Hunter S Thompson Quote

From Hanoi to Korea, Fears and Future Plans

This first phase of our adventure is hurtling towards closure at an alarming speed. Our trip back to the UK in June signals an end to this initial 15 months of travel and with that end looms the knowledge that we need to start working in the autumn. What lies ahead is a scary, uncertain path – the only thing we know for sure is that on the 21st August we will board a plane back to Hanoi, Vietnam.

Planning for the Future

We decided months ago that the best way for us to earn money to continue travelling is to teach English in Asia for a year, but where? We buckled down to investigate our options: Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Thailand or Vietnam. The findings of our research make for a whole other blog post, but the short answer is: we’ve decided to teach in South Korea for a year.

Money-wise, Korea is our best option; once we land a job our schools will pay for our flights out there, cover our accommodation costs for the year and give us money to settle in with. We can each be earning up to $2,000 a month with lots of paid holiday, half our medical insurance will be covered and we’ll pay very minimal taxes; at the end of the year we’ll get a completion bonus and flights home. In addition to the potential for saving money, Korea is a country we’ve yet to explore; as a city-lover I’m intrigued by Seoul and after experiencing perpetual summer for months on end we’re ready for some cooler weather.

Hunter S Thompson Quote

The night Andrew and I decided on South Korea we giddily started emailing recruiters. We were too excited to sleep and stayed up for hours talking, Googling and imagining new lives in Korea; our minds too full of possibilities to settle. The more we talked about it the more I wanted that temporary home, a working routine and the changing of the seasons. I couldn’t wait to watch our savings account grow and be in one place long enough to start craving the open road again so we can head over to Canada and America afterwards with a renewed sense of excitement.

The next morning, however, our bubble well and truly burst. The recruiter emailed to say that positions were closing for September and we’d have to apply to start in February instead. This news sent me into a huge tailspin of panic; we’ll have less than £5,000 left in September, how will we last until February on that?

Fears and Frustrations

Hastily, we devised a back-up plan: fly back to Vietnam in August and try to find casual work in a language school for a few months. We visited Hanoi last year and loved it, we know we can live cheaply while we’re there and it seems like the best place to get short-term work upon arrival. My heartbeat races along with the possibilities of this new plan; we can rent an apartment and work in Hanoi for three months, then go trekking in Nepal, finally visit India and still have time to spare before moving to South Korea in February. It could be incredible, if it works out.

The only problem is that I’m terrified. Lately, I wake in the night and my feelings about the future oscillate from abject terror to pure exhilaration. I’ve signed up to teaching courses in England over the summer but I have no idea whether I’ll be any good at them. Unlike Andrew, who taught back in England, I have no experience to call upon and will be thrown into the unknown when we touchdown in Hanoi – will I sink, or swim?

People Eating Street Food in Vietnam

Hanoi, Vietnam

Money is another worry – will we have enough to see us through until February?  I’m worried how much we’ll spend in England over the summer and the more we try to plan the more uncertain things seem to get. The house sit we thought we’d snagged in London fell through and the teaching supply work Andrew was pinning his hopes on for July has yet to materialise.

What if South Korea isn’t the right place for us either? While some bloggers rave about the country, I’ve also heard some disconcerting stories about racism, particularly in Seoul. Then there’s the cultural obsession with appearance, the freezing winters, naughty school kids and the fact that Andrew and I won’t be housed together by our schools if we’re not married.

Sometimes I can’t help but wonder why we’re putting ourselves through all this stress, but the answer that always comes is:

Because we need to travel.

Back in England the happiness I felt living in London was always tainted by restlessness and a worry that every day I spent in an office was another day my life was slipping, unlived, through my fingertips. Since we’ve been travelling this restlessness has abated, now our lives are filled with discoveries and possibilities, challenges and joy. As worried as I am about the future though, a huge part of me also relishes the uncertainty and challenge. If I’m scared of doing something, I know that means it’s worth pushing through the fear and doing it. Plenty of people may think that this life we’re living is pure lunacy but we can’t stop now, there’s still too much of the world we need to see.

