard Vietnamese lunch meal compared to $10 for lunch back home is considered cheap for me. Of course, if you choose western food, your looking at paying $10 for a meal anyway. So you can choose to live an expensive lifestyle or a cheaper lifestyle. I like to mix it up, because I can't live without my pasta!

6. Everyone is willing to meet you

It's not too hard to schedule a meeting with the company director. People here love networking and building relationships or getting connected is the way of doing business over here. They love to hear what you have to say or just to meet for coffee. Good for business.

7. The Food... My god!

That's right, there's food everywhere you look. You know in Australia, there are some places you avoid to eat because the food there is not so edible. Well here, I don't think there's any cafe or restaurant where I have walked out saying i could never go there again. In fact, the food here is great.. there's variety, it's fresh, most of it is healthy... and I haven't been anywhere where the food is completely and utterly horrible. Yet!

8. Never have to wear a jacket
Never. It rarely ever gets below 30 degrees in HCMC. Although, the hanoians experience cold whether in Nov - Jan. Very much like Melbourne weather.

9. The land of opportunity

Everything is so new here, so there's plenty of opportunities over here if you want to setup your own business. Labour is cheaper and therefore to setup a business over here can be less than half the cost compared to back home. And... most domain names for are available! 

10. Clubs are for free... what?

I'm not much of a clubber myself these days... too old for that! But in Vietnam, it's free! For VQs and foreigners, but some clubs charge the local vietnamese entry fee. I guess it's a way to get the foreigners in and keep the locals out. I don't know... there's no real discrimination laws over here. Anything goes.

My Vietnam Story

"Hi my Name is Blah Blah... What brings you to Vietnam?"

This is one of the first questions that people will ask you as an expat living in Vietnam. EVERYONE has a story, everyone is here for different reasons. So what's my story? Why am I writing a blog? Well here it is...


I was born and raised as an Australian with a Vietnamese background. All of 20 something years of my life I along with many of my friends did the usual, you know... school, university and heading into the workforce. But then it gets to a point in your life where you start asking yourself, "where is my life heading? and "What is your goal?" No.... it's not a mid-life crisis, but maybe a quarter life crisis. Less severe and more manageable!
So after 6 years in developing a successful career in an industry that I absolutely hated (Maybe hate is such too strong of word...), I decided to do something completely out of the ordinary... Move to Vietnam! The opportunity presented itself to me. Come to Vietnam and establish a creative agency. If you knew what I did for a living previously, you would know that moving into the marketing and creative industry is basically on the other end of the spectrum.

EXCITED. An Adventure!!

In Jan 2009, I made a life-changing decision, packed up my 3-suitcases three weeks later and moved to HCMC and have been here ever since. Crazy? Well so far it's been the best decision I've ever made. I'm loving what I do, although living and doing business here is a challenge, but I'm discovering new things everyday.


Quick definition of a "Viet Kieu": Someone who was originally from Vietnam or has a Vietnamese background and has lived in or is a citizen of another country (mainly western country) for a considerable amount of time, and has returned to Vietnam. Although, how long do you have to be living in another country to be considered a Viet Kieu? I don't know but I will give you my thoughts later on.

So whether you're traveling or living in Vietnam, the people will classify you as a Viet Kieu. It is pronounced... "Viet Q." I am a Viet Q. Hence my blog title "VQ in Vietnam"


I've been here over a year and to be honest, whilst running a business, I haven't had much of the opportunity to explore the city, meet new people and share my experience. It is my new years resolution and this blog will be a way to share my experience about:

** Living in Vietnam - the country, the people,
** Business in Vietnam
** New discoveries

Hopefully, some bloggers may find it interesting and if you're moving to Vietnam, I may be able to share some insights. I do not claim to be a expert whatsoever, my stories are just my experiences only. Follow my blog or not follow my blog... Either way I need an engine to relieve the stress and express my self. I need a hobby and a reason to get out there and explore!

It's my first blog... and I hope to make a good contribution to the blogging community!