this week will be bad.

This week will be bad.

Rosie and I are on the last stretch to push for all our documents to be sent to us in order to get the work permit process started. If this does not happen, we run the risk of losing this job for a bit before we can reapply. Rosie is waiting for her degree to come in from Toronto, and it is currently being held up at customs in Saigon but she cannot obtain it yet. Meanwhile, both our TESOL certifications have been reissued and expedited this time around so we hope to hear that it will land here by tomorrow.

Once we get these last outstanding documents, we need to find a lawyer to notarize it, then rush it to the Canadian consulate to get it “consularized”. In other words, we pay $50 bucks for them to simply stamp it. Kind of a pain.

One good news is one of my best pals from Toronto, Sebastien, will be in Saigon in the next few days. Probably by the end of this week. He bought a motorbike out in Hanoi back in the middle of March and has been making his way slowly towards the south. I’m extremely jealous because that’s a trip I really want to do one day. FYI, the run from Hanoi to Saigon and vice versa is about 1,700 kilometres. The topography of Vietnam can be crazy and the roads can be a bit hairy at times, especially in the central highlands (I hear), but that’s one adventure I’m down for.

Anyway, I can’t wait for Seb to get here and for this administrative nightmare to be over with. First video postcard will probably be delayed a bit longer.

Until next time!


from vietnam: a trip to Monkey Island

I haven’t posted here in awhile on account of me wanting to kill myself dealing with the administrative obstacles for obtaining a work permit. My first video postcard from Nha Trang is almost finished.

In the meantime, I’ll post this video of my trip to Can Gio and Monkey Island a couple of weeks ago.

sometimes you catch yourself…..

Me and the Lemieux’s in what would be one of our last times together in Toronto.

Sometimes you catch yourself missing things, places, people, what have you. Looking back on this picture taken 3 months ago back in Toronto is a reminder that while travelling is awesome and there’s nothing like it, I still carry a sweet spot inside me for things that are “home”.

seems legit.


I’m stoked. I finally get an official name tag from the Asian International School after having worked there for nearly three weeks.

Somehow, having this name tag to pin on my shirt makes it all feel more real – it cements the feeling of success and of having made it here in Saigon. Well… sort of. I’m still on my two month probation contract with the school, which ends on April 17th. Once I get all the stupid administrative/paper work completed to secure a work permit with the school, along with a good track record for the probationary period, then I will be offered a long term contract.

Still, this is one step in the right direction… right?


a teaser from my time in the Phu Quoc Islands.

Before I upload my pictures, I’m just gonna post a few teaser pics taken from my cousin’s kid’s phone camera. Not the best quality but I felt compelled to give some of you friends and family members who might still be visiting my blog a taste of what we ventured off to.

This was a very brief trip during the Tet Holidays. My second uncle and his family wanted Rosie and I to come along so we booked a short three day excursion with them. I can tell you that the next time I come here, I plan to stay for a week. If not more. On this trip, I also got to go squid jigging at night. Videos of that to come.

For now, enjoy a few flictures from my cousin’s kid, Kevin Pham.

Rosie, myself, Baby Tram Anh and her mother/my cousin Chi Tet (Chi means ‘Bigger Sister’). Image

Kevin (the family calls him Ti Em) and I.Image

The same peeps plus Kevin (Ti Em). Image

Rosie and Ti Em. Image

Baby Tram Anh.Image

Where we stayed in Phu Quoc. It was a beautiful hotel. Image

And here’s Baby Tram Anh just sitting in the middle of our table as lunch is being brought out.Image

I need to force myself to pull pictures from my DSLR. And I promise video clips will be coming. I’m just slacking because there’s a lot of other fun things to do while I’m not teaching or lesson planning. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy updating this blog… but when I’m invited to cheap beers and cheap, delicious food then I’m inclined to choose cheap beers and cheap, delicious food.

Anyway, this is a small teaser from our trip to the Phu Quoc Islands. These pictures were taken by Kevin (Ti Em). I’ll have my own pictures up with a full recap shortly. That’s all for now!

a few extra pictures from Rosie.

