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Post CNY.

I’ve been so busy. Thus explains this super late entry.


Came back to HCMC on 17th Feb – after spending an awesome 10 days in Singapore. CNY had never felt so sweet and dear to me. The usual visiting, giving ang baos (1st time ever) to my nieces/nephews, younger cousins etc wasn’t as painful and confusing as I thought. While it was confusing for Vincent and I, I guess I did ok.


When I gave Xiaobai a shower, I realized that she had odd patches – scars and all. On CNY Day 4, when all the festivities were more or less done, I brought her to the vet. She had a scrape-test done, received her long awaited immunity vaccines and also, she had a pretty fun time playing with a fellow JRT. Sad thing was, it was almost 5pm and it was impossible to get a taxi home. Thus, I decided that Xiaobai and I would walk home together. Walk home, we did, with the cone-of-shame on her. (Elizabeth collar). It was extremely tiring for both of us, especially when the setting sun was getting onto us (I WAS WEARING JEANS!). However, the most beautiful thing happened when we reached the bridge over the SK park. A big flock of birds flew over our heads – heading home, or wherever their night destination was. I stood there, staring. Xiaobai too, stationary and (given her short-fart height), perhaps didn’t get much of a view, but was probably thankful for a breather. There and then, a strange feeling swept through me. Serenity perhaps. How often do you have a big flock of birds flapping above you? Well, a true blue awesome moment to last me a long time. Moreover I was with my beloved Xiaobai. 🙂


The trip home was also great. I managed to do so many things and meet so many friends. Epic moments below- I deliberately record all down, just so I can look back at this entry and smile.


-Ate Bak Chor Mee and drank Teh C Peng alone

-Went for facial and the therapist asked WTF happened to my complexion. “HCMC. HCMC gave me this”

– Popped over Kallang Ave and met my dearest ex-colleagues. One of them even drove back to office, just to hang out for 15mins.

– Met C for dinner at Yishun. Caught up on everything.

-Went to AA’s house for clique gathering. Ended up with a quick chill out with RT at AMK and K to pick me up to go Jalan Kayu for a catch up.

-Met DM flans for steamboat dinner and ended with a starbucks chill.

-Lunch with MT, Mel, JL

-Lunch with GG, Wel, Fio & Ant

-The 3 girls for a great chill out session at J’s house.

-CNY gathering at Troy’s house – meeting the TAS folks was priceless.


The trip was also awesome, cause Vincent and I had dinner with both sides of our families.


All in all, I must say that this is the most special CNY to me in a long long time. Yes, I still do miss my family and friends and the every wee bit familiarity of my country very much. But the decision to come over remains clear to me. I will stay strong and positive.


Till next post!


Going home for CNY Year of the Snake!

Say hello to my 2 pots of “mai” flowers. A gift from my colleague, who hand-delivered to my home last Sunday. It was a pleasant and sweet surprise. 🙂ImageImage

Below is a traditional food the Vietnamese enjoy during Tet. Another colleague bought one for me to try. Its actually glutinous rice with mung bean paste inside. I quite enjoyed it but the Hubby didn’t. He said it’s tasteless. Oh well.


Anyway, I’ve been so busy for the past 1.5 weeks. All of above were nice gestures from my local colleagues and only makes me feel “accepted”.

In 6 hours’ time, I will be on the flight, going back home. Busy schedule ahead, but definitely looking forward. I believe this will be the most memorable CNY for me. I’ve not met my parents-in-law, parents, nieces, friends etc for quite a while already. The schedule is already full for now but I intend to meet as many friends as possible, while stick around at home a little more than usual. I know my Mum and Dad and Xiaobai (and probably Bro) misses me tons. IF ONLY THEY KNOW I MISS ALL OF THEM TOO! 

Tonight, I will be sleeping with Xiaobai and tomorrow when I wake up, I will clean up my room, shower Xiaobai and clip her nails. Thereafter, I will go to the coffeeshop behind my house and order a nice bowl of “bak chor mee, mee kia, ai hiam, mai chor” and drink a glass of teh si peng.


2013 already.

Long post ahead.


