EVER SINCE MY LAST TRIP TO VIETNAM IN NOVEMBER TO SEE MY GIRLFRIEND, I HAVE BEEN WORRIED THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP IS COMING TO AN END. The way she was acting then, the unexplained absences, the evasiveness... I have experienced all that before, and I know it is never a good sign. It's always a sign that the relationship has run its course. For the past three years I have been in a long distance relationship with a girl I had met in Ho Chi Minh City called N. (real name witheld); basically I have been working hard teaching English in Tokyo, Japan, and jetting down to Vietnam every few months, whenever I had enough cash, to see her. At the time I thought it was the perfect deal: I would be in effect living two lives, one in Japan and one in Vietnam... actually I would have three lives if I counted my old life in Australia. But as time wore on, the limitations of my strategy and the hardship of my lifestyle became apparent. Friends and family advised me to find a girlfriend in Japan, or find a job down in Vietnam, and move there. But in some ways I was comfortable at my little pad in Tokyo, with all its conveniences, and I shuddered at the thought of living permanently in Ho Chi Minh City, much as I liked holidaying there. I considered marrying N. and sponsoring her to immigrate to Japan... but then we would be two gaijin cut adrift in the sea of Japanese society, and I worried that all my hassles with petty racism would be magnified. Besides, Tokyo is no place to raise kids. My Mum, always eager to get me home, tried to convince me to bring her back to Australia, and raise a family. That idea enticed me for half a heartbeat, but deep down I know I could never be happy as a resident, especially in my home country. I am nomad. At least in Tokyo I had a flexible employment setup, with room for plenty of foreign adventures. So it was that as the months and then years passed, I continued living in Japan, and N. remained in Vietnam, and our relationship was like a pearl necklace: short bursts of tropical passion when we met in the flesh, connected by threads of electronic communion. It might have gone forever like that, had I not started suffering panic attacks which threatened my career as a teacher, and had N. not begun to grow out of the whole affair... (For the full story of my disintegrating long distance relationship with N., click here.)
SO MY RELATIONSHIP WITH N. HAS ENDED, BUT MY TIES WITH HO CHO MINH CITY ARE STILL PERSISTING. When one door closes another opens... so goes the old cliche. C. and I had breezed through Ho Chi Minh City in a 9-hour layover a few years earlier, in 2005, and I had been astounded by the changes that were visible (it must be noted: we were in transit, and my glimpse of 21st century Vietnam was limited to inside the airport. Is there a mysterious X factor... can you use an equation to predict how often you will get laid.
For some reason I have always seemed to have good fortune in Vietnam. Telfer back at the end of 1996, they were playing MC Hammer on the decks.) Later, way past midnight, we got a team cyclo ride home through the rotten yellow streets, back to our hotel... no, scrub that, Apocalypse Now! has never been on water. I must be thinking of some other place (perhaps the bar on the old Australian boat?) So, it seems I have never been to Apocalypse Now, which might well be a good thing. Apparently the place, named after the famous phim, is run by a Vietnamese-American. It costs some 150,000 Dong just to get in the door, which presumably puts off many Vietnamese.
As I have said before: IN MY SO OH SO LIMITED EXPERIENCE, VIETNAMESE ARE CERTAINLY NOT BACKWARD ABOUT COMING FORWARD, TO ABUSE AN OLD CLICHE.
I have been approached by Vietnamese girls in Vietnam itself, approached by Vietnamese girls on the Internet, and even cold called by at least one particular persistant girl, who found my number at the bottom of this very webpage.. It could even be said I have lived much of my relationships with Vietnamese girls online. I once had a Vietnamese girl call my cell number after reading this website, and ask me point blank: "You like Vi'tn to by a stranger. One thing for sure is that Vietnamese girls are interested in foreign men, and they are looking for marriage rather than something more casual. They are not out just to play, not like the Th who calls herself Phar 2 Juicy, in a chaotic Khao San Road nightclub!) They make for good girlfriends, and good lovers. If hooking up with tasty singles is more your thing, you might want to head to Japan rather than Vietnam. But that's just my opinion -- others might have more to say about it than me.
The attractiveness of a man in the eye of a woman is 50 per cent looks, and 50 per cent status (or wealth).
ANH GIRL XINH: SEXY GIRL PHOTOS.
