Tag Archives: expat

what it is like to live on US$600 a month in chiangmai

17 Aug

london 8am 14C sunny friday 2018

i had a enjoyable time looking at a video by this guy living in chiangmai, asking the question what it is like living there on US$600 (£471) a month. it is fun to see how other people live, and wondering if i were there , living an expat life in chiangmai , what would it be like on that budget. he wrote it in his blog with all the figures, making it easier to read it. 

almost two-thirds ($421)of the budget is for accommodation… it is the rental on a flat there. so perhaps that makes this video not suitable for a single expat. because it might be possible to get accommodation for much less if u rent it for a year… or live away from centre of chiangmai.

he reduced it to $213 a month by calculating it as a split rent with his girlfriend. and making it a more reasonable one third of the budget. allowing him to play with a $20 a day budget instead of $10 a day…

my take from all this is that accommodation is the biggest expense in any place u stay… that is why if u are retired, or making a plan for retirement, u must make sure that your accommodation is free… that is you have bought the place and is mortgage free. i would say that is the single most important thing to do on your retirement plan. and by good luck , i have done it with my place. didn’t plan it but it has turned out that way. and i realised it is the single most important factor to why i find living in london as i do, so cheap and affordable, even on the low pension i get.

 i noticed also that he likes western food, which of course is not surprising seeing he is a westerner, but it does affect the affordability… as western food in thailand is expensive. and i dont just mean steak, but burgers, pizza, pasta (what we here in uk would consider junk food) would be western food in thailand and cost more than the local pad thai, and street food.

he would love living in london, as those foods are relatively cheap by comparison… here pad thai will cost a lot… 

there are comments there which says why dont he cook a lot more at home… of course he would save a lot more… but then, i can imagine living in s.e.asia, what is the point of cooking it yourself? the whole idea of going there to live is that not only is it cheap, but you can live a lifestyle of eating out on that budget… i mean to say u can get all that service, getting others to cook for you, do your laundry, etc,being driven everywhere by uber,  that is the lifestyle of the rich, on a low budget.

added 3.32pm i went to the lush premises, which is giving away the free vegan coffee…if u bring your own cup, or if u dont, u can buy a cup from them for £4. i brought my own, one that i brought ages ago from a charity shop for £1. it is an insulated cup which keeps the drink hot. anyway they use almond milk. it is quite nice, very creamy. i had a latte. and it looks like u can go back and have another cup if u want… i did not do it of course, but wandered around the area, esp going into the shops in carnaby st and nearby. lots of shoe shops, selling trainers. the reebok classic is now selling for £75. the one i am wearing has a metal logo. they dont do that anymore i think. the logo is now sown on.

my camera has kaput. pity that because there was a shop that sells women shoes, and has heels that depict cartoon characters and i would have liked to have taken pics of those. they are called irregular choice.

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my life in london today

11 Feb

london 1.42pm 3.3C cloudy/snow saturday 2017

i took the bus to the library and noticed it snowed. !! lovely, but it melted as soon as it hit the ground so no snow drifts on the ground. still, it is rather fun to have it snow because then u dont get wet. because if u have not noticed it by now, living in the northern temperate zone where snow is common, if snow falls on your clothing, u can just brush it off and it wont soak the clothes. whereas if it rained, your clothes will be soaking wet.

what is interesting is that the temperature is around 3C and yet it snowed, so it seems u dont have to have 0C temperatures to get snowfall. on the other hand, it could be reasoned the other way, that because it snowed the air is heated up by the water turning to snow, giving off its thermal heat of energy and warming the air. 

found this lying on the ground. it was near the john lewis  store. one of the  nice things about living in london. i get to find things lying around the capital. i was going there to have a cake and coffee using the free voucher they have given me.that is another nice thing about london. haha.

 it was lucky (or rather it was unfortunate, as cake would be easier to eat) i decided to chose the eclair, because i forgot i could not open my mouth wide, to eat it. i have to get a knife and fork and cut it into tiny pieces and slip it inside my mouth. but it was less sweet than cake, so that was a good plus in its favour. i keep forgetting i have trismus.

this john lewis cafe on the top floor is very pleasant to hang around , it got free wifi too.

