Why Toronto deserves a medal for the most unexciting city in the world – literally

“If you think Toronto is boring, then you are boring.” This comment can only come out from a mouth of someone who has hardly ever stepped outside of Canada. I’ve lived in a few cities in the world and Toronto leads (from the bottom)…

Let’s examine what else Torontonians say about Toronto.

Toronto is beautiful 

Ehmm. This statement amazes me the most as I can’t figure out whether there is sarcasm here or whether they genuinely find the city beautiful. Toronto in no way is beautiful. A couple of examples would be the highway on the lake front or the mix of old Soviet like looking buildings and new glass skyscraper boxes. On a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is the best, I would score Toronto 2.5; 1 point for just existing and 1.5 for the effort.

To those who believe Toronto is beautiful, I would recommend getting your eyes checked or visiting places like Edinburgh, Rome, Florence or Prague. I recently visited Kiev (the capital of Ukraine) and was absolutely amazed about how interesting and pretty the city was. Toronto is … dull looking. Full stop.

Toronto has great parks

Yes, they are nice. But why would I be excited about them if in Central Europe you have mountains and natural reserves on your doorstep? There are even cycling paths that take you to other countries. A four hour drive from Toronto will take you to a skiing “slope” that in the summer you can hike in under 10 minutes.

Toronto has museums and galleries

Well, the fact is that there are museums and galleries in Toronto. The second fact is that I have actually never been. In London and New York the galleries and museum are magnificent, beautiful and exciting. In other countries the museums are interesting because of the history of the country. What possibly could I find in the museums or galleries here that I haven’t found anywhere else?

Toronto has theatre

So it does. And every other bigger city in the world does too. After London West End, Vienna Opera or Paris Moulin Rouge, what would Toronto theatre scene offer to me that I haven’t seen? Also, why would I pay the extortionate price for a play in Toronto if I can see a West End show for 1/5 of the Toronto price? No brainer…

Toronto is great for sports

Raptors, Maple Leafs, Blue Jays… Barcelona has FC Barcelona while New York has Yankees and Giants. Hint? No-one has ever heard of the Toronto sports clubs while everyone knows those in Barcelona or New York.  Ps: Sorry, I don’t follow sports anyway. I prefer to do sports.

Toronto is multi-cultural

Yes, there are people from all over the world here, yet they don’t really bring much of their culture to Toronto. Toronto, despite so many cultures, lacks personality or diversity (unless you live in a ghetto that is).

Toronto is politically correct

It’s not. Toronto lacks freedom of speech. They refer to such lack of freedom of speech as “political correctness” here. I’ve written about this in my previous blog. People in Toronto are sensitive. If you don’t want to risk offending someone, I’ll give you a tip – don’t talk to them (you won’t miss much anyway). If you do, you may say something they’ll find offensive or they may complain about you being too loud perhaps. It’s happened at my workplace before. People of Toronto – seriously, get a life!!

Toronto has a great night life

Where? I’ve had more fun in Asia in one night than in Toronto in 10 months. Night life here is poor. I don’t even think I want to elaborate on this. It’s bad, boring, too many rules …meh.

Toronto is fun for dating

By dating, Torontonians are referring to online dating (Tinder, Bumble, etc.). That’s where fun dating starts and also ends.

Traditional dating in Toronto is almost non-existent. Guys don’t approach girls and have no clue how to flirt. If they do have a conversation with you, they try to impress you with their jobs (and/or MBAs from universities no one’s heard of). You see, having a job is an achievement in Toronto. As a comparison, in London a guy would try to get into your knickers by talking about their travels, world experiences and the books they’ve read. In New York, on the other hand, it would be a statement about what they do for living in order to imply how much money they are making. In Toronto, men are not well-travelled, world-experienced or well-read, and those that have a job, are not making much money either.

Ok. What about the people in Toronto?

The people in Toronto? The people are just like the city itself – cold, unattractive and uninteresting.

Toronto is great for people from third world countries that come here for a better life and Canadian passport.

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Vietnam in the eyes … of male expat guys

In my previous blog I wrote about my perspective on Vietnam. Based on the (fruitful) conversations I’ve had with some expat guys I’ve met in Ho Chi Minh over the last few months, I’d like to give an overview on how I understand their perception on life in the Nam.

Smiley people

The people in Vietnam are lovely, they really are. They always have smiles on their faces, unlike the miserable people you meet in London, Paris or certain Eastern European cities. I sometimes wonder what tragedy has caused their faces to turn so sour. The Vietnamese smile constantly; when they screw up on something that really matters to you and your face goes red, they smile, say “sorry” and keep smiling – “don’t lose your face, don’t lose your face…”. Such lovely smiley people, aren’t they just?!

