Design Your Life
The Black Expat: From An Extended Vacation To Living In Vietnam
By DeAnna Taylor
Meet Deonté from Seattle, Washington. Before leaving the U.S. he owned a residential remodeling and construction company. He initially started out traveling through Thailand and Indonesia with his significant other and 2-year old son. The plan was to visit a few more Asian countries before settling in India. However, after 4 months of traveling and living out of hotels, he was tired and ready to settle somewhere.
They ended up in Saigon where he is now a head chef in a restaurant. We had the chance to speak with him about his experience as a Black Expat in Asia.
Travel Noire: Why did you make the move abroad?
Deonté: I left the US initially to travel, after 3 or 4 months constantly on the move (especially with a baby) traveling can get tiring believe it or not. So eventually I began to work again, this time as a Head Chef in Saigon.
Travel Noire: Why did you settle in Vietnam of all places?
Deonté: We really enjoyed our time in Bangkok (thanks to all of the amazing food) but felt that it was much more difficult to live there permanently. In Vietnam, I know many people that just pay a travel agent to renew their visa every 3-6 months. Its not so easy for most SE Asian countries. The growing food scene, the people, and culture (expat and local) also helped with the decision.
Travel Noire: What challenges do you face as a black man in Asia?
Deonté: Outside of being stared at, I really don’t feel many challenges. I feel like I have a harder time trying to prove myself in the U.S.
Travel Noire: What is the best thing about living abroad?
Deonté: The food and culture. Also, actual freedom, not the “American Dream” kind.
Travel Noire: How has living in Asia changed your life?
Deonté: I can’t pinpoint exactly how I’ve changed just yet, I feel like I need to make a trip back to the US to put it all together in my head. In 3 days it’ll be one year since we got on a plane in Seattle and left for Thailand and I haven’t looked back once. I’ve definitely gained perspective speaking to and learning from locals, and overall realize on a deeper level that everything is subjective and/or relative. So depending on where you’re from or how you were raised and when it tells a lot about your mindset and where you’re headed in life.
Travel Noire: Do you plan to move back home?
Deonté: Not any time soon. After leaving and realizing how easy and stress free life can be, it doesn’t make sense to. Some people say “but family and friends,” I say they should leave too.
Travel Noire: What advice can you give to our readers looking to move abroad?
Deonté: Go to your nearest passport agency, apply for a passport, buy a plane ticket and leave. Stop waiting for the right time or when you’ll have however much in savings – just sell your stuff or get a storage unit like we did and leave.
Travel Noire: Where can our readers reach you for additional questions?
Deonté: On IG at @deonteshoots.
DeAnna Taylor is a criminal defense Attorney turned travel writer. The Charlotte native recently completed one year abroad working as an English teacher in South Korea. Her hobbies include fitness, traveling to new countries, and trying new foods.