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Which Countries in Asia are the Best to Teach in?
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Thu Jul 14, 2011 7:18 am    Post subject: Which Countries in Asia are the Best to Teach in? Reply with quote

I'm sure the topic has been gone over and over but thought I'd rehash as things do change.

As an informal survey, what do people think the best country in Asia is to live and work in based upon the following criteria:

- A decent wage, especially compared to the cost of living/income ratio.
- Good working conditions- job availability, honest contracts, friendly students and staff; contracts easily renewable.
- Safety and an openness to foreigners; interesting culture.
- Simplified visa process.
- Natural beauty and climate.

Plus whatever else one might think of. There are places I'd love to go to teach but feel that I just won't be able to save anything because of the exchange rates, and there are places that pay well but I don't think I'd like to live in (but of course would like to visit!). I'm sort of looking for a balance.

I've lived in Japan for 20 years and in my heyday owned a school for 10 years, which was quite good. These days I find that in Japan the easier jobs to get don't allow you to save much and offer little job satisfaction. At the top end (meaning for me private students), the pay is good and the work satisfying but the jobs are really hard to get. If you have a master's degree (I don't) university jobs are available but from what I've heard from every single friend who has worked them, they're not exactly positions to inspire much enthusiasm (I'll put it that way). And count in the ageism factor also- I'm 47 (already!) and too often that is not in my favor here.

Japan is pleasant and aside from the work situation I like it here. But I think my time may be up soon. I'm a US citizen btw in case you're wondering.

I'm very curious what everyone thinks.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Job satisfaction is often what you make of it.

Quote:
in Japan the easier jobs to get don't allow you to save much
Not sure if this can really be generalized. What do you mean by "easier jobs to get"?

Quote:
At the top end (meaning for me private students), the pay is good and the work satisfying but the jobs are really hard to get.
I don't think that many people would say private students are the top end of any teaching business. I wouldn't. As far as private students being hard to get, I would disagree. Instead, they are harder to keep than get, depending on circumstances, IMO. And if you mean private students are at the top end of a teacher's salary, I would beg to differ. People are asking for less and less pay from students nowadays, and students are begging for that, too, thanks to the economy and such teachers' fees.

Quote:
If you have a master's degree (I don't) university jobs are available but from what I've heard from every single friend who has worked them, they're not exactly positions to inspire much enthusiasm
Yes, most uni jobs today (FT and PT) require at least a master's degree, often publications, too. I think you're going to have to be more explicit about your other comments, though, before we can say anything in response. I like my uni job, but of course there are always negative points, especially in a FT job where you can see more administration-related issues. Were your friends in PT or FT positions? What didn't "inspire or enthuse" them?
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You sir are always a bastion of positivity about job conditions in Japan and my hat's off to you. Things haven't been quite as rosy for me, though I had a good ten year stint running an English school. Not too interested in going for a master's at the moment, nor in working in higher education here, based on what I've heard. It's an option though, if you have the money and time.

Quote:
Job satisfaction is often what you make of it.


Indeed.

Quote:
in Japan the easier jobs to get don't allow you to save much


Quote:
Not sure if this can really be generalized. What do you mean by "easier jobs to get"?


ALT's. English conversation schools. The former in particular are the ones hiring.

Quote:
At the top end (meaning for me private students), the pay is good and the work satisfying but the jobs are really hard to get.


Quote:
I don't think that many people would say private students are the top end of any teaching business. I wouldn't.


That is why I parenthesized 'for me.' Privates are by far the most profitable and most fulfilling work I can get. Of course I am not working in cafes and such. I get good compensation for my teaching.

Which would you consider higher end? 2000 yen for 45 minutes in scattered classes at an eikaiwa, less to sit around in a cafe waiting for people to chat with, or 5000 yen per 60 minute class in the comfort of your own home teaching a returnee or a doctor?

Quote:
People are asking for less and less pay from students nowadays, and students are begging for that, too, thanks to the economy and such teachers' fees.


Well, that's it in a nutshell isn't it? That applies across the board in the English teaching industry here.

Quote:
Yes, most uni jobs today (FT and PT) require at least a master's degree, often publications, too.


And, increasingly, a PhD as well.

Quote:
I think you're going to have to be more explicit about your other comments, though, before we can say anything in response.


Which other comments? I really was not writing about Japan specifically- I was asking about conditions elsewhere.