it was whilst surfing the net here in this cafe,that  i read this account of a guy and his wife who has retired early and gone to live in penang, and now he says he is upping sticks and going to chiangmai after a year living in penang.its a frank account.  its interesting to read what has changed his mind about living in malaysia.

reading it i was comparing his experience to how i would experience it bearing in mind i grew up in malaysia and so will access the local amenities much more than him. i cannot help wondering whether i too would feel bored living in malaysia, and penang in particular. you would think people there would be going to the beach everyday… but it does not seem so if what he says is correct. the beach gets crowded only at public holidays then it becomes too crowded.

its a funny fact of life, that with all that great beaches nearby, people just dont go there that often. it makes me realise that if it got huge surf waves, it might make it more attractive if u are a surfer. that is why i think australian beaches are busy… there is the surfing and maybe it is not so hot or humid as in malaysia outside the monsoon period  or rainy when the monsoon is on.

i have a feeling beach life is great if there is something to do really when u go to a beach. just lying there soaking the sun can get very boring i suspect.

its inevitable if u are an expat you will cocoon yourself in airconditioned condos and not meet many locals at all which is what happened to him. in fact, he did not meet many expats that are in his similar agegroup and situation either; not surprising of course, as being young and retired is very rare.

i am looking forward to his experience in chiangmai… in the end i have a feeling the best place to be in is right where u are now. haha. expats go round the world chasing an ideal place to live, but i have a feeling there is no such place.

and i think after the initial excitement about the local foods,i read somewhere in his blog he is going off it after a year… not surprising really. the thing with food in  penang is that it is mainly hokkien cuisine, not a lot of choice. unlike if u live in kl, where u can get easy reach of malay, indian, cantonese hawker foods. much more variety and choice. but it is true that as an expat you will find local foods a bit much after living there long enough. you have lived and grown up eating western style food, hamburgers, you will find all that asian food rather unsatisfactory.

in fact i remember when i went there for a holiday, i was craving a good steak after a while, and i was there for only a month. haha and my english friend was getting very bored with noodles with everything and not much meat in the hawker foods. 

yesterday i found a new book by robert harris, conclave. i have read  reviews of it and now i see it in the library to borrow. so i did, and surprised myself by finishing it in 2days. that is another thing to like about london life. i can get to read new books as they get published and for free too. i doubt i can do that in malaysia. i am familiar with robert harris via his cicero books but he is a wide ranging author dealing with a lot of different topics in his books. he is very easy to read , all his novels flow well, and dont leave u feeling he is padding things out, or make you feel the writing style is so awkward it is a chore to read.

in fact, this book brings to mind the tv series starring jude law as the young pope. from all accounts it is worth seeing. so if it does get to freeview, i shall look forward to seeing it. 

 lately there is quite a lot of news about a new tv series depicting life in britain in a fictional alternate universe where the nazis won the war. but robert harris has allready dealt with it in ‘fatherland’. i think that scenario is old hat now. 

added 5.11pm i had wondered where i read about that tv series about a nazi britain, and it is in the daily mail tv guide. seems it is a detective thriller based on len deighton’s SS-GB. i have not read that book so it might be worth it to see the tv adaptation of it.

 

nostalgia

18 Apr

london 11.15am 11.6C darkclouds monday 2016

 

Digital StillCamera

Digital StillCamera

a dish i often cook, because it is so easy and it always brings me back to  malaysia when i eat it.

london 5.51pm 14C cloudy

i got an unusual phone call from malaysia recently. i never have any calls from there, and at first when i picked up the phone i thought it was one of those cold callers. because there was that distinctive silence that is so characteristic of these cold callers.

usually if i say hello and get this silence,  i just put it down. but this time i delayed and then he said asking to speak to me. i asked who is calling, and he said his name and that he is calling from malaysia. i had to ask him to enlighten me as to who he was. and then i remembered he stayed  with me in my flat a long time ago. in fact, he came two times. 

my immediate thought was i wonder what he wants. haha. if someone calls me out of the blue that is usually something they want. but no, he was not thinking of visiting london.

it was how i got to meet him. he contacted me via one of those gay websites and came to stay at my place, twice in fact.

i dont do whatsapp, as i dont have a smartphone. otherwise i could get to ‘talk’ more often to people overseas… and my family too maybe… though i doubt it. even with emails i seldom write to them.

