When Mr. Kim announced this news in August, I was bathed in extreme excitement, since this was the first time I had the chance to bond with my colleagues in non-office activities. Mixed in the excitement was a bit of anxiety because, at that time, the epidemic situation was quite stressful. Luckily, Vietnam has been doing an excellent job in keeping the spreading at bay and reassuring our hearts. As the departure date drew near, everyone always reminded each other to wear masks and wash hands regularly.
Hansem Vietnam at the meetup location.
That morning didn’t greet us with bright sunlight. Instead, the sky was full of white-grey clouds; the drizzling rain made the atmosphere all the cooler. Perhaps because everyone was eager for this trip, all eighteen members of Hansem Vietnam gathered on time at the meetup location. The bus wheels rolled at 7:30 AM, departing for Mui Ne. Nearly five hours later, the wide-open asphalt road, winding along the white sand coast, signalled that we had reached the notorious sea tip. From a distance, the deep blue sea reflecting the high clouds above had us all enamoured. The breeze carried a hint of saltiness and freshness that was hard to find in the bustling city. All troubles seemed to be relieved; only joy and eagerness remained in our minds.
The hotel where we checked in was built back-to-back with the vast sea, with wooden architecture and lush gardens, giving us the feeling of being immersed in nature. We had lunch before officially starting the tour at Mui Ne. Our “carriages” were the jeeps that had been parked neatly in front of the hotel. Despite possessing a subtle body, these iron horses were the most suitable means to enjoy the beautiful scenery on both sides of the road as well as the feeling of wind weaving through your hair. It would be even more wonderful if your driver were “chilled” enough to equip the jeep with speakers so that passengers can “feel the beat” along the ride. My LQA (Linguistic Quality Assurance) team was lucky enough to have such a driver, and it made our journey all the more delightful.
Team LPM (Localization Project Manager) by their iron horse.
The first destination where Hansem Vietnam’s family set foot to was Suoi Tien (Fairy Stream). Although having the same name as her sister in Saigon, this place lacked the iconic bustle of the city and possessed pristine wild beauty.
The characteristic red-orange colour of Suoi Tien came from weathered red soil. One side of the stream was a lustful green forest, and the other side was stalactites like swords stabbing to the sky. Among the relaxing sounds of running water, we thought we had been lost in a fairyland forgotten amidst the hectic flow of life. The members of Hansem Vietnam became adventurous knights exploring this new land, wading through cold streams, crouching under rough mangrove branches, climbing over jagged rocky mounds, all in joyous squeals and cheerful laughter.
Team admin and Mr. Kim Il Hong exploring Suoi Tien.
Team LQA – Girls over flowers.
Parting with the wild and poetic Suoi Tien, the brave knights transformed into desert travellers. Having arrived at the Doi Cat Trang (White Sand Dunes), I realized that the nickname “Little Sahara” was not at all exaggerating when I saw, for the first hand, dunes that stretched lazily to the endless horizon. The white colour of the sand contrasted with the grey-blueish clouds, creating a majestic natural spectacle that made humans feel humble unconsciously. We travelled on the running sand, following the footsteps of our colleagues ahead like a fun little game, and took unique photos. The small lake in the middle of the wilderness was like a sweet oasis, not only providing a resting place for visitors but also bringing vitality among endless white dunes.
Team Reviewer jumping in joy on Doi Cat Trang.
Mr. Kim and Ms. Tuong Vi: the ever-dedicated photographers.
Leaving Doi Cat Trang, it was getting dark already, we said our goodbye regretfully to Doi Cat Do (Red Sand Dunes) and returned to the hotel. As informed before, we knew the “main show” of this trip would come right after dinner: a team-building game, also a contest to find Mr./Mrs. Know-It-All of Hansem Vietnam, the one who not only understood their teammates but also knew about the whole company like the back of their hands. With our energy fully recharged, everyone was eager to start the game right away. Under the guidance of Ms. Tuong Vi and Ms. Bach Mai, the teams were divided by draws. Then, each time came up with the best name to represent their spirit.
The music started, signalling the beginning of Round 1. When the songs were being played, our mission was to listen carefully to recognize the songs, as well as to guess whose “life song” it was. Through break times at the office, each member’s musical taste had been revealed quite clearly, but everyone was in a frenzy when they had to match the song titles and the person’s name within a limited time. The rowdy voices mixed with the bustling music created a lively and cheerful atmosphere. When the results were announced, everyone burst out in hysterical laughter when most of the choices were… wrong! No one could have expected “Giot Le Dai Trang (Tears of a Lady)” (a famous bolero song composed in the late 60s) to be the life song of Ms. Tue – often dubbed “the baby of the office”. In the end, Mr. Minh Toan’s BKB team won this round, but unfortunately, this was just the warm-up round, so no points were counted (what a shame!).