Quote:
I like my uni job, but of course there are always negative points, especially in a FT job where you can see more administration-related issues. Were your friends in PT or FT positions? What didn't "inspire or enthuse" them?


Well, bear in mind that I've never worked in a college/university myself so I can't really say. I'll start out by saying that a young Japanese English professor I know observed that foreign professors are discriminated against in terms of pay and contracts. I've heard numerous people complain about the instability of the work (dismissed after contract is up) and the aloofness of the Japanese faculty. Nearly everyone complains about the lack of motivation of students. Nearly everyone says that the money is good but the work is terrible. These are all part-timers, in Kyushu.

Now, I do know a man who works part time university gigs in Tokyo and likes nearly all of his jobs. If he has a clash, it's usually with one boss and he either works it out or moves on. So there is another side.

Again- I'm not familiar with the environment personally and don't have a master's. This is only what I've heard. Personally, I want a steady income, challenging work, and the ability to save money in a pleasant environment. After two years of trying, I don't think I'll get the first two in Japan. I used to own a school here. That was good- but these days...think I'll pass.

I believe in staying positive and I also believe in being realistic. It sounds like you have a good situation and I applaud anyone who does.
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creztor



Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 476

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll bite. This is a good thread, but I doubt many will reply. Here's my 2 cents. I have to agree that university jobs are not satisfying, unless you love what you do. We could talk about what you mean by "satisfying" and the rest of the mumbo jumbo and never come to a conclusion, so I won't.

The country that starts with K seems like the best place to go if you are an MA holder. If you aren't an MA holder, then China or SE Asia. Countries like Vietnam and Thailand are a little too wild for me, so it really leaves China. Taiwan has nothing going for it, and the university job I have is anything but satisfying. I think that the future is in either K, China, Vietnam or Thailand. If you are into research and an MA or higher holder, then K, otherwise its China and the others. From the little I know these places offer either a lot of positions/work OR the money is good enough and cost of living low enough that you can save a substantial amount.

Of course it really depends on what you want, and someone who is extremely motivated can make the most out of anywhere they live.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 5:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why won't many reply? Sad
I would think the topic to be of great interest to many people.

I think you're right about motivation. Unfortunately some of us have great motivation to bark up the wrong trees!

To tell the truth, for non MA's in Japan, entrepreneurship may be your best bet.
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tttompatz



Joined: 06 Mar 2010
Posts: 1951
Location: Talibon, Bohol, Philippines

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 7:16 am    Post subject: Re: Which Countries in Asia are the Best to Teach in? Reply with quote

bluetortilla wrote:
As an informal survey, what do people think the best country in Asia is to live and work in based upon the following criteria:

- A decent wage, especially compared to the cost of living/income ratio.
- Good working conditions- job availability, honest contracts, friendly students and staff; contracts easily renewable.
- Safety and an openness to foreigners; interesting culture.
- Simplified visa process.
- Natural beauty and climate.


There AREN'T any that meet ALL of those criteria.

If you don't have the credentials (only a BA and some classroom time) then Korea is the best bet for money followed by China, Taiwan, Thailand and the rest.

Safety and openness to foreigners; interesting culture = Thailand or Taiwan and then the rest.

Natural beauty and climate would be China but it depends a lot on where in china you end up. China is the 3rd largest country on the planet so there IS some variation in "nature".

None of them have a "simplified visa process" but none of them are that bad either.
The biggest hurdle that most applicants have (especially Americans) is getting their documents in order and getting them legalized. Most countries follow a system of reciprocity (your citizens jump through the same kinds of hoops that you make our citizens jump through when they go to your country).

As far as wages go, I have always maintained that the base salary is largely NOT comparable across different economies. To make an accurate comparison you have to look at the combination of:
i) standard of living
ii) NET savings at the end of the year.

You CAN save more with a higher standard of living even while making less depending on WHERE you are.

As a specific example, I moved from Korea where I was earning about US$40k + benefits to Thailand where I now make US$30k + benefits.

My salary dropped by US$10k per year.
My benefits (medical, severance, pension, etc) are comparable.

At the same time I moved from (in Korea) a 50m2 apartment into (in Thailand) a 100m2, 3 bedroom/2 bathroom house.

Because of the differences in the cost of living our SAVINGS (in spite of the higher standard of living that we now enjoy) went up from US$15k per year in Korea to US$20k per year in Thailand.

Additionally, I now get 14 weeks of (paid) annual vacation instead of the 6 weeks I was getting in Korea.

