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Archive for December, 2009

2 days of Visa

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 31, 2009

December 28-29, 2009

All Pictures

The Thai Consular Office in Laos

What Visa?

Before Mark and I left Bangkok we made a visit to the HR department of our company. There the lady in charge of helping with work permits told us what to do to get a visa. She made copies of the visas and stamps in our passports, printed out the visa application form for us, and told us that we needed 1,000THB for the visa. She told us to get the non-immigrant visa, but she never gave us a letter saying we were guaranteed jobs.

When we got to the Thai Embassy in Laos, we found out that we needed this letter to get the non-immigrant visa. Since we didn’t have one, we got the 2 month tourist visa instead. I e-mailed the HR lady, explaining what happened. She said that everything was okay and that we can change it to the non-immigrant visa when we get back to Thailand.

Personally I think that she just forgot about the letter.

The visa I have now is a 2 month tourist visa and it says I can’t work. I already have a job and have been working for the past 2 weeks. But in Thailand laws are bendable, so whatcha gonna do about it?

But that’s the crazy thing about working in Thailand. You can’t get a visa to work in Thailand until you have a job. If you have a job, they expect you to work. But you can’t work until you get the visa. But companies don’t want to get visas for workers until they have worked for the company for a few weeks or months.

Laotian Dancing

It’s like a school play

Vientiane is a town with nothing much going on. You can see everything this town has to offer in half a day. So when Mark and I saw a sign for a dinner theater during one of our strolls around town, we were excited.

We went to the show the next day. The food was okay. Laotian food is okay. The show was really bad. Most of the dancers seemed to hate being there. The music wasn’t that good and they were only lip synchingking.

There was a tour group. I’m not sure where they were from, but they were very loud and obnoxious. They would just stand up and yell across the room to each other in the middle of the performance. The show was bad, but I still wanted to see and hear what I paid for in peace.

The tour group left early and once they were gone things got better. Not the performance. The show was still pretty lame, but the actors seemed to be having fun once the group and their antics, were out of there. When the dancer started to have fun, I enjoyed the show more. It was still bad though.

All Pictures


 

Laos 
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
  • How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.

Phone:

  • Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
  • Emergency Numbers
    • Police 191
    • Fire & Ambulance 190

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
    • You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
  • If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.

Vientiane
(ວຽງຈັ)
(เวียงจันทน์)

How to get there:

There are buses that take you from the Nong Khai bus station to Vientiane’s bus station.

    1. The first stop is at Thai immigration. Everybody gets off the bus and goes through the passport control. The buses are sometimes packed with people standing in the aisle, so I don’t know how they know when everyone is back on the bus. But, they do.
    2. Then they take you over Friendship Bridge and into Laos.
    3. The next stop is at Laos immigration. Once again everyone gets off and on again after passing through passport control. If you need to get a visa for Laos, bring a passport-sized photo of yourself and head to the “visa at the Border” line. It is the shortest line and it’s not the line where everyone else is standing. There is a sign posted that gives the cost of the visa depending on what country you are from. Once you get your passport back you can skip the other lines and just walk into the country.
    4. Then the bus takes you to the bus terminal in downtown Vientiane.

If you take the train to Nong Khai and take a tuk-tuk to the Thailand Passport control don’t worry. There is a shuttle for about 20THB that goes between the Thai and Laos immigration. So, there is no need to go to the bus station for the shuttle into Laos.

At the Laotian border, there are many cabs, tuk-tuk, and shuttles into Vientiane.

Notes:

In Vientiane you can use Baht. Your change will be in Laotian KIP, though. Don’t get too much KIP because it’s hard to exchange KIP for anything else when you leave.


Thai Consular Office

How to get there:

  • 17°57’53.8″N 102°37’27.6″E
  • The Thai Embassy is near Patuxai. But for visa you will need the consular office.
  • The best way for me to explain how to get there is for you to first go to the most northeast part Patuxai near the World Peace Gong.
  • From there you will see 3 roads passing Patuxai. Take the most easterly one or the one on the far right one.
  • You can also just go down Lang Xang until it turns into That Laung.
  • Go about one block and turn right at the Vietnam Embassy.
  • You will pass one intersection with a traffic light.
  • Turn left when you pass a building claiming to be a business college.
  • You will see a herd of tuk-tuk drivers and scam artists.
  • Don’t talk to any of them; they can’t help you and will just waste your time.

Phone:

  • (+856) 21 453916 between 13.30 – 16.30  only

Hours:

  • 8:30 – 11:30 visa application submission only
  • 13:30 – 15:30 visa/passport pick-up only

What you need: This is what I know for US citizens at this point in time. The law changes quite often.

Tourist Visa (1 month):

  • Just head to the border. There is no charge. And you don’t need to go to the consular office.

Tourist Visa (2 months): There is no fee.

  • 2 passport sized photos of yourself
  • the application form.
  1. Go to the consular office and take a number.
  2. Hand in your stuff then come back at 13:00 the next day.
  3. Take another number; this time for passport pick up.

Non-immigrant Visa:

  • 2 photos,
  • the application form,
  • a photocopy of all the stamps and visas in your passport,
  • a letter from your employer,
  • 2,000Baht (single entry) or 5,000Baht (multiple Entries).
  1. Go to the consular office  and take a number.
  2. Hand in your stuff then come back at 13:00 the next day.
  3. Take another number; this time for passport pick up.

What they have at the consular office:

  • The application forms,
  • scissors,
  • glue,
  • pens (though it would be better if you brought your own)
  • copier (for a fee)

Notes:

  • When things are busy you could spend a long time waiting. Bring some food, drinks, and a blanket and have a picnic on the lawn. (The lawn there is quite lovely.)
  • You can only turn in your visa application in the morning.
  • All fees must be paid in cash in the form of Thai Baht.

Pha That Luang
(ພຣະທາດຫຼວງ)

How to get there:

  • 17°58’36.7″N 102°38’11.1″E
  • Go down Lang Xang until it turns into That Laung.
  • This leads right into Pha That Luang.

Cost:

  • 2,000KIP

Hours:

  • Tue – Sun 8:00-16:00

Notes:

  • There is a legend that part of Buddha’s breast plate is kept here, though no one has ever proven it.

Phatoke Laoderm (dinner theater)

How to get there:

  • 17°58’01.9″N 102°36’13.8″E

Use this Map.

Cost:

  • 12USD

Hours:

  • 19:00 – 21:00 or
  • 19:30 – 21:30

Phone:

  • +856-21-263 981
  • +856-20-5411 019

Website:

Notes:

  • It’s better that doing nothing and the food is okay.

Map:

Posted in Laos, Vientiane | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Ganesh Couldn’t Save Me

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 27, 2009

December 27, 2009

All Pictures

Mark having his wounds cleaned by some kind Laotians

It’s okay Lady, my camera’s fine

I don’t even want to talk about it… Mark wanted to do it. He wanted to rent the scooter.

You see, I rented a scooter on my trip to Taiwan, and Mark has been dying to try one out for himself ever since. But when I had a scooter the roads were lonely. Most of the people drove sanely. And, it was just me on the bike.

I’m still bleeding as I write this. When two people are on a bike the center of gravity is a little higher than with only one rider. You have to make bigger turns. It takes longer to stop. It does not help when people, other commuters, are driving on the wrong side of the road in their trucks. I will let Mark tell you the rest.

