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Live with TEFL Heaven


 

LIVE with TEFL Heaven

I have not posted here for a while as being settled in Australia does not allow for very exciting stories… however just finished an interview with TEFL Heaven regarding teaching in Thailand, South Korea and Vietnam.

Check it out in the link above!

Teaching in South Korea- HalloweenHaloween in Korea

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Vietnam’s must see


As with Thailand and Korea, I thought I would put together my ‘must see’ list for when you come to Vietnam! For more information click on the title of each one to take you to the blog post! Enjoy!

1- Abseiling on Marble Mountain, Da Nang

This was one of the best things I have done here, we were able to see one of the major landmarks in Da Nang but from a different perspective! It was well worth every penny and was a brilliant day out… even if we did almost jump onto a poisonous snake!

heading down into heaven

heading down into heaven

2- Cu Chi Tunnels.

If you come to Vietnam this should be on your list, whilst it is quite touristy now it is a very cheap day out and gives you an amazing look into the conditions the Vietnamese fought under during the Vietnam war. You are able to squeeze yourself down one of the entrance ways to the many tunnels and even go down into one of the tunnels to experience just how cramped the conditions were.

The tightest part, had to slide down on your bum!

The tightest part, had to slide down on your bum!

3- Scuba diving Hoi An

Unfortunately I had to pull out of this one due to illness but Andy went along by himself and had a great time with 2 really long dives into the waters just of Cham Island. If you don’t want to scuba there are snorkeling trips on offer too however the spots were not quite of the same standard as the scuba sites.

Andy under the water

Andy under the water

4- Getting something Tailor made

Vietnam has some of the best tailors around. Whilst it can be a mission finding out a good one (as many are jumping on the tourist bandwagon) some research and shopping around can leave you with beautifully hand-made items. I got my beautiful wedding dress made here for a fraction of the price it was being sold at back home and Andy got two beautiful suits made up. Hoi An offers tailors on every street corner however most cities have their own tailors, you just might need help with translating! Make sure you know what you are going in for a bring plenty of pictures with you and make sure you know how to avoid getting ripped off!

My tailor and I

My tailor and I

5- Touring down the Mekong Delta

The Mekong Delta tours allows you to sail down this enormous river while visiting some of the islands that sit on the river. Our day was long but we had a great time seeing everything on offer!

My new pal

My new pal

6- Spending the night on a boat in Ha Long Bay

Ha Long Bay is one of the most famous sites here in Vietnam. You can do a day trip here however one of the best ways to see it is to spend some time here. We sailed through the bay for 3 days, sleeping on the boat for one night and our own private bungalow on an island just off Cat Ba for the other night. We were able to kayak through a sleepy fishing village on the water, tour some beautiful caves, sail through the majestic limestone cliffs and interact with some cheeky wild monkeys!

Passing by the limestone cliffs

Passing by the limestone cliffs

7- Ninh Binh province

Located about 2 hours drive from Hanoi, Ninh Binh offers some peace from the hustle and bustle of the cities, you can sail down the river in Tam Coc and visit the old capital while taking In the beautiful views that surround you in the county.

Rowing boats waiting for passengers

Rowing boats waiting for passengers

8- Try some of the unusual street food

Vietnam, like most of the Asian countries is known for its street food. While I stayed away from the dog and cat meat which is everywhere in the town we lived, we eat street food a lot and even tried some of more unusual dishes such as frogs and birds. You can also have some of the insects, however after trying them in Thailand…. Once was enough for me!

Andy with a bird in his mouth, fried frog and fried bird!

Andy with a bird in his mouth, fried frog and fried bird!

9- Visit Uncle Ho in Hanoi

Ho Chi Minh is loved here in Vietnam and you will see pictures of him everywhere if you have time you can go visit the man himself at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum located right in the heart of Hanoi. Be warned though as the dress code is extremely strict make sure you cover the shoulders, change out of the shorts and don’t wear flip-flops. Photos in the Mausoleum and within the yellow lines are also seriously prohibited and will get you into trouble. Check dates and times before you go and take note that every second October “Uncle Ho” goes on holiday to Russia for a touch up.

