Vietnamese Road Safety

Two months ago today I arrived in Vinh feeling tired, excited, nervous, anxious and hot.

It’s been a mixed bag so far, that’s for sure!

Around 3 weeks ago I had a meeting with the Principle to sign a contract, except that didn’t happen. She told me that she thought teaching was too difficult for me and that if I didn’t drastically improve within the next week then I wouldn’t get a contract.

I put my absolute EVERYTHING into the following week, and on the Thursday she, along with two or three others, observed my 5A class, (kindergarten – 5 year olds). I wasn’t as terrified as I was on my first ever day but god, the whole of the next year depended on that lesson, and I would have been heart-broken leaving after such a short time. Not only would I have to leave the job, but then I would have to leave the place I live too. I live in the school so the school is not only my work but my home.

Science - learning about seeds

Science – learning about seeds.

Anyway, crisis diverted. The Principle was really happy with my lesson and she said it was much better than she had expected it to be. I still haven’t signed a contract but they have given me a name badge and a school shirt so signs are looking positive. They keep saying that I’ll sign it next week. Then the next week it’s next week again! But people around the school are acting a lot warmer towards me I feel since then, which, of course is great. Nobody likes begin told they are crap at something, and nobody likes not being liked either.

The week I was told that I may or may not be staying I had been out with Lizzie in the morning and we bought bicycles!

Purchase of the day!

Purchase of the day!

One of the English Office girls took us to a place to buy them with her husband and his Hilux, so they were easy to take back. We could have ridden them back but riding in the middle of the day is just too hot. The woman at the bike shop said that they bikes weren’t strong enough to hold our ‘western frames’… which is nonsense. Several times during my times in Vietnam, both last year November/December I hired a bike and it was fine, she just wanted to scare us into buying one that cost twice the price and looked identical. We bought new ones in the end which were cheaper than the second-hand ones. How that works I don’t know but mine was wrapped in some kind of film so it looked new at least.

4 bike shops all in a row. All selling exactly the same product.

4 bike shops all in a row. All selling exactly the same product.

We have done lots of exploring since we bought our bikes. The first night we went to a night food market. As we were leaving we saw a man who Lizzie had met before the last time she was there. He asked if he could try out her bike. Of course, she said yes. So off he cycled round a nearby roundabout, we heard a snapping sound and he came back with the chain snapped dragging along the ground behind the bike.

Mien Ga - Night Market food

Mien Ga, at the Night Market

Since then we have been back to the night market, we have been across town to a big square with a massive statue of Ho Chi Minh (Ho Chi Minh Square) and spent the afternoon people watching, we have been for dinner in different places instead of the place on the corner all weekend or taking taxis at night. It takes no time to cycle places even though everywhere is quite spread out. Vinh is really flat so cycling is easy. Saying that, it’s one thing being on the back of a motorbike and not being in control but sometimes being on a bike when massive busses are coming up behind you and hooting constantly (as do all vehicles in Vietnam, and the rest of Asia) is pretty scary! There don’t seem to be many rules on the roads here. Hooting swerving, cutting in in front of you, weaving, turning into the wrong side of the road… the list is endless. Look out for yourself and everyone else does the same for them.

Ho Chi Minh Square

Ho Chi Minh Square

School is going fine since the whole ‘to be or not to be’ situation. All my classes have had tests which all went fine. I’m doing a little bit extra tuition with one of the girls who boards and is in my secondary class too, who needs a big lot of help with her pronunciation and reading. So I am doing three 20 minute sessions with her a week just to give her some practise. We’re reading Cinderella  at the moment and she is really putting in a ton of effort which is really good to see. I give her a few words each time to focus on the pronunciation of a certain sound. This week is was the and sh sounds.

Things with the boarding are okay too. I spend all of Monday after school with them until 9.30 pm, so 5 hours, playing sports, talking, playing games, have dinner and then I like to do something crafty with them or have them make posters about a certain topic. We then finish this on Tuesday evenings when I spend an hour and a half with them after my evening class finishes. I’m planning a display wall of their work to go outside the library/computer room in school. They’ve made some good stuff so far. I will post a picture of the display wall with the next post, if I’ve finished it.

A couple of weeks ago I thought the rainy season had started when I woke up in the morning to see the field outside my room was completely flooded, but we haven’t had much rain at all since then. All the creepy crawlies seem to think it’s started though, including a spider the size of my hand which appeared in the teachers corridor last week. I’m still scared of every scurry or tickle I feel at night!!


It was Lizzie’s birthday this week. It’s not easy to find a nice present here but one of the girls in the office bought some flowers from the two of us and I made a card. For lunch we went out to a place (owned by a parent of one of the secondary kids) that have nice chicken platters.

Happy Birthday Lizzie

Happy Birthday Lizzie


Birthday lunch for Lizzie

I feel more settled now that I know I have the opportunity to stay. Obviously I am not going to let my game slide, OR relax for quite a while, but I need to stay positive and hopefully it will show in my lessons.

Science - animals

Science – Animals

Science - Animals. That's a funny looking cheetah!

Science – Animals. That’s a funny looking cheetah!

1st graders making paper lions

1st graders making paper lions



2 thoughts on “Vietnamese Road Safety

  1. Hi Ruth! Sounds like you’re really learning to go with the flow, and to even change the flow itself if you don’t like where it’s going. Excellent! The Mien Ga looks delicious enough to eat right from my computer screen. I hope you are learning how to cook Vietnamese food so you can come stay with us for a few weeks of culinary fun. Maybe you could get a rear-view mirror for your bike??
    Love and kisses,


    • I think a rear view mirror is an excellent idea Fred 🙂
      Will call you on your Saturday night, I hope you’ll be around.
      Unfortunately I don’t have anywhere to cook. But I did do that cooking course in Hoi An so have had SOME practise xxxxxx


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