Hanoi has very much come to feel like a home for us over these past four months and there will be mixed emotions when we leave. We feel ready to walk away from the classroom and strap our backpacks on for some well-earned exploring but it will be equally sad to say goodbye to this familiar city. We were surprised by how quickly we felt settled here. In spite of the size of Hanoi, how chaotically overwhelming it may feel, the pollution, the terrible drivers (we could go on), it will always be a very special place for us. We couldn’t have asked for a better start to the trip and we’re delighted we made the slightly random decision to begin in Hanoi. We’re hoping much of what we will miss when we leave Hanoi, we will discover again in Ho Chi Minh City (the great coffee, delicious food, cheap living…).

We both agree that it’s the right time to say goodbye to Hanoi. Four months has felt like the perfect length of time and we feel we’ve squeezed as much as we can out of our time here. Four months of teaching has also been testing and sometimes felt like a never-ending marathon. It’s gotten to a point where we’re comfortable going in to each lesson knowing what we have to do and getting the job done, which is great. However the more our confidence has grown, the more monotonous we have found teaching to be. At the beginning, reproducing the same lesson plans up to four times in a row was great, knowing by the last lesson we’d have it nailed and also that less preparation was involved. But by month four you start feeling the repetition, motivation drops and that leads to an absence of any mental stimulation. It’s also hard to take teaching seriously when you know it’s a means to an end rather than a career path. We don’t want to end up begrudging TEFL-ing when it’s allowed us so much freedom and adventure. When we felt ourselves reaching that tipping point, we knew it was time for us to move on and leave on a high. Knowing we will have over a month off to enjoy ourselves will hopefully leave us refreshed when we arrive in Ho Chi Minh to begin teaching again.

We know it’s going to be tough returning to the classroom on the 20th of February, but it’s reassuring knowing we have jobs waiting for us in Ho Chi Minh with ILA, who seem like a great company. They’re much bigger than the Washington Language Centre, with centres all over Vietnam, and appear very professional, offering more in the way of support and resources. We have both accepted part time contracts (minimum 15 hours a week) at public schools in the Go Vap District of Ho Chi Minh, with a contract that will sustain us until the summer, and replenishing our travel funds. We haven’t decided on an end date as of yet, waiting to see how much we will be earning and saving first, but the public school semester ends in late May so this gives us a rough time-frame.

The start of 2017 couldn’t look any better for us right now. We saw in the New Year up at the Old Quarter with thousands of other tourists and locals packed around Hoan Kiem lake. Now the real countdown is on! Friday 6th January is our last day of teaching and then we’re off to Ha Long Bay for a long weekend before jetting off to Myanmar. Lots of adventures are to be had over the next six weeks, which we’ll make sure to share with you all.