Investing in Australia’s property market.

Having been to a place like China, I was amazed at the number of empty buildings and “ghost cities”. My amazement was further climaxed with the news from one of our local Chinese friends who informed us that anyone who buys property in China can only lease the property for 75 years. Afterwards, the land and property goes back to the government.

Initially, that was quite confusing for me as I grew up in a place like Australia. Australia, a beautiful country, a place where you can buy land and it will be forever yours. See, it’s not just the idea of keeping land forever in your name, but in Australia we have the general notion that the value of Real Estate, whether it is land or property that it should “double in value every 10 years”. This is what Australians consider solid “Capital Growth” where we are enjoying both the increase in value of the property and we can also be enjoying higher returns by renting out the property.

If you’re a smart investor, you know where to look, what to buy and when to buy it. Growing your wealth anywhere from 10-20% per year is a common experience.

Now, you might start thinking “well that’s great news if you’re Australian!”. Actually, I would say that Australia is quite “open” to people wanting to invest in the property market in Australia.

In fact, investing in Australia has other benefits like the potential of becoming an Australian citizen. You heard me right, at this moment in time the Australian government is offering an investment visa to people willing to invest $1.5 million Australian dollars (or 7.25 million RMB at this point in time) over four years. It is my understanding that people under this visa  would be eligible to become an Australian citizen after 4 years, having this kind of arrangement can be ideal especially for Chinese parents and families who want to send their kids to prestigious schools and universities in Australia. Even though this opportunity is out there for everyone, I see this as an extra convenient arrangement for Chinese parents who want to invest their money for their kids and grand kids allowing them to have a bright future.

Sources:

https://www.border.gov.au/Trav/Visa-1/891-

http://emergingmarkets.me/guest-article-chinas-aggressive-hunt-overseas-property-yuan-goes/

Conveniences of Thailand! (What is Thailand like?)

Let’s get straight to the point.

Are you 18+ and you can’t do your bed / cook your own food / wash your own clothes without your mother holding your hand? No Worries! Are you looking for a place to travel to but have little to very little money? No Worries! The answer is here and it’s called “Thailand”!!!

What is Thailand like?

I might be exaggerating a tad, but the reality is, Thailand is so darn cheap to live anyone can potentially come here, start working at a job (most jobs are for teaching English but there are other jobs out there) and before you know it, you’re eating like a local, you’re dressed like a local and you become a local. There are so many people from all around the world here in Thailand (especially in Chiang Mai) that sometimes I wonder if I bump into more foreigners than Thai locals while walking along the street.

Ok, I know what you’re thinking “I’m not a tourist, I don’t want to be a tourist, I can’t afford to be a tourist”. Again, let me emphasize, there’s a very big population here in Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand) where expats from all over the world have come here, fell in love with this place and decided to make this place their new home.

So my advice to you is, do some research (shameless plug of our YouTube channel here: A Pair of Nomads (APoN)) and don’t get discouraged. Find the resources to get over here and before you know it, you’ll be living independently and having a very chill lifestyle.

The cost of living.

As I said earlier, Thailand makes living independently SUPER EASY! As I am writing this post, me and Leshanta have rented a serviced apartment close to our school. We paid 6000 Baht for our room for the month (electricity is extra, and it can vary 0-1500 baht per month depending on usage). Now, if you came here and decided to live here on a long term basis, it wouldn’t be difficult to find a long term lease that would be cheaper and of better quality at the same time. Meanwhile, we do enjoy getting our room serviced for 100 Baht, getting our clothes washed and ironed for 5 Baht a piece (why bother washing your own clothes when it’s so cheap). So what’s left? You can’t cook? Oh well… such is life, you’ll have to starve to death. 555555!!! (Thai joke, you’ll get it once you get here) The fact is, there’s so much access to delicious food no matter where you are in Thailand, you’ll need strict self-discipline if you don’t want your waistline multiplying. For those of you who love your fresh fruits and veggies have a look at this!
This is what Thailand is like!Now some of you might be thinking, it’s just avocados (just like Leshanta), but none of you get it. I grew up in Australia, where avocados are so expensive that they are sold individually. So, as much as I loved eating them when I had the chance to, the chances were few and far in between due to their cost. But now, here in Chiang Mai I found them at 50 Baht per Kilo!!! That’s a little less than 1.5 USD a kilo (the lady who sold it to me gave me more than a kilo, more like 1.5 kilos for the same price) and there’s so much more of the fruits and veggies that would cost an arm and a leg back home.

