After hanging out with new expat colleagues a few weeks back, I decided to head back to Joy City Mall in the more downtown area of Tianjin the following day.
The taxi took me along the same route as previously. It cost me a total of 20¥ ($5) for a trip of roughly 8km. I walk a little extra to get to Joy City Mall. It's huge - like all the others.
I walk inside and right away, to my surprising disappointment, were many of the Western brands I've seen all over Toronto. Wondering around for a little while resulted in near resentment. What the hell was this life change for if such Westernization is happening right where I've moved too? Are Westernization and development the same thing? It can seem like it.
And I get it, if I don't want the Western stuff, don't be where it is aka super centres. I suppose I was seeking a little more of the Chinese culture development en masse than the same old Western brands.
So I'm looking around the mall and decided to check out the Apple Store. The store looks beautiful, well designed, has great craftsmanship, and is buzzing. It's unmistakable. After talking with the specialists for a few minutes, I come to realize I have no desire to work at a major firm again. I permit them to run through their training, while withholding my previous employment. Being on the outside and observing them drunk on kool-aid, following the same shpeel, and being able to predict the structure and nearly the words of their response was like seeing my employment summed up in 30 seconds. This self-reflection was a strong reaffirmation of my decision. I believe many things were learned during my 5 years of employment, and am proud to have put in the time I did. I don't miss working there for a moment though. As an environment, you're treated excellent, the pay is great, the benefits are many and comprehensive. And yet, it wasn't fully satisfying. Not because it wasn't enough, but because it wasn't what I am not seeking anymore. Coming into contact with so many people and having to follow such carefully cultivated strategies really imposed just how much branding and marketing we are subtly influenced by.
Since I started using psychedelics over the course of the past year, I've unconsciously come to desire material things less and less. And becoming a redditor just added fuel to this fire and added government and institutional distrust.
To read extensively about the numerous global major fuck-ups Western institutions have wrought in the name of development and democracy is sickening. If you actually believe you live in a democracy you're simply blind and delusional, asleep in the comfy blanket of deception and false freedom. Don't believe me, just read about the systematic disenfranchisement of HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of Americans, who are unable to vote (a). Two "options", both representing the ultra-wealthy, isn't a choice. I'll save the speech about how the public is getting raped on nearly every end of the spectrum from education, food, Internet, military, media, surveillance, elimination of rights, monetary policy, jobs, taxes, big business perks, student debt, healthcare and more.
Suffice to say, I no longer want my life controlled from every aspect by an oligarchy. What I'm "supposed" to learn, the kind of food I "should" eat (which chemicals are allowed in it), what and where I can and cannot consume things, what I should buy, when I have to start and stop work, when and how much I get paid, where I should live... Government for the people by the people is a lie. Don't worry, for each example you find to disprove me (world's poorest prime minister comes to mind), you simply prove the rule. There can be no exceptions if there is no rule - the two require each other. People can, and should, govern themselves, by themselves. We've simply become too lazy to self-govern and don't want the responsibility. The idea of government in the form we have it simply leads the public being mis/uninformed and those doing the governing, develop a fence around their position so it may be maintained. Think of a time when you've seen a nice government building in the midst of surrounding buildings/houses which aren't as nice -- money flowing in, but not flowing back out.
What many seem to forget is humans have survived from the beginning of our species until this very point. And all without nearly everything we have today, most of which has only been developed in the last 100 years, and an increasing portion developed within the last 30 years (personal objects not infrastructure etc). Some concepts, like democracy have only been around a few thousands years, what is this compared to the history of our species?
Whether you believe in Evolution or Creationism makes no difference. I won't deny the scale of the obstacles humanity has overcome and the advancment on nearly every front. From medicine, technology and the sciences to lifestyle, art and travel. I acknowledge the benefits those have brought. I think we often forget the costs though. And it couldn't be more prominent.
What kind of progress have we (as humans) made whereby America houses more than 20% of the worlds prison population(1) (many in for profit prisons), most of which are visible minorities (2), and many them are being incarcerated for drug possession (3). That's right. Buy some weed and go to jail, if you're black. But if you're Hilary Clinton, you can store secret government information on your private server, violate major laws, be investigated by the FBI in two separate investigations (4) and still run for president like its nbd! America spends more money on housing prisoners per person than it does on sending them to school (roughly $30k vs $10k)(5)! Still not convinced? How about when teachers' pensions funds invest in private prisons for retirement funds and profit through retirement on incarceration? (6) Still no? How about the fact that more citizens (mainly blacks) have died at the hands of local police (7), who have been militarized with surplus army equipment (8), than have died from terrorists? Speaking of terrorists, a recent report just claimed America has been responsible for the deaths of ..... Ready?!...... 1.3MILLION citizens in three countries since the War on Terror (9)! That's genocide levels people. GENOCIDE! That's more people than Muslim "terrorists" have killed, by multiple factors. In the name of terrorism, they've justified eliminating civilian rights, monitoring your entire life, and resulted in the on-going War on Terror costing $4-6 TRILLION(10) that the current and next generation, and the following several, will pay for, all while the generation which caused this dies in the next 30-50 years. You know what they say, when the economy is crap, you go to war to boost it back up! And America has made its economy out of anti-terrorism! Don't believe that either? America is the largest weapon exporter in the world -- by a huge margin! (11) GOD BLESS AMERICA!
It's all to say I'm sick and tired of the corruption, bull shit and facade. Nearly all the problems we face we wouldn't have if we didn't have the laws, institutions and organizations setting them in the first place. I'm not in support of anarchy, we've simply become too wrapped up in the development of laws and less focused on living. We've created a society whereby each time there is a wrong-doing or tragic event, a new law must be put into place to "ensure this 'never' happens again". This method of thinking only adds to the momentum of the current state of affairs. Partner this approach with the cronyism we see in the political-business world and it's all to easy to understand why many problems we face are self-made. We need to head in the opposing direction, we need to rid ourselves of many policies, thought patterns, social constructs and dramatically simplify our lives.
I challenge my readers to rid yourself of as many possessions you have as possible. You'll find the less you have, the more creative you become, the less clutter is in your life and the more flexibility you will enjoy. You will have time to discover who you are, what you truly value and become well rounded.
For myself, I'm working to maintain having less things, learning to create value instead of consume it (particularly digitally, on both fronts). I'm most happy with just a few close people, some warm sun and being in nature near the water and mountains. I've noticed just how much I love being in and near water. Research shows being near water has many benefits to people (12). This is an area I will definitely explore more as I travel and develop personally.
We're told what to do at school, then what to do at work and once you retire, what you can do in a retirement home. And you call yourself free?! I call you oblivious. This kind of life is nothing more than a production line experiment. We survived millennia without RRSP's, BComm's, MBA's, and SVP's of Sales/Design/Logistics etc. You work your entire life just to spend the sum of your life's efforts staying alive at the end while you slowly die.
Zig Ziglar makes a great statement: Money won't make you happy but everyone wants to find out for themselves. Let me tell you, as someone who lived by myself, maintained a self-made mid-5-digit portfolio and was on the type of trajectory to "find out for myself" and gave it up to have a new life at the age of 25, I can assure you: life is better without it.
