Living the dream

It is coming up on 1 year since Mai and I moved here on a permanent basis. It is hard to believe time has passed so quickly. Perhaps it is a good time to recount some of the year’s events and how we got to where we are today.

My friend and co-worker Tom passed away in Hanoi with a dream that he was going to retire early and spend half the year in Vietnam. Hmmmmm.. It got me thinking.

One year ago we sold everything we owned and reduced down to a total of 4 suitcases. Many of our friends and co-workers thought us nuts and wanted to keep them apprised as to how we were doing via Facebook. I decided that I would

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 rather blog than do Facebook because only people who were really interested in what was going on could read it and not the entire world. I began by just speaking of personal events and the transition from living in Canada to living in Vietnam. At the time I had no idea that there would be others that were interested in reading about Vietnam and for the longest time assumed that only my friends and family read my ramblings, until one day I received a comment from some person I did no know. I looked up my stats and found that there was almost 1000 people were reading what I had to say. As time progressed, so did the readership and I had thought of slowing down, but I received many messages to keep it going and so I did. I started including content aimed at helping people understand the people and

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the culture. I also started writing on topics that can aid a traveler in visiting on a holiday. One year later and the readers have gone from a thousand to tens of thousands. That is why I still write to this day. I have been forced to slow down now due to being very busy and running out of fresh topics.

The first order of business after arriving in Nha Trang was to sort out family matters and to explore the surroundings. We were taking possession of a small hotel and to me it was important to learn as much as I could about the tourism and hospitality business. Most of the first 2 months was doing precisely that and I learned almost every road and sight in the Nha Trang

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 area. For the month of January we totally renovated the small hotel and opened as the Tide on Feb 1st. It was quite a transition as the hotel was re-opened to house guests by the night instead of by the hour. It took about two months before we started changing the reputation of the hotel from being a boom boom house, to an alternative place where foreigners could experience Vietnam away from a heavily touristed area. We had many people tell us our project would never work, but guess what??? We are now one of the busiest little hotels around. We had some bumps along the way. There were police and tax raids, attempted gang takeovers, Professional con artists and of course the endless stream of people wanting to use the hotel for other purposes than sleep. We have also had to deal with a number of deaths that seem so much a part of life here, the worst being person leaping off the 5th floor balcony next door. We have proved the nay sayers wrong and have persevered. Now the only thing we are dealing with is the damage to the building that is still being caused by the heavy rains.

We have made some good friends along the way and have adapted quite well to our living here. I am trying my best to improve my language skills and am hoping to perhaps become a tour guide in the near future. (Of course Mai will be the boss and tell me where to go;)

I have even made a couple of enemies it seems. There are those that think my contributions and advice are a way to lure people into Vietnam and Nha Trang with the result of me profiting from them… Imagine that. People seek us out for what we are, and not what I tell them.

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Tour designer and Guide specializing in off the beaten track tours of Vietnam

10 thoughts on “Living the dream

  1. You’re more than welcome to try us out…our kitchen is small and the staff is still learning. Yeah, the food is good tho.
    43 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Tuy Hoa
    I keep the beer cold enough that you don’t need ice 😉

  2. Congrats on your 1st year , I hope there is many more for you and your wife , I have enjoyed reading you blog from time to time . And will be your way in a few days I hope to drop by and say g’day

  3. Thanks for all the comments folks….
    Well Bob????? Where can the best burger in Tuy Hoa be had? I will drive up there soon just to give it a try…. I will even bring others with me.

  4. I can relate because we’re going through the same with the people around here.
    Your prices are too high
    You need to serve Vnese food too — or — not a big enough menu
    You should be open all day
    Everyone else ‘knows’ how to do it better. Ok, then where’s the competition? We shopped them and the ‘baby’ burger wasn’t worth it for 20,000…even Phuong understands that. Hell, you can’t even get a decent burger at the CinneDeluxe and they have a ‘chef’!!

  5. I think perhaps fate has sent you my way or perhaps vice versa.

    I have a dear friend who I’ve come to know well this past year, she is a lifelong resident of Nha Trang.

    I’d like to keep a promise made, and visit her during Tet, based on your knowledge of things, is it too late, or unwise, to expect to do so at this point in time,(almost December)?

    I am not a seasoned traveler, however I am a bohemian sort, not accustomed to, or frankly, desiring of “mainstream experiences”.

    I’ve often quizzed her as to where I might stay in Nha Trang to avoid a standard motel/ hotel experience and get as much of a authentic non-tourist experience as possible.

    I’d be interesting in determining if I might lodge at your place during this time, and hope it’s appropriate to ask this of you here.

    While too early to know, I too, partially at my friends urging, and due to the past 2 years economic crisis here in the US, am considering relocation, but it’s several years on the horizon.

    At the least I’d like to keep a promise, visit what seems like a great place, and get to spend some time with a person I’ve come to know very well, through many ups and downs, who I care for deeply.

    I can be reached at and really do hope to hear from you.



  6. owee, keep it up, you are living life to the fullest. i look forward to reading your blog, its a little “escape” to an exotic land, with a very interesting culture & history… cheers, my old friend

  7. I’m still jealous and can’t wait to return and continue my quest. Your’s is a great story and I’m happy for you and Mai so keep “livin’ the dream my friend” and I hope to join you as soon as possible.

  8. congratulations from me on reaching this almost 1 year milestone in your happy new life in Nha Trang – I hope you (and Mai) will continue to love this life and enjoy everything you undertake over there-

    so, next up is a tour guide eh? i guess we’ll have to pre-book far ahead as I’m sure that will be a huge success for you too.
    good on you mate!!!

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