Breaking Barriers Through Conversation To Open Up About A Painful Past

Episode 5 - Tracey Nguyen Mang

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Perfect for people with hearing issues or non-native speakers. This transcript is made by AI so is not 100% accurate.

Tracey Nguyen FULL Part 2

[00:00:00] Niall Mackay: Thank you for listening to season seven, Seven Million Bikes; A Vietnam podcast. I’m your host, Niall Mackay. For those of you that listened to the podcast regularly, you’ll know that Adrie and I have been in Vietnam now since 2016, so we know how hard it can be to find English entertainment here and meet new friends.

[00:00:18] Through the podcast and our events, we’re building a community of like-minded people. So you can have fun connect with others and discover more Vietnam, become a member of the Seven Million Bikes community, and you’ll get free tickets to our world. Free Seven Million Bikes face masks episodes, a dear Ellie behind the scenes content and invites to special events for community members.

[00:00:41] If you join the community before the end of September and live in Vietnam, you’ll get a free Seven Million Bikes face mask sent to you straight away. The link is in the show description. So check it out and join today. Thank you so much to our existing community members. We look forward to seeing you again.

[00:00:57] This season, we’ve gifted sponsorship of a Vietnam podcast to two amazing charities, close to our hearts, the blue dragon children’s foundation in the north and Saigon children’s charity in the south. Please check out the links in the description to learn more about these amazing organizations and donate.

[00:01:13] If you can, don’t forget to follow Seven Million Bikes on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and I cannot believe I’m seeing this even Tik TOK. Enjoy the episode. And thanks for listening.

[00:01:31] All right. Welcome to another episode of Seven Million Bikes a Vietnam podcast. I’m your host as always Niall Mackay. Now my guest today is the founder and creator of the Vietnamese boat people podcast. It’s an award-winning podcast, which shares the stories of Vietnamese diaspora. Something, we’ve talked a lot about with our guests who are children of people who were in fact Vietnamese boat people.

[00:01:59] She’s the youngest of seven children and was born in yet chain here in Vietnam before her family risked their lives to flee Vietnam. I guess today I’m very excited to have on as Tracy when Mang thank you for coming on.

[00:02:13] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Thank you so much for having me

[00:02:18] Niall Mackay: tell everyone about this conversation starter kit. Because I think when I read that, I was like, wow. As you can tell, by the way I’ve been talking, I’ve interviewed lots of different guests who we’ve touched on this subject lots of time. And when I saw that on your website, Wow. I bet that’s so helpful to so many people.

[00:02:35] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Yes, no, I appreciate you asking. And actually, if I could share that in context with sort of other things that we do. So the podcast started first and I was seeing like organically communities coming and people reaching out and I was like, wow. Like I was right. There is like, people like me who really want a space for all that.

[00:02:55] So then we started doing like events in person and, you know, with COVID more online, which actually worked in our favor because we could reach to so many more people. And then we did a blog because some people don’t want to be interviewed. But they want to share their story and like a personal journal or writing.

[00:03:14] So those things came first and through those things, what I was learning was that when we did a community event or when someone submitted a blog, you know, I’d have very informal conversations with them. And what I was learning was that like, More often than not a lot of them were saying, you know, I was, I found your podcast and I really gravitated towards it because my parents didn’t talk about this growing up.

[00:03:42] And so I had very limited knowledge and I feel like when I listened to your podcast, I feel like maybe I can empathize a little bit more with my, what my mom and dad had to go through. Maybe why they’re so hesitant to talk about this because it is painful. Really are still trying to heal within. And so then I would, I would say something like, well, you should just ask them like, well, what do you have to lose?

[00:04:07] You know, just ask them. I was like, I felt very intimidated to ask my dad growing up because we didn’t have that one, that type of relationship. But when I finally got it in my head that like the worst he could do is just say, he doesn’t want to talk about it. Or, you know, say a couple sentences. I was like, well, literally that’s the worst that could happen.

[00:04:27] But then I would get feedback that was like, yeah, but like, I don’t even know where to start, you know, there’s, there’s oral history kits out there, but they feel so like clinical. And that’s when I just was like, you know what? I want people to have this dialogue at home. Like I love the fact that they’re listening to our podcasts and they feel some sort of connection to their own family history.

