Zoophobic? Might want to reconsider Vietnam as your expat destination

Though I don't consider myself to suffer from zoophobia, here are a few instances where I would have preferred to not have been exposed to some of VN's fauna.

Motoring from D7 to D1 in Saigon one afternoon, I was about halfway through D4 when I noticed out of the corner of my eye another large-ish bike to my right. Not unusual. What I didn't expect was my acquiring a passenger. Suddenly there appeared, perched between my hands on the instrument cluster, a monkey! I'm talking one of those macaque monkeys, chattering nervously, head looking at me, then left, right, back to it's owner, and then....gone. It jumped back onto the bike alongside me. The owner was grinning and thought nothing of it. We were travelling at a good click (+60 kmh). I was a bit surprised, to say the least, but otherwise unscathed. I'm a very experienced rider, but I shudder to think how less experienced riders might have reacted.

Rats. RATS. RATS! They are everywhere! Though I've grown used to seeing them, my first close encounter with one occured in Saigon. I was out for a walk one evening, when I saw a dead rat which had been hit by a vehicle's tire. I gingerly stepped over it, only to have a large rat run out from a pile of garbage at the curb, and run straight into the side of my boot! It hit with considerable force due to its size and rate of speed. Damn!

Snakes. I abhor them. Thankfully, SWMBO has always been there to, ahem, dispatch them for me. My closest and scariest encounter occurred in T.P. Thai Nguyen. I had asked our landlord whether there were snakes in this area. He and his friend laughed. "Aidan wants to know if there are snakes around here, LOL. No, nothing to worry about", he said. No sooner had he left, while I was cleaning up some brush from the side of our driveway, when I noticed something moving just to my left. I instinctively drew my arm back, when there sailed past (where my arm had been) a rather large viper, fangs extended. Having missed its mark (my arm) it proceeded to slither away. My yelps alerted my protector (HER!), who dashed down from upstairs and slaughtered it for me. I was ready to hit it with a hammer I had next to me when she yelled, "Aidan no! It is longer than the hammer". Right, message received. She has shown me that to do the job safely, one needs a stick/club/bludgeon at lest as long as the snake itself. It was large, more than a meter long and according to the locals was known to be highly venomous. Since that episode, I have seen her kill at least a dozen snakes in and around properties we have occupied. I have found the freshly molted skins of cobras in areas of our properties that have taught me not to stick my hand somewhere I can't see in to.

Spiders. Lots of them, and not small. Some bigger than a computer mousepad. Many of these are very similar to brown recluse spiders, but a few were much, much beefier, mottled coloured, and able to jump from wall to ceiling while I pursued them. But with spiders, size isn't everything. I was bitten on the right forearm 2 years ago by a small spider (2 cm). It was essentially painless, but within 24 hours the flesh had necrotized, growing progressively worse over the next week. The wound/poison ate a hole in my forearm almost all the way to the bone. The wound was open, and had I wanted to I could have easily sunken the filter of a cigarette, and more, into the hole. I now have a permanent scar on my arm, white as the driven snow, and perfectly round.

Bats, and I mean big a*s bats. This wouldn't normally bother me, but when they're flapping around your head in your livingroom when you wake at 2:00 AM to get a glass of water it can be quite disconcerting. Again, SWMBO to the rescue, while I duck-and-weave to my safe space. I have no shame.

Scorpions. Two kinds (as far as I can tell), and unlike spiders, the scorpions do not take flight when approached. They stand their ground, waiting for any encounter thrown at them. The most usual kind I've encountered are the smaller reddish kind, sans pincers. I'm told the sting from the smaller ones is much more painful (injurious?) than their larger black cousins (the ones with powerful foreclaws). Just two nights ago I noticed my cat, Harold (don't laugh, she picked the name because it sounded exotic) had focused on some prey he had laid claim to in the middle of the kitchen floor. I had no idea that those claws could close with such force as to make a clacking sound. Fortunately, its bravado was no match for my Doc Marten boot (backed up with my 80 kgs weight). They provide ample incentive for one to wear footwear (sandals, flip-flops etc) even while indoors.

