Learning to Talk and to Worry

Hello again!
Guess what! Some of you will be glad to know that I have begun my Chinese language training again, using the Pimsleur Chinese Mandarin system that I was using before.
Unsurprisingly I have forgotten a lot of what I had learned and have had to go quite far back in the course and work my way back to where I was.
I’m pretty ashamed at how lazy I’ve been the last few months, but I realised that if Im one day going to spend thousands going to China and learning the language at Keats School, I’m not going to pay all that money to learn the basic easy crap I could be learning from a CD at home. I wanna go to China and work with an instructor on intricate stuff you can only learn from a patient native speaker. Im also gonna take tai chi while Im there, Im so excited!
This dream can’t become a reality really for probably at least a year, but that means I have plenty of time to get good enough at it to begin needing that patient instructor!
So where am I that I can warrent spending thousands on learning this Asian language? What must I be doing?
Im performing English speaking shows in Mexico and the Caribbean. I know. I am the most Chinese person here, and Im Australian.
But I see this as enjoying a hobby, not building an almost useless skill for my current life situation. Some people have drinking, books, knitting or friends. I have me in my bedroom forcing myself to listen to my language CD’s instead of rewatching 30 Rock.
I don’t know why I rewatch so much TV, there’s probably some emotional issues there. Best not to read into it.
However despite this being a totally legitimate hobby, it may come in handy some day. Translating for a lost Chinese gentleman perhaps, or dialling 911 for someone and the operator only knows Mandarin? You never know.
I’ve been back in the Caribbean 3 weeks now and Im enormously missing the cold of Alaska. Why am I the only Australian alive who hates sun, surf and beaches. Give me cold, rain and snow any day.
I’ve been spending the last week battling a mental war with myself, part of me wants to return to land life, but part of me worries that land life sucks more than I remember.
Being rooted at home means simple luxuries like walking to the shops, hanging out with family and friends, doing whatever I want.
But Id give up travel, and the ability to be wherever my friends are.
I have someone very important to me living in Orlando, how would I see her? However would I fund a trip to China, or have the vacation time to do it?
Right now I travel around working for 4 months at a time then get to do whatever i want for 6 weeks traveling where I please.
I can’t leave, but I can’t stay forever. Right now I get to have my family in Australia, my precious China, and my important relationships in America. If I become grounded I lose out, but I get a life back.
Just keep swimming I suppose.
My shares have taken a bit of a dive lately and it freaked me out today, I had a heart attack.
Combined my shares took a 9% nose dive and seeing all that money in the red made me sweat bullets.
But then I read Warren Buffets quote that says “if your not prepared to lose 50% of your stocks value, don’t invest in shares.” These things happen! But their gonna bounce back. 😉
I’ll write another financial post another time, in the mean time keep traveling! And if your anything like me, try to worry less!
Everything can be perfect and I’ll still worry haha.
If your in America sweet dreams. 😉
See y’all soon. Bye.

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Say Goodbye to money, and Nihow to China!

Ok I definitely have a plan now.
I know my track record indicates that whenever I have a new ‘definite’ plan it usually lasts only a week or so, but this time I’m sure!
It’s actually similar to an older plan where I wanted to go to China for 2 weeks and take an intensive course in Mandarin. But this one is better!
Once I finish working for Disney and before i return to a more normal life, I’m going to escape to China for 16 weeks and take a full semester of Mandarin in Kunming China. 🙂
I’m gonna study at the Keats School in Kunming which looks bloody fantastic, and offers other courses in areas of study besides Mandarin. I can take Chinese cooking class, Tai Chi and other stuff.
Those of you who were reading closer to the start of this year will know that I’m a bit in love with China and have tried several times to learn Mandarin, I’ve also travelled to China recreationally this year.
I see the country as a perfect escape for me, a place I can go with beautiful music and stunning scenery that makes me feel like I’m drinking in everything that makes me happy every moment.
I know Studio Ghibli films are set in Japan, but when I’m in China I see the stunning beauty that makes me melt when I watch Ghibli films and I realise I’m where I want to be.
So the idea of spending 4 months in a place like this, not working but learning will be amazing.

