I’m so excited to introduce you to my niece, Marisa Ryan, a girl-next-door American who grew up in Carson City, Nevada … and is now living the expat life in Vietnam with her husband, Tim, and their two young children. Here’s Marisa:
Everything Can Change
Tim and I were just going about our daily Las Vegas lives when we received a call from Tim’s boss, David, that would change everything! This was in mid-February 2012; I was six months pregnant and our dream house was just partially remodeled. We had a plan.
Oh, how that plan changed!
The next week at dinner, David told us about a fantastic career opportunity for Tim—to open a new casino resort on the beaches of Vietnam as director of food & beverage. At the time, I don’t think Tim or I could have pointed out on the map exactly where Ho Chi Minh City was, but we knew it was an opportunity we couldn’t turn down. We did a bit of research and quickly prepared to move across the world. This opportunity wasn’t going to wait.
We had no idea what was in store for us—nor could we even imagine what it would be like to live in Southeast Asia.
Six weeks later Tim, our two-year-old son, Conrad, and I boarded our flight. After twenty-four hours we landed in the hot, muggy weather at Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City. We were scared and excited all at the same time. Driving from the airport to our hotel we tried to take it all in—the traffic, the motorbikes, the hammocks, the street food, the people. It was like nothing we had ever seen.
The first three months brought many ups and downs. We welcomed our precious baby girl Simone Viét, struggled with culture shock, discovered the privileged life of being an expat, worried about how Conrad was adjusting, and dealt with lots of uncertainty that surrounded the opening of the resort and Tim’s job. We soon found our stride, met great friends, traveled to exotic locations, and fell in love with Vietnam.
It’s a great story, don’t you think? And while Tim’s been busy opening a luxury hotel (the Grand Ho Tram Beach Resort), Marisa—a fashion industry veteran—has started a small clothing company called Native Grace Fashion. Marisa and her business partner Brandy were often going to the fabric markets get things made for themselves, and thus another career opp suggested itself: it is very affordable to have manufacturing done in Vietnam. So Marisa and Brandy came up with the concept—resort wear, bathing suit cover-ups, and so on—scoured through markets for fabric, hired a pattern maker, made samples, and then went to factory. I’ll let Marisa tell you that story sometime.
So stick around! Marisa has a lot of fascinating stories about living in Vietnam … and visiting Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bali, Singapore, Bangkok, the Vietnam Central Coast, and other interesting locations I may never see. (Next up: a weekend trip to Cambodia.) Tạm biệt (good-bye) for now!