1/03/15
Sapa Rice Terraces, Vietnam

Soothing Our Souls in Sapa

Being up in the mountains empties my mind and soothes my soul in a way that nothing else does. As soon as I catch that first scent of pine needles on the wind, fill my lungs with clean, cold air and look out at the endless peaks on the horizon I feel calm wash over me. My love of the mountains is a discovery I’ve made only recently in life, a gift from my travels. Now, I dream about the mountain towns I’ve loved and left behind and I long to discover new ones. Continue reading

21/02/15
Our Little Cub 50cc Motorbike

Driving (Il)legally in Vietnam

There’s one thing I definitely won’t miss when we leave Vietnam: the traffic. There’s no way I’m brave enough to drive through these hectic streets myself but Andrew tackles them daily and he has plenty of terrifying stories to show for it. Just the other day we were driving innocently over a crossroad when we almost collided with a crazy Vietnamese man who was speeding through a red light – did he even slow down when he saw us? No, Andrew had to give way to him! It often feels like the Wild West on the roads out here. Continue reading

14/02/15
St Paul's Cathedral, London

Living Costs in London Compared with Chiang Mai

Where were you this time last year? We were in Thailand, relaxing by the river Kwai in Kanchanaburi whilst preparing for our trip to Burma. I’ve written many times about our love for the Land of Smiles and now that the weather has turned cold and wet here in Hanoi I often fantasise about heading back to the warmth of one of our favourite Asian cities: Chiang Mai. We have fond memories of this northern Thai oasis; volunteering at the nearby Elephant Nature Park, hanging out with visiting friends and family and celebrating the New Year’s water festival, Songkran.

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7/02/15
Mango Shaved Ice in Taipei

How we’ve Survived Travelling as a Couple

Andrew and I met almost ten years ago, at an 80s-themed nightclub in Bristol. When I first clapped eyes on that drunken, long-haired version of Andrew I never would have guessed that a decade on we’d be living in Vietnam together. How did those two students, with their uncertainties and unmade plans, end up fusing their lives together? More impressively, how have we managed to travel together non-stop for the last two years without killing each other? Continue reading

24/01/15
An English Class in Vietnam

Survival Tips and Resources for New TEFL Teachers

I vividly remember how terrifying my first teaching experience was in Vietnam. I was nervous and had a sore throat, the heat was stifling, the children were noisy and restless because it was Sunday afternoon and I was completely overwhelmed. By the end of that first class I was practically in tears and thought I’d never survive my nine-month teaching contract – but things got better. Continue reading

17/01/15
Us on the Beach at Cat Ba Island

This Is It

We’re half way through our time in Hanoi and there are just 18 weeks of the semester left before we leave Vietnam – how did that happen? I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions but this has led me to a startling realisation. In short, our experience here, which seemed to stretch onwards forever when we first arrived, now feels like it’s running out fast. This is it - we have just a few months left of our life in Vietnam and we need to make the most of it. Continue reading

10/01/15
View of Halong Bay from Cat Ba Island

Escape to Cat Ba Island

A new year, a new destination – well, for a few days at least. After an unimpressive and exhausting Christmas week filled with teaching in Hanoi, we were looking forward to the New Year and the rare four-day weekend it gifted us. To celebrate the start of 2015 we took advantage of our time off work by escaping to Cat Ba Island in Halong Bay for some adventure and relaxation. Continue reading

27/12/14
Dressing up as Santa in Vietnam

Finding Some Christmas Cheer in Vietnam

Being away from home at Christmas time is hard. I’m surprised by how tough it feels because when we lived in England, Christmas wasn’t a big thing for me. In fact, I hated the present-buying culture and although I’d usually have about a week off from work, the stress of driving around the country squeezing in visits to our scattered family usually left me tired and deflated come January. However, after battling through our second Christmas overseas I’m determined to make sure we’re back home to celebrate next year. Continue reading