I would like to confess that after the crash, when I got off the side of the road, my first thought was, “Is my camera alright?” I looked at Mark and saw that he was okay. He could stand and walk around and that’s a good sign. He asked me if I was okay, but I was too stunned to respond. I still needed to check on my camera.

A Laotian lady came running over to me to lead me to a faucet where I could wash off the mud, dirt, and blood from my arms and legs and assess the damage. She pointed out all my cuts to me and was very concerned about my welfare. My hand did look like I had just pulled it out of a jar of strawberry jam. All I wanted to say was, “It’s okay lady, my camera’s fine.”

Once things settled down and I started thinking straight, I began to feel nauseous. I almost threw up when it hit me that things could have been a lot worse.

And in case you, dear reader, are wondering… The camera did sustain a hard blow. There are a few dents on the camera near its lens, but it still takes great pictures. I just need to get the lens cleaned, but it will be just fine, don’t you worry.

This camera is amazing. This isn’t the first time that it was dropped or in an accident. This is just the first time I was in an accident with it. This camera takes some wonderful photos and, even though it is not marketed as such, it can take a beating! If I ever need to buy another camera it will just be another version of this one.

At Buddha Park in Laos

Let’s not keep Ganesh waiting.

At first we thought that we should just ride back into town and get some real first aid supplies. The people from the area made home-made bandages for us with gauze and scotch tape. It was functional and not fancy.

But we were way closer to the Buddha park than we were to town. Besides, when would we ever come back to Laos? We decided to go to the park and seek medical attention later. We were hurt, but not badly hurt. We did look a bit banged up though.

Stairs are harder to walk down after a scooter accident .

I’m glad we pressed on and saw the park. It was a fun afternoon. The only problem was knowing that we had a long scooter ride back to town.

We returned the scooter as soon as we got back even though it wasn’t due until the next morning. The scooter guy was surprised to see us. He was about to ask why we came back so early when he saw our legs and the broken mirror. “Oh, you fall off? Sorry. Be more careful next time.”

No. Scooter-Man, there will never be a next time. NEVER!

All Pictures


 

Laos 
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
  • How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.

Phone:

  • Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
  • Emergency Numbers
    • Police 191
    • Fire & Ambulance 190

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
    • You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
  • If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.

Vientiane
(ວຽງຈັ)
(เวียงจันทน์)

How to get there:

There are buses that take you from the Nong Khai bus station to Vientiane’s bus station.

    1. The first stop is at Thai immigration. Everybody gets off the bus and goes through the passport control. The buses are sometimes packed with people standing in the aisle, so I don’t know how they know when everyone is back on the bus. But, they do.
    2. Then they take you over Friendship Bridge and into Laos.
    3. The next stop is at Laos immigration. Once again everyone gets off and on again after passing through passport control. If you need to get a visa for Laos, bring a passport-sized photo of yourself and head to the “visa at the Border” line. It is the shortest line and it’s not the line where everyone else is standing. There is a sign posted that gives the cost of the visa depending on what country you are from. Once you get your passport back you can skip the other lines and just walk into the country.
    4. Then the bus takes you to the bus terminal in downtown Vientiane.

If you take the train to Nong Khai and take a tuk-tuk to the Thailand Passport control don’t worry. There is a shuttle for about 20THB that goes between the Thai and Laos immigration. So, there is no need to go to the bus station for the shuttle into Laos.

At the Laotian border, there are many cabs, tuk-tuk, and shuttles into Vientiane.

Notes:

In Vientiane you can use Baht. Your change will be in Laotian KIP, though. Don’t get too much KIP because it’s hard to exchange KIP for anything else when you leave.


Renting a Scooter

Cost:

  • 50,000 – 90,000KIP depending on your bargaining skills

Where:

  • Every other corner in Vientiane

Who can:

  • Anyone who owns a passport and can walk upright

Notes:

  • Don’t make sharp turns.
  • Beware of people who drive on the wrong side of the road.
  • Beware of one way roads that don’t really indicate that they are in fact one way roads.
  • If possible don’t wear shorts.
    • Wear thick jeans and maybe some leather gloves.
    • In fact, why not just take a cab?
  • Accidents are covered by the rental companies’ insurance. You on the other hand will need your own insurance. Make sure your travel insurance covers scooter accidents.

Patuxai
(ປະຕູໄຊ)

How to get there:

  • 17°58’14.1″N 102°37’06.8″E

It’s in the middle of town on Lan Xang road

Cost:

  • It’s pretty much free to look at.
  • If you want to go upstairs to see the city it will cost you 2,000KIP (.25USD).
  • There are many vendors inside on your way up where you can buy overpriced tacky souvenirs.
    • Okay, the souvenirs aren’t really that expensive, they just aren’t worth the asking price.
    • But I assure you, they are quite tacky.

Hours:

  • Mon-Fri 8:00-16:30
  • Sat-Sun 8:00-17:00

Website

Notes:

  • Basically the US gave Laos money to build an Airport. Laos took the money and somehow ended up building this eye sore instead.
  • It’s not that spectacular, but it is the thing to see when in Vientiane.
  • The view from the top is not that great. You really pay to go to the top, to say you went up there.
  • There is no free scooter parking near this thing.

That Dam 
(ທາດດຳ)
(Black Stupa)

How to get there:

  • 17°57’57.5″N 102°36’40.0″E

From Patuxai:

  • Head down the main road, Lan Xang toward the Mekong delta.
  • After the 3rd intersection turn right. This turn is not an intersection.
  • It should lead to a round-about that is around That Dam.

Cost:

Free

Hours:

  • This is out in the open, so you can view it at any time.
  • The area is not well lit, so you might want to get there before dark.

Notes:

  • Don’t expect too much and don’t go out of your way to see That Dam.
  • It’s not very interesting.
  • This is supposed to have been the home of a naga that helped keep the Thai army from invading Laos years ago.
  • It’s just nice enough for you to visit if you are nearby.
  • There is nothing that special about That Dam, so if you’ve seen other stupas before, there’s no need to see this one.
  • There is no real parking area, but you can park on the side of the road in the grass. You won’t be here long enough to get in anyone’s way.

Buddha Park
(Xieng Khuan)
(ວັດຊຽງຄວນ)
(วัดเซียงควน)

How to get there:

  • 17°54’44.3″N 102°45’55.2″E
  • Go along Fa Ngum, the road that runs along the Mekong Delta.
  • I think this road turns or ends. When this happens just turn right and keep going straight.
  • You should only turn left when you come to a round-about with a clock in the middle of it. The clock will have a Laotian and a Japanese flag on it.
  • You should be able to see the Mekong Delta  on your right for most of your trip. When in doubt, stop and ask for directions. Be sure to have the name of the park written in Laotian.
  • Then keep going straight. You will pass under Friendship Bridge and a thousand and one temples. Just keep going straight.
  • It will be on your right. You can’t miss it. There is a field with large cement statues and a sign that says, “Buddha Park”.

Cost:

  • 5,000KIP per person
  • 2,000KIP per camera.

