Written on January 3, 2020
2019 ended in the most unexpected way for Mr Linh. He was asked to be a tour guide again, reminding him of his early years, for a ‘very special’ guest, by the TAB – Tourism Advisory Board of Vietnam
. ‘Is it really worth it?’ he thought. And especially, after so many years focusing on building his company, will his knowledge be enough? And who is this mysterious visitor? So many questions for one single day which turned out to be one of his greatest experiences lately.
In November 2019, Mr Linh got invited to a meeting at the Tourism Advisory Board of Vietnam. The purpose of the meeting was unclear but this is an invitation one cannot refuse. After a few minutes, the request arrived: ‘Can you be the tour guide to Greg Norman
on his next visit to Hanoi?’ A few seconds later, Mr Linh finally said: ‘Greg Norman as is Greg ‘The Shark’ Norman, the Golf Legend?’ What a news! Meeting this all-times champion, here in Vietnam, and have the privilege to spend some quality time nearly one-on-one with him, Mr Linh was ecstatic.
To say a few words about this living legend, Greg Norman is not just a golf player, he is a very accomplished athlete-turned-businessman. With more than 90 tournaments worldwide, including two Open Championships, he was No. 1 in the world golf rankings for 331 weeks, the second-longest reign in history, and entered the World Golf Hall of Fame with a higher percentage of votes than any other inductee in history.
Nowadays Greg Norman owns over a dozen companies around the world bearing his name and the iconic shark logo as part of the Greg Norman Company. With more than 100 golf course designs across six continents, a global real estate collection, award-winning wine and a golf-inspired lifestyle apparel, the Greg Norman Brand consistently delivers the quality that his name is synonymous with and continues to inspire people to attack life.
Obviously Mr Linh’s answer was yes. And after several meetings, the program was finally decided: show Greg Norman as much as possible of what makes Hanoi so special in a limited amount time. They started the day with a cyclo tour around the Old Quarter, joking around, sharing knowledge and anecdotes about the history of these ancient streets, even riding the cyclo themselves, relieving the owners from their duties for a short while. A great, simple and easy way to chat, exchange information, and appreciate the city in autumn season.
The second activity was much tastier as Greg Norman was to try a Hanoi specialty, the egg coffee. Obtained from a dense Vietnamese coffee, on top of which is placed a creamy soft, meringue-like-egg white foam. The views from the café’s balcony also participated in making the non-romantic date special, facing the historical Saint Joseph’s Cathedral, built in the late 19th century under the French colonial government settled in Hanoi, attempting to resemble the famous Notre Dame de Paris.
This coffee break allowed Greg Norman and Mr Linh to get acquainted and know each other better. The connexion was very easy between them as they both share similar core values as self-made men from different continents, making their way to the top. Greg Norman is currently an official Vietnam Tourism Ambassador since October 2018, his interest for the country has only grown stronger as this magical land offers some of the best golf courses in the world. His curiosity was rewarded by Mr Linh’s undying enthusiasm about his country and his pride to be part of this strong, big-hearted community.
The rest of the day was spent in spiritualism and yet again more questions from Greg Norman about the Vietnamese culture. He is taking his role as Vietnam Tourism Ambassador very seriously and is eager to learn always more about this one-of-a-kind population.
After lighting incense at Ba Da pagoda and learning more about the importance of spiritual values in the daily life of Vietnamese people, Greg Norman and Mr Linh shared another coffee, coconut-flavoured this time. The Shark shared that he is actually looking to develop a Starbucks-like brand based on Vietnamese coffee, with the aim to make these coffee beans known to the world.
It is true when you think about it, that not many people know that Vietnam produces one of the best coffee and is the second exporter of coffee beans in the world.
As every project this man has tackled is successful, we can only wish him great success with this delicious local product. His support is greatly appreciated and we hope that Vietnamese coffee beans shall share the same global renown.
And to end this special day, Greg Norman
and Mr Linh
shared a powerful handshake, full of promises, in front of the Memorial of King Ly Thai To, first of the Ly dynasty of Vietnam and founder of the city of Thang Long in 1010, which later became the city of Hanoi. To complete this historical portrait, these two free-spirited men shook hands in the middle of the street, as nothing can compare with Hanoian traffic. A distinctive ending for such an exclusive day! And one thing to remember: whether you are a celebrity or a random folk, Vietnam has so much to offer. Its people will give you a hand no matter your origins, so come experience it and share your story with us