The reaction to my trip has been mostly positive, sometimes funny. Summary again: I’m heading out to Vietnam for six months in about 10 days. The plan is to visit family for Tet (Vietnamese New Year) then travel around Vietnam during the month of February. The boyfriend and I will then head back to Saigon where he will teach English and where I will... [read below]. I am able to do this after taking a severance package from my employer.
Shock. Yes, I left a well-paying job to go travel. As my mom put it when I told her my decision “why would you leave your job if they’re not making you (i.e. laying you off)?”. Luckily, she’s now more focused on worrying than disapproving.
Excitement. Food. Good food. Cheap food. Sapa. Halong Bay. Hue. My Son. What’s not to be excited?
Good for you! If you’re going to do it, this is the right time to do it. Which means I have no kids, I have no commitment. I’m still (relatively) young. Agreed. Let’s move on.
Where is Vietnam? Followed by “Is it in the Middle East?” and “is it in South America?”. I was very disconcerted to hear both these questions at the travel clinic I visited. That explains the cheaper fee I guess. If I get some tropical disease because I was not properly immunized, it’s because the doctor thought I was going to South America.
Do you speak Vietnamese? Poorly. At the level you would speak if you spoke a language, mainly to one person: your mother. I know how to count and know Vietnamese dishes very well. I’m not sure I need anything else!
Does your boyfriend speak Vietnamese? I’ve actually had variations on this question. “umm… ahh… is your boyfriend… the same origin as you?”. (Oddly, this came from my family doctor. Doctors?!) People are also puzzled by how my boyfriend will teach English if he doesn’t speak Vietnamese. (so no, he doesn’t speak Vietnamese. nor is he the same origin. and I don't know how you teach English, without speaking the students' mother tongue. maybe sign language.)
Have you ever been to Vietnam? No, I traveled in Asia (Thailand, Singapore, Bali, Hong Kong) in 2001 but did not visit Vietnam. My mother was still quite paranoid that something bad would happen to me. She’s still worried, just a bit less.
Do you have family there? Yes, I have aunts, uncles and cousins, none of them I have ever met.
What will you be doing there (while the boyfriend teaches)? I don’t know. Mainly taking it easy. Because I can. I’m hoping to learn Vietnamese, written and spoken, maybe by taking some private lessons. Maybe do some volunteer work. And write my new blog.