Before you know it, it’s already January. I merely went back Singapore for a few days in Dec but I managed to do the following:


–          Had lunch at fave auntie’s place (she cooked curry – cause I bought 15 banh mi (traditional French loaf from HCMC) back, on demand

–          Met Jojo for a shopping day (supposed to be KTV) but shopping and TCC coffee was too tempting

–          Celebrated Ros’s birthday

–          Met Bona for random coffee at Starbucks

–          Had dinner with Lao Da and family

–          Had dinner with my family

–          Had dinner with Hubby’s family

–          Had annual dinner with Irene, Erina, Janice and their spouses

–          Breakfast at Jalan Kayu (PRATA & TEH HALIA BABY!) with darling Khair

–          Rushed to Camper at Vivo to buy a new pair of sneakers

–          Rushed to Metro to buy a new pair of work heels & belated xmas presents for nieces

–          Rushed Daiso buy some stuff for Boss

–          Go Prime supermarket buy foodstuffs for colleagues

–          Countdown New Year at the comfort of hubby’s room

–          Showered Xiaobai & clipped her nails


Crazy achievements above – within a span of 5 days 4 nights. Well done!


I remember the first night I reached home, Mum and Xiaobai were waiting for me downstairs our house. Mum and I chat till almost 3am that night. All about random stuff. We were so tired but we both knew it was such a long awaited catch up. That night, Xiaobaibai was reluctant to sleep with me and she whined a bit on the floor. After a bit of coaxing, she jumped up the bed to sleep with me. The same kind of position. It was comforting that I was sleeping on my bed with Xiaobai at my side that night. 🙂


Tickets bought. Will be going back Singapore on 6th Feb – last flight back. Then I’ll return on 17th Feb. I have around 10 days in Singapore. I am really looking forward to go back- it’s CHINESE NEW YEAR! CNY is my favourite holiday. Call me traditional but, CNY is really a time when you feel all prosperous and blessed with all the family & friends’ gatherings. What’s funky to me this year is…

1)      I have to buy my new clothes from HCMC (since I will not have enough time to do shopping in Singapore)

2)      I have to give ang baos (red packets with token of money inside) to kiddos and single cousins


Chinese New Year/ Tet

In Vietnam, due to the large population of Chinese, CNY is a big thing. However, they call it TET. So, it’s Tet holidays for them, while we call it CNY holidays. Similar to China, during CNY, there is massive internal travelling back to their provinces. I’ve been told that, Ho Chi Minh City will be extremely quiet for a good 3 – 4 days. Even native HCMC born people, may choose to take this time to do a quick getaway.


It’s the Year of the Snake. HOWEVER, from my understanding, Snake is not the favourite zodiac animal of the Vietnamese. Thus, unlike other years, the street/mall decoration in HCMC is more generic. They use the conical hats, yellow “Mai” flowers etc. I saw from my ex-colleague’s FB post of a picture of Chinatown (Singapore) – where there is a lighted snake (Whose head looks more like Keropi the frog) Over here, I have yet to see any décor that is depicting Year of the Snake.


Talking about zodiac animals. In case you are not a Chinese/ don’t celebrate Chinese New Year, here is the run-down of the 12 animals.


1)      Mouse

2)      Ox

3)      Tiger

4)      Rabbit

5)      Dragon

6)      Snake

7)      Horse

8)      Goat

9)      Monkey

10)   Rooster

11)   Dog

12)   Pig


FUN FACT: Vietnam doesn’t have 4)Rabbit. THEIRS’ IS A CAT!!!! I ain’t kidding. When I was in HCMC for holiday in 2010, I had a shock to see the CNY décor as cats. I thought my eyes were playing tricks, or just that the artist mould the Styrofoam figurines wrong. The final straw was when I saw a “Hello Kitty & Dear Daniel” dressed in ao dai (traditional Viet clothing) at a hotel’s window display. Unbelievable eh? Why cat? What happened to the rabbit? Hubby’s theory is, maybe as the records got passed down, the rabbit’s ears were drawn shorter. Thus, it was mistaken to be a cat. Not bad a theory I must say.  


That’s all for my updates. I hope to upload some photos of random Vietnam stuff for my next post. Today’s lesson is Goodbye. Goodbye = Tam biet.  🙂

end of the month. end of the world? Chuc Mung Giang Sinh!

I managed to take leave on 28th & 31st Dec, so I’ll be going back on 27th, last flight back to Singapore. Yeah. (This air-ticket is generously sponsored by Hubby.) I don’t intend to go back in January 2013, since in February, I’ll be on CNY leave. That will be a pretty long break roi. Anyway, work is getting busy and I have to focus and rev up the engine for an awesome 2013.


