Please be nice to me, I have no friends.

If the look I am going for is lonely and nervous, I’m nailing it. I am sitting in a café on my third coffee in a row, doing my best impression of a nonchalant, seasoned local. Deliberately facing the entrance, I look up and flash a dazzling smile at everyone who comes in, pretending to casually look up from my ‘work’. One of them will love to be friends with me. Surely?

I had been in Dingo Deli for approximately two hours, and it was my second day in Hoi An. Craftily, I brought my laptop as a prop to make me look occupied. Truth is, I had nothing much to do except scroll through my Facebook newsfeed. I think everyone on Facebook had decided to post about what an unbelievably amazing time they were having with their millions of friends that day.


Two days into ‘life as an expat’, I am out of my depth. I am a very social person, and having no plans to meet anyone for the day, or any days after, is completely alien to me. I quite simply am alone in a new town, and honestly doubting whether I have made the right decision to move here. What am I supposed to do? I literally have no one here. Take me back to Sydney now, please.  A day felt like it lasted a week.

At 2.30pm I looked at my watch, only to then panic again about what I was going to do for the rest of the day. Bed at 8 pm was looking a likely possibility.With the risk of a caffeine overdose growing more and more likely, I knew I had to leave my coffee shop haven. Out I ventured, into the big city lights (OK, beautiful twinkling lanterns) of Hoi An.

I went on a mission to find a bicycle and was decidedly chuffed with myself in finding one in the first homestay I asked. The owner was a miniature, middle-aged lady with a huge smile and a big love for her two ginger kittens. She gave me one to cuddle! I honestly would have paid anything she asked for the bike. I was in a smitten kitten-loving daze, and completely unknowledgeable about the price of hiring a bike. She told me to pay when I brought it back, which was refreshing. Coming from Sydney, where you need to leave your firstborn as a security deposit for that kind of thing,  I paid just 20,000vnd on return, about $1.15 Aussie dollars.

The first task accomplished, now what the hell would I do for the rest of the day?

Building up the courage to talk to someone then chickening out each time, I circled the chaotic, noisy Central Hoi An markets for what felt like ages. Seeking out the friendliest looking market holder, or at least one who wasn’t just shouting at me to come over to their stall, I eventually scored 5 eggs for 25.000 dong. Later that day I was told that I should have only paid 15.000. What a rookie.

Exhausted from all my activities, I called it a day and went back to my place to recover/wallow in my own company for the rest of the evening.

In the days following, I continued to surprise myself with the lengths I went to, to muster up some friends. A low point was spending over two hours in a bar trying to act interested in the tennis on the TV in the hope of striking up a conversation. Nothing screams ‘lonely and desperate’ more than a person hanging out in a bar by themselves. Eventually, I reached out to a girl in a similar position on the expats’ Facebook page and blatantly asked her to be my friend, as she seemed to be in a similar situation to me.

But alongside being a little pathetic, I found a new pride in myself. I put myself out there. It felt odd to just write to someone and ask them if they wanted to hang out, but I did it and lost nothing. In fact, it worked. I made a friend.

It wcarol_final_3_as then that a miracle happened. Finally, I had something to put in my lonely social calendar! A local beach bar was hosting an event, and my only friend in the world invited me to come along. There was hope on the horizon, I may meet people! Relief washed over me as I was introduced to others who had made the move to Hoi An. Some had been here months, some years–but suddenly I could see a glimpse into a possible future for myself. With views of the ocean and a few beers and a banh mi  under my belt, I felt worlds away from the lonely coffee shop dweller I was only days ago. Plans to go out at the weekend were made, Facebook friend requests sent and received. It was official, I had a social life again!


So, it has now been a full week into my life here in Hoi An. A couple of coffee dates and a big night out later, and I can proudly announce,


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    Nice emotional honesty. Good job. Me, older male. First time in Asia. 3 days in Hoi An. 25 to go. Meet me for coffee so I can claim to have a friend?
    [email protected]


    ENJOY, Don’t just look for expats, the locals are beautiful people and you will learn more from them.
    I am a bi-yearly visitor, a lot to your Senior and love Hoi An and it’s people. I’ll be back in two weeks, we can meet and have a cold one if you would like. Go to Sua Coffee 166 Ly Thuong Kiet Tp Hoian, ask for the owner Thanh and say Ken sent you.


    Thanks Ken, I certainly will check the coffee shop out!


    You are really lucky! You have such a beautiful soul. People instantly like you! And so they should! You filled my days with calming comfort! Muah xx


    Thanks Emily! That made me feel all warm and fuzzy! x


    What a good read!!!! You go girl!


    Yep – most of us can relate to that situation – pleased there was a happy ending.


    Loved reading this. I can relate to your story in some of my own travels. Respect for your honesty! Enjoy the rest of your time xxx


    Come to the Hoi An Social Club tonight (Feb 19) at Almanity Hotel at 4 PM! You’ll meet many great people. That’s where we found several good friends.


    Thanks Peter, I did and it was great!


    Ϝirst off I want to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question in which I’d like to ask if you do
    not mind. I was curious to know how you centeг уourself and clear youг thoughts prior to writing.
    I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my
    ideas out there. Ӏ truly do tаke pleasure in writing however іt just seems like
    the first 10 to 15 minutes tеnd tⲟ be wasted simply just
    trying to figure out how to begin. Any suggestions oг hints?



    Very proud of you, Carol! Not an easy thing to do! Heard you had a big night out for your birthday – hope it’s all more fun for you from here out. Big hugs!

    Ps – if I could post a photo of Alex here to make you smile I would!


    I have just spent a bit over a week in Hoi An &
    I LOVED IT so much, I am now making enquiries about moving there to live !
    (Because I can.)
    And I didn’t even get to the beach.
    See you in March / April 2019


    Hi Robert, that’s great news. You will never look back – and after you see the beach you will be doubly happy. See you in March/April 2019. Best regards, Sharon


    Hi Robert and Sharon. It was great to see your more recent posts to Carol’s encouraging story. I am looking to visit Hoi An for a long stay (3-5 months) starting early April 2019 – this could become even longer depending on how it goes.

    My simple plan is to try and meet people attending the events in the Hoi An Now calendar and see how that pans out. Meanwhile, if you would like to offer any suggestions/guidance, I’d be pleased to hear from you. Cheers.


    Hi Paul, to help further we need to know your specific interests. Pubs, yoga, beaches, food, culture etc? By all means drop in when you get here and we’ll see what we can do.


    Hey Stuart, thanks for that.

    I’m pretty much interested in the things you mention other than not really having done much (any??) yoga in the past…however, I will be coming with a fairly open mind and ready to explore new interests. Therefore, I could even give yoga a go – I would probably have to insist on the others signing a ‘no laughing contract’ 😉

    My aim will be to get a nice balance between activities, relaxation and food. I will gladly accept your offer and pop in to say g’day and look forward to meeting you guys. Thank you and cheers.


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