Guards at the mausoleum

Guards at the mausoleum

10- Visiting the war museum, HCMC

The Vietnam war left devastating effects on the country and whilst the museum may be a little bias it gives you a heart wrenching look at the effects of Agent Orange and some of the brutality caused by the war. It may be a bit of a somber experience but is a must to get a look into the countries past.

Effects of Agent Orange

Effects of Agent Orange

And the one we never made it too…. Sapa.

Sapa is located right at the North of Vietnam in the mountains, famed for its beautiful tea plantations and scenery. We never got round to heading out as it is about 12 hour by train from Hanoi but it is famous for its rolling tea staggered fields  high up in the mountains.

Scams to Avoid While Visiting Vietnam


Guest Post by Louise Rose, catch more of her Vietnam adventures at  go Vietnam.

Motorbikes, Vietnam

All first-time visitors to any country must first learn the ropes which regards to the day-to-day happenings in that country. Staying in any country without understanding the local customs, language or currency rates makes any visitor prone to unscrupulous people who may seek to take advantage of their naivety. As in the case with any other countries, Vietnam has a myriad of scams targeting visitors. These scams are age-old, tested techniques that always render visitors helpless against these individuals. Some of these tricks are simply irritating while others are dangerous enough to wreck your visit. The following are common scams to avoid while visiting Vietnam.

1. Taxi scams

In Vietnam, fake and illegal taxi drivers often have a variety of tricks, particularly when they ferry visitors. The simplest and the oldest trick on the book is to tamper with the taxi meter. These modified meters spin faster than the normal meters. This allows the drivers to make some easy money. Another trick is to take “shortcuts” during the trip which are in fact longer routes. The taxi drivers simply circle around to increase the fare you will pay when you get to your destination. In order to avoid scams, you should get a taxi of trustworthy brands, such as “Vinasun” or “Mai Linh”.

Mai Linh

Mai Linh

If you use the popular Vietnamese Cyclos, commonly known as bicycle taxis, it is advisable to agree on the amount you will pay before getting into the taxi. If you get into a taxi without agreeing on the price, you no longer have the power to bargain. It is also important to ask beforehand if the quoted price is for one person or if it is inclusive for everyone. Remember that taxi fares can always be negotiated.

  1. Xe om scams
    Taking a xe om (motorcycle taxi) trip is a very adventurous prospect in Vietnam. Because of the fact that there is no mandatory certification for motorcycle drivers, any motorcycle owner can do the job. With such a crowd, many dishonest drivers exist. The most common scam is to convince you to take the trip first and pay later. Though you may be convinced that it will be cheaper than taking a taxi, the net charges are exorbitant; even double the taxi fares. These riders also circle around to raise the fares. They may even stop in dark alleys and threaten passengers. It is advisable to stay away from these deceitful cyclists, especially at night. Dishonest motorcycle owners also like to deceive tourists with offers for motorcycle rentals. These people can actually steal the motorbike from you and ask you to pay for the ‘stolen’ motorbike.


    3. Street vendors

Even though they may look friendly at the beginning, they can be a source of great irritation for foreigners. Some street vendors may ask visitors to take photos with their merchandise after they force them to either buy their goods or tip them. Most food vendors and restaurants do not usually list their prices on the menus. Therefore, visitors may end up with different bills for the same items. Another trick is to price the meals in a currency like the US dollar and then price in another currency with a higher rate. Most tourists end up paying because they do not want any trouble. The official Vietnamese currency is the Vietnamese Dong. Most restaurants and food vendors can quote in the local currency or in the dollar. Ten can mean ten US dollars or ten thousand dong. If you opt to pay using the local currency for a price quoted in dollars, be sure to check the exchange rate.

Street Vendor in Hoi An

Street Vendor in Hoi An

When you travel, you often get carried away by the excitement of being in a new place. This may make you lose your anticipation when visiting new countries. Most people around the world are friendly and will welcome travelers to their countries with open arms. Some others, unfortunately, see backpackers are targets. To make the most of your visit in the safest condition and the most enjoyable way, why don’t you hop on http://backofthebiketours.com. Not only will you enjoy delicious street-food but it also helps you avoid unfortunate scams, as the local guide will help you choosing your souvenirs and dishes at the best price.