We didn't need all these things before because we didn't work 60 hours a week on menial tasks, commute for hours, or fight with spouses and kids over the latest products and other trivial matters. We didn't eat all the chemicals we do today, or breathe the toxins we've filled the air with. Humans are our own worse enemy. We're own own detriment. We don't know it. And we don't care.
We need to learn to live consciously, have a focus on community and be self-reliant. At some point in my life, I'd like to have my own self-sustaining home. It'll have its own water catching and purification system, solar panels and batteries, built in wifi, grow my own veggies/fruit, have a few small animals for meat. I'll live near the ocean and have the mountains behind me. I'll spend my time reading, writing, painting, using natural substances with my partner and backpacking several times a year.
I believe there are benefits of an economy, capitalism and development. However, there are limits whereby these things transform from natural to superimposed and come at great cost to many people and the environment.
It is my desire you discover who you are. Check out the Tim Ferriss show podcast, and an episode called On Zero-to-Hero Transformations. There is a part where Tim says we must learn to let our purpose/calling find us instead of searching for it. Check out the post here: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?mt=2#episodeGuid=0f9feca3e639bc522d22ac23e0f973fc
A) Disenfranchisement - take your pick:
(1) America Housing More Than 20% of World's Prison Population:
(2) Visible Minorities in Prison:
(3)Prisoners Due To Drug Offences:
(4)Hillary Clinton Under Two Investigations by FBI:
(5) Cost of Prison Inmates:
(6) Teacher Pension Funds Invest In Private Prisons:
(7) More Likely To Be Killed By Police Then Terrorists:
(8)Militarization of Police:
(9) US War on Terror Leaves Millions Dead (give you several sources just to show how it hasn't been reported at all in the US):
(10) Cost of War on Terror:
(11) American Weapons Exports:
(12) Benefits of being near water: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/impact-sea-lakes-rivers-peoples-health
Many people who operate at a high level take steps to reduce the number of redundant decisions they make in their daily personal and professional lives. This includes setting a strict weekly schedule which doesn't vary ie. Gym work outs on set days at set times, having the same food for specific meals (breakfast), outsourcing tasks to assistants, and even how they dress -- by having a small set of outfits which are rotated (think Steve Jobs and his black turtle neck with jeans).
When aiming to travel abroad to backpack, it's important to not overpack on clothes (or anything else), since it's largely dead weight. Every extra pound you pack is compounded when on the trail. For people who live in North America it will come as a surprise to hear this, in many parts of the world, people wear the same clothes multiple days in a row. In NA you'd be asked "didn't you wear that yesterday?" if you wore the same shirt, more than one day. Here, I've seen my colleagues, and even my top boss, wear the same outfit multiple days in a row. It's nbd. The most people do this in NA is wearing something black all the time, any other colour and apparently it's too noticeable.
I anticipated this (wearing the same clothes), though not for the reason of saving laundry or reducing the quantity of clothes I brought. Before leaving, I knew I'd be in a climate which varied, would largely be hot, have me sweating, and I'd be doing a lot of activities such as yoga and hiking. I purchased a new wardrobe, all from the same store with a focus on soft colours, were made of sweat absorbing material and stylish enough I could wear in many environments. This included, pants, shorts, t-shirts and long sleeve shirts. Most importantly, I bought clothes that all matched each other. This is what I am referring to above, and the reason for buying all the clothes at the same time from the same store. This removes the obstacles of having to match clothing pieces. With everything coordinated, I can swap them all with each other and not worry about it! Furthermore, I bought the same number of of each item, so everything is interchangeable!
If you're a guy and want to go even further, and save yourself a bit more space and money, buy all your shorts as bathing suits, particularly quick dry ones. The quick dry will help with the sweating, and you'll always be ready to go for a swim! Clothes made of this material is light, the quick dry comes in handy in many situations. And if you're leaving the water and going to your next spot - you don't stay wet long. If fact, the bathing suit will air dry much faster than you will!
When it comes to packing your bag, I packed my clothes in plastic bags by item ie. Shirts together, boxers and socks together etc. This has multiple benefits. The first is being able to easily remove items and repack them without clutter. Having them in bags can also help against them getting wet if you haven't purchased a rain cover for your pack (which I highly advise).
For more information on how to distribute the weight in your pack, check out these links:
1. How remote you plan on being
Typically, people online suggest being under 30lbs, with some people even going as light at 15lbs! A rule others go by is under 25% of your body weight, and preferably at 20%. Check out these links on reducing the weight of your pack:
When I moved to China, my two bags combined, were about 40lbs. Not bad for my first time moving abroad to live. However, even just going around downtown Toronto, the bags became heavy quickly! I'm really going to have to reduce some weight before my backpacking trip next summer! Some big books I brought along, from TESOL as a cautionary note, will be the first to go. This alone should save me at least 10lbs. You also need to watch how much water you carry. It's the heaviest item you'll be carrying on a density/volume basis.
I look forward to seeing you on the trails!
As you know, since my arrival, efforts have been made to commit to practicing yoga multiple times per week. Wether this be outdoors or at the gym. I believe using the iPad app Fitstar Yoga has taught me many things - secrets to helping my form, and being able to push myself a little further. For example, when bending over backwards, the app has stressed the importance of pushing up through the chest, and heart, instead of crunching into the back. Or, while doing balance poses, to keep the abs engaged and root down through the big toe. These tips, and others, have been essential to developing proper form, keeping steady breathing, and learning how to transition between some great poses seamlessly.
When I started going to the gym, many of the poses in the sessions were familiar to me, with a few variations and new poses to keep things interesting. With four different instructors, new dynamics have encouraged my respect for each teacher and their individual approach. Such diversity in practice, while leveraging it as a means to enhance my own, helps to keep my thoughts and mind calm while listening to the class completely in a foreign language.
Not being able to speak has started to teach me to have more reverence for being quiet (I often talk a lot), and to work at calming my mind, especially if the pose is challenging. Having the teacher speaking in Mandarin, especially the ones who count to ten for each pose, gives me something to work on and keep my mind off the intensity of the stretch - mind over matter.
Whilst out in the park the other day, and doing a great session, I was able to settle into myself and focus on being present, absorbing the moment, and learning to reach such a state with many surrounding distractions. At the time, the park had many locals walking around, talking, children playing, and several people watching me. Pulling from The Art of Learning which I'd just finished, I was able to use these sounds and "distractions" as an opportunity to practice reaching my zone, even when conditions weren't optimal (alone, quiet etc). The trick, is to learn to be able to reach this place no matter the surrounding environmental conditions. It's important to be able to learn this, regardless of what's around you; and may only be developed through practice.
Going forward, I would like to tick my yoga meter up just a notch, by slightly progressing from the poses I'm doing now. Having more advanced stretches will be a great challenge to me. To push myself further, will be encouraging and strengthen my desire to become more focused during each session while staying true to my breathing. I believe continuing to develop a habit of consistently doing sessions will help in reducing fluctating emotions, increase spurts of creativity, and provide more energy.
There is much to be learned from developing a positive habit which focuses on breathing, building endurance and purging the mental fog we often endure. Such activities include: running, biking, yoga, working out and other similar activities. For those looking for a tip on speeding up this process, try not listening to headphones and simply enjoy the stillness of what's surrounding you -- even if you are in the hustle of a big city. Blur these moving obstacles out, rise above them, focus inward and find stabilization. It may seem challenging at first, the focus is to be able to turn this capability on and off at will. Try journaling, by hand, on paper, this will help your capacity to do this and provide a record of your growth.
