The Insider's World Travel Guides http://gurutravelguides.com The Insider World Travel Guides - The truth about countries, their people and culture... Wed, 29 May 2013 18:48:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Escape Hunt Bangkok – The Most Exciting New Entertainment Concept In Asia? http://gurutravelguides.com/escape-hunt-bangkok-the-most-exciting-new-entertainment-concept-in-asia/ http://gurutravelguides.com/escape-hunt-bangkok-the-most-exciting-new-entertainment-concept-in-asia/#comments Wed, 29 May 2013 18:45:11 +0000 The Guru http://gurutravelguides.com/?p=830 Escape Hunt Bangkok – The Most Exciting New Entertainment Concept In Asia? Escape Hunt is a very exciting new game concept set to launch across Asia with the first location in Central Bangkok opening in early July, 2013. It is an adventure like no other – exciting, addictive, challenging, educational and above all, fun! You will [...]

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Escape Hunt Bangkok – The Most Exciting New Entertainment Concept In Asia?

Escape Hunt is a very exciting new game concept set to launch across Asia with the first location in Central Bangkok opening in early July, 2013. It is an adventure like no other – exciting, addictive, challenging, educational and above all, fun! You will voyage back in time and playing the part of a famous London detective around 1900, solving challenging mysteries in far-flung locations across Asia.

Escape Hunt is not only new but unique in Asia.  It goes far beyond anything seen before for family and corporate entertainment.  Imagine the excitement of solving your very own murder mystery with work colleagues, friends or family!

Once Bangkok is open, branches are planned for Pattaya, Singapore and Hong Kong.  You can find full details here on their website -

http://escapehunt.com

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Is Chiang Mai An Ugly City With The Ugliest Girls In Thailand? http://gurutravelguides.com/chiang-mai-is-the-ugliest-city-with-the-ugliest-girls-in-thailand/ http://gurutravelguides.com/chiang-mai-is-the-ugliest-city-with-the-ugliest-girls-in-thailand/#comments Sun, 19 May 2013 19:17:07 +0000 The Guru http://gurutravelguides.com/?p=822 Chiang Mai is a northern city in THailand and THailand's second largest city after Bangkok. Not much happens here as it is miles from the ocean and in the middle of nowhere.

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Is Chiang Mai An Ugly City With The Ugliest Girls In Thailand?

Chiang Mai is a northern city in Thailand and Thailand’s second largest city after Bangkok.  Not much happens here as it is miles from the ocean and in the middle of nowhere.

There is a myth that the most beautiful girls in Thailand are from Chiang Mai.  This is a myth that might actually might be true, but the reality is that any beautiful Thai girl has long since left Chiang Mai!

Actually, Chiang Mai has to have the ugliest and fattest girls in Thailand.  That seems also to go for the guys.  I guess the pretty girls (and guys) are now in Bangkok as they certainly are not in Chiang Mai.

An average night out in Thailand’s arm-pit, aka Chiang Mai, will have you meet fat, spotty and even inbred looking girls but for sure no pretty ones.  On a recent trip with a female partner she told me “wow, where are all the handsome Thai guys?  Not in Chiang Mai, for sure….”

The reality is Chiang Mai is THE least attractive city in Thailand, if not Asia.  It has pollution for months on end as the farmers burn their crops off til the airport closes, the food is awful, even a so-called 5-star hotel is a mess, the city smells in most parts, and of course the people are really ugly.  Add to that, its STINKING hot in summer and miles from anywhere!

So when you read the reviews on the internet about retiring to Chiang Mai (Thailand’s best retirement gem, retire here on $550 USD a month, International Living’s best tip etc), going out to the best bars in Thailand (Chiang Mai Entertainment Complex – not or Soi Lor Khor etc) or sampling real northern food (yuk), think again!  The whole place just stinks in every sense!  Stay well away.  (Thailand has some great locations further south by the way)…

Harsh?  Yes.  Fair?  Well, yes….

What do you think?

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Top 10 Reasons To Visit Mexico – & Top 10 Reasons Not To Live In Mexico! http://gurutravelguides.com/791/ http://gurutravelguides.com/791/#comments Mon, 28 Jan 2013 23:59:33 +0000 The Guru http://gurutravelguides.com/?p=791 Top 10 Reasons To Visit Mexico - & Top 10 Reasons Not To Live In Mexico! Mexico is a popular tourist destination, mostly for US and Canadian “snowbirds”

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Top 10 Reasons To Visit Mexico – & Top 10 Reasons Not To Live In Mexico!

- by The Guru

 

Mexico is a popular tourist destination, mostly for US and Canadian “snowbirds” fleeing the winter cold but also for many others drawn by its natural beauty and friendly people.

 

Here is the truth behind the music and smiles!  Be warned.  It might shatter your illusions…

 

The Good -

 

Beautiful scenery - Mexico is one of the most beautiful countries in the world if not the most beautiful country.  From stunning beaches to rugged mountains, there is something for everyone and the sheer scale of the country means there is plenty of beauty and space for everyone.

 

Friendly people – Mexicans are famous the world over for their warmth and hospitality.  They love to party and welcome tourists to their country.  You will be an “amigo” (friend) instantly and they will go to great lengths to make you feel welcome.  Mexico still retains that old-world quality of life where family and friends come first.

 

Climate – being such a vast country, there is a wide choice of climates from tropical beach locations to arid mountain planes.  Since Mexico is in the tropics, the differentiator is the altitude.  The higher you go, the cooler it gets and there are some very high spots!

 

Food – much liked by Americans, Mexican food is very rich and varied BUT rapidly changing to the junk food sold in the US as “Mexican”.  If you seek out traditional Mexican restaurants and bars you will find real Mexican food and be overwhelmed by the flavors and colors.

 

Value for money – Mexico is one fo the cheapest countries in the world and represents exceptional value for money when you see the quality of life available and the relative low cost.  Hotels and restaurants, cars and fuel, fruit and vegetables are all so cheap and so good.

 

End of list.  Sorry, but that is all for the good list!  Now the bad news…

 

The Bad -

 

Traffic & Driving – without a doubt, Mexicans are the worst drivers on the planet.  In nearly two years living there and traveling all over, I never ever saw a driving school or a learner driver so it is clear that there is no structured tuition.  When a driving test is generally bought, there is not the need.  When coupled with the sheer ignorance and laziness of Mexican drivers, the end result is hell on the roads.

 

Mexicans almost never use their indicators (turn signals) which results in chaos all day long from overtaking maneuvers that defy reason to buses stopping and pulling out with no warning.  Mexicans will never, ever give way (not even to a pedestrian) or let you merge such is their lack of respect for others.  Scariest of all is their total disrespect for signals or rules – you can never safely go on a green light as there is often an idiot jumping the red lightfinding an illegal U-turn or simply blocking the road to whistle at a girl.

 

There are no rules for old cars and trucks on the road so they regularly belch out smoke, have no lights at all, drive all over the road and generally present a hazard.  Also, the buses and trucks simply push their way through the traffic.  There are many accidents because of this but the drivers of these public and commercial vehicles are protected by strong unions so nothing will happen to them and they know it.

 

But perhaps the single most annoying and dangerous aspect of driving in Mexico is the “tope” (speed hump).  There are millions of these all over the country placed with no logic and often unmarked on a stretch of main road.  They are not gentle either and so hitting one at high speed will completely ruin your wheels and/or suspension if not cause a serious accident.

 

The only way to escape topes is to use the toll roads “cuotas” and these are of better quality generally but be aware that the tolls are the highest in he world at between 1 and 2 pesos per kilometer – no wonder they are virtually empty!

 

Noise – Mexico is probably also the loudest country in the world.  No event gets to miss out on music and it has to be cranked up full volume to count.  The average concept in the US or Europe of normal or acceptable volume can be doubled in Mexico and since the locals have grown up with it form birth, they think it is normal.  You will not….

 

A trip to the circus is spoiled by clowns shouting so loud into the microphone children are covering their ears, a nightclub is more than deafening and any party anywhere will have music booming around the neighborhood until daybreak.  I was once in a large hotel in Guadalajara one Saturday night.  I returned after a night out at 2am.  There was a wedding around 1 kilometer away outdoors and the music was so loud the whole hotel, all 28 floors was shaking with the windows rattling.  You have been warned!

 

Pollution – this is not an issue particular to Mexico but it is an issue if you are used to being able to breathe as you walk down he street.  All the major cities of Mexico and some large towns suffer form awful pollution. The only areas free of it are small villages and towns in the mountains or near the coast where the pollution cannot accumulate.

 

The cause is unregulated traffic and industry.  Buses and trucks belch out black smoke and factories emit noxious fumes into the middle of residential areas.  Vehicles are not checked for emissions and neither are factories – the result is  some of the worst pollution in the world.  Mexico City, the largest city in the world, had the worst pollution but this is now slightly better thanks to measures to improve it.  Guadalajara now holds the accolade of the most polluted city…

 

Unreliability – Mexicans have a very fluid concept of time, to say the least.  If the Spanish are famous for their “mañana” (tomorrow) attitude, then the Mexicans would be well into next week.  Simply said, there is a less than 10% chance a Mexican will turn up on time and less than 50% chance he or she will turn up at all.  It is not considered necessary to call to say they are running late either.

