18/06/2018 – 03/07/2018
If you’ve ever read any posts you may now I now live and work in Vietnam as an English teacher, but recently I took two weeks off to visit home and see friends and family. It had been about ten or eleven months since I’d been to the UK, so I was ready for it. I mostly chilled and caught up with people, did too much shopping and eating and enjoyed the uncharacteristically hot weather, but also managed to fit in a couple of little trips. There’s nothing like being away from somewhere for a while to make you realise how much you love it!
My mum and I wanted to go on a day trip somewhere close by, so we chose Manchester. To say how close it is, I haven’t actually spent that much time there.
First we had an amazing breakfast at the Regent in the Northern Quarter. Food was a definite highlight of my trip home. I can’t even tell you how much I ate.
We explored the Northern Quarter and Afflecks Palace, which is an indoor market with lots of alternative independent shops. I didn’t do any shopping (my bank balance thanked me) but it was fun to look around.
We were excited to go to Chinatown as it’s the second largest in the UK, but it was kind of disappointing. There weren’t really any shops or anything in it, just a few Chinese restaurants. The gates were cool but just the same as any Chinatown.
Lastly, we went to Manchester Museum which was surprisingly good. It’s free and was so big we didn’t even manage to walk all the way around it! I love free museums.
My friend Chelsea came to visit so for something different we decided to go for a hike in the Peak District. I’ve always loved hiking and the Peak District but thought that because I couldn’t drive I couldn’t ever go there. But by accident I found out there’s a train from Sheffield that stops at loads of places there!
We went to Edale, a place I haven’t been to in years and years. I made a rookie error and didn’t download any maps, thinking that because Edale was a village I would get signal and be able to get more information there. How wrong I was, there was no signal to be found anywhere (only a tiny bit right on the top of a peak!). So we did what you’re not supposed to do and followed a random trail!
There was a lot of uphill rock scrambling and at one point we were getting worried, but it all worked out in the end. It was also during the massive heatwave England was having, so Chelsea was dying but I think I was a little more resilient from hiking in southeast Asia!
I checked when I got home and worked out how long we walked, and it turned out to be five miles. We had only planned for about two… oops!
I went to Wales for the first time in my adult life! It’s weird how little places I’ve been to in the UK compared to other parts of the world. One of my greatest friends Nicole lives there so I went for a visit. It was so hot we decided to go to the beach.
We went to Llandudno and on the way encountered a bit of traffic, so I checked on my phone to see what was going on. Turns out it was the Armed Forces Day and a quarter of a million people were expected to visit! Sometimes you should research before you go…
But apart from road closures and full car parks it was fine. We ended up parking right at the top of the Great Orme, a big limestone cliff. The views were beautiful but it was quite a walk! For Armed Forces Day there was a red arrows display and other war planes (I don’t know the names of them all!) and it was actually really cool, so it was a nice coincidence that we ended up there.
The pier was great and we did all the usual British seaside things. It was of course too cold to go in the sea! As Llandudno has a pebble beach we stopped at Colywn Bay on the way home to visit a sand beach. We had lots of fun with bubbles…
Things I Miss
(Aside from family and friends, obviously)
Omg did I eat when I was at home. It’s impossible to get western food where I live in Vietnam, and I don’t think it’s even that great in Hanoi either. So I definitely made up for it when I was at home! It’s probably a good thing that there’s no good food here, at least it’s made me eat a bit healthier!
Oh have I missed being able to communicate with people. Here in Vietnam I can get my point accross eventually but sometimes it can be hard work. It was so nice to be able to talk to people with little effort and no sign language!
Speaking in my own accent
A random one but I really miss talking in my Yorkshire accent! Obviously it’s not appropriate for teaching English but I also find myself neutralising my accent everyday and it can be tiring.
Vietnam isn’t a very diverse place, especially outside of the main cities. Not that the UK is perfect, but it’s definitely less homogenous!
I don’t drive at home or in Vietnam which is sometimes a bit of a struggle. Again public transport in England isn’t spot on but it’s a lot easier than here in Vietnam.
Vietnam is notorious for it’s pollution! It was nice being able to take deep breaths.
…And a million other things
As much as I like living here in Vietnam and think that the UK is flawed, it’s still my home country so I will always feel the most comfortable there. Overall, I had a great two weeks at home and had the perfect balance of chill time and adventure. But who knows when I will be back next?!
What do you miss as an expat? Do you visit home often?
If you want to see more photos of my travels you can check out my Flickr