[00:04:49] Even if it’s not their family story. But what if we could then encourage them to now go home or sit down with a family member and ask these questions and if it feels intimidating, what if we could create something that just makes it feel less intimidating? And that’s how we came up with the concept of the conversation kit and it’s in digital form right now.

[00:05:12] I am in the process of trying to get it printed kits so that we can distribute them in certain communities or make them available for purchase,

[00:05:21] Niall Mackay: but cheap to get stuff printed in Vietnam. Just get a printed here for and send over.

[00:05:29] Tracey Nguyen Mang: You know, we did it to be like, it’s free, it’s digital. So if you have the time, look at it online or print it out.

[00:05:36] But the way that we set it up is that there is some historical context. It’s a very short timeline of major events that might’ve. To, you know, their families wanting to flee. And then there’s like a template where like, as they’re talking, they can like jot down stuff. We have instructions on how to record it themselves.

[00:05:55] But I think the real basis of it is we designed it to be. Game. And so there’s four categories. They’re broken up into like memories, reflections you know, just categories of which underneath are 12 questions. And if you were to print it out or in the card game, it would be where you would take turns either two people or a family and just pick up.

[00:06:24] And ask the question. So what I think it does is that it minimizes the need of like, oh my God, what question do I ask first? Like, how do I even start this? So that it’s just something simple that you can pick up and be like, Hey, the card says, mom and dad, like, where were you born in Vietnam? And tell me about your earliest memory.

[00:06:44] Of that place or your favorite memory of that place. Right. Or tell us about your favorite dish and Vietnam and why you loved it so much because the thing about stories is that you learn so much by starting somewhere simple, right? Cause they can say, you know what I love. Growing up and Monday, I was actually my favorite image, but they can say I love it because it reminds me of like every Sunday morning, that’s what mom would do.

[00:07:12] My mom, your grandmother would, you know, do the steam batches of a male and serve them in these small, tiny ceramic dishes. All of that comes out of just one question that says, what was your favorite dish and why, and what do you remember most

[00:07:28] Niall Mackay: about, because then they’ll just going to give a one word answer, like, oh yeah.

[00:07:30] It’s bunny. They’re going to expand. I mean, I know that from this podcast, I just have to say one question and then someone would talk for half an hour and I just sit here, like fascinated. Today’s a good case. So.

[00:07:45] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Yeah. So the conversation kit was basically saying, you know what, we’re going to try to help you learn more, but we’re going to try to do it in a way so that it doesn’t feel intimidating.

[00:07:55] And I, how I get how some, you know, Vietnamese or family relationships can be. They’re all varying degrees. You know, some families are super close. Super open, super communicated. Others are more reserved. I mean, it really varies. And so like the kit was just designed to be like, you know, just because you’re not a family that naturally shares doesn’t mean you can’t start.

[00:08:20] And so, yeah, it’s been something that we we’ve started and we’ve tried and I think printing it will make it better because I think one of the hard things with having it digital is that during COVID families are far apart. And if you wanted to even do it on the phone or over zoom with your parents, they have to navigate the digital.

[00:08:42] So we, we do want to get to a physical kit and try to distribute it. In certain communities,

[00:08:48] Niall Mackay: I had much feedback on it. That’s made you just be like, wow.

[00:08:52] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Yeah. So we’ve gotten a couple emails from people that have said, you know, well, thank you so much for creating this. I just want to tell you, I used it with my dad and I just cried, nonstop talking to him.

[00:09:05] She said to me, I know that wasn’t your intention, but like I had no idea. What my dad had to, you know, live through. And this was the first time that I actually learned about his upbringing. And so we’ve gotten a lot of that. We’ve gotten others that have shared recordings with us and we encourage it.

[00:09:23] We say, Hey, you know, if you want to share the recording, let us know. That brings me into another. Thing if I could do a quick plug. So we, we are also a nonprofit and that was by design because we truly want to, you know, do this for the community and we want people to To donate money if they can and get some tax benefits on it.