Anywhos… Chiang Mai is a cool, laid back place that doesn’t make me want to go anywhere else. But, we must travel as much of the world as possible so that you and our friends can find out about all these different awesome places to live and travel to.

Final words of advice, don’t be afraid to take small risks. Pack yourself a bag and hit the road. Life is so much better when you are making your own decisions and stepping up to the consequences and feeling the pride of your achievements. You only live once, so go out there and LIVE!

How to find a job in China

how to find a job in china

China

A country, an idea, a dream come true, an exercise in patience. People who visit China for a short term rarely have the opportunities to really experience the incredible and many times, unbelievable, things that will happen to you while living here. Those that want to come live here very rarely have any clue as to what to expect or how to navigate their way to better jobs, apartments and places to buy the things they need. In this post I’ll look at how a person wishing to come to China to find work as a teacher can secure a decent job via the worldwide web.

How to find a job in China:

Step 1. Sign up to a few major job search websites.

Websites like the famous Dave’s Esl cafe, Serious Teachers and (my personal favorite) EChinacities are the starting place for all teachers who want to work as foreign teachers in China. Ensure that your CV is up to date and well formatted, and documents such as your degree certificate and/or any other relevant certificates are scanned and clearly visible when you open them on your device. Go to the above websites and create accounts, upload your documents and begin sending applications to all the jobs you want. They are free to register with and use and their databases are huge as schools in China are very well aware of them and use them as a main source of finding their foreign teachers. Cover letters are a nice touch so if you see a job that looks like the right one for you be sure to write one going into some detail as to why you’d be the best teacher for the job.

Step 2. Ask all the questions.

Seriously. Ask the person that contacts you about doing an interview everything you can. Questions like what salary range is being offered for the position, if the figures quoted are before or after tax (that actually makes a huge difference in numbers, I’m talking thousands of RMB worth of difference here), if there’ll be any extra duties or if you’ll be required to work on weekends or evenings. Things like how many sick days you’ll be getting and whether your insurance is paid for or not. Also, most importantly, ask about their disciplinary policies for teachers – deductions from your salary for punctuality/behavior/not turning in lesson plans on time? Ask about airfare reimbursement and housing allowance. Be extremely careful if they make a salary offer at the beginning of your talks and change it after a few days because you don’t have some special qualification or the other – that’s just untrustworthy and a real red flag that the school can actually afford to pay you way more than what they’re offering but being stingy to funnel the money meant for foreign teachers elsewhere (yes, that is a personal experience I witnessed and went through myself!).

3. Read and re-read the contract they send to you.

And do not agree to sign until you confirm that they can fully provide you with a Z working visa and something called an FEC (Foreign Expert Certificate) or an Alien Employment Certificate. Schools that are registered as such in China will provide teachers with FECs but places like language training centers and places designed for after-school lessons can’t hire ‘teachers’, only employ ‘trainers’ so their documentation requirements are slightly different. Furthermore, after you sign a contract no changes should be made to it. no adjustment of any pages, policies – nothing. I have heard stories of contracts being altered in front of the people who signed them. That is illegal, do not let anyone tamper with your contract.

Notes on recruiters

Once you sign up on one of the websites and keep applying for jobs, it won’t be long until you have recruiters calling you every minute to set up interviews. Always stand your ground and insist on what you want – they need you more than you need them. Teachers are much more in demand and much less available in China than other Asian countries. My partner Mustafa highlights some of the struggles he faces with recruiters on our current job hunt for positions in China in the video below.

When you are hired

Remember that you will not have your passport for a couple of weeks after you arrive, that’s how long it takes for the PSB in China to get your FEC. So, don’t book anything too far in advance or anything that you can’t cancel easily! Also, there will be an adjustment period that could be potentially difficult – give yourself at least two months before making any decisions as to whether you want to stay at that job or find another. With that in mind, don’t stop searching and applying to jobs until those initial two months are over. Most likely those two months will be a probationary period as stated in your contract and you could leave (or be fired!) with very little to no negative consequences for both yourself and the school.

In all, that’s a little bit from me and Mustafa on finding jobs in China. More posts on this topic will grace this website soon, if you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them in the comments section below and we’ll get back to you, pronto! Good luck!

i-Sanook hotel, tucked away and beautiful.

