Finally feeling settled in Hanoi, I thought it would be a good idea to document one of my weeks to give a realistic view of what teaching English out here is like and the unpredictable hustle and bustle in between. I try to stick to a routine but I’m learning that every week a curve ball is thrown and it never goes as you expect!
Weekend 20th -21st Oct
I really love making the most out of my weekends as it’s my only real free time from planning and private lessons. I’m going through a phase, at least at the moment, where I still enjoy going out but I drink much less and also like coming back early enough to get a few hours sleep and feel good the next day. When I say early, I’m talking 3am instead of 6/7/8 am, so in perspective it’s more I’ve slowed down rather than completely turned into an old lady. My view is, I’m lucky enough to be living in such a great country and this wont last forever so I need to embrace my weekends instead of letting them pass by like I would in the UK.
Weekend before last, after a very short sleep we made our way to Dong Da park at lunchtime to enjoy the sunshine and have a walk around. Hanoi is quite polluted so it’s nice to be reminded green parks still exist.
This was also the weekend I rented out my first bike in Hanoi. I’d ridden before in Ninh Binh and Cat ba but Hanoi traffic is beyond crazy, which made me very nervous. It’s not so much I’m worried about me, it’s more I’m worried about everyone else on the road. The one traffic rule that matters in Vietnam is, “I need to get from A to B in the least amount of time”. This will mean going against one way traffic, U-turns anywhere you like and will rush hour stop you? No, because thats what pedestrian pavements are for. I have now adopted this very simple rule and so far it’s going okay for me, method in the madness.
6am – Wake up to make porridge and head to school. I usually don’t work Monday mornings but on this week I’d volunteered to do the Halloween performance. This was also the first time riding my bike to school, I lived.
9am – Came home and made scrambled egg for 2nd breakfast with a legendary topping of Sriracha sauce.
11am- Headed to Trung Hoa to eat my favourite street food, Bun Ca and get on with some work in Chapel coffee house before teaching in the afternoon at 2.
6pm – Taught my usual private lesson of 12 grade 1’s except this lesson, we made fairy cakes.
7.30pm – A relatively boring night of lesson planning for the week. (This should of been done Friday but I always forget/ Friday feeling gets in the way)
Tuesday – All day teaching
6.30am – Wake up, head to Luong Yen to get quick street food breakfast before school.
8am-10.20am – Taught grade 1, a short morning.
10.40am – 1.30pm- Biked home to pick up more baking ingredients and get some downtime. Then went to my favourite brunch spot ‘Lifted’ in Old Quarter to finalise private lesson plans and fill myself up on carbs for the long evening ahead.
2pm – 5pm – Continue teaching at Luong Yen, I always lose my voice in the last lesson through all the shouting. Grade 3’s are loud.
6pm – Private lesson, different class, same house and yes, again we made fairy cakes.
7.30pm – This then turned into a nightmare of an evening, getting lost on my bike for an hour and losing my phone to the traffic. The only way to redeem the night was to order Indian takeaway to at least stop the ‘hangry’ part of myself getting to me.
8am-11am – Teaching
11am – Bought new Iphone, I’d wanted to upgrade for a long time so I saw my phone breaking as an opportunity to finally invest in a new one. Whilst parking for the phone store, I managed to get the ignition (I think thats the word) stuck and ran over some poor mans foot, but ‘This is Vietnam’ is all I can say on that. It happens. With my new phone in hand, I grabbed a tasty Bun Ca lunch and lesson planned in my old Korean drink spot, Chingu. The staff here are so friendly and they’ve really put a lot of work into the design of the place.
2pm – 4.20 – Teaching
5pm – A very chilled night, cooking a much missed Bolognese in bulk for the week.
6am – Wake up and head back to Luong Yen school to meet my TA and friend Lien for breakfast at a really nice Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) place nearby, before we start to teach at 8am.
11am – My hour of pure hell, riding around Old Quarter in the hot sun. Firstly trying to find Hang Ma (Decoration street) through all the windy chaotic roads, then having to repeatedly park and re park at halloween shops because the owners wouldn’t let me park and browse on foot. Reversing into gridlocked traffic going the opposite direction is not a fun time and I’d suggest anyone to just pay the extra for a Grab if you need to buy decorations on Hang Ma.
12.30pm – Escaping the sun to my favourite brunch spot again, Lifted. It is my food sanctuary.
2pm – 5pm – Continued the long day at Luong Yen.
5.30pm – 7pm – Private class in Ba Dinh, followed by a cheeky visit to my Patisserie Lapin. Choi the owner saved me from cooking and gifted me one of his left over Bahn Mi’s to take home for dinner. (A big sandwich).
Friday is my favourite day of the week, I usually only have 2 school lessons in the afternoon so it almost feels like a day off. On this particular Friday, my lessons had been swapped for another performance show. I spent the morning in a local coffee shop working and in general just having a nice lazy morning to rejuvenate. After my afternoon performance, I had to rush off again to get to another private lesson.
Friday evening was spent taking our cat to the vets to get it’s last set of vaccinations and prepping for the weekend Halloween/ Birthday celebrations.
This concludes my ‘week in the life’, hopefully shedding some light on what life is like here day to day baring in mind everyone’s priorities out here are different. You’ll notice the word ‘gym’ hasn’t been used and I’m going to be really honest and admit since my membership ran out 2 weeks ago, I have yet to find a new gym. Tay Ho’s Fitness village does great classes but it’s too expensive, too far away and with the cold weather coming, the pool will be shut. It’s a mix of being fussy about where I go, feeling a little swamped with privates and just pure laziness. Probably more likely to be the latter.
Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend as much as I did below! Happy Halloween!