Here are a few extra pictures from Rosie. For those of you who don’t use Facebook and can’t see what she’s been posting, here’s a peak….

Me happy as a clam taking a brief break from my TESOL course work to get some sun.Image

Me on a lunch break from doing my essay and fiddling around with my camera. Image

Me trying to take artsy fartsy pictures while occasionally dodging the bolder waves that threatened to pull me in.Image

The fancy Sandals Restaurant where we spent our last night together with Erika and some new friends. Image

The fancy lights.Image

Our dinner table and our meals.Image

Here is that sesame-seared raw tuna with sprouts that I ordered. I could probably eat this three times a day, seven days a week for the rest of my life.Image

And here’s a sweet crab I caught on the beach. Image

That’s all for now, guys. I’ve been procrastinating and doing very little other than eating shellfish and drinking Vietnamese coffee and it’s starting to catch up because I am severely behind on lesson planning. I need to hammer out a couple of lesson plans for this afternoon’s class. I promise more content in the near future.


my demo class.

I realized that I forgot to write about my experience with my first demo class that helped me land a job at the prestigious International Primary School. 

So two weeks into my TESOL course, Josy gets a call from Ms. Diep, the manager at the IPS. Ms. Diep was looking for native-English speaking teachers. Josy recommended Rosie and I for an interview. By the third week, Rosie and I went through an informal telephone chat followed by a in-person discussion. At the discussion, Ms. Diep asked Rosie and I to do a demo class the following week. The idea of a demo class is for the prospective teacher to be evaluated by the manager, director of studies, or whatever high-up position at the school. It also helps determine what kind of salary the prospective teacher can command. 

So Rosie and I worked hard on our demo classes with a lot of help from Josy to make sure we were prepared. We felt good showing up the following week to strut our stuff. I was first to be called in to do my demo class. What happened in literally the next minute seemed to be a page torn from a terrible TV sitcom. I entered the class, waved my hand in a highly animated ‘hello’ gesture and enthusiastically bellowed out, “Hello class!” Great start, yes? Well it would’ve been if the kid in the back right corner didn’t decide to projectile vomit on to his desk. That’s right. The boy in the back spews his breakfast on to his desk and gives me a panicked look. And I just continued with the class as if nothing happened. 

Some of you might wonder why I did this. Here are the factors that raced through my head when I tried to decide how to react.

– Ms. Diep, the manager of the school, glanced over at the boy then back at me as if nothing major happened. She looked at me expectantly waiting for my next move.

– Each class has a teacher’s assistant to help manage the class effectively and for any necessary translations to ensure lessons go smoothly.

– This demo class is an evaluation of my capabilities as a teacher – it determines whether or not I am hired and what my probationary salary will be.

With these factors in mind, I briefly asked if the boy was OK and returned to my planned lesson immediately. I gambled on the idea that the TA would be there to assist with situations like that… even if it involves a boy projectile vomiting on to his desk sixty seconds into class. I was correct in my assumption, so that was very good. I also played off Ms. Diep’s reaction and facial expression – she did not look worried  and seemed to wait for my next move. It was as if she planted the soon-to-puke kid there to see what I would do….

Fortunately, my decision to do what I did paid off. I scored a 19/20 on the teacher’s evaluation and Ms. Diep was thrilled to sign me on as part of the faculty at her school. I was stoked that the class went well because I thought for sure the puking kid was a bad omen of things to come. I even got the kids to chant and cheer “cucumber” and “potato” as if they were at a soccer match heckling. What caught me by surprise and made me incredibly happy to see was how well the students behaved and gravitated to you once you got them engaged with the lesson. Granted I gave each of them a piece of candy at the end of class, but when I was about to leave the school they made efforts to catch my eye and say, “Bye, Mr. Alex!” 

All in all, I’m extremely happy to be starting my first teaching job at this school. The facilities are top-knotch, the staff are friendly, the students are incredibly well behaved. It’s probably the best  possible start for a guy like me to ask. 


some iPhone photos from Nha Trang

As promised, a few shots taken from my iPhone while I was in Nha Trang.