Bottom line: Can you get everything you asked for in one place = no.
Can you get a decent quality of life, reasonable savings and reasonable job security in other places = yes (almost everywhere outside of Japan).

Once upon a time (about 15-20 years ago) Japan was THE place to be for ESL teachers. With the Asian flu that brought the Japanese economy to its knees in the late 90's (from which Japan has never fully recovered) that distinction has long since faded and in spite of its visa friendliness, it is NOT one of the better places in Asia to be.

If you are young enough to take a chance then China is the new "wild west" (as an American you should understand the analogy) with opportunities (and risks) in about equal measure.

If you want a more mature (in terms of ESL market development) place then Thailand is a place to consider looking but you will start at the bottom of the ladder for your first year and look for opportunities to network yourself into something decent (50-60k baht + benefits) for subsequent years.

We can't discuss Korea here (go review or register on the Korean forums) but it is certainly worth a 2nd (and 3rd) look in terms of jobs and money. Yes, the horror stories you have heard are likely all true but they are only a "smaller" percentage of jobs there. Most people (60-70%) have a good experience and leave with money in the bank.

Taiwan is decent enough but unless you have the qualifications to get into a real school (home country teaching qualification) it is only suitable for a short time (gap year and back packers). Jobs are inconsistent and benefits are non existent but you can do well for a year or 2 if you live like a uni-student and bank everything you can.

Indonesia is an interesting prospect but the market for ESL isn't very mature so the jobs are not as abundant and they don't pay very well. You can however live well on what you earn. You just won't save much (in terms of say US$).

Vietnam is another market that is just beginning to open up and if you have your degree and clean CBC then you can earn as much (or more) there as you would in Japan or Korea with savings on the order of 50% or better.

Pick a country. Time to move on to greener pastures. If the pasture you go to doesn't measure up to what you expected then cross the fence into the next pasture. There is lots of grass to be had for a steer with the wherewithal to move around a bit.

Oh, and for the record, I do have a family and responsibilities (they travel with me) so that is no excuse for staying and doing without.

Time to take a crap or get off the pot.

.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. That's very helpful. Not sure I have to take a crap just yet though Exclamation

How about Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei? Or even India and Sri Lanka?

If you did work in Indonesia, would you necessarily get stuck in some grotty polluted city (no offense to anyone)?
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steki47



Joined: 20 Apr 2008
Posts: 695
Location: BFE Inaka

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

bluetortilla wrote:

If you did work in Indonesia, would you necessarily get stuck in some grotty polluted city (no offense to anyone)?


Well, now I have a question. You say you are an American, but you wrote the word "grotty". That's generally British, dude. Americans say "grody", from the Valley Girl subculture of the 80s.

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/grotty

PS. I'm half-joking.

PPS. Been in Japan for 8 years and wondering about other countries in Asia.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No. I meant 'grotty.' Like in 'run down, filthy, unhygienic, and polluted. Crumbling.' I could really give a whit who uses the term.

Jeez- does the forum need to get this trivial?
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gloomyGumi



Joined: 29 Dec 2010
Posts: 353

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No mention here of Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, ....

which SE Asian country DOES NOT require:

1. CBC

2. Apostilled docs

3. CELTA? or some TEFL/TESOL certification.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sat Jul 16, 2011 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What is a CBC and Apostilled docs?
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

bluetortilla wrote:
You sir are always a bastion of positivity about job conditions in Japan and my hat's off to you.
First time I've heard that in a long time.

Quote:
Quote:
Not sure if this can really be generalized. What do you mean by "easier jobs to get"?


ALT's. English conversation schools. The former in particular are the ones hiring.
Excuse me? You wrote that you've been in Japan 20 years and owned your own school for 10 years, yet you are still talking about landing ALT and eikaiwa jobs? Is that for real? I will assume that by now you have acquired Permanent Resident status, so you can essentially take anything that's available, not even just a teaching job.

I know a lot of people probably in your age bracket and with your number of years here (even slightly less) who have managed to be direct hire ALTs/AETs. Lots of constant complaining, but at least it's continuous work. As for eikaiwa, why would you be looking at those jobs? One would think you'd be eyeballing at least the managerial slots.

Otherwise, for someone with your time experience, stringing together a boatload of PT work seems to be the norm nowadays. That, or owning one's own school. What's your philosophy, so we can get a handle on things better?


