Expat News & Views

Research Twice - Visit Thrice

By Admin - added Aug 24, 2013

“I've been researching retirement and have decided on .. ”

If you frequent expat forums you have surely run across these types of statements. Do you ever wonder what became of those folks?

Some of them are most likely shoppers, not buyers. Sort of like the guy wandering around a Ferrari showroom. He had read all the performance articles and knows all the specifications. But his bank balance and intentions are pure Volkswagen

Some expats seem to be the same sort of “shoppers”. They have dozens of guidebooks on a handful of prospective countries. They regularly dine in small ethnic restaurants that specialize in the countries' cuisines. They seek out real expats, either in person, on forums, or blogs; to find out what their chosen countries are “really like”.

resort in Phuket, Thailand
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/cibergaita/

When they finally decide to visit their intended paradise, they attack the country in a whirlwind of researching destinations that more likely resembles a package tour.

For an entire month they crisscross a country, staying in 3-star hotels, eating in tourist restaurants and taking in the tourist attractions. They suddenly lose touch with the plodding and methodical manner in which they initially approached their research.

Single and divorced men often spend an extraordinary amount of time in bars and clubs. Some even arrange extended travel dates with members of the staff of such establishments. All too many end in quickie engagements, marriages and promises for the future that require regular remittances.

Some who rely on research alone apparently think the words of others is sufficient. But trying to walk in another's shoes makes an expat prone to trip and fall.

So how many visits are required to evaluate a new potential homeland? As many as it takes!

What may be more important is how an expat evaluates a country. Making a short-list of potential regions and cities can be a good start. Plan to spend a few weeks in each location, preferably living in an apartment or guest-house. Will you be living in a hotel when you move?

Walk the streets and get a feel for the personality of the town or city. Rent a bicycle, motorbike, or car and drive into neighborhoods. Sit at small local cafes to watch and listen. Try to engage the locals in conversation.Live your life as you expect to live after moving overseas.

apartment in Bangkok, Thailand
Photo courtesy of flickr.com/photos/89241789@N00/

Let the “new experience” excitement wear off. Stay a few weeks then move to the next place on you list. Use what you learned from the previous city and conduct your research again.

When your time in the country is “done” — go home. Take plenty of time to reflect on your experiences. Is the place where you really want to live? Everywhere on earth seems to have a few warts. Allow negatives to creep into your thinking.

So what happened to the expat family that relied on nothing but research? We will probably never know. People don't like to talk about their miscalculations and failures.

This is important stuff. Do it right — it may be for the rest of your life

Nha Trang, Vietnam - Not Quite Paradise?

By Admin - added Aug 11, 2013

Travel companies and governments like to paint tourism destinations as paradise. Negative information is often suppressed. Even worse, behavior by those preying on travelers may be condoned by local officials. In some cases it is tacitly encouraged by corrupt police.

Expats would do well by listening to honest travelers.

Nha Trang, Vietnam has been touted as a prime tourist destination as well as a haven for retiring expats. Internet pages show long blue seas flanked by white-sand beaches set with colorful umbrellas and sun loungers.

Beach at Nha Trang, Vietnam
Photo Courtesy of Laura Longenecker

But life around paradise is often teeming with human sharks. A recent forum post caught my attention.

Hi im Sarah aged 22 from England and i now live in Nha Trang Vietnam with my partner Graham.

If you want to hook up for a chat anytime if you are travelling here that would be great my email is (email removed) and im staying at the Dong Phuong 1 Hotel Tran Phu Street

Basically what i think to Nha Trang is this:

1) Beaches are lovely but can get dirty, still to Louisianna or Sailing Club, they are private and security patrol them so no street vendors bugging you and on 25,000 dong for a sunbed (just over $1) for the whole day - dont use the beach at night you could get robbed offered sex by ladyboys etc...

2) Weather is amazing boiling hot 40 degrees barely cloudy or rainy and boiling at night so be prepared

3) Night time - go to Sailing Club after 11pm its buzzing but can be expensive order a "Bucket" this is a large cheap jam jar full of rum and vodlka and pineapple juice - Dont walk home alone just incase

4) The Locals - DO NOT MESS WITH THEM! say no to all street vendors politely dont buy off them or they are like flys and dont leave you alone. My partner agreed to a free game of pool with a street kid as he felt sorry for him and nearly got beat up by his family in the end! They are violent people - its a lovely place to stay and worth coming to stay and see but beware in the time i have been here i have seen a bloke get hit in the street broad daylight with a machete and 3 women from USA went to Why Not? Bar and got beaten to a pulp for no reason. you cant fight back or the police will pin everything on you and you get in serious trouble....plus if you start something 20 or more come along and will just batter you will pool cues.

5) The food - great! Beef noodle soup i love it so healthy and filling you only need to eat once a day really its too hot to eat alot and its really cheap. Go to Why Not? Bar they do great breakfasts and spagetti

6) Places to go - Octopus Diving for the best dives of your life! The mud baths in the hills, cable cars near the harbour and the markets

If you wanna chat about anything else to do with Nha Trang or like i said are travelling and wanna make friends then email me or come see us at the Dong Phuong Hotel

Read the original and several responses to Sarah's post at Tripadvisor

Before getting too indignant over this post, It's not only Vietnam where “foreigner scams” happen. I'm on my 17 the year in Thailand and have experienced double pricing as well as a variety of petty scams.

While I have never been beaten up, I know a few expats who have. Just recently, a disagreement over a taxi fare in Bangkok cost a western expat his life. Another incident in Krabi resulted in the fatal stabbing of a westerner arguing over music choices in a karaoke.

Just one more factor to consider when you move overseas.

A Small & Quiet War in Colombia

By Admin - added Aug 4, 2013

Odds are that if you read a headline like this about Colombia you probably assume that it's about drugs or the FARC rebels kidnapping another westerner. We're happy to say that this small and quiet war in Colombia seems to have been won.

River blindness project in Colombia

By winning this small war Colombia has become a global role model. The World Health Organization certified Colombia as the first country in the world to eliminate onchocerciasis — the second-leading infectious cause of blindness.

Onchocerciasis, also known as “river blindness”, is spread through the bites of infected black flies which carry larval forms of the parasite.

The victory was won after 12 years of health workers administering the anti-parasitic drug Mectizan — donated by pharmaceutical giant Merck — every six months.

Well done, Colombia!

Read more here: Miami Herald

Uruguay Legalizing Pot?

By Admin - added Aug 1, 2013

If the media can be trusted, Uruguay may well become the go-to destination for expats who enjoy marijuana. While the use of marijuana is already legal in Uruguay, the cultivation and sale had not been legal.

If the hotly contested bill that was passed by the lower house of Congress on Wednesday is confirmed by the senate, the cultivation and sale of the substance will be legal for Uruguayan citizens.

But wait — don't pack your bags just yet.

To avoid making the country a drug tourism destination, only Uruguayans would be allowed to use marijuana.

Among the thousands of other comments that could be made about the issue, media sources claim that two-thirds of Uruguayans oppose the move. It's a strange world we inhabit.

Photo Photo courtesy marceloacosta

A few sources for the story