While living in Toronto, I had bank accounts at multiple banks and had investment accounts split between multiple companies. Each offered various benefits, however, over the course of time, this became time consuming, burdensome and a lot to manage. Everything from multiple statements, differing apps, a variety of policies and requirements, it all becomes a lot to handle. You may not notice as it cumulatively builds up, the process happens slowly.
After my move, I have intended to set up a bank account with Bank of China though didn't get around to it. While living in NA I loved the convenience of having a debit card, and one with tap for payments especially. This comes with a downside, I had to pay for unlimited transactions each month since I was with a major big 5 bank, yes, I could have signed up with an online only bank and have no fees; which I ended up doing, and chose ZenBanx. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after I signed up I discovered I cannot make purchases with the card online or in person outside of Canada... Kind of pointless for a bank with the slogan "Around the corner, around the world". They do however let you withdrawal from any ATM *GASP* just like EVERY OTHER BANK! 😱 They do hold a major advantage of seamlessly allowing and transferring multiple currencies in the same account (up to 5). Then I arrive in China, go to withdrawal from an ATM with my ZenBanx card and it doesn't work -- wtf.
Whatever, so far, I have used an ATM for withdrawals while waiting for my first pay check. Oh how I hate to say "wait for my first pay check" -- when I should be earning passive income which occurs more frequently, and equates to more, then a pay check does.
When I received my first pay, it was prorated based on number of days I'd worked, out of 30. Dido with the housing allowance. This is enough to get me by until next cycle. I took the cash, and divided it into 4 (for each week), then took 10% of each week to budget for savings.
Physically seeing the cash really helps, it creates hesitancy to hand it over. I think seeing the money both in hand/wallet and handing it over has a strong psychological effect.
It's been an effort getting out of the habit of converting to dollars and simply thinking purely in terms of Yuan. The tendency is to gauge cost relevancy in your home currency, understandable. Here's a different trick though, think of the local bills as flat units without currencies and treat them solely as the number. Ie. Instead of seeing the 100¥ as the $20 it's worth, see it simply as 100. This way, you don't start looking at a 100¥ and going "nbd, it's only worth a $20 bill". Then, save and stack them up.
I plan on saving the majority of my income (70%-80%) for a backpacking trip near the end of next summer throughout SE Asia which will last at least 1-1.5 years. Longer if I can make it happen. Seeing the savings pile up will have a major positive impact on my mindset for the trip, especially if I break the savings up into monthly components. My colleagues, who are all expats and have done a decent amount of traveling, say approximately $1000 should be more than enough, this is what I'm aiming for.
I'll keep my ZenBanx account and eventually put the funds in this account before leaving. This is for several reasons:
1. They pay 1.5% on deposits each month. On say, $15,000 this equates to $225/month. I've seen people get by fairly well in Thailand for $300, so this will take care of most of my expenses each month there.
2. It prevents me from carrying large amounts of cash. $15,000 is a lot to carry in dollars, let alone RMB or other currencies worth significantly less than the dollar. This protects it from loss, theft and physical damage such as rain.
3. Easily exchange currencies.
I look forward to this new aspect of my life, and similar to nearly everything, the decision is easily reversible. Many of us are afraid to do something different and new, as if you are the first to do it, and as if you cannot reverse this decision. This paralysis leaves many in a state of in-action, the worst state of all. Many are so afraid of losing a little bit of money, but have no problem losing time. Unfortunately the inverse is true, money can always be made again. Once your appointment with deaths arrives, your time is up. I've been listening to a lot of Seneca lately (see the Resources section of my site), he says (para.) it is not the last drop which empties the bottle, but the emptying of all the drops which were poured out before the last.
I leave with this personal thought of mine: Whether you are liberated through life or death is your decision. If it is life which liberates you, live fully. If it is death, settle your accounts and die with courage. But if you do not die, and do not live fully, then you shall be paralyzed and condemned to purgatory, and this is worse than death itself, for even death lives actively.
For those of you thinking of saving money, whether it be for school, or as a down payment, or simply building up reserves, the traditional way is to get a job, decrease your quality of life in the name of saving money for later. And you're welcome to do that. Bear in mind, if its popular, than the market is over saturated and will yield little result.
Here's why you may want to change your mind:
1. Unless you have a solid job, you're likely living pay check to pay check and your biggest expense is likely your rent. Consider teaching English in Asia (particularly China), where many schools offer a housing allowance! Biggest expense - removed.
2. Utilities here are dismal, and may be covered by your school as well. Every little bit counts. Hydro in China costs me less than $10/month. In Toronto monthly hydro is on average around $25-$35. More if you use AC regularly.
3. Food. It's easily one of the largest expenses many people of our generation have. We love to eat out and try new places, and always want the convenience. Eating out in China can add up, especially if you visit western restaurants (their prices equate to the same in dollars as in NA), but eating at Chinese restaurants and street vendors is so cheap, it's nearly not worth it to cook meals at home (depending how simple you get - not much is cheaper than rice and beans).
4. Private tutoring. If you come over as an English teacher, spend a few months learning the ropes at your school, then add private tutoring on the side. Inexperienced teachers are earning anywhere from 150-300rmb an hour ($30-$60/hr) to sit with a kid and essentially follow your lesson plans you make from school. The teachers who do private tutoring mostly live on their tutoring income (which doesn't take many sessions), and save all their salary from the school.
5. My colleagues figure they can get by on roughly $500-$600 a month. Yo! A MONTH! That includes meals, transportation, going out once or twice a week, etc. When looking at my projections, I figure I can save anywhere from $14,000-$18000 a year just on my school job (where I work 13-18 hours a week, on salary). I mean, that's your tuition right there. Saved in a year. While travelling and getting life experience. Add tutoring and this can dramatically increase. Earning $30/hr tutoring means you only need to work 4.5 hours a week to cover your $500/month in living wages! Self employment also means setting your own schedule. Perhaps you'd like to work for 20 hours over two days, use the 4.5 hours of those two days to cover living expenses, and use the rest for travelling?
Maybe you're not saving for school, maybe you're done. Well, what better way to pay off that five digit debt and pointless degree than to travel, learn a new culture and language, meet amazing expats and locals and earn some solid money simultaneously? Remember, it's not about the amount of money being earned. What I earn in China won't get you anything living in Toronto, it's about the ratios. The amount earned to the cost of living.
The move to China has been a giant step forward for my personal development and ambition to travel throughout Asia, and subsequently, the world. A stepping stone to unlocking my whole identity and further developing my character.
Throughout this new adventure, thus far, I've made an effort to consume local products by way of supporting street vendors. The first was a lady selling jewelry, from which I bought a bullet pendant necklace.
Typically, I don't wear jewelry, or accessorize much. Not for any particular reason beyond not seeing a practical side to it. However this isn't about practicality. It's about my creativity -- something I've slowly come to self-acknowledge over the past year.
Shortly after finding my first necklace, I found others, which I shared photos of with friends back home.
A friend of mine expressed interest in the bullet necklace and I said I'd find another for him.
