Victor Seow: Asia

Mr Seow

I met him last year when he organized the most amazing holiday in Indochina for me and my family. Since then we are constantly in touch. I took the habit of emailing him for my every Asian related question. Each time I go to the area I ask his advice on anything from hotels to types of laksa. And one thing I know for sure: Victor is always on the other side of the computer, always happy to answer and help. Victor Seow is a hotelier in Vietnam, an Asian tourism connoisseur and a great friend. I asked Victor to answer some questions about him and Asia for my blog. And here is what he had to say. Should you have any more questions I’d be happy to pass them on to Victor.

Why tourism? How did you choose your job?

Tourism? I was then 18years old after finishing high school (in Singapore) and did not know what to do? Being a Teacher – NO?  So, I joined one of the oldest Travel Agencies in Singapore at that time (EVERETT TRAVEL SERVICE) and from thereon I did not look back.

I also had experiences in the Airline Industry – 6 years Malayan Airways from the early  60’s (now Singapore Airlines) in their flight operations section; and 2 years with EL-AL Israeli Airlines as Manager for Singapore but mainly, I was with several Internationally recognized DMCs until 1981 when my hotel career started as a Sales Manager with the Peninsula Group of Hotels in Singapore 1980. I climbed up the ladder up to the position of Assistant GM and it was not until 1994 when I embarked on to a great challenge and left Singapore to take up a General Manager’s position in Hanoi. Since then I have been in Indochina (mainly Vietnam)


Colonial Hanoi

The world economic recession is a well-known fact. Did you encounter such hard times in the course of your career?

Hard Times during recession?  MOST certainly. Every 10 years or so………

a. The Iraq War

b. SARs in Asia

c. Recessions every 10 years since the mid 70’s, repeating every 10years is a big obstacle especially for the Hospitality Industry. The industry saw visitor arrivals falling down and every supplier has to curb their spiraling costs and forced to accept a reduced slice-of-the-cake. Every 10years, we recuperated and recovered just to experience another recession. It was tormenting for the “sellers” industry but things go on!

d. Plus see write up regarding the most recent hotel industry situation in Hanoi. (THEN AND NOW!)


Asia as a destination is relatively new for Romanians. What are the greatest hits of the region?

The Romanians are very interested in Asia (I believe especially Indochina, taking Thailand as a spring board to fly regionally into Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam) The main interests are the people, ethnic groups in respective countries, the culture, traditions and the various places of interests (UNESCO preserved areas) and the food-shopping.

And now there is a new emerging market – Myanmar


Traditional Hanoi

Any emerging markets and so called next hot spots?

The latest emerging market is Myanmar! Now that the country is going into reform and adopt a change from their current Military Junta. But like any emerging countries, Myanmar’s tourism related infrastructures are not ready to curb an ‘insurgent’ visitor arrivals and their government is now taking steps to vastly improve these infrastructures.


Soon you shall open a new hotel in Hanoi. Tell me something about it.

Since my arrival into Vietnam in 1994, I have been vastly involved in the setting up, opening and managing hotels and resorts.

Golden Silk Hotel

This new property (the 8th hotel) that I will be opening is in Hanoi – an exclusive 55Room Boutique Hotel – focused on “Elegance in Exclusive Luxury”, captivating vistas of Hanoi’s old quarters. For the 1st time in Hanoi, we provide “Snacks and Beverages in all our room mini fridges (replenished daily)” apart from the exclusivity in the rooms’ amenities and toiletries. For more details please see website


Golden Silk Hotel


Many foreigners rent or even buy commercial properties in Asia and start managing guest houses and hotels. Do you have any advice for them?

All I can advise them is that please be wise in choosing your local joint venture partners, to ascertain that terms and conditions are also fair to both parties and to ensure stability in the venture. Also be sure as to what is the foreigners’ investment on-with or without controlling interests?


What is your favorite holiday destination in Asia?

Myanmar in the winter


Asian cuisine is amazing. Do you have a personal top five of Asian dishes?

Of course, I being a “PERANAKAN” Please see website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peranakan

I will also send you an article written by my sister and her French husband when they moved to Makassar (Sulawesi) for a hotel assignment

It’s called “Caught between the Wine Route to the Spice Route” It’s very interesting about we – The “PERANAKANS”


1. obviously, my top Asian Dish is “Peranakan Cuisine” as I cook them myself

2. Next is Indonesian and Thai

3. Indian

4. Chinese (Cantonese, Teochew and Hokkien)

5. Japanese


Is Asia a safe holiday destination?

Yes, it is most certainly a Safe Destination for both holiday-makers and commercial visitors


And now for some gossip: is it true that Vietnamese eat anything (including cats, dogs and snakes)?