Ticks. Uggghhhh! One of the main reasons I no longer ride off-road through brush. I've not been bitten (burrowed in to?), but have picked many off of my motocross armour. Lyme disease is certainly nothing one should disregard.

Toads. Lots of them. Though VN toads are not poisonous as far as I know, they have a detrimental effect on one's sleep patterns, especially when they jump on your head and/or try to crawl into bed with you.

There's more, but so many instances of "Aidan vs. Mr/Mrs Monster" that I can't recall others right now.

So, still want to expatriate to VN? I wouldn't swap living in VN for the world, and in spite of the above I love it here.

Best of luck to any newcomers.

@Aiden,

You should try Australia lol

@Aidan in HCMC Crikey Mate, Give us the good news please!

Of course, if a person comes here and stays in luxury hotels and never ventures into any area that doesn't keep pavement/asphalt under their feet, keeping doors and windows closed from late afternoon until early morning, wears monkey repellent when on a motorcycle, and buys & uses tons of toxic insecticides around their house, most of those pests will never be a problem for you...

... except for the rats.

You'll never totally escape the rats...

🐀🐁🐀🐁🐀🐁🐀

Oh, and lest I forget, geckos! Yeah sure, they're harmless and cute, and make"great pets", that is until they get to be 30 cm big (almost 12"). I kid you not.

On a positive note, they keep other nasties at bay. I've even seen them eat other geckos.

On a negative note they leave scat on countertops, tables, and the floors large enough to impress even Harold (my cat). On top of that, they can be very aggressive. A few weeks ago even SWMBO hesitated/flinched before delivering the death knell. [link moderated]

OFFS!
You may not believe this, but as I hit "send" on my last text, from the doorway I heard
"Dahlin? Dahlin look!" (darling).

She was standing there, grinning from ear to ear, with a dead snake slinked across the end of a heavy stick.
God bless her little "nhà quê" soul.

At this point in time it wouldn't have surprised me if she cooked and ate it. I often joke with her that Vietnamese will eat anything with four legs, except the table. Her response has always been, "We eat snake too".
:)
OFFS!
You may not believe this, but as I hit "send" on my last text, from the doorway I heard
"Dahlin? Dahlin look!" (darling).

She was standing there, grinning from ear to ear, with a dead snake slinked across the end of a heavy stick.
God bless her little "nhà quê" soul.

At this point in time it wouldn't have surprised me if she cooked and ate it. I often joke with her that Vietnamese will eat anything with four legs, except the table. Her response has always been, "We eat snake too".
smile.png
- @Aidan in HCMC

Having eaten snake a few times, I can honestly say it's not overly exciting.

Having eaten snake a few times, I can honestly say it's not overly exciting.
- @colinoscapee

Well, not overly exciting unless you don't kill it first
;)
@Aidan in HCMC
So now that you have me well and truly freaked out, are the fauna of which you speak in the cities as well as the countryside?

Roger
@Aidan in HCMC
So now that you have me well and truly freaked out, are the fauna of which you speak in the cities as well as the countryside?

Roger
- @RTLisSB
In cities (not just Vietnam) many "pests" are lured by various factors, most of which can be linked to human behavior:

Disposal of trash & garbage, sewage systems or lack thereof, standing water left stagnant and untreated, construction providing habitat for species such as bats (drawn to the insects breeding in the stagnant water), light sources drawing certain insects which in turn draw spiders and reptiles and other creatures to dinner, etc.

As rats drawn to garbage and un/ill-treated sewage proliferate,  you are likely to encounter more snakes.

Add to that mix the reality that many Vietnamese Buddhists believe in living in harmony with these other life forms (see the Tết lunar calendar to see the celebration of such entities as snakes and rats and pigs and dragons/lizards and dogs) so it's not uncommon to have a landlord who is not understanding of the concerns of foreigners regarding these matters.

Also, unless you are staying in upscale/modernized accomodations, it's unlikely you will have screens on your windows.

So you may prefer turn off AC, leave windows open at night and sleep with only the aid of electric fans, as do many Vietnamese people (including, perhaps, your future Vietnamese girlfriend).

