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I've been lurking the Happier Abroad forum for about half a year now, and I've finally decided to register for a username. Why? Because I feel like I have a lot of valuable information that could be useful to readers out there.
Let me introduce myself: I'm 26-years-old, Caucasian, 5'8" (173 cm), and I'm from the southeastern United States (Bible belt territory). You may be wondering why I mentioned my race and height. Well, that's because I feel like that information is relative to this kind of forum. I graduated from my university in May 2008, and about a year later, in September 2009, I took the initiative to live abroad. I moved to Dalian, China, and I stayed there for about 2.5 years. I later moved to Bangkok, Thailand in April 2012, which is where I'm currently living.
Ever since I was a child, I've been interested in geography and traveling. I remember being a kid, looking at a globe, and being really interested in the tiny little island of Fiji. Well, years later I haven't been to Fiji, but I've been to 10 different countries, most of which are in Asia. Here's the list: the United States (of course), the Dominican Republic, Ireland, Aruba, China, South Korea, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. It's hard to pick a favorite country from the list, but I really liked the Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, and the Dominican Republic. I guess I just like tropical places and warm weather. My least favorite would probably be Aruba, mostly because it was so ridiculously expensive and touristy. Yes, it's a tropical place, but I still didn't like it much. I didn't have too great an impression of South Korea either.
The reason I initially decided to live abroad was because of my huge fascination in traveling. I was also quite bored with America, and I just wanted a drastic change of environment. I don't really consider myself an economic refugee, nor do I consider myself to be a guy living abroad just for the women. The women are just the icing on the cake. I originally wanted to move to Germany or Ireland, but I later started to become more interested in Asia. I have a Filipino friend back in my hometown in the States, and he made the Philippines sound quite attractive to me. However, I later met my Chinese girlfriend online, so I decided to move to Dalian to be with her. We are still together to this day, and it has been nearly 3 years for us. We have a very good relationship, and I'm confident we will likely marry in the future.
I really love being an expat, and I couldn't imagine my life being any other way. However, I gotta be honest - northeastern China really wasn't for me. The weather was way too cold, and I wasn't too fond of the people either. Bangkok seems more to my liking, but I have to admit I'm still in the honeymoon phase. I plan to say in Thailand for a minimum of 3 years, so we'll see if my opinion of it changes in the future. I also hope to live in Asia for about 10 years total, and after that, I would really like to live in Latin America, possibly Mexico or Brazil.
As for work while living abroad, I've mostly done jobs related to English. Some of them I liked a lot, while others I absolutely hated. Ironically, the one I hated the most was at a very major American company. I don't mind teaching English for the moment and for maybe a few more years, but I do hope to eventually be doing something different or to be self-employed.
Other than just traveling, I'm really into photography and anything related to computers/IT. I love to repair and assemble computers, or to take apart some old electronic device just to see how it works. I'm also somewhat interested in astronomy and modern history. And on a side note, I can speak basic Mandarin Chinese, and I hope to start learning Thai eventually. I would also really love to learn Spanish some day.
I think that's enough about me. I will probably post a lot in the forums discussing Asia, particularly China and Thailand. Please forgive me if I start "grave digging" and resurrect lots of old threads - if I feel like I have valuable information to add to them, then I'll resurrect them. I would also like to give a personal thanks to Winston for creating this site, and I would like to say thank you to all the posters out there who already took the plunge to happily live abroad - your advice is what really counts on this site.
Last edited by Everdred on June 15th, 2012, 8:29 am, edited 1 time in total.
Welcome to the forum Everdred. Any insights or observations about the countries that you visited?
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"It takes far less effort to find and move to the society that has what you want than it does to try to reconstruct an existing society to match your standards." - Harry Browne, How I Found Freedom in an Unfree World
Aruba: everything was wildly expensive. Just getting a burrito at a Mexican restaurant was around $15. The beaches are breathtaking, but the whole time I was there I felt like I was in Hawaii, because there were so many Americans everywhere. I almost never got to interact with any locals, so it's hard to say anything about them. Aruban women didn't leave any impression on me at all, and I really don't remember seeing many beauties. There's a lot of good scenery in Aruba, but I would probably never go back. Aruba in two words: expensive and overrated.
