To become a good Foreigner Chaser, one must think like a foreigner. Some Vietnamese ladies have perfected the art of aping Western tastes, habits, opinions, feelings and worldviews to the point they can bluff the most seasoned expat into believing they’re “Westernized”.
They profess their love for our food, our music, our movies. They hang out at international places. They parrot any English expression that falls into their ears, without concern for context. Some go so far as to acquire the most distasteful expat habits, such as showing disdain for the ways of the “locals”.
I once woke up next to a girl who affected the most annoying low-class British accent. She didn’t know many words, but the ones she knew were like bagpipe to my ears. She said she took it from her ex. She refused to speak or text in Vietnamese, pretending she had forgotten it after so many years hanging out with Westerners (she never moved out of Vietnam). I brought her to lunch; she rejected all items on the menu because “I don’t like fish sauce”. And she’s from Nha Trang! I guess too many years meeting the most ignorant expats while working in a Pasteur Street girl bar does that to a brainless Foreigner Chaser.
Granted, that was an extreme case on the stupid end of the spectrum. But if you look at the sophisticated end, you’ll find ladies with acting skills that can fool any foreigner and even some of their fellow Vietnamese.
To better appreciate their challenge, imagine you’re a Western woman who wants to marry a wealthy Chinese immigrant (we call them “immigrants” when they move to our countries; we on the other hand are “expats”). You can spend your days in Chinatown, eating their food and watching their movies all you want; you’ll never truly become Easternized. Even living in their country for a few years won’t really scrub off the Westerner. Same for the Vietnamese Foreigner Chasers.
If it’s so hard, why would they do it?
I believe many do it out of sheer curiosity, without any specific agenda other than improving themselves and bailing out from a culturally-imposed life path. I for myself grew up in a country whose people I hate to be associated with, and I’ve taken great pains over my many expatriate years to live my life in the most personal way I can, always keeping my Western prejudices in check and absorbing as much new knowledge as possible. Why move to the other end of the world if not to learn to evolve into somebody new?
Of course these women are still living in their own country. But they totally can –and should– be open and curious about other cultures. It’s all for the greater good.
Some push it a little too far. One of my first Saigonese dates not only told me repeatedly “I’m not local” as she’d lived in Singapore a couple of years, and blushed with pride every time a taxi driver thought she was from abroad, she also once told me Curb Your Enthusiasm was her favorite show. Must have borrowed it from an American ex, as there’s no way a Vietnamese person speaking Asian English would get a Larry David joke. But here’s even better: A French Việt Kiều friend of mine once dated this girl who demanded to speak English at all times, instead of using their shared mother tongue. She even spoke English to taxi drivers and restaurant waiters, repeating herself impatiently if necessary, never breaking character under any circumstance. She had studied at RMIT you see.
Hey, I guess some people just like to put up an act. And many of these grown-up women often behave like young teenagers. They kinda just wanna look cool. If that helps me fuck them, I’m all for it. We just won’t be doing much besides that.
Where I draw the line is when the Western aping becomes an exercise in deception for financial gain.
The line is blurry, I know.
A sure sign of financial afterthought is when a woman insists to taking you to overpriced venues while pretending to guide you safely through shady Saigon and get the best value for your buck. I call this the Fresh Westerner Grand Tour: it’s perfect for newcomers who just came out of their plane, and I personally know some ladies who unabashedly specialize in that crowd, to the extent that they spend most of their days chasing these guys on Facebook even before they set foot in Vietnam.
El Gaucho is a timeless classic: I lost count of their $50 steaks and $10 extra toppings on my Foreigner Chaser friends’ walls (with the guys cropped out). There’s also the “streetfood” sold at overpriced venues; when a Vietnamese person tells you “Let’s eat street food” they’re totally aping a Western concept as there is no such thing here as street food. It’s just food!! They don’t even have streets anyway, in the Western sense of separating public from private spaces with walls and doors, let alone any serious commercial zoning. And what about those restaurant signs reading “Vietnamese Cuisine” in English when duh, we’re in Vietnam? Would you go to a Paris restaurant with a “French Cuisine” sign in English?
When it comes to accommodation, they’ll set you up in of those “Serviced Apartments” downtown where you get 30 square meters for the price of 100, and let’s not forget the many overpriced resorts of Nha Trang or Mũi Né if you’re in for a seaside trip.
