With apparently so much fake news around, we wanted to get in on the act. Here are some correlations from our survey that we just couldn’t help but share with you. So, what do you think?


Ok, we admit it. The idea isn’t ours. The inspiration for this article comes from tylervigen.com who has a page called spurious correlations. One of our favourites from that website is the correlation between the release of a Nicholas Cage movie and the number of people in the US who drown by falling into a pool. It’s compelling reading. The deaths by drowning go up.


So, when the opportunity came up to survey our readers this month, we jumped at the chance to use some of our own data to deduce some (spurious) correlations of our own. Here they are.




Service At Cafés & Restos

Cafés and restaurants regularly cop a pasting on social media in Vietnam, usually related to service or food. Hmm, nothing new there, so when we asked our respondents to rate service at cafés and restaurants in Vietnam, we expected the flood gates to open up and drown us in a deluge of potty-mouthed negativity.


Turns out that it’s far from the case. Most respondents recognised that wait staff generally try very hard to please their customers and that the quality of service varies greatly from place-to-place. Perhaps therein lies the issue — consistency?


“Staff are nice and do their best,” says a 40-something divorced American male in Saigon who has lived in Vietnam for more than 10 years. “Can just one restaurant train their staff to check in and ask, ‘How’s everything? Can I get you anything else?’”


One of the more surprising and recurring complaints, however, was that there are people out there who actually think that wait staff in Vietnam are too attentive. Yes, you read that correctly.


Says a young respondent in Hanoi who rates service very good: “My only complaint would be the lingering waiting staff at restaurants.”


But not all agree.


“Depends on where you eat,” says a female Canadian respondent in her sixties who’s been living in Vietnam for more than a decade. “But customer service seems to include getting your meal to you and then buggering off.”


What’s bemusing is that she rated service as good. Overall, 75 percent of respondents in our survey rated service as good, very good, or excellent. So what’s the likely profile of these seemingly easy-to-please people?


— Western

— Female

— Aged 20 to 29

 — Lives in Saigon

— In a relationship

— No children

— Has lived in Vietnam three years or less

— Works in education

— Rides a Honda motorbike

— Enjoys mixing with locals

— Spends one to three hours per day online in their free time

— Believes young people should be independent

— Satisfied with entertainment options where they live


Finding Love In a Hopeless Place…Or Not?

Perhaps Rihanna’s song We Found Love (in a hopeless place) is the anthem of this generation after 18% of respondents in our survey said that dating apps and sites like Tinder, Grinder, Blued and others are great for finding meaningful relationships.


Just ask one young male Cuban respondent living in Saigon: “I met my loved one on Tinder,” he says.


And this from a young American market researcher who’s been living in Saigon for a year: “I’ve been in a committed relationship with Tinder for one year now.”


Yet, according to other respondents, dating apps are great for meeting types who are typically after your money.


“They are great for finding hookers and real estate agents,” says a 40-something American male living in Ba Ria.


Okay, we’ll take his word for it.


In what appears to be a sign of the times, finding love online mightn’t be the hopeless place we thought it was. But will it ever knock the bars on Saigon’s Pasteur Street off their perch as the number one place where love can be found in hopeless places? Time (and cash) will only tell.


Anyway, what do these hopeless romantics probably look like?


— Western

— Male

— Aged 20 to 29

— Lives in Hanoi

— In a relationship

— No children

— Has lived in Vietnam for three years or less

— Works in education

— Rides a Honda motorbike

— Has developed sexual relationships online

— Believes that Vietnam treats foreigners well

— Has never read a book by a Vietnamese author

— Likes interacting with locals

— Believes strongly in preserving French colonial-era architecture and that environmentally sustainable buildings should be a priority for Vietnam’s urban planners


The Vietnamese

If only we could find a way to get more Vietnamese to respond. Raffle a motorbike perhaps?


Having said that, Vietnamese respondents made up 15 percent of all respondents to our survey, which isn’t a bad effort, and they’ve provided us with some cracking comments.


On the topic of whether it’s fine for parents to post photos of their children online, one 30-something Vietnamese unmarried farmer without children from somewhere out in the sticks says: “Not these crazy parents posting naked pictures of their child every freaking ten minutes.”


Perhaps photos of their goats would be more to his liking?


And this on the topic of whether foreigners respect Vietnamese culture or not: “Sadly no,” says a young Vietnamese female teacher from Saigon. “We don’t need to be given an English name just because you can’t pronounce ours. Or is that just the Americans?”