Ireland: also wildly expensive, but Dublin was pretty cool. A regular burger and fries at McDonald's was around $10. It also really sucks when you're converting American dollars to Euros because your money loses so much value in the process. The very first thing I noticed when I was in Dublin was how well-dressed so many of the people were (compared to Americans). Most of the people in Ireland seemed very friendly. My best drinking experiences in life so far were undoubtedly in Dublin. You can pretty much talk to anyone in a pub (including women) without coming across as a creep. I was practically best friends with people whom I had known no longer than an hour. I also want to note that it's incredibly hard to understand the Irish accent. Ireland in two words: green (literally) and open-minded.
Dominican Republic: cheap, very beautiful landscape, and very attractive women with full "assets." If you're a breast or ass man, then the DR is the place to be. At my resort, I was constantly warned by staff and other tourists how dangerous it was to wander away from the resort. I think most of that was unfounded and untrue. I didn't interact a whole lot with the locals, but the little interaction I did have was positive. I liked the DR so much that I went there twice. The food wasn't that great, but I really liked the atmosphere. The Dominican Republic in two words: tropical and relaxing.
China: I lived there, so obviously I could talk about China a lot. When in public, Chinese people are very cold, rude, and aggressive. However, when Chinese people invite you into their home, they can be extremely warm and friendly. I found it very hard to make "true" friends with Chinese people. Most of the people around my age lived with their parents and really didn't like to go out or socialize outside of work. I never met any people that enjoyed traveling, and most Chinese people I met were very close-minded and didn't like anything that wasn't Chinese (except for consumer goods, of course). English is also nearly unheard of in Dalian, the city I was living in. Don't expect anyone to speak a word of English other than your English students. People in China often explode in anger, and it's very normal to see people having loud shouting matches in public, especially after car accidents. On the plus side, Chinese women are by far the most beautiful I've ever seen. If you're an ass or breast man, then China isn't the place to be, but if you're a leg man, then you'll be in heaven. Also, Dalian supposedly has some of the most beautiful Chinese women - and I can't disagree with that one bit. The food in China is also quite diverse and delicious, but a bit too oily. The best food in China was the Islamic food from China's Xinjiang region. China in two words: aggressive and rough.
South Korea: I visited twice - once to Jeju and once to Seoul. I honestly thought Korea was somewhat bland. When I very first arrived in Korea, I thought it seemed a lot like Japan. If you mixed China and Japan together, you'd get Korea. Korea isn't very cheap, but not too ridiculously expensive either. Price-wise, I would say it's about the same as the United States. I think Korean food is only so-so, and it doesn't seem very diverse. Korean women look absolutely gorgeous, but I didn't have too much interaction with them. Korean women also use LOTS of makeup, which is somewhat of a turn-off to me. They are still quite beautiful nonetheless. I liked Jeju much more than I liked Seoul. Jeju was extremely peaceful and quiet, but I imagine it would get a little boring if you decided to live there. I might consider visiting Korea one more time in the future to give it one last shot. South Korea in two words: small and hi-tech.
The Philippines: by far some of the best beaches and landscapes I've ever seen were in the Philippines. However, like so many others have said, I wasn't impressed by Filipino food one bit. Manila seemed filthy, and I felt a little unsafe there. One time like a crowd of 10 kids ganged up on me and tried to steal my wallet. Another time some young punk started following me down the street and also tried to steal my wallet. I was only in Manila for 5 days, so two incidents of near-theft are way too much. The upside to the Philippines is that so many people can at least speak basic conversational English. In most of the other countries I have visited, so many people don't speak one word of English. I would also say that Filipino people have been the friendliest I have encountered so far. I think Filipino women can best be described as "cute," but I think they are the least physically attractive of the Asian countries I've been to. As a tourist, I would say the Philippines is quite cheap, which is a plus if you want to go see some of the islands and their beaches. The Philippines in two words: friendly and exotic.
