Today’s post is a coaster from a coffee shop. We had a beer on it, so technically it’s a beermat I figure and if the rumour is true about free internationl beermat postage this should have no problems getting to it’s destination in Singapore. However, given our hit rate so far (none arrived that we’ve sent) I’m not holding my breath. Personally, I still believe that beer mats travel free from Australia to the UK though as my colleague at work sent me one from her holiday and it made it, so keep the orders for beermats coming and I’ll be happy to keep sending them!

Trung Nguyen Coffee beermat front


Since getting to Hanoi, we’ve been busily getting ourselves set up in the city. We moved into a lovely apartment in Ho Tay (West Lake) and we have been looking for ways to achieve what we came out here for, while still being able to pay the bills.

When I left my job, I had the intention of coming away to Cook, Code and be Creative and these 3 C’s are what we’re trying to use to guide us.



Since being in Hanoi, Elena has been inundated with offers of employment. Whenever we’re out she gets offered work as an English teacher, despite the fact that English is her second language and she’s only been speaking it for 5 years. I, on the other hand with a TEFL qualification and 10 years experience in Education always get overlooked. Why? Because I’m “Vietnamese” of course!

Here in Hanoi, schools and students want only to be taught by “real” English people, by which they mean white people ideally, regardless of experience or qualifications. Intrigued, and somewhat flattered by all these offers of employment, Elena and I decided to go for an interview one day. It wasn’t so much an interview as a casual check to see if Elena was white enough for the job.

So the guys came over to our house and checked us out. They asked Elena if she had any qualifications and she replied truthfully, saying,

“No, I’ve got no qualifications at all and I’ve never taught. If you want someone with qualifications, you should employ him *gesturing at me* as he’s been teaching for ages and he’s a proper native speaker”

At this point, the employer glanced over at me, back at her and said, “Oh don’t worry about it, it shouldn’t be a problem. The students will love you!”

…and that’s when we decided that we should just run our own business instead.

So, working on the idea that I love cooking and want to learn to cook, and there are so many Vietnamese in Hanoi who want to talk to English people, we decided that we’d invite people over to our house and talk English with them. The idea of “English on a plate” was born and we set about arranging dinner at our place and inviting people over to talk English with us over dinner in an informal setting.

So far, we’ve cooked pancake breakfasts and had guest chefs come over and cook Vietnamese dinners and it’s been an amazing experience! In addition to this, we set up a meetup group to  called Hanoi in English, with the soul aim of getting people to meet other people to talk and practice English. We aim to meet at least once a week with anyone who wants to come along.

This beermat came from our second weekly Hanoi in English meetup, in Trung Nguyen Coffee shop near Hoan Kiem lake in the centre of the city. We sat outside and chatted with a group of about 10 people for a couple of hours in the evening. We’re always so surprised by how keen the Vietnamese are to practice English and usually by the end of the night people have been busily chatting away to each other.

So far, we’ve not really made a great deal of money and we may not end up making anything but it’s really cool to introduce a new element into this city. I feel that there’s so much potential here and I for one am really loving the vibes here in Hanoi.

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An e-learning professional and physics teacher by trade, Andy discovered late in life that he rather likes art. He set up my REAL wall and mailart365 to make and send as much art in the post as possible but spends far too much on postal costs

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