Leave to Stay

This morning, after expensive and mysterious wranglings, I took delivery of my passport, with renewed visa.

Renewed Visa

That says that this reprobate is allowed to stay here in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam until June 1 this year.

Visa renewal is achieved here in one of three ways;

  • Pay somebody who knows somebody a wad of cash to get the job done. Expensive, and a little risky, since it means sending your passport via the mail. But hassle-free, and it works. USD $225 for three months in my case. Score one for corruption.
  • Do the time-honoured ‘Visa run’, which involves leaving the target country, and returning forthwith. Slightly cheaper, but a tonne of hassle. Borders, hotels, passports, papers, planes, buses, trucks, taxis.Not for me.
  • Going to the local Immigration Office and wading through enough bureaucracy to make a half-grown man cry. You should go armed with a tame Vietnamese who can translate for you, and a tonne of patience, and time. Cheap, but probably the path to madness.

So the choice is a lighter wallet, or a helluva headache. I chose the former.

Which gives me some wriggle room to finesse the cheapest flight(s) home anytime from now until then. That’s my likely reaction should my Y8 ( 8th Grade ) and Y9 students be ordered to remain home on or before our March 16 school return date.

To market, to market …

Not this morning, alas “..to buy a fat pig…”, but to stock up on fresh veges, and a salad-filler.

Steamed kumara, fresh lettuce, and tofu

Cost for the above? 15,000 VND or about $NZD 1.

The kumaras are perfect with a bit of melted butter. The tofu is a recent addition, on learning that it’s mainly protein and fat, and a ‘cheap as chips’ salad-filler at about 30 cents.

Plus, I’ve discovered that the woman stall-holder whose duck eggs are the freshest I’ve found, also has reliably non-flaccid veges on offer.

Go figure.

COVID-19 and … me

The Covid-19 virus continues to throw spanners in the works of my attempts to earn a crust here.

Far be it from me to take it personally, but I understand I am the only one of my school’s foreign teachers whose students are still unwelcome at school due to virus fears.

The earliest possible restart date for me is now March 16.

Meantime, I’m doing what I can to pay my way by teaching online. It’s not easy, because the mainly Japanese students have jobs, of all things, which mean that the peak teaching hours are awful ( 4 a.m. – 6 a.m. and 6.00 pm – 9.30 pm ).

As it stands, if school is again delayed on March 15 or earlier, I will more than likely be forced to leave Vietnam.

Schools out ( forever? )

The news continues to get blacker from my non-job, as has again delayed a return for my students.

On Saturday came the news from the Head Teacher that my students wouldn’t be returning until March 9, if not March 16.

Which of course further stretches my finances. An expected payday March 7 ( for February ) won’t now happen, and it’s possible that the birdie will again not sh*t on April 7 ( for March ).

My problem is that I committed to another three months here by sending my passport off to extend again my Visa. Having told the company that I wanted a 3-month extension @ USD$225, it is too late to back-peddle.

So I either throw away that sizeable investment, or make the best of a bad situation. A second investment was buying the scooter, avoiding rental costs.

I’m considering emailing the school threatening to do a runner, and begging as tactfully as possible for some kind of retainer. Which isn’t part of my nominally part-time contract.

The alternative is the make the best of a tough situation, and optimise the hell out of everything. I have managed to finagle a deal with the hotel whereby they reduce rent down to 4.2m VND from 4.5m VND, a saving of about $NZD 20 / month. It all counts.

I’m doing my level best to reduce power usage in my room, and am learning which quality meats and foods are cheapest ( chicken, fish, eggs ).

I’m putting in hours working online, which will almost cover costs. But being limited to one online platform, and with no guarantee of bookings even when I make myself available, it’s no sure bet.

With all that, and my finances dribbling down nearer a fare home plus nothing, I’m getting a little nervous, if the truth be told.

Testing times.