About a week later, while doing some exploring, I stumbled upon some more street vendors selling similar necklaces.
I glanced at a few and messaged my buddy while the owner was pestering me to make a purchase in Mandarin, no doubt offering some kind of deal. With my friend having not yet replied, given it was after midnight in Canada, I waited and walked down to the next vendor on the bridge. Initially I didn't see much in the way of bullet offerings at the second vendor and continued my journey to do some yoga in a nearby park.
When my friend replied shortly thereafter, I ventured back to the merchants and prepped to start negotiating.
To my surprise, the second merchant had the same necklace as mine, after reviewing her offerings. I asked how much, she responded in Mandarin and with three fingers raised (30¥/$6).
Alright. Not bad. I run to the other side of the bridge and review what the first guy has before purchasing. He has similar options, though the bullets aren't as nice or as large. I motion him over to see what he offers.
He picks one up, smaller than mine, and pulls out his phone to the calculator and types in 100, then erases it, and types in 120.
This guy, thinks 'cause I'm a foreigner I don't know what I'm doing. Lol. I mean, I can't blame him. Everyone has to make a buck and this guy does this for a living. After conversion the cost is $20, seems average to pay in Canada. But equilibrium must be met, and it wasn't going to be met with him, at least not at that price. I laugh, and the look on his face indicated he knew I knew what he was doing. He immediately drops to 50¥. Still not worth it for the bullets which were smaller than my own.
I measure the largest bullet he has to my finger, make a mental note, and run back to the second merchant. To my discovery, the largest bullet she has is the exact size as mine! Perfect! I try my luck and ask for a price of 25¥, she agrees, I pay, and our business complete. Free market economics everyone!
I start to walk back to the park, happy to avoid the aggression of the first merchant. But along the way, I pear over the rail of the bridge and notice this fisherman. He is standing up and using two oars to slowly make his way upstream. I notice the opportunity for a great photo (see above).
I've been listening to this phenomenal audiobook called The Art of Learning by Josh Waitzkin, world chess grandmaster and two time world champion in push hands, which has just finished, and he is being interviewed by Tim Ferriss. A favourite author of mine, and friend of Josh Waitzkin.
They'd just previously discussed the difference between the coward and the hero, mainly, the differences between how the two handle their respective fears. The words still freshly ringing in my ears. I stopped in my tracks. I really wanted the fisherman photo, but didn't want to go back past the first merchant after buying the necklace from the second. I stood paralyzed. I'm often the person who avoids confrontation, and here this merchant likely just witnessed my business with his competition and would no doubt freak out on me or press even harder for a sale.
Calculating the difference between taking a longer way around to avoid the first merchant, but at the cost of potentially missing the photo opportunity, I held my ground. What to do? The third option? Face the first merchant and reject his advances. Who am I if I can't walk past a dude approaching me in Mandarin for a desperate sale?!
I recognized this as fear, that I can be one of two options. The coward, who is controlled my his fear and both literally and figuratively, run from my fear. Or, face it, use it to my advantage and not let it have control over me and be the hero. My own hero.
Recently, as noted from developing my yoga practice, the thing we want to do least, is what we should do most. Coupled with the recent observations from the audiobook, I rejected my temporary paralysis and walked to the first merchant in chase of the photo opportunity awaiting me on the other side. Objective. Barriers. Timeline. All present.
Take a moment and reflect on how this symbolizes the fear many have in the way to obtaining a goal or dream. It's literally no different conceptually, just in scale, perhaps even not so.
Now several steps away, I anticipate his approach the moment he sees me. Our eyes lock and he jumps up in a fervent effort to capture my business. He gestures the necklace, and quotes me 40, I shake my head and hand, continuously walking. He shouts out 30, I repeat, then 20! I continue walking and refusing.
He throws his hands in the air, and sits down frustrated, knowing he just lost to his competitor.
As much as I respect him trying to make a buck to support himself, he took a calculated risk jacking up the price to a foreigner. And I believe that if I didn't know market conditions, and accepted his jacked up price, this would be fair economics. After all, surely nobody would willingly pay for something they thought was over priced, no matter if it actually is, or not. If the buyer perceives value at the price offered, it's a fair sale. It is the responsibility of the buyer to make an informed decision.
In this case, no matter if he offered me the necklace for 10¥ I still wouldn't have purchased it. Not when he didn't have exactly what I was looking for. His bargaining chip of price is useless when his competition offered what I was really seeking -- the same necklace as mine.
This merchant could have jacked up the price to 120¥ and made a solid case for the necklace, had she known I wanted that one specific piece so badly. But she didn't, and as such, I was able to negotiate a better price.
Ah, the universal language of money, and how it talks.
After passing the first merchant, I noticed the fear was gone. It was nothing. A figment of my imagination.
I trust you may use this short insight to realize you fears are no different, no matter how you attempt to justify it. Be the hero. Be your hero. You'll be surprised at how small fear really is, and how powerful you really are!
Over the past few months, I've made an effort to continuously reduce the number of emails I receive. This has been done simply by checking my email as soon as a notification comes in, and if it isn't vital, I immediately select "unsubscribe".
Since starting this process, the number of times this is required obviously has declined as unwanted emails are continuously removed.
I've found this process to result in a two fold benefit. First, I spend less time reading emails. Two, the number of notifications received is less, and results in less pressure from having the number of badge notifications continuously increasing.
Start to work on getting rid of the clutter in your life. Emails, apps, unused things, stop buying random things (still working on this), remember what Tim Ferriss says: Automate, eliminate, delegate.
You don't need all those emails in your life. If you feel they provide insight, information, access or whatever, it's unlikely. If it does, it's probably fleeting. Humans weren't meant to spend their time reading emails. Try to transition your life to producing content, learning skills and rounding out who you are. This will take plenty of your time, and you will reap many more rewards -- take it from someone who is experiencing this right now. Cheers.
As noted earlier, one of the first things I realized about China and appreciated about Canada was the lack of a ban on cigarette smoking indoors in China and how I took it for granted it Canada.
Although you are allowed to smoke in many indoor places in China, if you ask someone to put out their butt, they will without complaint. At least, from what I've observed. This doesn't eliminate the lingering second hand smoke unfortunately.
After meeting expats, new friends and visiting some establishments, some are creating environments which willfully ban smoking indoors! Be it, bars, tattoo shops and more. These owners recognize a demand from customers, especially foreign ones, for a smoke free environment.
Now I'm no legal expert, though from my understanding, a law makes a right obligatory and enforceable by standards and punishment. In this case, having access to a smoke free environment is an obligatory right in Canada. In China, there is no law obligating establishments to prohibit or permit smoking indoors, to my knowledge. And in so doing, leaves the decision up to the owner.
As many of you know, I'm a supporter of capitalism. Admittedly, my previous alignment was with capitalism and whatever it brought. Many anti-capitalist, I think, are really anti-crony capitalism. Recently, I've refined my support for capitalism to be that of conscious capitalism.
This example of establishments preventing customers from consuming cigarettes inside is an example of such conscious capitalism. It's what I feel to be a small but steadily gaining momentum movement as the Chinese become increasingly educated, combined with more Westerners explore China.