This kind of ambition however flies in the face of the strong part of me that cares about smart financial choices, careful investments, and utilising time as effectively as I can to increase my net worth and propel myself further towards a stronger future.
How will learning Mandarin and tai chi help me towards my future? Not only will I learn 4 months worth of tuition fees, accommodation, food and recreational costs, but I’ll also lose 4 months worth of time that could have been spent earning an entire 4 month cruise contracts worth of money. So I stand to lose not only the cost of the adventure, but the potential earnings lost with the time.
This is where one has to decide the worth of a life experience, the ‘Eat, Pray Love’ concept if you will.
Someone like me loves to travel, but I travel using a percentage of disposable income that will be supplemented soon after the travel, with money still remaining in the bank during the trip that I can be smarter with. A trip like this would use all my available funds and afterwards would be met with unemployment. Unemployment wouldn’t even be the hardest part, but it would be met with the financial blow of resettling in my country of origin which I have not properly lived in since the end of 2011. I’ll have to pick a city (thinking Sydney?) find a place and the worst part, a job.
It’s all quite morbid but at the end of the day I’ll do it, why? Because I’m in my mid 20’s and I believe anything you lose in your 20’s is a loss that means little and can be gotten back without much trouble.
Think about it, when your in your 50’s you’ve spent years earning what you have in finances, and buying all your stuff. Losing everything would cripple your life possibly irreparably, however lose everything in your early mid 20’s? Omg who the hell cares, move in with your folks again, lye around and cry and about it, then get up, work 60 hours a week and in 2 years you’ll have more than you did before you lost everything.
So do awesome stuff while your young! And if your not young, insure all your things and invest in rock solid investments, then do awesome stuff!
I think the only real disadvantage of risking everything when your older is having trouble getting it back, and by that point I’ll have dependants and maybe pets.
So caution be damned, I wanna go to China!

Let me know what you think 🙂 Got any contrasting opinions,or just some ideas? I’m happy to hear you out. Until next time, have fun and have lunch somewhere you’ve never been!
Xie Xie!

Blunder 2.0

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I’ve left China 😦 booooooooo

This photo is me on the 2nd viewing platform of the Oriental Pearl tower, I’ve been given advice to include more photos, so I’m going to make the effort!

My problem is I hate taking photos, and pose awkwardly for photos, and don’t like seeing photos in my reader. Am I some kind of scrooge for imagery? What is with me distaste at seeing something wonderful? Honestly if a blog posts too many photos I bail, am I a psycho?

Anyway I can see the error of my ways and I’m going to do my very best to reform, in any case I’m back in Hong Kong.

Oh! Guess what! I booked a Disney Cruise for myself and a friend from the 27th of April until the 1st of May! Woo! And I begin work again on the 2nd of May. So now I get to be the freaking GUEST! GUESS WHO’S LIVING IT UP NOOOOOWWW!! Mwahahahahahahahahaha!!!! I love being the guest, MY WILL BE DONE!!!!!

Sorry

So here is the series of events.

  • Today – leave China
  • Tomorrow – arrive in Melbourne, Australia
  • 22nd of April – arrive in Queensland, Australia
  • 26th of April – arrive in Orlando Florida, go to the Magic Kingdom
  • 27th April – 1st May – Disney Cruise to the Bahamas
  • 2nd of May – Begin my 3rd Disney contract

During the cruise I’m not gonna be able to post as internet won’t be available, so I’ll still write and just post a few posts all at once after the cruise is over. Perhaps I’ll find internet in Nassau while I’m in the Bahamas, but not super likely.