Vietnam: very similar to southern China. I consider Vietnam to be the "little brother" of China. The majority people were neither friendly nor cold, mostly just in the middle. Vietnam women are quite attractive because so many of them are slim and feminine. Their skin is usually a little darker than Chinese women's, but not that dark. I suppose they're comparable to Cantonese women. Vietnam is also quite cheap, but Ho Chi Minh City was a little drab and colorless (very common in Communist countries). There is also a pretty strong "rip-off-the-foreigner" culture in Vietnam. You could say that's true in many developing countries, but I noticed it by far the most in Vietnam. Vietnamese food seems like the healthiest in Asia, and I absolutely love banh mi sandwiches, which only cost about $1. And there are millions upon millions of motorcycles in Vietnam, which is quite interesting, yet very chaotic. I should mention I've been to Vietnam twice, 10 days the first time and a week the second time. I would probably go back again at some point in the future. Vietnam in two words: motorcycles and cheap.
Cambodia: very laid back and friendly people. I think Cambodia is what you'd get if you mixed the Philippines and Thailand together. The architecture is very similar to Thailand, and the atmosphere feels similar to the Philippines. I wouldn't say the English is that great, but it was decent for Southeast Asia (second only to the Philippines). Cambodian women usually have dark skin, and I noticed many of them had plump asses. Most of the women looked like what you would get if you mixed a Thai and an Indian. The bad side of Cambodia is the in-your-face poverty and the beggars, which happens to be very similar to the Philippines. And tuk-tuk drivers will not leave you alone for 2 seconds in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. You cannot walk 10 feet without one of them bothering you. I have been to Cambodia twice, a week each time, and I was probably been propositioned for a tuk-tuk ride over 1,000 times - and I'm not exaggerating. If you're into the whole pay-for-play scene, Phnom Penh has plenty of that for cheap. Cambodia in two words: laid-back and humble (but I wish the tuk-tuk drivers would disappear).
Thailand: basically what you'd get if you mixed China with India. Thai people vary quite a bit in appearance. Some people look like a full-fledged Indian, while others look very Chinese. Thailand is called the "land of smiles," but I don't think people here smile any more than in other countries. Compared to the Chinese, Thai people are very quiet and polite, and they practically never blow up in a rage. The women tend to be quite beautiful and feminine, but I would say that I find Chinese women to be more attractive. English is pretty terrible in Thailand, but not as bad as China. Thailand is very hot, much like the other southeast Asian countries, but that's how I prefer my weather. Thai food is pretty decent, and there's lots of good fruit here, but I like Chinese food more. My favorite thing about Thailand is its architecture - there are some really beautiful buildings and temples throughout Thailand. Also, in Thailand, there's this assumption that all white men stay in Thailand just for the prostitutes, so you have to prove that's not true to the locals. Once you've done that, I think the locals will respect you much more. Another bad things is Thailand has quite a bit of "rip-off-the-foreigner" culture, just like Vietnam. And obviously, like you all surely know, Bangkok has a very large pay-for-play scene, although I haven't touched that much. It just seems too expensive to me. Thailand in two words: Buddhist and colorful.
Last edited by Everdred on June 15th, 2012, 8:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
Thank you vary much for that detailed example of your experiences, fantastically informative for me, as I'm vary much interested and clueless as to what country I should go to, and vary well might end up staying in.
I always thought china would be my best bet for escaping America and finding a good woman, but seeing as I don't have anything in way of a career or skill to bring to the country other than english, what would you say is the best palce for a 27 year old to start anew in as far as asian countries go?
oh and I love japanese and chinese women, so good going, hope you and your lady tie the knot!
