My SG cities

Singapore - Saigon, my “SG” duo

2am at Jewel, Singapore. My flight back to Saigon will take off at 7am.

I should only be here around 4:30am earliest but I had forgotten to return the laptop charger to office and needed to make a detour trip there. So heck, decided to just sleep at the airport like during the student days, just for once. Reached Jewel around 12:15am and it has been fun so far.

The last few months went by like a flash. Since moving back to work mainly in Vietnam, I’ve been adapted to the new environment. The Vietnamese team has sped up the development process quite a bit. There is no more I, myself and me team. New challenges arrived since I didn’t have any experience on building a team yet. This is my first, but so far, I’ve been blessed. We are very close to achieve the key milestone to launch our product which has been in its concept for 5 years and in its cocoon for 1 year plus. Both exciting and scary.

As the same time, wifey and I now expect a child early next year. I was and still am overwhelmed with joy and worries. At this very moment, I feel like I am not even adult enough to be a father. But what to do, I guess we will grow into it, just like our fathers have done.

It has been a very exciting year full of challenges and hopefully rewards too.

Different environments

Sitting here in the airport now is very different from sleeping at budget airline terminal almost a decade back. I was trying to save money then (1.5x night taxi fare from NTU to airport is a no-no-no for a foreign student) and the experience sleeping through was pretty horrible.

Singapore since then has closed down its budget terminal, adding another terminal 4, Jewel (connector for all terminals) and plenty of other projects that I have lost count on. This, the speed and quality of construction in Singapore, has never stopped to amaze me since the first day I landed 14 years ago. Originating from a country with slow and corrupted construction industry, Singapore has open my eyes in a big way.

By working in both cities (Singapore and Saigon), I have realized there are so many potentials on both sides.


In Singapore, it is the facility and the business environment.

About the facility aspect, it has excellent roads/buildings/offices with 24 hr access, covered walk ways everywhere and everything is super well maintained. You won’t realize that until you go to Saigon (or any other cities for that matter, just look at the Hong Kong’s unmaintained version of HDB). Ex: Our Vietnamese office has power shutdown almost every month or 2. I have been in fewer shutdowns in the total 14 years I stayed in Singapore. Business environment in Singapore is extremely supportive for SME. Low tax rate, even none for low revenue company. There are grants that SME can tap in as well. Also, all services could be done online from filing tax to renew your business. It is not like that at all in Vietnam.


Saigon, however, is more vibrant on the human resource market.

The developers I’ve found in Saigon are hungrier and managing stresses better than in Singapore (or maybe I just suck at hiring. idk). I have always found it hard to make a Singaporean employee/ subordinate feel the urgency to act. To be honest, I think a lot of Singaporeans don’t even need a job since they are already quite well off. (From my experience, it is also not common for a Singapore company to sack its staff. Usually it is a gentle asking for resign).

That’s not the case in Saigon. The city is still under developed, its first metro plan will probably still be delayed until 2025. There are a lot more problems to solve in Saigon than in Singapore. Therefore, there are more opportunities as well.

At the same time, it is much harder to hire people in Singapore with the ratio quota for Singaporean vs. Foreigner. This is a challenge for SME because Singaporeans will usually ask for higher salary.

I do love both cities, one has given me the root, the home, shaping my basic view on life, the other one has given me the freedom/comfort to grow into what I want to be. I feel like there are so much these 2 cities can learn from each other.

Singapore will then be happier and Saigon will be then more advanced and comfortable.

This is the end of my rambling, see you again maybe at another 2am.

Written on July 26, 2019