 

Some people say this is just the normal way of behaving and everything should be adjusted accordingly but this is not true.  When there is money at stake such as salary or any other payment due, they are early.  IN a serious business setting, they are on time but it is almost a show of their status to keep the other party waiting – as a non-Mexican you are ranked very low on the ladder of social status hence you will wait…

 

Ignorance – standards and access to education are low in many areas of Mexico so for many people, good manners are few and far between.  Amongst those educated to higher standards, it can also be a challenge to find good manners and knowledge of life as Mexicans are remarkably stubborn by nature.

 

Mexicans are rarely rude and confrontational but simply do not often consider other people.  This ignorance manifests itself as not seeing the point of queuing, not apologizing for a mistake, never ever taking responsibility for anything and driving and behaving generally as if no-one else exists.

 

It is difficult sometimes to differentiate between innocence and ignorance as things do just work differently in Mexico and what we might feel is ignorant is not meant to be at all but you have to work out for yourself if a country where people have so little consideration for others is where you want to live.  One example would be at a road junction – they sell everything and try every way to make money.  For me that is fine but I object to two large guys literally jumping on my car to clean the windscreen despite my waving no and saying “no thank you” in Mexican.  They simply ignore you and clean your windscreen regardless then demand money.  You have no say…

 

Racism & Classism – Mexicans are know all over the Americas for their racism, perhaps because of the poor way they are treated by Americans in the US.  They look down on and openly discriminate against those from neighboring poorer countries and actually deeply resent “gringos” (Americans).  They will not openly show it but any chance to cheat or take advantage of the “gringo” is not missed.  Being British I have had many Mexicans confide this to me.

 

Once historically a very poor country, Mexico now has a rapidly growing middle class.  Sadly many of these people that could be described as “nouveau riche” revel in their chance to put down their poorer compatriots.  You will see the most outrageous treatment of waiters and cleaners, porters and other service staff at the hands of arrogant middle-class Mexicans.

 

Laziness – the funniest thing I was in a long time was a discussion on another forum as to whether Mexicans are lazy or not.  The overwhelming majority thought so but a recent report named them as the hardest working nation in the world.  This is measured by how many hours are worked each day in each country.  France, by the way, was the laziest in tis survey.  One lady on the forum was championing this report and said, “you see how hard working they are!” only to receive a reply form another lady saying, “onky when someone’s watching!”  I tend to agree with this…

 

Mexicans might well work long hours but most of those hours are spent sitting around chatting and not achieving very much form what I can see.  It takes several people with several people watching to achieve what one able-bodied person could achieve elsewhere.  Add to this any opportunity to get out of a job and you have the Mexican mentality!

 

Obesity – probably because of the point above, laziness, and the incredibly bad diet of junk food now replacing the traditional Mexican food and you have the obesity issue.  Mexico is said to have the second highest levels of obesity behind the USA but you could have fooled me!  I have never seen so many fat people in the US as in Mexico.  They are everywhere, waddling along, eating all day long, gazing blankly into their mobile phones in between bites.  I am sure more Coke and Pepsi is sold in Mexico than even the US as it is the choice of even the wealthiest

 

The old tradition of siesta time still dominates this country but the original idea of a meal then a sleep has turned into one long meal – for around 3 hours or more – every day!  You will never find anyone at work or any shop or service provider open between 2pm and 5pm or more, not even in a large business like a garage or telecoms company.  Whatever needs doing will always receive the answer “he’s not here;  he went to eat” – and will be gone for the whole afternoon!

 

Bureaucracy – Mexico is in the premier league for bureaucracy.  Every single task from the simplest to the more involved is mired in red tape and unnecessary paperwork.  As simple task like changing your name on a bill requires a pile of original documents and takes hours and will still need fixing again, probably.  It is no surprise Mexico still has monopolies for all essential services and no surprise the richest man in the world, Carlos Slim owns the Mexico phone and cellphone services – all of them!

 

Customs are so bad in Mexico for importation of goods or exports that it is nearly impossible to do either.  Look on eBay or Amazon and the small print always says “we deliver all over the world, except Mexico”.  It makes you feel like you live in a no-go zone and certainly seriously stifles business.

 

Corruption – this is allegedly improving but for now, expect every government official to be taking his cut form any project and so the common people follow the example.  Your new Mexican amigo will be so helpful trying to help you find this and that and buy this, for his cut!

 

Corruption is now so ingrained in Mexican culture, as it is elsewhere of course, that it is viewed as normal and an every day part of life.  No-one minds too much as long as they get their cut but the problem comes in where you get no service because you did not give someone a present whereas the next guy did…

 

You will note the huge drug trafficking problem is not mentioned above.  It is a huge issue but is not of most people’s or even most leaders’ making so it would be unfair to mention it as a reason unless the fact that almost everyone you meet has lost some family member bothers you!  The reality is it is a constant fear for most Mexicans but as a tourist you are far more likely to be run over by a bus or have a heart attack trying to get things done…

 

Unless you have nerves of steel and super-fast reactions or are deaf, the traffic and noise alone are enough to mean stay away until this country grows up!

 

What do you think?

The Guru

 

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Mexico – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Customer Service in Mexico… Patchy at best! http://gurutravelguides.com/mexico-puerto-vallarta-mexico-customer-service-in-mexico-are-you-kidding/ http://gurutravelguides.com/mexico-puerto-vallarta-mexico-customer-service-in-mexico-are-you-kidding/#comments Thu, 01 Nov 2012 06:30:32 +0000 The Guru http://gurutravelguides.com/?p=764 A friend of mine here in Puerto Vallarta once told me "there is no such concept as customer service in Mexico and in Puerto Vallarta it is even worse!" Damning words indeed. This is not true as Mexico has a clear idea of customer service since nearly every website, brochure or government office will somewhere champion the phrase "servicio al cliente".

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Mexico – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – Customer Service in Mexico… Patchy at best!

by The Guru

 

A friend of mine here in Puerto Vallarta once told me “there is no such concept as customer service in Mexico and in Puerto Vallarta it is even worse!”  Damning words indeed.  This is not true as Mexico has a clear idea of customer service since nearly every website, brochure or government office will somewhere champion the phrase “servicio al cliente”.

The fact of the matter is that what you get is far from acceptable in my opinion and the question is whether the people involved really think their woefully poor offering is acceptable and believe they are following the promise or whether they just done care at all!  Lets look at a few examples and try to work it out together…

 

Car hunting -

Buying a car in Mexico is nothing short of nightmarish.  Main dealers are for the most part less professional than second hand car dealers in other countries and one wonders why private sellers even bother selling their vehicles as they try their hardest to stop any sale going through.  I recently called one of the main Honda dealers in Guadalajara.  I had been to their website (splattered with mission statements and promises of interstellar levels of customer service) only to find that the page with used cars was broken.  I was not surprised because every other car dealers’ used car inventory page was also broken so there is a trend here.

 

Acura MDX - Car hunting in Guadalajara - Guru Travel Guides

Acura MDX – Car hunting in Guadalajara – Guru Travel Guides

I then resorted to third party sites like SoloAutos.com.mx which are very good at listing cars and letting you search.  AutoPlaza.com.mx has more features but the listings are less up to date and the designers forgot a key filter called  ”city” hence you will only get results for the whole state.  Anyway, there were many listings for the car I wanted and I sent email enquiries to 21 ads.  Two days laters and I had one reply. Four days later after two more emails to each vendor (42 more) and I had no more replies.  I figured the cars must be sold but I decided to call some of the agencies and private sellers in case the cars were still for sale.

 

Every single private seller did not answer the phone and all the agencies told me they had the car but either had not received any emails or could not reply for some reason.    The best conversation was with the Honda dealer hence this story…  After a long wait with excruciating hold music that was more akin to someone yelling food orders in a busy restaurant, I asked for sales and then after many false starts was put through to a gentleman.  Remember I speak fluent Spanish so there was no “miscommunication”.

