Matt Forney
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To Travel Hopelessly: A TEFL Memoir by English Teacher X

to-travel-hopelesslyThis is a brief but hilarious collection of travel stories, detailing how English Teacher X actually became English Teacher X; he had been backpacking around the world and didn’t want to go home. Starting from his early days in Bangkok, ETX’s strange career takes him to Seoul to New York City back to Thailand, and then to Prague and Russia, dropping acid, fucking girls and encountering a bizarre menagerie of degenerates and washouts:

One teacher said English Teacher D had come to the door one night staggering and slurring and asked, “Have you got a knife? The thinner and sharper the better.”

Figuring English Teacher D intended to kill himself or someone else, the teacher declined, but found out later English Teacher D had just locked himself out and wanted to jimmy the lock. He woke up most of his neighbors asking for a knife.

I think I can safely say it was a bit unnerving, having this strange wasted little troll of a man show up at your door asking for a sharp knife.

My biggest criticism of To Travel Hopelessly is that it largely lacks an underlying narrative structure. The stories are organized in chronological order, but there’s nothing beyond that, making the book feel like a series of vaguely related short stories instead of an organized, cohesive work. While the new edition (released in June 2012) has a much improved ending and some additional chapters (I initially wrote this review after reading the original edition), the book might have been slightly improved had ETX ended it with his adventures in Prague and saving the Russia section for his Vodkaberg memoir:

Here I discovered that there were indeed a few Korean girls who wanted to remain virgins. She would not permit anything “below the waist” to happen. “Hajima!” (Enough!) she gasped as I repeatedly tried to get my hand into her jeans. Finally, I just took my cock out and jacked off, which she encouraged.

Afterwards she avoided me and refused to speak to me beyond polite greetings.

Nonetheless, if you’re into sick, graphic tales of overseas debauchery, To Travel Hopelessly is a good read.

Click here to buy To Travel Hopelessly.

Read Next: Guide to Teaching English Abroad by English Teacher X

  • I got his other book you reviewed a few days ago, I’ve been contemplating a TEFL course.