Good Evening Vietnam

I made it to Vietnam.

The day of the trip – yesterday – is a long comic story, more of which later.

For now, here’s a view from the balcony of the Kaluga Hotel, Da Nang

First impressions –

  • Da Nang is a beautuful city
  • It’s cleaner, and less dusty, than ( the parts of ) Thailand ( I was in )
  • The ( ocean ) beach is great – long, relatively clean, and less than 5 minutes’ walk from the hotel
  • Riding ( a scooter ) on the right-hand side of the road is a challenge
  • Vietnamese drivers use their horns like other people use their indicators
  • Man on the Moon

    The Thai Government is ‘liberal’ with its public holidays – 27 of them in 2019.

    The last one I was there for was ( King ) Chulalongkorn Memorial Day. More than half of the public holidays are connected to royalty.

    Thais – like many women, I hear, love men in uniform. This holiday, as with the others, is as good an excuse as any to button one on, and prance about.There’s also a noticeably strong police and army ( uniformed ) presence in Thailand.

    Both the uniforms and the strong regard for royalty seem to me to be a sign of a deeply conformist society. It’s a collectivist – “what’s best for all of us?” – outlook. Thailand, and many other Eastern societies, typically follow this ethic.

    As opposed to an individualist – “what’s best for me and mine?” – outlook. Think Western / United States, especially.

    There are pluses and minuses to both. Following are some back-of-the-napkin ideas. For the first, I’m thinking mainly of Thailand. For the second, America.

    Collectivism / conformity – suffocating bureaucracy, poor education standards ( because no-one is allowed to fail, and thus few stand out ), better social adjustment, fewer innovations, less people who are way more ‘dirt poor’ than the rest.

    Individualism – the PC, the Velvet Underground and The Ramones, a Man on the Moon, the Internet, ( mass-affordable ) cars. More sick people ( more murders than anywhere else, more people on medication ), and more wealth concentrated in fewer hands.

    The Duck or the Egg?

    I manage to share some light and laughter in at least one realm of my life here in Thailand.

    That’s at the 7-11s ( that’s a dairy to you in NZ ) , where I practise my kindergarten Thai on the shop assistants. They most often greet my attempts with a slyish grin. They’re both chuffed that I’m trying, and laughing at me at the same time.

    The other day I discovered salted duck eggs, after a fellow teacher tipped me off
    After wolfing down my first 4-pack in a day or two, next time I went into a ‘Se-When’ ( 7-11 ) , I asked for ‘bpet’ ( duck ) ‘kai’ ( eggs ). Funny look. Assistant points to duck eggs. I nod vigorously.

    ‘Chai chai ( yes yes ). Bpet kai?’.

    ‘Kai bpet,’ she corrects.

    So it turns out I’d been asking for ‘duck eggs’, when I should have been asking for ‘eggs duck’.

    I’m left to ponder how a NZ shop assistant would handle a request for an ‘egg duck’.

    Whatever the case, these things are the business. Bright orange yokes, as you see above, and salted just right.

    Hope they have ’em in ‘Nam.

    Vietnam here I come

    The see-sawing is finally over. It’s Vietnam rather than Pattaya.

    After I resigned from my current school, I did a phone interview with a private school in Pattaya. The upshot was a job offer for 40k baht / month, as opposed to the current 37k ( about NZD 1900 ).

    So a good offer. But after torturing myself with Visa options for staying in Thailand, the only reliable one I could find was another 30-hour bus-trip to Savannakhet, Laos. The slightly less bitter pill would have been a 10-hour drive in a rental car.

    I just couldn’t do it. Here’s my logic – if that’s how high Thailand wants me to jump, I’ll play elsewhere. Plus, the Thai Visa situation re foreigners is getting worse, not better.

    So it’s two birds in the bush – Vietnam’s higher pay-rates and cheaper living – rather than one in the hand ( a solid offer from Thailand ).

    My last day at the current job is October 31.

    I leave for Vietnam – most likely Da Nang – in the day or after that.

    Tien Beach

    After yesterday’s disappointment, this morning’s sojourn to Tien Beach set me straight.

    The place is spectacular. Access to the beach is via a wooden walkbridge, as below;

    The beach itself is like a tourist brochure;

    I expect it’s often busier than this, but it was early enough in the morning to be relatively quiet.

    I spent an hour or so strolling up and down, listening to the Russians ( they’re following me, I swear ), and wallowing about in the water.

    More than that would have brought on some heat-stroke, so back to the room for the return to Pattaya.

    A Day In The Life

    Since I’m on holiday, I thought it would be in order to go ‘hog wild’.

    Alright, alright, maybe chicken wild is closer to the truth. I’ve loosed the purse strings a little, and decided to enjoy my few days in Pattaya.

    But before I go into that, here’s the street scene from my routine morning coffee. Times two ( ‘eek neung gao’ – ‘just one more’ ), and make it strong please.

    Below is the scene;

    Maybe the caffeine sharpened my eye. Whatever, on my return to RL Residence I spotted the wildlife below.

    Not one to be easily fooled, I figured this to be a feral monkey.

    Later in the day, I decided took a trip to Koh Larn ( island ). While it may seem exotic, this was actually the bugdet option. I considered Ko Samet ( island ), and Phuket, but decided to keep the purse-strings a little tight given the job situation.

    Here’s the scene from the ferry ( 30 baht );

    I’d booked a hotel earlier, and finally discovered it after hiring a bike and weaving down streets the size of footpaths.

    The room was passable, functional.

