The two couples who glean the most votes will then get the chance to prove that actions speak louder than words when we put them together for a blind date at one of the city’s plushest restaurants. Having done our bit, we’ll exit stage right and wait for sparks to fly and wedding bells to sound. Not that we are trying to put any pressure on anyone… don’t worry, you’ll hear all about the dates in November’s issue when we get the scoop from all four parties, with photos too! And another thing, the model on our cover is an ordained minister and is ready to marry our singles or preside over the funeral, depending on how the date goes...
Vote for Love
Now that you’ve read our poetic ramblings on amour in the city, time to move on and meet 20 of the city’s most eligible guys and gals. We’re throwing a readership voting competition, too, and we’ve made voting as easy and quick as possible. Each of our couples has a code. So, simply grab your mobile phone and text or tweet (@wordvietnam) your vote for the two couples you want to see go out on a date to 0934 770318. It’s that easy. Voting ends Oct. 12
The Funny Guy
Hailing from South Park, Colorado in the US, this English teacher is no quiet American — he is here to make you laugh. A farm boy at heart, this joker loves the sunny life of Ho Chi Minh City so much he is doing a two-year MBA in international business here. With a few dating disasters in his catalogue, Todd is looking forward to meeting a fun outgoing girl who likes to laugh. Not wanting a repeat of an ex with a mother so crazy he nearly ended up dating her too, this funny guy wants to meet someone as genuine as he is.
Messy people who take themselves too seriously are a no-no for film buff Todd who has an eclectic taste in comedy, stretching from Ace Ventura: Pet Detective to reruns of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm. If he can’t quote it, it’s not worth watching.
In a Nutshell: MBA student by day, social superman by night. Whether he’s shooting hoops or out for food with friends, Todd will make it his mission to be your own personal sun. Even if pet detectives aren’t your bag, there’s more where that came from.
His Dream Date: “It would be great to do something active outdoors, like rock climbing or hiking,” he muses. “It’s great to see how people handle it and whether they take themselves too seriously.”
Pros: You’ll never be bored
Cons: Sometimes not serious enough
Already scheming a way to get a copy of Almadovar’s latest film The Skin I live In, this witty editor never passes up an opportunity to see the latest X-Men franchise flick — however, Wolverine is something she’s hoping to erase from her memory. She likes a nice meal out every now and then, but is always down for tacos and beer at home.
In a Nutshell: Currently reading American Psycho, this bookworm knows how to cut loose and have fun. Let’s just hope it’s not the Brett Easton Ellis way…
Her Dream Date: The unplanned ones that catch you off guard are the best.
Pros: She’s the girl next door, a solid friend
Cons: It’s going to take more than a subtle hint to get this girl’s attention. “I’m super oblivious if someone’s interested in me. You’d have to hit me with a bat to make me realise you’re attracted to me as more than just a friend”
Who can resist a French accent? This Parisan is well-spoken, well-dressed and distributes wine for a living. So far, so good. He loves his job as it gives him a chance to network and meet new people, and you’ll often find him at Cloud 9 surrounded by a big group of friends.
Like most Europeans, he’s into his football and also likes jogging and playing tennis. He speaks an impressive array of lingua franca including French, English, Vietnamese and Spanish, as well as a bit of Japanese and Bulgarian. He finds learning new languages the perfect route to understanding different cultures and people. He likes simple women, citing a smile as the first thing he notices. Jonathan also believes in fate and follows his mother’s mantra of: Have a good job, be nice to people and good things will come to you.
In a Nutshell: Well-travelled and cultured, this is the perfect guy to explore new cities with as he’s intrigued and excited by everything and everyone he meets. His job means he’s up-to-date with all the best venues in the city and you’ll never be at a loss for things to do.
His Dream Date: “We’d start in a café with light music then go to a nice restaurant. I like doing different things so maybe I’d try to find a restaurant on a boat,” says Jonathan. “I like a change. After that it depends what the girl wants. Maybe dancing or more drinks in a different bar.”