 

I asked if the car was still available and he said it was.  I asked if he had received my emails and he said they receive none from those sites because it does not work.  Well, it does because I have sold cars there and the replies come through very promptly to my inbox.  He explained that a third party places the ads for their cars so it was nothing to do with him.  I asked him why they use the site and he said their own corporate site does not work to which I agreed.  So I asked him how anyone buys a car with that situation and he very confidently replied that “everyone who lives in Jalisco knows to just walk into the garage and look for the car”…

 

Now this does raise some interesting questions.  Why even bother having a corporate website?; why pay for an account with a third party like soloautos.com.mx let alone pay someone to place the listings there?; and importantly why a global corporation such as Honda allows this to happen to their brand?  I then went to the honda.com.mx site to see if they had any used car listings.  Their used car listing page was broken and whilst counting no less than four mentions of “servicio al cliente” nowhere is there a number to call to get that service.  I decided to use the only means of contact, namely the contact form.  The confirmation pop up read “error sending message”…

 

An encounter with the CFE office -

In Mexico, when you move into a home, the electricity bill (courtesy of CFE – Mexico’s monopoly electricity company) is in the last person’s name whether it is still on or cut off.  Most people do not bother changing the name on the bill and so many residents may continue using the service with a former customer’s name on the bill.  I wondered why and also wondered why a proof of address – “comprobante de domicilio” is accepted even when it is not your name on it, then I found out why…

 

CFE Mexico - Una Empresa De Clase Mundial - Guru Travel Guides

CFE Mexico – Una Empresa De Clase Mundial – Guru Travel Guides

I needed to change the name to my own on the CFE bill in connection with the sale of my homes so after asking my lawyer, the Condominium secretary and two other people, I marched off to the CFE office armed with the bill, a copy of my notarised title deed (escritura), my passport and a letter asking for the change (in Spanish).  Remember that in the UK the process of changing the name on a utility bill takes less than one minute and they call you to organise it the day you move in, asking only your full name and how you want to pay.  The outgoing tenant or owner will where possible provide these details and so a minute later, it is all done.  Not so in Mexico, the land of never ending bureaucracy…

 

At the CFE office, which by the way carries the ultimate slogan of “a world class company”, I am finally seen by a lady who hears my request and takes my documents.  She then says the title deed is not the original to which I reply of course not as the original is lodged with the trustee (since you cannot directly buy property near the coast or US border in Mexico).  She argues, checks with supervisors and then relents.

 

She then claims the bill is not the most up to date but again after checking relents.  My passport (which I have copied for her) passes her scrutiny first time but she does not accept my copy as she needs to make her own.  She then asks for my FM2 (residency visa) and copies that and after much more internal discussion with colleagues about things totally unrelated she proceeds to update the file on her computer with my details.

 

She manages to read my name from my passport copy but asks me for the address.  I am surprised as it is already in the system and on the old bill and my title deed but I am now about to do anything to get out of the office that same day.  The end is however not in sight as she then asks me for $520 MXN as a deposit for the meter.  I explain that she already has a deposit from the previous customer so (as in every other country I know) it should be carried over.

 

Of course, I lose that argument but she does innocently tell me that so far my property carries 8 meter deposits which does not surprise me and I calculate quickly in my head that CFE has probably managed to bolster its bank balances by several billion pesos by this dubious practice.   I can feel I am on the home run and ask for my title document back as she hands me the triplicate receipts I have signed and so have her two bosses, only to hear that she has to keep that.  When I insist I need it as it is my title after all, she tells me I can have a copy of it.  I agree at which point she tells me I have to come back with the copy.

 

Thirty minutes later I return to the office with the copy from across the road where a little Internet cafe has spotted a gap in the market and am feeling better, despite the three failed attempts to copy the title deed due to paper jams, user error and a toner failure, because the young girl serving me was very charming and attractive.  I present my copy and triumphantly go to leave the offices of CFE around 90 minutes later but before I leave the clerk bids me farewell and with a big smile thanks me for my time with CFE – you guessed it – “a world class company”…

 

UPS Office in Puerto Vallarta - Guru Travel Guides

UPS Office in Puerto Vallarta – Guru Travel Guides

Courier and shipping company headaches -

I end my examples with a victory for me, finally, with the shipping company handling my imported goods from Asia, but not before a series of disasters with all the other courier firms.  Since moving to Puerto Vallarta, I have had reason to use all the major companies, DHL, FedEx, and UPS.  The have all proven exactly as bureaucratic and lacking in customer focus as each other.  The best stories are as follows…

I sent a camera to the US with UPS only to find that 2 days later the tracking number still did not exist.  After many calls and an eventual discussion with none other than the CEO of UPS Mexico for which I felt very privileged, and also proud of my complaint skills,  I am told that they are working on updating their systems and I should not worry because they “never lose anything”.

 

My Vinyl Courtesy of DHL - Guru Travel Guides

My Vinyl Courtesy of DHL – Guru Travel Guides

DHL was the company tasked with dealing with some items my shipping agent in Bangkok forgot to include in the sea shipment.  She sent these items, mostly vinyl discs, in an expedited shipment to me at her expense.  When they arrived in Guadalajara the problems started.  They sat with DHL for 2 weeks before being presented to customs leading me to believe that a local DJ might have a day job with DHL.  Then a further month passed whilst I was asked for every imaginable document to enable customs clearance.

 

I kept pointing out these discs are all over 20 years old but this made no difference as I was over the personal importation allowance of 50 discs (or later 60 as it turned out).  I relented and paid the duty out of sheer frustration only to have the whole consignment of 200 records arrive all damaged.  Every one had been taken out of its sleeve and scratched or damaged in some way.  Only a threat of a legal complaint and lots of online bad press resulted in some minor compensation.

 

My victory with the shipping agent came as a surprise result.  The majority of my goods were shipped from Thailand and arrived at Manzanillo container port.  They stayed for many days in the port area until finally being unloaded and prepared for inspection.  The illustrious local shipping agent requested $25,000 MXN to do this and then deliver them to Puerto Vallarta.    As another week passed and I grew frustrated, they sent me “proof” of the unloading of my shipment in the form of someone holding up my personal goods in his hands by the side of a truck with half opened and half emptied boxes all around him.  They were surprised when I pointed out how inappropriate that was…

 

How Do You Damage a Record This Much, DHL? - Guru Travel Guides

How Do You Damage a Record This Much, DHL? – Guru Travel Guides

Two weeks of further frantic efforts ensued to obtain documents from the Mexican embassy in Thailand to prove I had been a resident there and therefore these goods were my personal possessions allowed to be imported tax free.  I obtained a special exemption from the Mexico Importation office that the document was signed by a power of attorney as normally I wold be required to attend personally in Bangkok.

 

I was scolded for not knowing that permission to bring goods into Mexico has to be sought before they leave the country of origin.  The fact I did not know at that time I was coming to Mexico and left my items in storage whilst I was in Europe and deciding where to travel next was not deemed a valid reason for breaching Mexican importation regulations.  Finally, my goods are cleared for delivery to my home about 2 months later and a truck arrives.  My items are packed into two 500kg wooden crates as the driver (without any assistance) asks me where my fork lift truck is (his actual words).  I had to round up several strong local workers for a fee and we finally got my items to the house.

 

After unpacking I noticed several breakages but when I asked to claim on the insurance (I was obliged to take out with them) I received no reply to several emails or phone calls to make a claim.  The funny part of this story is that the lady who had pointedly ignored all these requests a month pater wrote to me to ask for payment.  I was surprised as I had been required to pay in advance, of course, some months back.  It turns out that when they insisted in a dollar payment, the transfer from my Mexican peso account went to their account but was then rejected and returned to me.  The currency of Mexico is pesos after all!

 

Shipping Expertise In Manzanillo - Guru Travel Guides

Shipping Expertise In Manzanillo – Guru Travel Guides

I still feel bad about the matter but not for long when I remember just how bad and rude the overall service was that I received.  There is such as thing as poetic justice in life after all!  I could tell endless further stories from rude shop assistants to threatening garage owners but the reality is that good customer service is a very rare beast in Mexico especially when you are a foreigner.  My Mexican friends from Mexico City say everything is worse in a small seaside city like Puerto Vallarta but the reality is I believe there are issues everywhere.

 

The question is why?  What makes things this bad in a country where the people are genuinely warm and friendly and have old world values in so many other respects.  My personal theory, which I am sure will he criticised, is that Mexicans are the innocents here and their untainted lack of service skills is simply lack of awareness of how things should be done.  There is however no doubt that many Mexicans and the companies they work for are cynically attempting to take payment in return for bad service; usually the larger firms.  Where do they get the model from?  The USA.  I have seen customer service standards in the US drop to a point where an automated computer voice has more feeling than a live telephone agent so who can blame the poor Mexicans with such a bad role model next door?

 

Do you have a bad story (or a good story) about customer service in Mexico to tell?  Tell me…

The Guru

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Mexico – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – The US Brands Mexico A Failed State: Fair or Unfair? Why? http://gurutravelguides.com/mexico-puerto-vallarta-mexico-the-us-brands-mexico-a-failed-state-fair-or-unfair-why/ http://gurutravelguides.com/mexico-puerto-vallarta-mexico-the-us-brands-mexico-a-failed-state-fair-or-unfair-why/#comments Wed, 24 Oct 2012 05:49:22 +0000 The Guru http://gurutravelguides.com/?p=745 No day passes without new press headlines about the dangers of life in Mexico. One day a drug cartel boss is caught, the next day he escapes: another month and another drug boss is killed but then his body is stolen. This is the ongoing fodder that the US press laps up with no sign of a slow down.

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Mexico – Puerto Vallarta, Mexico – The US Brands Mexico A Failed State: Fair or Unfair? Why?

by The Guru

(Images are all of Puerto Vallarta with my Olympus OMD)

No day passes without new press headlines about the dangers of life in Mexico.  One day a drug cartel boss is caught, the next day he escapes:  another month and another drug boss is killed but then his body is stolen.  This is the ongoing fodder that the US press laps up with no sign of a slow down.

