Monday, 5 September 2022

ER2@48 - pulling the trigger.

Starter

September 2022 and I've only written two entries this year. Shocking. Saigon literally extracts the creativity from your soul. Meanwhile, I'm stunned to see the hit count approaching 500,000 ... quite something considering this blog is essentially the aimless ramblings of an eccentric loon.

I'm currently sat in Kampot reflecting on two dates:

Mon 3rd Sept 2007 (age 33)
Mon 5th Sept 2022 (age 48)

Significance? The first one was my first ever day teaching .... English in Taipei. The second was my last ever day teaching .... A-Level Physics in Saigon. Exactly 15 years.

15 years? Teaching? Ughh.

From Tefl-Tard to Seasoned-Imposter. 15 years of clapping-seal performances for rich Asian kids. From the tots of Taiwan to the scientists of Saigon. Full-time salaries from a paltry $800 to a whopping $4,600 - what a journey it's been. Taiwan, Thailand, China, Cambodia and finally Vietnam. However, it's time to hang up the fake QTS. No more conjugating verbs, integrating trig functions or deriving capacitor discharge equations. No Sir. No more pretending to know what holistic scaffolding means.

Coincidentally, both gigs were PDRs. WTF is a PDR? I hear you cry. Well, it's a Pay Day Runner - a shit-show evasion strategy often deployed by disgruntled teachers in the Asian-Ed-Biz. Back in Taipei I PDR-ed to move in with the then gf who happened to live 300km away - perfectly reasonable for a 33yo horndog. Here she is today - 
15 years later - still looking mighty fine at 42. Wow. (Not the one in the hat - duh).

Mmmmmmm memories.

The latest PDR was to simply escape Saigon and its EFI-ness - Every Fucking Inch. Sadly, no hot chicks this time - not for this teetotal celibate monk. No Sir.

This 25 month job was my second longest employment after the Royal Navy (10yrs). It was simply an oilrig cash stacking exercise. There really is no other reason to endure Saigon. I barely felt human there - like a mechanical fitting - no love lost. The whole enterprise reminds me of those massive combine harvesters in the USA - slashing and cutting all in their path with devastating consequences for a bird's nest or beehive. Industrial scale babysitting.

A peripheral outcome was the commencement of ER2@48. Early Retirement mkII. ER1@39 was a spectacular failure due to a 100% loss of retirement funds ($250k) explained ad nauseam back in 2014For ER2@48 to fvck up would require both the S&P500 (America's stock market) and Bitcoin to implode. Surely that can't happen? Can it? Eggs ... something .... basket.

Differentiated Activity

Two more dates:

May 2015
Sep 2022

Significance? Well, after losing everything in 2014 I (reluctantly) resumed full time teaching in May 2015. 88 months later (7y4m) I've collected 73 paychecks (6y1m) and taken 15 months (1y3m) off.

Essentially, what I'm saying, is that starting from $0 and working only as a dipshit teacher in Asia, I've managed to save enough in 7 years to retire again. Even with a year off! However, it cost my 40s - which should've been spent chilling in Chiang Mai. Despite this I'm pleased to have achieved what I deemed to be impossible in 2015.

Academically Ready

Obviously, I'll not be living a lavish lifestyle, however, I'll own my time. Let me rephrase that: my time belongs to me and if I decide to sell it - it's on my terms. No thumbing in. No full time wage slavery. Being sovereign trumps everything. A humble life of minimalism is a fair price.

What will you do? Continue learning how to read basic Khmer as well as studying ECON101-Microeconomics at www.saylor.org, a free online University established by Michael Saylor - an inspirational figure over the last few years. I'll cycle around aimlessly, write more, go to the gym, eat out and spend a lot of time staring at a lotus pond. Sabai.

