Philippines, Vietnamese pals enjoying life through travel

September 14, 2023 - 09:47
"As two friends from Việt Nam and the Philippines, we would like to show you how two different cultures could build up a friendship despite our differences and travel worldwide together."

Trần Khánh An

The YouTube channel of Fil-Viet Buddies shows two young adventurous men with beaming smiles, journeying around the world. Currently, they have set foot in ten countries and countless localities across Việt Nam. Next on their 'to-do' list is the country's mountain peaks.

Jamie (right) and Ryan (left) on their trekking trip to Fansipan - the highest mountain peak in Hoàng Liên Sơn range in Sapa, Lào Cai Province. — Photo courtesy of FilVietBuddies.

Ganolon Legarte Ryan from the Philippines is 30 years old and has lived in Việt Nam for eight years. Currently, he is working a 9-5 job in education.

Nguyễn Văn Minh, better known by his English name Jamie, is 26 years old and works for an export company.

Their lives crossed when they met by chance in the same building. Ryan was at the Hanoi International Fellowship (HIF) - a Christian community of expats living in Hà Nội. The company Jamie worked for at the time was also in the same building.

Ryan and Jamie quickly became friends because of common interests in travelling and trekking, and they shared the same goals to travel around the world and conquer the mountain peaks of Việt Nam.

Soon after connecting, the pair decided to team up and create joint social media accounts to spread news of their travels.

Ryan wrote on their page: "As two friends from Việt Nam and the Philippines, we would like to show you how two different cultures could build up a friendship despite our differences and travel worldwide together."

Ryan (right) and Jamie (left) in Manilla's Chinatown in the Philippines. — Photo courtesy of FilVietBuddies.

Jamie added: “We just want to share our journey by making a YouTube video. At first, we did not have professional tools for video editing, and even had to edit YouTube video’s thumbnails on the screen of my iPhone 6.”

With a passion for exploration, Ryan has visited various localities in Việt Nam from North to South in his eight years living here. The high mountains in Việt Nam opened up a new hobby for him – mountain trekking.

He said: “My first experience with trekking was at Fansipan Mountain – Indochina's 'roof' and home to numerous magnificent natural sceneries. The adventure left me feeling the most astonished, and my current goal is to conquer all the Vietnamese mountain peaks.”

During his travels and time spent living in Việt Nam, Ryan also enjoys taking pictures and making videos. The images and footage that Ryan took and filmed were featured on GMA Unang Hirit, the Philippines' longest-running morning programme, which has been airing since 1999.

The most memorable trip for Ryan was actually in his own country when the pair visited Tondo.

Known locally as 'happy land', it is not only Manila’s largest slum but also the metropolis’ largest district, housing 631,000 people, most of whom live on the streets or in small, shabby shacks.

Ryan said: “We assume that those unfortunate individuals who reside in slums are unhappy and unsatisfied with their lives. What surprised us, though, was how happy everyone there seemed to be.

"Each one of them smiled and waved when they saw us. It seems like they actually lived in a happy land rather than a slum.

“That memory has taught us to enjoy the life we currently live, to be satisfied with what we have, and to always maintain an optimistic perspective on life."

Jamie (right) and Ryan (left) with the residents in Happy Land - a poor area in Manila, Philippines. — Photo courtesy of FilVietBuddies.

When Ryan spoke to Việt Nam News, he was planning a trekking trip at Kỷ Quan San Mountain with Jamie. Both of them have full-time jobs, yet they still make an effort to plan trips together. Typically, the duo leave Hà Nội and begin the trip on a Friday evening, then return on a Sunday midnight to be ready for work on Monday.

“One time I arrived home at 3am on Monday after the trip, and I only had three hours of sleep before going to work on the first day of the week,” Ryan shared.

The duo is nurturing a plan to become a digital nomad, who travels freely while working remotely using technology and the Internet. They are hoping that working as a full-time content creator and freelancer could help them achieve their goal.

A quote by Saint Augustine influences Jamie and Ryan: “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”

Ryan said: “I have only read one page of the book of life if I only stay in a single location. Travelling to a foreign land and embracing new cultures and people can be an exciting and rewarding adventure.

"I firmly believe that we can overcome cultural barriers and establish connections despite the differences in citizenship, culture, and language.”

Their journey around the world can be followed on their YouTube and TikTok account @FilVietBuddies. — VNS