Pros: He can serenade you in a dozen different languages. And you’ll always know what wine to order with your meal
Cons: He sometimes gets a bit moody. You’ll have to find a way to cheer him up
The High Flyer
A self-confessed workaholic, Tammy is hardworking, successful and loads of fun. Owning your own law firm is no easy task, but her life isn’t all work and no play. Whether it’s a quick shopping trip abroad or a night of shisha and dancing with her girlfriends, Tammy certainly knows how to let her hair down. This glamorous professional still finds time to design her own clothes and work out six times a week, and if that isn’t enough, she is also looking for love. Lazy playboys won’t attract this feisty lady — Tammy feels more at home with sophisticated mature guys with a sense of humour and something to say.
Making the most of Ho Chi Minh City’s diverse restaurant scene, this adventurous foodie can just as easily be found chilling with a bowl of Italian in the Park Hyatt as sitting down to a plate of homemade Vietnamese food.
In a Nutshell: Honesty is king for this business queen and as well as knowing her way around a good conversation, Tammy loves nothing more than making people laugh. She’s looking for the perfect travel partner. Her ambition to see the world means you would be crazy if you didn’t grab the seat next to her.
Her Dream Date: “Switching off after a busy day with a glass of wine in a great restaurant,” she says. “Maybe something Vietnamese or we could both try something different.”
Pros: She knows what she wants
Cons: Can take time to open up emotionally
Hailing from Nottingham, this business development manager has been living in Ho Chi Minh City for the past four years. Like any true Brit, he misses the pub, real ale and his mum’s cooking. He’s also ambitious — currently in the process of starting up his own t-shirt business. He admits that he is drawn to high maintenance girls, though not show-offs, and that a girl’s eyes are her most attractive feature.
He is a man about town and can be found anywhere from Phatty’s and Drunken Duck to Pacharan or Vasco’s.
In a Nutshell: This guy just won’t sit down. When he’s not captaining his football team, he’s following live music around the city. He’s also a genuinely nice guy (hallelujah!), who acts like a gentleman and always calls his date the next day.
His Dream Date: “It would have to be something to do with live music. We’d have drinks at a nice bar then go to a gig that we can both enjoy. I avoid the cinema date because you can’t get to know the girl.”
Pros: He’s very chivalrous. Expect to have dining chairs pulled out and car doors opened for you
Cons: He’s meticulous about table manners (not necessarily a bad thing). So don’t eat with your mouth open and elbows off the table
This 22-year-old dance instructor will get you moving, keep you laughing and kick your ass at volleyball. She knows when to be serious, but when you have a whole city of people to meet, serious can wait. After a busy day teaching modern hip-hop and studying communication at RMIT, she likes a good night out on the dance floor, busting moves designed to impress. Tired of awkward dating nightmares, Mara is looking for a guy with attitude, a sense of humour and enough presence to fill a room.
From the busy rooms of Vasco’s to the intimacy of Xu, a place to talk and dance is important for any night out on the town for Mara. “I’m the short girl who’s always visible!” she proclaims.
In a Nutshell: Intimidating for some, this Filipina bombshell can teach you the latest moves, steal you a nice car on Grand Theft Auto, lead you safely through an urban warzone on Call of Duty and if that doesn’t impress you, cook a blinding three course meal for two.
Her Dream Date: “The less preparation the better, something relaxed and unplanned,” she says. “Dinner at home would be great, where we both cook, talk, share music, then out into town for some salsa dancing to spice things up!”
Pros: Her energy is contagious
Cons: Might talk your ear off
Nguyen Thi Tuong Vi
The Unlikely Extremist
Nguyen Thi Tuong Vi is an intriguing character. On the one hand she’s a typically modern, young Vietnamese woman working as a customer service executive for a local export company with plans to eventually settle down with a husband and kids. However, this bubbly cutie pie from Dalat is full of surprises and ambition. A keen member of the Hash House Harriers with a love for snakes and the Backstreet Boys, Vi is a social networking and mystery novel enthusiast, with a passion for the extreme thrills and spills of rollercoasters and bungee jumping. One day she’d like to stop and smell the tulips in the Netherlands, study at Boston’s Harvard University and take up Spanish and Italian lessons.
