The Next Chapter: Hoi An
The last thing I would’ve expected is that living in Vietnam would be the next chapter in my storybook of adventures. But life happens in amazing, beautiful ways so here I am, soaking up every moment in Hoi An. For many reasons, this part of the journey is special. It’s the first place I came to explore after the transformative yoga & mindfulness teacher training I participated in back in June. It’s the first place I’ve started to “work”. It’s the first place where I’ve rented my own space, where I’ve actually unpacked my backpack, bought hangers, and hung up clothes in a dresser. It’s also the first place where I’ve invested in transportation; purchasing my own bicycle and renting my own motorbike scooter so I can zip around Hoi An.
The last post I wrote was at the 3-month mark, where I felt like I was sort of struggling with processing my journey. All the long-term travellers I’ve met have said the first 3 months is the hardest, and I’d agree! The first 2 months you’re running on lots of excitement and adrenaline of leaving home, of taking that leap of faith. For me personally, 3 months is where I started to think, “Okay, I’m actually in this for the long haul. How many times have I unpacked/repacked my bags? Do I miss the familiarity of routine? Can I sleep in dorms for the rest of my life? Was this the right decision? I miss my family and friends”.
Today, I write this post with a much different mindset, as I’ve just passed the ‘6-months of travel’ mark (!!). Between then and now, I spent a month in Mui Ne, Vietnam spoiled by beautiful surroundings, a beach, a huge villa, like-minded people who became family, and practiced yoga & mindfulness every day by the ocean. A post about the YMTT with saigon omis forthcoming. I walked away transformed as a person and with tools to bring moreawareness, appreciation and gratitude into my travels. From there, time has just flown by. Ive spent the last two months here in Hoi An, exploring different opportunities and meeting tons of fantastic people – expats, locals, and travellers passing through.
I’ve been lucky, as someone who speaks both English and Vietnamese, more doors for work were open to me. Thanks mom for being so adamant that we spoke Vietnamese at home and for putting me into Vietnamese classes for a chunk of my childhood. I still have yet to use the dance skills I learned in those classes anywhere though… My first week here was filled with numerous meetings and interviews, all for work ranging from hospitality to guest services for resorts to teaching yoga. After that first week things just started to fall into place, I accepted two work opportunities/experiences and found a place to live with housemates that quickly became great friends. This all came together via some posts I put up on the the local expats Facebook group, which has proven to be quite useful as its filled with both expats and local members always willing to share experiences, advice, and tips.
I started my yoga teaching journey here in Hoi An, at a beautiful, open space studio close to the rice fields. My intentions were not to teach, I did the training as a way to deepen my practice, to explore my indvidiual yoga journey. But after the YMTT, I realized that yoga and the practice of mindfulness is something that I wanted to share. We live in a society that tells us we need to “go-go-go”. Our minds are often not with our bodies in the present, we worry about the future and dwell in the past. We are taught to always be productive, to tick off certain tasks by a certain time, and to make sure we work hard now to enjoy the benefits in the future. If I can play a role in helping to bring the mind back to the body, to enjoy the present (wonderful) moment, and to live in the here and now, then my heart is happy.
I am so incredibly grateful to Nomad Yoga Hoi An for giving me an opportunity to teach and for giving me the space to continue to learn and grow as a teacher. I started out with teaching 3 classes a week, and am now teaching 6 classes a week, including two mornings at the beach. To be out in nature, to breath the fresh ocean air, to feel the sand on my skin while I share a yoga practice with students – who become new friends – I really can’t ask for anything more.
For a month, I also managed a coffee house in the Old Town. I haven’t worn a work uniform since I was probably 15. This opportunity had me in dress pants, a dress shirt, and a fedora in the hub of Old Town. Even though I decided to only work there for a month, it was an incredible life experience. My team consisted of 20 Vietnamese, Hoi An locals, many of whom were around my age. Managing the cafe was an interesting challenge for me. As the servers had the most interactions with guests, they spoke decent English, and on the other hand the other members of the team, the baristas, cooks and cleaners, spoke only a few English words. This meant I spoke more Vietnamese than I did English. My mind still thinks English and then translates words to Vietnamese. All of my work experience thus far has been in English, so I was definitely stepping up to an exciting, new challenge. Challenging ourselves and our comfort zones is where one grows – language can definitely be one of these zones.
The hospitality culture in Vietnam is different than what one would find in the West, it is more laid back with less “hands on” service. This was my other interesting challenge, working with the team on customer service and satisfaction. I got to meet tons of travellers from around the world, drink lots of coffee and brushed up on my rusty barista skills that I learned back in Australia. What I found I enjoyed the most though, was seeing the individual people grow. Often it was the small things, “Victor** how do I explain the filter drip coffee process in English?”. I could see the more comfortable they got with the English language, their self confidence grew and they became eager to engage with the guests. It was bittersweet to leave the Roastery. I was given the opportunity to teach more classes, and since it brings me so much joy, I decided to leave the Roastery.
** I have learned to introduce myself to locals in a Vietnamese accent: vic-door-e-ah (high pitched tone for last sound). Often the locals can’t pronounce my full name, so they call me Victor (vic-door), and I love it, it’s very adorable haha. Just like at my cousin’s wedding when the Minister also called my Victor 🙂 Sometimes they’ll use my Vietnamese name, Thu Linh or just Linh, which my parents don’t even use so I’m still trying to remember to respond when I hear it.
Besides yoga, I split the rest of my time between napping on the beach, eating all the fabulous vegetarian food in Hoi An, and spending time with all the beautiful new friends I’ve made (whether that’s out for a cocktail, at a beach music festival, in the oasis that is our backyard or over delicious food and coffee). My heart is content and happy here right now; I’m pretty sure I’m living the dream.
Until next time friends, xo.