“Free” country

Despite the fact that Vietnam is a communist country, you feel free. You can pretty much even piss and shit in the middle of the street in Ho Chi Minh – literally. The other day while I was on a bike, I noticed an elderly “lady” taking her pants off and squatting in a park (not sure whether she was doing number 1 or number 2).

You can smoke in most public places and while doing most activities, including driving a car or riding a motorbike. The Vietnamese lungs have an endless capacity – they are capable of hoovering the road fumes while simultaneously inhaling cigarette smoke. So efficient!

I should also mention that you can drink and eat anywhere in public places, and there is no need to take the rubbish with you afterwards.

Finally, while the Vietnamese law requires you to hold a Vietnamese driving license when riding a motorbike in Vietnam, the rental shops don’t. Not sure who is in violation of the law, the rental shops or the renters?! If you cause an accident and don’t have a driving license, well, I guess you are in trouble. So don’t ride (and make the rental shops go bust), don’t cause an accident or get yourself a Vietnamese driving license!

Ps: I believe there is a Facebook group for expats only living in Vietnam (no Vietnamese are allowed to join this group) that’s dedicated to sharing interesting (read disturbing) anecdotes and photos from a daily life in Vietnam – worth checking out.

Girls, girls, girls

From being able to get zero girls for months and sometimes years in the western world, foreign guys can have a different (Vietnamese) girl every night in Vietnam. Mr Don Juan Casanova would be proud.

Vietnamese girls, just like most Asian girls, have beautiful silky hair and amazing smooth skin (no sarcasm here). They are small, slim and petite – they are pocket-sized, and hence practical. They are usually very nice too and sit quietly and obediently in a corner at all times on a night out. No leash required.

If you are a foreign male, you are handsome

If you are an ugly or mediocre looking male in the eyes of western girls, the female Vietnamese eyes will “see” you handsome. There should be a scientific research conducted on this – I sometimes think that my eyes don’t quite see what the eyes of the Vietnamese chicks do.  Or maybe just our definition of “handsome” differs. Who knows…

I’ve also heard from my male friends that the Vietnamese females have interesting synonyms for the word “good-looking”, which include white skin, colourful eyes, light hair, tall, etc.

From nobody to somebody

If you have failed in the western world, it’s very likely you’ll make it in Vietnam. If you were average or below average in the west and / or are not particularly gifted or talented, the chances are that you may become a super star in Vietnam. Have you ever heard of “FILTH” (failed in London tried Hong Kong)?

Luxurious life is affordable

You can afford a “luxurious” life on a regular “expat” salary. You can live in an apartment with an outdoor swimming pool and a gym. You can afford to drink fine liquor at fancy rooftop bars every night. You can also afford to pursue expensive hobbies, such as tennis or keeping multiple Vietnamese female gold-diggers.

Food

If you are a proper guy (i.e. a guy that loves meat), Vietnam is the country for you. It’s almost impossible to find vegetarian dishes in local restaurants so you don’t have to worry about not getting your daily dose of protein (pork, beef, dogs).

If you are vegetarian, you can get yourself a cook for the cost of VND 2mil per month (approximately $90) + the ingredients. Just make sure that you thoroughly explain to your cook what your “western” food allergies and intolerances are; the cooks in Vietnam don’t usually speak good English and don’t understand the concept of “western” food allergies or intolerances. So good luck!

Stunning countryside

The countryside in Vietnam is beautiful; the serenity, the calmness, the honking out of the blue … the pigs and the cows on the road … the dirt and the litter everywhere…

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The Vietnamese are innovative aka the multipurpose of motorbikes

The Vietnamese are super innovative, particularly when it comes to the use of motorbikes. Their bike does not provide just a means of transportation for themselves but also for their pets and oversized items of groceries. I’ve seen fifteen pigs travelling on a motorbike (read tied to a motorbike) with a Vietnamese guy. I’ve also seen a man riding their bike together with twenty 20-litre bottles of water.

A bike is big enough to transport the entire family (husband, wife and two kids) from a point A to a point B. If you want to try it, this is how it’s done: you sit one kid on a chair in front of you and your second child will sit between you and your wife. I would recommend you only try this if your wife is pocket-sized. I’ve mentioned before that Vietnamese girls are practical, remember?

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Coffee culture

The coffee culture in Vietnam is massive. I absolutely adore Vietnamese coffee and am obsessed with the combination of black coffee with condensed milk. If you haven’t tried it, you haven’t lived. I also think that’s where the Vietnamese culture starts, and also ends.

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The game of haggling

While at a market, the price you are told for the item in question is usually substantially overstated. I’d say that the real price is normally half of the asking price. So you have three choices: you choose not to bargain and that way you help the sellers meet their daily earnings target faster (they are the winner) or you bargain to the point where you pay the “real price” (you are the winner) or you meet them in the middle (everyone is the winner). The Vietnamese love the haggling game – you should play too!

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