After rround 1 full of excitement, everyone’s spirit was like a fire set alight. In rround 2, the goal of “understanding your coworkers” was pushed even higher when each team had to answer questions about another group. Details such as “what is A’s full name”, “what was B’s first job”, “what colour was C’s jacket” might sound simple, but if you ignored your colleagues’ little details, you wouldn’t be able to answer. The more complicated the questions, the more surprising the answers were, there were even hilarious moments when the person asked didn’t even remember what they had written in the answer sheet. Every time someone’s little secret was revealed, a round of good-humoured laughter flared up.
Our determination reached the peak; then, everyone wanted to bring their team to the final victory. Round 3 challenged each team’s understanding of Hansem Vietnam in particular and other Hansem branches in general, including headquarters in Korea. Not only the old staff but the newcomers also volunteered passionately. If one team answered incorrectly, the others immediately competed for the chance to respond. The hotel lobby was filled with rueful sighs when someone got the wrong answer and warm applause when one managed to answer an incredibly tricky question correctly.
When it came to the outcome, everyone was anxiously waiting for the winning team to be announced, and it was Team Resilience! This result had everyone in a mix of admiration and disbelief because just days ago, team leader Mr. Ngoc Anh had joked that “We would just watch everyone play”. However, with extensive knowledge of Hansem coupled with boundless enthusiasm, they made a spectacular and equally convincing comeback!
Team “Resilience”: Mr. Ngoc Anh, Ms. Thao Nhi, Ms. Thao Vi, Ms. Doan Trang. The winners!
Winning or losing was no longer critical at this point because to members of Hansem Vietnam, the biggest reward was the joyous feeling of being together. The entertaining and meaningful team-building game allowed us to understand everyone better and made us into a tight-knit family.
Ms. Tuong Vi and Ms. Bach Mai: the lively MCs.
Team “Masters of Deal”: Ms. Khanh Linh, Ms. Bao Tran, Ms. Bich Tram, Mrs. Dung.
Team “BKB”: Mr. Minh Toan, Ms. Hien Thanh, Mrs. Dung (on behalf of Mr. Kim), Ms. Quynh Nhu, Ms. Gia Tue.
Team “Four Dragons”: Ms. Kim Yen, Ms. Bao Tran, Ms. Boi Hy, Mrs. Dung (on behalf of Mr. Kim).
As the clock had yet to reach 10 o’clock, the elite brains of Hansem Vietnam continued to the thrilling game of Werewolves. In this game, you could only rely on yourself to find victory. Those who were teammates minutes ago now turned against each other. Each game was an intense battle between Villagers and Wolves. There were games where the Wolves won within a hair’s breadth and matches where Villagers joined forces to destroy Wolves. Amid profound moments came giggles from the “graveyard” – where “dead” players gathered and witnessed what was going on. Though there were no material rewards, Werewolves brought forth the satisfaction of winning a brain-and-wit game. After a day full of glee, we fell asleep between the murmur of waves.
Ms. Bich Tram and Ms. Gia Tue: the wolves.
The next morning was for personal activities. With the “party hard” spirit, the LQA team had made plans to watch the sunrise on the sandhill. We got up at 4 AM, packed ourselves into the “ladybug” jeep, and roamed the still slumbering highway. Reaching the bottom of the sandhill when the sky had been dyed a dark blue colour, we experienced one of the most “rocking” trips in the world in a terrain vehicle and arrived at the hilltop just in time to witness daybreak. Standing at the top of the hill, looking down at the white dune stretching, we felt like we were on the top of the world, bravely shouting our wishes and dreams for the future.
Team LQA, on top of the “world”.
The coast behind the hotel was also a great place to explore. It felt like we had returned to our carefree childhood, to the innocent days of diving in cold water or frolicking under rich sunlight. Many beautiful outfits were soaked in seawater, but the joy was completely worth it.
Ms. Gia Tue: on the beach.
Before long, the time for departure finally came, to everyone’s misery. We enjoyed a hearty lunch filled with seafood before heading back to dear old Saigon.
Although the Mui Ne tour lasted only two days, it left an unforgettable impact in our hearts. The bulletin board in Hansem Vietnam’s office was decorated with more pictures, and we have gained a lot precious memory. Hansem Vietnam, whether with 18 members now or more in the future, will forever be a family that everyone holds dear in their hearts.
Hansem Vietnam – our family.
Behind the scenes: Choo-choo, Hansem Vietnam Express is here!