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Will Peach: Teaching ESL in Vietnam and Travel in Southeast Asia

Will with his ESL class in a Saigon, Vietnam cafe.
Will with his ESL class in a Saigon, Vietnam cafe. Today we have a juicy tale from Will Peach! Will, tell us your background story.

Will: Hi! I’m Will Peach, a 25-year old Brit working as a site editor at Gap Daemon, a site that helps independent travellers plan, share and keep in contact with friends/family on their travels.

I spent two-years abroad teaching English in Vietnam and also spent shorter periods of time trying my hand at it in Russia and the United Kingdom. I think my experiences teaching abroad have helped me in many ways; I now know more about other cultures and destinations (invaluable for my job) and, possibly more importantly, I can engage with a room full of teenagers without messing my pants!

Will sizing up to the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia.
Will sizing up to the temples of Angkor Wat, Cambodia.

As well as teaching abroad I also spent a year studying at the University of Miami. Those days spent longboarding down Miami Beach? A very formative part of my studies I’ll have you know! 

TT: Great! Please tell us more about your travels.

W: At the end of my teaching contract in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, I planned a three-week long trip to Indonesia, a country that had interested me for a long time, where I set out from Java and travelled over into Bali.

Arriving in Jakarta, I spent a few days hitting the main sites and discovering the hustle and bustle of the Indonesian capital. I then took a train from Jakarta’s rammed national station up to the cultural hub of Jogjakarta where I hung out for a few days gawping at the street art and running from batik sellers at every turn… not to mention doing my best Indiana Jones impression at Borobudur!

From Jogjakarta I got the chance to have a go on the white-knuckle death ride that was sitting in an old transit van heading up to the spectacle that is Mount Bromo with its door wide open. I ended up in Bali and Kuta alive yet wishing otherwise. Most of my time here was spent desperately trying to escape projectile-vomiting Aussie teens by fleeing to nearby Seminyak beach. I did get to try surfing though. My ribs have never been the same since!

TT: Ha! How did you find this travel opportunity?

Hanging out with the local kids in Mui Ne, Vietnam.
Hanging out with the local kids in Mui Ne, Vietnam.

W: Many of the teachers I met in Vietnam had recommended Indonesia as a destination. During my time teaching I had already had the chance to travel to the surrounding countries (Cambodia, Laos and Thailand) and wanted to go somewhere a bit more far-flung.

A teaching colleague had recommended Jogjakarta and had shown me a few of their photos from the city, which I thought made the East London street-art scene look like a primary school art exhibition. Air Asia was pretty influential too. A flight to Jakarta from Saigon for $60 is pretty unbeatable if you ask me!

TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?

W: As many readers of this blog will know, the chance to save money teaching English in Southeast Asia is pretty darn good. After completing a year’s contract at ILA Vietnam (who I would highly recommend to any teachers looking for work in the country) I was paid a completion allowance which I then used to fund my travels (as well as the dreaded airfare back home).

Squinting in the bright sun on Kuta Beach, with ruined ribs!
Squinting in the bright sun on Kuta Beach, with ruined ribs!

TT: Yum… money! Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly powerful.

W: Aside from travelling through Indonesia, one of the most memorable travel experiences I had was in Cambodia. As my birthday (unfortunate or fortunate depending on how you see it) falls on December 20th I decided to spend my 23rd and the subsequent Christmas travelling and checking out the sights of this amazing country.

Spending Christmas Day chilling out in Siem Reap eating Christmas dinner at an Irish pub and then heading to scale the great crumbling temples of Angkor Wat was different than your usual stay-at-home-in-front-of-the-TV experience of Christmas in the UK. Watching the sun drop down behind the temples at the end of the day was otherworldly. I can only look back now and think: why on earth did I ever come back?

TT: How have your travels impacted you as a teacher, and in your current career?

W: As a teacher, travel broadened my understanding of Asian culture and helped me to better understand my students and their histories. Travel also brought a sense of confidence and self-assurance that I could tackle any situation (whether classroom orientated or not).

In my role as a site editor, both experiences are highly invaluable. I spend most of my time writing about travel destinations from a budget perspective and offering advice on how to get into teaching English abroad. Without teaching and travelling I simply couldn’t do this job!

Sending a poscard in Ho Chi Minh City's famous post office.
Sending a poscard in Ho Chi Minh City’s famous post office.

TT: Fantastic. How have your travels impacted you as a person?

W: If I look back on my 18-year-old self fresh at university, culturally ignorant and relatively shy, the change compared to now is massive! Travel has had a massive impact on my own sense of self, it’s made me more outgoing, more willing to try new things, more interested in the world and everything around me and, most importantly, given me a sense of wanderlust and curiosity that drives me to keep pushing and discovering more about myself. I appreciate Asian food more now also!

TT: Burp! What advice do you have for other teachers who are dreaming of travel?

W: I’d say that there really is nothing to fear, and that you are in control. Teaching is a great profession to twin with travel: it’s flexible, high-in-demand and pays relatively well. The best reward of teaching abroad however is that you will learn far more than you will teach!

Will looking very cool at Borobodor.
Will looking very cool at Borobodor.

I’d also recommend DavesESL Café as a great place for practical advice (as well as finding jobs) as well as

TT: Will, thanks so much for this interview. You’re a peach! :)

Readers, what questions or comments do you have for Will Peach?


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Dan Dumitrache

Monday 23rd of July 2012

It looks like teaching English in Asia is a joke. Teach a little bit, get money then travel. The reality is not like that!

Lillie of

Monday 23rd of July 2012

Dan, thanks for you comment. Could you share more about your experience?

Iftitah Ika Kusumawardani

Tuesday 14th of June 2011

You are very welcome to come to Indonesia. :D

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