What’s Next? An Ongoing Question.

31 Oct
Palm trees of Hanoi

Palm trees of Hanoi

I am the kind of person who finds it very difficult to just ‘be’. Just exist and be happy. It is a frustrating truth that I am always thinking, ‘what’s next’. In some ways, I suppose this kind of attitude can be attributed to successful people, always striving to achieve more. In other ways, it is the attitude of a perpetually unfulfilled person, always striving to feel content. Needing more than they have.

I am not sure which category I fall into.

If I’m honest, I have been planning my next move since I first arrived here. Not satisfied with achieving my long-standing goal of living and working in Vietnam, I have been guilty of trying to put time limits on everything from the start. “How long will I stay here for?” “When should I think about booking a flight to X, Y or Z”, and so on. This is something I have longed to do for years and now that I was actually here, living it, doing it, I couldn’t help but always be looking forward to the next thing.

The way my brain works, I always feel like I have to be planning my next move. Working towards something else.

I did consider leaving Hanoi earlier and going to Australia to pursue my current career in TV. But as I had finally come to a decision to book my flight to leave in August, I started to doubt myself and all of a sudden I was overcome with love for this city. The air seemed clearer, the traffic less dangerous, the people more friendly and the beer suddenly colder.

It’s a bad habit I have, and a common one I’m sure, to always wonder if the grass will be greener.

I wonder... Is the grass greener over there?

I wonder… Is the grass greener over there?

After lots of thinking and planning, I decided that I would stay in Hanoi to work as a teacher, rather than applying for an Australian working visa. I’m glad that I made this decision as I think that leaving earlier would have been a mistake.

Working here as a teacher, it is more than feasible to work very part time hours and still make enough to money to survive on comfortably. In fact, 20 hours per week is considered to be a ‘full time’ role. I work about 10, and that is enough to survive on.

Being here has given me the time and freedom to do things that I always wanted to but never seemed to get round to doing at home. I was always too tired to go to the gym and could never find the time to do any writing. Since arriving in Hanoi, I have taken up dance classes, pilates and started writing on a daily basis.

Yet, rather than fully immerse myself in this lifestyle for the duration of my stay, I have spent a lot of my time thinking about ‘what’s next?’ I have never had so much freedom and, just as I prepare to leave, I have come to realise that I will probably never have it this easy again. So, my time in Hanoi is now coming to an end and while part of me wishes that I had been more decisive in the start and spent less time planning my next move, I am mainly just very excited about the travel plans that await me.

So, what is next?!

Well, the timing has worked out perfectly and next week I will fly from Hanoi to Hong Kong where I will meet one of my very best friends, at Hong Kong airport. Our flights land about 30 minutes apart and it’s going to be an emotional reunion. I’m talking movie montage style: slow motion, arms spread, running through the airport towards one another and throwing ourselves dramatically into a long-overdue embrace. At least that’s what I’m hoping for. Something along the lines of this:

No pressure.

Anyway, after spending a few days in Hong Kong, we have three and a half weeks to travel China. From there, Laura is going to Australia to work for six months and I will go to visit for four weeks and do some traveling. After this part of the journey is over, I return to Vietnam to say my final goodbyes before heading back to Scotland.

As much as I will be sad to close the page on this chapter, I am incredibly excited to start the next. I have always dreamed of visiting Hong Kong and I can’t wait to cuddle some pandas in Chengdu! To visit the Great Wall of China will be incredible and driving the Great Ocean Road in Australia is one to tick off my bucket list. The fact that I get to do it with one of my favourite people in the world is equally amazing.

It will be strange to be on the road with a new travel buddy. John, my boyfriend, is staying here to finish up working in Hanoi. We have spent practically every single day together this year and it will be interesting to travel with someone else. I just hope Laura can put up with my sleep talking, ridiculously bad sense of direction and embarrassingly low tolerance of local spirits.

What not so long ago, seemed like an endless year stretching out in front of me, is fast coming to an end. But before then there will be lots more to come on the China and Australia leg of the adventure. Watch this space.

If anyone has any recommendations or suggestions for traveling in China and/or Australia, I would love to hear them! Are there any places I shouldn’t miss?


5 Responses to “What’s Next? An Ongoing Question.”

  1. hcyip September 28, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

    Hello, it’s sad you’re leaving Vietnam (one less set of Vietnam blogposts on my reader, though I’ll still read your future stuff) but it’s good you’re moving on as well as traveling to China. How long were you in Hanoi?

    About China, there’re great places everywhere. Some worthy cities are Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Chengdu, Xian, and Qingdao. For scenery and nature, the provinces of Yunnan and Guanxi are great, as is Sichuan where you can also see the panda reserve, then there are beautiful and famous mountains like Huangshan in Anhui, Huashan in Shaanxi (only half an hour from Xian), or Taishan in Shandong. Feel free to check my blog, haha, but of course there are tons of good blogs and books out there.

    Travel China is a good site to use. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/cityguides/ – Scroll down to select provinces instead.

    • siobhanambersmith September 29, 2013 at 4:05 am #

      Thanks so much for the detailed response – I will definitely have a look at your recommendations! So excited. I will absolutely be checking your blog for some travel tips!

      Been living in Hanoi for about 7 months, and before that we traveled round Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and visited Malaysia. Very excited to travel again but I really will miss this place! The time has flown by! I will probably still post about Vietnam even after I’ve left, there’s so much to say about this country and I haven’t run out yet!

      Thanks again for the tips I’m off to have a read of your blog!


  2. Shelley October 16, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    Just stumbled upon your blog – glad to hear you’ll have some continuing adventures to write about! 🙂 In China, I’d definitely recommend Lijiang (for it’s old town) and Xi’an (for the terracotta warriors)…and of course, the Great Wall. We went to the Mutianyu section, and they have this great slide/luge type thing that you can descend on…

    Regarding your “what’s next? disease” 😉 I think a lot of people have trouble living out of the moment. It’s a curse of our modern age. Have you ever given thought to taking a vipassana meditation course? They are usually almost free, and you don’t have to be Buddhist to take in the lesson of staying in the present moment. It’s valuable for everyone, I think. We did it in Thailand and it was really really difficult, but we learned some great tools for living.

    • siobhanambersmith December 19, 2013 at 7:15 pm #

      Hi Shelley,

      Thank you so much for the comment! You are completely right with ‘what’s next?’ being a curse of the modern age. We are always looking for more! Vipassana meditation sounds really interesting – I will check that out, sounds like something that could help me relax!

      Have now been to China and I absolutely loved it. We went to the same section of the Great Wall as you and it was breathtaking. Very quiet as well which I didn’t expect! Xi’an was amazing as well. Did you eat at the Muslim Quarter? I think that was my favourite food in the whole of China!

      Thanks again for the comment and hope you continue to read the blog!


  3. Virginia December 23, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    I feel exactly the same about always looking to ‘what’s next’. I wish I could relax more and live in the moment, but I’m afflicted with the same curse! And I’ve never been to Australia but spent 6 weeks in China before travelling through Vietnam about 5 years ago. Yo’ll love Hong Kong (I’d happily move there for a year or so) and you should go to southwest China – Yunnan, up onto the Tibetan plateau. Slightly more unusual and stunning scenery!

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