When it comes to men, looks and nationality aren’t important, although Vi would like her Mr Right to be able to speak English so she can improve her own grasp on the language, have a sense of humour and wear checked shirts
In a Nutshell: Though she’d like to be taller, Vi is the embodiment of the old adage — the best things come in small packages.
Her Dream Date: A romantic sunset stroll around the city, a fun-filled day at Nha Trang’s Vinpearl Land, or dinner on a boat along the river.
Pros: Hardworking, sympathetic, with a good sense of humour
Cons: Extremely shy
The Thrill Seeker
A documentary buff, this 26-year-old bar manager at Hog’s Breath Café is obsessed with nature. Tired of watching it all on TV, Jay decided to take a look for himself and spent three months on safari in South Africa studying animal research and conservation — this guy is definitely not scared of handling wild things. Originally from Melbourne, it wasn’t long before he got the travel bug and took off to Swaziland and South America, eventually ending up in Ho Chi Minh City. A country boy at heart, this Aussie misses the outback, but is learning to love busy city life, making the most of the bar and club scene.
When he’s not running the bar and restaurant, he’s always up for a night out on the town with his mates. Preferring a bar to a club, and being able to have a good conversation is a plus.
In a Nutshell: If you are looking for a homebody, then this is not your man. Looking for a girl who leaves the crazy at the door, Jay is all about intelligent girls who can have fun and enjoy a night out. This guy is after a girl who can make him laugh and give him a run for his money.
His Dream Date: “It’s important that a girl knows how to have fun and can hold her own,” says Jay. “So we would go to a good bar with great music, and find somewhere to talk.”
Pros: Adventure is his middle name
Cons: Might talk about animals
Rina is no damsel in distress. Whether she’s wielding a laptop, drumsticks or a sabre blade, she’s on top of her game. This engineer has excavated the mines of Baguio City for gold and copper as a metallurgy student, handled explosives and designed processors for armaments. When not knee-deep into her work, she whips out her drumsticks and jams with her office band or teaches kids to play drums. If that still doesn’t exhaust her, she coaches the young fencers of the Saigon Fencing Club.
In a Nutshell: Rina loves a good challenge. With all the activities she’s into, that doesn’t leave much time for dating. She taught herself how to play drums by practicing on pillows; took fencing as a requirement for physical education at university and ended up moving on to nationals and winning 15 gold medals (even qualifying for the 2004 Olympic round for Asia-Pacific); and is the Philippine representative for Young Engineers ASEAN Federation of Engineering Organizations.The only thing she can’t master however is her kitchen. So if you can perform magic in the gastronomic realm, you might stand a chance.
Her Dream Date: If you’re not Jake Gyllenhall, you’d better be sensible, witty and look dapper.
Pros: Intellectual topics? Check. Music? Check. Sports? Check. You’ll never run out of meaningful conversations with this gal
Cons: A homebody and a reluctant dater. She’d much rather meet a guy the non-orchestrated way, like through a shared sport. Badminton perhaps? But hey, dating is a sport, right?
The Political Foodie
This PR and marketing guy lives by the F word — family, friends, food and football [Australian rules, of course]. He schedules regular weekly Skype chats with his family back home and surrounds himself with football memorabilia. Like any self-respecting Aussie, he loves sports and plays for the Vietnam Swans, who recently competed in Bangkok. Tristan is passionate about his work with KOTO, which trains underprivileged children in restaurant and hospitality skills. This conversationalist can talk for hours about politics, too. His ideal woman can hold her own end in conversation and won’t just sit back and giggle. Conversely, he’s appalled by rudeness, particularly towards waiters and taxi drivers.