In that case, best to use mosquito nets, although that's not going to keep the geckos from visiting.

All of this (and more) is what inspires many of us to recommend visiting Vietnam first, before making the commitment to expatriate here.

You have to decide what works for you within your budget and delicate sensibilities.

Oh, and don't forget the mold...
@Aidan in HCMC
So now that you have me well and truly freaked out, are the fauna of which you speak in the cities as well as the countryside?

Roger
- @RTLisSB

LOL!
You'll be fine. We're about the same age, same culture. If/when you decide to settle here, I'm guessing that it'll be no time before any such experiences will be like water off a duck's back for you.

But to answer your question...

Monkeys?... That was a real one-off. Though I've seen a few pet simians, I've yet to be boarded again since then.

Rats?... yessiree Bob. Late at night when the food vendors ditch their unsold noodles on the side of the road, the rats come out in force. I've even seen them mid afternoon, in groups of up to 10 or 12, feeding on scraps while people bustle by only a couple of meters away. I'm talking big guys. Expect them.

Snakes?... I've only seen a snake twice in the larger cities, once in Hanoi and once in Saigon. Both times it was on the outskirts of each city. You won't see them in any downtown locations. People seem to have a natural universal fear/revulsion to snakes, hence they don't stand much chance of survival living alongside us.

Spiders... Oh yes, yes, and yes. Ubiquitous, I'm afraid. A good dousing of insecticide spray in your unit, say once a week just before you go out for an hour or two keeps them down to a manageable level. Concentrate the spray to dark spaces (behind bed's headboard, behind dressers, under bed, underside of tables etc)

Bats... In the cities I've only seen them fly down the length of streets, never had a problem with them coming into the house.

Scorpions... Saw them only once in a friends home in Saigon. They are predatory animals, and from what I can tell they like living in tall grasses, under wood scraps and the like while they wait for prey.

Ticks... Never seen any in the cities. Not sure if the municipal gov'ts have an eradication/spraying program or not, but they would be rare in the city.

Toads... Yupper. They live in gardens and any small plot the locals use to grow veggies. No real concern though.

Geckos... Oh yes. I had no idea that geckos have sharp teeth, a bite that will-not-let-go, and are incredibly strong, grip wise. I hit a rather large one a few weeks ago with a heavy stick, and though concussed (mortally?), no matter how hard I struck the stick against the ground I couldn't break its hold. I got spooked when it focused one of its eyes on me so I dropped the stick and stepped back. SWMBO finished it off (as per usual).

Oh, I forgot centipedes. Poisonous, 1/2 meter long centipedes which hunt rats, snakes, bird chicks and anything else it can latch its (100?) claws on to. To see a centipede and a snake battle it out is something to behold, let me tell you. But like snakes, you'll not likely see one in any urban setting.


Don't be put off by any of this. You'll adapt. If 94 million+ VN people can, we can too, though it will take some practice
:)
Monkeys?... That was a real one-off. Though I've seen a few pet simians, I've yet to be boarded again since then.
@Aidan in HCMC
When visiting pagodas, foreigners should be cautious when attempting to feed (or resisting feeding) monkeys.

We had some bananas with us at Chùa Châu Thới in Dĩ An, Bình Dương (Google Maps link) and fed a couple to the many monkeys there.

One of the monkeys went for the bag in which we'd been carrying the fruit,.

When I attempted to yank it back, I was immediately faced with the most vicious, snarling, teeth-baring monkey I'd ever encountered in my life.

We got the bag back after it got away with the rest of the bananas.
Monkeys?... That was a real one-off. Though I've seen a few pet simians, I've yet to be boarded again since then.
@Aidan in HCMC

- @OceanBeach92107

OMG yes, we had same thing but at temple on road leading to Ho May Park, we got off bikes I walked across road to get a drink while kids and missus went to go up steps to temple, a monkey walked over to her bike and grabbed her helmet and ran off! I got up and walked across to try to get it back and one of the boys ran to help out, the monkey got very aggressive dropped the helmet and ran towards as.