[00:09:47] Because like you said, there’s a lot of work and we’re willing to do it for free. But being a nonprofit also allows us to look for funding from other sources to make sure that this happens, even if individual donor, our people aren’t able to contribute. Right. So in our journey, what we have learned is that.

[00:10:09] We can only record so many stories. Like even if it’s like through a storytelling events or blogs or podcasts, which she knew takes so much time But there are hundreds of thousands of stories out there, and they’re not just in the U S I get emails all the time, all over. I I don’t know if I mentioned this, but I taught five listening countries are us, Canada, UK, Australia, and Vietnam.

[00:10:34] It’s number five and the other four countries make sense because they’re English speaking countries. And because our show is predominantly in English, we’re reaching Vietnamese in the UK and Australia and Canada. And I don’t even cover those stories. Like most of my stories are Vietnamese Americans, but there’s so many other stories out there.

[00:10:53] And I get emails all the time from people saying, oh my gosh, I’m so glad I found this. We don’t really have something like this in Canada. So. We are working on a new initiative. It’s not yet available to the public, but we do have a prototype that we’ll be releasing hopefully at the end of the year, and hopefully doing some crowdfunding from the community to help support it, that we’re developing a digital platform that’s called VBP journeys.

[00:11:20] So VVP is Vietnamese boat, people journeys, and people will be able to enter their own stories and artifacts and photos and map them. And as much detail as you can give us, we can map the journey points of your family. But the idea is it’s going to be a digital space where we can collect these stories at much greater scale than we’re able to do as you know, a final.

[00:11:45] Team behind the scenes. And you know, we hope that when we do launch it, that one people will be willing to submit their own stories. And there it’s going to be while there’s like a form in some criteria. What however you want to tell your story, whatever point of your story, you want to anchor it on, you know, it’s your story to tell, so we’re not going to curate it.

[00:12:09] We’re just creating a space so that it can be showcased. And then number two, I hope when people do share their story and see the value of creating something like this for our community, that they will contribute. And because as you know, designing. Technical digital platform is expensive, but we think it’s, it’s worth the effort.

[00:12:29] And yeah, there are hundreds of thousands of stories out there and you want a space for them to be told.

[00:12:36] Niall Mackay: Yeah. Well, when that’s ready to go, let me know. And we’ll definitely share that. I mean, the only reason, I guess I know as much as I do know, and I started knowing nothing. Set out to study this, but it’s just through these amazing conversations with Swiss Vietnamese, German, Vietnamese, British feeding to me he’s I have friends who are still in Vietnamese.

[00:12:55] NEMA mild. She must hate me. Cause I tell this story all the time, but it will make you laugh. She told us a story when we first met him, she’s as Aussie as it comes. Right. Sounds proper Aussie, but she can speak Vietnamese. And she was talking to a taxi driver in Vietnamese and he said, oh, you’ve been amazing.

[00:13:16] So good. And she went, oh yeah. Well my mum and dad are Vietnamese and he was like, you’re Vietnamese is shit.

[00:13:29] Tracey Nguyen Mang: It’s funny because like, I think we just did a bog recently on one of our writers wrote about VQ, the term VQ and how he feels like when people call him VQ, it’s not a compliment. When

[00:13:44] Niall Mackay: we can come with this as well, because we know it’s about,

[00:13:50] you should

[00:13:50] Tracey Nguyen Mang: read it. It’s our latest episode. He does talk about how he hopes one day. The term VQ is not used to describe people who left their country, but it’s used to describe people who love their native country very much, and who are trying to hold onto their heritage and culture who are trying to like pass it on.

[00:14:10] To younger generations like that, the whole term changes, meaning for his generation and his. And beyond. But it’s, it’s very well-written and very it’s, it’s a theme and topic that touches us all because we, we get it. Right. We get like, when someone calls you VQ, you don’t know if it’s like what they really think of you when you’re in

[00:14:32] Niall Mackay: Vietnam.

[00:14:32] Yeah. It’s usually complex. I know from the people we’ve interviewed, some people easily be like, yep, no, I’m the other, person’s like, no, I’m, I’m the I’m Swiss feeding tummies. We had Nikki chignon who. The celebrity chef from Netflix and she’s, she’s been amazed by naturalized us citizen. And so she will refuse to be called the Q she doesn’t like that phrase.

