So I’m in Vietnam now.
I haven’t updated this travel blog in a while (I’ve been teaching, working on my novel, and updating the horror blog a bit at Dailysack.com), and I’m not sure how long it’s going to be before I update here again, but I thought I’d cobble something together about what I’m doing in case anyone really does meander around these parts.
Japan was great, but I’ll say this: you don’t appreciate how difficult the Tokyo work-life balance is until you leave.
Living in Thu Dau Mot
I’m living in a smallish city called Thu Dau Mot. It’s about an hour’s drive north of Saigon (AKA Ho Chi Minh, officially). There’s a lot of Koreans around here, with Korean grocery stores and restaurants that cater to them.
This whole area of Thu Dau Mot, and the greater surrounding area called Binh Duong, has a lot of upscale, well-developed areas with ultra-rich-bitch Japanese, Koreans, and Chinese who hang around in hotels and play golf all day.
I’ve always said that I can live in the countryside, and I can live in a big city, but I can’t do a half-half. Suburbs and small cities are the pits. You get all the dirt of a city without any of the accessibility or excitement.
You just kind of get this lukewarm comfort.
Stuff to Do around Binh Duong
But there’s stuff to do if you’re willing to take a motorbike ride. To the East, about 50 mins’ drive (or faster if you’re a speed demon) is the little city of Bien Hoa. It’s got a more artistic, bohemian feel. Also, it’s got rivers, trees, and beautiful monasteries.
To the north of Binh Duong, there are a bunch of nature preserves and waterfalls. There’s a Binh Duong zoo and water park in Thu Dat Mot, too, but I haven’t been out there yet.
I have done a bit of sightseeing. I’ll try to update with that content if I get the chance.
Dating in Binh Duong
The Binh Duong dating scene is pretty rough compared to Saigon. First of all, there’s a lot less English out here, so you’ll definitely want to take some lessons or something. I mean, if you’re younger, dating in Binh Duong might be fine, but if you’re 40-something like me, you might have trouble finding that special someone. Seems to me all the girls just want to get hitched right away, like there’s no time to just breathe and play the field and get to know people.
I’ve been dating a bit in Saigon. It’s a bit of a drive, and unfortunately, city folk don’t seem keen on leaving their nest of concrete and glass. I guess it’s like that everywhere. Try getting someone who lives in Manhattan to drive upstate to Sugar Loaf.
All in all, if you’ve found a good job in Binh Duong, it’s a safe, decent place to live with some delicious restaurants, local cafes, and reasonably close access to nature. It’s definitely a good place to settle down, maybe save some money. But on the other hand, if you think being an hour’s drive from Saigon is going to be enough exposure to the excitement of the big city, you might just be mistaken.