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Picture if you will a poor little fat kid getting his first intercity bus. Its a 5 1/2 hour journey so he brought snacks. He is fat, thats what fat people do. Now picture him walking up to the driver

Yes, I can vouch that Ippy is a real person and a very messy room-mate!  

Ippy doesn't have sex though. He finds it troublesome, or something.

Two weeks!

Only two more weeks left in thailand. God i couldnt wait. I didnt hate Thailand to be honest. Its a nice place, but dispositionally Im a bureaucrat by nature and its a little erratic for my nerves. The whole 'life is cheap' concept sends shivers up my spine as well (being in part a coward, to boot).

Still, two more weeks in Bangkok, working out at the gym, getting up when i feel like, wandering around the city and coming back to a nice hotel every day. Its hardly the worst I've had it.

But strangely it came close.


I was eating into my credit card of course, but so long as we could get this done in time, it'd just be a case of putting the money back in as soon as possible from my Chinese wages. I figured by January i should be close enough that i might even be able to treat myself to a weekend snowboard trip throughout february and March. Just two more weeks.


But those two weeks were met with near silence. (Well, aside from being told that the flight would be paid upfront by me and that it would be reimbursed AFTER i completed my contract (ETA fact fans, it wont)).


Finally at the start of the third week I got my reply. Everything was great! Immigration had accepted the documents and health check. We could now move forward. Everything would be sent out to me on Friday afternoon (arrive early week 4 now). All i had to do now was wait for them to mail out the documents to Thailand and then send them back to the UK to b...


hang on? What?


Why do they need to go back to the UK? I cant afford this. Im already pushing up to the limit. Ive got to keep money back for my flight now, these documents wont even be here for another week and then you expect me to pay for however long itll take to mail them to the UK to be processed by immigration and then mailed back to me? Cant i just get this done at the Chinese embassy in BKK like planned? Well no, it turned out because in July the rules were all changed. So now I had to also pay for a courier to do this crap for me. This was getting prohibitively expensive.


Hotel bills were adding up. Here and there little things like the documents being sent back to the DHL depot because the hotel didnt recognise my name costing me a few more days in delays and extra fees as well as national public holidays coinciding with the arrival of my documents at the start of October (immi shut for 5 days). This was a serious cluster****. I had enough to get me the flight a tiny bit of set up costs and maybe 1 more month of Thai life. After that i was ****ed. Properly and totally on the streets ****ed. No money, no job, no visa, and no way out. It was getting hairy.


And then a brief ray of light. The docs, finally in my possession were winged to my courier in the UK next day delivery on Wed 9th and bloody hell if it didnt actually happen! They arrived on Thursday meaning that the courier could have a crack at getting the visa on the Friday. We could seriously be done with a week to spare!


Friday arrived and... no bueno! Sooooorry, we cant take any applications for express processing today. And no, you cant change it to 4 day, youve already ticked the box.

Monday arrived and... soooorrryyy, we need another invitation letter. I know you only need one formal invitation letter, but actually today you need two. One formal and one informal.

Tuesday arrived and... sooooorrryyyy, we cant take applications from people outside of the country who are not using a UK mailing address.


Every time the courier would get back to me: "i dont know what to say ipps, ive never seen them be this difficult before, theyve never asked for this!"


I was done. This was getting stupid. I contacted my old company in thailand, schools were back soon, i needed a backup. One phone call and Booosh! Job again. In bangkok. Same salary. I told them i would give them a formal answer on the weekend but because id sunk so much money into this stupid visa i had to see if i could rescue something from it. I was going to give it exactly three more tries. If the visa wasnt granted by Friday, then that was it. I could not literally afford even one more week. I was at the absolute cut off point. I had around 500 quid left on my CC. It was enough to either set up in Thailand and pay myself through my first month without wages as school started up again, or pay for my flight, the visa processing/courier fees and have a little extra for setting up in China. Either way though, i wasnt going back to the UK. I'd crossed that Rubicon a good 300 quid or so back.


And then on Wednesday a MIRACLE!!! Chinese Immigration granted me the visa and we were on the way. The passport arrived on the Friday giving me just enough time to book a flight and get the **** out of thailand. Only now i was informed that upon arriving in China i would obviously have to pay for my new digs and that would mean three months rent up front. The company agreed to loan me it and that was it. Aside travelocity being dicks, having to call on a friend at the last minute to buy my plane ticket because they wouldnt accept my credit card for unknown reasons, and the driver picking me up at beijing and smashing my guitar it was fairly uneventful. Still, i couldnt quite express the joy i felt being able to walk off a plane and into 5 degree Celcius early morning weather. Its good to be able to wear a hoodie again :)

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So China:


Day 1 (THU): Welcome to China. No! dont wander about aimlessly and try and get your bearings. Instead your boss will come and take you all around the local area and feed you up and keep you awake. Eugh! cant i just rel... no no! boss! coming! get ready! its going to be a long day! (got back to the hotel around 10pm).


Day 2 (FRI): Medical check, bank, phone, and meeting at your school.