Then there’s some sage advice for travellers experiencing the service joys at Vietnam’s airports: “It’s fairly good if you mind your own business and don’t ask for anything,” says a young male Vietnamese artist from Hanoi. “Remember to look like your passport, too.”


So what are these people probably like?


— Female

— Aged 20 to 29

— No Children

— Lives in Saigon

— Single

— No children

— Businesswoman

— Rides a Honda motorbike

— Thinks motorcycles on the pavements are ugly and that French colonial-era buildings should be preserved

— Cares about the environment

— Thinks tickets for live international acts are too expensive

— Not confident doing business with a foreigner, but confident in Vietnamese banks

— Says that service at cafes, restaurants, hotels and resorts is good, but not particularly fond of taxis from airports and service within airports


Island Dreaming

We’ve all heard how the Vietnamese have a crush on Singapore and that urban planners, especially in Saigon, want to create their very own version of the tiny island nation, while the rest of us wonder why.


Ask any young Vietnamese finding their way in this world where they would travel if given the chance. Singapore, they say. Why? Because it’s modern.


One Canadian male respondent in his thirties living in Saigon exclaims: “Make Saigon great again!” Then tells us what he’d do if he were president. “First things first — fix the road conditions and traffic.”


Not bad.


But it takes a middle-aged British chef based in Hanoi and living in Vietnam for less than year to raise the elephant in the room and talks BS — Bangkok and Singapore that is. “Bangkok and Singapore have no soul,” he says.


And it seems that pretty much everyone else agrees with him as just 18% of respondents agree or strongly agree that the more our cities look modern, the better they are.


“Cities have always modernised,” says a young British writer living in Saigon who agrees.


Unsurprisingly, 32%of the respondents who agree or strongly agree that it’s better for our cities to look modern, are Vietnamese. But, none of them commented on why.


So with that, we share the profile of what the 18% who dream of a modern life are probably like.

— Vietnamese

— Female

— Aged under 40

— Single

— No children

— Rides a Honda motorbike, but maybe a Yamaha too (phew!)

— Believes foreigners respect Vietnamese culture and that Vietnam is a better place with foreigners — Family is their priority in life

— Believes that graffiti is art and that Vietnamese art isn’t dying

— Thinks that motorbikes parked on the pavement ruin the aesthetics of buildings, and that our French colonial-era buildings should be preserved

— Agrees that same-sex marriage in Vietnam should be legally recognised

— Likely to have had three to four jobs in the past five years

— Likely to be still living with their parents, but disagrees that children should live with their parents until they are married

— Hasn’t visited an art gallery or museum for a long time


The Winners

Everyone who took part in the survey had their name put into a hat for a chance to win one of four prizes. Using the website random.org, we drew out the winners at random. Here they are and their prizes:


First Prize

Juan Leandro Nevares Pena

Wins: A double pass with accommodation and bus transportation to Quest Festival in early November


First Runner Up

John D. Wagner

Wins: Two individual tickets to Quest Festival in early November


Second Runner Up

Van Anh Diels

Wins: A 12-month subscription to the print edition of Word Vietnam


Third Runner Up

Elizabeth Romano

Wins: A 6-month subscription to the print edition of Word Vietnam


A special thanks to Quest Festival for providing prizes. For more information on the upcoming festival in November, click on questfestival.net


Photo by Julie Vola


To read the other articles in this series, click on the following links:


From international pariah 30 years ago to must-visit destination, tourism in Vietnam is booming.
Although the majority of readers are confident Vietnam’s economy is on the up, getting down to ...
There are more things to do in Vietnam these days, but are they entertaining? Vietnam has ...
Construction within Vietnam is a hot topic. From modern to French-era colonial, environmental ...
From freedom of expression through to the importance of traditional Vietnamese art and graffiti,
Is the gap getting bigger and do the oldies really know what’s best? Your guess is as good as
With Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of Macron in France, and the Syrian refugee ...
Does the social media scene in Vietnam differ from that elsewhere in the world?   Despite
With apparently so much fake news around, we wanted to get in on the act. Here are some ...


Matt Cowan

Managing Editor of Word Vietnam. Destined to be a dairy farmer until he accepted a spur of the moment job offer in Japan in 1998. After making it big in Japan, he now finds himself wrangling stories in Vietnam instead of cows in Australia. Matt has been living in Saigon since 2010.

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