Travel is so much more than seeing the sights. It's about the adventure! The experiences you have and the friends you make you make along the way. For Global Traveller Jordan H. making one of these friends was an experience in on his Teach in Vietnam trip.

I have always had a great love of fruit; bananas, mangos, oranges, apples, pears, peaches, you name it! This has led me to become a frequent morning customer of the smoothie and juice stall located outside of the hotel that I am staying at. One of my other great loves is immersing myself into new cultures and trying to learn new languages and social customs by interacting and conversing with local people.

My favourite smoothie and juice stall

There are four people that work at the fruit store. The first is an older lady who doesn’t say much, but is masterful when it comes to blending fruit. Then there is a small, but tough-looking man of about the same age, who is usually found making coffee (they sell that too) or chopping up fruit with his knife on the concrete stump situated next to the fruit stall. The man is also quiet, and he too doesn’t say much. The third worker is a woman in her mid to late twenties, who smiles a lot and always seems to be in good spirits, but she doesn’t say much either.

The final frequent worker of the fruit stall is a woman in her late thirties, to whom my love of culture and new experience has led me to grow a rather strange, but incredibly memorable relationship with. Her name is Mon.

Mon and I 

It began when I started ordering my smoothies in Vietnamese, or so I thought...

I would speak words and make sounds that, in my mind, translated to “can I have a pineapple and mango smoothie please”, but I would always end up drinking some form of red or green juice. This was tasty, but certainly not a pineapple and mango smoothie.

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I would continue to drink different mystery juices day after day, with no sign of the pineapple and mango smoothie that I so desperately craved. That was until Mon began to help. Every day, she would chuckle at my poor pronunciation and sloppy ordering skills, delighted that I was making an effort to learn her language, but understanding that I still could not successfully order what I wanted.

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Mon began to test me, pointing to a different fruit every day in order to challenge my knowledge. “Trái khóm” she would say, before moving onto “dâu” and then “đu đủ.” Eventually I began to remember the names of each fruit, and ordering my morning smoothie became easier and easier.

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Mon began to ask me for the English names of each fruit. “Mango” I would say, slowly and clearly. “Apple, carrot, tomato” I would explain, teaching her the names not only of the fruit on her stall, but of the vegetables too. “Motamo” Mon said, struggling with the word ‘tomato’. “To-ma-to” I would say, taking extra care to keep the syllables clear and broken up. “To-ma-to” repeated Mon. She was learning, and so was I. What an amazing feeling!

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Before long, Mon and I began to chat more and more, me trying to use as much of my broken Vietnamese as possible and Mon trying to use as much English as she could recall. Every so often she would treat me to a free glass of iced tea and show me photos of her Australian boyfriend, Charlie. I would tell her that I was from England and that I was here to work as a teacher. Yesterday, I was walking along the street alone on the way to a local coffee shop, looking around and enjoying the sounds of the motorbikes whizzing past. Suddenly, a bicycle passed by to my right. “Hello!” It was Mon. “Pineapple, mango, strawberry, apple!” she exclaimed as she rode past joyfully, with a huge smile on her face. “Hẹn gặp lại. See you later.”

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Our relationship becomes stronger every day, and I am thankful for this simple friendship that I have made. It is this kind of connection that continues to inspire me and reminds me of my purpose when I set out to live in other countries and explore different cultures and ways of life.

I am hopeful that I will continue to meet more beautiful people in beautiful parts of the world that continue to restore my faith in life and humanity, and I am hopeful that my stories of love, life and laughter can inspire others to see the true beauty of the world that we live in.

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If you would like to keep up to date with my life in Vietnam, or to chat about teaching abroad and life in Asia, please follow my Instagram account (mentioned below). I also host a podcast and write short stories, with many references to what it’s like living in Vietnam (also mentioned below). Finally, if you are interested in starting your adventure with Global Work and Travel, please follow my link below.

Podcast & Short Stories - www.flow.page/jordanharkin

Instagram - @jordanharkin97

Email - jordanharkin97@hotmail.com

If you want to start your Vietnamese adventure and have incredible experiences like Jordan, get started below!