Through his experiences of dating local women, Derek Milroy analyses the pros and cons of being a ‘white male’ in his adopted home


Can you imagine going back in time when you were a small boy dreaming of being locked in the biggest candy store in the world? Well, when western ‘white’ men land in Vietnam, Saigon becomes that candy store.


Every man loves to look at beautiful women, no matter what they tell their beloved, and in Saigon they need eyes in the back of their head to catch a glimpse of just a fraction of them.


Vietnamese women, though, are not easy. That’s for sure. Definitely high maintenance. They’re tough, too, and like to rule the roost. Especially at home. But if you are lucky enough to find the right one — and like everywhere you may visit it is a real mission-and-a-half to find her — you can potentially have that exotic, stunning dream girl for life.


You have to be really choosy when you take on a girlfriend as you are the proverbial fish out of water. My friends always gauge what type a girl is by where you meet them, whether it is bar, disco, online, coffee shop or randomly on the street.


Others say, meet their family, go to their home. You’ll learn more about the woman in that one trip than you may do in a year.


While meeting the family is vital, in my experience where you meet your partner is not important. You never know someone until, well, you know them. And that takes time.


I spoke to a guy once who told me that he was desperately trying to get a visa for his pregnant girlfriend to come with him to live in Britain.
He was asking my advice. So I said to him, “Okay, how long have you known her?”


“Four weeks,” came his reply. I just shook my head and told him he had no chance.


The second he said four weeks I knew either he was completely gullible or stupid or both, or that the woman was pregnant by another guy, probably her real boyfriend, and that she set up this guy to bring home the bacon.


And then there is The Consulate. They want to have strong evidence that the relationship is genuine before granting the visa.


Best of Both Worlds


Some women I have come across in Saigon openly say that they have a rich foreign boyfriend for money and a Vietnamese boyfriend for love. They are happy with the set-up, although I’m not so sure what the boyfriends think. Especially when marriage and having kids comes into the equation. Of course, there’s a health issue, too.


I was recently reading Agatha Christie’s autobiography and she said that in the early 20th century everyone in England thought all Americans were rich. It’s the old 14th-century, Dick Whittington story, the fairy-tale belief that the streets of London are paved with gold. In Vietnam, for anyone not born with a pair of silver chopsticks in their mouth, all foreigners are rich.


We wish.


The key is to stand back a little and be relative. If you compare Saigon and the great cities of the western world and Asia, you will see things for what they are worth. Although it’s changing fast, most Vietnamese don’t have this luxury.


Conversely, for the single white male, when a man sees a beautiful woman back home I’d say he has a chance in a 100 she will make eye contact, let alone smile at him. However, if you have a white face in Saigon, your chances increase to a 50/50 shot or even higher. Getting a complete stranger’s phone number after a brief meeting is no hardship.


It’s no wonder most westerners who settle in Vietnam either don’t want to leave or stay for life. Indeed, some white men in Asia quite clearly believe their own press from their newfound friends.


“Chao anh, dep trai!”


And this is even despite their unsuccessful attempts to seduce beautiful girls in the past when they were back home.


As for the ‘white male syndrome’, we should be grateful that we get so much attention. Just make sure we don’t let it take us over. In a country such as Vietnam, it’s very easy to think you’re bigger, better and more important than you actually are. Having a decent salary and a passport to a new life carries a lot of weight. Whether it carries a relationship for life is another matter.


The views represented in this article are those of the writer and do not reflect in any way the opinions held by Word.

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