Since my last post, unknowingly, I have gotten more settled. I had a caring nudge from B, asking if I was fine. That was an unexpected but very comforting action. J Of course, I still miss home very much and keep getting distracted with thoughts of “what if i…” Perhaps it’s high time I cast away all those thoughts and be more focused here. I’ll do that. Slowly but surely, I will settle in. I am sure.


Anw, Hubby and I were watching “End of the World” on Nat Geo on Sunday. He asked me, when will I be coming back to HCMC from Manila (yes, I will be going Philippines for work, from 16th-20th Dec) and I said, 20th I’ll be back. He suggested we both take leave and stay at home on 21st. Just in case.. just…. In case Armageddon strikes, we will be together. Being the Director of F&B,  he too mentioned that we need to stock up on canned food and water. Duh.


Honestly, I am very sure that the world isn’t gonna end on 21st Dec 2012. Whoever or whatever is the Mastermind of ending this human population, will not make us perish all at one time. That’s too kind. With all the nonsense the human population has done (pollution, war etc), we all will die a slow death. Look at all the natural disasters. Sigh. Hypothetically, should something like the movie “2012” happen, I really hope I will be beside Hubby. We will have each other to hold. J


On a  happier note, my colleague gave me a mini xmas tree and a xmas card today. It’s a heartwarming thing. Technically, that’s my first x’mas present. J


Today, I will teach a few phrases. Similar to Merry Christmas, sometimes we will go “Season’s Greetings” or “Happy Holidays” or whatever not. Well, in the Vietnamese language, you can say in three ways. So cool.


Chuc mung giang sinh (Congratulations Christmas)

Giang sinh an lanh (Christmas Peaceful)

Giang sinh vui ve  (Christmas Merry)


Goodbye! 🙂


The worst flight out of the country.

I returned to Singapore on last Tues night- last flight back home and I smiled when the plane’s wheels touched the runway. I really smiled. Subconsciously.

Anw, I optimized my short trip by running around for errands, meeting friends whom could “meet” my timings, attended 2 weddings, drank Starbucks’ Toffee Nut Frap and spent as much time as I could, at home with my family. There were so many other close friends I wished I had time to hang out with, but there was just too much, too little time.

Time really flew by and unknowingly, I had to fly back to HCMC on Sunday evening. I came back alone, as Hubby had already flew back for an important meeting. Before I left home, I went to Mum and gave her a hug. There was no eye contact… as I didn’t want Mum to see me tearing. Bro walked me down to wait for the cab. Before i got into the taxi, I asked for a hug.

I reached the airport early and got myself ONE more serving of Starbucks Toffee Nut frap. Walked from T1 to T2 to buy 1.8kg worth of Bee Cheng Hiang bak kwa for colleagues. Like clockwork, I did the usual Boarding Gate queue etc. Diverted my phone, swopped the SIM cards and boarded the plane.

When the plane was taking off, I sighed silently to myself. Call me emotional or whatever. I have no idea why I was so overwhelmed with reluctance. It was really, the worst flight out of Singapore. Ever.

Now that I am back in HCMC and unknowingly, it’s already mid-week, I am very much more settled.

Born and bred in Singapore, I had always worked in Singapore. Back then, I had colleagues from Malaysia, India, Thailand etc. They are all working in Singapore for their own reasons. Honestly, who doesn’t miss home or their own beds or their unique way of life in their country? They have their struggles too. Then again, ironically, one may actually get used to the country that they are working and residing in. I strongly believe that all humans are capable to adapt. It’s a matter of choice.

This post is not of the best structure and my chain of thoughts is quite random and abrupt. Let’s keep at that. No Vietnamese words today. Bye.




Bits & pieces

In 7 days’ time, I would have been working in Vietnam for 1 month roi. (Roi = already)

There are so many things I miss in Singapore. Randomly…

1) My Mum. My dog. My bedroom.- Who doesn’t miss home and everything at home?

2) Compass Point.- The familiar spot whereby I can conveniently buy most necessities under one roof.

3) Food – Starbucks. McDonald’s fries.Bak Chor Mee. Prata. Oh… bring me to Jalan Kayu NOW!

4) Transportation – For the past 6 months or more, the entire nation complains about our transportation like no business. Trains keep breaking down, buses too packed, roads too jammed. Seriously…after commuting here, you’ll learn to appreciate what we have in Singapore. I am lucky to be chauffeured around in the comfort of a car here, 90% of the time. The incessant honking by cars, motorbikes and that bloody unique descending horn sound of the public buses here… the flooding on the roads etc etc. OH GOD…

Nevertheless, there are many things here in HCMC that I love. The disturbingly affordable manicures/pedicures, massages, coffee, cigarettes etc… I’ll provide more details in future.