[00:14:52] So I, yeah, I know. It’s like, it’s a, it’s a main field and I don’t know, I don’t think there’s a wrong or right answer. It’s just one of these things will have to be discussed in play, but I’ll definitely make sure that I read that so quickly before we move on to the final questions very quickly explained behind you the Vietnamese boat people logo.

[00:15:09] Cause I do know as well that there is a, an amazing story behind your logo.

[00:15:14] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Yes. So this was early on when I was starting out. And this is like, I think. Maybe I had, oh yeah. I probably launched the first episode or the second with some sort of like free graphic that I found somewhere that like it was royalty free.

[00:15:35] And so we had no logo. And what I decided to do was launched a community competence. With a monetary reward. And I had some mentors in the nonprofit space that I raised money from. And I said, Hey, I want to do this crowdsourcing competition. I want to tell people what our podcast is about, and I want people to submit artwork.

[00:15:57] And I am going to. Have two winners. One is like, you know, I will pick the winner because this is like the logo that I have to live with for our company. But two, I want a people’s choice award because maybe some people love something, you know, and see it, the podcast or the concept differently. So I also want a people’s choice award.

[00:16:19] And anyway, so I raised some money and I held a competition. Pretty simple. I said, Hey, this is what our show’s about design as a logo winner gets I think it was like 1500. It was substantial, but I was like, eh, you would pay more than that to get a marketing company, right. To develop your logo. And so.

[00:16:39] Is the winner. He is our at the time he was a design graduate student at Yale university. He was born and pretty much grew up in Vietnam in ho Chi Minh city up until like teenage year. And he came to live with, I think an aunt, an uncle, I can’t remember. But then spent the rest of his, you know, adolescents in the U S and obviously, yeah.

[00:17:04] Is an amazing school, but he designed this and I fell in love with it because it’s so simple and modern, but it’s so impactful. And he also, in addition to the artwork, submitted a whole proposal. Of the inspiration behind his graphic design. And so if you see the font type right here, he sent me a bunch of images of storefront and restaurant signs in the 1970s and sixties in Vietnam.

[00:17:33] So he said he was inspired by that era. The font, the typography that was in that area. Vietnam of all the buildings that was a combination of French colonial yet Vietnamese independence. And so that’s where the topography came from. You’ll see the water behind it and those specks of white. The meaning behind that, as he said, you know, the journeys that Vietnamese boat people have to go through the specs of white represents families being torn apart separation the, it also represents loss, whether it’s physical tangible things, or just loss of spirit and things that you can’t reclaim of, you know, emotions, feelings, confidence.

[00:18:19] So those torn pieces represent that loss. And of course the way it is, you know, to represent the boat journey. And then when he did. The logo where you see light blue and the dark blue, he said, you know, I always felt like it’s like, the glass is half empty or half full. And depending on the perspective, it’s like, you know, the, the people kind of had to live in these hybrid worlds and they were either trying to fill up their glass so that they could have a better life, or they were feeling like Some of them were trying to overcome what they felt like the glass was half full and still trying to heal from that.

[00:19:00] So it’s very like once you read that proposal, you’re like, this is it. This is exactly what our stories are about. And so it’s so simple when you see. You can’t get all of that, but when I explain it to you, it comes from

[00:19:17] Niall Mackay: oh, amazing. Yeah, no, that’s fantastic. I don’t know if you know what a logo looks like, but most people still don’t realize it’s a seven and an M and then it makes up a person on a motorbike.

[00:19:32] So most people just think it’s someone riding a motorbike. But if you go look at it, it’s actually a clear seven, then an M plus 7 million, and then it’s a bike. So that’s, that’s my little, that’s my little trick. I just realized that this is only a valuable for anyone watching on YouTube because most of our listeners are listening on audio and have no idea what’s behind you.

[00:19:53] Tracey Nguyen Mang: But, you know, our logo is the cover of our podcast. I was going to

[00:19:58] Niall Mackay: say, if you’re listening, if you’re listening right now on audio and you’re like, what the hell are they talking about? I cannot see this logo. Go look at the Vietnamese boat people podcast. I’ll be putting a link for it in the show description, bring it up.