We got out the way quick as the monkey troop all started getting angry so we all headed towards the bike's just to watch one of them grab my drink run up a tree and pull the lid and straw away and drank it.

We made the group decission we didn't like monkeys and moved on.
Monkeys?... That was a real one-off. Though I've seen a few pet simians, I've yet to be boarded again since then.
@Aidan in HCMC

- @OceanBeach92107

OMG yes, we had same thing but at temple on road leading to Ho May Park, we got off bikes I walked across road to get a drink while kids and missus went to go up steps to temple, a monkey walked over to her bike and grabbed her helmet and ran off! I got up and walked across to try to get it back and one of the boys ran to help out, the monkey got very aggressive dropped the helmet and ran towards as.

We got out the way quick as the monkey troop all started getting angry so we all headed towards the bike's just to watch one of them grab my drink run up a tree and pull the lid and straw away and drank it.

We made the group decission we didn't like monkeys and moved on.
- @Andybris2020


I hate monkeys, horrible creatures.
Monkeys?... That was a real one-off. Though I've seen a few pet simians, I've yet to be boarded again since then.
@Aidan in HCMC

- @OceanBeach92107

OMG yes, we had same thing but at temple on road leading to Ho May Park, we got off bikes I walked across road to get a drink while kids and missus went to go up steps to temple, a monkey walked over to her bike and grabbed her helmet and ran off! I got up and walked across to try to get it back and one of the boys ran to help out, the monkey got very aggressive dropped the helmet and ran towards as.

We got out the way quick as the monkey troop all started getting angry so we all headed towards the bike's just to watch one of them grab my drink run up a tree and pull the lid and straw away and drank it.

We made the group decission we didn't like monkeys and moved on.
- @Andybris2020

I hate monkeys, horrible creatures.
- @colinoscapee

add 5 more votes for that
@Aidan in HCMC
So now that you have me well and truly freaked out, are the fauna of which you speak in the cities as well as the countryside?

Roger
- @RTLisSB

goodolboy in bed in a hotel D1 HCMC , just dozing off & had an itch down in the private parts. Half asleep just gave it a scratch. Wallop searing pain in my n*t sack. Leapt out of bed & blood everywhere & spotted the culprit...........a fn centipede & still on the bed! GF beat the crap out of it with her shoe & then came running into the toilet to apply a tourniquet to the wound. When we eventually got back to the bed it was not dead & had done a runner. Luckily she found it half way up the curtain & it did not get a second chance.

At my old house quite regular visitors were scorpions, small snakes & a big lizard lived & bred in the loft!
We've had lizards (Geckos) in our place. Learned it when working in Central America. They love to eat those things. They eat mosquitos too!
MAc.

Never encountered monkeys though, some snakes on the coconut farm, gotta be careful.
@Aidan in HCMC

LOL, Ok, I'm still coming. 1f605.svg

Cheers,

Roger

At this point in time it wouldn't have surprised me if she cooked and ate it. I often joke with her that Vietnamese will eat anything with four legs, except the table. Her response has always been, "We eat snake too".

- @Aidan in HCMC

At country side, a total of 4 motorbikes with 7 persons and on our way to the fishing lake, saw a snake slithering just beside the road curb. Upon seeing the snake and yelling "ran ran ran"... spontaneously all 6 persons jump off the bike except me giving a good chase even to the extend of climbing up the tree. Finally we win over after a hell chase and bag the "bonus" dish ( claimed to be a rat snake as it has shinny scale ) for diner. Hey isn't our intention is fishing? Well 1 of the buddy proudly whiskers "mua 1 tang 1".
@RTLisSB

Just got a good slap by a bat wing yesterday during my casual walk at the lake. Maybe that bat is partially blink or too engross of chasing the insects for food thus bump into me.

Well in here, anything that is with 4 legs is edible except table or its equivalent. Pest found here is because there are no human as their predator thus proliferate especially rats / mice and cockroaches where they really multiply fast. At country side, such pest would be a staple except that consuming it will bring back omen eg: bats, black cats or anything associate with black colour or worst even black glutinous rice congee ( chao do den ) is not for sale on every first day of the month based on Chinese calendar. But still some will not give a d*mn.

