I am Lyra from the Philippines. We moved to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam in 2009.
When and how did you decide to move to Vietnam? Is it complicated to settle down there?
My husband’s company set up their site in Vietnam and so, we moved. As with everything new, it was difficult at first especially since my husband had to attend training for a few months outside the country.
It took a few months to settle down but we easily got into the groove of things and have considered Vietnam our second home.
Have you ever lived abroad before? How many countries have you visited?
We haven’t lived abroad before but have visited a few countries.
What do you like the most about Saigon?
There are several things I like about Saigon but what I like most is that how simple and laid back life is here and the cost of living is affordable for us.
How is/was the cultural shock? What are the main differences with the Philippines, your home country?
We had a preview trip before settling in Saigon and I was surprised with the number of motorbikes. Back home, the only time I’d see a number of motorbikes was when there was some event. Traffic in Manila is pretty bad so I was happy to move to Saigon where traffic is manageable. The locals would curse the traffic here but honestly, its nothing compared to the Philippines.
Do you miss anything from your homeland?
Aside from the food, what I miss in the Philippines is the opportunity to watch a lot of terrific concerts and great theatre plays like the Miss Saigon and Wicked.
Any 'memories of an expat' you would like to share with us? Your best souvenir? Or maybe your worst experience?
I have lots of good experiences in Ho Chi Minh City. My best ‘souvenir’ would be giving birth to my second son here, Rafael. I only have praises to the medical team that helped me deliver my son. My worst would be getting pickpocketed at Notre Dame Cathedral after having lived in Saigon for 6 years!
What does your typical day as an expat in Saigon look like?
I work part time for a law firm so there are days that I would be in the office and days when I’d just be lazing around. But during weekdays, I always start my day prepping my kids for school and walking them to their school. After, I sneak in some time for walking or swimming before heading to the office.
During the weekends, I go biking with my husband or with the whole family around our area.
When did you start your blog? For what reasons?
I started the blog in 2010 and back then we knew we’d only be staying in Vietnam for 3 years. My eldest son was just 10 months old when we moved here so I thought of writing about our experience here so that there’s something he can read about when he would ask me about our time here in Vietnam.
Did you make new friends with your blog?
Oh yes! It’s amazing how a blog can connect you to people. I’ve helped a few get apartments here in Saigon, as well as, met other interesting people. One of my dearest friends and godmother to my second son, Rafael, is someone I connected with through Hello Saigon.
Why did you register on expat.com and what do you think of the website?
I registered in expat.com to connect with like-minded individuals and to share my experience living in Saigon. It’s not easy moving to another country and thought that my experience could help another. Expat.com is a terrific site to connect people and resource site.
Which advice would you give to the other Expat.com members who would like to settle in Saigon?
Honestly, living in Saigon is such a treat for me. I may have lived here for 6 years but I still consider myself a tourist. I guess, just never lose your sense of wonder of any place you would like to settle in. And also keep your eyes open to zooming motorbikes.