[00:20:12] It’s an amazing old. There we go. I just realized that halfway through. I was like, if you’re not watching this right now on YouTube, this is almost a moot point, but not really. You can definitely go look it up as you listen. So look, thank you so much. This has. Unbelievably. Awesome. I really, really enjoyed this a bit.

[00:20:28] I’ve been looking forward to chatting with you. You can obviously I see that I’m a very, a big fan of the show. You’ve done an unbelievable job. And then to hear about the work and the effort that has gone into it, then you’re like, oh yeah, I can definitely see that. And that was school so well done on that.

[00:20:47] Both Saigon children’s charity and blue dragon have emergency COVID. The outbreak of the doubt of varying is wreaking havoc on vulnerable communities across Vietnam. Families are struggling to survive. They need your help, especially impoverished children in lockdown areas. You can sponsor a COVID backpack.

[00:21:07] No, with Saigon children’s charity containing food, staples, hygiene, necessities, books, and games to a child in COVID affected areas in Vietnam so that they know they’re taken care of physically and mentally. Or in the north, you can donate an emergency food pack through blue dragon. It contains fruit and vegetables, race and staples.

[00:21:28] They keep children and families going. Food will be bought locally and we’ll include a mix of fresh food. And longer-lasting items for families who are hard to reach your donation will provide a cash grant to buy food at the local market. The links to donate are in the description. And if you’re in a position to please donate whatever you.

[00:21:47] Thanks.

[00:21:51] So we’re going to finish up with these questions. I ask everyone these at the end of each episode, they change every season. Now see how much of them apply to you? Because these are designed for people that mostly live in Vietnam, but I think, I think we’ll be okay. I think we’re already okay. So, because we’re stuck in a lot, then right now, these are where these questions can come from.

[00:22:09] You’ve been to Vietnam, you’ve been on a back of a motorbike. I presume. He used to be

[00:22:16] Tracey Nguyen Mang: very scared of,

[00:22:19] Niall Mackay: we still are over here. We still are. So let’s just pretend you’re inside gone right now. If you could get on the motorbike or the back of one, where would you go?

[00:22:29] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Oh gosh. You know, one thing that I have always wanted to do is actually.

[00:22:34] Trace all the different cities that my parents have grown up or lived in. So I’ve been back to most of them, but not all of them. So my parents at one point lived in green, young. I’ve never been there. They also lived to 99. So I went there, I went to visit the French academy that my dad used to work at.

[00:22:57] Yeah, Jang I’ve been there. That’s where I was born, but there’s so many other places that my parents have just had small stopping point. In, within their lives that I haven’t been to. And I think I would start with green young. I mean, I think early in their marriage, they had lived there for a couple of years.

[00:23:16] Some of my siblings were born there. And so I know, and my parents got married young. Like my mom was I think she was 20. So, you know, those are still formative years and I would like to be able to explore some of the places I’d like to be able to check out like, The Catholic school that my mom’s spent so much of her time in, like, it wasn’t like she was there, you know, till 2:00 PM.

[00:23:40] I think she said she was there up until dinner time and like basically the Catholic school system raised her. So I think those were kind of all the stopping grounds, I guess maybe not one point in particular. I would start with big, big

[00:23:56] Niall Mackay: when I my grandfather, who I obviously mentioned Leo was a, he was a policeman, not a soldier. He was a policeman in Malaysia back in, and I’m going to forget the dates now. I think it was the sixties. No, anyway, fifties, fifties, he was a policeman in Malaysia. Anyway. I worked in a place called slim river, tiny little place, but always growing up.

[00:24:19] He always mentioned how he was a policeman in slim river. And we’ll tell you some stories about the Tamy had tissue, a pig that was stuck by the side of the road. And all these kind of stories always knew this police slim river. And my wife and I were traveling through Malaysia from. And that was like, I, we are going to slim river, like without a doubt.

[00:24:36] So it was about I think if I remember two hour change on the north of care, so we were in care and then we specifically got a tree in there and it was so funny because this is not a tourist. At all, it’s just this tiny, tiny little tone, which is basically just got a motorway that runs through it.