Anyway so todays blunder, I left my suitcase on the X-ray machine after entering Hong Kong Airport and realised 15 minutes later in a shop. Seriously? The amount of flights I’ll have taken this year, by the time it’s over will be almost equal to my age; and I still can pull a stunt like that? It’s like I have the brain of a 75 year old, I should really get checked out.

So I went down to the scanning area, to realise it was completely the wrong one. I then had to wait nervously as the guards chatted over walkie talkie to the guys in other various scanning rooms, trying to locate the crazy guy’s Disney suitcase.
This is one conversation I had to have.
“What colour is it?”
“It’s lots of colours, its a — Disney case”
“Disney case?”
“You know — like Mickey Mouse?”
“Oh …. is it plastic?”
“…………… yes”
(Turns to buddy) “Wo renwei zhe shi yige haizi de zai yong luxing xiang!!! Hahahahahahaha”
“Follow my staff please”

So I trudged after the other guy like a naughty kid straight to the right room, identified it and could leave.
I’m not embarrassed to sport a child and/or Disney fan’s suitcase, but I’m not super into the unnecessary attention none the less. I can rock that thing in airport lounges, I just always keep a Disney stock tab open on my macbook, just so they know I’m important to the company. I maintain the facade that I’m like the McDonalds CEO, I sport the companies merchandise and represent with pride.

Now I’ve just got to survive the 10 hours back to Australia in one piece. You know I’m gonna fly 6 times in the next week? Lord beer me strength.

Subscribe if you wanna come along, you might enjoy yourself! Strike up a convo if you’d like and I’ll see you guys really soon.

Posing as rich on a Train, and stern in a hotel.

Ok, I’ve got an idea

It seems that people are liking to some degree the random short stories I write and occasionally post on here, so I’m gonna take some of the random out of it and organise this blog a little bit. 
From this point on I’m going to be posting a series of short fiction, each will be connected and it will be a running story. I’m gonna release each story every Friday, and hopefully the story will develop and get better and you’ll enjoy following along. 🙂
So follow along as each Friday the plot thickens, starting a week from now! Woo!
 
Ok so updates, today I took another train through the country of China, except this time it was from Beijing to Shanghai, and this time we made a massive blunder. 
When booking a train in China, you have to be present to show your passport before you can collect your ticket. So though you can book ahead you still have to line up at the ticket desk anyway, and try and communicate that you booked earlier and your not buying a ticket like everyone else there. Almost impossible, so we bought both of our tickets at the station before we left. 
 
The first time it was from Shanghai to Beijing and we hit no snags, we traveled 2nd class and had a great time. But this time, though we turned up even earlier than the first time we had traveled they were all sold out. Our flight is literally tomorrow midday, we had to get back to Shanghai, there was absolutely no other option. The only train that had 2 spots was a train that left 4 hours later and only had seats in VIP class (one class higher than 1st class) and it was three times the price. 
 
We considered training to the airport and booking a last minute ticket, but we realised that if we went there we’d sacrifice the only train going today, in the hopes of catching a flight that had spare seats, and if one didn’t it would be game over. Plus a last minute flight would cost the same anyway, except be in hot smelly coach. So we sucked it up and sacrificed more money then we’ll ever spend for a train ever again.
 
Now I’m looking at it in a positive light, when would I ever do this ever? I would never travel even business class let alone VIP, I didn’t even know 1st class wasn’t the highest! I’ve always traveled in coach and though I’ve always wanted the first class experience, I’ve never been able to fork over more money than I’ve had to in order to get somewhere.
But I knew that travel is about having experiences you’ve never had and may never have again, plus it was literally our only option, so it happened. 
I am however grateful that it happened in China, the same train length traveling VIP class in Australia would have cost thousands, I’ve looked into it. This only cost a couple hundred, so really in the grand scheme of things its not that bad. 
 