-Added-

One more that really gets to Andy and I is the shoe shine scam! These guys will shout and point at your feet while you are walking down the road long enough for you to stop to look at what they are pointing at. Before you know it they have taken off your shoe and charging you for “Fixing it”. one of our friends who was just in Hanoi agreed to get her shoes polished, before she knew it the guy had glued on a new base and demanded 150,000 dong when the original price was meant to be 20,000!

Escape Hunt, Ho Chi Minh


Heading back down to Ho Chi Minh we were a bit at loss of what to do. We had spent almost a week down in the city in our very first week in Vietnam and had crammed so much into our time that we had run out of things to see and do. The reason for our visit was a reunion with our very good friend Lee all the way back from Phrae in Thailand. He was coming to Ho Chi Minh for a boys weekend away and we thought we would use it as an excuse to catch up with an old friend and get out of Hai Phong City for a while.

It really was great seeing Lee, and while reunions are always fun… he was in Vietnam with friends so we didn’t want to cramp his style too much!! However this left us with copious amounts of time to fill. Checking through trip adviser we came across “Escape Hunt”, the premise is simple… escape from the room! However the game is anything but simple!!

Escape Hunt!

Escape Hunt!

Andy and I had a spell whilst in Korea of playing the “Escape the

Detective Jennie

Detective Jennie

room” games on our phones when we were bored and really fancied doing one of the live action games. We first came across them when we were in Barcelona and as much as we wanted to do it the price was just WAAAY out of our budget!! So we were really quite surprised to find that the “Escape Hunt” in Ho Chi Minh was only $22 USD. (approx. 460,000 dong) We went in and the staff were really lovely and explained the rules of the game.

Andy in his detective suit

Andy in his detective suit

We could pick between three rooms….Murder in the palace, Blackmail in the bar or Kidnapping at the opera. Each room had it’s only story and it’s own crime, there were two sections to the room…. 1 find the key to get out and 2. Solve the mystery! We decided to try out Murder in the Palace and were introduced to the “game master” she explained that we would have 60 minutes to solve both parts of the room and that we could ask for help at any time by pressing the intercom in the room… HOWEVER this would result in a fine of one minute per hint.

With that we were sent into the room, it sounds very simple

Andy and I in our detective suits

Andy and I in our detective suits

however to find the key you must check everywhere in the room, get a code that unlocks a chest that gives you a key to another lock in a secret room etc. Andy and I solved the crime and murder in 57 minutes using only one hint! We were quite proud of ourselves especially as it meant we got on the leader board!!

The game went so quickly and we had so much fun that we decided to head back the next day to try one of the other rooms! This time we tried Kidnapping at the Opera and again we finished with time to spare and got on the leader board!

The whole experience was so much fun and I could not recommend it more! The staff made the whole experience exciting and even helped us dress up in props afterwards to get our photo taken for the leader board!

You can find the “Escapre Hunt” at Level 2, Number 60-62 Cach Mang Thang 8 Street, Ward 6, District 3 (above the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store).

Price per person is $22

Fun in HCMC

Fun in HCMC

Teacher’s day in Vietnam


November 20th marked teachers day here in Vietnam. A day to celebrate all the teachers here in Vietnam. Public schools were off and all the schools had special events to mark the occasion. As we work in a language school things were done slightly differently and instead of having a party at school, the center they put on a massive party at a lovely restaurant in the city with all the Vietnamese teachers, foreign teachers and partners with the school. All the female teachers, including the foreigners wore the Vietnamese traditional dress called an Ao Dai. (Pronounced Ow Zai)  The whole evening was good fun and a chance for us all to interact and mix with each other outwith school.

Here are a few snaps from the evening.

 

Yen Tu Mountain, Hai Phong


A few weeks ago Andy and I took a trip up to Yen Tu Mountain which is only an hour away from the city of Hai Phong. The mountains were beautiful with amazing scenery and LOADS of stairs. Was a nice day just to get away from the noise of the city and enjoy some fresh air.

Not much else to say just enjoy some of the snaps!