You may love Vietnam. But you will never love Vietnam the way that Andrew Davey does.
The 30-year-old from Melbourne recently posted a very nicely produced video of him playing a song called “Anh Yeu Em,” which means “I love you” in Vietnamese, on his YouTube channel last Saturday. He wrote the song while traveling across Europe and Africa last year.
In the video of less than three minutes, Davey carries a tablet with the words “Anh Yeu Em” through various cities – Bilbao, Fez, London, Marrakech, Paris, Rome, Valencia and his hometown.
The video wraps up with scenes from Vietnam, with him standing in front of Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City and by a Hanoi lake.
Davey is not the first foreigner to sing and write Vietnamese songs, and to be honest, possibly not the best. His Vietnamese is not perfect either – he admits that people still laugh whenever he speaks.
And still, the video has been hugely popular and won a lot of hearts and thumbs up on social media, mostly from Vietnamese users.
“It surprises me the great reaction that I get from young Vietnamese,” Davey said in an email.
But it might not a big surprise if one looks at the lyrics that any Vietnamese can relate to, one way or another.
In the song, Davey compares his love for a girl to how much “a Vietnamese loves durian” and “boiling water loves instant noodles.”
Durian is among the tropical fruits that are most loved by locals and also a lot of foreigners who have a chance to taste them. They surely arouse strong emotions, as the distinctive smell and taste will make you either worship it or hate it.
And Vietnam is the second biggest instant noodles consumer in the world.
The country is also the world’s second biggest consumer of dog meat, and that is possibly why the lyrics tick one more time with a line that can upset some animal lovers: “I love you like a dog eater loves eating dogs.”
Davey said he first visited Vietnam in 2009, when he traveled around southern Vietnam and quickly came over the big culture shock.
In a few days, he learned to order ca phe sua da, a favorite southern drink with condensed milk in iced coffee, like a local. And of course he traveled around on a motorbike like a champ.
“I quickly fell in love with the jovial and enterprising nature of the locals in the south,” said Davey. He speaks Vietnamese with a southern accent.
He is active on the Internet as a vlogger nicknamed “Ăn Đu Đủ” (Eat papaya), sharing videos of him talking and singing Vietnamese. He also has an online English teaching business.
Davey explained in one of his videos that the nickname was given by chance by a Vietnamese who could not say his name Andrew.
“Once I met this man and I told him that my name is An-d-rew. And he asked me if it is Ăn Đu Đủ.” Since then, he has been using the new name in Vietnam.
He has plans to visit Vietnam for the eighth time this June, staying mostly in Ho Chi Minh City.
“Hopefully I can practice my Vietnamese every day and eat some new street food.”