Most of my experience is with Chinese women, and I feel I know a lot about how they think and work. Maybe I am a little biased because I lived in China, but I think Chinese women are the way to go when it comes to Asian women. I think Vietnamese women would be my second choice. I really liked how slim and feminine Vietnamese women seemed. Chinese women are also very feminine, but they are usually taller and larger (not fatter) than their Vietnamese counterparts. I was living in northeast China, which is where the biggest and tallest Chinese people live. Northeastern Chinese also happen to be the most aggressive. I would probably go for a Cantonese Chinese girl because I would imagine they would be a little more humble and laid-back than "dongbei" Chinese girls.
If you have never traveled before, I would go to the Philippines first. It's a bit "East meets West," and it felt the least Asian of all the Asian countries I've been to. That said, it would be easier than China for a newbie. China is certainly not for beginners. Also, ordinary Chinese people speak zero English, while many Filipinos at least speak basic English (although with a heavy accent).
As far as Filipino women go - well all I know about them is what I've read on these forums. A few things about Filipino women that sound very unattractive to me: many have several kids, an ex-husband, emotionally unstable, not very intellectual, etc. On the up side, they seem to be easier to please than many Chinese women, and they seem to be more fun-loving.
If you're dead-set on going to China, I would suggest somewhere in the south, such as Guangzhou, Kunming, Haikou, or maybe even Chengdu. If you can brave the cold and the aggressive behavior of the northern people, I would go somewhere like Beijing, Qingdao, or Xi'an. I strongly recommend you go somewhere in the south though (assuming your primary goal is finding a woman). However, once again, I can't stress enough that China isn't for people who have never traveled. Go "warm up" somewhere like the Philippines or Thailand, then move on to China.
Depends on which city. I will talk about Dalian since that's where I lived. I had a one-bedroom, 50 square meters apartment for 2,000 RMB a month. I knew people who were renting studios for about 1,500 RMB a month. My apartment was like a 10-minute taxi ride from downtown, and it was pretty close to some of Dalian's parks and squares. It was also about half a mile from the Yellow Sea.
I paid my electricity and water together, and they were usually around 200 RMB a month. Internet was 120 RMB a month, and my cable TV service was 100 RMB a month. It had about 20 channels, 10 or so in English, which included National Geographic, Discovery, Cinemax, and HBO.
Transportation was pretty cheap. Almost all the buses in Dalian were 1 RMB for a ride of any distance. Taxis began at 8 RMB and moved up at rate I'm unsure of, but from my apartment to downtown was about 15 RMB. I would say I usually spent somewhere from 100 to 200 RMB each month on transportation (90% of which was from taxis). I usually only took taxis late at night when the buses stopped running or when I was drinking. Buses ran frequently, and they were quite organized, but they were't very comfortable because they were almost always overcrowded. Traffic in Dalian moved pretty slow, but it had nothing on Bangkok traffic, which is a complete nightmare.
Food greatly varied in price. Whenever I ate Chinese food from small, non-chain restaurants I would usually pay about 20 RMB. When I was eating together with someone, it was usually about 50 RMB. If I ate international food, I usually paid 150 RMB and up (for two people). Whenever I went to the supermarket, I usually paid about 150 to 200 RMB per visit. I would usually have two shopping bags completely loaded to the brim with meat, eggs, fruit, and vegetables. I would also usually have a few drinks and small snacks. I went to the supermarket about once a week.
Shopping for consumer goods and clothes is not cheap at all in China. If consumer goods are cheap in China, then expect them to be piss-poor quality. And if you want anything of decent quality, be prepared to pay 2 to 3 times what you would pay back home. Always buy electronics and clothes back home if you can. All of this sucks because there really is no "middle-class" shopping in China.