[00:24:54] Like that is all there is, is a motel where he lived, he was working on a policemen on like a tampon, like a little village and things like that. So you wouldn’t have even been probably where the motorway was. He was probably way in the jungle somewhere. But anyway, for me, it was just so important to go to this place that he talked about his whole life.

[00:25:11] It was one of the most amazing things ever was to call them and be like, do you know what I am grandpa? And he, cause he knew I was traveling and I was like, I’m in slim river right now. And it was like, so that was that was really cool to be able to, to retrace that steps even though you get there and it’s just like, Nothing here, you know, but it’s still just to see that you’ve been as, as awesome.

[00:25:32] So obviously in the U S I think you guys are pretty free right now, but you’ve been through various lockdowns or you’ve been in lockdown or you got in down for like a week or something like that. No, you’re in New Jersey. I think you guys had a pretty big one last year, right?

[00:25:46] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Yeah. I mean, it’s been, you know, similar to a lot of countries.

[00:25:50] I mean, it’s, it’s a roller coaster, right? I think this summer. Restrictions started to ease earlier this spring. I mean in the summer, but you know, the Delta virus is still a scare. We’re still battling with people not wanting to get vaccinated. And so, you know, in some ways there’s a lot of just conflicting points of views on vaccination still happening here in the us.

[00:26:14] And for those reasons You know, some businesses have chosen to show proof of vaccination before you enter. Others are still kind of like working through that complex mess of like, you know, do I turn somebody down? Do I like, cause you know, a scene, whatever it might be. So that’s still all happening.

[00:26:32] I’m just grateful. That at least in my town, the school system is back open. Our kids are in school full time. I mean, their mask there’s social distancing. Like we’re, you know, the school was trying to make smart decisions, but I think that’s extremely important. I mean, any parents with young children can relate that, like, you know, even if your children don’t know how, how to express.

[00:26:58] What they’ve been feeling. It doesn’t mean that they haven’t been you know, feeling the strain. And I think oftentimes we think we have it hard as chill as adults. Like, I think it’s hard for children because so much of their development is dependent on socialization. Right? That’s where they learn things.

[00:27:15] That’s where they learn behavior values and when they don’t get that, it’s hard. So I’m, I’m grateful that the school system is open. Restaurants are open back to normal. But, you know, you never know, right. You never know. I mean, some states like Florida and others that

[00:27:34] Niall Mackay: Florida,

[00:27:39] we watch us news too much. Well, the question was just going to be simply what, what was the most challenging thing for you during the lockdown time?

[00:27:50] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Oh my gosh. I don’t know. I think Let me, let me say this first, where I feel like my perspective might be a little bit different and it might sound a little bit, I don’t know how people are going to interpret it, but at the beginning of the lockdown in 2020, it felt very surreal, but I almost like enjoyed it.

[00:28:13] And here’s the reason is because. Both my husband and I have such demanding jobs at the time. Cause I was still doing the podcast in corporate America at the time. I felt like the lockdown allowed me to be with my children. We didn’t have to commute. We had, you know, we were taking long walks together.

[00:28:34] We were, you know, they didn’t have all these activities that I had to shuffle them to on the weekends. And so I actually quite enjoyed it. And then my husband and I were like having wine and watching TV together. So at the beginning it was almost. For me, it was a blessing because they were things that we didn’t because of the hustle and bustle of our lives that we actually never took the time to really focus and be present for obviously like other families that got old quick.

[00:29:04] Right. Homeschooling your children, you know, never eating out. So like, you know, never like going anywhere. So that got old. And so I think the most difficult thing for me was being at home with the kids, but still working. So we were fortunate where we had a babysitter who could, and my son at the time was in kindergarten, like.

[00:29:29] Kindergarten was on zoom. And you can imagine a five-year-old who will not sit in front of zoom for more than 20 minutes. He learned how to do all sorts of things on his iPad, except for this

[00:29:41] Niall Mackay: on, I teach secure roads on the weekend English.

[00:29:46] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Yeah. And it’s hard, right? It’s hard to like retain their attention.