Of course, the reality is that there is an ongoing drugs war in Mexico that has killed and injured too many people already and whilst showing signs of slowing down, it is far from over.  The question is whether the US is fair in the way it uses this information and what its motives are…

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Malecon - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Malecon – Insider Travel Guides

The US election is only 2 weeks away and Obama and Romney are battling it out to convince a disillusioned US electorate that one of them can make a difference.  How that can possibly be the case is beyond me since, much as I like(d) Barack Obama when he took office, he has done very little to improve the US economy and apart from hunting down Osama Bin Laden, little else as far as I can see except increase the US deficit from $11 trillion to $16 trillion.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney appears to have so few credentials for running a country, I always feel we are on the brink of a “dubbya”, referring to his predecessor George W Bush’s propensity for gaffes.  Anyone who has not seen his antics in the kindergarten when he was told that the first tower was hit on 9/11 should see it.  Romney might be a more accomplished businessman carving up enterprises across the US, but can he change the downward slide in the US?  I doubt it…

You see, the US is reaping what it has sown.  It has introduced a cynical form of capitalist greed to the world never before seen but as it has spread, so the results come home to roost.  The US is no longer competitive in manufacturing, its currency is no longer regarded as the de facto exchange currency by many and of course its propensity to dictate to the rest of the world and invade for selfish gain has left it rather poor as well.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Beautiful Beach - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Beautiful Beach – Insider Travel Guides

Unemployment is approaching 10% in the US, the prison population percentage is the highest in the world, homelessness is rampant, health insurance in unaffordable for many and even those on food stamps are nearly doubled over the last 5 years.  For America to tell any other country on the globe how to behave is so absurd it would be funny if it was not so scary.  At least both Romney and Obama agree that the US has to fix its home front before taking on any more crusades!

This brings us to the issue of Mexico.  Mexico has always been a popular vacation spot for Americans.  Not many other nationalities make it here except a few lone Brits like me but Americans are here in their droves and with 5m Americans retiring every year now, the numbers are only set to increase.  Even those Americans with little imagination (who still think the rest of the world uses dollars and we should use the Fahrenheit temperature scale) can make the short trip to sunny Mexico.

But what about all the bloodshed? Well, in sunny (too sunny this last summer) Puerto Vallarta there is little evidence of that.  There are isolated incidents but the most violence is probably over an unpaid bar bill at Daiquiri Dicks on the beach.  This is in stark contrast to other parts of Mexico where kidnapping, extortion and other crimes are a daily occurrence.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico River Cuale Rural Life - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico River Cuale Rural Life – Insider Travel Guides

There are two starkly divided camps on the violence issue.  The US press would have us believe it is unsafe to venture out anywhere in the country without fear of violence.  Long term residents of safer areas of Mexico like Puerto Vallarta know that that is not the case and point to the fact that violence is almost always drug related and mostly in the border states.

My view is this.  The US press is unfair on Mexico for a purely economic reason.  With NAFTA in place it cannot to seen to implement protectionism whilst it would dearly love to in order to save the US from its impending doom.  Instead it uses fear mongering to try to prevent a migration from the US, which it knows is inevitable, but it wants to slow down.

With rising taxes in California making living very hard for most families but still not enough to stop three large cities filing for bankruptcy so far, the lower cost of living across the border in Mexico looks very attractive for many.  Added to that, Mexicans are really nice people.  They have a frustrating slowness at times and bureaucracy, noise levels and lateness are all things that will drive you crazy at times but they are nice people.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Beautiful Estuary - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Beautiful Estuary – Insider Travel Guides

So as the US becomes increasingly unliveable in so many ways, Mexico appears increasingly attractive.  Economically too, Mexico is the antithesis of the US.  Mexico is a traditional society not built on credit so did not suffer from the subprime crisis the US spread across the developed world and also has a far wiser take on growth and investments.

Whilst the US continues to see share prices drop year on year, the Mexican Bolsa grows steadily year on year at around 20% per annum on average.  Mexico is also sitting on huge natural deposits yet to be drilled and has a manufacturing base as competitive as China’s without the shipping, time difference and currency issues.  Most importantly, Mexico has a surplus unlike the US’s $16 trillion deficit…

So we have already seen why the US chooses to paint Mexico as a failed state but is it actually a failed state?  Clearly, the economic numbers say differently and as the US slides down, Mexico climbs up to the point where in years to come they will cross one another.  How long that will take depends upon one thing – motivation…

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Rio Cuale Traditional Shack - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Rio Cuale Traditional Shack – Insider Travel Guides

For me the failure of Mexico is the motivation of the people.  They are nice people – warm and gentle but flawed in certain important respects.  Firstly they are not motivated easily to improve their lot.  I spent many years in Asia and the difference is startling.  Asia has energy – most countries there are full of such driven people, they almost overwhelm you.  Thailand is an exception for many reasons but Vietnam for example, is scary in its energy and enthusiasm.  The norm is to work 6 days a week if not 7 and still go 3 nights a week to night school.

By comparison, Mexicans are laid back and appear lazy, although we all know they actually are not.  They work hard but lack ambition, drive and enthusiasm and only work when they need to, preferring to “relax” and “party” as much as possible.  They also have far too much of a love affair with beer and drink it to excess.  They also do not respect rules or authority too well.  Forming a queue in Oxxo is tough for the average Mexican as is stopping at a red light – it is all too conformist for their macho culture.  Machismo is alive and well in Mexico, that is for sure.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Rocky Beach - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Rocky Beach – Insider Travel Guides

So, in summary, I would say that the US has a shock coming around the corner as it cannot contain the reality that is Mexico for too much longer especially as most people know that the drug problem is created by US demand.  The US is soon to be a failed state rather than Mexico, even though the US paints that picture to keep people spending dollars inside its borders and all that holds Mexico back from being a true success story is the need for its people to get some drive!

All your comments and experiences are very welcome…

The Guru.

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Roo Bar - Insider Travel Guides

Puerto Vallarta Mexico Roo Bar – Insider Travel Guides

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Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – The Best Guide to Dating Thai Girls & Women!… http://gurutravelguides.com/a-tale-of-two-psyches/ http://gurutravelguides.com/a-tale-of-two-psyches/#comments Fri, 14 Sep 2012 14:37:56 +0000 The Guru http://edwardmoulton.com/?p=202 Thai-Farang (Thai word for foreigner) relations are a thing of constant discussion, frustration, amusement or even pain depending upon your level of personal involvement. To many bystanders or internet viewers in the West they are even a focus of ridicule or disdain. Whatever your view, you might find this explanation of them at the levels of perception, intellect and reasoning an unusual and enlightening take on an old chestnut but please do remember this is a very subjective personal view…

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Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – The Best Guide to Dating Thai Girls & Women!…

by The Guru

Thai-Farang (Thai word for foreigner) relations are a thing of constant discussion, frustration, amusement or even pain depending upon your level of personal involvement.  To many bystanders or internet viewers in the West they are even a focus of ridicule or disdain.  Whatever your view, you might find this explanation of them at the levels of perception, intellect and reasoning an unusual and enlightening take on an old chestnut but please do remember this is a very subjective personal view…

Background:  Thailand has been unusually sheltered from foreign influence and is the only South East Asian country to have not been colonised.  It was invaded and occupied but this was by neighbouring powers or intermittent explorers to its islands – never have the people had to live under foreign rule or had the experience of sitting side by side with non-Thais in a restaurant until very recently in the country’s history.

Guide to Dating Thai Women!

It was the arrival of the Americans some 50 years ago in the Vietnam War that triggered the first mass influx into this otherwise culturally isolated nation.  Links both culturally and linguistically to Burma, Laos and Cambodia had been slowly assimilated into the culture as political boundaries changed over the centuries but the arrival of exhausted and frustrated troops to Pattaya and Bangkok was Thailand’s first taste of a western influence.  It was probably not the best at any level…

Asian culture:  Thailand has for far longer been mixing its blood with Chinese and Indians in the northern parts and Malays in the south and this has been far from smooth but cultural differences were minor by comparison.  Indians and Chinese have proven very successful business people to the frustration of the Thais and the Malays very aggressive and determined to stay Muslim to the anger of the Thais.

Add to this a longstanding animosity with the Burmese, Laotians and Cambodians and we see a pattern of uncomfortable foreign relations and resultant xenophobia instilled in the people.  Nevertheless, the Thais have adopted and integrated certain aspects of other Asian cultures into their behaviour as a result so when we talk of Thai culture it is as much a blend of its history as English culture is a mix of Saxon, Gaelic, Celtic, Norse, Germanic and Gallic culture.

Thai values:  As a result of the influence of other Asian countries, strong Buddhist beliefs and of course deep rooted ancestral culture, Thais generally have almost fanatical beliefs and values:  national pride, reverence of the Monarchy, family unity, dependence, egocentricity, fatalistic inevitability, xenophobia, love of money, lightheartedness and much more.

Western values:  Without the same analysis of the past, which in any case would be impossible unless undertaken country-by-country, western values are very, very different overall.  Westerners are independent, self-motivated, open-minded, anxious, pre-meditated and adaptable.  These are very general values and do not reflect all Westerners, of course, but they do stand as relatively accurate compared to the average Thai person.  These values are also by no means judgmental – there is no way to judge if any set of values are better than the other, they are simply different.

Guide to Dating Thai Women!