Map:

Posted in Laos, Vientiane | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Non-Immigrant Visa for Thailand

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 27, 2009

December 25-26, 2009

All Pictures

Dinner in Laos along the MeKong Delta

Non-Immigrant Visa

The main reason why Mark and I went to Laos was the same reason most people go to Laos; to get a non-immigrant visa so that we can apply to get a visa to work in Thailand. So the question is, “How does one get a work permit to work in Thailand?” Well, it’s seems that very few people know.

You see the problem is that the Thai government keeps changing the laws, so that even the people who obtained a nonimmigrant visa 6 months ago cannot give anyone any advice. So what I say below might not even be true by the time you read this.

The lady who works at the HR department at our company told Mark and me that we first needed to go to Laos, find the Thai embassy there, then apply for a nonimmigrant visa, then re-enter Thailand. That sounds simple, doesn’t it?

The way things have worked out for us with the New Year’s holidays, is that we have a whole week to play around in Laos when we should really be back at work grading tons of mid-term exams. Unfortunately, since I cannot come into work my boss is the one with the stacks of exams and the red pen. Well, unfortunate for him…

We’ll see how things unfold…

Thai Government Bus to Nong Khai

Thai Long Distance Buses

I will not go all the way and say that I strongly recommend not getting on a Thai long distance bus. There are many places in Thailand that the train just does not go. But let me just say this:

1. It’s uncomfortable.

Let’s ignore the bumping around, the guy snoring in the seat behind me, the fact that every time a Thai gets his or her hands on an a/c unit* they have to make the room or bus feel like the inside of a refrigerator, and the dirty bathroom or lack thereof. I am 5’9″ (175cm). I just don’t fit in the seats. Unless I’m in a 1st class bus, I feel a bit squished.

*This is not only true with the Thais, but any people who live in a warm climate. Floridians do this to the point that you always need to bring a sweater with you when you leave the house in case you need to go indoors.

2. It’s dangerous!

Somewhere along this ride, maybe around midnight, I woke up. Looking out the window, seeing trees whoosh by, I realized that we were going way too fast for a bus on a 2-lane, unlit road. What if we hit something. Just then we sped past an overturned truck with a passenger or driver running around frantically.

To make this story at bit more sensational I will tell you that this was the 2nd truck accident I saw that night. The first one looked as if a piano had fallen on a truck. I’m sure that if I could have stayed awake longer I would have seen more.

I think the bus driver saw the same overturned truck that I did, because soon after we passed it, he slowed down and paced himself the rest of the way. It’s nice having a bus driver who wants to live.

Looking for a place to eat in Laos

I’m convinced that all tuk-tuk drivers are out to get us!

I don’t know what it is about Mark and me, but we’ve never had a tuk-tuk driver quote us a reasonably overprice cost for a ride. Once, while just 2 skytrain stops away from the Siam Center, we asked a tuk-tuk driver how much it would cost to get to said Siam Center. He looked me dead in the eyes and said, “200Baht”. Are you freaking kidding me!? We eventually took an air-conditioned taxi, got stuck in traffic and it still only cost 45Baht.

Tuk-tuks cheaper than taxis… my eye!

Merry Communist Christmas!

When we arrived at the bus station in Vientiane, we were approached by scores of tuk-tuk drivers. Even though the bus was packed with tons of people standing in the aisle there seemed to be more tuk-tuk drivers than potential customers.

They swarmed around Mark and me, getting in our way. We had to push a few tuk-tuk drivers aside so that we could get to our backpacks. I showed a tuk-tuk driver the address to our hostel. He didn’t seem to know where it was, but he told me that could take us there for 200Baht; the magic number! “How can you take us there for 200Baht when you don’t know where there is?”

When Mark and I looked at the map we realized that the hostel was within walking distance. I know 200Baht isn’t a lot of money. 200Baht is about 7USD, but Mark and I work for Baht now. The way we think about it is, dinner usually costs us about 50-60Baht each, including drinks, when we eat out. This tuk-tuk driver wanted to charge us the cost of 4 dining out meals for a 5 minute ride.

We decided to walk instead.

All Pictures


Laos 
(ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ)
(Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • You can get your visa before your trip to Laos, or you can buy a visa at the border.
  • How much your visa costs depends on your nationality.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Laotian embassy in your country.

Phone:

  • Tourism Authority +856-21-212251-Ext 103 or 101
  • Emergency Numbers
    • Police 191
    • Fire & Ambulance 190

Website:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not get more kip than you need. No one will buy kip from you whenit’s time to leave Laos.
    • You can use baht here. Just know that your change will be in kip.
  • If you get really sick, try to go to Thailand.

Mo Chit Long Distance Bus Station
(North/Northeastern Bus Terminal)
(สถานีขนส่งสายเหนือ)
(sathanii Mo Chit)

This bus station is used to get buses heading north and northeast as the name implies.

How to get there:

  • 13°48’40.1″N 100°32’52.3″E

All the travel guides will tell you that it’s near Chatuchak Park which is near the Mo Chit Skytrain station. What they fail to tell you is that Chatuchak is a freakishly large park and being in this park doesn’t guarantee that you are near anything, much less the bus station.

-By bus (recommended):

  • walk to your nearest bus stop and look for any of the buses, listed below, headed in the bus station’s direction. I still have not figured out how to find this information before boarding a public bus in Bangkok, so ask the people standing nearby.
  • The Terminal is the last stop for all these buses.
  • bus #: 49, 77, 104, 122, 136, 145, 159, 170, 509, 517, 523, 547

Address:

999 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Chatuchak, Bangkok, 10900

Phone:

  • +66 (0) 2936 2841-3

Notes:

Ladies, if you need to use the bathroom when the station is crowded, plan of spending at least 15 minutes waiting in line. …and bring 3 Baht with you and of course, your own TP.


Nong Khai
(เทศบาลเมืองหนองคาย)

Nong Khai is the town in Thailand nearest to Friendship Bridge and Vientiane, the capital city of Laos.

How to get there:

  • 17°53’02.4″N 102°45’02.8″E

From Bangkok:

by bus from Mo Chit Bus Station (10 hours):

  • 700Baht for 1st class bus – w/ toilet; 3 seats to a row
  • 350Baht for 2nd class bus – w/o toilet; 4 seats to a row
  • I don’t recommend anything lower that a 2nd class bus because only the 1st and 2nd class buses have a/c.

by Train from Bangkok from Hua Lamphong Train Station.

  • Here is the schedule from 2009.
  • 1,317Baht 1st class sleeper
  • Baht 2nd class sleeper w/ac
    • 708 (top)-778 (bottom)
  • I don’t recommend anything lower than a 2nd-class sleeper for this 10 hour journey. Normally I would always go for the a/c option, but on the train ride back to Bangkok in 1st-class’ a/c compartment I was freezing my butt off. We didn’t even turn on the berth’s a/c; it was the train itself that was so cold.

Vientiane
(ວຽງຈັ)
(เวียงจันทน์)

How to get there:

There are buses that take you from the Nong Khai bus station to Vientiane’s bus station.

    1. The first stop is at Thai immigration. Everybody gets off the bus and goes through the passport control. The buses are sometimes packed with people standing in the aisle, so I don’t know how they know when everyone is back on the bus. But, they do.
    2. Then they take you over Friendship Bridge and into Laos.
    3. The next stop is at Laos immigration. Once again everyone gets off and on again after passing through passport control. If you need to get a visa for Laos, bring a passport-sized photo of yourself and head to the “visa at the Border” line. It is the shortest line and it’s not the line where everyone else is standing. There is a sign posted that gives the cost of the visa depending on what country you are from. Once you get your passport back you can skip the other lines and just walk into the country.
    4. Then the bus takes you to the bus terminal in downtown Vientiane.