 i am not someone who calls people to chitchat. it isnot a habit i have acquired as phone calls were expensive during my growing up years, and so i dont communicate via the phone.

usually i email people and somehow that habit has stuck, so that now i prefer to email people than to call them or text them. but even so, i seldom do it. to me no news is good news.

 he told me he works for a ngo ( a non government organisation). they are a bit like charities. i asked him why he did not want to work for govt. he is malay, and the malaysian govt has a deliberate policy of hiring malays instead of the other races. but maybe things have changed, because he said it is difficult to get jobs, but also he did not agree with the way they work. so maybe things have not changed and that if he were to just change his attitude , he could still work for govt. govt jobs are very good, as they are well paid and also the govt pension is excellent.  but obviously u have to toe the govt line, if u want to be happy working for them.

anyway, chatting to him did bring me back a bit to thinking of malaysia. and wondering what if i were living there. life is full of those changes of direction that might not even be planned. and here i am so many years later, living here instead of there. 

i read from another blog that durians are now coming in season, and i wonder if that would make me happy to live there, if i were to live there. i love durians. but i do know that once the intial gluttony of eating durians have passed, it is not possible to continue with it … even though i love durians. and durians are very calorific and u can put on weight very easily.

and then i read from another blog that it is very hot there now. and that makes me wonder if i would like that and can cope with the heat. here today, it is quite cold, outside. it is surprising, but i was waiting for the bus on the way back from the library and it was chilly. but it is more bearable than the intense heat of over 30C that is now happening in s.e.asia now. now i see so many documentaries and films and good stuff on tv in the uk, and i know that i wont be able to see anything like this in malaysia.

yesterday there was a thought -provoking one about zoos. and what they are for. i myself dont agree with zoos, and have not visited any for a long time. i am very sad for the animals who are confined to  such a artificial space, when they are born to roam and run wild.

but such documentaries  and the varied viewing on tv are what make living in uk so nice, and of course the books , newspapers and vast reading material  too and no censoring of those things too. hmm, right now in the tv news there is a report about a film about hiv, where 5 people hiv positive did not take any medication and lived. the film was  threatened with being banned by the hiv charities, but fortunately it did not stop it from being seen. which is the right thing to do. those guys have something to say and wants to give other people what they are living through and being still alive without the hiv medication. it is all encouraging to me that regardless of the right or wrongs of it,  that here in uk we dont censor opposing viewpoints even if it can be uncomfortable for the established view. people should be allowed to hear alternative views and decide for themselves.

 

just chatting

19 Jan

london 3.8C 9.59pm tuesday 2016

so here i am sitting in my living room , didnt feel the need to have the heating on, quite comfortable, because i am dressed warmly. my indoor thermometer reads 15C. it’s forecast to be -2C later on, in the early hours of the morning.

but i have noticed these forecasts do not apply to central london where i am. last night was supposed to go as low as -2C , but it was only 0C in actuality. so i suspect it will be the same for tonight. i think the suburbs might be colder. i see someone using a drone to show the view high above to show the sprinkling of snow in crystal palace. but no snow where i am.

i am seeing a tv program about bargain brits in the sun; living in benidorm, in spain. quite a sad program in a way, showing a elderly couple from bournemouth who winters there. and walking a mile and half to get to an exchange currency bureau that will give them 1.32 euros or so for their £s.

i think they must have got the reasoning for being there wrong. the logic is not correct. why not stay on in uk? after all, the only thing going for benidorm is the weather, and allready i hear him say it is getting too  hot and he is glad to be going back to uk… at the end of his sojourn there.

they are staying at a caravan park, and i was thinking their place in uk is allready paid for , they are still paying rent on it whilst they are in spain, and here in spain they are bearing the burden of paying rent for the caravan. maybe the caravan  is cheap but still, it is money that is avoidable, if they just stay in bournemouth. i personally dont think the hot weather is enough compensation for the increased costs. in the past, when the euro was weaker, it makes sense for people to winter in benidorm, the monthly rental for a hotel room can be cheaper than the heating bills back home, even when u include the flights as they were so cheap then. not any more now.

