Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Teaching in Saigon: April and everything after...

I've put this post off for a while, although I suppose it was somewhat inevitable that I would get to it eventually. It’s the biggie, the main thing I’ve been doing for the past six months while living in Vietnam, namely, teaching English as a foreign language. The reason why I haven’t done so before now is mainly because I’ve been busy focusing on what I’m doing,  trying not to suck at it, trying to improve quickly over a short period and that has left me with very little opportunity to actually reflect on my experiences. Even though I’m actually busier at the moment than I have been for the whole time I’ve been teaching here, my brain has finally done enough filing and contextualising in the quiet moments to allow me to form some opinions on what I have observed and encountered during my time teaching in Saigon, and these are what I’m going to share with you today.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

West meets East: Part One

Below is the link to my first actual proper article for an actual proper website. Please help me to promote it by commenting on it, sharing it and reading it if you get chance!! Any support would be greatly, greatly appreciated 😃

The website I've written for is an awesome New Zealand based lifestyle website and they have lots of interesting articles, vlogs and photoshoots so why not check out their Facebook page too?

Thanks in advance you lovely people, and Happy Sunday!!

Monday, 24 August 2015

'Something always missing, always someone missing something'*

I've been living in Vietnam for five months now, and over this period, I've found it really difficult to spend time thinking about and reflecting on the experiences I have had, long enough to write about them. I think this is because life in Saigon is immediate and fast paced. You either get on board for the ride or get thrown about in its wake. You do actually have to live in the moment to survive, and those that know me must realise that this has been very hard for me, because I'm a world-class ditherer. Or at least, I was. But, as ever, life finds a way, and somewhere in between the chaos, my thoughts have been forming like bubbles in the background, gradually amassing to the point where they have forced me to find the time to put pen to paper.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Lost in translation

I am trying to learn some basic Vietnamese while I'm here. I want to attempt to speak to people without relying on them speaking English and, to be honest, one thing I am desperate to do at this point, is differentiate myself from the tourists here. Now, I know I am a tourist by default, but I am planning to work and live here for a while, so I need to make the transition from being seen as a holiday maker to a person who is just a small part of a bigger whole. For one thing, I can't afford to spend money like I'm on holiday every day, it's not tenable, and I don't know whether this can be achieved in Hanoi, but I'll come back to that.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Why does it always rain on me?

Well it doesn't actually, for the last three weeks I've not seen a spot of rain, only blistering heat and humidity. But as the train from Nha Trang passed into Hoi An and onto Da Nang, the heavens opened in a manner I've rarely seen before. Rain, sheeting, sheeting rain. And this isn't even the rainy season. The pac a macs we were beginning to wonder if we should even bother bringing we're suddenly worth their weight in gold. My partner got himself an ex army one that made him look rather dignified, like an outdoorsy hero from a novel about hobbits and elves, but I looked a bit more, well, hmm. You see mine is pug poncho which is awesome and does the job but also had the effect of making me look like a naughty child from a Roald Dahl novel who was receiving their ironic punishment. Especially as I had all the camera equipment and bags hidden under it, I looked like you could just roll me down a hill. Weirdly though, as absurd as I looked, the bizarreness of the situation actually broke what was beginning to become a bit of a downer for me.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Progress: 'It happens'

Lying awake at 3.00 am, or thereabouts, in our hotel in Nha Trang, I can hear the monks in the Temple over the road doing their daily chants, accompanied by the thing they use that sounds like a cymbal (I think it's called a singing bowl?) The noise rolls, ascends and goes quiet. The chanting continues and then the process starts again. The first night I heard this I found it disconcerting, almost haunting. Now I find it comforting, like they are acknowledging a new day before the rest of usually even open our eyes to it. The monks have so far been the only thing that I have really liked about Nha Trang, and we are leaving tomorrow.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

We've just spent the last few days in Phan Thiet and Mui Ne, little towns that are next to the coast of Vietnam. This experience has been a world away from that of being in Saigon. The pace of life in these rural towns is more relaxed, people taking their time doing what they need to do. However long something takes to do or cook or whatever, is how long it takes, the sense of urgency has gone. This, combined with being by the sea, has had quite an affect on me.

I love the seaside, always have done. Being next to the sea makes me feel connected to the rest of the world, rather than trapped in my own little one. It reminds me how utterly insignificant I am compared to the universe at large, it gives perspective... But I'll come back to that. My experience of the beach back in the UK was always significantly different. In the summer we would go to our gran's caravan in mid-Wales and usually make one or two excursions to the beach. British summer being what it is, it was mostly freezing and swimming in the ocean meant standing in the shallower bit until your whole body went numb with cold which would then allow you to swim about without too much trouble. Eventually our parents would call us out of the water either because it began to rain or we had been in long enough it was reasonable to assume that hypothermia would be setting in shortly. This never stopped me or my sister swimming because, swimming in the sea is still awesome, no matter how cold it is, and I loved those holidays. But the beach here... Wow. Just wow really, I've never seen anything like it. It's paradise, to me, or as near to it as I'll see in my little life, I'm sure. Warm sand, warm water, and the memory of swimming about in it while the sun sets will stay with me for a long time, hopefully forever.

Friday, 20 March 2015

A stranger in a strange land

So, I've been quiet for a time. The reason for this is that I was packing up my life to move to Vietnam for a while, to travel and work. Exciting yes, terrifying, yes. The last few weeks have passed in a blur. There has been so much to do that I've not really had chance to process any of it fully, I've just been working down a great big long to do list. The list was so long that not only did I struggle to get through it but things dropped off the end of it, because I just ran out of time. And now here I am, three plane rides later, in Vietnam.

The first few days we spent in Ho Chi Minh City (or Saigon) and those days passed in a whirlwind of frenetic experience. Many people who have visited Vietnam advised me that HCMC was their least favourite place, so I was not sure what to expect, but my experience of the city was exceedingly positive.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

How I learnt that I'd rather be one person's shot of whisky, than everybody's cup of tea

I used to think that life was a series of ups and downs, and it is, in the sense that we experience highs and lows of emotion, but it's recently struck me that life and what happens in it is just a series of events. It's not a case that ‘there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so’*, in fact, thinking only ever brings greater uncertainty over the existence of black and white, moral absolutes can be broken down when you factor in different perspectives and rationale. For me, nothing is either good or bad but feeling makes it so. It is our emotional response to situations that dictates whether we think something is good or bad.