If you take the train to Nong Khai and take a tuk-tuk to the Thailand Passport control don’t worry. There is a shuttle for about 20THB that goes between the Thai and Laos immigration. So, there is no need to go to the bus station for the shuttle into Laos.

At the Laotian border, there are many cabs, tuk-tuk, and shuttles into Vientiane.

Notes:

In Vientiane you can use Baht. Your change will be in Laotian KIP, though. Don’t get too much KIP because it’s hard to exchange KIP for anything else when you leave.

Map:

 

Posted in Bangkok, Laos, Thailand, Vientiane | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

How I got a job, apartment, and cell phone in Thailand in 6 days

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 19, 2009

December 7-12, 2002

Getting BTS tickets to go job hunting

We didn’t end up heading down south.

This is a spoof of Finding a Job in Thailand in 10 Days. If you’ve ever thought about packing it all in and moving to Thailand, you’ve read that article. Mark and I read it before moving to Bangkok hoping that it would work for us. Turns out that it was easier than we thought… for us at least.

I would not recommend anyone else doing the same. We were incredibly lucky!

looking for jobs in the hostel’s lobby

We’ve read many blogs and websites on the best way to get jobs in Thailand and here is what we learned.

  1. December and January are the worst months to find a job in Thailand.
  2. March and April are the best.
  3. You need a 120-hour TEFL or TESOL to get a job. Less than 120 hours just won’t do.
  4. Employees tend to not answer e-mails, so it’s better to call or just show up at the company.
  5. Being white helps.
  6. Being Asian hurts.

There are exceptions to this, as with many things in life. Mark and I got to Thailand in December and neither of us had a 120 Tefl or Tesol certification at the time. (In 2013 the JET Programme subsidized my 140 hour TEFL certification.) Neither of us are white and Mark is, in fact, Asian. Before getting to Thailand we sent out tons of e-mails and made many phone calls once we got here. No one replied; not even the people who put ads in the newspaper.

Getting a hair cut to go job hunting

Here is what we did.

Dec 1-6: 

We arrived in Bangkok on December 1st and didn’t really do anything the first week. We applied to a couple of jobs here and there but I wasn’t really feeling any of them. In fact, I hoped  that I would not get any of those jobs because the companies looked a bit shady.

Then on our 6th day in Bangkok, in the newspaper, I found an ad for some jobs in public high schools in Bangkok and the rest of Thailand. I have learned through past experience that it is far better to work at a public school than at a cram school.

I sent them an e-mail stating that I wanted a job. I also sent a copy of my diploma, resume, and references. I was not really expecting to get a job right away, but rather I hoped to secure one starting in January. So when they did not reply, I wasn’t too worried.

Mark on the other hand was starting to panic. He had sent out many e-mails and job applications months before leaving Korea, but no one was replying. This is normal. I read on one blog that some companies might actually be in desperate need for teachers, but the person in charge of answering e-mails might not speak English very well and therefore no responses are given.

So Mark decided that the next day we would really start looking for jobs for REALS. No more half-heartedly reading the job ads in the papers then spending the day sightseeing. We were going to get our sh!t together!

Now, instead of sitting on a beach I have papers to grade. Be careful what you wish for!

Dec 7: Day 1 – Job Hunt

On our second Monday in Thailand we decided to seriously look for a job, then head down south to the beaches the following week if nothing turned up. I managed to calm Mark down about the whole job hunt thing by promising to work really hard job hunting for a bit if I could sit on a beach as a reward for my efforts.

“We have months worth of money saved.”  “It’s better to be relaxed and tanned for job interviews.” “This is a great time to head to the beach” These were my best arguments. I was quite proud that I came up with them…

Monday was a holiday so we just put some employment packets together. We made 12 folders each with our resume, cover letter, copy of diplomas, references, and a photo inside. We looked up the addresses of companies we were going to visit to give our packets to. Then we got our nice interview clothes ready. Mark even got a hair cut.

We would end up only handing out a few of our packets.

Invited to a random party in the lobby of our new apartment. Free Thai Food and monk blessings!

Dec 8: Day 2 – Job Hunt

On the 8th we started our job hunt. The first stop was not too far from our hostel. It was my first choice; the job from the newspaper I had e-mailed earlier. I really didn’t want any other job. We went to the BFITS headquarters and asked for jobs. They were actually surprised to see us. They had one math teacher who had just quit and another English teacher who was feeling home sick and on the verge of quitting. We were hired the next day.

Even though we pretty much had these jobs, Mark wanted to continue with the job hunt. “Nothing is guaranteed until you have a signed contract,” he said. I agreed with him so we continued. We went to the companies on our list, but they seemed unhappy to see Mark. We handed out a few more packets and it was clear that they weren’t impressed with Mark or his Asianess.

One even challenged his English-speaking ability by saying, “We only take native English. You no native English.” Well I don’t know what else he can be ’cause he only speaks English… We soon gave up, bought ice cream cones, and went for a stroll in a park.

The Crazy Company Party

Dec 9: Day 3 – Company Party!

Early Wednesday morning Mark and I went to see my new school. That afternoon we signed our contracts. That evening we went to the company year-end party, which was extremely entertaining! Thursday was a holiday and Friday was my first day of work.

Our new rooftop pool

Dec 11: Day 4 – Hunt for an Apartment

Thursday Mark and I went apartment hunting. We went to the area were we wanted to live and just walked into the apartment buildings there. Some had apartments for rent, some didn’t. We had better luck with the newer apartments. We narrowed our choices down to two places. One place had bigger apartments, but it was older. The other was brand new, just built in January, with a gym, a pool, and a sauna, but it was smaller. The rent for both were about the same. We picked the newer building.

By Saturday night we moved into the Life apartment building. I’m hoping that by using that gym and pool everyday I’ll be in great shape by the time I leave Thailand.

on the phone. My boss has more grading for me to do.

Dec 12: Day 5 – Getting a Phone

Mark didn’t start work for 2 weeks, so while I was at work Mark got busy making our apartment more livable. He found an internet company, a place to get phones, and a place to get dishes, sheets, and other home things.

The phone was pretty easy to get. Mark got his at a department store. He found one of the cheapest phones and got a prepaid plan with a sim card. I got the same thing more or less at MBK near the Siam Center.

You can also use whatever phone you have if you just change the sim card. I heard that you can find out how to unlock your phone online, but I’m not technical. You can also pay someone to unlock it for you.

The new place came with furniture.

Dec 13: Day 6 – Moving in 

We moved in. Bought a few things for the apartment. We didn’t have to buy much since the apartment came fully furnished.

So, here I am in Thailand one week later with a job, a phone, and an apartment. I have several stacks of papers to grade and tons of grades to record. It all seemed to have happened too fast. Already I’m avoiding the gym like a pro.

Here’s a short video from the BFITS’ year end party.

Posted in Bangkok, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

We want to see a ladyboy show

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 6, 2009

October 2-7, 2007

All Pictures

This is the Standing Buddha all the tuk-tuk drivers want to take you to.

You want to travel alone!?

