Hey guys! Doing well, are we? I know, I know. I’ve been MIA on the blogosphere for more than 3 years now.. Yeah,well things happened. Exciting things. Really really exciting things and somewhere in between this blog and you, my dear readers, got ignored. No excuses. I’m sorry. I should’ve been more committed to this thing. But then…. No use dwelling over the past if one can’t learn anything from it. So I promise to make more of an effort this time.
So let me start by telling what was I doing all this time. I moved to Vietnam and was teaching English. But then that’s just the short bit of it. The longer bit is here what I am to share.
The townhall in Saigon
At the time of writing my last post (Sept 2013), I was living in New Delhi with my brother. I moved there because I was offered some freelance gigs to teach English. Having never lived away from family until then, I jumped at the opportunity to get away from home and experience the ‘Dilli vs Bombay’ fight for myself (Verdict : Bombay FTW \../ ) . At the same time I scored a part time assignment handing mobile advertising operations. Having had no income since I quit my job in Dec 2011, I took that as well. It was a work from anywhere kind of job and I hardly spent more than an hour a day crunching numbers, filing reports and running some ad campaigns. At the same time I knew that I wanted to give teaching English and living away from home and family a honest try. I knew that freelancing at a language center in Delhi teaching English was hardly going to pay me anything. But all I wanted was a shot to be in a classroom to see for myself how well I do. My brother had already been living there for a couple of years at the time and I just moved in with him. A couple of months passed by and started getting a few hours a week and getting comfortable being in a classroom and then my brother got offered a job in Mumbai and he decided to move back. My earnings from both the assignments at the time were hardly enough to pay rent and hence I decided to move back to my family in Bombay. But the stint in Delhi made me realise I was good in the class room and I enjoyed it. A lot. So I made a big decision. Move abroad and teach English and travel in between as much as possible. And if it doesn’t work out, I would end up travelling quite a bit.
Reading about getting job a TEFL teacher, I learned that Thailand was one of the easiest places. Of course being a non native teacher, I knew it was not going to be as easy, but I wanted to give it a try. Unfortunately it was the mid of November then. Not a good time to fly to Thailand because it isn’t the hiring season (Mar-Apr and Aug-Sept). So I ended up travelling for a bit here and there. I went trekking in Sandak Phu region of Bengal/Sikkim and then went for Chadar Trek towards end of January 2014. Cool thing to happen was a few of my pictures from the Chadar trek got published in The Economic Times, ET Travel supplement (Feb 20, 2022) and then recently I wrote an article for The Deccan Chronicle+ The Asian Age (Nov 2, 2021)
2 months in Thailand
I flew to Thailand in March 2014. It was my first travel outside of India and I headed straight to Chiang Mai - a place I had always wanted to visit. In fact I loved the city so much I made the city my base for the two months I was in that country.
Temples in Chiang Mai
I would go to city mark out all the schools on a map and then go drop resumes everywhere. And I did get offered jobs in Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Nakhon Ratchasima and Ubon Ratchathani. But somehow it turned out that if I liked the school I didn’t like the remuneration, if the pay was good the city was boring for me to commit myself for a year or… You get the drift, I believe. However I did enjoy the time I spent in Thailand. Although a bit awkward at first, having always travelled solo, making friends with people in the hostels was not that easy for generally a reserved person like but it was the best takes aways from that trip. The friends I made in Thailand are some people whom I truly cherish. In fact few people whom I met in Thailand I ended up meeting in Ha Noi sometime later and one of them ended up becoming my housemate there a year later.
Hanging out with hostel mates in Chiang Mai
Anyway when I realised somehow that Thailand wasn’t the place I wanted to teach, I spent the last couple of weeks celebrating Songkran - Thai New year, riding motorbikes in the hills around Chiang Mai and just chilling before returning home again. It was time to look for another country to move to.
Celebrating Thai New Year
Month or so after I flew back from Thailand, I went to Malaysia. A friend of mine was already working and living there and he said I could stay at his place and look if there are any opportunities in KL. I was not very attracted to Malaysia as a place but nevertheless I visited him and spend a couple of weeks. I spent most of the time in KL but I did spend a few days in Penang and my friend and I travelled to Malacca for the weekend before I flew to Vietnam
The twin towers in Kuala Lumpur
I landed in Vietnam in the first half of July 2011. And I hit the streets trying to find a teaching job within my first couple of days there. Again, the going was tough but I was willing to rough it out. I spent close to 3 weeks in Ho Chi Minh City itself dropping my resumes at language schools, doing demo lessons and attending interviews. And as I commuted with HCMC more and more for these purposes, I started getting a feel for the city and realised it wasn’t for me. And though I had a couple of job offers I decided to pass and head north into the country and see what it had to offer.
Ho Chi Minh City District One
I spent some time in Dalat, Hoi An, Hue and a few other places en route before I landed up in Ha Noi. Ha Noi was a city I loved from day one. When I was not doing something related to looking for a teaching job, I spent my time taking walks all around, sitting in coffee shops and watching people and the world go by. Within in some time I had a start and that is when I decided to settle down in Ha Noi for a while. And before I knew I was yet another TEFL teacher in Ha Noi .
Coffee estates in Da Lat
Teaching in Ha Noi
Teaching in Ha Noi was a great experience. I started teaching at a couple of universities. At one I was teaching a bunch of university student who formed a club and hired me to teach them. At another I was training the staff and lecturers at the university with their communication skills. It was at times initimadating to teach a group of professors who themselves had decades of teaching experience.
My kids in Vietnam
And then the scariest thing was that I also got an assignment at local language centre which involved teaching really young kids. Not being a person who liked young kids it was awkward at first but over a period of time I started loving each and every little one of them. In fact I never realized when I made the change from referring them as my ‘students’ to my ‘kids’.
Living in Ha Noi
Living in Ha Noi was one of the best thing to happen to me in my travels. I lived in a local neighbourhood with wonderful housemates from across the world. All of us got along really well. House parties, housemate dinners and spending a lot of time together was something all of us loved to do. We would not just hang around together in Ha Noi but often went for weekend trips, motorbike rides, and music festivals together.
Ngoc Son Temple, Ha Noi
Other than spending time with my housemates I spent time learning new things. I’ve always wanted to learn a musical instrument and I started learning ukulele with my buddies at Ha Noi Ukulele club. Besides ukulele I took up classes to learn Vietnamese and enjoyed them thoroughly. The thing about living I had plenty of time to do what I wanted to do or do nothing at all.
At the same time living in a different country where I had zero acquaintances when I first moved in and then learning to be independent, making friends from all across the world has helped me become a totally different person.
Return home and What’s next?
I returned home in mid of may 2016 after spending a year and half in Ha Noi. After a few weeks of spending time with family and friends, I went travelling in India. A couple of housemates from Ha Noi also joined me and we went Delhi to Shimla to Manali via Spiti and them to Ladakh before heading down to southern parts of the country. I spent close to 3 months travelling and have been home for a couple of months now. What next you ask? I don’t know 😉. One of the things in my minds is to be more attentive towards this blog and not let it go ignored like the previous time. And I’ll commit to make more of an effort. I have plans to travel further in the next couple of months. Whatever it is, I’ll keep you posted. Cheers!