Well... something to ponder on. Let's do birds count instead. I bet you will hardly see a bird flying freely around the sky regardless where you are. You may not need my answer for this ain't you.

1f601.svg
After reading to SWMBO my post and some of the replies, her response was one reflecting both brevity and logic.

"Like I say you before. No be afraid. Just kill, ok?"

Hard to argue with that.
Sometimes you have to call a thing for what it is.

Monkeys, snakes and centipedes are evil and should be dealt with accordingly.

Main source of critter-related (mental) stress for me in Vietnam though is where the heck are all the cows? 95 million dairy-guzzling Viets, I've seen about 6 cows after 14 months in-country.
@Aidan in HCMC

She's clearly a keeper! Well done!

Roger
@RTLisSB

Well... something to ponder on. Let's do birds count instead. I bet you will hardly see a bird flying freely around the sky regardless where you are. You may not need my answer for this ain't you.

1f601.svg
- @alexneoh

I'm intrigued. Habitat loss? Pollution?

Roger
@RTLisSB

Well... something to ponder on. Let's do birds count instead. I bet you will hardly see a bird flying freely around the sky regardless where you are. You may not need my answer for this ain't you.

1f601.svg
- @alexneoh

I'm intrigued. Habitat loss? Pollution?

Roger
- @RTLisSB


Eaten or in cages.
Sadly,

In cages, as some are...to be released as Buddhist tradition. Part of the freedom to live belief, many stories in antiquity. I pray this is not too sensitive for our forum, it is meant to be purely educational:

MAc
@RTLisSB
Most definitely eaten. My very first morning after arriving in VN, downtown Saigon, I noticed an almost total lack of birds.
Right outside my front door a year or two ago in Thai Nguyen I watched the bird catchers ply their trade.

They'd ladder up to the top of a utility pole and attach horizontally a 1.5 meter long aluminum rod, and a small speaker and playack device.
Press play, and the sound of small birds would emanate from its speaker box. Once back at ground level, I saw at least 20 small birds flock to the sound and perch on the aluminum rod, only to become stuck to it by some very effective/strong glue. This after only 3 or 4 minutes of the recording being played.

These very small birds, literally crammed into cages, are sold as food in Saigon.
@RTLisSB
Most definitely eaten. My very first morning after arriving in VN, downtown Saigon, I noticed an almost total lack of birds.
Right outside my front door a year or two ago in Thai Nguyen I watched the bird catchers ply their trade.

They'd ladder up to the top of a utility pole and attach horizontally a 1.5 meter long aluminum rod, and a small speaker and playack device.
Press play, and the sound of small birds would emanate from its speaker box. Once back at ground level, I saw at least 20 small birds flock to the sound and perch on the aluminum rod, only to become stuck to it by some very effective/strong glue. This after only 3 or 4 minutes of the recording being played.

These very small birds, literally crammed into cages, are sold as food in Saigon.
- @Aidan in HCMC

I have witnessed same in D12. Was out walking round the block one day & then walked through the park & saw all these sparrows hanging  upside down by their feet or even wing feathers from the sticky horizontal pole. Though WTF is this & then the guy came over, pulled down the pole & just ripped the birds off the glue & crammed into a cage. I went fn nuts & of course he just laughed (crazy foreigner) . These birds were destined for the temple market.
Round where I live now (Celadon City) there are literally hundreds of wild birds in the Celadon Park & the gardens, mostly Sparrows but also turtle doves & lots of Swallows & lots of Common Pigeons & thankfully its private so no people with sticky poles!!

I hate monkeys, horrible creatures.

- @colinoscapee

A pox upon their house!
I'm not sure whether gastrointestinal parasites qualify as fauna, but I encourage visitors and expats alike to follow the advice of these doctors.
At my household, I have been taught that twice a year we are to give ourselves a thorough "flushing".

Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, head of the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, states...
"Half of Vietnam's population infected with parasitic worms...". This article is from 2015, but the information is still, of course, pertinent.