Our stay at this hotel was so comfortable that I had to do a mini-post about it.

i-Sanook Hotel

Located close to the Silom area, i-Sanook Hotel is a visually appealing, modern hotel. The rooms are moderately large by Thai standards and include en suite toilet and showers, a mini fridge, safe, tv with cable channels, desk and chair and a sofa with a table.

The rooms also have large glass windows with black out drapes. Lots of light but only when you want it.

iSanook Room

There is a nice pool which isn’t very deep and to be honest we were so busy exploring the alleyways around the hotel we didn’t even go swimming. There’s also a jacuzzi, which we also didn’t go to but we did hear from other guests that it was a great, relaxing experience.

We had one meal at the rooftop restaurant, which was lovely for the experience but because of all the great, cheap street food and small restaurants all around the hotel we didn’t have a second meal there.

The staff were all very nice and it was, overall, one of the best places we stayed at in Bangkok.

i-Sanook Hotel Map:

TEFL – Is it the right course for you?

On May 23rd, 2016, Mustafa and I began our TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course here in Chiang Mai. Even before we’d started we knew that we’d made the right choice and by the end of the first day we were feeling positive, welcome and absolutely enthused about the next couple of weeks.

Originally, we’d considered doing a CELTA course in Bangkok. However, due to the very strict demands of the application process as well as the stressful nature of the course (or so it was presented to us), we eventually decided to look at other options.

Why would we have wanted to do a CELTA or even a TEFL course, when we had already been teaching for years, you might ask? Well, as much experience as we both have, we both know that our teaching methods can be improved. Furthermore, having a certificate of being a trained ESL teacher is invaluable, especially in South East Asia and even more so in China.

So, there we were at our lovely hotel in Bangkok, scouring the internet for TEFL schools with excellent reputations, comparable course structure and accredited by some sort of educational authority when we hit gold. We’d found the SEE TEFL website. With very little time to lose I gave the director, Mr. John Quinn, a quick phone call to find out some more information. Imagine my surprise when the director not only responded very quickly to my call but was very accommodating and genuinely patient with all my questions. It was a rare and extremely heartening experience to be treated so kindly by the director of a school. With such a warm reception, Mustafa and I made up our minds and within a few days put down our deposit for the very next course start date.

However, our experience is, of course, unique. If you are unsure whether or not you want to fly to Thailand to do either a CELTA or a TEFL course I have prepared a few questions you can ask yourself to help you decide.

  1. Are you a little (or a lot) unsure about the technical, i.e. grammar rules, phonetics and phonology, aspects of the English language?
  2. Are you a person that wants to work in an environment that will teach you how to create a learning environment that is genuine and supportive?
  3. Do you feel like you would need a little more guidance or support in terms of learning, receiving constructive assistance and finding a job after your course is completed?

Now, if your answers to these questions are strong maybes or yeses then doing the SEE (Siam Educational Experience) TEFL  course would be your best choice. I say it unashamedly because, after researching many other TEFL courses available, this one stood out in terms of support, clarity and results. Also, if your answers to the above questions are yes then a CELTA may be a bit daunting and time/energy consuming.

As a further bonus, if you decide up to 45 days in advance that you want to do this course SEE offers a $200 USD discount. In Chiang Mai that extra cash can cover up to ten days’ worth of living expenses, on a moderate (travel, food and accommodation) budget.

Is a CELTA worth more than a TEFL you might ask? Not anymore. The TEFL course offered at SEE is, impressively (and very usefully for trainees hoping to work in Thailand with a work permit after the course), backed by a license from the Thai Ministry of Education. Not only that, it is internationally certified by the global leader in conformity and assessment services, the Bureau Veritas, and accredited by the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. If that’s not a nice chewy mouthful for future employers, then I don’t know what is!

To wrap things up, I am extremely happy that I chose to do the TEFL course with SEE. It’s more than just an academic course, there are Thai language and culture lessons and the pace of the course suits me and my partner just fine. There are many positive reviews online and I encourage you to do a bit of research so that you can see that my blog is not a one-off.

You can take a look at this exclusive interview with the director of SEE, Mr. John Quinn, wherein he answers many more questions about TEFL, Thailand and the ESL world of work. He gives us deeper insight into some of the course content as well as the kinds of people who have taken this course before (the oldest they’ve had was 70 years old!) and what type of person is really appropriate for the course (non-native English speakers and persons without bachelor’s degrees have been successful at gaining employment after the course!).