Anyway it was totally awesome! There was more legroom than my entire cabin on the Disney Wonder, the giant space seats reclined all the way until you could lie completely flat. We got super weird Chinese food, individual power points and super adorable waitresses who tried really hard to offer us English service. When giving us dinner options I could choose between the beet or the port dinners, my friend asked for beet, I hadn’t caught on that we were sparing her feelings so I was all like “I’ll have beef”. The girl realised her mistake and giggled and left, but I felt bad, I didn’t wanna patronise the girl!? I dunno I’m conflicted. 
I reckon though if your gonna spend 7 hours on a train, it should be spent with enormous windows looking out into rural China, while you lie flat half watching ‘The Boon Docks’ on your plugged in macbook. 
 
So the story ended positively, we made it back to Shanghai. We’re staying in our first hotel of the journey, and it was like coming home, I almost welled up seeing it. This is where I made my first China memories! These sappy feelings quickly ran dry as the hotel receptionist guy tried to check us into a single 1 bed bedroom, hell to the no.
 
Now my friend I’m staying with is a gentle soul, so she wanted to just check in quickly, leave the man alone and just get off her feet; however I’m notoriously stubborn with hotel receptionists.
See I know for a fact by this point in my travels that I’m going to win, I am the house and they are not gonna beat me because I have nothing to lose. A hotel receptionist can’t afford to cause bad reviews because they didn’t do their job right, so I’m not gonna be dick about it, but I’m gonna get mine.
The last time a hotel tried to pull a stunt they were trying to charge me $80 for internet because of some ridiculous policy on paying per device that uses the internet. It took an hour or so, but I got that down to $15 on the merits of reasonability, and the hotel doesn’t lose out, their bill doesn’t change because I wanted to check Facebook on both my phone and macbook. Anyway, in this case I wanted my own bed, my printed booking confirmation tells me I have a bed, and I’m getting a bed. 
I stared that man down as he told me they were booked up, pointed at the sentence that said I had a bed a dozen times, and watched him flick aimlessly through stacks of paper as he considered things. The trick is to keep your eyes stern, they want to win so they look for weakness, but you stay looking stern and they cave. 
Anyway low and behold a room turned up with two beds, so I thanked him, my friend thanked him profusely, and we got to our room. And it’s awesome.
 
Anyway guys it’s after midnight and I’ve been on a train all day, so I’m gonna go out into the city and find something fun to do.
I get on a plane tomorrow and then it’s Hong Kong and then I’ll spend a week in Australia. Subscribe and come again for lots more fun, and enjoy your day or night, wherever you are 😉 See ya. 

 

Things a Traveller needs to Notice

So when you travel theres plenty you need to keep an eye out for, things like noticing landmarks so that you can find your way back and local traffic conditions because road rules are road recommendations in some countries.

But besides these more commonly known things, there are plenty of things you learn for yourself along the way. These things are mostly learned because when one didn’t observe something and it cost you time, pain, or a limb. Instead I’ve made a list from some of my journeys that may help.

1. Leave that club earlier than you would back home, particularly if your walking home and the path is less than crowded.
One time I left a bar in Nassau (The Bahamas) at 2am and walked back by myself along the main street of town, a van followed me most of the way and it scared the crap out of me. In some places people want to spook you, they know your a visitor and your easy, but in some places they genuinely want to attack you so be smart. The street was empty, there wasn’t much lighting and I knew no-one would hear me. I made that mistake and it could have ended horribly, so don’t let it for you.

2. Dress for the culture your in, your favourite tank top may not match your new city.
My friend once tried wearing a tank top in Japan, and it was not ok. It turns out that when some white girls present themselves a little to well, some old creepy Japanese men can be less than subtle about their attraction. But it could have been even worse, in some parts of the world people could have been very offended, in very few places she could have been arrested or attacked. My lady travelling friends in particular generally like to keep their shoulders, arms and legs covered as they trek the world, it’s just best for everyone.