On my first trip to Thailand, I went with my friend Melodie. We were working at the same company in Seoul until she decided to go back home to continue her education. Before heading back to Canada, she wanted to travel a bit first. I joined her for the Thailand leg of her trip.

She then went alone to northern Thailand and then to India. I was so impressed that she would, as a female, travel by herself and think nothing of it. The next year, while still working for the same company, when my vacation time came around, I went to China alone. If Melodie could do it, and enjoy it, then I could too.

Our first tuk-tuk ride

The Lone Traveler

There are many benefits to traveling alone. You can use the time to “be one” with your thoughts and do what YOU want to do when you want to do it. You can also meet tons of new people to travel with for a few days, part ways, and then meet other new people to travel with; if you want.

I enjoy traveling with friends and family, but there is something to traveling alone. One isn’t better than the other. They both have benefits and draw-backs. I always make sure, when traveling alone or with friends, to regularly e-mail friends and family back home so that if something does happened to me, there would be someone who notices a change in the communication pattern.

But Melodie’s inspiration didn’t just get me started on solo travelling. She was the one who encouraged me to start blogging about my travels. I think that what she was really doing was getting more friends on her travel blog network, but whatever. This is the end result.

When I got home from this trip I put a few pictures up on the site and forgot about it until she did her entry on her trip through India. That’s when I wanted to blog about every trip I had ever taken. I found myself planning trips just so that I could have something to write about.

The reclining Buddha

Eventually, I would outgrown the travel blog site I was using. I looked for a blogging format that better matched my needs. I found WordPress and started the blog you are now reading. And it all started with Melodie.

M or F? We’ll never tell…

We came to see some ladyboys!

All I really wanted to do in Thailand was to see a ladyboy show and ride an elephant. I felt that our chances of seeing a ladyboy show would go down to zero once we left Bangkok, so we had to get that done there.

Our first night in Bangkok we walked around asking people who looked helpful, “Where can we go to see a ladyboy show?” We got strange looks and I was beginning to wonder if they thought we were looking for prostitutes.

2 glamorous lady boys and me

Seeing how things were going we thought that it would be better to mentioned the singing and dancing we expected to be included in a show. That way folks wouldn’t get the wrong idea. “Oh, you want to see a ladyboy show! Okay. Go see Cabaret.”

The show was amazing. Even in our cheap seats the show was unforgettable. The songs, the dancing, the entertainers playing with the audience all made for a grand evening. I highly recommend it!

happy to a part of the tuk-tuk scam

Tuk-tuking around

The next day, our first full day in Thailand, we went out to see the sights. We got pulled into one tuk-tuk scam after another. Lucky for us, we didn’t have any money and all they did was waste our time, which we had plenty of.

One of the scams started when a tuk-tuk driver’s friend convinced us that the Grand Palace was closed, but it would be opened later. In the mean time we could take a cheap tuk-tuk tour of Bangkok. He happened to have a cousin or friend who drove a tuk-tuk.

This tour came with free admission to several temples that most tourists don’t know about. (No one knows about them because they are not tourist attractions, just regular functioning temples and they are always free.) There was just one catch… The driver had to take us to tailor shops and jewelry stores where we had to look around for about 10 minutes. We didn’t have to buy anything, but we did have to go in and look interested.

one of the many tailor shops

It was presented to us like this tuk-tuk driver was actually scamming the shop owners who pay them in gasoline to bring in tourists. He gets enough gas to run his tuk-tuk for the day and we got nothing but benefit. I kind of felt we were helping this guy out, though the whole set-up made no sense to me financially.

The guy took us to several places, first a shop then a temple then another shop and so on. When it was time to go into a shop we did the mandatory 10-minute look around, sometimes with awkward conversations, then we would leave. At first everything was okay. But, after a few stops the driver got a little angry.

“You’re not going to buy anything!?” He started talking to us with an annoyed tone.

We might have, only he took us the tailor shops that made suits and jewelry stores that sold diamonds and rubies.We couldn’t afford any of those! Besides, what am I going to do with a suit? Shove it in my backpack with my flip-flops and snorkel?

If they took us to a trinket or sarong shop we could have easily drop $20-30 on clothes and stuff. But, there was just no way we would buy a $500 diamond ring or a $200 suit. We were backpackers!

Other scams were less time-consuming. They were mostly about overcharging us for short tuk-tuk rides. These weren’t so bad, since even with a price hike the rides were still inexpensive. The only thing I really felt cheated out of was air conditioning.

It was very hot and tuk-tuks have no fans or other type of cooling. We were out in the elements and breathing the air of downtown Bangkok. After just one day of this, we had had it with Bangkok. That night, we took a late bus to the countryside to the town of Trat.

My new 45-year-old friend

Now bring on the Elephants!

From Trat we took a boat to Koh Chang and ending up on one of the many backpacking beach side places with a hippy sounding name. It was cheap. The food was delicious and cheap. There were many interesting people to talk to. It was great.

I would wake up early in the morning, have breakfast, swim a little, then walk around to the other resorts meeting other people and finding interesting things to do. Someone would recommend renting a scooter, for example. Then someone else would point out some backpacker limping around on crutches as, “what happens when you rent a scooter.” There were many tales of “Holiday Horrors” presented in the form of “I met a guy who met a guy  who rented a scooter”.

Melodie got a new tattoo on Koh Chang which was done with the bamboo and hammer method. I thought about getting a small tattoo somewhere where it wouldn’t hurt, but such a place on the body just does not exist. I am still tattoo free and I’m okay with that.

We rode an elephant, fed him, and washed him too! While on our elephant ride through the jungle, Melodie’s bag fell off the seat and onto the path behind us. Without any prompting from anyone, the elephant stopped, turned his head, and picked up the bag with his trunk and handed it randomly to anyone on his back. We were impressed!

This looks like a nice place for lunch.

For the Rest of My Life

The sea was a bit rough since monsoon season was just ending. I couldn’t swim as much as I would have liked. The sea was at its calmest in the early morning so that is when I went swimming. In the early afternoon when the day was very hot, I would find a shady spot in a hammock to relax and read.

On one of those hot afternoons everything made sense. This was when I had a flash of clarity. I knew exactly what I wanted out of life. I wanted to do this many times over and in many other countries. I wanted to travel and see the world.

Right now, Mark and I are just about sick of Bangkok. We’re going to do some serious job hunting in the next few days and head down south on Friday. I’m not sure where we’ll end up. Maybe Krabi and on the Phi Phi Islands.

Goodbye to new friends I’ll never see again

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Calypso Cabaret

How to get there:

  • 13°45’04.6″N 100°31’50.5″E
  • Any tuk-tuk or cab driver worth his salt should know where  Calypso is.
  • It’s near the Ratchathewi BTS in the Asia Hotel.

Address:

Asia Hotel 296 Phayathai Rd., Bangkok 10400

Phone:

  • 02-65333960-2

Website

Cost:

  • 1,200THB for the show not including a meal

Hours:

  • Shows – 20:15 & 21:45 everyday

Videos:

Notes:

  • This is where most tourists go to see a ladyboy show.

Map


Trat
(ตราด)

How to get there:

From Bangkok:

  • Go to Eastern Bus Terminal, also known as Ekamai Bus Terminal. You can find it near the Ekamai BST station (E7).
  • Go out exit 2 of the BST station and make a u-turn.
  • You’ll see the bus station once you pass the 7-11.
  • Buses leave for Trat every hour.