In a Nutshell: With his rugged good looks and easy conversational skills, it’d be hard not to be drawn in by the effortless charm of this Down Under native. He loves hiking in Dalat and can be found relaxing at Jaspa’s and The Refinery in Saigon. This is definitely one man you won’t get bored with in a hurry.
His Dream Date: “I‘d like to take a date to an unusual place such as a small, unknown Vietnamese restaurant that offers good pho. It’s good to have something different to talk about once you’ve got past the initial ice-breaking conversation starters.”
Pros: His early aspiration was to be a chef, so he’d be sure to whip you up a feast
Cons: He hates games and can be impatient with girls who play hard to get
Dao Thi Yen Nhi
What will strike you most about Nhi is her genuine interest in the person she’s talking to. She asks the right questions and you feel just right at home opening up to her. It is no surprise that working as a student adviser in one of Saigon’s prestigious schools fits her to a T.
This young addition to the world of student counseling spends most of her week advising students and helping them make decisions for their future. Passionate about English, she spends her weekends tutoring Vietnamese kids, and even their parents, the intricacies of the language. Lest you think Nhi’s life is all about work, this lady knows when to let her hair down and just chill with her friends. Take her to karaoke and you’ll be blown away by her lovely voice.
In a Nutshell: Just because Nhi is a gifted listener doesn’t mean you can talk about yourself all throughout the date. Nuh-uh. You may like the sound of your voice but ask yourself, do you really have anything fascinating to say?
Her dream guy: If you’re a romantic, gentle fellow gifted with a soft voice, you might just make it to her list; added points if you’re tall and don’t smoke. You get the number one slot if you’re smart and caring.
Pros: She loves meeting new people
Cons: She doesn’t like fast food and noisy cafes
The Social Butterfly
Young, funny with a gift of gab, Austin, who is in his senior year, has not yet set his plans in stone after university. What he knows for sure is that he’ll take a break and do some travelling.
A self-admitted social butterfly, Austin is in the thick of the social scene. If you don’t find him clubbing, he’s probably busy couch surfing with fellow Saigonese exploring new hotspots in Vietnam or indulging in gastronomic delights. You can also find him with his friends in a scavenger hunt race around the city.
In a Nutshell: But don’t think it’s all fun and games for this socialite. His short stint as a teaching assistant for one of the prestigious international schools in town has sparked his interest in becoming involved in education. Either that or work in the hotel industry where he can use his love for linguistics.
His dream date: A perfect date for Austin would be a dinner-movie combo. The night would start in a small, nice restaurant where he could get to know his date, and would then be capped off with a romantic movie. But beware; don’t dish out too much information about yourself. Talking about past boyfriends is a no-no for this guy. Although he won’t walk out on you on the date itself, it sure is a turn-off.
Pros: If you need a buddy to go on a gimmick, Austin will be with you in a heartbeat
Cons: He prefers to stick to western cuisine
Too Old, American
This adrenalin junkie and sound engineer hails from the San Francisco Bay area and does his best to live up to the Californian surfer stereotype. He misses the beach, surfing, rock-climbing and driving his truck, but has made a commitment to embracing his life here in Saigon.
When he’s not planning excursions out of the city, he spends his spare time playing guitar and singing in a few different bands. He’s at his most relaxed when chilling with friends at ZanZbar and Sheridan’s or trekking around Dalat. In terms of women, he judges intelligence more highly than looks and likes a woman who can make him laugh. At the other end of the scale, indecision is a big turn-off, whether that’s in terms of relationship decisions or being unable to decide what you want to eat for dinner.
In a Nutshell: This all-American guy has the potential to sweep you off your feet. Whether you’re singing along to his vocals at a gig or exploring new parts of Vietnam on one of his regular trips out of the city, you’re sure to get the most of what Vietnam has to offer.
