What Vietnam has given me

Some of the best lessons are free. There's nothing better than learning about yourself while traveling and Vietnam has given me that opportunity. Living here for almost 10 years I have seen and done a lot, and sometimes I don't even realize the things I see or do because they happen often and maybe I take Vietnam for granted - I really need to stop doing that.

I have listed the top 4 things that Vietnam has taught me. Of course there are other things but for the purpose of the blog, I'll just post my top 5 things.

Love and Compassion.

I will start with my personal experience. I just wrote an article of my broken arm that went viral in Vietnam. Two complete strangers took me into their home and cleaned me up, brought me to the hospital and actually paid for the entire process. They didn't have to do that, they felt responsible and obligated because my accident happened at their home. I'm forever grateful.

Since living in Vietnam I never really had anyone that would always be there for me no matter what, until I found my princess and my angel, my wife. She means the world to me and there is nothing in the world that compares to the love she gives to me and the love she has for me. Her love has taught me a lot about life and what's really important.

One other thing that really amazes me is her level of compassion. No matter the situation or the people involved, she wills always try to give anything she can to make someone feel better. If it's a natural disaster or a baby in need, she will do what she can to help. She really taught me to stop worrying about myself and help others.

I also see countless numbers of volunteers who are helping children with disabilities, especially Agent Orange victims and other diseases. These people do not get the notoriety and respect they deserve. They don't need to sacrifice their lives to help others and especially victims with serious disabilities, but they do. Much love and respect to them.

Finally, I have a student named Khang. When I broke my arm I was unable to use my motorbike. Khang told me he would pick me up and drive me to school every day. He did that for 8 weeks. He didn't have to, and he never complained. He told me it would be too expensive to take a taxi and I would waste a lot of money. Thank you Khang.

Patience and Tolerance.

Let me tell you what, if you never been to Vietnam you really won't understand what I mean. And if you have been living in Vietnam for more than one year, you'll sure understand what I mean. No matter the time or the place, my patience is tested daily. I even come to expect something to happen that makes me crazy and even lose more hair.

Usually I'll be waiting patiently in line to pay for something then someone, out of nowhere, will just cut in line and nobody says anything. I used to get mad but now I just laugh to myself. Heck, I even tried to cut some lines.

Another thing that makes me patient, literally and figuratively, is when I'm at school or even any public restroom, no matter where, there will be a cleaning lady there. I'm not sure they understand when people are using the toilets, especially men, the best thing is to probably wait outside. But for some reason they want to clean the mirror when I'm using the urinal.

One last thing that really used to make me mad but now I'm used to it, because I really never understood it until now, is when I go to pay for something and the cashier doesn't have the correct change. Instead of giving me cash they always want to give me candy. I used to demand money back (grumpily) because I thought it for nothing else, the principle of the matter is that it was my money. Now I either just smile or say no or I give it to them to eat. They laugh all the time. All these things and more have taught me patience and tolerance.

Culture.

People say Vietnam doesn't have any culture. It's true that only a few places like Hanoi and Hue have culture but when I say "culture" I mean real Vietnam. And for me “real Vietnam" is out of the major cities and into the country side.

My three favorite countryside places are Ben Luc, Long An, Vinh Long and Can Tho. I really adore and appreciate these places and the people there. Every time I go there, things are more calm and slow. You can actually sit down, relax and take things in. You can learn more about yourself and others because you aren't in a rush and nobody is bothering you.

You can enjoy a nice coffee shop on the river or in the city center. You can just grab a chair and drink a coconut or you can go to the rural areas and visit a school and be the talk of the school. There's nothing better then showing up at a countryside primary school and hearing all the laughs and jokes about how tall you are or how bald you are. I just tell all the kids to rub my bald head for good luck, but they just think I'm a monk.

Some of my best friends and people that I have met are from Ben Luc city. I remember all the fun, laughs and smiles we had together. They made me first fall in love with Vietnam in 2008 and I'll always remember our time together. I really should go visit them more often, and it's my fault. They deserve better from me.

Dreams come true.

I always tell my friends here in Vietnam and my friends and family back in America that Vietnam is "old America." What I mean is that now in Vietnam I can try anything and be whoever I want and not be afraid to fail. I have tried many ideas and now I'm doing writing - which I never did before Vietnam.

I started Vietnam is Awesome which is a great platform and community that provides expats, locals and foreigners with a real positive chance in Vietnam to connect with each other. VIA started just over three years ago and is about to hit 100,000 members within the next 6 months.

Life in Vietnam is really great for people who want to try something. You don't necessarily have to leave Vietnam to be successful. There's so many opportunities here for creating something and making something of yourself. I really can't wait to see what the future of entrepreneurship is here and how people will use the opportunities that will be given to them.

I really hope locals continue to strive to become something great. Whether it's in art or media, especially digital media, I truly believe they can become something great and do something special here. Handwork is necessary and every moment I don't work hard at what I'm doing, there is someone else out there who is. You really just need to try and not to have fear. If you don't try, you will fail regardless.

Living in Vietnam provides limitless opportunities; it brings out the artistic and entrepreneurial side of me.

Vietnam Is Awesome