A U.S. man has scored more than 4,800 followers on Facebook mainly thanks to his touching stories about his life in Vietnam.
Thirty-year-old Philip Veinott is now in charge of marketing and social media for Vietnam Is Awesome, a tourism website offering local experience for foreign tourists.
His love for Vietnam, the country he has been living for six years and which he now calls home, is obvious in the pieces of writing on Vietnam Is Awesome and on his Facebook page alike.
The English language teacher said he often writes once a week and the writing usually costs him a few hours.
His topics are simple and usually come from his past experiences, according to Veinott.
He has so far published around ten such stories, sharing his first-hand experience on food, student life, and travel tips with readers.
The stories also feature cleaning ladies who he said should be appreciated but people just do not care, how inconvenient it is for tall people in Vietnam, or why Vietnam is awesome to him.
Veinott would feel a bit shy when people praise his writing, saying he is not a professional writer and only writes what he sees, thinks and experiences.
One of his most famous stories is the “The luckiest unlucky day,” which earned him around 50,000 likes after going viral on social networks.
In the story, Veinott recounted how lucky he was to have met a Vietnamese couple who helped him when he had one of his arms broken after an accident.
One of the most touching stories, in the meantime, is the “Why Vietnam is my home,” which he said had allowed him to sit down and think about the reasons why he considers Vietnam his home.
“In Vietnam I have my soon-to-be wife, my Chihuahua Boo, friends and students,” he shared. “I have a very good relationship with my students.”
To the man from New Jersey, the awesomeness of Vietnam comes from tiny little things like the feeling of being free when driving a motorbike, or seeing the way Vietnamese people enjoy such street foods as snails.
In explaining his love to Vietnam, Veinott said it is a personal feeling.
“If I could come back as another human, I come back as a Vietnam,” he expssed.
The teacher who loves writing added that he hopes to get more people involved so that he would not be the only one who promotes Vietnam and says the country is awesome.
“I have lived here for six years, this is my home,” Veinott said.
“If you actually live here, have a family here, this place is awesome.”
Tet is the cause of love
Philip Veinott would never forget the first day he came to Vietnam on the occasion of Tet (Vietnam’s Lunar New Year) in 2008 to see his former boss, an overseas Vietnamese, in Ben Luc District in the southern province of Long An.
Veinott admitted that he had no idea about Vietnam at the time and did not want to come.
However, the man changed his mind shortly after being fascinated by the completely different life in Vietnam.
“There was no air conditioner, no Internet; TV had all the Vietnamese channels; you had to go outside for toilet and slept in mosquito net, not mentioning people kept looking at you like in the zoo,” Veinott recalled with laughter.
“However, we later started laughing and talking, then I felt a connection that had never felt before so I said I want to come back.”
The man really kept his words, one year later, also at Tet, he came back to Vietnam again, visiting Ho Chi Minh City, and has since chosen to live there.
“Tet was the first time I came to Vietnam, so I got the experience that everybody playing cards, drinking beer and having fun, laugh and joking,” Veinott shared.
“The feeling of friends and family was greater than in America. In America, people were like ‘give me space,’ so I felt in love with Vietnam because of Tet.”
However, the relation between Vietnam and Veinott was challenged in 2012 when he returned to the U.S.
“Because after three or four years, you will be sick of any place, but then one day my mother said ‘why aren’t you working?’ I don’t know why but maybe a subconscious inside me wanted to come back to Vietnam,” Veinott recalled, explaining having a job in America means he would not return to Vietnam.
As time went by, Veinott came back to Vietnam only after three months at home.
Besides teaching and blogging, Philip Veinott has also been known as the founder of SlapDish, a service that offers free vouchers from restaurants and hotels in Ho Chi Minh City.
Companies will give Veinott the vouchers for him to announce them on SLAPDish, and people comment, tag, share to take a chance to win.
Born in 2014, SLAPDish has so far run as a free-of-charge bridge for people to connect to each other, according to the founder.
“The biggest thing SLAPdish has brought me is connections because it has brought me so many people,” Venoitt said.
As for other reasons that tie him to Vietnam, Venoitt said he still has a lot of things to do here, including working, getting married and taking care of his dog.
“Marrying her seals the deal, meaning Vietnam will be part of me forever, naturally,” Veinott replied when asked if marring his fiancée, a half – Vietnamese woman, will enlarge his love for Vietnam.
Although he is currently not sure if he will live in Vietnam forever, Veinott said “[I] want to retire here.”
“I’m only 30 so imagine if I spend 50 years in Vietnam, I feel Vietnamese already,” concluded.
“Everything I do is Vietnamese.”