Please remember, twice a year, even when there are no obvious indications of infection or infestation.

Deworming is effortless, painless, and it could save your life.
@Aidan in HCMC

Great point, and great articles, Aiden.

In addition to eating the "chewable" mentioned in the second article, do you do anything else to "deworm"?

Again, great post!

Roger
@RTLisSB
Hi Roger. There are many inexpensive anti-parasitics available here at every pharmacy, the efficacy of which I have no data.

Here we alternate between albendazole, mebendazole, and ivermectin (my preference). Loads of information available on these drugs. Each are widely available at any of the larger pharmacies.

(I've heard rumours that ivermectin just might be effective for other types of infection too);)
After reading to SWMBO my post and some of the replies, her response was one reflecting both brevity and logic.

"Like I say you before. No be afraid. Just kill, ok?"

Hard to argue with that.
- @Aidan in HCMC

She sounds wonderful, congratulations.

I live in rural Ireland and once when I was on a video call with my vietnamese girlfriend a couple of sheep wandered into my garden. I turned the phone around to show her and her immediate response was, "can you catch them honey, and kill them later".
I'm not sure whether gastrointestinal parasites qualify as fauna, but I encourage visitors and expats alike to follow the advice of these doctors.
At my household, I have been taught that twice a year we are to give ourselves a thorough "flushing".

Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, head of the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, states...
"Half of Vietnam's population infected with parasitic worms...". This article is from 2015, but the information is still, of course, pertinent.


Please remember, twice a year, even when there are no obvious indications of infection or infestation.

Deworming is effortless, painless, and it could save your life.
- @Aidan in HCMC

Well this might explain why 45kg VN women can eat 3x more seafood (or anything else) per sitting than I can.
I'm not sure whether gastrointestinal parasites qualify as fauna, but I encourage visitors and expats alike to follow the advice of these doctors.
At my household, I have been taught that twice a year we are to give ourselves a thorough "flushing".

Dr. Tran Thanh Duong, head of the National Institute of Malariology, Parasitology and Entomology, states...
"Half of Vietnam's population infected with parasitic worms...". This article is from 2015, but the information is still, of course, pertinent.


Please remember, twice a year, even when there are no obvious indications of infection or infestation.

Deworming is effortless, painless, and it could save your life.
- @Aidan in HCMC

Well this might explain why 45kg VN women can eat 3x more seafood (or anything else) per sitting than I can.
- @Brick23


Anyone residing in VN long term should be taking a worming treatment every 6-months. Fugacar is one of the most popular brands on the market.
@RTLisSB
Hi Roger. There are many inexpensive anti-parasitics available here at every pharmacy, the efficacy of which I have no data.

Here we alternate between albendazole, mebendazole, and ivermectin (my preference). Loads of information available on these drugs. Each are widely available at any of the larger pharmacies.

(I've heard rumours that ivermectin just might be effective for other types of infection too)wink.png
- @Aidan in HCMC

Never think of this actually. Thanks for sharing. Will make this a to-do list for every 6 months.
Well i live in long bien in a vincom community and never seen any of that wild life except rats and my cats and malamutes are taking care of them but trust me if i see a snake i wont stick around…. I cannot stand them… when i go to the countryside i have always very careful where i go because of them ….
Reminder:

Religious discussions are not allowed in the forum (see the forum code of conduct) so they are also off topic in this thread.

One post has already been deleted by Admin (my request) and a subsequent post is slated for deletion.

Thanks for your cooperation.
Hello everyone,

Please note that some off-topic posts about religion have been removed from this thread.

All unnecessary debates will immediately be removed.

Kindly avoid such messages on the forum and let's stick to the topic which is Zoophobic? Might want to reconsider Vietnam as your expat destination

Thank you,

Cheryl
Expat.com team

Oh, and lest I forget, geckos! Yeah sure, they're harmless and cute, and make"great pets", that is until they get to be 30 cm big (almost 12"). I kid you not.


30 cm only? Must have been a baby. We get bigger in District 8.
Wife ordered a saddle on Alibaba.
Tight for me, but she rides it to the market. Plenty of room for bags.