3. Keep an eye on your visa conditions, for example I almost didn’t find out until too late that tourists in China are required to keep their passports on their person wherever they are in the country.
It’s not very likely, but if your visiting and an official asks to see it, you have to be able to present it.
Why do they require that you keep your most valuable possession on your person instead of in your safe at your hotel? Can’t say, it doesn’t exactly make me feel safe but you gotta do it. Every visa has conditions you need to know about, for example my US visa doesn’t allow me to earn any American money thats not coming from Disney, which is keeping me careful.
Ultimately know what your agreeing to, and avoid accidentally causing a situation that gets you kicked out. Also don’t do anything before getting a visa that will stop it happening at all, such as even a small criminal record and you can kiss away America.

If you want any more advice or if you have any questions, feel free to email me or use the contact page. Or just leave a comment!

I went to the Great Wall today, and my legs are killing me haha. No-one tells you how much of a hike it is! It seriously nearly killed me. There’s nothing like standing on the wall, looking out across thousands of years of history and feeling that history with your own hands.
The wall actually reminds me of one more piece of advice.

4. Buses can be really difficult to navigate and understand, and you may reach the point sometime when your taking a gamble on which bus is right and putting all your chips on that card. Pick the bus with the super touristy white caucasian nuclear family.
Mr and Mrs cliche tourist and their kids only visit the highest trafficked tourists spots, and even then only if they are featured in enough movies.
So the moral of this story is that if your trying to find a huge national landmark, follow this family and chances are you’ll be fine. I used this principle today to decide between three buses for the Great Wall and it served me well. However if you can, do your research well enough that you don’t have to do this, but if this advice saves you even once then it was worth it.

Subscribe for most of the good stuff 😉 Talk real soon

Living out my Favourite Movie, Becoming Jet Li

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So before we talk ‘Hero’ and awesome things, I’ll set your mind at ease about the bank craziness.

So I lost my Bank of China debit card, and after calling them no-one could cancel it.
I went to the Bank of China today for no less than an hour trying to sort it all out, except that it turns out that every Bank of China branch is like it’s own bank. The lady literally told me that because I opened my account at a different branch, that I could be with Citibank and it would be just as hard for her to cancel my lost card as it would be to cancel my Bank of China card. Say what now?
How is that anything but the most irresponsible and terrible system ever??

So to all the people that recommended me a Bank of China account, I pat you on the head and say it was a nice thought but, if anything goes remotely wrong, your freaking screwed.
However the useless lady did give me an idea, she unknowingly reminded me that my American card is Citibank, so I walked to a Citibank ATM and was able to withdraw all the cash I’d need for the rest of the trip without any fee’s. Awesome sauce.

I love that when one bank is being terrible, another bank can swoop in and save the day by being awesome. Citibank is the same in every country, I don’t understand, I never thought I’d count that as amazing, but here we are.

Anyway in other news, I’m at a new hotel (I booked 2 separate ones for Beijing) and turning up at this new hotel I was like “oh crap.”
It’s a little neighbourhood a couple blocks from the middle of the city (CBD for Auzzies, or Downtown for Americans) which isn’t at all bad. However the outside of the building looks super shady, and the lobby is shared with a couple other businesses and a Malaysian restaurant, ouch.
The last one had a carpeted elevator and golden hallways, this one has a rickety steel elevator and dark hallways.

HOWEVER

When we opened the door to our room we almost died of shock. It’s freaking massive, it’s stunning, it’s got an even bigger window than the last one with a stunning view of the city and a giant pillow seat right on the sill. The beds sink down with comfiness and the internet is almost western world fast, I nearly just sat down and cried. This is by far the most luxurious place I’ve stayed in, and I’m counting my week at the Marriot (thanks again Disney!) I never saw this room coming.

The comfy bed is particularly welcome after hiking through the Forbidden City today… say whaaaaat! The Forbidden City! Aaaah!!