Pay-for-play was somewhat cheap in Dalian too. There were bathhouses all over Dalian, which were the best places to go for full-service treatment. Intercourse with one of the masseuses, usually aged from about 25 to 35, was usually around 150 to 175 RMB. The mandatory entrance fee to most of those bathhouses was usually around 20 to 40 RMB. There were also tons of high-end bathhouses and KTVs, which I never went to. I imagine they would be wildly expensive though. There were also a few spots in Dalian with streetwalkers, which usually ranged from 50 to 150 RMB for intercourse. The women were mostly low-quality and over-aged (40+), but you could sometimes find a diamond in the rough. "Pink light" shops were a-dime-a-dozen around Dalian too. Usually they had some women in their younger twenties, but service varied greatly. The price for intercourse in those places was usually around 125 to 150 RMB. There were also escort services in Dalian, but they were anywhere from 500 to 1,000 RMB for a short-term visit. I didn't indulge in pay-for-play that much during my time in Dalian, but when I did, I usually just went to one of the bathhouses or to one of the better-looking streetwalkers. By the way, it would be very hard to navigate most of those places without speaking any Mandarin.
Nightlife was also wildly expensive in Dalian, with prices comparable to London or Tokyo. It was very rare to see a bottle of beer in a nightclub for less than 20 RMB. Usually the price would be around 30 to 50 RMB for one bottle. However, beer in the supermarkets and convenience stores was about 3 RMB per bottle, but the taste and quality of the beer was terrible. I strongly believe China has the worst beer in the world. Beer in restaurants was usually about 5 to 10 RMB per bottle. Whenever I went out on Friday nights, I would usually get drunk at a restaurant, then take a taxi to one of the nightclubs, and sip on a beer or two the whole night. I'm sure I saved a lot of money that way.
I was making 9,000 RMB a month from my full-time job and about 1,000 to 2,000 RMB a month by tutoring for a few hours a week. After I paid for all my necessities (rent, utilities, food, and transportation), I usually had about 6,000 to 7,000 RMB left to save or enjoy myself with. I would say the absolute minimum to enjoy yourself in Dalian would be 6,000 RMB a month. Realistically, I would be wanting to make at least 8,000 RMB or more each month. Of course, if you are living out in the countryside somewhere, you would probably wouldn't need quite so much, but I don't think you'd have much fun either.
So all in all I would say Dalian was so-so when it came to cost of living. In some ways it was cheaper than the United States, but in other ways it was drastically more expensive. It's nice that you don't have to have a car to live in China. That alone saves you an enormous amount of money, unlike the United States, where it is almost impossible to not have a car. I haven't had a car since moving to Asia, and I have to say I don't miss having one at all.
Last edited by Everdred on June 15th, 2012, 9:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
I have attempted to like filipino women, not only cant I stand the language, I haven't seen many filipino women I find attractive, and from what I heard both here and other places the food is horrible...so I rather avoid it.
I've dated a chinese girl before, and it was a good experience besides how it ended, it defiantly hooked me on foreign women, and asian women.
Dated a korean girl too...but I felt more alone in that "relationship" than before it.
coming up in 2 months I'll have no job, and a bank account of exactly 3k, the end of the road is hitting soon, and I need to make the final big choice, be it the military or making a go of it in another country, the days of childhood timidness is long over.
On average, the beer at bars was around 20 to 25 RMB per bottle. 25 RMB is basically $4, so if you were to drink six beers, that would be $24. I didn't think that price was very affordable, so I usually only went to bars or clubs around once a month.
It wasn't very easy meeting women in nightclubs or bars in Dalian. This is mostly because Chinese women always like to go to bars and clubs in a large group that they are familiar with, and those groups would almost always include a man or two. If you are out alone or with just a friend or two, it can be very intimidating approaching a table of 10 people. I think when most Chinese people go clubbing or drinking, they prefer to only socialize with the people they already know - most of them are not out to meet new people. I would very rarely see a Chinese girl by herself in a nightclub or bar (unless she was a prostitute). Every so often, I would just get randomly approached by two or more girls together, and they would ask me where I was from or if I had a girlfriend. But I have to be honest, that didn't happen much, maybe only about every 5 times I went out. By far the best way to "break the ice" with Chinese girls in nightclubs was to just dance with them whenever they were on the dance floor. Of course I sometimes got rejected by doing this, but I also had some success.