His Dream Date: “I’d like to go to Dalat, go on a hike, and finish up with a very nice restaurant in the evening, somewhere really relaxing.”
Pros: He’s very creative. If anyone was ever going to write a song for you, this is the guy
Cons: “Oh, so many flaws!” he laughs. “You’ll have to find out for yourself. We are all only human”
Dang Do Quyen
The Fitness Fanatic
When she’s not bending and stretching within the four walls of a gym, this smiley, happy-go-lucky yoga and fitness instructor of 15 years likes to curl up with a good book in a quiet café — Eat, Pray, Love is her favourite book because she sees a lot of herself in it. She read it cover to cover in two days.
With a zest for exploring all that life has to offer, this Saigon native’s extrovert personality has been shaped by multiple excursions abroad, including trips to Europe and, more recently, Ko Pha Ngan in Thailand. “The people there don’t care about the materialistic things in life, all that matters is what you’re like as a person, I really agree with that,” says Quyen.
In a Nutshell: Spirituality and developing a deeper connection with one’s self are important to Quyen, who’s a vegetarian, as is maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle. Admitting that the gym is her “second home”, her man doesn’t need to be ripped or a Brad Pitt lookalike, but should share her enthusiasm for staying fit. “A healthy body means a healthy mind!” she exclaims.
Her Dream Date: As far as first dates go, Quyen isn’t after anything too extravagant, a nice lunch at Au Parc suits her just fine.
Pros: Caring, loyal and modest
Cons: She sometimes needs a kick up the backside to get motivated and achieve her goals
The Music Man
This sound designer has a cool job in an even cooler office at post production services company Digipost. Originally from Singapore, the most interesting thing Nikk’s done in Vietnam is the coach drive to Cambodia. “Nothing opens your eyes to rural Vietnam more than that,” he says. He likes his women to be understanding and hates people who overreact. He also appreciates girls with different tastes to his as it exposes him to new ideas.
In a Nutshell: A musical man, Nikk was in bands back in Singapore and plays guitar and keyboards. He loves the beach — sun, sand and quiet — and names Malaysia as his favourite beach destination. In the city, you’ll find him dancing at Lush, sitting at a pub in Pham Ngu Lao or swimming at a rooftop hotel pool.
His Dream Date: “I’d keep it simple with a movie (I like action and comedy) and then a really nice café where we can talk.”
Pros: He’s patient and versatile and interested in discovering new things
Cons: He admits he has been known to expect too much from people
Ria Vita Puangco
The Culture Vulture
If one’s name is a compass of one’s life then Ria Vita has got it right. ‘Ria’ in Hindi means singer and ‘vita’ in Italian means life.
Ria’s love for music has allowed her to participate in an international choir here in Ho Chi Minh City and Sundays see her as the musical director of a church choir. Her zest for life has taken her to far off places like Italy and Sweden for both work and study. Moving to Saigon from Manila is another one of her great adventures.
In a Nutshell: More than just a business consultant for brands and markets, Ria is a culture vulture and an art nut. Visiting museums, watching theatre plays and spending time sketching is her idea of leisure. Her work table is filled with knick-knacks and art materials while her shelves are filled with books that range from Nora Ephron to Judith McNaught.
Her Dream Date: She likes being surprised on a date. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive as long as the man has a good date plan (emphasize on good) filled with shared laughter (not nervous laughter) and delightful conversations. As she bluntly puts it, “He should be the man!”
Pros: Ria has had her share of blind date gone bad to worse moments, but those haven’t caused her to drop out of the dating scene. She’s always game to meet new people
Cons: She can’t drive a bike. So if you get drunk, you’ll find yourself on the sidewalk, dateless and with a big gaping hole in your ego
The Party Girl
This bubbly assistant lists good health as one of her top three priorities in life. When she’s not practising yoga and belly-dancing, you’ll find her swimming laps at the local pool. But don’t worry. You don’t have to be Mr Muscle to win her heart as she describes her perfect man as being one who respects her ideas without necessarily agreeing with them.
