One of the joys of teaching English in Vietnam is how much you get to travel. My three friends and I wake up. We’re tired from a night on the town dancing in the city’s nightlife among locals and ex pats alike. The beer was flowing and the music was bumping. A great way to relax after teaching English in busy Hanoi. We wore face paint and rode our motorbikes from Bamboo club to West Lake to watch the glimmer of the city under the crescent moon. It’s 7 am now and our shuttle waits outside for us to take us to some nature! We nap in the car, wake up for the midway break which is at a Vietnamese Ceramic center and restaurant. My friend, Matt, whose visiting from Australia gets to try nem (fried spring rolls) for the first time here. We hop back on the bus after chugging down fresh coconuts with our straws. Then we head to to Halong Bay where our Charter Boat awaits us. There’s crystal blue water, smells of salt and fresh air, and cliffs that stick out like teepee’s in the water. The four us are among 20 other foreigners and some locals awaiting our buffet feast. There lies vermicelli noodles, sushi, Vietnamese beef stew, and fresh pineapple juices. We go to put our things away in our cabins and we literally drop our jaws at the sight right outside our huge glass windows! There’s huge cliffs on each side as we glide past them–the most perfect view you can imagine from your own bed. Then we throw on our bathing suits and head down to a small jet boat which zooms us over to another small island called “Pearl Oyster. We each get our own kayak and manoeuver through crisp turquoise splashes and the tallest sandy cliffs covered with green trees. We head back to our cabins with sun kissed bodies. The next activity is to go hike the top of a moment. A Vietnamese tour guide leads us upstairs to the very top where we watch the pinkest, most lavender sun set over all of the boats and their white lights awaiting our return for dinner. We swim through the bay and head in for squid fishing. We catch small amounts of fish off the roof of the boat under stars and the same crescent moon from last night. We end the night learning how to make class Vietnamese spring rolls on the top deck. We drink wine and dance under lanterns. In the morning, the sun rises right on to our bed with the cliffs and waves in the distance. We drink coffee and have pho, a traditional breakfast here in Vietnam. Then we take the same small boat out to a cave. We walk through the cold humid air of the cave that’s refreshing. There are swifts of all rocks above our heads with enough space for a small city. We wander and take pictures underground. We finish our excursion with massages on the boat and a fresh goodbye juice. Only 1 night and 2 days spent in paradise. A quick trip from the bustling life of motorbikes and teaching Hanoi, with the serene necessary breaks of nature only 2 hours away. I come back home and go to sleep with memories of sleeping on the water under the stars, now in the comfort of my own bed, ready to see my students at school the next day. All part of life as an English teacher in Vietnam.
Written by Gabrielle Barnes for Teacher’s Friend Vietnam.