There were also tons and tons of Russian and Mongolian girls at the nightclubs in Dalian. This is because most of them were students at the local universities. I would say the vast majority of them were very unapproachable, and they often seemed to have bad attitudes. I think this is because they knew how attractive and in-demand they were, being in China. However, I did meet a few Russian girls that were really sweet.
other than the approached once every 5 times part.... that sounds just as horrible as the american club seen, makes me question if I'd really have much of a different reaction from chinese girls vs AW....
one has to hope at least?
Excellent post by the way it's good to finally get a real poster on here.
I have lived in Thailand for years and my thoughts are the same. I think Chinese women or ethnic Chinese women are the best out of the bunch because they tend to meet all the criteria (education, class, and looks) for a stable partner. It sounds like your taste in asian women is very asian which isn't surprising since you spent a lot of time in Asia. Even in Thailand the Thai-Chinese women stand out and are usually far classier and better educated. I also had the same observations about Vietnamese women and a lot of NE Asian men are already well ahead of the trend in marrying Vietnamese women.
By the way why were the mongolian and russian women in Chinese night clubs so conceited? I think it would have been the opposite attitude when you factor in the abundance of single Chinese women in most urban areas.
Prizewinning first post!
I wouldn't recommend trying to find a Chinese girl in a nightclub or bar. And it was much harder getting one-night stands in Dalian than it was pursuing girlfriends. I think the best way to meet decent quality girls is through your work. I worked in one office in Dalian for 1.5 years, and I can think of at least 5 different girls that were very clearly interested in dating me. I already had a girlfriend, so I never pursued those opportunities, but all the girls were in their 20's and slim and gorgeous, even to Chinese standards. I'm not at all the "playboy" type, and I'm actually a rather quiet and reserved person, yet I still had a significant number of girls pursuing me. It was all a big tease though, because I wasn't and still am not interested in having a second girlfriend. But you also have to careful dating someone from your work - gossip travels at the speed of light in a Chinese office.
The nice thing about Chinese women, or Asian women in general, is they usually make it quite clear when they're interested in you. For example, I remember I told one of the girls in my office that I was going to go eat at a buffet in a hotel because it was a holiday. After telling her this, she invited both herself and her friend to join me. I never once asked her if she wanted to go with me, rather I was just telling her my plans for that night. And several months prior to that incident, both this same girl and her friend took me to eat spicy Sichuan-style catfish for dinner at a small restaurant. They invited me to go to dinner, and they paid the bill. These were middle-class, well-educated, and stunning-looking girls. Obviously, that situation would have almost never have happened to me back in the United States. There was also a Korean-Chinese girl that worked in my office that kept inviting me to lunch (outside of work), and she would always try to have private, one-on-one conversations with me. It was abundantly clear that she was interested in me. There were also other girls in my office that just seemed way too excited that I was in their presence.
Chinese girls will usually smile a lot, giggle, and tell you that you're handsome if they like you. Their signals are usually crystal clear. Even here in Bangkok, there is apparently a Thai woman at my school that likes me and has told others she thinks I'm handsome. I was a little shocked when I heard about this because I've never even talked to her. I'm always flattered to hear these kind of things, but once again it's all just a tease, because I already have a girlfriend. Bottom line: if you are serious about finding a girlfriend, it shouldn't be too difficult in China, but if you're just looking for one-night stands, then that will be somewhat challenging. Be patient and don't start trying to find a woman the day you land in China. If you live and work there, opportunities will slowly start coming your way.
I think for the Russian girls it was partially because they were so young and immature (usually around 18 years old), and also because they got lots of attention for being foreign. Mongolian girls look quite a bit like Chinese girls, so I doubt they were getting that much extra attention. But since the Mongolian girls were always hanging out with the Russian girls, they tended to act the same way as the Russian girls.
Many of the other expats living in Dalian agreed with me that the Russian girls were mostly unapproachable.