You can also fly there.

Cost:

  • Bus ticket cost – 200THB

Ko Chang
(Elephant Island)
(เกาะช้าง)

How to get there:

  • 12°02’57.3″N 102°19’36.8″E

From Trat:

  • Take the ferry from Tha Ko Chang Centrepoint to Tha Dan Kao on Ko Chang. 45 minutes

Cost:

  • 80THB 1 way

Notes:

  • It’s called “elephant island” not because it has elephants, though it does have many, but because the island is supposedly shaped like an elephant.

Ban Kwan Chang

How to get there:

  • 12°07’31.5″N 102°17’27.8″E
  • Take a taxi or rent a scooter
  • You can usually ask at the reception desk of your hotel or hostel for help with transportation. They can call a taxi for you.

Hours:

  • 8:30-17:00

Phone:

  • 08-1919-3995

Website:

Cost:

  • 500-900THB

Notes:

  • This is one of the places on Koh Chang where you can ride an elephant.
  • You can also fed, wash, and swim with elephants.
  • When I went there the cost of the ride came with a plate of fruit for you to eat, a bunch of fruit for you to give the elephants, and a bottle of coke (for you, not the elephant).

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Ko Chang, Thailand, Trat | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

I take you there 100Baht

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 4, 2009

December 2, 2009

All Pictures

Nicely sitting Thai Buddhas

Scamming the days away

This is my second time in Thailand and Bangkok, but Mark’s first. I Knew most of the scams, because I’ve been scammed. Well, maybe not scammed. It’s more like I wasted a tuk-tuk drivers time because I didn’t have any money in which he could scam away from me.

Tuk-tuk in traffic

Here are the scams we came across on our first day:

1- The tuk-tuk driver scam

You, with camera and Lonely Planet in hand, the tell-tale signs that you are a tourist (oh, and the fact that you speak no Thai…), are walking down the street heading for a temple or palace. You meet a kind stranger. He tells you that, whatever your destination is, is closed. Oh so sad for you, because you have to wait for several hours before it re-opens.

But wait, he has an idea. He has a friend who is a tuk-tuk driver and he’s willing to drive you around for a couple of hours. And what luck; today happens to be Gullible Tourist Day! This means that the standing Buddha site and some other sites are free. Hurray! Even better, this will only cost you 10baht if you are willing to go to a few shops and have a look around.

The facts are:

Most tourist sites are open from 8:30-15:30. They do not close for lunch. The “lucky for you free for today” sites they want to take you to, are always free. They just want to get you into some shops because these tuk-tuk drivers are hired by jewelry stores and tailors to lure in customers.

Another scam the tuk-tuk drivers pull on tourist is charging 100THB to go from one tourist spot to another. All the touristy stuff are relatively close to each other in either the Grand Palace area or along the Khao San Road.

On a good day a healthy person can do the long walk from the Grand Palace to Khao San Road. Don’t do it though; it’s rarely a good day in Bangkok. Most days are very, very hot, and tourists often get dehydrated just walking around. Plus, Bangkok is far from a pedestrian friendly city.

Okay, so if you live in the west and you earn dollars, pounds, or euro, this is not a lot of money. But you should know that for 200THB you can take a 45 minute cab ride and almost go from one end of Bangkok to another. And taxis come with AC. That’s what 200THB can get you transportation-wise. A 5 minute tuk-tuk ride for 100THB is a ripe off.

I would recommend riding in a tuk-tuk once, to say you’ve done it and get your picture taken. But for the rest of your stay in Bangkok, use the BTS, MRT, a bus, or take an air-conditioned cab.

Thai Taxis: The cheapest transport option, sometimes

2- The flat rate taxi scam

Never agree to pay a flat rate for a taxi. Taxis are supposed to be metered. This “flat rate” that they offer is way more than the actual cost of the ride. If the cab driver will not use his meter, get out.

To find tuk-tuks and or taxis that are more honest, walk a block or so away from any tourist sites. Remember there are more taxis than people willing to ride in them. Never feel that you have no other option. There are buses, a sky train, a subway, ferries, and hundreds more taxis or tuk-tuks in this city.

The place where Mark and I are staying is very close to the river. We found that moving around the tourist sites via ferry is the easiest way to go. If you are not staying near a pier, I recommend going to Saphan Taksin Station and then catching a ferry at Central Pier. But these boats get ridiculously full during the peak hours. …And sometimes they sink.

More notes about Thai taxis..

  • In Bangkok, they are surprisingly cheaper than tuk-tuks.
  • You can pay a cab driver to drive you clear across the country, though you will have to ask in advanced.
  • You are expected to pay all tolls when you get to the toll booth.
    • If you do not want to pay the toll, you must tell the driver before you get in the cab. But, he may refuse to drive you during rush hour. He doesn’t get paid as much for sitting in traffic, so he will rather you pay to take the expressway.
    • With traffic in Bangkok, I find that it is always worth the extra 30THB to not sit in traffic.
    • Most tourists will never need to take the expressway unless you take a cab to the airport.
  • There is an extra 50THB charge for all taxis you take from the airport. This is not really a scam. It’s just how things are.
  • There is no extra 50THB fee to take a taxi to the airport and there might be a toll fee as well.

In a borrowed skirt

3- The clothes rental scam

This one pertains to the Grand Palace. You cannot enter the palace if your legs or shoulders are exposed. There are shops across the street that will rent you clothes for about 30THB. The price isn’t so bad, but the clothing makes tourists look utterly ridiculous!

When you get to the Grand Palace you can get free clothes that don’t make you look like a sucker, for a 100THB deposit. Return the clothes and you get your money back.

The Grand Palace’s Jade Buddha

4- The “You’re from _____! I have a cousin who lives in _____!

This one has never been tried on me. When random Thais ask me where I’m from I say, “The Virgin Islands“. All I get is a blank look and a change in conversation. But I see this one being worked on many people around me.

Just today I overheard, “Oh, my brother studied History in Frankfurt!” What a small world. From what I’ve read of this scam, it can end with either a tuk-tuk ride to nowhere, a huge pub bill, or a dead hooker in your hotel room.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

The Grand Palace
(Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang)
(พระบรมมหาราชวัง)

How to get there:

  • 13°45’01.1″N 100°29’29.5″E
  • Take a boat to Pier N9 or bus #508

Website

Cost:

  • 350THB

Hours:

  • 8:30 – 15:30

Notes:

  • This place is huge and Bangkok is very hot. Bring lots of water.
  • Shorts or sleeveless shirts are not allowed in the palace, but you can borrow clothes for free with a deposit.
  • Don’t believe anyone who tells you that a temple is closed. All temples are open everyday from about 8:30 to 16:00 rain or shine.

The Reclining Buddha
(Wat Pho)
(วัดโพธิ์)

How to get there:

Walk from the Grand Palace, Pier N8, Bus 508

Phone:

  • (662) 225-9595,
  • 622-0100,
  • 221-1375

Website

Cost:

  • 50THB

Hours:

  • 08:00 – 17:00

Notes:

You can get a massage here.

