Why Vietnam is so great and why I am so indecisive about jobs.

This blog title is a twist on Nietzsche’s  Ecce Homo chapters  ‘Why I am so wise/Why I am so clever’, except that I am not a German philosopher, nor do I have such an impressive moustache or canon of works . I might succumb to eventual insanity like ole Friedrich though. Also perhaps using  ‘canon’ to describe an extremely anti-christian set of writings  might be somewhat ironic.

  Astounding moustache I am somewhat lacking in.

Philosophical tangent aside, I am here to give an exegesis of my recent predicament. Before I chose this job, I turned down two in Spain, one in Hong Kong, one in Budapest and one in Hanoi. All for various reasons from location to wages to schedule. Now I have just been offered a job in Ecuador as well as one in Sudan and I have an interview tonight for Korea. I’m hesitant about taking any of them, yet I want to go somewhere else when I finish my contract here. I am a meticulous planner, an obsessive organiser and hideously afraid of making the wrong choices. If I am going to pack up my life into a suitcase and temporarily emigrate, it’s going to be to the right place. People say ‘Wow that country sounds cool, go there!’ But you’re working full time, it’s the day to day life you have to think about.

When I arrived here, somebody told me that Vietnam ‘spoils and ruins you’ you as a first time English teacher. By that they meant that Vietnam is sort of the pinnacle of English teaching jobs, nothing else comes close in terms of wages, living costs, social life, travel, free time, benefits, bonuses  and a whole load of other things that make this country great. I also had  a concrete reason for coming here; I mean I spent a year of my life studying it so why not come and see the places for real? It’s all well writing about the storming of the Saigon Presidential Palace, it’s much better working on the same street as it.

Here is a list of wonderful things about this country that the government should pay me for advertising

Why you should move to Vietnam for at least a year

1) wages vs living cost

English teaching here pays £15 an hour and up. Plus there is loads of extra tutoring work. When you work full time, you can save way over half your salary. Our swish, brand new house costs less than £50 a week each, including all bills and servicing. A local meal costs £1. An hour massage costs £5. Maids who come to our house three times a week and do all the laundry and cleaning cost £5 a week per housemate (this is a good wage, we pay a lot because they are lovely).  A bus to Cambodia costs £6.  A beer costs less than 30p. To get Indian/Chinese/Western/Mexican food delivered straight to your house costs £3 -ish. You can get shoes/dresses/glasses made for £15.  Enough said? I can’t live anywhere else half as well and save that amount of money to send home.

Cool sandals made for my special midget feet.

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My super trendy manicure and over the top painted nails that took two hours for a lady to do.

2) Opportunity to travel and an entirely different environment

Vietnam is bordered by China, Cambodia and Laos. It’s a train ride to Thailand, a cheap flight to Burma, Singapore, Malaysia, the Philippines, Hong Kong. You can do some much travelling so accessibly and even in country you could live here for years and still not see all the beaches, mountains, national parks and other sights. It’s also a developing country on the cusp of huge social and economic change. You sit in traffic and see someone selling sweetcorn from the back of their bike next to a man on a motorbike with his toddler holding an ipad.

Vietnam highlands- me trekking and canyoning

Phu Quoc Island, an hour flight

$10 a night beach house

Ha Long Bay, North Vietnam.


Tam Coc, taken from top of a mini mountain after a strenuous climb!

3) Social Life

I have always been drawn to people from abroad, I think I was attracted to my best friend from university from the minute I heard her international twang (Sorry Tania, you still sound a bit American). That and the fact she made a Stalin joke. My best friends here are compromised of Americans, South Africans and Brits. They are genuinely incredible and the thought of leaving them makes me so sad. The huge expat community is great and of course the local people who are generous, friendly and interesting. We have had so many amazing trips, nights out and experiences I will never forget.

Work organised Dodgeball Tournament. We got a trophy, yeah!

4) Schedule

I moan about the weekends, during which I work two 12 hour days in a row, waking up at 5.45am and getting home gone 8pm. But in the week I only work two evenings for a few hours and 4 hours lecturing at the uni on Friday. This means there’s so much chance to do things and go places. Plus anywhere in the city is never more than a half hour motorbike trip.

Not so much hardwork teaching this class, all adorable, including the teaching assistant.

high level teenage class presenting their business ideas.

5) Company benefits.

There are downsides, but on the whole, from talking to other teachers in other places, I can’t complain. The company I work for have great professional development, useful workshops twice a month, exam training, scheduled pay rises, holiday pay, all inclusive holiday retreats and parties, western management, free language lessons, almost infinite resources. As well as a huge charity network to volunteer with. There are a lot of things that annoy me, which I will rant about separately. Perhaps I’m getting watery eyed about leaving, hence the incredibly biased, rose-tinted viewpoint.

Synchronised swimming on company sponsored trip

The general conclusion is that I don’t think I can beat it, but my feet are too itchy to stay, I want to see what some where else is like. But where do I go from here? Europe is too close and too expensive, South America is far away and so very alluring, but I want to save money for a masters, which I cant do on a £500 a month salary. Korea would be incredible and I always wanted to go,  but it’s a year contract and that’s a long time to commit. Palestine and Sudan would be interesting challenges and would be great for future jobs, but again are essentially volunteering and thus not good for saving, they’re also slightly dangerous. Ideally I want to be back in England for summer 2013 so I can do a summer school in England, a renowned quick way to earn a lot of money to subsequently spend travelling. This means I only want to go somewhere for 6 months, another issue as most schools want a year commitment.

I realise having the choice of too many jobs in too many places isn’t exactly a bad thing, and before you berate me for bragging about it, you could do it to! So many people say how ‘jealous’ they are, well then do it! What’s stopping you? No jobs in your home country? Then move! That’s sort of whole point of this entry, everybody should travel and live abroad at least once.

So, where the bloody hell do I go now?

Next installment: things that drive me crazy about Vietnam and make me want to leave!


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