The Big Move to Saigon

According to our family and friends we have…

 1. Lost Our Minds.
2. Acting a Fool.
3. Raising the Bar.

………. “Why Not?”
Our wonderful year in Korea came to an end, our bank accounts were feeling our big trip through India and Nepal, and we had no choice but once again give into the whole working thing. And, Vietnam was our land of opportunity. I was all jitters on the plane ride over & kept going trying to reaffirm myself with– “Stop thinking, it’s too late to back out now…” We decided to move to a developing nation with NOTHING but 2 bags and a stack of printed-off resumes. You can probably understand my whole– ‘stop thinking and breathe’ on the plane ride over!?!
We did our research & life sounded to good to be true for English teachers in Vietnam. There are so many English schools- so obviously- English teachers are in high demand.  The problem is no one wants to give you a job until you are here, in the flesh, standing in front of them smiling with resume and college diploma in-hand. There’s no job security before you buy your Vietnam visa or flight, you just have to buy the damn ticket and have your luck with it. We checked into our hostel February 7th and gave ourselves a deadline. By March 7th, we would have a job, have a motorbike, and a swanky Vietnamese apartment. However, factor in a new country, new culture, new language barrier to overcome, and 4 months of previous laziness… the next month wasn’t going to be fun or easy!
saigon_xeom_driver

Xeom Driver's are always sleeping on the job!

We dove in head first. Who cares if I lost my original college diploma the day before flying out or if Rhys moved to the hottest place on the planet with no shorts or summer wear (not our brightest moments). Word of advice: if you go to D.C. to get your diploma certified, make sure the damn people there give it back to you before you leave!!!! We dusted off skirts, ties, and dress shirts and took to the hot, sweaty Saigon Streets. The easiest way to get around the city before owning a motorbike are the xe om drivers. Xe om drivers our random guys who own a bike, are usually sleeping on it parked on a busy sidewalk, and when you need a ride you give them a poke to wake up, and they whisk you off to wherever it is your going. Xe om means ‘motorbike hug’ because that’s exactly what you’re doing, squeezing the life out of the driver as he weaves through city traffic and your pray for your life. The first few outings with xe om‘s in Saigon traffic you’re definitely praying too! We hired our drivers for $5/4 hours, handed them a list of 20 school addresses and were off to find our dream jobs. After 3 days of on-the-spot interviews, sweaty dress clothes, xe om drivers, 50-ish schools, and resumes, resumes, resumes our search was over. Interviews were scheduled, demo classes were taught, and within 2 weeks of our month-long deadline we were once again in the workforce.
saigon_expat_apartment

We live on top floor with the palm tree !

Everything happened so fast, as expected in a city as chaotic and fast-paced as Saigon. We painfully looked at so many apartments and houses before we finally found home. A little house split into two different apartments equipped with a cute balcony full of plants and my personal favorite– a palm tree. I have a palm tree on my front porch! In Korea we shared the ‘batman bike‘ but we both found great deals on motorbikes and splurged on our own this time around. In less than a month we each had 2 jobs, an adorable little apartment, and our own set of wheels. We really did it!
& now for the fun… Vietnam lays at our feet, a whole new country to dive into and take on!

Vietnam_English_School of North Americasaigon_apartmentsaigon_expat_apartmentsaigon_motorbikesaigon_xeom_driverVietnamvietnam_english_classvietnam stray kitten
Vietnam_English_School of North America

This is my school, Schools of North America

saigon_apartment

Our Apartment

saigon_expat_apartment

We live on top floor with the palm tree !

saigon_motorbike

Check out our rides :) Mine is the red one. Rhys has the communist star bike.

saigon_xeom_driver

Xeom Driver's are always sleeping on the job!

Vietnam

....Living in a Communist Country....

vietnam_english_class

This is my 3rd grade class!

vietnam stray kitten

Meet Stumpy, our very dirty stray kitten! This is his first bath.