[00:29:51] So for me, the hardest thing at the time was. Having a demanding job, seeing that my kids were struggling. Being at home, isolated learning on zoo and not being able to be there with them because I was working and having somebody else kind of oversee that. And it was really hard for me because I felt that guilt that I think a lot of the parents.

[00:30:16] That, you know, gosh, my children might have all these emotional things that they’re not able to express and share. And yet I’m, I’m like now I, you know, that blissful stage is gone. Now I’m at the point where like, I don’t know how to handle this. I don’t know how to address it. And I’m, I’m stuck at my computer for my other job all day.

[00:30:36] So that was really hard for me. And that was one of the reasons why earlier this year, I have decided to do Vietnamese boat people full time. The whole experience of 2020 made me realize even more so than ever that life is truly short, but extremely valuable. And how important family is like, we couldn’t see our parents.

[00:30:58] So talking about starting the podcast, because I want it to be closer to my parents. We didn’t see them for over a year. My children didn’t see them. And so for me, those reasons, I said, you know what, I’m going to do the podcast full-time cause it’s what I love. It also allows me to control. Hours and time, as you know, where then I was able to create spaces where I was there for my children mentally, emotionally, and physically.

[00:31:25] And I wasn’t able to do that when I was like juggling all of these, you know, career choices that I, that I had made. So that was really hard. It was a really hard decision.

[00:31:34] Niall Mackay: So my next question was going to be what was, what has been the best thing about lockdown for you? But I think you already answered that about the beginning of lockdown being quite good, which I think for a lot of people, we were the same, the beginning of lockdown was like really fun and then it dragged on a bit.

[00:31:48] But my, my next question, and obviously you’ve been to Vietnam war or the Vietnam shocks you the most.

[00:31:58] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Well, my first trip back to Vietnam was in 2000 and that like completely shocked me. Because I didn’t remember the country, but since then, I’ve been several times. I think I mentioned to you, like at one point I had a business with my sister where we made shoes and accessories in Vietnam and I, oh, did I not.

[00:32:21] I am an entrepreneur at heart. So when I was in my early twenties, when trade relations such as opened with Vietnam my sister’s a fashion designer and I had marketing background. We went there, we started a business, we were inputting goods. We were selling them to Nordstroms Mandela bay and Vegas. Big retailers.

[00:32:40] And then I went back at one point with the us state department to do a woman in business tour. And then since then I’ve done all sorts of things. I did like a volunteer tour there and. I would have to say what shocks me the most compared to other Asian countries I’ve been is the pace in which the country evolves.

[00:33:02] I mean, it is just unbelievable. And I, I use all those examples of my visit because. Every single time. I feel like the country has changed so much. And so the last time I was, there was eight years ago before my first child was born and we haven’t been able to go back since and with COVID it just got tricky, obviously.

[00:33:24] But I remember I went with my husband and it was his first time there. And I was taking him to places that I went in 2005, but when we went back and I think it was 2010 or 11, I can’t remember now, but I was like, wow, it looks so different. And that for me is just very impressive. Like, and we were talking earlier just about the.

[00:33:49] Wealth that is there and Vietnam and people overseas has a misconception that it’s like this third world country and it’s not. And I think the younger generation, so I, with the podcast, what I find really interesting is we have a lot of listeners that grew up in Vietnam, but they’re now here in the U S and they came for college or as an adult.

[00:34:12] So like they find our stories fascinating because it’s nothing. How they grew up in the Vietnam that they know. Right. But what I find so impressive is just how educated they are, how, how their Vietnamese, I’m sorry, their English is even better than mine. And then when you go to these other Asian countries, like I’ve been to China maybe like 10 years ago.

[00:34:34] So I can’t compare necessarily, but I remember when I went to China and I thought to myself, wow, Wow. I would have thought more people speak English in China than in Vietnam, but in Vietnam, almost everybody speaks English. The, the, the sort of level of education and sophistication and westernization in Vietnam is actually quite impressive compared to its neighboring.

[00:35:01] Niall Mackay: You’ll be shocked when you come back. If you’ve not been here in eight years, the level of English here is improved in the six years that I’ve been here. Which is what I always blame why I don’t speak Vietnamese, but it’s really my own fault. But anyway, last question. Okay. What pleasantly surprises you about VR?