Having said all that, I had my first mishap during my enjoyment of beauty and wellness, yesterday. I went for a 90mins Hot Stone Massage in the afternoon. It wasn’t the best I had experienced but oh well, considering that I only spent S$15 on that session, I was thankful that I have the choice of going for a massage without batting an eyelid on the cost and not having to book in advance. HOWEVER, when I took my shower, I realized I had 2 burnt marks. YES! I was burnt by the HOT STONES. The burns flanked left and right of my back. Not cool at all. I will never ever go back to that shop again!

So you see, in Singapore, if that happens and if I am feeling bitchy, I’ll be able to kick up a huge fuss, threaten to bring the matter up to CASE and seek for compensations etc… Over here, I will have to swallow this down and get some sayang from the Hubby. (Not without him laughing at the obvious burnt marks first) SIGH. Such is life.

Alright. As usual, I leave you with a word. (two in fact, cause I taught you “Roi”, roi.)

The 2nd word of the day is “Van Phong”. Van Phong = office. (“van” “fong”) Remember that. 🙂

It’s only/ already 19 days?

In the short span of 19 days, I seem to have done quite a few things.

1) Fluffy Eyelashes

For the 1st time in my life, I did eyelash extensions. I thought… if was gonna turn out ugly, I’ll just pluck all of them out. Afterall, it cost me only 200,000VND. (S$12.50) Luckily it was PRETTY well done. I was supposed to go to the shop and “refill” yesterday but was too lazy.

2) Show Me The Money!

I opened a Standard Chartered account here. Wasn’t my original choice but oh well, at least I can withdraw conveniently at ACB (a local bank) ‘s ATMs. There is only 1 Standard Chartered branch in HCMC and they have 2 ATMs there. WOW. So many…. Anw, I had much heartache last week… Cause when I tried to do the virgin withdrawal, it kept telling me whatever error blah blah blah. After much clarification… I realized that, I need to transfer USD to VND within my Account, THEN I can withdraw. Btw, withdrawal is only in VND. My 1st withdrawal last Friday was 2million VND. (approx S$125) and I thought it was most “thoughtful” that the ATM gave me 3 x 500,000 VND & the rest was in other denominations. I had expected it’ll be like Singapore. Give you all in the same denominations.

Btw, in Vietnam, currencies are in 500,000, 200,000, 100,000, 50,000, 20,000, 10,000, 5,000, 2,000, 1,000. There are some coins in 500/5,000 even. But we seldom transact in coins. Sometimes, when we buy groceries from the supermarket and the bill comes to a odd number (example: 125,800VND), the cashier will nonchalantly give us a sweet. That’s it. A SWEET. As what Russell Peters the comedian will say, “Take it and go!”

3) Ban Co Khoe Khong? (How are you?)

I’ve had 2 Vietnamese language lessons so far. My teacher is a typical Vietnamese – long hair, tanned and skinny. Each lesson lasts for 1.5hrs or so. And its 200,000VND. Considered cheap, as the language centres near my place charges a bomb. This arrangement is great considering that she comes to my apartment. It’s been so long since I contacted her for the next lesson. I think she must think that I’ve given up on the language.

Actually, I am slowly picking up a little of the language on my own. (Thanks to continual cultural exchange with the colleagues & iPad apps) If Cantonese is my dialect, I would have learnt faster. “Police” in Cantonese & Vietnamese is the same!

Vietnamese is a tonal language. For us, Chinese, there are bits of the language that are very similar. Example, “Cong Ty” is pronounced as “Cong Ti” (Y is “I”) = “gong si” = Company. However, what makes things tricky is the pronunciation. While the official language is Vietnamese, there is the Northern (Hanoi) and Southern (HCMC) accent. Strictly speaking, your learning materials are from Hanoi – the correct accent & way of writing. But since I am based in HCMC, I am obliged to learn and practice the HCMC way. While I continue to build up my vocabulary, I wonder when I will start to converse. Wish me luck!

So, today, the new word learnt is “Cong Ty“. Remember that. 🙂

P.S. I keep seeing a building in District 1, that has a HUGE logo at the top. It reads… “CCB” One day I must find out what that building does etc.