What do we have in common?
Martin Sinclair Edmonton Alberta Hainan China
When I worked in the Middle East I met many many many foreigners, usually from UK, USA, Germany, and a few from Canada who had decided to pull the plug on The West and make Asia, along with an Asian wife, their future home. Most went to Thailand and the Philippines. These two countries most resemble what they were used to and were the easiest to assimilate to. I must have gone through Thailand 60 times in my travels to distant lands for work reasons. I also went to Vietnam 7 times on holiday too so I have a vague idea of what these places are like.
What I found about Thailand was that prices can be very high there if you are anywhere you might want to be. The influx of tourists have driven the prices sky high so if you're going there because it's cheaper you'll need to look in the jungle for a plot of land. Secondly, I found too many men who had changed themselves into women for my liking. What is wrong with a country where half of the men are now women? That could be a warning sign. They had all become prostitutes and many couldn't be differentiated from the real women. The prostitution is too much in your face in that country all the time. Made me wonder if there were any Thai women that were not hookers.
The other thing I noticed there was that the other half of the male population all seemed to be con men. There was always someone trying to scam you on the street into coming to his house to show his wife how a VISA card worked because the daughter was going to college in Edmonton. What was really going on was a gambling scam they would try to get you involved in that would take all your money when they switched the cards that they put in the safe while you went to get more money. If it wasn't scammers it was taxis drivers with meters that ran twice as fast as normal and only picked up foreigners at 5 star hotels. I just got sick of the place after a while.
In the time I spent in Vietnam, I found it to be a high crime area. In Saigon, or Ho Chi Minh City, as it's called now, it wasn't uncommon to see a dead naked body lying in the street downtown. Heroine overdose. Young men will try to pull gold necklaces or earrings off you as they ride by or try to rip your wallet pouch off your waist. You can't wear any jewellery when you go out. One night, I had a guy come right in my hotel window when I was lying in bed with the lights out. Police appear to be a lazy bunch and not much help.
Many guys in the Middle East married Filipino women and went there. I never elected to travel to the Philippines because it is so big with so many islands it is difficult to travel in, you don't know where to go, and the terrorists still pose a real threat to some places in the south. It was just a feeling that I had which came from seeing so many Filipinos in Dubai that I thought things must not be very good there. For example, if you don't see many Swiss or Norwegians in the UAE, then you might surmise that life in those two countries is good. So I guess you could say that I regarded some SE Asian countries as half baked. Have you ever had a half baked cake? When you take a bike, you need to spit it out because it just isn't right. Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines all fit into that category for me. You need to choose carefully if you are a foreigner with a bit of money going to a half baked country, because the law may not be on your side there for whatever may happen to you and some people have a habit of getting their tit caught in a wringer very easily.
I decided to go to China, partly because I had met and liked Chinese women better than those from other countries. China is a huge country so how do you decide where to go? I began by going online and I found a website that listed all the Chinese provinces and beside each one it gave the average temperature and humidity for each month of the year. In addition to this I considered real estate prices. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know to stay away from Shanghai or Beijing unless you were born into money.
Ideally you might want two places in China. One for the summer in the north and one for the winter in the south. I narrowed my search down to two places. Yunnan Province, against the Burmese border and Hainan Island in the South China Sea. Finally after much deliberation I settled on Hainan Island because the temperature in winter is better. Overnight lowest would be 11-12C and the sea water never goes below 22C on the south side of the island. Yunnan would get significantly cooler with winter lows around -2C but it has a very short winter and lovely mountains in all directions.
I booked a flight and headed to Hainan with the first and only stop in Sanya. Sanya is not the capital but it has much better weather than Haikou, on the north side. The downside of Sanya, if there is one, is humidity in the summers, being beside the sea. Never-the-less, I bought a place there in my wife's name and started going there between Middle East contracts. No one else I knew bought a place in China until 15 years later. The property values sky rocketed on Hainan and now it is very difficult to get a cheap place there.
In order for a foreigner to buy, first the place that is selling must be approved to sell to foreigners. Next there is a law that says foreigners who want to buy must have lived in China already for 2 years. What I can tell you for sure about China is that in China there is a way around everything. You can take it from there. If I were wanting to get a cheap place now in China, I wouldn't look on Hainan but instead I'd either go to Yunnan Province or to Sichuan Province. I'd look northwest of Chengdu where there are many beautiful villages tucked away in the hills. Winters will be very mild and the living very cheap. Another place I might look in is Xinjiang Province in the northwest. This is the place that HAD the trouble with the Uyghurs but that seems to have all been cleared up now from what I see on the media. They have great summers there for growing cotton and grapes and have the deserts and mountains nearby for nature lovers too. I expect prices there would be very low and there might be many things for an English speaking foreigner to get involved with there.
I started out on 30-day stay visas and would go out to Hong Kong on the train and back in that same evening. As time went by they gave me 3-month, then 6-month stays on my visit visas. As no one will give you a working visa if over 60 in China I never bothered with trying to get a resident visa. Even Chinese doctors can't practise anymore once they hit 60. I think they just want to give the jobs to youngsters as there are so many of them. I am 66 now and live in Edmonton because I can still work here for many years. Although I have a house there, China may just be a winter vacation place for me until I turn 100.