[00:35:17] Tracey Nguyen Mang: I mean, I would say that too. It’s, it’s shocking, but it’s also pleasantly surprising, but that’s such a cheap answer. So let me come up with something else. I, I don’t know. I mean,

[00:35:33] I, I’m not sure. I feel like, I feel like what I’ve known about it was, oh, you know what it is, the artists. That was one thing that when I first went to Vietnam and why I fell in love with it and wanted to start a business of designing goods was because I did not know growing up how creative, artistic, and talented Vietnamese people were.

[00:36:03] And I think that pleasantly surprised me because there’s also the sophistication to Vietnamese. I don’t know what it is like. Just, I think the artistry that is part of the community in Vietnam, for me, it just feels like very sophisticated. It doesn’t feel folky or how did the, I don’t want to like offend anybody by like making some of these general terms, but I guess where I’m going is that like the level of artistry, the imagination, the the techniques.

[00:36:36] And the worldly sophistication of it is really impressive. And I don’t think that enough people know. That Vietnam truly is a creative country as well. And I, I would hope that some of the art that comes out of Vietnam becomes more globally mainstream because I feel like it’s still so undiscovered.

[00:36:57] And in our house, we actually have a couple of original paintings that over the years I’ve either bought in Vietnam or like, Family goes back. I asked them to go to galleries for me because I’m just, I’m amazed by it. And that is a pleasant surprise because growing up, I don’t think. You know, I knew that until I actually went to the country and just looked around me and just saw like how beautiful, you know, people are making all these beautiful

[00:37:23] Niall Mackay: things.

[00:37:23] Yeah, no great answer. And I think it just ties into what we said. Ella is people have this picture in their main of this war torn country. Patty Ray’s petty feuds and you know, it’s never developed or changed, but it’s a, it’s a massively different place, which is why I love living here and talking to so many people about it.

[00:37:41] So thank you so so much, Tracy, I’ve been looking forward to this interview since we set up, since even before then, I was told you before I was like, I want to get on the show. It’s been actually a really surreal experience for me. I didn’t know what you look like until we did this and it’s surreal.

[00:37:58] Talking to someone and hearing your voice. And I was just listening to your latest episode today and I was like, oh yeah, that’s your voice now, that’s the person I was listening to today. So that, but it’s been absolutely amazing. I would say give Vietnamese boat, people are plugged, but I think we’ve covered that.

[00:38:14] And I think if you’re listening to this podcast this far, you knew where to find the podcast. We always say like, oh, go listen to it. Wherever you find podcasts. If you’re listening to. You know where to go find your podcast, but make sure, please, if you’re listening, go check a Vietnamese boat. People is unbelievable.

[00:38:29] Tracy. Congratulations on everything you’ve done. It’s a, it’s an amazing effort by you and all the team as well. So tell all the team what an amazing job you guys have done. So thank you so much.

[00:38:40] Tracey Nguyen Mang: Thank you. This was fun. It was a great start to the day over here for me. And thanks for staying up late.

[00:38:49] Niall Mackay: Thanks for listening to this episode ofSeven Million Bikes of Vietnam podcast. We hope you enjoy hearing our guest stories. If you haven’t already, please make sure to subscribe to the show and turn on notifications. So you never miss a new episode. Thank you so much to a producer, Louis. For making sure the show sounds as good as possible for you.

[00:39:10] And also a big thanks to the Seven Million Bikes community members and everyone who supports us. Don’t forget if you haven’t already, you can join the community today. The link is in the description and you’ll get free event. Tickets free 7 million bikes, face mask, and invites to special member events. Also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and I’m still ashamed to say this.

[00:39:33] Take two. Most of all, if you can please donate to Saigon children’s charity or blue dragons, children, foundations COVID appeals. Remember we have six seasons of stories to share with you. So check them out if you haven’t already. And we hope you can listen to future episodes too, so you can write. Connect and discover.

[00:39:53] Cheers.

Many people struggle to find English entertainment in Vietnam. Seven Million Bikes hosts the popular show A Vietnam Podcast, stand-up comedy and events. Have fun, connect with others and share experiences of Vietnam.