All we can count on is that a new phase of our journey will begin when we step off that plane in Hanoi and whatever happens, it’ll be one hell of an adventure.

  • Steven Martin
    Posted at 10:23h, 08 May Reply

    To assuage your fears – I didn’t have any problems with racism in Korea, the cultural obsession with appearance will not apply to you both as you aren’t Korean , the school kids are the best-behaved I’ve ever encountered, I’m sure you can get a flat together (Korea, particularly Seoul, isn’t that conservative) … and the freezing winters are, well, freezing, but that’s all part of the charm! (plus apartments are incredibly well insulated). You’ll love it!

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:30h, 08 May Reply

      Thanks for that reassurance Steven, it feels scary committing to spend a year in a place we haven’t even visited yet, I do tend to be a worrier too which doesn’t help. I have heard lots of great things about Korea too so I’m excited but also very nervous about stepping into a full-time job again after so long working from my laptop while travelling. I will get around to emailing you for more advice nearer the time 🙂

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    Posted at 11:25h, 08 May Reply

    Oh, Amy. I’m so sorry to hear that life has been throwing you a never ending set of curve balls lately, but that seems to be life on the road (and really, just life in general), doesn’t it? We’ve had plenty of moments on this trip when we were 99.9% certain we were going to do one thing only for the rug to be pulled out from us almost immediately and we felt we were back at square one, starting from scratch to some up with a new plan that we love as much but will hopefully pan out. I do think that these things tend to happen for a reason, and I think that getting to spend a couple of months in Vietnam is not a terrible fate by any means (we did the same thing, after all… albeit at the other end of the country!). Sometimes work stuff stresses me out to, but then I remember how little we actually need to be happy these days and I figure that if I’m determined, we’ll figure out something. Money always has a way of working out, especially for those willing to work for it. Sounds like the next few months are going to be a real adventure!

    • Amy
      Posted at 12:33h, 08 May Reply

      You’re right Steph, life on the road can be pretty turbulent and changeable at times but that is partly why we love it 🙂 We are getting pretty excited about spending more time in Vietnam now, renting an apartment, having a work routine and going to the cinema every week sounds really appealing. I totally agree, we don’t need much materially to be happy, most of the time I have faith that things will work out although I’m sure there will be some tough times ahead.

  • Patti
    Posted at 18:13h, 08 May Reply

    I think a bit of worry is a good thing, it keeps your eyes open to the realities of any situation. Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith, but keep a little worry in your pocket at the same time. As for the children, they will love you! You’re blonde and you have an accent, and you have great stories to tell. And you have Andrew as support, you’ll be great! And how fun that you’ll soon be back in England visiting those you love!

    • Amy
      Posted at 02:54h, 09 May Reply

      Thanks for the vote of confidence Patti, I’m sure things will work out with a lot of hard work (and plenty of worry!). I am looking forward to heading home for a bit too, I have a new nephew to meet and several other babies who’ve arrived while we’ve been away – should be fun 🙂

  • Rhonda
    Posted at 19:56h, 08 May Reply

    I loved the end of your post… because you need to travel. That same thing drives us and, while we’re just getting ready to embark on another extended trip, I found myself stressing over money for the future. As soon as I realized I was doing it, I immediately put the brakes on such thoughts…. as Steph says, being willing to work towards your goal is the main factor, and then the universe will provide. I know you’ll figure it all out and continue to really LIVE not just exist!

