As promised, here’s the second half of the epic name-dropping post of all time!
When it comes to connecting with Filipino communities, Ate Mercy was the first to introduce us to Immanuel Fellowship- a Christian community of Filipinos in Saigon. Not only did she help us keep on track with our spiritual lives, she also linked us to two of the finest doctors-cum-missionaries in Ho Chi Minh City: Doctor Boots, who added ‘post-nasal drip’ and Atussin (the anti-cough tablet) to our Health 101 vocabulary; and Doctor Egay, who showed us the way to supporting an orphanage and getting vaccinations and inoculations. Another one who had come into the picture of our early Saigonese life is Phil- a colleague and close friend who has given us tips ranging from teaching kids to transferring money overseas. The former honorary consulate general in Saigon, Hon. Jerry Paglinawan, was the first Pinoy to remind us about setting excellent examples to our compatriots in Vietnam and his sister, Ate Fay, an equally remarkable public servant, was the office volunteer who patiently helped us complete our documents to obtain work permit in Vietnam. And there’s Mr Kieth, LP Learning Center’s director, who hooked us up with the Filipino families in Phu My Hung ; thanks to him, our kids have more playmates, including Kimie, Dianne, Bianca, Zam etc.
Mr. Tien’s Wedding
Our working life wouldn’t have been much easier without the support of our colleagues like Tien, Tri and Tuan, whose nuptial was the first Vietnamese wedding wifey and I attended. They have given us a lot of insider tips like buying home furnishings (on Ngo Gia Tu St.), travelling by bus (for out-of-town trips), and using survival Tieng Viet when shopping in local supermarkets and shops. Mr Nguyen, a manager-cum-author of The Awakening (a novel about post-war Vietnam), not only helped us understand the nature of Vietnamese working environment but also gave us tips in doing yoga, swimming and keeping fit. Hau and Bay- two of our most unforgettable workmates paved the way to our linkage with Cambridge ESOL Vietnam. Kate, Chad and Tyler ,now a fulltime traveler-slash-blogger whose witty and spontaneous prose is like a Jimmy Kimmel on a paper (http://ilikestickyrice.blogspot.com/),were among those who gave us company in Hoa Vien (a resto and beer garden) on Mac Dinh Chi Street while Ian, Kevin, Heather and Sarah mapped Bui Vien and Pham Ngu Lao Streets for us-from them we learned about LePub, Chi’s Café, Crazy Buffalo, and Go2.
Getting around Saigon on a motorbike was inspired by mates Chris, Craig, Rob and Greig, who were also great at helping us find places to buy sports equipment (Huyen Tran Cong Chua St.) and do sports or work out (Ky Hoa Gym , Su Van Han St.). We bought our first motorbike in Saigon from Steve D, a teacher-cum-businessman, who knows Saigon like the back of his hand; from him we knew about the best SYM motorbike service center (1 Nguyen Trai Street). We’ve also met Tina, an epitome of an empowered Vietnamese woman who knows almost every real estate matter in district 7; through her we had had the best apartment rental deals (Dat Tien Real Estate).
Language barrier had not been a very serious problem thanks to our friends Hung, Hang, and Hong, who unselfishly helped us communicate with the medical staff at Nhi Dong 2 Hospital, and Thong, our kids’ former tutor who is now with HSBC. Hiring local manpower was also easy thanks to Tram who helped us find housemaids easily, L.A. who was quick at handpicking a clown in our kids’ birthday party last year and Atty. Lan who was not only a strong lawyer but also such a great resource for events needs. Another bilingual expert is our friend Hoa Ton ,who has his own language center so if you’re a Vietnamese with kids, you can send enroll them to The Au Chau Language School.Here’s his link: http://www.auchauschool.edu.vn
We have met a lot of outstanding senior colleagues who have left the country already. Among them was Andy whom we had worked with in Cambridge Delta module 1, and Dave, who encouraged us to improve on our career. Joanna and Brad, who are now back in their home countries, had been great role models while they were training teachers at ILA Vietnam; they’re such an inspiration!
Beauty talk! As a woman, I indulge myself to some pampering at least once a month. All my friends know this that’s why they never cease to fyi me whenever there’s a good service/deal happening around town, anything related to SPA and beauty stuff. Like my co-teacher-slash-friend Ngan (Ana), she always tips me on reliable local places for mani-pedi, hair and massage places on Ba Thang Hai St. Wanna know more? Ask her on Twitter @monsterngan .
When it comes to fitness, we, too have tried addressing this concern. Hubsy and I have just met Nho, one of the personal trainers of Fit24. He’s very patient and he knows well how not to overwhelm a newbie. And to unleash hubsy’s and my two boys’ Manny Pacquiao in them, they do boxing with Master Sang. He’s a trainer of the regional and national boxing teams. And for wellness? Glicy, my cousin, works as a nurse in CIS and we call her every time we are sick. She’s our private nurse and she says she is for hire on weekends. Go tweet her @glicy143 .
Getting around the city? I used to rent a motorbike to drive myself to work but it got so stressful I decided to hire a Xe Om driver. I highly recommend Mr. Sang and Mr. Be as they’re not only careful but also very trustworthy. They know how not to drive too fast! Getting around Phu My Hung? My friend, Youngnam Kim, is more familiar with all the establishments in Phu My Hung as she’s been here longer than I am. She has also influenced me in getting MBA at RMIT. Getting around Hanoi? When I was in Vietnam’s capital, Maria was such a great guide. She took me to Avalon- a restaurant overlooking Hoang Kiem Lake. Yes, I do recommend it. You’d feel the breeze from up there and enjoy the scene of the stunning historic place.
Most of the people I know go to Vietnamworks.com or Linked In for employment. Well, I know just one person who can give you lots of advice on job hunting and that’s Ha- she’s connected with Navigos. Do visit their website if you need a job.
Food, anyone? My family loves to eat but we’re not very good in the kitchen that’s why we outsource from Judith for chocolate cakes- we have ordered on two occasions from her, Michelle for Pinoy dishes. They accept orders, just so you know! Sharmi (@sharmila) may not be in catering business but her bread pudding was definitely the best of its kind! Vanessa, my kiddo’s aunt who works at Bobby Chin’s , is the best for Pinoy pork stew. Her sweetheart Edgar, who is also working in one of the poshest steakhouse in town, is also a very good cook. And for spiritual food, we go to our good friend Father CJ who celebrates mass every Sunday afternoon at Mai Khoi Chapel on Tu Xuong corner Ba Huyen Thanh Quan Streets. This is where I meet LOJ (Light of Jesus) friends Alice, Dodie, Billy, Susie, Angelita and Nelson.
We do not clearly know until when we will be staying in Saigon but these 100 people have been great part of our happy and productive life in Saigon. This is our way of thanking them and encouraging you to expand your network. This may sound too clichéd but “it’s a small world after all”.
Related Post: 100 People in Vietnam (Part 1)