It demonstrates how policy in one country influences another (ahem, politicians), and how the laws of Supply and Demand work in reaching equilibrium naturally. There is a lot of room for improvement, but this applies to all countries. It also provides insight into how the widespread public does have enough influence by voting with dollars and word of mouth, to make the economy move more in line with the demands of consumers and their desires. The economy is the consumers' playhouse, they just need to stop letting the major corporations dictate all the rules. We all like to say we love democracy, there is no greater democracy than the free market and the power of the dollar!
Tesla is a great, recent example of this. Traditional combustion engine vehicles are fairly cheap, costly to maintain, and rely on the ever fluctuating (and increasing) price of oil -- which is destroying the Earth. Tesla comes along and recently announced their car for the masses called the Model 3 starting at $35,000 USD. The car is stylish (something traditional automakers had failed to do), innovative, and gets great mileage! Consumers voted with their dollars to say they wanted this product to move forward by pre-ordering 180,000 units, with each person putting down $1,000 and the car not available until 2017! Let that sink in! Tesla made $1.8M nearly a year before the car is expected to be delivered in deposits! $1 = 1 vote. Side note, Tesla is loved in China, just like in the U.S., I'm not sure about other cities abroad, however, in TJ, Uber offers a "Tesla" option just as you might have an UberX option! This is a great way to support innovative innovation, and get a ride in an amazing car! I have yet to use it myself, but plan to ASAP!
As part of my dramatic life change to leave NA, travel the world and create an online presence, my newest personal mantra "Work Mobile. Consume Local. Live Global." builds on my overarching objectives of "Health, Wealth & Learning".
Since my arrival in TJ China, I've made an effort to purchase local goods and food to live up to the "Consume Local" portion of my mantra. Recently I came across two young guys who had opened up a little sandwich shop beside several larger restaurants.
The shop is nothing more than some panels for walls, a griddle, deep fryer, icebox and a few kitchen utensils. They had prepped food portions which was presumably done at home, given there wasn't much food or room in this tiny space (perhaps the size of 3 hot dog carts in Toronto).
The menu has perhaps less than 12-15 items. Most of which are variants of a larger item ie. Kabobs with different meat options, fries, combos etc.
The two guys look young enough to be in school or fresh out of it. I was proud of their effort, friendly service and fair prices.
I've been fortunate enough to receive a decent paying income while starting off here in China and I feel a responsibility to help support those locals around me. It doesn't take a genius to make sandwiches and fries, but it does take courage to run your own little shop and do a decent job! That's worth something in my books. Many people I know are too afraid to run a lemonade state let alone their own shop.
Not bad for $5. Topped it off with an ice cream for $0.80:
As part of my Z Visa, I had to obtain police and healthcare approval to stay in China for the year.
The same documents you read about in the "How-to" section of my site are used here in the healthcare portion.
A contact of mine was talking with me and asking me to get my documents and passport ready. I met other contacts this morning and we drove to the hospital across the (huge) city.
Upon arrival at the hospital, I went to get my documents and couldn't find the only important piece of paper I needed: the medical exam report I spent weeks running around for in Canada wasn't amongst my documents! This was quite concerning. I was unsure if I would be able to stay, and if I had to get the tests done again, I was worried of the costs, and how long it would take to get them done. What frustrated me most was how I managed to keep these important documents on me and organized for the month of February while I ran around, and when I needed this document most it wasn't there! I was certain I hadn't removed it from the stack of papers I keep in my bag. After thinking about when I had it last, I think what happened was I didn't receive it back when I went to the Chinese Visa office, BIG MISTAKE! Note, from the start, print out the form twice, have the doctor fill it out twice and only give one original copy to the Visa office. Keep the second original for use at the healthcare centres when you arrive -- yes, you want to move abroad, do it!
I find out from my contact with me, I can do the tests the same day! And it costs 600¥ ($125). This includes: blood test, urine test, ECG, chest X-ray, vision test, blood pressure test, ultrasound, and basic height and weight measurements.
We start the process and I see a series of rooms all beside each other. Each room has a young medical professional standing outside and waiting. I pop into each room one by one. Spend a few minutes in each, then take my paper and head to the next one! All of those tests took less than 30 minutes and I spent weeks and hours doing them in Toronto at multiple different locations. I was amazed at the efficiency and frustrated at how complex it was in Canada. Yeah, it's free, but it took so much longer and substantially more coordination. If I had the choice between free and paying $125, you can bet your ass I'd pay the $125 every time.
Aside from being exponentially faster, free of the bureaucratic red tap and requiring bookings, one thing I noticed was neat and needed in Canada was the urine test (hope you're not eating lol). In Canada, you get those wide-mouth orange capped containers. Fine to pee in, but then they make you walk past all the patients with piss in your hand. And yeah, everyone does it, but everyone hates it! In China, the bad news is: you have to pee in this vile with a tiny opening at the top! The great news? Inside the washroom, they have a square door in the wall with a test tube tray. You open the door, place your tube inside, and wash your hands! On the other side of the opposing door to the box is the testing lab for blood, urine etc.
The nice thing about developed countries, is just that. However, developing countries have a distinct advantage of being able to observe what doesn't work in developed countries and change it. Secondly, in the "whatever gets the job done" mentality here, innovation is spurred in ways people in NA just don't think about!
Upon arrival in China you learn two things VERY quickly which really help you get started:
1. Every single thing is on WeChat, the equivalent of Facebook but streamlined to text and (mainly) voice message conversations, sharing photos, locations and profiles at its core. You quickly learn WeChat goes into areas Facebook does not. For example, over half a billion people use WeChat for almost all communications. At my school, I'm apart of group conversations for teachers in my location, mothers of children in each class I teach, expats in Tianjin, a huge group at a popular bar (they let us know promos for the night, post photos and who wins at poker games) and people who teach at the same institution as myself but at different locations. WeChat can also be used to buy things in stores, movie tickets (cheaper rates if you use WeChat) and pay your cellphone bill. Nearly everywhere you go, you'll see a customized QR Code for a group, promo or link.
When meeting someone new, they don't even ask for your phone number, just your QR Code for WeChat. When approaching females, asking for their WeChat isn't even as seemingly challenging as asking for a phone number in North America. I still have more to explore, however, you can glimpse at how widely integrated this app is.
2. There is a huge market for second hand items which can help you save a lot of money, meet new people and score some great deals! Since my arrival, I've seen expats selling fridges, coaches, pets, cellphones, laptops, electric scooters (I really want one of these - Tesla make an electric scooter!) and much more.
Personally, I literally just purchased a gym membership at the mall beside my complex from a random girl I met through WeChat. I bought 8 months of unlimited gym usage, various classes and even some retreats the gym does for a steal of 850¥ ($175CAD)! I jumped on the deal quickly because the gym holds multiple yoga sessions per week and I'd really like to meet some locals (girls) who do yoga. This membership also includes a trainer who is available. There is a yoga studio in the mall/buildings I work in, however they want 3500¥ ($700) for 50 classes, or the minimum of 30 classes for 1770¥ ($361)!
Going to the gym will help me develop my practice further and I can learn different types of yoga other than what my FitStar Yoga app is teaching me. It wouldn't hurt for me to get back into going to the gym either and will give me something to do before/after work.
