I had never spent a single moment on dating sites before I started visiting Southeast Asia. I'd visited Thailand and Cambodia, starting in 2004, but it wasn't until my second visit to Vietnam in 2007 that I began exploring the online options.
Vietnam made quite an impression on me in 2006 and 2007 when I visited Hanoi and Saigon respectively. It was the whole mixture of good food, exotic locale, storied culture (think French and Chinese influence plus the war), familiarity in my hometown with VN food and culture, now burgeoning economy, loosening of national economic reins, and the fact that, again, Vietnam was becoming a focal point for East-West "interests." Plus, it could be something about the beauty of slender Viet women with gorgeous long, straight black hair falling over their diaphanous ao dai. Dream worthy.
When I returned home to Canada, I spent a lot of time keeping up with the Southeast Asian news and up popped a dating site, Vietsingle.com. What the hey! I needed something to fill those cold winter nights -- about three to four months worth. Vietsingle seemed to be very active.
Main problem was, the posters could speak no English whatsoever. So I endeavoured to work hard at translating some messages, figuring to practise a new language. I started to write back in Vietnamese, with help from a work colleague. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever attempted in terms of communication. Learned a lot but was ultimately frustrated by original messages and responses written in an emailese Vietnamese. In other words, the girls wrote without the vital diacritical marks, making it almost impossible for me to translate. I kept trying.
I focused on girls in their homeland. But I came across a girl from my own home city, which was
pretty cool, I thought. She looked dynamite. Was mid-20s, and was well
spoken and thoughtful in her biography, and subsequent emails, although they were written in that emailese. But at least it was in English.
Okay, I was out of my league here, being 50-something and I knew I wasn’t going to “land her”. But I was genuinely curious why a Vietnamese beauty, educated and well spoken, put herself on a dating site, based in Vietnam. Call me, oh, a bit of a newbie. In February 2008, I had a refreshing exchange with her in some emails. She asked me for my phone number. She said she had deleted an earlier email and asked for it again. Thing is, I had never sent her my phone number. She could have mistaked me for someone else. Who cares! I sent her my number "again." And, dammit it, if she didn’t phone me late one night as she was driving downtown to meet some girlfriends. She later sent a following email:
How r u? I justed wanted to tell u I had a very good conversation wit u the other day. Guess wat happened? My friends ditch me. I think they went in the club and either didn't hear the fone or they were caught up wit some guys. So mad ......... I still haven't talked to them yet but wen i do.....ughhhhhhh...........they're more than toast, they're BURNT toast!
Anyways how r things going 4 u? I've been thinking a lot about going to Viet NAm this summer. It's costing a lot of money and I don't know if i can afford to go. I hear that spending money in Viet Nam nowadays is even more than spending $$$ here. I'll have to rethink about this.
I hope we get a chance to talk to u again soon. TTYL
we met and had lunch, at a Korean hotplate place in the north end of
town. I thought about posting one of her photos from her Vietsingle bio
but I don’t have permission and it’s just as well. Her bio photos were
extremely professional. She looked stunning. In her car, when she
picked me up from a subway stop, I compared her with her photos. The pictures
made her lustrous, exotic, beautiful and wholly unnatural, it must be
said. I was a bit disappointed, even though I’d been prepared for that
eventuality. She was attractive enough. No problem, really, because the
personality that came through her calls and emails was appealing enough.
That was the first and last time we met. During the ride and meal, she asked a number of leading questions about me and told me she looked after her ailing mother, went to college full-time and yearned to go to Vietnam. Don’t know how she could do that with her lack of funds. Oh, I get it . . . don’t you? Okay, that’s a bit cynical but maybe not. I’d already spent enough time in Thailand and Cambodia and Vietnam to know that under the white skin of a foreigner lies the colour of money. And here it was again. But right here at home.
So here are a few observations and tips, gleaned from experiences on Vietsingle.com:
- Almost no one wrote in English and in many cases the girls wrote in email Vietnamese: no diacritics, making it impossible for a VN language newbie to figure out their messages. Even a Viet speaking friend had trouble translating some segments for me.
- Most of the posters were younger women, 18-26, many seeking partners of similar age.
- About half the girls did not post pictures, and some used fake or celebrity photos and some were out to “draw business” -- if you know what I mean?
- The site’s interface is plain and difficult to work with, but is still useful
- There seemed to be many VN girls in the United States and Canada looking for friends or mates, which was a bit of a surprise
- The messaging system was awkward and dodgy
- The site managers check and approve bio’s and photos before posting
- You can be a regular free member or gold card member, the latter gives you more direct communication with your candidate lady
- Vietsingle has thousands of male and female members
- Viet girls are a few years behind the calculating Thai and Chinese girls who outright seek a foreigner