Love inspires Malaysian man’s fluent Vietnamese

By Minh Tam   March 25, 2023 | 04:24 pm PT
When Raymond first met Thuy in Malaysia seven years ago, he was immediately drawn to her dimpled smile.

He became fascinated with finding a way to get to know her.

"The moment I met her eyes, I knew she was my destiny," said Go Jun Hao (also known as Raymond), 30, now an English teacher in Ho Chi Minh City.

At the time of their first encounter in mid-2016, Dang Thi Thuy, 29, from Quang Binh Province, was working in Ipoh city, Perak State, Malaysia.

It was at a friend’s birthday party that Raymond first saw Thuy, a Vietnamese girl with long hair, big eyes and a charming smile.

He approached her and started a conversation that ended quickly, but somewhat luckily: with a phone number.

However, Thuy recalls that she wasn’t interested at the time.

"I was just trying to be polite, so I gave him my number and ignored him," Thuy said. "My impression of Raymond at that time was very faint."

Raymond (R) and Do Thi Thuy in Ho Chi Minh City in 2021. Photo courtesy of the couple

Raymond (R) and Do Thi Thuy in Ho Chi Minh City in 2021. Photo courtesy of the couple

Before going to Malaysia, Thuy had already engaged in a long-distance relationship with a foreigner that didn’t work out. She told herself that she would avoid heartbreak by never loving a foreigner again.

But after the fateful birthday party, Raymond texted Thuy every day in English. When he asked her out for a cup of coffee or dinner, she didn’t respond. Eventually, she agreed to go to the movies with him. But when he arrived at the theater, she texted him that she was sick and couldn’t go.

Raymond returned home and sent Thuy another text: "I think you already have a boyfriend. I won't bother you anymore".

Thuy didn’t reply and continued with her life.

Two months later, during the Lunar New Year holiday, all services and shops were closed in Malaysia. Thuy didn’t know how to buy food for the next few days. Desperate, Thuy texted Raymond for help. During his lunch break, he took Thuy out to buy food. However, when he dropped her off at home, she went straight inside and didn’t even say thank you.

Four days later, Raymond sent her a text: "You are not a good person. You only think of me when you need something. After you get what you need, you forget about me."

He was discouraged.

"At that time, I thought this girl was too cold," Raymond said.

Thuy was shocked because it was the first time someone had told her straight up that she wasn’t a good person. Looking back on how she’d handled things with Raymond, she realized that she was careless.

"This time I texted and asked him out for dinner," Thuy said.

After that date, the two gradually fell for each other and Raymond confessed his love.

He began texting his new girlfriend every day with two misspelled Vietnamese words he learned from his friend: "ba ssa."

"I thought it was a greeting in Malay. It took me a week to realize that he was calling me ‘ba xa’ (wife)," Thuy said.

Raymond, Thuy and their son. Photo courtesy of the couple

Raymond, Thuy and their son. Photo courtesy of the couple

After seven months in love, Thuy returned to Quang Binh to visit her family. Raymond offered to come along because he wanted to learn more about his girlfriend's country.

Raymond accompanied Thuy home and after a month in Vietnam, she decided she didn’t want to return to Malaysia. She knew Raymond had a promising job at a bank in his hometown, so she only "jokingly" asked him if he wanted to stay in Vietnam with her.

But she was surprised by his answer.

"He agreed immediately and booked a flight to Malaysia to quit his job and inform his family," Thuy said.

Ten days later, Raymond returned to Quang Binh to live with his girlfriend's family.

"It still feels like a dream when I remember picking him up at the Da Nang Airport," Thuy said. At the end of 2017, they welcomed their first child and got married.

Raymond said that during his first days in Quang Binh, everyone looked at him curiously and asked him questions in Vietnamese. He just smiled back because he didn't understand what everyone was saying.

"In a house where people called each other by many different names, I was shocked and couldn't remember them all," Raymond said.

So, after three months in Quang Binh, he began to learn Vietnamese.

He gradually spoke less English. At work, he tried to learn Vietnamese from his colleagues. At home, he learned from Thuy and his mother-in-law.

"Every time he looks at something, he always asks how to describe it in Vietnamese and then takes notes," Thuy said.

After one year, people began complimenting Raymond for speaking authentic Vietnamese like a man from Central Vietnam.

Raymond and Thuy brings their son to Malaysia to see his grandparents in 2019. Photo courtesy of the couple

Raymond and Thuy brings their son to Malaysia to see his grandparents in 2019. Photo courtesy of the couple

In 2021, Thuy and Raymond moved to Ho Chi Minh City for work. People there often mistook Raymond as a man from Central Vietnam due to his thick Quang Binh accent.

"Some people from Quang Binh heard my voice and thought I was from their hometown," he recalled.

Raymond's mother-in-law, Tran Thi Uyen 65, said that the presence of Raymond always fills the atmosphere with laughter because of his sense of humor.

After nearly six years living in Vietnam, Raymond said he loves the country and considers it as his second home. Thuy has many times asked if he wants to go back to Malaysia, but he firmly says no.

"Because I have fallen in love with my wife and this country".

Thuy and her husband haven’t returned to Malaysia since the outbreak of Covid-19. This summer, they are planning to bring their son to see Raymond’s parents.

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