You are right and it’s NO gossip……

a. Dogs’ meat is a truly great eating habits (which is a must to “almost 90%” of Vietnamese eat dog meat, monthly usually after the 15th of the lunar calendar. Basically, after the 20th right up to the end of the lunar month. It is a tradition and I have not asked why after the 15th? So all the dog meat restaurants are full of people for about 10-14days of the month

b. Snakes – are a delicacy, especially “cobras” One full grown cobra meat is sufficient to cook and produce some 5-6 different dishes, sufficient for 4 people to consume. The blood is drained into rice wine (so it does not curdle) and drink it together with the bile. The “still beating” heart is swallowed by anyone who wish to eat it? It’s quite an experience and I have these meals only thrice during my years here? But never the “beating” heart!

c. Cats – well, in the earlier years that I was here, they used to sell “wild or mountain” cats’ meat. But now, I am not so sure where to get them anymore as the wild sanctuaries became modernized or gone?


Does the future look bright for Asian tourism?

Yes, I am very sure that Asian tourism is indeed very bright as all the Governments’ Department of Tourism are guaranteeing a good, safe and steady growth, especially, for the eleven countries in the Asean Region. But as for me, I am steadily concentrating in Indochina, especially the up and coming Myanmar

Ha Long Bay, close to Hanoi.



Andrei Gorgan filmeaza, monteaza, alege muzica si in general traieste fenomenul Bazar mai mult decat toti ceilalti. Pentru ca in momentul in care ne intoarcem de la filmare, obosit sau nu, Andrei o ia de la inceput cu incarcatul pe computer a imaginilor, cu alegerea muzicii, cu taiat, cu aranjat, cu tot ce e necesar pentru a termina ce vedeti voi miercurea la televizor. El, Ana Maria si eu suntem cei trei care n-au speriat pe nimeni dar care va arata lumea pe TVR2 asa cum o vedem “pe teren”. Andrei e ca montajul de la Bazar – rapid, taiat pe ritm si foarte de incredere.

Andrei... in Nepal, cred.

Andrei... in Nepal, cred.

1. Intrebarea MSJI: Cum ti s-a infiripat placerea de a calatori?

Din liceu, când o luam la pas prin munții din Maramureș. Apoi facultate, în anul 1 mi-am făcut exagerat de mult timp liber pentru a călători prin țară.

2. Te-ai dat vreodata drept altcineva in timp ce calatoreai?

Da. De foarte multe ori trebuie să mă dau turist și nu cameraman. Altfel nu pot filma. Cel mai dur a fost în Tunisia, unde a trebuit să fac aceste afirmații în scris, la o secție de poliție. (more…)



Seria de interviuri “No Yesterdays On The Road” incepe azi iar primul meu interlocutor pe tastatura este Ana Maria Caia, producator TV. Despre Ana Maria as putea sa scriu un blog intreg, pe zile si ore, insa ma rezum la a spune ca: are un curaj nebunesc, curiozitate in fata pericolului si dorinta de a face lucrurile mereu altfel decat altii. Personal sunt parte a activitatii TV a Anei Maria si, desi am uitat de cand nu i-am mai spus acest lucru, ii multumesc.

Ana Maria Caia undeva in Noua Zeelanda

Ana Maria Caia undeva in Noua Zeelanda

1. Intrebarea MSJI: Cum ti s-a infiripat placerea de a calatori?

Parintii mei au fost calatori pasionati. Sigur, calatoriile lor nu puteau sa aiba loc decat in tarile socialiste, dar asta nu i-a impiedicat sa traiasca intens fiecare experienta departe de casa. Inca de foarte mica invarteam globul pamantesc cu mama si puneam degetul pe diferite tari si decretam amandoua ca acolo o sa plecam. Visam la munti foarte inalti, la jungla sau la America. Tata (despre care cred ca nascut in alta parte a lumii s-ar fi facut explorator) a fost student la Academia Ortodoxa din Zagorsk (Rusia) si mi-l amintesc cum povestea despre Marea Azov sau Crimeea, despre republici cu nume exotice, Bashkiria sau Udmurt, despre strazile largi ale Moscovei si muzeele minunate ale Sankt Petersburgului. Din cand in cand imi spunea despre colegii lui de facultate, japonezi sau indieni, despre tarile lor, despre felul lor de viata. Au fost primele expeditii inspre necunoscut, chiar daca imaginare.
Prima oara am calatorit la 3 ani si jumatate, in Rusia si de atunci pana astazi cred ca padurile de mesteacan sunt cele mai tulburatoare peisaje din lume. Si atunci probabil s-a instaurat in mine un fel de virus de care nu sunt sigura ca vreau sa scap.