How Westerners see Thai values in the real world:  We see Thais as very immature compared to us with an almost baby-like nature in their desire for fun, lack of responsibility, dependence on the family unit to take care of problems and the sense of inevitability, which prevents them from trying too hard at anything.  They get confused by complex and multi-tasked situations and resist ownership of the problem or any form of confrontation.  Equally importantly, their simple sense of existence with a pure uncluttered take on the world results in them seeing everything in a linear and two dimensional way with little distraction, sense of urgency or consideration for outside factors.

How Thais see Western values in the real world:  By comparison, we appear overly complicated and worried about everything.  We see problems where there are none, we deal with things so easily and quickly but never seem happy with the result.  We can rarely get on with our own lives as we worry about the time, exchange rates, how to fix it all and what others think of us.  We are altogether too stressed and we make problems everywhere we go.

On holiday in Thailand:  In a relaxed holiday situation, these differences present little frustration for either party.  Service comes with a smile and whilst slow and often wrong, it is not a problem because the smile and gentle attitude will get through it all.  Thais are aware of our spending power and they put aside any hostility towards foreign culture in order to benefit and they manage very well to present a kind and gracious acceptance of their role as serving our needs.  This is true for hotels, bars, restaurants and even in casual relationships.  Thailand is famed for the friendliness of its women towards western men and there are few more skilled workers worldwide than bar girls who use precision and worldliness well beyond their years and education to guide their partner into the relationship they want.  This is proof that there is a keen ability to learn when the rewards are sufficiently high – it is all a matter of motivation!

Guide to Dating Thai Women!

At work in Thailand:  The workplace here can be a challenge for us alongside Thai workers.  Compared to a Western counterpart, they need reminding constantly what to do, they lack initiative, take ages to complete a simple task and then they all want to go to lunch together.  They are scared of responsibility, cannot take even the most constructive criticism and have little loyalty to the company.  More public holidays than we are used to, a staff turnover far higher and a general inability to even turn up on time all serve to infuriate a Western boss as he sees productivity drop markedly.  To the Thai, they cannot understand what all the fuss is about as they have so much more to think about outside work and it is after all only a means to an end – earning money to have fun with family and friends.

Thai-Farang Relations:  This has all been by way of a lead up to tackle the thoughts of each party in this common situation, a Western man with a Thai woman.  There are of course example of the converse but very rare by comparison.

The Western man is inevitable attracted by the innocence, charm, naivety and overall gentle affection he receives from his partner.  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder but Thai women are famed for their poise, grace, slender bodies and enduring beauty, which defies their years well beyond their Western counterparts.   He will also be flattered by the fact that she wants to please him in every way and has no strong aspiration to do different things from him – being together is fine.  Language and cultural barriers are easily eroded by the exotic attraction and physical passion so differences seem small.  Most of all, he feels energised and re-born compared to his previous life in the West.

Guide to Dating Thai Women!

For the Thai woman, she is flattered by the courteous nature of her new partner compared to Thai culture where promiscuity, adultery and disrespect to women are for more prevalent.  She like the new lifestyle and wants to make her man happy so dressing up sexily and pleasing him at every opportunity are easy and pleasant tasks.  Most of all, she feels financially secure and can provide for her existing or future family with him.

It is common for the Thai woman to be younger that the Western man, often by a large age-gap compared to the West.  This can present problems but not for any cultural reason as this has long been common in Thai culture.  The problems lie in the relative maturity – Thais appear far more immature than their Western counterparts and so a 20 year age-gap can feel more like 40 years.  The psyche of the young Thai woman makes her younger than a Western counterpart and want to go out and have fun all the time and take little responsibility.  She also knows she will outlive her man so this is a step in her life only but he wants a constant companion in her until he dies so tensions can arise.

A consequence of this is the differences in the way that Westerners and Thais deal with the world.  As already mentioned, Thais are generally linear and Westerners generally more complex in most things though not everything.  Some examples are the way a Thai person will walk, ride a bike or drive a car in a straight line from a-b regardless of what might be in the way or the rules that prevail and be shocked to even know that they cannot do that.  Westerners will be aware of the surroundings and adapt the path to take into account others present.  A Thai person generally turns the microwave on to the same level and time for any item whereas a Westerner will adjust the level and time accordingly.  A Thai party or even Thai TV has the recorded sound set so high to be at distortion level like an on-off switch whereas Western culture teaches us to adjust it to sound clear at any volume.

These are simplistic examples and do not apply by any means to everyone but they are valid generalisations that serve to illustrate the point and this can cause ongoing friction especially when the Western man is forced to communicate through his Thai woman with other Thais.  The result is what is euphemistically called ‘mis-communication’ – it sometimes is but often also can be an inability to put his idea across adequately and succinctly.  The Thai language is so different from most Western ones too and that is problematic but that is another story…

Guide to Dating Thai Women!

It is also common for the Western man to take his ‘tilac’ (darling) to a ‘better life’ as he sees it in his home country.  There are stories of this working but far more end in disaster because it is too cold, unfriendly and boring for the Thai woman and she misses her family and friends back home.  She may put up with it for a time but may also fall into bad habits with other Thai ladies equally bored away from home when she feels neglected when he has to work  – gambling, alcoholism and vice often result.  Because of the psyche of the Western man, he can adapt far more easily to life in Thailand than she can to life in the West so this is a far better base for a successful mixed relationship.

Another problem is jealousy and this can be from both sides.  He loves her, knows how beautiful she is but also knows how easily physical relations can occur in Thailand and so he worries that she might be unfaithful.  She loves him too but knows the reputation all ‘farang’ (foreigners) have for being ‘butterflies’ (unfaithful) and after all there are so many pretty younger girls out there.  The psyche of the Thai woman is to protect what is hers and her family’s and he is now part of the family so she will be very determined to prevent this at all cost.  His psyche is such that he cannot bear the dent to his ego of not having a faithful girlfriend even though he might not be such himself.  The reality is that the prevalence of easy relations in Thailand makes fidelity a challenge for most and many relationships end up settling for a respectful decent public face no matter what the private reality.

Money often rears its head as an issue between partners here too.  There really is no clear answer to this matter as there are as many different levels of greed or otherwise amongst Thais as there are amongst Westerners but one difference will always be that the Thai woman wil automatically assume that what is his is now hers too.  This is not necessarily a malicious assumption although it can be if the Thai woman is solely in the relationship for short-term financial gain.  If this is not the case, it all hinges on security and she expects to be provided for together with her family as she has committed to him. He may see this as presumptuous but this is a cultural issue for a change not one of differences of psyche.

Guide to Dating Thai Women!

Finally, the biggest single challenge for any Thai-Western relationship will be communication.  Failure to communicate is the single biggest reason for failure in any relationship, not just loving ones and not just in Thailand, so it is no surprise that this is a tough issue to overcome.  Given a certain maturity, intelligence and commitment from the Thai woman, problems can be worked through.   Given the same commitment, patience and acceptance of the cultural differences by the Western man not to mention some degree of fidelity and most problems are only a conversation away from resolution.   Sharing money, having a joint family home and making a baby all serve to cement the relationship, hopefully for the better, and create a shared life with common values, friendships, trust and fun together.

The key issue here is that Western culture encourages us to voice our worries, concerns and problems; Thai culture and an old-fashioned education system represses this and encourages internalisation of important worries and thoughts.  The Western man has to work hard to bring the discussion to the fore as she will bottle things up if given the opportunity.

All the above observations are generalisations and, as with all generalisations, they serve to illustrate the point at hand but they do not apply to everyone and indeed, it would be rare for any one person to exhibit all these character traits.  Nevertheless, the objective here is to elaborate on the differences between Thai and Western partners in a loving relationship and explain them by differences in their psyches and resultant thought processes.  Life together all depends upon the motivations, backgrounds, wealth, age and even where you meet in Thailand but some things are a relative constant.  They are perceived very, very differently in everyone’s mind!  Happy relations…

Do you have a Thai relationship story to tell?  PLEASE share it…

- The Guru

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China – Beijing, China – China is the Fifth Reich and New Superpower as the US Declines… http://gurutravelguides.com/the-fifth-reich/ http://gurutravelguides.com/the-fifth-reich/#comments Mon, 03 Sep 2012 17:38:27 +0000 The Guru http://edwardmoulton.com/?p=134 The Fifth Reich – The new era is coming… China and no more USA. Reich — ORIGIN German, ‘empire’ /rik, ri&ulkh;/ • noun the former German state, in particular the Third Reich (the Nazi regime, 1933-45). The First Empire happened a long time ago for most of us – before the birth of Christ. Otherwise known as the Greek Empire, it was created in 336 B.C. by Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire's culture and language continued to dominate the world in a tangible way for about the next 300 years.

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China – Beijing, China – China Is The Fifth Reich And New Superpower As The US Declines…

- The Guru

The Fifth Reich – The new era is coming…

Reich  — ORIGIN German, ‘empire’

/rik, ri&ulkh;/ • noun the former German state, in particular the Third Reich (the Nazi regime, 1933-45).

The First Empire happened a long time ago for most of us – before the birth of Christ.  Otherwise known as the Greek Empire, it was created in 336 B.C. by Alexander the Great and the Greek Empire’s culture and language continued to dominate the world in a tangible way for about the next 300 years.