When in Rome, do as the Romans. It's better to embrace this lifestyle change than to resist it. Cultural immersion is exciting, and the locals seem to appreciate my effort to repeat what they say, engage with them a little and they like seeing foreigners. Or they're just laughing at me. The best part of not understanding the language is I cannot understand what they're saying, so even if they are, I'm oblivious to it.
Only having to work a few hours a week, and making more than a living wage, mostly because of how cheap it is to live , I'm able to explore the city.
The other day when I was down in Heping District by the St Regis hotel, I observed a fantastic park across the river.
Today, I returned with my yoga mat, attire, water bottle and iPad Pro to get a session in.
Tianjin is a warm city. During my session, the weather was sitting at a comfortable 20°, clear blue sky, and a slight breeze to keep the sweat from building up too much. Furthermore, I really appreciate how it's a fairly dry heat. The humidity of Toronto is something I very much dislike. The signs of spring are prominent as the city blossoms itself into lush vegetation. Perhaps the best element of all is how quiet such a big city is. It's an oxymoron which just calms and confuses you simultaneously.
I have my favourite yoga/spiritual playlist going which includes the following songs:
K'khana - Random Rab
Calm - Govinda
Eastern Girl - Waterbone
Obedear- Purity Ring
And frankly, I'm blissful. I like being alone much of the time. And the yoga helps me centre my focus and clear my head. It also energizes me and helps with my posture.
I'm really cognizant of how much I've come to recognize my appreciation for the simple things. To live naturally. I think we often forget, we are animals. It feels good to be outside, have your shoes off, be near the water and just enjoy the weather. This is a major reason for my travels. To revert back to these old ways as much as possible. With each country I visit, I plan on taking it further and further backwards. I'll keep a few basics like iPhone, iPad my clothes and what not, of course. Though, I'm finding the more I revert, the more wholistic I become.
Thailand/area seems to be stuck in my head, I may head there in a year or two. I hope by this point, I can live out of one of those tents which can be suspended between trees or set up on the ground. Imagine, one day your home over looking the ocean, the next, atop a mountain seeing a valley? The following week you're immersed in a tropical rainforest!
I'd encourage everyone to at least try it, even if for vacation only. Note, this is your bait, once you arrive, returning will be your new biggest obstacle. Better to just accept a new life outlook and plan to stay.
It's been about 2 weeks since I arrived in TJ. I love living here, I like learning about the culture, dealing with Chinese people via gestures and trying to say the words (like how much money something is in Chinese).
A couple days after moving here, I signed up with China Mobile for an 11Gb data plan and was thrilled to have access to the network, thinking it'd be wicked fast. There was few issues though. I also paid for 3gb of data for the remaining few days in March, 'cause, I actually could use that much data if I made a small effort. The China Mobile SIM only gave my iPhone EDGE network service. So then, I stooped and bought an Android, (Hauwei P8Max -- mostly for the HUGE screen) not wanting to pay the drastic markup of an iPhone 6S. Especially not before the new model release. However, I think what happened was I didn't go back into China Mobile to tell them to roll my data over, and on April 04, I get my service cut off.
After messaging a colleague at the school to come with my to China Mobile, I find out because I didn't come in and tell them to roll it over I forfeited my ~$65 for my 11Gb. I was pretty cheesed. Why else would I pay that shiznat in advance if it wouldn't roll over? Whatever. I told them to cancel and went to go check out China Unicom after discovering China Telecom didn't work at all.
This should have been my first choice. When I landed, this was the network my phone connected with for the first few minutes when I roamed to message my contacts after I couldn't activate a sim at the airport.
So, there I was. Had my Hauwei phone which couldn't really do anything without the Google Play store, the VPN wouldn't connect over cellular and my iPhone had EDGE. Talk about.a rock and a hard place. The Hauwei was only getting 2-4mb/s, 4mb/s at peak, PEAK on China Mobile! That's barely any faster than EDGE which reaches 2mb/s. What's worse? It was essentially pointless as I had no apps or other information on the device! Then, I'd go home to Internet service which varied greatly with the time of day.
I love data, I need the access for things like GPS, translation, WeChat/iMessage etc. People here keep telling me "just use the free wifi everywhere". Yeah. Sounds great in theory. There literally is wifi everywhere, and I'm sure it works great, if you can read Chinese to follow the varying connecting instructions. All you have to do is translate the text and fo.... Wait, you can't translate, you have no wifi and no cellular. Given my drastically varied ex-eriences on my home wifi, I wasn't about to sign up for a repeat. And who wants to explore and find a wifi each time you want to look something up? That's not a mobile device... That's called a desktop.
Once I arrive at China Unicom, my colleague is trying to explain how everything works in her still developing English. I was hesitant to sign a one year contract now having seen how poor China Mobile service was, especially since it's the largest of the three nationalized carriers. The last thing I wanted was to be stuck in a three year contact with horrible data speeds like CM.
My colleague convinces someone to let me try their SIM in my phone... No service, service with no bars, 3G.... And then, 4G!! Alas! Notifications are coming in, VPN connects immediately, Instagram loads, Weebly app updates and I am back in business!! My colleague couldn't believe how much my spirit had risen over lunch. I'm a simple guy, running water, hydro, and a decent data connection. Not too much to ask, right?
I felt pretty suffocated having such slow data speeds to the point they were useless and couldn't load data. Asking for a lighter to burn the tip of the string on my new necklace is fairly easy to gesture, and buying stuff or asking the price can be read on a cash register, or typed into the calculator respectively. But what about asking a taxi driver to take you to the opposite side of town and things which aren't simply gestured? It get complicated and frustrating quickly.
Anyways, now I can get back to my usual constant messaging with my best friends Quincy and Angie back home, posting here on the blog and updating my site, finding new places to try and explore, meeting new people on WeChat, and taking selfies with random girls who speak no English but want a pic with me. Yeah. I'm at 9 so far. It's a hard life out here. Cheers.
What's in my day bag: After a brief trip to Vancouver in August 2015, for 3 days, I've come to really enjoy being able to travel ultra light with just a normal backpack worth of things. There are a few essentials I carry to be prepared and my list has updated since last summer due to geographical differences. Here is what I bring with me:
- At least 1 water bottle. I currently have two, and will soon upgrade from plastic bottles to metal ones with water filters/purifiers inside. The metal will allow me to boil water inside while hiking/camping/emergencies, as water in Asia is often contaminated so having the purifying filters is a must. I'll also be looking for something roughly 1 litre in Volume.
- Sunglasses case so I can swap between prescription frames and prescriptions sunglasses. The microfibre cloth also duals as a phone screen cleaner.
- Toilet paper roll. Used for blowing my nose, in case I get a nose bleed, wiping your ass, drying up spills or hands, could be used for light kindling for an emergency fire etc.
- iPhone sim ejector. In case you need to swap sims/phones, clean under your nails, scratch something, works great as a toothpick in a pinch.
- Visa/resident papers
- Pen, sharpie and pencil. All work on materials the other may not, pencils could be sharpened out and pen/marker can freeze, dry or run out of ink.
- Extra plug and cable for devices
- Comb, toothbrush (has toothpaste built into handle), deodorant, floss
- DōTERRA essential oils (lemon for water flavour and cleanse, On Guard for detox/immune system support)
- Few melatonin pills. In case you're stuck somewhere and can't sleep, these will help.
