Camilla Nathalie Torlage, 25

Working at DTLC has been a lovely experience for the past 8 months, from the moment my feet touched down on Vietnamese ground I was fetched from the airport and taken to a hotel, where I spent my first month.

My days start off the with most mornings free, so plenty time for a morning bánh mì coupled with a coconut coffee or cà phê dừa. From there, my day is filled with lesson planning and classroom prep. I teach lessons at a lovely primary school most afternoons, and then I head to the AB centre in the evenings. Life in Vietnam can get crazy and chaotic at times, but I was always surrounded by lovely staff members at DTLC who are there to offer support.

Each lesson has a native speaker coupled with a Vietnamese assistant, and so making friends with fellow staff members is truly easy, unless you’re the really grumpy type? And then, of course, there are the students with their beautiful, happy smiles and enthusiasm to learn. Sure, not all students share this enthusiasm, but for the classes that do, games and activities can get real competitive which makes teaching super fun!

Then, of course, there is the weekend travel-side. Catba is now closer than before, an hour journey will get you to a mini-weekend-paradise. This UNESCO site has three beautiful beaches, many coffee shops, a National park and numerous walking trails and caves. So when you are craving some outdoor adventures then get your bus ticket and head out. Hanoi is also a stones-throw-away and from there you’re pretty much set to go in any and all directions around Vietnam, great for school holiday periods and long weekends..

As for the social and nightlife scene in Hai Phong, you may ask? There is definitely no shortage of expats. You’ll find them hanging around Mya Bar, Fox Bar, restaurants scattered around Lach Tray street, Van Cao street, 284 Lach Tray or near the city centre. Beer Hoi spots are numerous and cheeeeaaap, so when you’re on the search for the more local-scene with cheap beer and good food, just look out for the yellow chairs. There is also the popular Indian Kitchen serving up some tasty Indian cuisine, and when homesickness creeps in and the craving for a good pizza or pasta gets too REAL then Texas BBQ has your back. Nightlife in Hai Phong may not involve wild partying as some may expect but that is easily accessible in Hanoi.

And then there’s the question about transport – what is the public transport set-up? And is it safe? Scooters are common, but if you are like myself who enjoys exercise coupled with a fresh breeze in your face not to mention saving that extra cash dollar then a bicycle is a perfect fit. There are also plentiful public and VIP buses that run every hour, not to mention cab taxis and Xe om (motorbike taxi dudes) and since Grab taxi has recently come on board there is that option, too.

Chippy’s perfunctory performance

If you are adventurous, flexible, and willing to immerse yourself completely in Vietnamese culture, DTLC is the place for you.  A school that essentially is a myriad of schools, DTLC provides the logistical platform for teaching in many primary and secondary schools throughout Haiphong and its surrounding area.  You will also teach at the centre itself, thus diversifying your professional portfolio with multiple teaching environments.  With lesson plans prepared for you and travel arrangements carefully coordinated by the directors, all you need to do is show up and teach with enthusiasm, with patience, and with an open, flexible mindfulness.

Bear in mind, though, Haiphong is not for the faint of heart.  A compactly compressed city teeming with people and motorbikes, Haiphong is a city of contrasts, with third world decay juxtaposed with large, clean parks, with industrial wastelands coiling around new suburban neighbourhoods, and finally, with rain-scoured, crumbling tenements scattered between pristine townhouses and apartments.  The population density can at times be maddening, and the lack of English spoken here gives you the sense that you are in the “real” Vietnam.  Also, there are very few Western restaurants here, yet you will quickly begin to enjoy the local cuisine of pho, bun cha, banh mi, and com.  Heavy on vegetables and light on meat, the local food is cheap, healthy, and delicious.

The topography is relatively flat, and the climate reflects all four seasons with summers hot and humid and winters cool and dry.  Near the mouth of the Red River Delta, the surrounding countryside is primarily flat farmland, yet there are beaches and mountainous islands nearby at Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island.  These two easily-accessible spots are world-class beautiful and are major tourist destinations.  Whenever Haiphong begins to weigh you down, you can always escape to the tranquillity and fun of these retreats.

Overall, DTLC is a great way to travel, learn about a new culture, gain valuable teaching experience, and make some money.  But, remember, as Dorothy finds out in The Wizard of Oz, you won’t be in Kansas(replace with wherever your home is) anymore.

Blog – Amy Sparg

Vietnam, off to the land of friendly locals, cheeeeaap food and gorgeous surroundings!!!

And like all exciting journeys, the airport was the place where I put a face a name and met up with Rodney – the Director of Studies. He has been a great pillar of support throughout my stay here in Hai Phong, Vietnam. His cool, calm easy-going personality, eased the transition into the Vietnamese culture.

As a first time traveller and teacher, I came to Vietnam on a summer contract. And for the too-short-a-time being here I feel like I have learnt so much and been on some unforgettable adventures.

The Vietnamese children for starters will most certainly crawl into your hearts, as cliche as that may sound. Their dedication to learning paired with their big beautiful smiles will make you feel right at home in no time, not to mention their eagerness for a high-five and a bear hug, whilst happily sharing their sweets and snacks with you.
And even though there will always be those rowdy few kids/classes – they are a minority in comparison, and let’s be honest we were not all saints at school, I know I certainly wasn’t.

