It’s been 2 months now since I nearly left for England, got stuck in China for 3 days, and returned back to Vietnam. Within days of stepping off the plane in relief at being back in Da Nang I quickly had to adjust to my decision to resume life in this city alongside my fiance. The job that was previously on offer for me still sat on the table, so I accepted and began work the next day.
The job that I had just taken was as a customer care representative and receptionist at a hotel, not a position that I felt particularly suited me but my options were limited. I worked a similar customer service position back in England and it’s fair to say it didn’t go well, that experience left my confidence in my ability in thousands of shattered pieces. I needed to get over those negative thoughts and focus on what was my first days of work in close to a year, anxieties were of course present but then in my life I’m not surprised by their appearance anymore.
As a photographer and designer at heart my creative mind is always active with idea after idea, and it was clear that after only a few days on the job that my skills were better suited elsewhere. Dealing with hotel guests day in day out, constantly making sure they are happy, carrying their luggage up at times four flights of stairs. This was my life for around 3 weeks, before I asked to be moved anyway.
Throughout my life I had always simply done as people said, gone along with their ideas and plans without ever challenging a single thing. However this lead to unhappiness and a life where I simply felt that I was constantly being pushed over, never listened to or taken seriously. This was my past though, a different version of the person I am now. For in the present I will no longer stay silent and I will speak up if I feel that I am not happy or that I perceive something to be wrong. The truth hurts and I know this full well, but sometimes you have to be the one to tell it.
During my time working behind a reception desk I found myself spending most of my day glued to my laptop redesigning anything and everything, and I have to say there was quite a lot to keep me busy. I simply lacked passion for the customer care role and I soon requested a change of position, and thankfully the hotel’s owner agreed with me and within a week I was placed elsewhere. My new role was as part of the Sales and Marketing team with responsibilities such as photography, various design projects, Social Media promotion and keeping up to date with the many customer reviews. Much better. I am now in my 4th week of this new position and whilst there have been difficulties I do enjoy the majority of the work I do, it is where I am able to use my strengths and ultimately broaden my design portfolio in the process.
Working in Vietnam has not been easy, there is a big difference between how the Western world works and how they do things over here. Contracts are unheard of, overtime is non-existent and despite being paid to only work certain hours there is still this surprise when you leave at the time you are meant to finish. Here it appears their life is their work, they may have their set hours but they work above and beyond what is asked of them for no extra income. It certainly doesn’t make sense to me, I put the effort into my work during the hours I get paid and then I finish, working for free will only feed the hunger of those that are higher.
One of the most difficult aspects of working over here is free time or the lack of it I should say, I work 6 days a week 8am till 5pm and in the evenings I am always simply too tired and drained from the days stresses and soaring temperatures. Recently my partner has moved to the same hotel that I work for to take up the position that I left behind, and her hours are not the most social. Like me she works 6 days a week however her hours differ from 6am till 2pm or 2pm till 10pm and frustratingly her day off is never a Sunday (the day that I get off). Now when she works an early shift that is fine, we can then spend our evenings going out and actually doing things or sometimes stay in and just enjoy each others company as we watch something random (lately it’s been the TV series Dexter which is bloody amazing so far!). However when she works a late shift we then only see each for the 3 hours during the day as our shifts overlap between 2pm and 5pm. If I’m honest these night’s spent by myself in this foreign country I am really not too fond of, I lack the enthusiasm to go out alone and socialise so I spend my time at home with our newly rescued dog and sleep or watch movies. It’s not like in England when you can drive off and see family during these moments, here there’s no family or familiar places to go. I have lost trust in the people here for we have met too many that have not been as genuine as they seem, and so this has led me to crawling back into my unsociable shell.
I have not been myself lately, I am not happy nor unhappy, not content but neither discontent and I have at times lacked compassion for others around me. It seems that I am simply trying to block out my own emotions on a day to day basis to avoid a repeat of the fiasco that nearly led to me leaving my fiance behind in Da Nang two months ago. That won’t happen again I know it, but I do still dream of England on a regular basis and long for the day we return, even if it is only for a year or so before travelling again. Living and working in a Asian country has certainly been an experience, it has strengthened me in ways and made me really appreciate certain aspects of life back in England, things you take for granted. We have both had to deal with so much in a short space of time, being let down by those you trust, finding new work, earning an average of £8 a day to then have to spend the majority of that on rent and food, angry landlords and threats over a missing wash basket (no seriously that happened, our previous landlord threatened me if I did not return a wash basket we accidently took during our recent move).
For now it is simply a matter of patience and determination to save as much as we can each month to fund our flights home and the necessary vaccinations and documents it takes to get our amazingly courageous rescue dog Princess into England. Our dreams of living and working in Vietnam to fund our travels in Asia further were short lived quite early on when we discovered how much we would earn for the hard work we do. However I feel now we finally have a goal again, something that keeps you going and striving to get out of bed and drag yourself to work. As each day passes I see it as another day closer to the arms of our loved ones and the country of our birth.
I want to finish this post by saying that I do not regret coming back to Vietnam, my experiences here have made me stronger, they’ve got me back into working for the first time in a year and it’s made me feel so much more determined to succeed upon our eventual return to England. I still dream of travelling to countries I have never seen and ticking things off the bucket list, but what this experience has taught me is that you can’t achieve these dreams and aspirations without a lot of hard work, sweat and tears.