China – Beijing, China – China Is The Fifth Reich And New Superpower As The US Declines…

The Second Empire also known as the Roman Empire succeeded the Roman Republic and is commonly accepted to have started around 27 B.C. when the Emperor Octavian took on the mantle of absolute ruler from the Senate.  This lasted until 476 A.D. (some 500 years) when Augustus was forced to abdicate.  In that time, it shaped the majority of the known western world.

The Third Empire was the Third Reich, the English language names for Germany under the regime of Adolf Hitler that existed from 1933 to 1945 and formed the totalitarian dictatorship that attempted to rule Europe.  It only lasted for 12 years but it left an unforgettable legacy across most of Europe, as we now know it.

China – Beijing, China – China Is The Fifth Reich And New Superpower As The US Declines…

The Fourth Empire has never really existed officially yet we are actually living in it, or at least the end of it.  It probably started around the same time the Third Reich saw its demise and has lasted until now but it will probably not last too much longer as we are seeing the death rattle right now in the form of the US credit crisis.  The last 60 years has seen the US as the dominant world power with little to challenge except the former USSR or the occasional threat from terror and Al Qaeda.

The Fifth Reich is coming and 2008 will be written in history as the official start of it as well as the demise of the outgoing Fourth Reich.  As the US credit crisis has decimated the US economy and exposed the excesses of consumer greed and spending that have created a bankrupt nation, so the Beijing Olympics has shown the world the strength and determination of the next new global power.

The Fifth Empire belongs to China and it will surely last for at least as long as any of the previous ones as there is simply nothing that will stop it apart from self-destruction.  Even then, it is difficult to see how 1.3bn people and growing can simply stop the relentless surge towards wealth, power and increasingly external influence even if the rulers decide to step down.  The inertia is simply too powerful.  To put it in perspective, the simple population of Mainland China is thirty times that of the whole of the most widespread empire in history, the Roman Empire spanning Northern Europe to Africa and into Asia.

China – Beijing, China – China Is The Fifth Reich And New Superpower As The US Declines…

The Beijing 2008 Olympics showed us the determination and resource available in this once poor country.  We saw unyielding determination to win and also to stage a world spectacle yet we also saw the ugly face of a country unwilling to veer from total domination.  Censorship, arrests and the subjugation of territories and people are a necessary evil when you are creating an empire and we have seen this building for many years in China.  Now we see increasing involvement in foreign affairs, arms trading and partnerships with resource rich nations not to mention a space programme and world leadership in manufacturing.

China – Beijing, China – China Is The Fifth Reich And New Superpower As The US Declines…

The other Fifth Empire, known as Quinto Império in Portuguese, is a mythological concept, which became widespread after the publication of the poem A Mensagem, by Fernando Pessoa in Portugal a hundred years ago.  It talks of a spiritual and linguistic body which spreads throughout the world representing the ultimate form of fusion between material (science, reason, intellectual speculation) and spiritual knowledge (the occult, mystical speculation, cabalism).  It is the culmination of all the achievements of all previous empires, namely the Greek, Roman, Christian and European Empires as Pessoa saw them as he pre-dated my Third Reich and Fourth US Empire.

Pessoa’s prediction was a harking back to Portugal’s colonial past, as the Portuguese Empire was the earliest, longest lived and largest of the modern European colonial empires, spanning almost six centuries, from the capture of Ceuta in 1415 to the handover of Macau to China in 1999.

How ironic that the end of Pessoa’s chances for Portugal to become the fifth empire was the handing of Macao to China.  Rather like the baton change at the Olympic Games it has recently staged, China will take on that role and run with it with all its might but I fear it will not be the uniting force Pessoa sought and more the Fifth Reich I foresee, bent on world domination not just a continent like the last Reich.  Let us hope that China uses its power to bring some order and unity to an ever-increasingly discontented world and does not simply tire of it and use the baton and more as weapons of force to subjugate it.  It has, without doubt, the power to do either…

Do you have a view on China’s power and motives?  Please SHARE it here…

- The Guru

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Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Guide to doing business in Thailand – read this first!… http://gurutravelguides.com/thailifeline-%e2%80%93-a-survival-guide-%e2%80%93-doing-business-in-thailand/ http://gurutravelguides.com/thailifeline-%e2%80%93-a-survival-guide-%e2%80%93-doing-business-in-thailand/#comments Sun, 22 Jul 2012 15:20:56 +0000 The Guru http://edwardmoulton.com/?p=339 Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Guide to doing business in Thailand – read this first!… by The Guru I lived and worked in Thailand for many years and I want to share my insights with you on doing business there.  As with most things in Thailand (LOS – Land Of Smiles), things are not always [...]

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Thailand – Bangkok, Thailand – Guide to doing business in Thailand – read this first!…

by The Guru

I lived and worked in Thailand for many years and I want to share my insights with you on doing business there.  As with most things in Thailand (LOS – Land Of Smiles), things are not always what they seem…

Thailand appears at first glance the most accessible of Asian countries which is why so many westerners choose to holiday there and often make their home there.  However, the culture and mentality can be very different so I will guide you through my top 10 tips for situations you may encounter…

There is a saying I have:

A holiday in Thailand is wonderful, living in Thailand is great but working in Thailand is a nightmare!

This is true but there is an obvious advantage to having an income here to fund the lifestyle you seek so we will see what we can do to steer you in the right direction.

In no particular order, here are the top ten things you HAVE to know about doing business in Thailand.  Although each experience is different, there are some common unwritten rules:

Suitable Businesses – Thailand has strict laws about what you can and cannot do.  The list of prohibited employment is long and odd and a few notable entries are mining, forestry, taxi driving, cooking and bar work.   The first three probably do not appeal anyway though some do try the third!  However, you might ask how you are supposed to own a restaurant or bar if you cannot work in them?  Good question… !  I will return to that later on.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Guide to doing business in Thailand - read this first!...

In the meantime, the best bets for work for foreigners here are as follows:

low wages (teacher, bar manager, junior real estate agent, call centre operator),

mid-level wages (general manager in hotel, graphic designer, IT programmer )

and high wages (professional services – accountant, lawyer and similar).

Of course you never get rich anywhere in the world by working for others so you will probably want to set up your own business if you have some capital.  The top options for this are real estate, property development, hotel ownership, franchised businesses and online websites/portals.  These are where the real money is made if you are the right person in the right place at the right time with the right help.

By this I mean that Thailand is no easier than anywhere else to do business – in fact it is a lot harder -but you do have potentially higher rewards and the lifestyle is hard to beat if are successful.  But you do need to be in the right place at the right time and so opening yet another bar in the same Soi where others are struggling as a recession kicks in is not a great move.  Ideally you need a recession-proof business like an online business with low overheads or a business you can move to different markets easily and adapt.  Finally you need help and so a partner or franchisor to teach, support and guide you are more important here than anywhere else.  In fact some of the most successful businesses here are franchises!

Check First – Always check the background of a business you are buying or the person you are dealing with.  There are some very disreputable Thai business people here and even more untrustworthy foreigners!  Many seem to either see Thaialnd as the place to come to cheat because they think the rules are more relaxed (they are not but they are just more difficult to enforce as a foreigner) or they come here with good intentions but gradually adopt local shoddy business ethics.  The key is to check things and see what you are getting for your money.  If it is physical, inspect it; if a service or online business, see the existing offering at work.

Contracts – In my previous business life I was cheated by around one in ten people.  In Thailand I would reverse those statistics – it really is that rough out here!  Finding someone trsutworthy in Thailand is tough…

But you should not be put off – the key is to plan and be careful.  A good contract is a great way to start as all legal disputes here start and end with the contract (… killing – only joking!).  Not just the purchase of the business or franchise depends on the contract but all dealings with suppliers, partners and staff.  Suppliers are a particularly tough relationship as they nearly always demand half the payment up front, then either run off or present you with an extra bill at the end for extra work you never agreed the price for.  This is very common and very unprofessional.  Again, put a simple contract in place that covers you and puts penalties against them not you!

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Guide to doing business in Thailand - read this first!...

With partners and staff, get local legal advice as the rules are very particular regarding rights on splits etc but make sure you are protected.  Everyone smiles here and pretends to be very laid back but you do not need to believe that or be that way yourself.  You can be professional.  There is a strong community of ethical business people centred around Bangkok but it takes time to meet them and the further you go from Bangkok, the less of them there are although they do exist.  A forum is a good place to meet others for advice but before and not after you have signed the contract…

Lawyers – Sadly, there is a real problem here with lawyers as there is no code of conduct they have to adhere to.  They have to be Thai to practise so any foreigner will only be the company owner or manager apart from the big international firms which get special dispensations to trade in an advisory capacity.  You are therefore left with paying international prices to an international firm or using a smaller local firm.  There are good local ones but many bad ones and I cannot stress strongly enough to check around and get referred.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Guide to doing business in Thailand - read this first!...

Accountants – These are another issue similar to lawyers.  Only Thais can work in the profession but foreigners do get to work in larger firms with Thai staff who sign the final paperwork.  These prices are high and the other common option is local one man band firms which are cheap but very variable in quality of work.  There are a handful of smaller firms that fit the middle road but you need to seek them out carefully.

