I first came to Hanoi because I was talking to the head of the school who was about to leave Hanoi with his Vietnamese wife and their two children. He had a house in Stoke and I stayed with his parents after leaving Halls (which I was staying in because I had been working as a social assistant with Wolverhampton uni) His parents were very kind to me and never took a penny off me for staying with them. Good honest people.
I gave him my car and computer because it is hard to know what to do with stuff when moving abroad and he had just got back to the country and needed them and I couldnt take them with me.
When I first got to Hanoi I was like a fish out of water and they really like to take advantage of newcomers here! I knew nothing of the value of anything and paid silly money for things like t-shirts, maybe ten times the proper price! I had been to Vietnam once before but only for a short time (even shorter thanks to those wonderful people at the Vietnam Embassy in Cambodia) They tell you you have got the month visa you pay for but actually give you a 17 day one so as to trap you into paying $30 when you leave. We were told about this scam when we got to the first stop on the Mekong (will edit later, cannot remember name) by a friendly Aussie bar owner, so they never got their $30 and the country lost out on the money we would have spent in those extra 13 days. Bastards. It still riles me 3 or 4 years later lol
Because I have an English/TESOL degree and a Trinity Certificate (thanks Veronica et al)and taught for a summer in China and some in the UK so have experience, whereas most people just drop out and end up needing money, and teaching is one of the few ways they can do it, I can work pretty much anywhere in the world. So why do I choose Hanoi? Well I come from England so somewhere warmer was a big consideration, somewhere well paid was another. I love SE Asia, speak a little Thai (my ex-wife of ten years was Thai) I could work in Korea and earn more money, but it is cold in winter, I could work in fantastic Cambodia or Laos which are perhaps more welcoming and in more need, and maybe I still might... Why don't I work in Thailand? It is hot and friendly and they pay reasonably? Well, in some ways it would be too easy. I like a challenge and I can get by in Thai, although I cannot speak it brilliantly I am able to get over a lot of basic needs and wants. The food in Thailand is fantastic, my favourite in the world. The food here in Vietnam is good too especially the local food, but I have been extremely lazy in learning Vietnamese so I do struggle with some of the local stalls.
Well I think I had better try and make my paragraphs a bit clearer! If you could understand all the points made in that last one let me know! It is a bit all over the place isn't it?
My mind at the moment is bit all over the place too....
When I first arrived it was for a contract in Haiphong, teaching six hours a day five days a week, living in a (paid for) hotel in the week, travelling back to Hanoi at the weekends (and paying for my own hotel). So at $17 an hour this was a well paid job. But it was only a ten week contract and since then I have been working for the same school in Hanoi 1.5 hours a day six days a week, which is only $150 a week. They keep promising a new Haiphong contract so I can't apply for other work because I am expecting to up sticks again soon, and wouldn't want to take a job then have to leave them in the lurch, but not sure when this new contract will transpire if ever.
As the hotel I am staying in costs $9 a day and the motorbike rental is $40 a month (for an almost new Honda Wave!!) it doesn't leave a lot spare, especially with going to Laos for Tet. The flight and visa was $280 and I spent about $400 (worth every penny!)
The other teachers in Haiphong were Henrik (a 22 yr old Swede) who speaks fluent Vietnamese, likes to play the guitar and writes his own songs; James an elderly American (who doesn't reveal his age lol) whose nickname with his fellow expats in Ho Chi Minh City is Shaky because he does actually have the shakes. Plus Ronan (a laconic N Irish Brit whose family live in London) for a couple of weeks; who was replaced by Steve, a young, good-looking Australian. Steve cannot be summed up in a few words lol as I am sure he would be the first to agree. He is about 6' 4", likes to run, can be extremely loud, but says he he is extremely moral. He says marriage is what he wants, and never wants to go back to Oz. He has learnt Vietnamese in an extremely short time and was already up to Intermediate level after a few weeks! He spends money like it is going out of fashion, has been to the hospital about once a month spending around 6 or 700 dollars a time for stomach pains, but is able to teach the next day!