The unscrupulous Foreigner Chaser will take you on a never-ending ride, tiny bit by tiny bit, for the most mundane expenses. “You want to buy a sofa? A suitcase? An electric cord? A bánh mì? Let me show you where to get a good price!” Always she’ll affect to know local prices better than you while actually setting them to Western standards. Not only she’ll gain face with every shopkeeper in the neighborhood, she might get commissions too.
Again, this mostly works with Western FOBs because after just a few months around here, most expats will stop falling for those tricks. You see, aping Western culture is a chicken-and-egg challenge for these girls: their best way to learn is to travel to the West, but they can’t do it unless they get married, which they can’t do until they’ve developed their Foreigner Chaser skills. So most of what they know is gathered from tourists and expats, international-themed activities, and Western pop culture.
Such basic material is enough to date unsuspecting tourists and fresh expats (and yes, we’ve all been there). To get a sustainable influx of the biggest cash and prizes, it takes real, raw acting talent.
Enter Snobbish Foreigner Chaser.
Of course she’s hot to begin with, but that’s not really what makes her stand out because, well, Saigon. Her command of English and Western culture is clearly superior, because she’s a very smart person – she just decided to put her smarts to use in a sad line of business. Like any other Saigonese gold digger, she can spot in a split-second the guys who are ready to spend big on her. But the Snobbish Foreigner Chaser also possesses an uncanny instinct for aping Western snobbism.
Snobbish Foreigners are an oddity in Vietnam; by their own admission they should be in Manhattan, L.A. or Paris. Somehow they landed here, either for work or on leisury excursions from a Snobbish haven closeby like Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore. They exhibit a combination of wealth, deliberate cultural ignorance, obsession with trendiness, and gutural rejection of all things common. Foreigner Chasers who can ape every one of these traits perfectly will be seen as desirable partners and will get the jackpot. On the other hand, failure to display appropriate snobbism will have them nexted or plated swiftly.
Details may vary depending on subject, but generally it’s safe to say that while she’s in the Snobbish Foreigner’s line of sight, she’ll move exclusively by car (this is paramount) and show up at upscale venues like Envy, Qui, Chill’s, Sorae and The Deck. She’ll be restricted to an area composed of Districts 1, 2, 3 (East of CMT8) and Bình Thạnh (riverside) except for the occasional escapade to some pretentious seaside resort. And she’ll readily bark at waiters, drivers, valets, shopkeepers, receptionists, or any authentically Vietnamese people who by definition are beneath her. Just like they are beneath him in his mind.
I’ve recently heard one of these princesses complain to a Đại Gia friend of mine about their room in a $1,000-a-night villa not having its private bathroom. May I remind you that for most of her life she’s been sleeping on a dirt floor with 3-4 other people and bathing with a fucking plastic cup floating in a bucket? These guys have no idea of course, because they’ve never left the aforementioned restricted area. God forbid they visit their princess’ folks back in the village. There’s no way they’ll venture that far anyway.
The Snobbish Foreigner is not necessarily naive or stupid, but his compulsion for feeling superior blindsides him. He’s like a bored French colon in his somptuous villa, longing for civilization in a land of dumb Annamites who don’t appreciate the finer things. So when he finally meets a Vietnamese woman who’s not only hot, but also understands his pains and aspirations, he falls head over heels. She’ll take him on a spending spree for a while, then she’ll start talking about how she’s sick and tired of crappy Vietnam and dreams of escaping to his wonderful paradise (she knows he doesn’t intend to stay in this shithole too long anyway). And she’ll probably be sincere about this, until she hits the harsh reality of living in the West.
Fast forward 5 years and the guy is financially trapped by kids he never sees, financing condos and cars and surgeries and top-shelf bottles for an ex-wife who now only has more tools at her disposal to catch even bigger fish.
Not that she’ll be satisfied yet; I know a 35 y.o. woman like this who gets TWO monthly tax-free $2,500 pensions from the fathers of her two kids, both Australian (that’s AUD 5,000 per month just for sitting on her ass, in case you weren’t paying attention), owns a penthouse at Saigon Pearl, lives the high life around town and fucks hotboys on her own dime, and is abundantly admired and asked for advice by her younger hot-chick peers, and still, STILL she recently complained to me that she couldn’t get a visa to go chase Đại Gia in Singapore. Never enough with these bitches.
Perhaps the Snobbish Foreigner Chaser is not to blame; she’s only giving the Snobbish Foreigner what he deserves, using his own cultural bias against him. She’s like those French-educated Mandarins who affected European lifestyles to get closer to the colons while bossing around the common people. In the end the French left.
Pictured: Vietnamese women who think locals are gross.