Staff – Staffing is the single biggest headache in Thaialnd as it is elsewhere but here it is worse!  They will be late, slow and much worse in any business you operate and no matter how hard you try to teach them, help them and incentivise them, they will just leave one day with no notice and for no reason.  Thais don’t like work, full stop, and only do it for the money – careers are rare.   However, you will need some staff at some point so do your best, be patient and you will find the few good apples who will bring their friends especially if you pay over the odds.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Guide to doing business in Thailand - read this first!...

Premises – You are not allowed to own property in your name apart from a condo and unless you have an online business which is perfect to run from there you will need premises in the form of an office for staff or a commercial site for your bar, restaurant or shop.  It is unlikely that you will buy freehold as prices are very high in popular locations and then you have the problem of how to ‘own’ it…  So be very careful with the lease details as you will find there are some odd customs amongst Thai and Indian owners who want to get your money at all costs.

One is the use of ‘key money’.  This is essentially just an extra payment for no reason but loosely resembles a ‘premium’ payment in the west.  The only difference here is that it can be so high as to make the rent almost negligible and rather than being a one-off payment it can be demanded every year or even quarter!  The other common trick is with bars and restaurant leases.  The owners take no interest in their upkeep and then you arrive and are impressed with the low rent.  Ok, there is key money but you think it is a one-off.  You sign the lease for one year and they promise they will renew it and say so in the contract.  You spend a small fortune on the place and it does well then after the first year they offer to renew the lease but at a far higher rent and higher key money.  Most tenants leave and the owners get a nicely renovated property to rent for far more to the next tenant.

If they stay, they keep paying higher and higher rents till they go out of business.  Arguing will get you nowhere but the owners then repeat the process…

Regulations – Whatever anyone tells you to the contrary to try to defend the immigration and labour rules in Thailand, they are designed to be as difficult as possible for foreigners to stay here and earn money.  They could not be any more difficult if we sat down and started from scratch!  Living in Thailand for more than 3 months at a time requires a visa and regular renewal.  Retirement requires a retirement visa and proof of savings or income from abroad, not here as you cannot work with a retirement visa.  Working requires holding one of the type B or similar visas and then getting a work permit.

Thailand - Bangkok, Thailand - Guide to doing business in Thailand - read this first!...

The work permit allows you to do certain things but not the things on the forbidden list so you can have a bar but not serve a drink behind it, have a restaurant but not cook, take orders or serve the customers.  You are only allowed to be ‘teaching’ Thai staff to do the job and to hold your work permit you need to be seen to employ 4 Thai staff for each permit.  It gets worse but I have no space here to elaborate.  It is just a continual struggle to justify your existence and then you have to report every 90 days to immigration and you are called an ‘alien’ on all paperwork!  Lovely…

Disputes
– Disputes occur in everything in life and so be prepared for some here.  The local law is reasonably fair at considering foreigners’ claims but they take a low level of interest in a foreigner-foreigner bitter dispute as it is not in their interest to sort anything out.  The police are notoriously slow and only work for a ‘tip’ so the advice you should heed is try to avoid disputes at all costs and if you do have one, hire the right influential Thai lawyer with the right connections.

Be Careful.jpg

Be Careful – Overall, just take greater care than you would in your home country is my advice but do not be put off – don’t let them win!  There are many success stories but many sad losses also so the key is to plan well, trust no-one at first, don’t believe anything that is too good to be true and have the right support.   Friends and support will come gradually as you gain a reputation for being honest.

Thailand is a wonderful country and having an income here helps as money gives you lots more options.  Some businesses are easier than others and I hope these tips help…

If you have any experiences or disagree with my take on things, LET ME KNOW!

The Guru

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USA – Sonoma, California – Has America become the most selfish country on Earth?… http://gurutravelguides.com/sonoma-usa-photo-shoot-with-the-new-olympus-omd-em5/ http://gurutravelguides.com/sonoma-usa-photo-shoot-with-the-new-olympus-omd-em5/#comments Mon, 09 Jul 2012 04:09:53 +0000 The Guru http://edwardmoulton.com/?p=511 Sonoma may well be one of the nicest places on Earth to live. On a perfect summer's day in June, who could argue. It is clean, elegant, safe and most of all so very, very friendly. There is something for everyone with nearby wineries and fantastic restaurants...

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USA – Sonoma, California – Has America become the most selfish country on Earth?……

- by The Guru

Sonoma may well be one of the nicest places on Earth to live.  On a perfect summer’s day in June, who could argue.  It is clean, elegant, safe and most of all so very, very friendly – or so it appears.  There is something for everyone from the nearby wineries, the fantastic restaurants, and the charming town square to even a huge new Whole Food Market store.

What better place to test drive the new Olympus OMD EM5 camera I picked up the day before.  Fresh off the plane at SFO the night before and after a lovely night’s rest in Half Moon Bay (review coming here shortly), I made my way over to Palo Alto to pick up the Olympus from specialty camera store, Keeble and Shuchat.  It was my first time there but they made me very welcome and offer superb service, not to mention they actually had the camera in stock unlike the rest of the world.

With no time to “read the manual” or do any other set up, I decided to see how well the camera fares on iAuto as, let’s be honest, that is where the dial will remain for most users, most of the time.  Like a good restaurant’s choice of house wine, a test of any digital camera these days should be how well it performs in “auto mode”.  By the way, on the subject of good restaurants, I ate at Cafe La Haye in Sonoma and it was a truly excellent meal.  Their website is here.  The best place to stay in town is undoubtedly MacArthur Place and their website is here.  Tell both I recommended them highly when you go…

My camera came with the 12-50mm M.Zuiko zoom lens; silver body and black lens and spectacular it looks too.  Does it take great pictures?  You bet!  Here are 20 shots taken on the fly as a travel photographer would in a hurry looking to catch the best of a place in an hour.  They are taken as JPEGs from the camera and tweaked a little in iPhoto, that’s all.

Whilst a sunny day in the California countryside is always a good formula to get the best from any camera, there is no doubt in my mind the color reproduction is nothing short of spectacular.  The camera is also a joy to use – not too big, not too small.

Outskirts of Sonoma near the Raceway - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Outskirts of Sonoma near the Raceway – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

However, this idyllic location set me thinking and as the day wore on I was more and more overwhelmed by a strange feeling….  A feeling that is difficult to describe but maybe contains the following adjectives – insincere, selfish, detached and self-serving.

It occurred to me that Sonoma is not really a good example of the US since, unlike the vast majority of the US now, it is affluent, white and upper / middle class; however, this is ironically the very place to see first hand the malaise I refer to as the ugly face of America.  Let me explain…

Sonoma City Hall - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma City Hall – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

I have traveled all over the US and mixed with people of different classes, races and income levels but it is never more obvious than amongst well-heeled folk such as reside in Sonoma how much selfishness there exists in this once great country.  The US is dying, slowly but surely, as the Fourth Reich comes to an end and we await the Asian domination of the world led by China, but in these last days of the US being a world power, that really ugly face is really showing itself.

For more on the emergence of China as the Fifth Reich, see my piece here.  Meanwhile…

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

The contrast between the beauty of the physical surroundings of Sonoma and the ugliness of its residents could not be more striking – they are not ugly on the outside but they have lost their souls if they ever had one.  The sort of person who moves to or lives in Sonoma is making a clear statement – “I have money and I don’t give a damn about anyone else”…

Harsh?  Maybe… But undoubtedly fair.  Why?  The US now more than any other time in its history is failing.  It has at the time of writing this article, $17 trillion of debt, a heath service in decay, social deprivation never seen before in a developed country, schools that need metal detectors for the children to enter and streets that are in most cities too dangerous to walk at night.  Yet, the Sonomaites go about their day blissfully unaware of any of these issues.  I suspect the biggest crime most years in downtown Sonoma is a parking violation and so this blissful ignorance shields them from the harsh reality that is modern-day America.

Sonoma Craft Shop - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Craft Shop – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Let us not forget that Sonoma is in California, the richest state in the Union in many ways yet it is on the brink of being totally bankrupt.  Many individual cities have filed for bankruptcy and whilst the excesses of Los Angeles and the energy of San Francisco would never give you that impression, California is in big trouble and all that trade with Asia will not help.

This is old news but the point of my piece here is more compelling.  I am convinced that the reason that California is on the verge of becoming bankrupt and the rest of the US will soon follow (even though it technically already is with $17 trillion of debts), is because of the mentality of places like Sonoma.

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

You see, whereas other nations pull together in times of crisis, Americans pull apart.  In Asia, and even Europe, families stick together but not in the US.  They fight over the will of a bereaved one, feud over control of family businesses and get divorced at the drop of a hat because selfish living is the new norm.

Recently, the US hit several new milestones – the divorce rate is now so high the chances are that your new marriages will now end in divorce, obesity is at over 35% (yes, more than one in three people are obese, not overweight, obese – overweight is at over 70%!), most people live alone and crime is reaching new levels in almost every sector…

Sonoma Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Why is this happening to the US?  The answer is simple.  The social fabric has long been destroyed.  People don’t care.  They smile, they say nice things but they really don’t mean it.  There is a saying that a person should “take a sincerity pill” if they are behaving in a less than sincere way; well, that would become the most dipsensed drug for sure in the US if we followed that cure!