This seems to be one of the most popular sites in Vietnam at the moment devoted to photos of gorgeous girls. There are galleries of Vietnamese women posing in rice paddies, at beach resorts, or splayed across sports cars or colorful mopeds in the middle of the city. Girl xinh means "pretty girl" in Vietnamese. Anh means picture or photograph.
Though openly ridiculed in the west, international beauty pageants are a big deal in Vietnam. It was here that Miss Trinidad/Tobago and Miss Japan and some photographer called Wyatt Gallery got it on in their infamous home video, according to one rumor at least. Vietnam is a country which thinks it wins international esteem for holding a Miss Universe pageant. At this popular site, you can see a lot of photos of Vietnamese models and beauty pageant winners (and their boyfriends). The photo above gets introduced as: "Miss Teen Quỳnh Chi 'hẹn hò' hot boy mới" ("Miss Teen Quynh Chi with her new Hot Boy") There are a lot of celebrity style photos like this here, and Vespa's feature as well.
A TENDENCY TO ACT CHILDISHLY IN RELATIONSHIPS (EXPOSED):
Perhaps a lesson to be learnt from the N. relationship was that it exposed my tendency to treat her like a child, and to act childishly in relationships as a whole. This is something to think about. I also have lots of documentary proof (emails, chats) to work through looking for evidence. If my view of her matures, that might mean I will grow in future relationships too.
As I thought to myself sometime later: Looking back on my life in Japan and imagining my future life in China (or wherever), it strikes me that I probably could have scored Ayako, if I was earning twice as much as the average Japanese dude. I probably could have scored Maho too, if she had been born in China. Imagine how my life would have been different! A further note: Chemical relationships have potential, but require the right action to ignite them. My time living with Ayako in 2002 might be considered a long Moment of Chemistry. For various reasons, it failed to ignite. By getting angry, I provoked a Reactive Showdown... similar to that which took place with Mayumi and Chie.
But Vietnam had come a long way since the mid 1990s, and I had matured too. This time around, I was going to do Vietnam like a man, rather than a cowering rodent.
As is my wont these days, I did plenty of research before the trip. One sunny Sunday morning, I read a story on the Internet, a very old (by Net standards) story written by this guy called
Ted Guhl, about his experience with Vietnam girls. It had a strange resonance with me. Little did I know at the time, that I would soon be living the story, or at least a story parallel to it. Parallel but not touching. But unlike Ted, I decided not to be a pussy, but pursue the opportunity offered to the end, just to see what happens. And I decided that this page, and the threads which sprout from it, would be the story which recorded it.
There was an Aussie guy in the bar dressed like Crocodile Dundee (I later discovered he worked on an oil rig. He spent half the year working out in the middle of the ocean, earning huge dollars, and then pissed the other half away on whores and booze in Ho Chi Minh City).
The people, dressed in a wide variety of clothing from lovely Ao Dais to Western business suits, appeared lively and attractive.
"Leaving the taxi, three white jacketed doormen quickly whisked my bag and me into the lobby of the Saigon International, a small French-era hotel. Within minutes I was registered, assured that the required notification with the authorities would be handled by the management, and escorted with smiling efficiency to my modern air-conditioned room on the third floor. There was no elevator; however the stairs were wide with large windows on each landing, like those of an elegant European house.
"I unpacked, cleaned up a bit, and went for a walk. Upon leaving the hotel I was approached by a cyclo driver.
"'Hello. Where you come from?'
EVER SINCE MY LAST TRIP TO VIETNAM IN NOVEMBER 2010 TO SEE MY GIRLFRIEND NGA, I HAD BEEN WORRIED THAT OUR RELATIONSHIP WAS COMING TO AN END. The way she was acting then, the unexplained absences, the evasiveness... I have experienced all that before, and I know it is never a good sign. It's always a sign that the relationship has run its course. Not that I could blame her for backing out; I have left her hanging on for a long time. I paid for that trip in the form of long hours working the phones, suffering numerous panic attacks.
It turned out that the War Museum was at the first corner, but I missed the sign and kept walking. Despite some interesting examples of colonial architecture, the area seemed amazingly uniform. Each block had a few stores and at least one street vendor...