DTLC has been nothing short of supportive – from walking into the centre and greeted by friendly smiles to the ongoing assistance I receive from the lovely TAs. Not to mention the flexible working hours that allow for much weekend travels- yes that is what weekends are for- from the bustling Hanoi within arms reach (just an 1 hour north) to the beautiful Cat Ba Islands and Ha long Bay (just over an hour North East) makes Hai Phong a good happy medium, a sanctuary of calm.

Onto the lifestyle in Hai Phong – As said in the other Blogs, the beer is fantastically cheap, not to mention the food.
For beer lovers- grab yourself a beer from any one of the Beer Hoi spots scattered around Lach Tray (just look for the yellow and red chairs and you’re set) and let’s be honest- 5 000 VND is a real WIN compared to back home (South Africa)! Then there’s the delicious Banh My (French Buguettes with an assortment of fillings from 12-20k VND, and if you’re a real discount-seeker then crack on down after 12 PM and you might score yourself lucky).

Not only on the streets do you feel the excitement but on one particular event (“my farewell”) at Rodney’s house, we got to swim in his pool and drink Coung’s famous Mojitos (in the pool ) along with a buffet of fruits and cheese and the works. Amazing!

With all being said, I could have not picked a better company for the introduction to kick off my teaching and travelling adventures and get a real taste of Vietnam.

Fat Foreign Uncle Gets Interviewed by Hai Phong TV.

A friend of mine works at the local TV station and wanted to start a new TV program about foreigners living in Hai Phong. She reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in being interviewed. I reluctantly said YES!!

Fast forward to 8 minutes and 20 seconds to see the fat boy.  Fat foreign uncle on Hai Phong TV

 

 

Fat Foreign Uncle Talks About Vietnam. DTLC

If you’re thinking of coming to Vietnam to work, but you’re the ‘Politically Correct’ type or ‘Sensitive’ type, then don’t bother coming. The Vietnamese call a spade a spade and that’s one of the reasons I love them. There is NO politically correct culture here, if you’re fat, they’ll call you fat. If you’re ugly, they’ll call you ugly. You better get used to it, deal with it!! Vietnam isn’t full of sensitive types who need safe spaces and constant reassuring that they are worthy people.

They call me ‘Ong Tay Beo’ which roughly translates to ‘Fat Foreign Uncle’ and I love it. Wherever I go I hear calls of ‘Beo’ and it’s one of those things I just need to be tolerant of. I’m not here to change the Vietnamese culture, I’m here to integrate and learn about it, take it on board and live it.

Frequently I hear foreigners in the bars, around town, at home bbq’s and other places always talking rubbish about the Vietnamese and how the Vietnamese don’t know how to do anything correctly. They constantly complain that Vietnamese should do things the same as the western countries. This really pisses me off. If you want to come to Vietnam and live in their country then you better learn to follow their laws and respect their way of life and culture.

Vietnamese are among the most well-rounded people I have met in Asia and when I hear these arrogant foreigners talking about how western culture is superior then it really gets me angry. There are plenty of foreigners here who are positive about the life here, the people, the culture and the lifestyle, and they’re the kind of people I like to hang out with.

You were fired- Deal with it.

After 8 years of working in the ESL industry, I have pretty much come across every type of teacher and human being, but I’m yet to hear one teacher who was, in their mind, fairly dismissed from their job position.

Schools or employers usually don’t fire people for no reason, that’s my experience. People who get fired in the ESL industry are like people who have car accidents ‘It wasn’t my fault’ they say. How can this be?

Some teachers like to think that they are Gods and can do as they please. Come to class late, arrive at school late, come to work still drunk, don’t bother to iron their clothes and the list goes on.

When will teachers in this industry realise that this is a job, they have to service paying customers and if they don’t they’re out? Do you think that’s unfair?

Mya Bar in Van Cao street – Review (updated March 2018)

Update 12th March 2018: There has been a lot of bad feedback about the owner’s business practices recently. I have been friendly with many of the staff over the last year and the following is a list of complaints from them:

  • The owner refuses to pay the staff overtime.
  • The staff do not receive the tips, kept by the owner.
  • Staff undergo a 3-day probationary period, which is unpaid.
  • They constantly receive fines from the owner.
  • Staff are not allowed a break to eat or drink.
  • Staff are paid a measly 15,000 VND/hour, well below the average.
  • They are regularly required to assist the owner with NO pay.

We approached the owner as concerned customers and he told us it was none of our business and if we don’t like it we can leave.

During the Lunar New Year holiday the owner added a 20% surcharge, however, customers weren’t advised and only discovered the 20% after receiving the bill.

This bar has certainly lost its mojo in the last 6 months and the owner’s true colours are shining through. I, for one, will not be returning.

Previous review:

I’ve been frequenting Mya bar now for about 6 months so I thought I’d give it a review.

As much as I like Mya Bar it comes with a long list of negatives. This review is based on my experiences after 6 months and is no way biased because of my friendship with the owner.

One of the most annoying things about this bar, as a long time patron, is the over-priced drinks and food. Beers and spirits here are more expensive than any other bar I’ve visited in Hai Phong. The food is quite average and again, well over-priced, 165,000 for a small pizza is western prices. Another issue here is they forever run-out of products. Beer, fruit and food are the main ones that are sometimes never in stock.

The big plus here is the staff, they are all very friendly and some speak English and they honestly do make the place. If it wasn’t for the staff of Mya I would never go there.

The owner is also a friend of mine and he is a nice guy, but he seriously needs to look at prices and start treating people fairly.