Previously, I only ever visited China, for Business purposes but just an 'L' Visa (Tourist), when I checked my old Passports, rather than an 'F" Visa (Business), when I was working in Hong Kong as Engineering Manager - Asia Pacific.
One does not experience what China is REALLY LIKE, flying into major cities, taking taxies to get around, and staying in 3 Star or higher hotels.
I have now traveled in China by Aeoroplane, Train, Taxi, private car, long distance Bus, local Bus, electric Motorcycle, Rickshaw.
I have stayed in Guest Houses, and Back Packer Hostels, with shared rooms.
I have eaten in local restaurants, food stalls, and school canteens, and classy restaurants with private rooms.
Sichuan Food is very tasty but can be rather spicy. Whilst I like the taste, by body does not like my indulging too much. I think it was the oil, they (school canteen) like to cook many dishes in (seasame? - orange colour and very greasy!). I have tried to drain that off, to minimise my consumption, and far less problems since.
The Chinese Consulate in Cebu, is particular about the Visa Application! They stipulate it must be 'Typed' (perhaps in UPPER CASE also?).
They only issued me with 2 week 'L' Visa, despite requesting a 'Z' Visa and giving supporting letter and copy of the Chinese ID, of the person sending the invite.
NB: They will only accept applications from Foreigners (not in native country) if a Permanent Resident. ie Chinese Consulate in Cebu want to see ACR I-Card.
One needs to also complete the Supplementary Form (Foreign Nations applying in a different Country).
Hong Kong China SAR, is rather an odd ball as it is considered as being outside China, but one can apply for China Visa there, even if you are not a Resident of Hong Kong. (This 'loophole' was closed for China Olympics, but seems to be reinstated now!).
The other anomaly being that China Resources in Hong Kong offer a 'Rush Service' ( Next day - submit in morning, collect the following morning. Submit before 5pm close, collect from 2pm next Day). Fee is additional HK$300 cash!
There is also an 'Express' service (at lower Fee), where one can collect the 2nd day after submission. With Hotels costing 300HK$/night and more, it is worth taking advantage of the 'Rush Service'.
Normally it is 5 working days, to obtain ones China Visa!
One can not legally work in China without a 'Z' Visa. However this only gets you into China and then have 30 days to obtain a Foreigner Resident Permit. To obtain one of these, there is a lot of Documents, Letters etc that have to be obtained and submitted to get ones 'FEC' (Foreigner Expert Certificate).
The 2 week 'L' Visa was extended, by issuing me a 1 month 'L' Visa. Then I had a 2 month 'F' Visa, valid to 25th December. Before that expired we did a 'Visa Run' to Hong Kong, to apply for 'Z' Visa.
Entering China with the 'Z' Visa, allowed issuance of Work Permit. After that the FEC could be applied for. I only recently obtained my Foreigner Resident Permit, valid to end of August 2013.
I can now make multiple Exit/Re-entry visits without having to obtain any more Visa's.
I am flying to Shenzhen from Chengdu this coming Thursday with Hainen Airlines,
Booked using ctrip.com.as their website is also available in English, One can Register and record all your Name/Address/Passport/Contact info. You are given Points for discounts on Flights/ Hotels/Tours. They accept International Credit Cards (3% Fee!). E- Ticket sent via e-mail. They show flights from many airlines and a graph showing what Days has the lowest flight price for given Origin - Destination. They also have International Flights.
Whilst Mianyang has an airport, not as many flights, not as many airlines, prices were higher than from Chengdu (longer distance). Since Chengdu is just 1hr 35 min Train ride costing CNY19, or Bus direct to Chendu Airport from Mianyang, for CNY57, it is worth looking at Chengdu as an alternative to Mianyang, for flights.
I looked at Train for Mianyang to Shenzhen, but this takes over 48 hours, and a 'soft sleeper' is not that much cheaper, than getting discounted (50% off) flights!
So a week on Sunday I will be in the warmth of Cebu and the company of my family, for a extended Spring Festival holiday! I have to be back in Mianyang, to start Teaching again on Friday 28th February.
Why Living /Working in China?
The simple answer is that I need the money to pay off Credit Card debt. My annuity income that we manged fine on from April 2005, only has about 50% of the 'Purchasing Power' today, as it did back then.
This is due to Exchange Rate having gone from Php105/GBP1 down to about Php64 currently. 12 % VAT got introduced, so that plus inflation has made a lot of items more expensive. Diesel/Gasoline prices is >4x 2005 (Diesel Php12/liter in 2005?). Our Electricity Bill is >2x, Water and Gas almost double also.
The savings I had in Rural Banks was mostly paid back by the PDIC. However re-investing in alternative high returns, led to us having to fike Syndicated Estafa Court Case against Catherine L Soronio. There is the next hearing on 8th March 2013! I also need to follow up on a Complaint I lodged with the SEC against 'Chefs In Action Inc' also.
Wny work in China - , why not in Cebu?
The wage a Permanent Resident, Foreigner could earn in say a Call Center, is likely to be Php15K take home pay max for 1st 6 months, and perhaps get promotion to Team Leader or Trainer after that. The working hours may also be USA time in many cases (until tou might secure a promotion to Trainer).
In January 2012, I worked as an ESL Teacher at an 'English Winter Camp' run by AITIN Welts, that catered for mainly Korean Teenagers (and a few Russians). I received Php30K for 5 weeks work, of 8 classes of 50 minutes, and 10 min break, 5 days per week Php30,000/200 hours = Php150/hr.
According to John Deering, who was the Head Teacher at their School @ Punto Egano, onMactan, that School closed down in October 2012!