    I settled in and made the required trip to the local beaches.

    The two I visited were spectacular scenes, but to be honest, they were filthy by New Zealand standards. Islands of trash ( mainly plastic food wrappings ) floating in the water, seams of the stuff stretching up on sand. And while the water seemed clean, that’s not really a safe bet given the crap innit.

    From the dozen or so beaches I’ve visited in Thailand, this is pretty much par for the course.

    If beaches back home were in this condition, there’d be outraged National Party supporters marching in the streets, and never mind the Greens.

    Tomorrow – Tien Beach.

    Return to Pattaya

    On deciding some more reconnaissance in Pattaya was in order, I somehow managed to land myself in smack in the middle of Russian gansterVille.

    Note the language on the signs below.

    Not so much scary ( so far at least ), but interesting. A lot of folks around here speak English, which is useful.

    Then, on a visit to Pattaya Beach, below, I rode through small districts dominated by Indians, and then Arabs.

    Without wanting to – right now – add my own wee voice to the cacophony written and said about the place, let’s just say it’s … lively. Engergetic. I think I like it.

    Photos of the beach late in the afternoon are below.

    Pattaya Reconnaissance

    After getting sent home from work, I decided a road-trip to Pattaya was in order.

    I’m calling it Due Diligence.

    Diligence for a solid job prospect in Pattaya. The work would be at private schools, across two locations – Aksorn Thepprasit, ( three days / week ) and Aksorn Suksa ( two days ) schools.

    I got sent home from work after turning up to find the office lights off, and a small gaggle of Thai teachers sitting around eating breakfast. No-one told me the holidays started yesterday, as usual.

    While the original plan had been to throw the dice and move to Vietnam to look for work, this Pattaya prospect has come up as the ‘safe’ option.

    So following are some pros and cons of the Pattaya gig;


    • the pay is a little better, 40k Baht v. the current 37k. Most of that would be swallowed in higher rental prices.
    • it’s a private school, run under Government rules. These have a reputation for being better managed, and less corrupt.
    • The school’s appearance   is much more modern, which hopefully translates to better teaching and management practices. Student fees are likely higher, thus more motivated students.
    • From a telephone interview, there would be easy access to a Native English Speaking manager.
    • I would be much less of a curiosity in Pattaya. I rarely see old English-speaking blokes here in Rayong. As one such, I get a little more attention from the Natives than I like. In contrast, on a quick visit to a supermarket in Pattaya, I ran across at least a dozen old blokes. More often than not, with that bronzed, wizened look which is the telltale sign of a long-stayer. Granted, one or two were still ghostly Poms, and there was even one guy wearing sandals and socks .
    • After nearly 6 months, and having picked up a little Thai language, managing day-to-day is much easier here now than it was.
    • It’s the safe bet, and another x months on my CV.


    • IF the job is offered, and I take it, it would involve another Visa trip to Savannakhet. From research thus far, avoiding a 16-hour bus trip ( each way ) is wildly expensive. This is a biggie.
    • It was a warm day, but even so, Pattaya seems hotter and more humid than Rayong.
    • Working in two locations. They’re only about 8km apart, but it’s still more of a logistical challenge.
    • Passing up the opportunity for further adventure, and challenge, and better salaries in Vietnam.

    I find out on the 15th whether I get the job offer or not. Until then, I’m in a sort of decision limbo. It’s the term-end holidays. Not  knowing the job outcome is messing up my poor decision-making abilities  on where to take myself.

    One Night in Ban Chang

    A long-ish weekend was exactly the spur I needed to break out of the recent rut.

    Mid-way through my 3rd month here at the Wiang Walee, the same four hotel room walls are beginning to lose their charm.

    And although Ban Chang isn’t the glamour capital of Thailand, it provided the escape I needed.

    So why Ban Chang? It’s close, about 40km away, and is within the same Rayong province. This is important because it means the trip doesn’t need to be reported to Immigration. Had I travelled outside the province I would have needed to report my movements to the Thai Government, which is now enforcing the 40-year-old TM30 statute which tracks foreigners’ movements.

    It’s a baby-step back toward honing my travel chops, in preparation for a trip further afield next week, when teachers take paid holidays. I’m not sure yet where I’ll head, but it’ll likely be in Thailand.

    That’s because the plan right now is to leave Thailand for Vietnam on or around November 1.

    Another minor reason for Ban Chang was its Expats ‘market’. But in contrast to the usual sprawling & bustling football-field-sized Thai markets, this was a small bathroom-sized shop. It’s expensive but among my purchases were a tin of Salmon. Nowhere else in Thailand have I found tinned fish of varieties I like without the marketers packing it full of sugar.

    For the record, I stayed at the Suchanan Hotel & Spa for 700 baht. Comfortable bed, good balcony and view, good location, and good service. Maybe I struck them on a bad night, but the internet connection kept dropping out, which was maddening for someone trying to work online. Still, I’d probably go there again.

    It’s Over

    The current teaching job, that is.

    I’ve been “invited” to resign, and I’ve gladly taken that opportunity.

    I get a month’s notice ( legally mandated ) , which I’ll work out during the best possible month, October, which contains two weeks paid holiday.

    It’s a resolution to the doubt and intrigue that’s been hanging over my head recently, and it’s a relief, to be honest.

    I’ll chalk it up to experience, which will look good on my CV, and aim for better wages and conditions in my next contract. Much more on that when I’m outside the country and thus safer to say whatever I want.

    At the moment, the plan is to go to Vietnam at the end of October.

    Onwards and upwards.