Most Americans simply don’t care about anyone else but themselves and in a place like Sonoma you can bet that all people behave like that.  Why am I picking on Sonoma?

Simply because some of the less affluent inner city or rural areas of the US still retain a semblance of old values – family values, mutual respect and generosity – but it would be impossible to survive with these values in Sonoma because no-one else would reciprocate.  As with all social constructs, they cannot exist in isolation as by the sheer nature of being social, they require reciprocation.

Sonoma Train - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Train – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

So what you see beneath the surface of the shiny facades and clean streets of Sonoma is very ugly indeed – greed, selfishness and above all a total lack of care for other human beings.  This me-me-me cult of living has been developing over many decades but is now accelerating as the gap between the haves and have-nots increases and people become only more entrenched in their own existence at the expense of anyone else.

Don’t get me wrong – Americans are not overly rude or aggressive to your face, they will simply not lift a finger for you because they just don’t care about anyone else but themselves.

Sonoma Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

If like me you have traveled and seen other cultures, this American way is quite shocking.  No country or culture is perfect but nowhere on Earth is there a more selfish people than Americans.  Next time you return from the US and check your hotel bill or car hire receipt only to find you have been cheated – it always happens – remember it is not personal, it is just the American way as everyone looks after “number one”.

Is there any hope for Americans?  Probably not.  The very small percentage that do travel, see the difference in other countries and out this down to the “charm” of the place but certainly won’t change their own behavior.  For the overwhelming majority of Americans who do not have a passport and don’t see any reason to have one, they are simply too entrenched in their belief that the US is the greatest country on Earth and so the American way must prevail…

Sonoma Centre Du Vin - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre Du Vin – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

An interesting statistic is that every year over 1 million Americans arrive at the airport woht no passport and are refused boarding – why?  they simply never thought they could not travel anywhere becasue they are American after all!

For the rest of us, the US has some beautiful sights but don’t let that deceive you.  It is a very ugly country indeed when you look below the surface.

Meanwhile, enjoy the images from the new Olympus OMD EM5 and if you think I am too harsh on the poor Americans, please let me know WHY…

The Guru.

Sonoma Cafe - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Cafe – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Cinema - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Cinema – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Place Des Pyrenees - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Place Des Pyrenees – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Swiss Hotel - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Swiss Hotel – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Plaza Bistro - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Plaza Bistro – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Central Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Sunflower Caffe - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Sunflower Caffe – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Red Wolf Gallery - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Red Wolf Gallery – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Shop - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Shop – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre Square - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma Centre Square – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma road home - Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

Sonoma road home – Olympus OMD EM5 12-50mm

 

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China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?… http://gurutravelguides.com/on-my-travels-hong-kong-china/ http://gurutravelguides.com/on-my-travels-hong-kong-china/#comments Sun, 01 Jul 2012 08:59:31 +0000 The Guru http://edwardmoulton.com/?p=270 China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?… - The Guru I have been to Hong Kong a few times recently and I thought it was about time I give you my take on this extraordinary place!  I first went there as a teenager at 18 years old and [...]

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China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

- The Guru

I have been to Hong Kong a few times recently and I thought it was about time I give you my take on this extraordinary place!  I first went there as a teenager at 18 years old and lived and worked there for 6 months.  What on earth have the Chinese done to the place?  It is changed for the worse beyond all recognition!

The short version is I loved it at 18 but now it is a mess….

The long version is at 18 years old I lived in a great place up on The Peak on Hong Kong Island.  It was an awesome apartment with views to the sea on both sides of the Island and I only had the privilege of living there because I was staying with my best friend and his father was some high ranking officer in the British Navy. I think he was the head of catering for the other officers – important stuff!  Anyway, that address, Mount Austen Mansions is probably priceless to live in today if you can get in there at all!

I worked in the NAAFI store by day in a big tower called HMS Tamar on the island which is no more… It’s now an insurance building of some sort.  I also worked in Mong Kok by night is a language school at 400 (and something) Nathan Road.  I was teaching some lovely Chinese people and then going out for fun with them afterwards.  Oh, those were good days and I miss them…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back to the story now.  In those days, things were different.  You arrived at Kai Tak airport which was a small runway outcrop going onto the sea in Kowloon side.  It felt like it was all going wrong as the pilot had to take a very close run in over the mountains to lose altitude to manage to land properly or you were in the sea off the end of the runway!  I spent many evenings lying on my back on some tall building in Mong Kok with a friend or two watching the planes with their under carriages nearly scratching my face as they came in so low.  That is all gone now as the sparkling new Chek Lap Kok Airport on a nearby island has replaced it since 1998.  It is a nice airport but it is a very long way to get to your plane from the central area so allow an hour or so unless you have rollerblades on!

The journey in to from the airport can be accomplished easily by taxi or the high speed train.  I like the train but I don’t like the way the recorded woman’s voice cannot manage to stop telling you every two minutes that you are on the train!  I mean I worked that one out my dear…  You can get off in the middle of nowhere in the suburbs or go to Kowloon or Hong Kong Island.  Now that’s where it all gets interesting…

I made a trip to HK last year for the Chinese New Year (CNY) and it was miserable.  Apart from being freezing cold I stayed in the wrong place – Kowloon Side!  I actually was in a lovely hotel in Mong Kok called the Langham Place and it is a very nice hotel indeed but all around it is horrible.  Dreary shops in the shopping centres, swarms of people all shuffling aimlessly around smoking and chatting on their ear phones.  Ugghh… I never wanted to come back and I felt the magic of HK from my early days was lost forever.  I mean even the street markets serving food from a wok lit by a huge Bunsen Burner were gone!  In their place are a million gold shops…

We had cocktails in the Peninsular Hotel then saw the fireworks whilst shivering outside after an over-priced dinner in another swanky hotel on the harbour front and only the Star Ferry ride was nostalgic and fun.  Even the Peak Railway has been changed and is too busy and touristy now…

But then I discovered the bit they don’t tell you very readily in the guide books!  Unless you are Chinese visiting family, stay on the Island… Oh, what a difference!

The island life is a different ‘kettle of fish’ indeed. The last two visits I have made this year I have not set foot off the island and I have had a great time.  The Island side has its own lifestyle all of its own.  There are shops, bars, restaurants, offices, hiking trails, massage parlours, even the old trams and in fact all you need to hang out for a week without venturing away.

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I stayed in a medium level, but good value, hotel in Wanchai district called the Novotel Century.  Rooms are a bit small and spartan but the location, gym and food are all awesome.  Within minutes you are in the entertainment areas and whether you are seeking good restaurants, great bars, live music or late night bars, it’s all there.  Of course, Wanchai is also the red light district but it’s tame and easy to navigate around.  Unlike Bangkok where every street is a series of available and pestering women calling you oh so handsome, here you only have to handle the odd couple of highly motivated girls trying to drag you in to an overpriced go-go bar – they are normally Thai too by the way!

Interestingly, the girls here are very diverse.  There are the local Chinese mainland girls coming down for some extra income or sadly having no choice at the hands of their evil pimp.  But also if you go into the late night music venues you see this amazingly eclectic array of international beauties.  I would not know the full details myself of course (!) but my friend reliably tells me there are corners of the bars where they all group – Thai girls looking snooty as they do on the left, Filipina girls looking happy and chatty on the right, Vietnamese girls looking very sexy anywhere, Indonesian girls looking like the girl next door and even Columbian girls looking like their bodies cannot take the weight of their ample chests!

Anyway, if that’s your thing, you’ll have a ball apparently…  If not, avoid late night drinking in Wanchai.  The great thing is that you can go late night drinking in many other areas of the island and there is an amazing array of bars, restaurants, clubs and more all frequented by a nice mix of Western and Asian clientele.  There are some seriously really pretty people here of all racial backgrounds and it is so nice to see them all mulling around together by day and by night…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

China – Hong Kong, China – What Have The Chinese Done To Hong Kong?…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During the day, the Island life offers a choice of hiking up the side of the hills, visiting the harbours on the far side or working very hard in the business district if you have to.  And Hong Kongers really do work very hard indeed for the most part.  HK has the work hard, play hard attitude down to an art and you can just smell the success as you walk around.  Guys in sharp suits, yummy-mummies in their day-time exercise gear spending hubby’s money and charming mixed race folk all going about their daily chores.  The only downside to life here is the high prices and lack of decent-sized accommodation.  Everything is so cramped but I guess that is the charm of the place!

So in summary, I love Hong Kong despite what the Chinese have done to it and I highly recommend it for a visit but living in a shoe box and burning my way through my wallet in record time doesn’t make it viable for the long term.  Compared to Thailand for example, the cost of living is as much as four times as high so you have to be in good employment to survive the lifestyle there or it’s going to be very boring for you!  Let’s hope the jobs hold out as many seem to be in some danger right now and that could signal a big change in the lifestyle there.  For now Hong KOng island is still not too Chinese!

What do YOU think of Hong Kong?

The Guru

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