- iPad Pro with keyboard and Apple Pencil. For work, or play. Great tools to have.
- Extra headphones. In case my originals get lost/stolen/damaged (UrBeats)
- Extra socks. If my feet get wet or sweaty, having an extra pair is nice. Especially if I unexpectedly visit someone and I've been walking all day.
- Lighter. Good for light if your phone dies at night, start a fire in emergencies, spark a joint (always nice being the guy who saves the session by having a lighter).
- Cash and credit card. Some places only take one option, good to have both.
- Light sweater. Many places get hot during the day but cold at night. This can be the differences between a fun night and a distracted chilly one.
- Couple condoms
- Mask for filtering pollution. Also works well to limit security cameras seeing your face when combined with sunglasses.
- Couple plastic bags. These can come in handy for holding something you buy, keeping other items in my bag together, storing wet clothes or as a backpack cover if it rains.
- Lip chap. My lips get dry when it's windy out.
- Usually some kind of snack (dried food, or produce if possible)
- Small cable and combo lock. Can be used to tie my bag to something for short period, combo lock has multiple uses, cable and lock can also be used to secure something to the outside of my bag.
- 5 elastics. Always something to use these for. Especially sealing a package of food.
- Combo dishes kit (see my Instagram for pic via link below this post), it has 3 pieces of Tupperware, 1 of which doubles as two plates (lid and base), has a small cutting board, collapsible cup, and combo fork/knife/spoon tool. Everything fits nicely into a compact design and it all floats. This works great if you buy some food on the street and want to save some, portion it out, have something to rest it on instead of holding it, or cut it up.
Things I'll be adding:
- Small quick-dry towel: great for drying off, but also great as a canopy to pretect from the sun during the day.
- Extra boxers. In case I get wet, or stay the night somewhere unexpectedly.
- Solar recharging external battery pack with USB 3.0 port.
- Extra set of shoe laces. in case your laces break, or you need to tie something up or together ie. Your backpack strap tears, you need to make that canopy mentioned above, or need a quick clothes line for your towel.
- Small first aid kit, can be helpful especially for cuts, though the needle and thread could double as a sewing kit for tears in clothes/bags.
- Multi-tool (knife, scissors, etc.)
When I lived in Canada, I didn't realize how developed, and stable, the network technology actually is.
My cellphone plan was 16Gb/mo which I shared with my sister, she used 5gb and I'd use 10gb. At home, I had a 100mbps internet package, which usually sat around 75mbps, and could download as much as I wanted. I forked over a boatload of money each month for it, but, it was pretty near as advertised (in terms of speeds). My iPhone had a pretty solid connection all throughout downtown Toronto, and pretty much whatever I wanted to do, I could and did.
I made a video for you guys like 7 different times, each shorter than the previous, to try and make it small enough to upload to a post for you, to no avail. I couldn't even send an email with a 85mb PDF attached. Apple Mail Drop didn't even work -- which is when I send the email, but the attachment sits on the iCloud servers so as to make it a smaller email.
When at home (in TJ), I chalked the slow data speed up to my housemates torrenting a ton of videos, and gaming which caused the network to lag. Regarding my iPhone speeds, I was on EDGE, 2G, and that network is just super slow. After going out and getting a new phone to "tie me over" until the new iPhone comes out, I learned now matter which device I purchased the network speed is slow due to the network itself.
After downloading the Apple Music app on my new Hauwei P8Max, I "downloaded" the songs to be saved offline to avoid streaming interruptions (I'd mostly stream my music in Toronto so I didn't have to save it to my phone). Even this wouldn't work without issues.
What advice would I give my fellow Westerners before travelling abroad?
1. Sign up for a VPN at home, just don't drop a bunch of cash thinking it's gauranteed to work -- It may not. Go for free VPN's, or at least one with a money back option. Some of my colleagues have paid for VPN's only to have the government shut them down afterwards. I downloaded this random VPN called Hexatech on iOS and it seems to work quite well. Haven't tried it on Android yet because it's not on the lesser known app stores.
2. Make sure to check the LTE bands on your device to match the frequencies/bands used in your destination country. iPhone users, see www.apple.ca/iphone/LTE for more information. If you're thinking of buying an iPhone and heading abroad, don't bother with anything older than a 6S/6S Plus/SE, they don't have the bands for SE Asia, and perhaps other countries to run on LTE.
3. Obviously make sure your device is unlocked? Do you actually have a locked phone?!
4. Don't bother with anything less than 64 GB of storage. If you run Android, managing SD cards is a pain, and it's just another thing to lose. If you run iOS, 64GB is a minimum. You'll take a ton of photos, don't cheap out on the storage. It'll be 100% worth it once you arrive. And you'll end up downloading local apps galore once upon arrival for various things. Portable, wireless hard drives fall into a similar category. They offer strong benefits, but carrying that on top of an extra battery or solar charger, just adds weight and something valuable to get lost or stolen. Preferably, go with the 128GB option, or consider the 256GB now available on iOS. 256 may get pricy, but consider this when wondering if the extra $100-$150 is worth it (for 128 or 256)-- would you pay that amount to save the weight, avoid losing extra pieces to carry and not have to worry about device and storage management? On major trips like this, LESS IS MORE.
5. Skip the laptop, go with a tablet. Unless you have a specific program you need to run, a tablet is the way to go. Get an external keyboard for long documents (like these blog posts), and use that. If Tim Cook can use an iPhone and iPad and run a $500B company, surely you can blog and do social media on it as well. Furthermore, the dead weight of a laptop will kill your body and your trip. Laptops also mean more issues at the airport, larger power cables and are less portable than tablets. Laptops don't have access to the cool apps tablets do (like Skywalk for looking at constellations). If possible, I'd even suggest getting a cellular iPad/tablet for a few reasons: 1. If you cellphone battery dies, you can toss the sim in the tablet and still get data access for maps, translations, communications and social media access. 2. You may want to ditch the cellphone all together if you're ultra portable but want more screen real estate, 3. Having worked at Apple I heard people say "I'll just use the wifi for free" ALL THE TIME! Which in theory sounds great -- unlimited internet access at every coffee shop. Ya. No. In China, there literally is wifi everywhere, but you're a fool if you use it unsecured. Back to VPN, see above for data speed issues, they're worse on wifi by itself, let alone with the increased lag of a VPN. VPN's are like those sketchy torrent sites you're friend recommends. They say "the site has everything, and all in perfect HD". You start using it only to discover it's slow as sh*t, nowhere near HD, and now your computer is slow. People here in China have told me specifically not to use the WIFI even with VPN running. And sticking to wifi means you anchor yourself to that location (in which case, you're no longer mobile), at which point, why bother visiting your destination location?! Or, you're forever scanning and connecting to new wifi networks which drains your battery like a mofo and prevents you from enjoying your trip. Either go LTE, or shut off your access to the Internet.
6. Make sure to download everything you think you could use, or even want, BEFORE you leave. This includes, books, movies, games, songs, audiobooks, data in apps like Dropbox or other cloud storage (especially if you have photos of your travel documents as back ups on there). You may not have access to a fast enough connection, or the service may not be available in that country thereby limiting or removing your access.
