Back in ‘Nam … and the Classroom

A portrait in ink done by a student and aspiring artist of the Lego school of yours truly, Jeff ChappellSo yeah, I took some time off. I took some time off from pretty much everything.

I know that sounds dark, ominous and sinister and whatnot, which ordinarily might not be entirely surprising for me and mental effluvium receptacle that is this blog. But this is not the case. Rather, after I left Viet Nam and returned to the States in March of this year, I basically just goofed off for the next seven months. I got lazy while I recharged my mental and spiritual batteries. I kicked back and thought about what it was I want to do – that is, when I wasn’t playing video games, building/tinkering with computers, experimenting with barefoot running, and generally loafing about reading in cafes and bars.

Writing – including blogging – as you can see, was not on that list. I thought about writing a lot though, if that counts.

As always, I’m grateful beyond words for my parents having made it possible for me to have this as an option at this point in my life. But on the other hand, while they left me some money, they didn’t make me independently wealthy, at least not to the point where I could continue a Larry Darrell-esque lifestyle indefinitely. This was coupled with the fact that I was only home about three or four months when I began to get itchy feet (which I anticipated would happen).

Hmm … that link should generate some interesting web traffic. But I digress.

So after much thought about the present and the future, today finds me sitting in a cafe in Sai Gon, where it’s pissing down at the moment of this writing. I’ve been back in Viet Nam a little more than a month now, having arrived via Thailand, where I spent three weeks avoiding floods and goofing off while eating Thai food and indulging in light debauchery.

Fiona, a Vietnamese student expounds upon the word "cold."I’m teaching ESL once again, and so far three times has proven once again to be a charm, on the employment front. Several months ago, when I first began entertaining the notion of giving it one more go, I recalled that my journalism career was marked by two unpleasant episodes before a satisfactory situation was found. Thus I reasoned it might be so with teaching English.

So I took what lessons there were to be learned from my previous experiences, and employed them in my search for a job. Thus I find myself once again back where I started: I’m working for the school where I took the CELTA course here in Sai Gon. Is it a metaphorical bed of roses? No. But neither is it a manure-laded bed of thorn bushes either. In fact I’ve managed to avoid the biggest pitfalls of the previous ESL episodes of my short ESL career.

More on all this later. But for now, let it suffice to say that I’m back in Sai Gon – pho and ca phe sua da for breakfast and geckos barking in the middle of the night – and back in the online saddle with the urge to write and blog once again.

Of course the real reason I came back to Southeast Asia, so I wouldn’t have to rename this site.

Postscript: Wondering about the images? Well, the first one is a portrait of me done by one of my students who is an aspiring artist of the Lego school. Then there is teenage Fiona – that being her chosen English moniker for class – who felt my stick figure drawing used to elicit the word “cold” needed to be embellished. And last but by no means least are the three elementary artistes, three of my Vietnamese youngsters who are clearly excited by the arrival of Christmas.

As always click ’em to big ’em.


A Vietnamese Christmas, as depicted by Jeff Chappell's elementary ESL students.


Vietnamese kids are excited by Christmas too -- at least those in Jeff Chappell's ESL classes.