Exactly one year ago preparations for my world trip went in full swing. I hitchhiked to Berlin to visit my sister. I took side jobs to collect money. I ordered the last photo equipment, I was looking for the right insurance. Air tickets were already purchased and I started counting down the days to my departure.
I thought I was leaving for a year. For 12 months. And because today is exactly 11 months since my departure from Poland, I should start counting the days to return.
Every journey teaches us something new about ourselves. For the past 11 months, I have learned that I like going with the flow the most. Not planning, not knowing what I will do in a month or six. Not limiting myself with the return ticket.
Go when the waves are calling.
And that is why today I am sitting in Vietnam, on the bed in my own room, which I rent in Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon. I have been teaching English for a month and a few days here, and my wonderful students are 3-11 years old.
So, what did my June look like, 11 months after leaving Poland?
First of all – and it certainly has been noticed by those of you who read my blog, follow me on Facebook and/or Instagram – I disappeared. I do not have much time to write regularly anymore, which I regret a bit. I work about 20 hours a week, but from Monday to Sunday and more time I spent on commuting to work than at work. I do not have a day off unless I ask for it (like last time I was dying from running nose and lost my voice).
But at the moment I’m very reluctant to take any days off because I want to save as much money as possible. Unfortunately, a few months ago I lost several hundred dollars in a very strange way. It’s a good topic for a separate post. Nevertheless, I decided to grit my teeth and settle down for a while to earn that money back and save a bit for my next trip.
Maybe you are wondering if it’s possible to save up any money in the Communist country in Asia. Well, let me tell you that here foreigners who teach English earn 16-22 USD per hour. I get mostly 17 USD. And the cost of living depends on where you live and how high are your personal expenses – in my case, it is about 550 USD per month. You can count easily how much I can save.
Is anyone still wondering why I am temporarily not considering returning to Poland and even signed a contract of employment for a year? I certainly do not wonder. I do not know yet whether I will stay here that long, but there are some interesting direct flights from Saigon. What about doing an Asian city break once a month…? For example to Hong Kong and Macau, Taiwan, Brunei? 😉
But for now, it’s just an uncertain plan because… Asia is giving me hard time again.
Anyone who follows my journey from the beginning will surely remember the September entry when I scratched my leg in Sri Lanka and got a nasty infection.
Well, history likes to repeat itself. Right now I’m lying on the bed with my leg stretched out on pillows, because I have been dealing with another infection for a week now. Again I have a big hole in my leg. Where did it come from? From an ingrown hair after shaving. That easy!
This is also a good story for a separate entry – for you to warn. It is not the climate to which our bodies are accustomed, so we better take the tropics seriously. But I will write about it as soon as it is healed because every day I take pictures and record how this wound changes.
I once laughed that my blog should be called ‘Misfortunate Traveler’ or something like that. It never rains but it pours. I can not even go out with friends for a beer because this Saturday I have to go to Cambodia for my visa run (or: spend $80 in one day) and my company decided to pay me after the weekend. Just when I really need the money.
But! June, in general, was not that bad, I really should not complain!
In the end, my payment (precisely, several payments because I work for 4 different schools and kindergartens) is a very nice sum – exactly 1000 USD. (Yes, for 20 hours a week.) My students are super adorable. I even learn some Vietnamese from them! For example, I know that ‘strawberry’ is dâu and ‘knife’ is dao! (Both are read as ‘yaw’ :P).
Besides, when I order a GrabBike, drivers often ask me where I come from. Some of them, when they hear Ba Lan (Poland in Vietnamese), respond with joy “Lewandowski!” 😀
[In case you are not a football/soccer fan: Robert Lewandowski is a 28-years-old striker in Bayern Munich and captain of Poland’s national team. He’s 14th most valuable player in the world and he’s already being compared to Messi and Ronaldo! Our national pride. 😛 ]
And recently I had the opportunity to go to a Vietnamese wedding. Well, It wasn’t a traditional wedding as it might seem. In Vietnam traditionally they invite you for dinner which can last up to 2-3 hours. I was at an exclusive wedding. Instead of traditional Vietnamese food they served, for example, Hong Kong style spring rolls or beef with pumpkin mousse. It was delicious but not traditional at all. And in the background there was karaoke and everyone sang about missing the girl they love. :v
Of course, I could not miss the opportunity to wear the evening dress, red lipstick and smokey eyes. Yup, every woman is a bit vain sometimes. Fortunately, my mum brought me one of my fave dresses and makeup kit in May. So when I ordered a scooter, I had the opportunity to ride like a real Vietnamese girl.
I mean – both legs on one side. Do you know how women used to ride horses in the past? Well, that’s how I was riding the scooter as a passenger.
On the way back home my driver fell in love with me (I have to immodestly admit that I am not surprised at all). He moved the side mirror to see my face. At one point he grabbed the phone and began to repeat something loudly. Intrigued, I glanced over his shoulder and saw that he googled “Are you married?” 😀 Since he was more focused on me than on the road, I thought that he would hit something for sure and I would die on the scooter in Saigon. But at least I would die beautiful! 😀 😀 😀
All in all, living here is good. Work is easy. Food is cheap and tasty. The weather is great when it does not rain. But it rains every 3 days on average, unpredictable time, and as it rains it floods everything and everywhere, the water in some places reaches half the calves. And, I have great flatmates, so the days are much better than the typical “today’s mission: get up, survive, go to bed”.
What will July look like? Probably most of the things will not change. On Saturday I am going to Cambodia for my visa run. I will take care of my wound so that the scar is as small as possible (false hope). I was planning to travel outside of Saigon for a day or two, but the wound is temporarily holding me home. But when it improves a bit, I will definitely do some proper sightseeing in this city! Oh, and finally I want to get my own scooter… But it’s probably a plan for August.
As you can see, nothing happens, but still, happens a lot. My new Vietnamese life is quite funny. One year ago I wouldn’t expect it will look like this! 😀