And in that meeting i learned the following:

A) Id be teaching at THREE schools. Two of them would be right next to each other. One of them would be 60km away on the other side of the city requiring a two hour commute by taxi, metro, taxi and then bus.

B ) Id be on 10,000/month, not 12,000 silly billy!

C) Id also be teaching high school grade 2.

D) I will be teaching at one of the most uptight schools in the district (renowned throughout Tianjin by students as 'the prison').

E) I must follow the text book. 'If he doesnt turn up with his lesson plan in his hands, we wont let him teach' (the schools words).

F) I will be the solo teacher. Teachers will be in the room but they arent there to help me in any way at all. And they wont. (and they dont, just as an FYI from the future).

G) When schools dont have class, I have to make up the classes by coming to the office and teaching one on one classes. Yes, the office is 60km from your house. We'll remburse you transport of course so no problem right! Youll have to do it every day in the holidays anyways!

H) Job starts on Monday! welcome to China!


Just to be clear, this somewhat deviated from the advertised job i thought i was getting:

- 1 school; 12,000/month; middle school; no ridiculous commute; typical ALT lark.


Day 3 (SAT): But before you actually start your lesson planning ipps, we need to find you a house. Dont worry, weve got 3 agencies and 10 houses to look at, youll definitely find something! but we need to get it all done by today!


House 1: haha! serously? WTF is this rat hole?

House 2: OMG! this is worse than the first one?

House 3: Are they all going to be like this?

Houses 4-9: 0_o?????

House 10: So, lets have a look at house 1 again...


Day 4 (SUN): Sign contract, move in. Realise that my paltry 2000RMB wont actually last more than a couple of weeks. I think im gonna cry )': Waste the entire day trying to find goodies for house cheaper and eventually give up. After buying setting up goodies, find somewhere a little cheaper to buy them. Come home, exhausted, shudder at the lesson planning i need to now do.


Day 5: welcome to your first ever day teaching Senior high! And your first ever week teaching 6, 7, 6, 6, and 3 classes. Well, at least you get friday afternoon off (:




And so it happened. I landed in China in mountains of debt. I compounded it with an immediate loan from my company to pay for the house (3 months rent in advance, 1 month damage deposit and 1 month fee to agency).


In months two (DEC1) and three (JAN 1) i paid this back (half salary for both months in effect) and managed to slip a tiny amount (2000RMB) home to cover necessary MINIMUM payments on my credit card.


Come month 4 (FEB 1) and it was rent time again reducing me once more to half a salary.


And then around mid Feb it was decided that i was soooooo good at my job (im not, but comparatively with some of my colleagues you might accidentally think that), that the company wanted me in the public schools but also in their 1 on 1 classes. I was asked to move to the TEDA area of tianjin. In return we agreed that i wouldnt have to pay for the costs, and id no longer have to do a commute since theyd give the prison and senior high to someone else. I accepted. Housing is obviously more expensive up here, i eventually ended up in this house im typing on - which is a kind of converted holiday inn hotel - its neat and about 800RMB/month more expensive 2500/month). So Februarys salary was munched up by that (7500).


March and April i actually managed to send some cash back and wipe out part of my debt for the first time. May 1st meant rent again breaking my little momentum. And so we come to now. Its almost june. Only ten more days and i should finally be debt free (or near enough).


From here on in it should be savings at last. The damage of that one decision by a principal that ****ing hated me for no reason at all finally repaired.


Ive done nothing at all here. Its been boring as shit. Its alright to live i guess. Ive learned that hagwons are money for old rope giving me some options. Ive also been pushed up a level from the sheer weight of expectation giving me an arsenal of activities and a few more strings to my teaching bow. Ive also learned that China has loads of jobs. So a year of experience here wont exactly hurt should i ever feel a burning need to come back. There is always a job in China. But the big news i guess is this:


Im not really ready for China. So at the end of my contract im back on the Korea trail! d: And there we go. Still, despite all these lessons and all this yapping about money, i dont learn shit. The nice thing i guess though is that my options are now far wider (its not PS or bust), and my pay demands dont need to be so high given that id rather be in Korea on 2.2 mill than in China on 10,000 RMB. So im stuck in this stupid industry for (yet another) 'two more years' as i try to find a way to wriggle free from it. Alas, i cant seem to bring myself to do the sensible thing and stick it out for another year and save the money to do something else. Well, we all have the right to self destruct. I plan to self destruct in one of the overly queues for the lifts on high one.




The ****ing end.

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Still in China. Contract ends at the thoroughly useless date of October 21st. So unlikely a public school is bringing me in given that the school year is going to all but end on December 25th or thereabouts. Still, at least ill have a) savings and be) time on my crc (have only just applied for a crc application form. It wont even be complete until July at the earliest, with the apostille, that makes it around August/spetember before its ready, which sort of beats the 20 or so days after my tefl course finished).


As for cash, 10,000 RMB is about 964 quid or 1600 US.


Its almost 10/1 for pounds.