"Late afternoon found me still wandering the streets, I knew I was hungry and would have to eat soon if I wanted to keep my energy up but I could not make up my mind where. I wanted to try some of the local food from a small cafe or street cart but could not remember, beyond some rather strongly worded warnings about unwashed fruit and unboiled water, what the guidebooks had said about this. Finally I ended up eating some fast food chicken from a place called California Fried Chicken. It was dreadful and served me right for being so fearful.
"Feeling dislocated, I returned to the Rex Hotel, where my driver found me immediately and gestured for me to get into the cyclo. "You want go eat?" he asked.
"'I eat already,' I replied, as we headed down the street away from the plaza.
"'Want go to nightclub?'
"I said nothing for a moment, trying to decide if a beer or two would feel right, or if I should return to the hotel. Part of my mind was warning me that I should watch out where I let myself be taken in this indecisive and somewhat uneasy mood.
"'You want meet girl?'
"'No. Maybe a beer.'
"Okay. I know good place. Cheap." And off we went, east on Le Loi Boulevard and south down Deng Khoi Street again. Good lord, I thought, he's taking me to one of the tourist bars..."
COLD CALLING, AND GETTING APPROACHED BY VIETNAMESE GIRLS
IN MY SO OH SO LIMITED EXPERIENCE, VIETNAMESE ARE CERTAINLY NOT BACKWARD ABOUT COMING FORWARD, TO ABUSE AN OLD CLICHE.
I have been approached by Vietnamese girls in Vietnam itself, approached by Vietnamese girls on the Internet, and even cold called by at least one particular persistant girl, who found my number at the bottom of this very webpage. Most people would consider listing your cellphone number on the Internet a dumb idea, but I believe in openness and transparency, and besides, what's the worst that can happen -- someone might bug you on the phone? Ever heard of call screening? I hardly ever pick up the phone anyway, when it is coming from an unknown number. One of the few times I did pick up an unknown call, I was at that aforementioned singing job in Tokyo, up in the clouds, when this girl with a south-east Asian girl came on and said hello. I thought it was the girl I had met in Vietnam at the start of this adventure, but her accent sounded different. I asked her why she was calling me. "Do you like Vietnam girl?" she asked, but it sounded like: D'you like Vitnam girl? "Do you want marry Vitnam girl?"
"Sorry I have got to work," I said, which was true -- my shift was about to begin. But I was kind of a bit astounded, by the lengths some Vietnamese girls will go to, to find a foreign boyfriend or husband. I mean, did she think I was just going to agree to marry her right there on the phone, without even seeing a picture? Did she think I was that easy? Anyway, it was kind of cute of her to try!
In his classic tale of hot tropical love which never had the chance to bud, Ted Guhl wrote (Situation background -- He is still getting carted around by the cyclo driver who befriended him at the start of the story, having made that fundamental tourist mistake, of ever giving those vultures the time of day): "Half way back to my hotel, a motor bike pulled up alongside and slowed to match our pace. On it were two attractive young women, perhaps in their twenties. The driver had a charming smile, full of playful energy. The rider, who looked a bit younger, was willowy, with dark hair and deep, searching eyes.
"'Hello,' the driver shouted, 'where you come from?'
"'USA', I shouted back.
"'America. You want massage? Make love, good?'
"Speechless, I smiled, looked away, then looked back. I shrugged.
"'Where you going?'
"'We give good massage, good make love, yes?'
"Rallying, I replied, 'You young girls, I'm old man.'
"'Make love us, you feel like young man.'
"They were laughing and so was I.
"'Hotel no let you come in.' I said, trying to regain some control over the situation.
"'You come us, we take good care you,' the driver said. She really seemed to be enjoying this.
"'How much?' I asked, out of curiosity I hoped.
"Shit, I thought, what do I say now. What did I want? I was certainly enjoying this conversation. And suddenly the somewhat fragile feeling I had had all evening disappeared.
"'I give you ten dollars. Just massage.'
"Her smile disappeared. I could see that she was sizing up this new suggestion and that she didn't believe me.
"'Twenty dollars, massage, make love, two hours.'
"Suddenly, I didn't want this to end here.
"'Listen, I give fifteen dollars, but just massage, no make love.'
"I could see that this offer was tempting from a monetary point of view but that somehow it didn't feel right to her. I believe she thought I was being cheap. There was no smile. Suddenly the motor bike veered off and turned around and was gone. I sighed. Welcome to Saigon..."