Also, if you have decided to make the leap and come to Chiang Mai to do this wonderful course then I encourage you to hit the link below and sign up, now. Remember, if you sign up early you can get as much as $200 discounted off your fee. Good luck and have fun.

Go to the SEE TEFL website, now!

Bangkok, Ao Nang and Koh Lanta food experiences

To keep the ball rolling on the topic of food I decided to do a quick comparitive review of a few of best (and worst, maybe?) dishes that we’d had since arriving to Thailand.

Garlic Chicken, super spicy Panang curry with rice and a delicious papaya salad! Nom Nom Nomm!!
Garlic Chicken, super spicy Panang curry with rice and a delicious papaya salad! Nom Nom Nomm!!

Despite my paranoia about consuming too much MSG, I must admit that the food here is actually quite tasty. The salads are a great balance between healthy eating and excellent taste. Also, all of the street-foods are incredibly delicious and cheap.

Our first meal was a little bit of a miss for me. We had some quick soupy like noodles at an open-air street-food stall/sit down restaurant outside a seven eleven in Bangkok. The ingredients are still a little bit of a mystery to me but I believe I had a type of fishball soup whereas Mustafa had a chicken or other meat version. The soup broth was a clear pinkish colour and was a little on the sweet side.

Tom Yummm Kung!!
Tom Yummm Kung!!

Our second meal was much more interesting as we’d found a place to serve us some Tom Yum Kung, it was better than I’d expected.

The next most memorable thing we had was the famous mango sticky rice. This was something I’d never tried previously. Warm sticky rice topped with sweet condensed milk and crispy puffed grains of some sort all accompanied by two delicious, ripe mangoes.

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Divine! Sticky mango rice!

After busy and bustling Bangkok, Ao Nang was a wonderful surprise, less busy but not quiet. It was there we found a most interesting salt grilled fish, pictured below.

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Salt grilled fish. Tasty and fun to eat! 😉

Then we went on to find more culinary adventures in Koh Lanta. We found two remarkable dishes – a seafood salad called “Spicy Mama Salad” and some excellent garlic chicken and Panang curry (first picture in this post).

 "Instant noodles, tons of shrimp and squid and other seafood goodness....and a whole lotta spice!"
Spicy Mama Salad: “Instant noodles, tons of shrimp and squid and other seafood goodness….and a whole lotta spice!”

After all our wonderful food experiences in these places we came to Chiang Mai…and the foods we found here will be showcased in even greater detail in an upcoming update so get ready to feast your eyes as we feast our souls and tummys!! ;P

 

Three vegetarian restaurants in Chiang Mai

Pumpkin curry and Pad Thai like we never had before! Yummy!!
Pumpkin curry and Pad Thai like we never had before! Yummy!!

This one is for all the vegetarians, vegans and generally health-conscious folks that are new to or will be new to Chiang Mai.

Personally, as a person who once struggled to find good vegetarian places to eat at, I know that having an easy list of a few good places is invaluable. Hence my golden Chiang Mai selections:

1. Morning Glory: named after the glorious Thai dish, this restaurant offers not only delicious Thai meals but cooking classes so you can take the goodness with you wherever you go. Check them out on Prapokklao road:

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2. Anchan Vegetarian:  This lovely place offers some great smoothies as well that are not only delicious but healthy and filling. Have a bite here:

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3. Bamboo Bee: My personal favourite, their Pad Thai and Pumkin curry are top notch. Have a bite, here:

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If you have any recommendations for places offering good vegetarian food in Chiang Mai, please post it as a comment below!

 

That white stuff

It is everywhere. In packets at seven eleven, in cups and dispensers at restaurants, in all the food, in all the soup broths, – just everywhere.

At first I thought it was sugar, as it certainly didn’t taste like salt! It wasn’t sweet either, but I thought maybe it was a very weak, highly processed sugar, or some bland spice. I couldn’t figure it out because my mind did not want to accept the horibble truth.

It was our first day in Thailand, we’d just gotten off the train from the airport to the downtown and were looking for something to eat. We’d found a noodle place outside a seven eleven and decided the prices looked good and the patrons there seemed to be enjoying their good-sized portions of food. We each ordered a different, unpronounceable dish off the menu and sat down to wait for our food.

Whilst waiting I took note of all the different sauces and spices one could add to their dish. There was dry powdered red chili, a clear liquid with green chilis, soy sauce, what looked like fish sauce and a white crystal-like substance in a cup which I couldn’t identify.