now, if u tell me, that  they dont have to pay rent in uk whilst they are in spain, then it makes sense to go to benidorm and winter there. but that is not the case. they only save on the heating costs. it certainly cannot be as much as the air fare, the caravan rental , transport in spain.. (in bournemouth they will be able to travel on the buses for free on their freedom pass).

added. perhaps it is the change of scene, that may be the one big benefit they get , like migrating birds flying south for the winter. and seeing how cheap they can stay in spain is part of the fun of going there. i can relate to that actually. haha.

then there are the other expats featured… all trying to make a living whilst not knowing the lingo, so they try to set up a bar, thinking they like to drink, so running a bar must be a doddle… to find that they have to stop building work because it is august and it is not allowed … and then to find the council wants them to get a architect to draw up plans for the renovation… so that is another delay.

there was another chap, saying he had to find work,as he got a wife and his daughter with  him; because they cannot claim benefits or anything… when in uk they willbe able to get benefits, and housing, and god knows what else all on the dole. to exchange it all for a bit of sun??? its silly really.

somehow i dont think that is my idea of enjoying life … the hot weather is just not enough to compensate for all these petty troubles. 

( a lot of the eastern europeans know that if they work in low paying jobs in uk, they become eligible for work tax credits, and it could double their salary at a stroke). that was meant to help the low paid uk citizen, but of course the eu wont allow discrimination against eu citizens either, so they get the benefit too. so that means that tax credit is now in danger of being abolished or reduced. another reason why the poor uk citizen is paying for the huge influx of people coming into uk from the eu. if i were poor in uk,and need the benefits to help with income, i would vote to get out of the EU.

then there is the tv program about tricks in the restaurant trade. how they reuse left overs from yesterday and create a dish and call it the daily special. haha. there is nothing wrong with that of course, i do it all the time at home, but it costs nothing extra when i do it at home, so i benefit. when i go out to pay good money to eat in a restaurant, i dont want to have that done to me… haha. and they were showing how the restaurants buy ready made foods and selling it at a mark up. desserts especially.

they showed the presenter who is a chef hand- make a cake, and in the time he made one, the men using machines were able to make 18. i dont blame the restaurants for these short cuts, but i dont want it done to me when i eat out, so that is why i dont eat out much nowadays.

i guess u should pick what u eat, sushi, would be hard to buy in , though the supermarkets do them and sell them cheap at the end of the day… and they taste quite good still. and if u want sashimi, it is easy to just buy fresh tuna, or salmon, and cut it up and eat it at home with some wasabi and soya sauce. (they say u need years of training to be a sushi or sashimi chef, but i cut up the salmon anyway i like, and it tastes just as good. haha)its delicious and taste the same as in any fancy japanese restaurant…

or how about u go to a malaysian restaurant where they stir fry… a char kuey teow dish have to be freshly prepared … but then it is quite easy to do it myself.

ah well, i suppose go to a restaurant to feel the experience of being served and have the ego boosted by respectful waiters… and not have to do the washing up. haha.

sigh, looking at all these things, it makes me feel very world weary and jaded doesn’t it?, like saying , done it all, and bought the t shirt, so what’s new? and not want to repeat it . 

 

think again if u want to be an expat; uk is still better than any other country. (just my opinion)

3 Jul

london 9.46pm friday 2015.

people here dont know they have it real cushy. they want to go off elsewhere to live, thinking it is a better life elsewhere and all they can see is to live in a place where the sun is out all year round in their new country, and think that is all they want. 

i got an email from john, who lives in poole, in reply to my query about a mutual friend who had moved to torrevieja to live. john tells me he has major surgery and need more to come, and also that he could not sell his house there, when he wanted to live in a condominium, having discovered it costs a lot to maintain a private swimming pool. that was 5yrs ago. i thought he had sold that house when he moved into a flat in a urbanisation… but it seems he could not and rent it instead and now the tenant for the house has left.

it reminded me that health is the biggest unknown factor to anyone thinking of being an expat. it is inevitable that health problems will surface as you go older. say what u like about the nhs, but at least u can get medical care if u live here.

he lives in spain, and we hear so much of how much better their health service is than the nhs. but if u cannot speak the lingo, much good it will do you. and if the uk votes to leave the EU? what then? i doubt u will get to use their health service free. not being able to speak the lingo is the biggest disadvantage to living abroad. even if u can get by it will still be a lack, as very few expats ever get to be  fluent in it. i think if u are fluent in it, i doubt we can call you an expat anymore. i would venture to say that fluency in the language, or lack of it, will be what defines you as an expat. 