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:17h, 09 May Reply

      Thanks Rhonda, we will work hard to make our plans a success. Coming from a western country where culture is so money-focused it’s hard to shake that mind set but I do know from this past year of travel that we can live on very little and be extremely happy; I must try to remember this when I start stressing out about finances! Happy planning for your upcoming trip 🙂

  • Charlie
    Posted at 22:55h, 08 May Reply

    I understand the worries all this uncertainty can bring but as someone currently living with restlessness and feeling of wasting time while stuck in an office, all the things coming up in the future for you sound really exciting. Getting to spend some time in the UK where you can catch up with your families then back to South East Asia, what a great way to spend the time until February! I’m sure everything will work out, enjoy the freedom you have to pursue what makes you happy 🙂

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:19h, 09 May Reply

      I do sometimes forget just how restless I felt trapped in an office back in London so you’re right Charlie, all our plans are very exciting and I should relish that rather than let worry take over. Thanks for the support 🙂

  • Kerri
    Posted at 15:56h, 09 May Reply

    I understand where you are coming from as we are coming to the end of our journey too. So many options, but which one to choose. Regardless of which one you choose, it will be a new adventure. Looking forward to reading what happens next.

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:16h, 10 May Reply

      Thanks Kerri, I’m interested to see where you guys end up, especially if it’s in New Zealand – we love that country!

  • Victoria
    Posted at 06:27h, 14 May Reply

    Good luck! I’m sure you’ll find something. Just keep your eyes on the prize. The prize being going to South Korea. You can both always pick something in the UK to keep you going. £5,000 isn’t a lot but it’ll keep you going for a while. As for supply teaching, find another agency pronto. Apply to universities and colleges as a short-term lecturer too if you have the appropriate skills, or look for a temp live-in job as a couple.
    As you say, it’s going to be one hell of an adventure, so why not LOL!

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:01h, 14 May Reply

      Thanks Victoria, Andrew is just arranging interviews with other agencies for when we return so hopefully he’ll get at least a little but of work and when we get to Hanoi I’m hopeful that we’ll find something quickly. It’ll be a challenge for sure!

  • Danielle Ross
    Posted at 14:47h, 20 May Reply

    I totally understand your fears, planning to travel is a rollercoaster of emotions! We are coming near the end of 2years of planning and saving for a wee 1-2yr Career break in Asia/Australia. As the leaving date gets closer I find that every morning on the long bus to work I spiral into daydreaming, which generally follows the same pattern each day – 1. Yeah were finally leaving soon, I hate this bus trip; 2. OMG we still have so much to do; 3. Do we really have enough money?? 4. Are we crazy, we should be getting married and having kids! 5. What if we can’t find jobs… Utter panic now starts and my heart races so I give myself a mental slap and remind myself – 1. its now or never; 2, After all our hard work we deserve this; 3. Its going to be an awesome adventure; 4. We’ll manage; 5. If other people can do it, we can; And 6. most importantly we will regret it if we don’t…Then I calm down, become overjoyed with excitement and smile the rest of the trip to work 😀

    • Amy
      Posted at 03:18h, 21 May Reply

      Hi Danielle, thanks for commenting, you just described my thought process so well! Despite the moments of fear I do relish the challenge and know I’d be restless without it. Travel is amazing and you will have an awesome time, enjoy the build-up to your adventure!

    Posted at 12:24h, 17 June Reply

    korea is a really nice place. and don’t you worry about the prize, you’ll make it, i am so sure 🙂 good luck!

    • Andrew
      Posted at 11:23h, 18 June Reply

      Thanks, it’s an exciting prospect and we can’t wait to visit and explore another new country!

  • Jun
    Posted at 14:07h, 17 June Reply

    Hi Amy,
    I stumbled upon your blog when trying to find information about traveling cost in Malaysia. Thank you a lot for your blog posts, they are a great resource for me to prepare for my trip :).

    As a Vietnamese, my heart rejoiced when I read your posts about Vietnam and felt happy that you enjoyed your one month there ;). Currently, I am not in Vietnam, but if you need anything like connecting to local people, either in Hanoi, Danang or Hochiminh City, I am more than happy to help ;).

    • Amy
      Posted at 15:07h, 17 June Reply

      Hi Jun, thanks for reading and commenting. We love Vietnam and can’t wait to get back to Hanoi, I will definitely email you if we have any questions, thanks for offering your help 🙂

Post A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.