Quote:
Which would you consider higher end? 2000 yen for 45 minutes in scattered classes at an eikaiwa, less to sit around in a cafe waiting for people to chat with, or 5000 yen per 60 minute class in the comfort of your own home teaching a returnee or a doctor?
The latter, of course, but I would not be comfortable teaching out of my own home, and to get 5000 yen/hour these days is not all that common. With your time experience here, though, you should be able to manage quite a few contracts like that, but think about this:
Why do a single-person lesson for 5000 when you can do a group for far more? You must have the contacts by now, whether for housewives and retirees or for businesses in your area. Make the most of them and rake in more money.

Quote:

Quote:
Yes, most uni jobs today (FT and PT) require at least a master's degree, often publications, too.


And, increasingly, a PhD as well.
Yes, but even so, depending on the uni you might be able to land PT work with one even with only a BA degree. If you really love the country and want to stay longer, consider upping your credentials with a distance degree. Many do. Or at least consider publishing. And, when we talk about universities, don't forget the smaller types, and the technical schools or junior colleges.

Quote:
I'll start out by saying that a young Japanese English professor I know observed that foreign professors are discriminated against in terms of pay and contracts.
It shouldn't be that way, and things are slowly changing. Essentially, foreigners get 3-year contracts, then move on unless there is one renewal. Without more details, I can't really respond more than that. You know the phrase "case by case".

Quote:
I've heard numerous people complain about the instability of the work (dismissed after contract is up) and the aloofness of the Japanese faculty.
You're not "dismissed", just not renewed. Don't know about aloofness.

Quote:
Nearly everyone complains about the lack of motivation of students. Nearly everyone says that the money is good but the work is terrible. These are all part-timers, in Kyushu.
Can/Will you consider leaving Kyushu for other parts of Japan? Kyushu is not really a hub for teaching or higher institutions of learning.

Quote:
Personally, I want a steady income, challenging work, and the ability to save money in a pleasant environment. After two years of trying, I don't think I'll get the first two in Japan. I used to own a school here. That was good- but these days...think I'll pass.
What do you mean by "two years of trying"? You've been here 20.

I think that with your time experience here, it's hard to imagine you don't have something along the lines of "steady work" by now. Work in Japan is always challenging, IMO. Saving money after being here that long should not be all that hard, especially in Kyushu, but we don't know how much you want to save vs. your lifestyle or family situation.
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KayuJati



Joined: 21 Feb 2010
Posts: 281

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

gloomyGumi wrote:
No mention here of Malaysia, Singapore, Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, ....

which SE Asian country DOES NOT require:

1. CBC

2. Apostilled docs

3. CELTA? or some TEFL/TESOL certification.


Well, I will put in a pitch for Malaysia. There might not be as many jobs available, but it is a great place to live. Under the 'The hiring season' thread, there is the chance to see a bunch of job openings right now. This is the hiring season for Malaysia, so take a chance and come visit, bluetortilla.

Apostilled docs are simply documents that are stamped "Certified true copy". Back when I was a program director, I had a stamp with my name and the Ctc declaration, and a blue ink pad. I used to photocopy and stamp Ctc on the documents submitted by students for enrollment into the three programs that I oversaw. It was NO BIG DEAL.

Occasionally, however, one must get a 'Notary Public' to do the Ctc thing and I run down to a local lawyer's office, whose beautiful Chinese assistant is always ready to assist with such trivial matters. The Notary Public is an American thing so this is usually only when I have to submit materials back to the US of A. (Alas, it would be nice to see her more often.)

The apostille thing comes from a treaty and is really simply certification (notarization in Amerispeak).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostille_convention
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
Posts: 681
Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Excuse me? You wrote that you've been in Japan 20 years and owned your own school for 10 years, yet you are still talking about landing ALT and eikaiwa jobs? Is that for real? I will assume that by now you have acquired Permanent Resident status, so you can essentially take anything that's available, not even just a teaching job.

I know a lot of people probably in your age bracket and with your number of years here (even slightly less) who have managed to be direct hire ALTs/AETs. Lots of constant complaining, but at least it's continuous work. As for eikaiwa, why would you be looking at those jobs? One would think you'd be eyeballing at least the managerial slots.

Otherwise, for someone with your time experience, stringing together a boatload of PT work seems to be the norm nowadays. That, or owning one's own school. What's your philosophy, so we can get a handle on things better?