In curand (cu ajutorul vostru): NO YESTERDAYS ON THE ROAD

E vorba de vorbe adica de interviuri pe care le iau cu ajutorul vostru oamenilor mai importanti sau mai putin importanti pe care i-am intalnit pe aici sau pe aiurea. Titlul l-am gasit intr-o carte, mai demult, si se refera la faptul ca atunci cand calatorim suntem ceea ce suntem in acel moment pentru ca oamenii cu care intram in contact habar n-au ce am facut pana atunci, de unde venim si incotro ne indreptam. (more…)


Cezar in Iran

Cezar s-a intors din Iran de vreo saptamana si mi-a raspuns de vreo 5 zile la intrebarile mele despre tara care odata se numea Persia. Cu Cezar am lucrat la Clever Travel, e unul dintre cei mai plimbati oameni pe care il cunosc iar in timpul liber e un expert in marketing. In rest… asteptam cartea, Cezar!

1. Lung drumul pana la persi? Cum ai ajuns in Iran, cum se ajunge si cum e cu viza?
Nu as putea zice nici ca e lung, nici ca e scurt. Cea mai scurta conexiune ar fi prin Istanbul, dar cel mai ieftin bilet de avion a fost cu Alitalia prin Roma – sub 500 euro, cu peste 100 euro mai ieftin decat cu Turkish prin Istanbul. Zborul pana la Roma este sub 2 ore, iar Roma – Teheran este de aproape 5 ore. Se mai poate ajunge de asemenea cu trenul, dar dureaza mai bine de 3 zile – tren pana la Istanbul si apoi mai departe spre Teheran. Nu mai sunt probleme cu obtinerea vizei – eu am obtinut-o de la Ambasada din Bucuresti, nu mai e nevoie de invitatie, am depus toate documentele necesare si am primit viza in 2 saptamani. Se poate obtine si visa-on-arrival pe Aeroportul Imam Khomeini din Teheran fara nici o formalitate, dar viza este valabila doar 2 saptamani (fata de 1 luna obtinuta la Ambasada).
2. Prima impresie=primul soc sau dimpotriva? (more…)


Rolf Potts: it’s better to be rich in time than money

vagDaca pe Cosmin de la Cassa Loco il cunoaste toata lumea, despre Rolf Potts, celalalt invitat de la Interviurile lui Razvan, trebuie sa va spun cateva cuvinte. A fost profesorul meu de travel writing la Academia Americana din Paris si este unul dintre cei mai respectati scriitori de travel din lume la ora actuala. Scrie pentru National Geographic Traveler, Conde Nast Traveler, The New York Times Magazine, The Believer sau The Guardian dar si pentru site-uri de profil precum Salon.com sau Worldhum.com. Biografia lui completa o gasiti aici. Cand nu calatoreste prin toata lumea il gasiti acasa, la o ferma din Kansas.

Prima carte a lui Rolf se numeste Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel. Cea de-a doua si cea mai recenta este Marco Polo Didn’t Go There (Stories and Revelations from One Decade as a Postmodern Travel Writer). In prezent Rolf lucreaza la o carte despre America de Sud si Caraibe. In 2008 a fost prezentatorul emisiunii American Piligrim de pe Travel Channel. Cred ca e o persoana cool si v-ati bucura sa-l cunoasteti.

What are the places in the world that offer the cheapest cost of living and the most attractive lifestyle?
Typically the cheaper countries are in the developing world. Southeast Asia is a great place to travel and live, in terms of cost and attractions. I lived in Thailand when I was writing my first book, and I recommend it to anyone looking for a good place to start in that part of the world. Malaysia and Indonesia also make great destinations in that part of the world — and if you’re willing to get a little more off the beaten path, Laos, Cambodia, Burma and the Philippines are also great destinations. India is also a fantastic value.
Elsewhere in the world, the Middle East makes a nice, inexpensive destination. I am especially fond of Egypt, which has good prices and amazing destinations. Elsewhere, Latin American countries like Ecuador, Peru, Panama, and Nicaragua are also good travel bargains. (more…)


Cosmin Loco: un pic despre Coreea de Nord



Ma stiu de 1000 de ani cu Cosmin. Avem perioade cand muncim impreuna la diverse proiecte si altele in care nu ne vedem cu lunile. Dar vorbim de fiecare data de parca ne-am vazut ieri. Cred ca asta se intampla cand esti prieten cu adevarat cu cineva. Fan calatorii, Cosmin a vizitat de curand Coreea de Nord. Pe larg cred ca a vorbit despre asta si in alte parti. Pe scurt i-am pus cateva intrebari pentru voi prin care sa va dati seama cu ce gust a ramas dupa excursia in cea mai misterioasa tara din lume. (more…)

Powered by WordPress | Theme: Aeros 2.0 by TheBuckmaker.com | Hosted and customized: Comanescu.ro | Photos: IndieStudio.ro