It was incredible (obviously) and overpowering and very humbling. This ancient palace looks just like it did in the movie ‘Hero’ which was a big part of the inspiration I needed to make China a priority for travelling to.
We had access to lots of places within the walls, the Emperors garden, and that huge area right in front of the palace where the thousands of guards stood (in the movie) and chanted like crazy people.
I did flying kicks stood on the steps where Broken Sword and Flying Snow fought through the thousands of soldiers and almost killed the Emperor.

Also, also, real stuff happened there too. I know very little about the real stuff that happened at the Forbidden City thousands of years ago, but I’m sure it was just as cool as the movie.
Do you think what happened was kinda close to the movie? I could look it up, buuuuut not now.

If you know can you comment it down below? I would love to know a little more about ancient Chinese history.

While exploring I walked past these tour groups standing by something amazing, and the tour guide explaining (in Mandarin) exactly what happened in history and what it meant, and the people looking really interested and inspired.
I was so annoyed.
Explain it to me also tour guide! I also want to know! I can’t understand you! Speak something I know! Something like “that was the largest shirt we have, none for you.”

But seriously it’s not fair, sorry Australia but I get no where near as passionate about our history. Not only is it short, but it’s dull, and doesn’t involve massive ancient palaces and kingdoms.

Well anyway, before I insult too many people I’ll go. Tomorrow is the wall itself, and maybe a Chinese acrobat show at a famous theatre somewhere. I’ll find it and let you know.

Until then subscribe, chat to me, and I’ll see you soon 😉

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Being Mr. Grumpy Face in Beijing

So good and bad things today, lets start bad and end on good.

  • Lost card by leaving it in ATM, called bank like 5 times and each time they didn’t understand me and kept transferring me. So card is not cancelled.
  • Ate weird chicken and feel sick
  • Missed train, and just general other bad stuff.
  • In a new hotel with somehow even worse internet

Good things.

  • Am now in Beijing!
  • Took an amazing train trip through the centre of China to get here, and it was just like that scene in Mulan where the soldiers are walking through China singing, except with more phone towers and less women in fields.

But now I’m at my new hotel, and despite being in a new city I’m uncharacteristically deflated. My internet isn’t working and rather than just leaving it for later I’ve refreshed it 30,000 times out of the sheer need to win. 
If you were to come to Beijing and walk into the SunWorld Hotel you would see a crabby looking white-ish guy sitting in the lobby, because it has slightly faster internet than in his room. The poor cleaning guy is about to ask him to move so that he can vacuum under him, but he is clearly dreading it and has asked everyone else first so that the crabby guy will assume he must move as well.

Ok ok fine, I’m moving, it’s not the cleaning guys fault.

Ok what this needs is a quick trip to the 24 hour place across the street, maybe a couple dumplings and a chocolate milk. 
Then I’ll return back and sit on my window sill (it’s massive) and eat it all looking out the window onto the city below, how can I complain so much with a prospect like that? I can freaking see Mongolia from that window.

I think its just my extraordinary ability to allow a series of small bad things to over power a couple of really good things. I think I just feel ripped off, because half the things I did and stuff I bought in Shanghai was apparently good luck, soooo if this is what good luck looks like theeeeen yeah. Keep it.

Anyway, tomorrow is the Forbidden City, it’s literally across the street, and maybe a few more things. Then the day after tomorrow will be the Great Wall itself.

How about you, do you find yourself able to throw things out of proportion? Do you overlook the good when theres enough bad? Or are you that much of a better person. 
How do people get better perspective? I’m guessing thats why things such as yoga and such as so popular. Any exercise where you can take a moment and re-focus on whats important would probably keep situations where you ‘lose your cool’ from happening as often as they do.

Ok well I know it’s short and sweet, but I’d better post this while I can and get back, have an awesome rest of your day wherever you are, and we shall chat more tomorrow. See ya!

P.S Subscribe for more action tomorrow!! I’ll post something more substantial then haha 😉