Realistically then ill be in a shitty hagwon gig but hopefully somewhere near the mountains. Ill suck it up, head to naju and pick up my drivers license and then after a few months pick up a shitty million won ride on SK encar or whatever that site was. :) That should get me through snowboard season and into the new school term.

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Seriously Ipps, Korea is a hell of a nicer place to live than ****ing mainland China.

Well thats definitely the plan though :) Also kinda glad im not in thailand at the minute! Would have been in bangkok teaching and had to put up with six months of bullshit followed by a coup.

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  • 1 month later...

Hooray! im finally debt free!


And hooray! i almost got an official warning from my boss today for being a cheeky scamp (theyve been nipping at not just me, but everyone all week and its a smallish office, so hard to avoid each other and just do my job in peace). Pulled out a mae culpa apology upon realising i was nowhere near ready to tell them to take their job and shove it. Damage is done though. Got three months left on my contract. Got at least all of July and August working at the main juku/hagwon in close proximity to the boss fellas. Im going to snap soon enough and my pride is gonna push me out of the door :) But reaalllllllly need that reference. Theyre not great to work for. But ive made it through nine months. If i can just keep my heid, i should get through these last three months and be in the strange position of applying for a job on my own terms and within my own time-frame.


Still, two days off at last. Just did 10 days straight. Was just about to get my 1 week vacation when pulled up by the manageress asking me to pleaaaaase delay it to august instead and help cover next weeks classes. I agreed. But its alright, didnt have any money this month anyway. Might be able to do something nicer in August. Kinda thinking about doing this:




Seems (horrific) fun. :)

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Dude, still in China. Contract ends mid october.


When i move to korea, there will be a 48 size font party in this thread! Youll know! I wont shut up about it for the whole week the rosy tinted goggles are on. After that itll be back at the millstone and whinging about nothing at all :)

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Woohoo! my first run in with Gangsters.


Can you say 13 hired goons coming round in broad daylight to our school clearly intimidating and harassing the staff and students resulting in the worst ****ing police on planet earth standing around and letting them carry on loitering right ouside the GLASS DOORS of the office entrance intimidating a bunch of 9 year old children. ****ing disgraceful stuff. Oh yeah, and also being threatened by one of the aforementioned goons RIGHT IN FRONT OF THE POLICE IN THE POLICE STATION and no one batting an eye lid. I was genuinely under the impression that the Chinese police force was a serious "do not **** with the law" operation. Ha! Im far less safe now than i was at 2pm this afternoon. Thanks douchebag chinese police force. Bunch of ****ing clownshoes. :/

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  • 2 months later...

Bumping for more random melodrama.


One lousy document is about to push me down to the wire YET AGAIN.

The Crc, after random pointless delays caused by an unacceptable chinese translation of my address (and thereafter an apparently fine translation of my address saying the exact same thing just all on one document), they not only snail mailed it back to me (took almost a month), but forgot to certify the thing with an official stamp DESPITE my original request to do so (along with the email reminders in every correspondence thereafter).


So mailed it to my mate upon arrival and sent him off into the streets of brighton to find someone who knew what the **** the legal requirements of a FO apostille was. Apparently few did. All point blank refused to notarise the original. One decided to copy it and then was happy to certify the copy as an original and genuine copy.


He sent it off to the Foreign office last week. Yay! On the paper in the NOTES section of a very short application form for the apostille is a specific request that they do not return the documents before emailing me first to try and resolve any issues.

Obviously the clocks ticking, but its end game stuff here. Should be back in my hands with at least 20 or so days to spare.

And sure enough got an email from DHL saying it was on its way!


Checked my bank, and hooray! the 52 quid has been taken out of my account.

But whats this? Thirty quid has been deposited in my account from the Foreign Office?




I can only assume (because no ones bothered to email me of course), that they will only put an apostille on the original and have sent the documents back to china so i can get a notary stamp on it.


So now, depending on the arrival date (its still sitting in England for some unknown reason since the 18th), that i now have to do this whole shebang again.

So since the last waste of time took up nigh on 2 weeks thus-far, that means another 2-3 weeks for it. My contract ends on the 15th of October. So possibly might arrive if im lucky right before i leave. But more than likely itll find more ways to be delayed and thus I'll have to stick around in china for a month on a tourist visa in a hotel. Possibly might even have to take a job here before it runs out. Echy thump! I knew the warning signs were still there when my favourite recruiter told me that yes he could get me a job, but he now works direct for the BoE and only with elementary schools. :/


Its going to be yet another ridiculous battle for a job.


Thanks to the Cambodian Visa hops, ive got 4 blank pages in my passport. This is once again needlessly traumatic. :)


ETA: Just got a nice email back from Disclosure Scotland. It turns out theyve changed their policies. Disclosure Scotland certificates are mailed out autoatically once theyre printed up. They are THEN returned by the certifyee (me) with a request for a stamp and signature.


Thats why theres no stamp on it despite my requests. They cant do it until i resend it so that it actually arrives at the relevant department.

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