Comments
14 Responses to “The Big Move to Saigon”
  1. Samantha Stone says:

    Ahhh I love it! i hope you’re having so much fun! Hurry up and come back Brody needs to play with his crazy Aunt Nicky!

    • Nicky says:

      I wish you could come visit! It is a lot of fun here, life is incredibly different! Awww, I bet little Brody is quickly turning into big Brody like his dad, can’t wait to see the little guy when I get home next :) Miss you!

  2. Michele Hauf says:

    Good Luck on your new adventure. I loved reading about India. I was there for 3 weeks (2 in Delhi and 1 in Varanasi) and could relate to what you experienced. Me and a couplle of friends are hoping to go to Vietnam for a few weeks next year. How long do you plan to stay there?

    • Nicky says:

      We don’t have any fixed date on our contracts, nothing that makes us leave or stay… it is all up in the air as to how long we will call Vietnam home– I love it though, maybe 1.5 -2 years? You will have a great trip around Vietnam, by than we should have a lot more information posted about places to go and things to see. Good Luck!

  3. How cool! It’ll be quite the experience, for sure :)

  4. Thorsaurus says:

    This is probably a stupid question, but what is it like teaching in a communist country? Are there thought police? Does your lesson plan have to be approved by an official of the communist party? Does everyone get paid the same?Just curious. :-]

    • Nicky says:

      Other than dealing with the corrupt police on random occasions [mainly for small traffic violations] and having to use special websites to access FaceBook, I would never really know Vietnam was a communist country. Everyone makes different wages, and we have complete freedom in the classrooms to teach how we want. There is a picture of Ho Chi Minh in all of our classes, and all war related tourist attractions pump visitors full of propaganda and anti-America semi-exaggerated stories from the war. For the most part, you never really notice the communist part of Vietnam though. Thankfully!

  5. alexaabroad says:

    You are so brave! Seems to have turned out wonderfully for you though and I am in love with your cute little apartment!!

  6. Runaway Brit says:

    I loved reading this post. I lived in Saigon for three years and left a year ago. I still miss it every single day. Your pictures are all so familiar and your school on Dien Bien Phu is near where I lived I think. You will have an absolute blast living in Saigon – have a drink at LePub for me. I miss the old place :-)

    • Nicky says:

      I do love the fast paced life here and the exotic fruit I can eat everyday for .50! Le Pub it is on most Tuesdays for me– great place :)

  7. Douglas Pavey says:

    I too, visited Vietnam back in 2000, staying for three weeks in Cu Chi, a small village northeast of Ho Chih Minh City. Back then, I had a group of 10-12 young students come to visit me (the mysterious Caucasian).
    I remember giving each child a coloring book and a box of crayons, only to have the kids look at me with complete bewilderment, having no idea what to do with these things. Can you imagine, I physically had to place a crayon in one of the kids’ hands and show him that by rubbing the crayon it would disperse color on the page. I soon realized that these kids had no toys, no games…nothing. As you might imagine, I quickly became well known in that small community, as kids started flocking to me, the American Santa Claus.

    • Nicky says:

      What a great story, but unfortuantely that is the case in so many places around Vietnam. The poverty and the widening gap between the rich and the poor is too apparent. There are so many great orphanages around Saigon and all of Vietnam that rely on donations in order to operate. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Michael says:

    Hi Nicky ,I’m an American from Florida with 2 visits to beautiful Vietnam 2010 and 2011 ,Wow no matter which way you turn yes even in Saigon so much beauty ,people ,sights . I envy you and would love to stay longer next trip .The beaches,mountains ,Mekong delta wow and the Vietnamese as a whole warm,wonderful ,Enjoy it all ..Michael

    • Nicky says:

      We just did a motorbike trip from Saigon to Hanoi and it was incredible! I am so glad we got to see so much of Vietnam, it is a truly beautiful country and offers travelers endless possibilities!

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