  • Regular Massage 250 THB/ hour
  • Herbal Massage 350 THB/ hour.
  • Don’t wear shorts or you will have to rent a skirt to cover up. Guys will have to rent pants.
    • Well… it’s so hot on most days, it might be better to pay a small fee to rent a skirt than having to spend the whole day in long pants.
    • The best thing would be to wear Capri pants or a skirt that covers your knees.

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Ko Ratanakosin, Thailand | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

The Last 12 hours in Korea

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 4, 2009

November 30-December 1, 2009

All Pictures

Incheon International Airport

In Incheon

Mark and I had an early flight to Bangkok and rather than be rushed in the morning or risk the possibility of getting there late, we decided to make our way to Incheon International Airport the evening before the flight. I’m not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this, but, I LOVE Incheon airport. It’s the best airport in the whole world! So, I was happy about getting there way too early.

We were planning to take an airport bus, but we noticed that the sign for the bus stop was no longer there. Apparently the bus we needed no longer runs. So we had to take the subway.

According the Korean transportation website, you can get the money on your T-money card refunded at any GS25. If you take the subway to the airport you will see a GS25 right before you scan out. If you scan out before you get your refund, just tell the person at the counter by the turn styles.  If he or she is nice, you’ll be allowed to go to the GS25 without being charged.

using some free wi-fi at a closed airport coffee shop

We wandered around exploring the airport, had dinner, and changed some money at one of the many banks at the airport. Then we headed to the 4th floor to a closed coffee shop for some free internet and quietness.

Not too far from that coffee place is a glass bridge from which you can look down and see the people inside the terminal who have passed the security check. There are also some round chair things that are great for sleeping on.

The next morning we woke up had breakfast and checked in. We had tickets for Thai Air. The baggage limit for our flight was 20kg per person for check-in luggage and 7kg total for all carry-ons. I’ve never had anyone weigh my carry-on, so I was surprised when someone stopped us before we went through the security check and asked us to put all our carry-ons on a scale. All of our carry-ons were over the 7kg limit, but only Mark’s backpack was deemed too big. He was sent back to check it in. We were not charged for the overweight or extra checked in bag.

Because we were so early we had time to explore the terminals. Mark did a little shopping for his mom at a duty-free store. Then we went to our terminal. This is where we found the free showers.

Free Shower at Incheon Airport!

Shower me!

The showers themselves are free and you can use it any time during their opening hours. If you need a towel, that’s 2,000KRW. If you need shampoo and other things, it’s 6,000KRW. We didn’t want to travel with wet towels, so Mark and I “rented” towels and got all spruced up. Unfortunately the free showers are only available to passengers who have passed through the security check.

Mark’s first drink in Thailand

In the land of Smiles

Once at the airport in Bangkok we went downstairs to get an airport bus into the city. It cost 150BHT per person. On the bus we met someone who was staying at the same hostel* we had made reservations for.

*I don’t really like the hostel in which we are staying now, so I will not include any of its information in this blog.

The next day we went sightseeing.

What is Mark so mad about?

Mark worked for a Pagoda Jr in Incheon. His boss, a man who goes by the name “Steve” Jung, was very unethical. He was supposed to take 4.5% of Mark’s monthly pay, match it, and put all this money into the National Pension for Mark to collect after completing his contract. This is required by Korean law. But Mr. Jung took the money from Mark’s pay and put it into Mr. Jung’s own pocket. When Mark went to the pension office to file for his lump-sum refund he found out about Mr. Jung’s shenanigans*. Mr. Jung got mad at Mark, for some reason, and threaten to kick Mark out of his apartment and to withhold his last paycheck and end of contract bonus.

* Mr. Jung’s shenanigans:

1. Not reporting the actual start date of his employees

2. Not reporting the actual salary of his employees

3. Not giving his employees pay subs.

4. Not paying one red cent into the National Pension of his employees.

There are more, but they can’t be legally proven.

 So far the Korean government has done nothing to punish Steve Jung or stop him from doing this to other employees. Steve Jung still owns his Pagoda Jr. and still cheats his employees, both the Korean and non-Korean ones.

It’s hard to know if Mr. Jung is still doing this to other employee since “Steve” is not his real name, but an English name he has given himself. The Korean government did manage to get Mark’s pension from Mr. Jung, but not part of the salary that was stolen from Mark.

**** UPDATE ****

Years after this post, the Korean government somehow managed to fine Mr. Jung and Mark got back most, but not all of the money owed to him. It helped that Mark checked in every so often, when returning to Korea for unrelated reasons, to inquire about his case.

All Pictures


South Korea
(대한민국)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible or most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets, muggers, or scam artists. Use common sense and you will be okay. Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

You should watch out when crossing the street, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and little old ladies will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 year and had a fantastic time.


Incheon International Airport
(인천국제공항)

How to get there:

  • 37°27’36.6″N 126°26’26.6″E

There are 3 main ways of leaving or getting to the airport.

1. The Metro

  • It’s pretty easy and not expensive.
  • ₩10,000/ 10USD is more than enough to get to or from anywhere.
  • The subway even goes past Uijeonbu.

2. A bus

  • This is also pretty easy.
  • It will cost about ₩8,500 for most trips or less if you have a T-money card.

3. A Taxi

  • It doesn’t matter what those taxi drivers say. This is the most expensive option.
  • You will most likely get stuck in traffic.

Phone

Websites:

Downloads:

Notes:

This is the best airport in the whole wild world!

  • Free wi-fi
  • After security check:
    • There are free showers. (Open7am-9pm)
      • You can rent a towel, buy some shampoo and soap.
    • There is a theater
    • You can learn about Korea.
    • There is a Family Mart convenience store.
  • Before security check:
    • There are lockers for your luggage.
    • There is a post office.
    • You can rent a phone.
    • There is a Family Mart convenience store.
    • There is a GS25 convenience store right before you leave the subway and enter the airport. You can get any extra money on your T-money refunded there.

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Incheon, South Korea, Thailand | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Hangil Memorial Hall

Posted by Heliocentrism on December 4, 2009

November 27, 2009

All Pictures

The Japanese occupation of Korea

Occupation

The writing in this museum was mostly in Korean. When I got home I couldn’t find any information about this museum or the events that were described there. What I do know I’ve pieced together from books I’ve read, wikipedia.org, and a pamphlet I got from the museum with a tiny bit of English in it.*

* I lost the pamphlet in my move to Thailand so now I have no information about the museum. If anyone has any information about the resistance on Jeju island, please leave a comment below.

In the late 19th century many Western countries were colonizing Asian and African countries with the benefit of trade and economic power. Japan saw this and began to think. Would they soon be crippled economically? How long before some European country slithered its way into Tokyo like the British did to India?

Japan, in order to protect itself, needed to be bigger, stronger, and more modern. It needed help. It looked to Korea, its closest neighbor, but Korea, at the time was heavily influenced by China. Japan needed to get in and break that bond.

Japan wanted Korea to sign a treaty that would allow Japan to trade with Korea and, at the same time, disconnect Korea from its protection by China. This treaty was called The Treaty of Ganghwa. (Yes, the same island I love to go to for camping.)

Korea, having had bad experiences with the French occupying the island of Ganghwa, and some fights with the Americans over trade, didn’t want to enter any more trade agreements with anyone. The Japanese weren’t going to take no for an answer and forced the Koreans to sign the Treaty of Ganghwa. The Japanese got a better deal than the Koreans in the pact.