There may be work as an ESL Teacher, but those with at least 2 years experience, a degree and a Teaching Certificate, and aged 25 - 35 will be those securing the best jobs at the higher pay levels (Php45Kpm?).
Contrast the ESL Teacher pay one might obtain in Cebu, with what I am getting paid in China.
Sunny's English Club (that recruited us), pay us CNY65/Class of 40 min, I do 24 Classes per week, so 96 x 65 = CNY6,240 as a minimum. (CNYPHP=X -CCY 6.5649) = Php41K minimum approx!
Since we are provided with a large (>130sm m, 3 bedroom apartment, with 2 sharing, having free Internet and drinking water and CNY300 each, towards Gas/Electricity/Water, together with low cost Canteen (CNY 4.90 - 9.00 typically per meal), one does not need to spend much to live off. Bus into Mianyang City is only CNY1. Local Fruit and vegetables, are also very cheap, and local beer and wine (fiery rice or grape) is not too expensive.
I have also been picking up work at weekends that pays CNY100/hour so 4 classes on a Saturday and 4 classes on a Sunday gives you CNY800 (Php5,252) as extra 'pockey money'!
So that weekend work, if available ever weekend, pays more than working in a Call Center, in Cebu!
Actually the School pays CNY120/Class, but we only get CNY65 of that!
But wait before anyone starts screaming "what a rip off, that 'Sunny's English Club, is pulling", or something, let me give you some more information to give an informed 'balance' before you judge, OK!
- School wants to deduct every time classes are cancelled due to Sports Meeting, Exams, extended Holidays
- Sunny's say that the Contract with the School, calls for them to pay the teacher if cancelled for sports, meetings, exams and if extended beyond public holidays (which are paid holidays).
- Sunny's pay for our receipted expences when travelling to Chengdu for Visa Extensions, and book/pay for overnight accommodation when required.
- They paid for our Bus and Air Fares for Visa Run to Hong Kong and the cost of the Visa including Rush Service and Guest House.
- They provided free Mandarin Lessons (in Chengdu - own travel expenses however) at the weekends.
- Sunnys take care and assist with all the Visa Applications, Residence Registration, FEC Applicastion and Resident Permit as well as all the costs associated with such.
- Have been treated to meals and drinks on a few occasions.
- Assitance setting up Bank Accounts and paying the Fees for such including initial Deposit.
- Help, assistance and advice, as and when required.
Examples of this include transfer of funds to Cebu via i) Western Union,
ii) Bank Transfer via China Bank. One can not remit CNY out of China. Foreigners (without Z Visa/Residence Permit), can not change RMB into Foreign currency. Another example is offering a loan/advance on Salary when required (they pay 2 weeks in arrears ie we dont get December Salary until 15th January).
As I am new to living and working in China and speak very little, and understand even less, together with not knowing where or how to obtain Visa extensions, obtain documents required, carry out Residence Registration, it best to let a Recruitment Agency take care of this! They will help newcomers to Teaching and China, and show you the way.
Perhaps I might be able to handle it myself, after a years experience, and having learnt some Mandarin.
TIP: Get yourself an Android Smart Phone or iPhone, as many Chinese Turtoring Apps available for FREE or low cost. for such. Also Eng-Chi Dictionariies with spoken Chinese words and Translators. There is even text OCR and Camera OCR - point your phone camera at Chinese words and it translates, from the image (paid app).
ESL Teaching in China
As with ESL Teaching anywhere, Native English Teachers get paid a premium over local Teachers, nomatterhow good their spoken English is (prestige/image/sales/marketing 'thing'!).
Some say us Oral English Teachers are 'White Monkeys' to the School (who is the Organ Grinder?). We catch the attention of the paying Public (Students parents), and are largely there to 'amuse and entertain' the students, and some 'light relief' from their many Chinese Lessons, Exams and Homework etc.
Here at this Mianyang Nanshan BiLingual School, the Syudents day starts @ 7am to music over the speakers, They have lessons/Classes/Subjects/Extra Activities, scheduled to 9:30pm,when they have Homework to complete.
No wonder many students are tired and /or doing their Homework during our English Oral Classes!
To get an extended New Year Break, they had to have Classes on Saturday/Sunday (which some Students/Classes have EVERY weekend).
How much can one teach 1,250 Students over 24 Classes, in just 40 minutes, once a week. That is an average of 52 Students/Class (so in reality under 30 seconds per student, to hear what their individual pronunciation is like!).
When you thin that those Korean Students coming to Cebu for English Camps, get 50 minute classes (7 students max in the 4 x classes I gave), and 4 x 1 on 1 sessions/day.
So assume they onlky do 4 Classes of 50 min per day = 200 min/day, x 5 days per week = 1,000 min/week. Repeat for 5 weeksm and they have had 5,000 miunutes of Oral English Lessons with Native Teacher.
That is the equivalent of 125 Classes, here at this School!
We teach for 8 months, so 32 Classes per year say. So the Koreans on this Camps get more English in 5 weeks, than the Students here get in 4 years (and some did Summer Camp as well as Winter Camp - no wonder their English is so much better than Chinese Students of the same age).
Adds belied to us being 'White Monkeys'!
These students who attend Private English Classes (at say Aston English here in Mianyang) do speak better English also. In fact one of my Junior 2 (Grade 8) Class students, also does Classes at the weekends @ Aston English, and his English is better than many of his class mates.
Will add some more to this ESL Teaching and Living in China Thread, if anyone is interested?
Could not post details, on an open public domain Forum, until I had my Resident Permit and am now legally Teaching here in China.
Just doing 'free' demonstrations and 'evaluation exercises', and receiving 'training'. Together wth checking out the accommodation and facilities, provided by prospective schools, before that, if anyone thinking of asking?