21st Century Skills

What will you not be doing? Worrying about thumbing in, predicting grades, pointless administrative requirements, noise, lesson observations, a windowless office and an EFI canteen. I will not be forced to associate with uncharismatic drones. 
I will not be listening to traffic, horns and angle grinders while gazing impotently at an endless expanse of concrete. I won't be subjected to the latest round of edu-babble - a perpetual churn of misery for teachers - parroted by forgettable NPQH management clones keen to be the top crab in their bucket - all the while teaching zero periods. Do as I say - not as I do.

Scaffolding

A nice segue into something that has irked me tremendously over the years - namely: the inverse relationship between "claimed passion for teaching" and "number of periods taught". In Physics we'd represent this relationship mathematically as: y = k/x (with k being the constant of pedagogical proportionality). For visual learners:

The most egregious example of this phenomenon was a slack-jawed Head in Hat Yai who'd dish out copious amounts of Butlins activities over and above the timetabled lessons while he played Angry Birds on his dog-n-bone all day. An expert at delegating. Anyway, not my circus not my monkeys. Good riddance to industrial babysitting.

Holistic Passion

It was with unbridled glee that I slipped anchor from Saigon. Demolished a Whopper at Phnom Penh airport in a state of euphoria. Wondering how long the bonus they'd just paid would last? (Bonus? Aye - for my students' outstanding grades in the school's inaugural A-Level exams). About 5 months I reckon. Happy days.


It's not all rosy. I left a few good mates in my wake. Andy in particular will leave a huge hole - his humour sorely missed. And the faithful Mary. That bike got me to work everyday for two years. $25 for 25 months ain't too shabby. I was frequently knocked off it on Saigon's lawless highways to hell.

Hinged Question

Alas, it was time for Geordie to go AWOL - leaving the worker drones behind to do their thing. Many of them unwittingly swapping the mundanity of UK life for the same-same ... but with noodles. Daily 9hr grinds in a soulless building located in an equally featureless vast concrete dystopia. Watching your life waste away. 
Reminded me of working for Pfizer. Or the beginning of Trainspotting. Was never my bag. Head down. Stack cash. GTFO. Choose life.


At the minivan station a young Khmer mother dumped her 1yo son on my knee as she popped to the shops. Took to me like a duck to water. That right there is the night-and-day difference between Cambodia and Vietnam. Felt great to be back. Note to self - haircut.



Then it was back to the old $70 room and cups of Nescafe on the balcony looking across to Bokor. FEBs at Rusty's and Steak Pies at Jim & Lily's. A million miles from the BS of Saigon. Bliss.

















It was here I read a book written by Joseph - a lad I hung around with in Chiang Mai before he left in 2016. I devoured it in one sitting. It covers his experiences of growing up in Australia, living as a monk in Japan and other adventures in Asia. Filtered through a Zen lens. It certainly had me questioning my world view again - as I often did drinking beer with him back in the day.  Here's the amazon link: re-membering: the heart of direct experience. Well worth $5.

Plenary

Anything else to add? Not really. Another chapter closed on this 16+ year Asian adventure. How to sum up two years in Saigon? I think "lucrative - but at a cost" encapsulates it quite well. Hopefully the next chapter will be more pleasant - I have a feeling it will be.

PS

TGPR - Thumb Grind Pod Repeat.
Competence is ALWAYS punished in education.
If you win the rat race - you're still a rat.
Some birds aren't meant to be caged.
ជួបគ្នាគ្ថ្ងៃស្អែក - joop knea thngai sa ai - see you tomorrow.

8 comments:

  1. Congrats and very well earned! This was satisfying to read, been waiting for this one since the dark days of '14..

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  2. Fabulous news matey!! So happy for ya! Will it be Kampot for the long-term? Cheers.

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  3. Didn't know you were such a poetic writer, lovely stuff. I'll offer you an ESL the moment I open my own school - Luke

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    1. Thanks man. 16 years of waffle here lad. Sadly, I won't be in a position to accept your gracious offer as I'm already the Head of Academics at New York English (where Education Never Sleeps).

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  4. Looking forward to more frequent posts, please publish 1-2 times a month!

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  5. So you were in Vietnam now you're in Cambodia? - Will

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