I was working on my essay for my TESOL course when I got bored and decided to go take a break. I ran across the street and stopped in at the Sandals Restaurant. This is a view from my table of one.Image

I ordered iced coffee and spicy Goan fish curry. Image

Rosie joins me an hour later for some coffee and people spying.Image

We come back to the Sandals Restaurant the next night to cap off our stay in Nha Trang. Here’s Erika Kanduth and Rosie as we wait for our meals. Image

It happened to be a full moon that night. The iPhone pic doesn’t do justice to the scene but trust me when I say it was an amazing bright  orange moon. Image


where did I leave off last?

It’s been awhile since I last communicated through WordPress. To the few who try and follow this blog for information, I apologise. I will try and continue at where I last left off. The last time I posted here, I mentioned that we were in Nha Trang so I will give my account of events from there and so forth….

I believe the last thing I mentioned was our group going to celebrate for a number of reasons, including Joss’ successful completion of her PADI course and Rosie and I successfully landing jobs with the Asian International School. That evening, we had dinner at an amazing small place. We ordered Thai, Vietnamese, and Italian cuisine and kicked back with some Saigon (green) beers that costed about $0.50 a bottle.

After dinner, a wonderful thing happened when we were going to find a bar to hang out at. When you wander the streets in the backpackers’ district in Nha Trang at night, bar staff will run out to the streets and try to get you to go into their bar. They will say anything and advertise their bar as the best place to relax. They might even dance or sing and say the most hilarious things to you. It’s quite the experience and I personally love it. Tonight, however, we witnessed something new. Jason was strolling by a bar when he decides to stop and chat a bit. A little Vietnamese man comes up swiftly behind him and hugs him tight. Meanwile, the hugger’s coworker is trying to convince us to stop in for a drink at their bar. But the friendly coercing doesn’t stop there. The little Vietnamese man hugging Jason from behind grabs Jason’s groin and starts massaging his package. None of us really realized it until Jason said nonchalantly, “Oh, he’s grabbing my balls” or something similar to that effect. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture or video of the event as I was too busy laughing and wondering what the hell was going on. Big ups to Jason for staying calm and not freaking out. Despite the friendly chat and the second-base action Jason received, we politely declined their invitation and kept strolling. Jason didn’t even look at his mystery lover in the face – their relationship remained faceless and anonymous. In the end, we settled at the Oasis bar and restaurant. The rest of that night can be found summarized in the previous post.

We all had a rough morning the following day and got together for breakfast at 11:00am. We all ordered the “Hangover Breakfast” (no joke, that’s what it’s called there) at a nearby place. The name of the place escapes me but the breakfast consisted of bread, eggs, coffee, and juice. For about $2 CAD, it was just what we needed to get the day going.

After breakfast, we tried to get a night boat cruise going… the kind that serves unlimited food and drinks for $20 CAD. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough people committed to secure a cruise around Nha Trang. You need about 15 people while our group was only Erika, Jason, Katie, Joss, Rosie and myself. It kinda sucks but I know I’ll be back in the near future to take advantage of this deal. Factor in the $15 CAD beautiful train ride up north to this beachside town and I think it’s quite the package.

Anyway, for the rest of our last day in Nha Trang, we hung out out and got surprisingly decent poutine for lunch at the dive centre where Joss got her certificate. For dinner, we capped our stay off by spoiling ourselves at the Sandals Restaurant owned by the Sailing Club of Nha Trang. My dinner was about $25 CAD and included a glass of milk coffee, a glass of shiraz from Australia, sesame seared raw tuna appetizer, and goat curry with basmati rice.  A dinner of this calibre would probably cost me between $60-80 in Toronto.

After dinner, we call caught the overnight train to head back to Saigon. Since a lot has happened since Nha Trang, I’ll conclude the Nha Trang portion here. I will post a few photos taken on my iPhone in the following post.

I’m currently working on a video as well so stay tuned.