added 10.14am, i got an email from john saying that house of keith’s is another house he got, not the one with the swimming pool, which he did sell. and john says there is no problem with language with the doctors, and it seems keith is getting very good medical care. those major operations he got may not be available if he had been in the nhs here … so maybe i am wrong, it is good to be there…so maybe it is good to be an expat there and leave the uk.  in the end, it really is up to the individual. u can only give your opinion which will be biased to yourself and not to the other person. it might turn out to be a good move, to live in spain, or it might turn out to be a disaster… i guess each person will have to find out for themselves.

i have changed my mind about advising people not to be an expat. all i mean is that i dont like to be an expat outside the uk. haha. in a way, i am an expat from malaysia, so who am i to say no to others who want to be expats elsewhere. 

BBC iPlayer – Wanted in Paradise – 4. Phuket

28 Feb

BBC iPlayer – Wanted in Paradise – 4. Phuket.

i saw this tv program last night. it is a series, showing people in uk deciding to uproot and live in paradise. they are from scotland and so it is understandable why they want hot weather.

this couple wants to live in phuket, with their baby son. the husband is keen, because he is a commercial diver, and can find work anywhere in the world, so it makes sense to base himself in phuket. but the wife is not so sure. she will lose the support of family to look after her son, and also she will not be able to earn as much as her present job which brings in £30,000 a year. as a commercial manager for a bank; in phuket the only work for her is teaching english to kiddies. he brings in £40,000 but it is cold and dangerous working in the north sea. so is more fun working world wide.

interesting that they still dont have a lot of savings, when they bring in £70,000 a year between them. and it shows how poor the housing market is in scotland when the flats they owned can only bring in about £50,000 each.

his job takes him away for months. so it seems to me wherever they are the wife will be left alone; so not really that attractive for the wife to go to phuket. especially when she is not that interested in warm weather, and since he will be away for a lot of that time, she wont be seeing a lot of him.

she might as well be at home in scotland.

as usual, i can see what the underlying desires of the man are; to go free and roam the world with his job, and much as he likes his wife and kid, i personally can see he would be better off, leaving them in scotland and he go roaming off. haha.

times like this i can see his life would be easier if he had no wife and kid and just live for himself. or get a local woman, as wife who can run a restaurant or b&B or diving school or whatever… whilst he roams the world earning good money as a commercial diver. i know it is sexist… but maybe that is why so many like to marry a s.e.asian woman, as there are many such woman who are willing to go trade on that. 

i have often wondered why people move to islands in the tropics to live and this program gives me some idea. but what this series also show up is that paradise with all that hot weather can be rather dull if u have not enough money to live on.

 

the fun for foreigners living in these paradises is the eating out, enjoying the food and the drinks and the cruises and luxury living…. would they enjoy all that life in paradise if they cannot access those places?

or to put it another way, do they like to  live like a native, sail your own boat, do your own fishing, live off the sea, have a small hut which is cheap to maintain. dont eat out in foreign run restaurants, but eat in local shack cafes. forego airconditioning, british foods, cocktails.

you know that well known adage thay we look at things through our viewpoint. well, my views here are biased. taken from the viewpoint of a gay guy who dont like marriage or kids. haha. so no need to be offended at my views. i am really glad i dont have a wife and kids to worry about. everyday i am reminded of how fortunate that my soul did not want those. 

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but i am so glad there are others who like being married and have kids. where will we be as a human race if there are none of those. 

Local food guide to London – The Best in Local Cuisine – HouseTrip

29 May

Local food guide to London – The Best in Local Cuisine – HouseTrip.

this lists what makes english cuisine.

roast dinner meat and 2/3 veg and yorkshire pudding

cornish pasty,

cream tea with scones

english breakfast

fish and chips

pie and mash

sausage and mash (could be included in the above and  i would add eel and mash)

chicken tikka masala

 

 I shall miss them if ever i am exiled from uk and have to live elsewhere. And i am not even born here. can any expat say they wont miss these when they go away from uk to live abroad? What about pork pies? can we include them too?