Moving to Danang

Danang has jobs beaches

After spending a week exploring Hanoi at the completion of my teacher training, I took the train down to Danang.  I loved the city of Hanoi, but I knew that the noise and bustle would really bother me at some point. I need fresh air and wilder places to explore in order to be happy. Besides, don’t most of our living and working in a foreign country fantasies include a beach? I know mine did. The thing is though, that to get paid teaching ESL you need to be in a city. So with a wing and a prayer I landed in the beach city of Danang, said to be 1 million people, but does not feel nearly that large.

Below is a youtube video I found of a nice tour around the city:

I had a pre-arranged interview with the Apollo school there and had a job with in a week. My first home was a hotel along the river, which was walking distance to the Han Market, the expat hangout Bamboo Bar and nice mix of cafes and restaurants. There was a lot to take in as I started my teaching career in this very foreign and fascinating country.

My new co-workers were Brit, Aussie, Scottish, Dutch, American and Canadian. Most with more experience and a couple newbies like me. All very amicable and eager to help each other with school issues as well as getting settled into life in Danang. Several of them are still teaching, most of us have stayed in touch via Facebook.

My new family

In my search for a place to live, I found a room in the home of a young Vietnamese family. Phuoc (pronounced almost exactly like the F-bomb), his wife Nam, their toddler daughter SuSu and Nam’s sister Lien would soon become my Vietnamese family. I had a huge room with 2 beds, lots of windows, and a beautiful bathroom. All this for about $200 and just a few blocks from the beach. Nam loved to feed me so I had quite a few of my meals with them. I was their first foreign border (it is now their main business) and we had a great time learning about each others lives. Nam and Lien now speak English well, but then it was pretty basic so we had to do a lot of miming and looking up words for each other.

IMG_4253Phuoc is an americanophile with a vast collection of rock-n-roll music. Just an overall enthusiastic, a bit atypical, Vietnamese man. Among other things, he taught me how to ride a motor bike safely in Vietnam. They had a party every month or so that would be a mix of Vietnamese and expats. Nam is known for her cooking and would make things like seafood-curry-stew in a coconut. Yum! I taught young SuSu some English with flash cards and songs. She is a smart girl who now has quite a bit of English. It was a real blessing to land with this family and I will be forever grateful. The photo above is the family and I at KFC. There is very little American fast food (very refreshing to my mind) in Vietnam, except for KFC, so it’s kind of a big deal.

Travel Tip: Don’t worry about not knowing the native language. There are so many people who speak at least a little English in the world. However when they don’t, you just have to get creative with gestures, drawings or what ever else you can come up with to get your point across. I am no wiz at languages, but I do find it easy and fun to learn numbers and greeting and food names in the first days and weeks in a new country.  Most people love to help you, so if you try the numbers and get help from your hotel staff, taxi driver, or any friendly person you see more than once, they will enjoy investing their time in helping you with language or anything else that might come up.

Further adventures

So far, I have written this blog chronologically. We’ve witnessed my journey from heartbreak in America (2008), to adventure in SE Asia (2009) and we’ve landed in Danang Vietnam (2010). In 2012 I traveled back for a month long visit to Bangkok and Vietnam. From here on out I will write a variety of adventures and stories as I am inspired, no longer chronological.