I don't know about any philosophy I have, I just know the job search and markets. I do have many observations. In my opinion, Japanese much prefer Japanese for managerial jobs, and in fact I have never heard of such a thing in the area I live in (the closest you get is 'head teacher'), though since you bring it up it undoubtedly exists elsewhere in Japan. I don't doubt there are a handful of foreign businessmen here who are managers, but I haven't met any, aside from club owners.

There are some fiercely independent entrepreneurial types, of which I know a couple (not in Eng. Ed.) who are doing well in media, export... I have seen some agency managers on the net who were foreigners, but at the risk of calling the kettle black, they themselves seemed vain and their jobs seemed vulgar. I've never seen managerial positions advertised. I can imagine that huge chain gristmill English schools undoubtedly have a bit of that. Seems to me a bit like being a manager at McDonald's. That's just an opinion.

I could get a job in a Japanese company- I'm sure of it. But why on earth would I ever want to? ALT sounds better! Not unless it was a small business partnership.

If I must state a philosophy, it's that there's a lot more to a job than simply a paycheck. I don't think I could stomach being a manager for an ALT agency like Interac for example (I mentioned ALT's in my last one- I didn't say I'd like to be one; but I'm sure it's a lot better than homelessness).

It is my opinion that barring work in higher education and entrepreneurship, owning your own school is by far your best bet in Japan, especially for people like me (I guess we can go ahead and say that's being a manager for real!). Everything else you said pretty much rings true. Wanting to teach out of your home or not is a personal preference I guess, along with an economic decision.

Since you pose straightforward questions to difficult answers, it might be beneficial to other members on the forum just to lay it out there. Just as my business at my school took a downturn (which was, in theory, remedial), my marriage deteriorated at the same. All a bit much for my plate though a better man may have weathered both. A divorce and a bankruptcy occurred (we didn't have enough capital for a legal bankruptcy thankfully) and because of the feudal single parent custody laws of this country, I lost my children. And bear in mind- men out there in international marriages- in the case of Japan, if you divorce with a Japanese woman, you will lose every single legal right over your kids- as if you were never their father at all. The only exception would be if your wife suffered from severe mental illness or other extraordinarily debilitating circumstances.

Distressed and depressed, I went back to the US for awhile to recover. Determined to build a meaningful relationship with my kids, I came back to Kyushu where I've been trying to start over again. It's been very difficult. Yes, some old contacts have helped, but it's been 'stringing along' jobs as you put it. I would say that with time things could work out as you say. But they don't happen overnight.

Japan is fine, and I've been here a long time, but to be honest if not for my children I see nothing holding me here. I'd rather explore the world I think. As time passes I still have not been successful in seeing my children any more often and they're getting old. There is a lot of estrangement, confusion, and hurt. I can't see, without more cooperation from their mother, the situation improving. What is the right thing to do?

Again, aside from my children, I don't see a whole lot in Japan to make me want to stay. You wanted know why I'm in this position and the answer is much more personal than professional. I know I'm not alone. I am not a bad guy, and I'm trying my best. What should one do?

This should be a PM but I don't mind bringing it up. I don't what the moderators will think. Discretion is only useful when it protects someone. And English teachers abroad do get married in international marriages and marriages do go bad sometimes. In a foreign country it can be perplexing. I was always naive enough to believe that I would never lose my rights to see and nurture my children. Instead the State removed all legal ties between us, like they were chattel. It doesn't make me hate Japan- it's just another example in the world of a gross disregard for human rights. Japanese men have it just as bad in divorce. Essentially, it was a law to protect landowners.

Aside from that, I'm decidedly unattractive (truth is beauty:), 47, and getting older and even more unattractive. I am also amicable, highly qualified (though no MA), and have since age 24 devoted myself to English education. I may not have that MA yet, but I know my profession. I could publish- at least I could easily write a number of papers that I can think of off the top of my head. I like to think I'm a great teacher but my students would be a much better judge of that. Someone else in this thread wrote, if I may paraphrase, that success is proportionate to devotion. I believe that is true in all our affairs. I'm not on this forum to whine about lack of opportunities in Japan or to be an apologist for a country with dwindling opportunities in English education- I'm here to find out what opportunities are out there, beyond the South China Sea.
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bluetortilla



Joined: 18 Apr 2006
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Location: Fukuoka

PostPosted: Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malaysia attracts me too. How is the pay, on balance? Can you save?
Masala Dhosas and Tom Yam Kung in the same meal!
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