I tasted it and so did Mustafa but we were still clueless as to what it was. I looked around at the other people eating their food and saw one guy putting great heaping tablespoonfuls of the stuff into his noodles. He clearly loved it. Whatever it was.

Fast forward to nearly three and a half weeks later. I had, by this time, just started taking the white crystal stuff at every restaurant for granted. It was night time, around 7pm. We had just eaten dinner with our new classmates and had decided to grab a few things from seven eleven for breakfast. We were looking for salt and I saw a packet on one of the shelves but neither Mustafa nor I could determine if it was salt or that mystery substance. So we asked one of the helpful staff. It wasn’t salt.

It was MSG. Monosodium glutamate. The entire country uses it in almost every dish. Not only is it already in the food but it’s put as a flavor additive on the table for you, I’d you think your food isn’t tasty enough you can simply trick your brain by adding more msg.

 

Thoughts on the ideal job.

Relaxing at the hotel's pool after a long day of exploration and research.
Relaxing at the hotel’s pool after a long day of exploration and research.

Koh Lanta – It’s been a long day of island exploration, food and drink experiences and supplying/scouring the internet for articles, Instagram photos and YouTube videos. I’m laying on a deck chair, poolside, fanning away a mosquito and admiring the colors of the sunset sky.

Even while enjoying the peace and quiet of Thailand in the low season my new ‘work’ never stops. Writing about social issues, personal experiences, and journalling our travels are all things I can do from anywhere so long as my battery is charged and I can find good internet.

However, this type of work, nomadic blogging or freelance journalism, is not the fairytale you might imagine it to be. Whilst the most obvious perk is that one gets to travel to some amazing places and meet some incredible people, there is a less talked about, less ‘wow’, side to it all.

Earlier today I read an article that took a look at how some young adults were treating the concept of using the internet as their workplace. There was a romantic feel to the article, hinting at an exciting life of travel with no end, having a job that gave you the freedom to do it from anywhere in the world…so long as you had a good wifi connection.

The trade, from what I’ve seen, is that one gives up certain comforts or aspirations to pursue, for an indefinite time, the fulfilment of a dream, i.e., traveling the world. Or at least traveling South-East Asia, more specifically, Thailand.

Thailand is one of the best places to lead a budget life and work online. All the basic necessities and then some are a great deal cheaper than most everywhere else. One can easily find free wifi in coffee shops as well.

The drawback to this ideal picture is the reality that many writing jobs can’t fully support any kind of comfortable, financially secure, lifestyle. There’s not a lot of high paying online writing jobs, not when someone in India can do it for a fraction of what you’d get paid. Sooner or later a person runs the risk of running out of the savings they brought with them.
Not only can a person run out of funds but the life led up to that point is normally one of strict budgeting, toting heavy backpacks from one hostel to another, watching in frustrated amazement as tourists get scammed incredible amounts of bhat by tuk tuk drivers and tour agencies.

So what happens when a person whose workplace is online runs out of money? Well, that’s truly up to that person. Common stories normally see these people becoming ESL teachers or flying back to their home countries to find whatever support they can from immediate family.

Despite the grim picture I’ve attempted to paint, the allure of traveling can never be diminished by the possible threat of bankruptcy. Dreamers, writers, nomads and those who are all three at once always find a way, even if we struggle  along some parts of the journey.

Our views on cheating.

Hi everyone, Leshanta here with a reflection/recap of the podcast you just listened to.  So, what is cheating? Mustafa and I came up with a few points as to what we thought constituted cheating. In the podcast we both debate the finer details and grey areas as to what cheating looks like. However, I think the main point we agreed on was that engaging in sexual intercourse with a person who is not your partner without your partner’s knowledge or consent is, as a crude, bare bones way of putting it, cheating.

We also took a look at why men and women cheat. A tricky topic with no clear answer, our insight was that cheating normally takes place when there is a breakdown in the communication between the partners in the relationship.  We also looked at how difficult it is for someone in a relationship to admit to their partner that they might have feelings of attraction to someone else  – society trains us to believe that once you are in a relationship your desire for other people disappears. This one person is now all you are allowed to see, to feel lust for and develop emotional connections with. Is this reality institutionalized or not? And if so, for what purpose?

We round off our discussion with a very sensitive question – “Is cheating wrong?” Personally, I still feel that cheating is wrong, simply because it end up hurting the one you are with. However, some very valid points and some well though out recommendations were made coming down to the end of this podcast and your feedback on this and any other points that were made would be most welcome.