In 1905 Japan occupied Korea. In 1910 Korea was officially annexed. If you have read anything about Japan around the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century, you know that Japan was sadistic and cruel to its enemies which was basically anyone not Japanese.

revenge (A Japanese soldier tied up by Koreans)

The Koreans did not like the annexation by Japan at all. There were many protests and demonstrations by the Koreans hoping to get the Japanese out of their country. The results of these protests were normally the imprisonment, beating, torture, and execution of the Korean resistors.

There are numerous accounted and unaccounted incidences of Japanese cruelty towards the people of Korea. The brutality was not saved for just protesters, though. If a village were thought to be hiding rebels, all the people in the area would be rounded up and killed. At the museum, we saw pictures of mass graves for murdered children. The Japanese also used many Koreans females as “comfort women“.

While under the Japanese rule, many roads and railway systems were built. This was done mainly to help the Japanese military with easy access throughout Korea to ensure Japan’s hold on the country. The roads are still used today and the railway system is the basis of today’s KTX.

Killing

The annexation of Korea ended in 1945 when Japan surrendered to the US. Korea was carelessly split into two countries. The north was under the protection and influence of Russia. And the south was under the protection and influence of the United States. None of these countries fully trusted any of the other countries.

To foreigners living in Korea, it would seem that the relationship between the Korea and Japan is strained with petty squabbles over tiny rocks in the Sea of Japan. Even the name “Sea of Japan” will cause anger to Koreans who say that the water should be called the “East Sea”.

But overall, relations between Korea and Japan are pretty good considering all that has happened between the two countries. Japan has never officially apologized for all the heinous and inhumane acts committed against the Korean people and it probably never will. Korea does trade and conduct business with Japanese companies, though you will still see people of the older generation picketing outside a Toyota or Honda dealership in Seoul.

The Japanese on the other hand adore K-pop, K-dramas, and Korean celebrities. They seem not to fully understand what happened with Korea, why Koreans dislike Japan, and a small fringe group of Japanese wonder why the Koreans in Japan don’t “go home”. But, Japan is this way with many countries. Unlike in Germany, students in Japan are not taught the negative aspects of Japan’s history, so most Japanese really don’t understand the cause of the tension.

All Pictures


South Korea
(대한민국)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, or train, though entry by train is rare if not damn impossible or most non-presidents of North or South Korea.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to South Korea.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 90-day visa at the airport or ferry port.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Korean embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Videos:

Books:

Notes:

Korea is a generally safe country. You don’t really have to watch out for pickpockets, muggers, or scam artists. Use common sense and you will be okay. Things are generally inexpensive and there are many wonderful things to buy.

You should watch out when crossing the street, beware of scooters on the sidewalk, and little old ladies will push you to get that last seat on the bus or subway.

Enjoy Korea! I live there for 2 year and had a fantastic time.


Jeju Island
(제주도)

How to get there:

  • 33°30’26.8″N 126°29’32.8″E

From Seoul or Incheon:

  • By Boat fromthePortofIncheon
    • Depending on the time of year the fare to Jeju by boat will be cheaper than flying. But for us, traveling in the non-peak season for air travel, it was almost double the price of a cheap flight.
    • Cost: about 65,000KRW  one-way or more depending of the accommodations
    • Phone: 721-2173
  • ByPlanefromGimpo Airport
    • The best way to find cheap flights is to go wikipedia, look up the airport of your destination (Jeju International Airport) , find out what airlines fly there and from where. Then go down the list of airlines. Check out their website for flights costs. It doesn’t hurt to check out a few flight search engines like orbitz or priceline. We got our tickets from JejuAir with the help of a Korean speaker. They were less than 200,000KRW for 2 round trip tickets.

From outside Korea:

Notes:

  • Public transportation on Jeju Island is a real pain. Rent a car or scooter or bring a really interesting book.
  • Even though it is called the Hawaii of Korea, it is not warm there in the winter.

Gimpo Airport
(김포국제공항)

to get there:

  • 37°33’31.2″N 126°47’40.0″E

From Seoul

  • By Subway:
    • It’s easy, just go to Gimpo Airport subway station. If you live anywhere near a line 9 station, then you can take advantage of the express train to Gimpo.
  • By Bus:
    • All the airport limousines to Incheon Airport from Seoul stops at Gimpo Airport. Just look out for the bus stops with a plane on them. These buses cost 8,000KRW without a T-money card and 7,500KRW with one.

Website

Notes:

  • Gimpo Airport is not even close to being as nice as Incheon airport.
  • There is a movie theater over at the international terminal, but there is not much to do or eat once you go past the security check.
  • Make sure to eat before you go past the security check. There is a restaurant inside but every time I’ve seen it, it was either not opened yet, already closed, or there was nothing decent to eat.

Jeju City Bus Terminal
(제주종합터미널)

How to get there:

  • 33°29’58.9″N 126°30’53.7″E

From the Airport:

  • Take the #100 city bus.
  • They use the English word for “terminal” so when the stop is near you will hear the word in English.
  • You can use your T-Money card on all public buses on this island.

Address:

Jeju IntercityTerminal
2441 Ora 1-dong, Jeju City

Notes:


Yeha Guesthouse

How to get there:

  • 33°29’59.7″N 126°31’33.9″E
  • by taxi: 3 minutes from Jeju Airport (3,000KRW)
  • by bus:
    • take the #100, get off at Jeju bus terminal.
    • From there, it is a 3 minute walk. Just go straight in the direction the bus was going.
    • You will cross a little bride.
    • After you pass the intersection after the bridge look out for the guesthouse on your right.
    • You will have to cross a parking lot to get to it.
  • fromJeju Port Terminal:
    • Take the #92 bus (1,000KRW),
    • get off at the Jungangno crossroads near the KB bank.
    • Then transfer to the #100 bus (1,000KRW)
    • get off at Jeju Bus Terminal.
    • From there, it is a 3 minute walk. Just go straight in the direction the bus was going.
    • You will cross a little bride.
    • After you pass the intersection after the bridge look out for the guesthouse on your right.
    • You will have to cross a parking lot to get to it.

Address: 
Yeha Guesthouse 561-17,
Samdo 1-dong Jeju-si, Jeju Island

Phone:

  • +82-64-713-5505

Website:

E-Mail: yehaguesthouse@hotmail.com

Notes:

  • It’s way better than staying at a love motel.
  • It comes with free breakfast,
  • free internet,
  • free wireless internet,
  • free laundry,
  • free international phone calls,
  • free use of the kitchen…
  • Most of all, it’s clean.
  • If you book your stay through hostelworld you’ll get lower rates.

Hangil Memorial Hall
(제주항일기념관)

How to get there:

  • 33°32’29.8″N 126°38’34.6″E
  • Take the bus from Jeju City Bus Terminal gate 4.
  • Say that you want to go to Hangil Memorial in Jocheon.

Address: 1156 Jeju jocheoneup Jocheon-ri-gu

제주 제주시 조천읍 조천리 1156번지

Phone:

  • 064-783-2008

Cost:

  • 500KRW

Hours:

  • 9:00-18:00 Museum,
  • Outside area is always available
  • Closed Jan 1, Lunar New Year Holidays, Chuseok

Website

Note:

Map:

Posted in Jeju, Jeju City, South Korea | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

 
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