Great accessories for travel:
1. Folding keyboard with case - for iPad. This offers some physical protection, is a great mount for watching movies or reading in landscape, and the keyboard comes in handy for replacing the laptop.
2. 2M cable - iPhone/iPad. Travelling around may mean you're somewhere with limited access to plugs/outlets. Having a longer cord could mean the difference between the cable reaching your bed/table/chair without you sitting on the ground, or worse, having it like a foot away from the bed and you can't lay down on your back and look at IG, you have to do it stretched out on your side. Pro tip, bring one more cable than you have devices. This can be a cable for your bag if you are being more stationary ie. Staying somewhere for a few weeks/months. If you are completely mobile, having a back-up separate from your electronics could mean having an extra cable if your primary ones get wet, damaged, lost or stolen. And if that happens, it'll be the best $30 you've spent. Nothing like a dying phone when you need directions.
3. Plug bug world travel kit - iOS/OSX. This adapter allows for easy changing of electrical socket plugs. It also has the strong benefit over the Apple World Travel Kit of being able to charge two devices off one socket. Not every place you visit may have a two socket plug system like in North America. Note, this is only possible if you have a 12W plug (don't bother with a 5W iOS plug anyways since it only charges iPhone and not iPad). Case and point below (yes, I have three plugs, but I don't use these because they aren't near my bed, which only has 1 socket):
4. Water-proof plastic bag. For documents, chargers and devices.
5. Solar charging external battery pack. This should be obvious, however, I haven't committed to one yet. I've seen some on Amazon, but, a 12,000 mAh battery (huge) combined with a solar panel, LED light and clip for $22 seems little too good to be true. They claim it charges the iPad at 2.1A, however, I'm not sure I believe that. And if it screws up my iPad Pro battery, it'll cost me more than $22 to replace it. There's a difference between saving money and being naïve.
6. Selfie stick. This is something I've noticed I've been wanting. It obviously allows for selfies but can capture more background content at many more angles than your arm. They can be used to capture a photo from a higher vantage point like at concerts or if you're leaning over to the side, it can extend further.
7. Joby tripod. I tested one of these a while ago and should have kept it. I got the model with the arm on it to allow for easy and consistent panning and titling. This would be great for capturing myself doing yoga, taking selfies even the selfie stick can't handle.
8. I'm thinking of getting a GoPro. I'm not in extreme enough conditions for one yet but considering the models. If anyone has one please let Melanie the model, what you use it for and what you would change.
If you have any other suggestions, please either comment or send them to me. Hope you found this helpful! Cheers!
Today I went downtown a few hours before I had some training at one of the other school locations. I was wondering around and took some cool photos, and bought a necklace, see my Instagram account for the rest and more.
Let me tell you, I came to China thinking all the phones over here are slim and sexy and wicked fast on the nation wide 4G network (which is touted EVERYWHERE), and was all pumped to start using my new phone on the network since my iPhone 6 Plus only worked on 2G! That's right folks, downloading information from the few unblocked sites remaining at a solid 1mb/s -- peak data speed. So much for that fast data network and phones. Turns out, that's Korea and Japan are who have both fast cell and landline networks. A stunning 2Gbps in Japan -- which makes Google Fiber network look like dial-up! Anyways, as I'm using my new phone, it shows the data speed in the corner -- I haven't seen it pass 5mbps!
Meanwhile, back in Canada (eh), I could sit in the parking lot behind my building and cross 100mbps with ease each night on speed tests. Suffice to say, for a data heavy person such as myself (typically consume ~10gb/mo over cellular), this has been a major adjustment. I mean, what's the point of dropping serious dough on a brand new device if the data doesn't work super fast? What good is taking 25 selfies if you can't post to Instagram? Why bother with a 2.5K display if you can't stream movies? Who cares about a hexa-core processor if there isn't any data for the 8 cores to process? *side rant over*
I've made a few changes on my phone to try and get more aligned with the schools' work schedule, which runs on 24-hour time. Plus, the week starts with Monday on our work schedule and finishes Sunday. As a result, I've changed my clocks and calendars to reflect these differences because I hate it when I copy down a schedule incorrectly and am late.
However, today I thought I had a class observation (I'm still in training), and rushed over from the training centre location to my location via taxi (which makes Toronto cabs look like robbery). There was what I thought to be only a few moments left and I really wanted some fried rice before class started. A colleague named May took me down to get some behind the shopping centre. On my way back to the school, I went through these large revolving doors. Being tall, a very fast walker and thinking I was running out of time to eat my rice, I pushed the revolving door and walked through only to be slammed into the glass! WTF?! I turned back and there is a girl who tried to sneak in behind me with her hand caught between the revolving door and the frame!!
After she makes it through the door and is standing in the elevator with me I apologize and ask if she is ok, but she doesn't speak any English. I get off at my floor, and I'm pretty sure her and someone else were either cursing me or insulting me. It's odd, you kinda know they hate you, but you cannot understand what's being said. I felt it wasn't really my fault -- she decided to make a bad call and sneak in behind me. You see how tall and I am and how fast I walk, maybe wait for the door to pass?! Like, what's five seconds of your life going to cost you?
So I'm in the teacher area eating my fried rice when my colleague comes and gets me saying some people are here for me about a girl who got hurt. This girl and her colleagues are in the centre and want me to go with them to the hospital. We get in a car and trek over to the nearest one.
Everyone was a little tense initially, especially since a few thought her hand was broken. Given the door size and her hand size, it could have been -- though she likely would be have been in much more obvious pain if it was. After being at the hospital for a while everyone starts talking and things settle down. Luckily, her hand isn't broken!
We get back to the building we all work in, everyone is in a much better mood and say goodbye. What happened though was I misread the time, and thought I started work in about 20 minutes before going to get the fried rice, when I really had about 2 hours and 20 minutes!
I'm not a big promoter of fate or destiny or pre-determined life, however, it had me thinking. Every single action happened exactly as it was supposed to in order for that girl to get her hand caught in there. In fact, I debated a few moments before leaving, pondering if I should go get it, or save money. Then I spoke with May about which place to visit for a few moments, before going down. Everything lined up perfectly for that moment to happen. Had I walked a different way, or slightly slower, had I taken a moment longer to decide which fried rice I wanted etc., the entire incident would have been avoided. And obviously I couldn't foresee what would happen. Things happen just as they do and you end up in the spot you do, at the specific time and something happens. It could be positive or adverse. You can plan for, avoid and foresee only so much, and the rest, it just happens. Some don't believe in coincidence, some do.
When people tell me Earth is the only planet with life on it, I believe those people are wrong because such a statistical probability is unlikely. Well, the statistical probability of the numerous accidents being accidents and coincidences happen too frequently around the world, each day for it to be coincidence. For the events which lead up to the various and numerous accidents which occur each day is not statistically improbable/an anomaly because of the frequency of them. I believe there is a reason for these things to happen, not just coincidence. In my case, I learned a valuable lesson about how the Chinese culture is more about restoring harmony, above the law and who was right or wrong.
Is our life predetermined? I don't know. I'll save that for another post. Are such events merely coincidence? I don't believe so. I do believe life happens in the time and way it is supposed too. Everything in our lives has happened in its own time, and that time was the correct time. Everything in your life needed to happen for you to be who you are and where you are right in this very moment.