She craves tranquility, wiles away her time people-watching from the window of The Coffee Bean on Dong Khoi, and is passionate about old architecture. Don’t be fooled though, she has a secret wild streak and has been caught taking the odd disco nap in Vasco’s.
In a Nutshell: It was a fortunate day for Saigon men when Jane migrated down from sleepy Phan Thiet to Ho Chi Minh City. After seven years here, Jane knows where the party’s at — and which corner to escape to when the bustle of the city gets too much.
Her Dream Date: “Definitely dinner — somewhere elegant. When your stomach is full, you’re full of energy,” she says. “Then a walk, maybe along the river or even around Dong Khoi, which is really beautiful at night. It’s important to have time to talk. After that we can go to a bar for drinks.”
Pros: You’ll feel looked after. “I think that’s one thing you can say about Vietnamese girls. We really care about our men,” says Jane
Cons: She’s hot-tempered. Don’t pick a fight over whose turn it is to do the dishes
Le Tran Anh Tuan
A Saigon native, Tuan loves how dynamic and active the city is. He’s not a big drinker but enjoys spending evenings with friends at The Factory. In his spare time he listens to music and is a fanatic reader and cinema goer. He’s very ambitious and hopes to be an HR manager in the future. He’s attracted to independent women and regards individual interests as key to keeping relationships fresh.
In a Nutshell: This teaching assistant loves natural beauty and is captivated by Dalat and Halong Bay. He is a hopeless romantic and has been known to escape to the tranquillity of Dalat to write poetry. His good nature and bubbly attitude is a refreshing change in a city that often seems too busy to stop.
His Dream Date: “I’d like to take a girl to Nha Trang. We’d go to a local restaurant and walk along the beach and go kayaking. In Ho Chi Minh City I’d take a date for dinner then the cinema.”
Pros: His positive attitude is infectious. You can't help but smile around him
Cons: Is it possible to be TOO cheerful?
The History Buff
Born and raised in Saigon, Gwynn enjoys watching the city constantly developing and evolving. She spends her free time frequenting local BBQ restaurants and drinking beers with friends. She’s reigned in her wild partying these days and enjoys sitting in hidden coffee shops, people-watching. She admits that her hobbies change rapidly, though history seems to be a current passion as she describes in detail her interest in visiting the old prison on Con Dao.
In a Nutshell: The naughty but nice balance is clearly evident here. As an only child, Gwynn’s family comes first, closely followed by friends and career. Her ideal man doesn’t have to be handsome (though it helps), but should be smart and funny. Sharp-tongued, she’s eager to find a man who’ll appreciate her sense of humour and sarcasm.
Her Dream Date: “Somewhere a bit fancy for dinner and drinks. Girls always want to be appreciated and treasured, right?”
Pros: She’s very optimistic and can bounce back from any situation
Cons: She loses interest quickly. You may have to treat her mean to keep her keen!
Never one to shy away from making an awkward joke or putting his friends on the spot, this loveable wind-up merchant from Manchester arrived in Vietnam a little over two years ago to climb the real estate career ladder and woo the ladies with his northern wit and infectiously social personality. Describing himself as “a challenge”, Robert likes to keep his mind and body as sharp as his Dax-waxed hair by regularly hitting the gym, playing football and participating in the odd triathlon.
In a Nutshell: When not cutting some obtuse dance floor shapes in Vasco’s or Apo, Robert likes to unwind with a good book while topping up his tan by the Saigon Pearl pool. A fan of fish and chips and the Asian continent, this young and confident Mancunian tries to steer clear of anchovies and cauliflower at all costs.
His Dream Date: To go skiing with former British Member of Parliament Edwina Curry in Bulgaria, drink vin chaud and eat fondue by an open log fire.
Pros: Ambitious, fun loving, generous, loves children and, most importantly, faithful!
Cons: Robert claims not be aware of any