In Ruili? I guess it's OK. We take a trip there now and then to relax. There's a very nice waterfall, some of the border villages are interesting. There are many Burmese restaurants (recommendable) and you can buy tax free in the many shops on the border. Western brand cigarettes is the only think that really is cheaper than Taobao though, around 100 yuan a tiao. The climate is nice during spring and autumn but it's sweltering in the summer. I haven't been there in winter but people say it's still shorts-and-a-shirt weather then. Also, fresh fruit is cheap AND you can stock up on avocados, I haven't found those on sale anywhere else.
The driving is absolutely horrific and probably just about as bad as it gets in Yunnan. It's minority country so expect motorcycles appearing out of nowhere constantly, seemingly without any knowledge of how braking and right of way works.
Kunming is like America in the 19th century. People will offer you the bare minimum and if you complain you're escorted out with a solid derriere stamp and a new immigrant is grateful to be offered a job. China's unions are government controlled jokes and only recently have people begun protesting working conditions. Yunnan is backwards and the people are relaxed bordering on lazy and the capitalists getting things done don't trust anyone. It all adds up to a simple supply and demand scenario. As long as there is a demand for these crappy jobs, the conditions of the supply do not change, which realistically boils down to four options: Shut up and work. Get the hell out of Dodge. Try to unionise (and see how that one plays out), or finally, move on or branch out to other areas of business and employment as many of us have done.
Finally: If a school tries to lower salaries they are greedy bastards who don't deserve a shred of respect, especially if they simultaneously are bragging about their successes, and people should be warned about them.
If a school promises to supply the applicants with a TESOL training and does not comply, they should be outed and prospective applicants must be warned.
Btw,, did the school lower the promised pay while at the same time offering accommodation? Does it balance out somehow?
PS. Am I the only one who thought this part sounded fishy and fake?
"..and during my contract the staff at this school have shown me the utmost kindness that continued to the day that I left. Every time I was sick they personally helped me at hospitals and mediated between the doctors and me. Every bill I had to pay, they paid for me and I reimbursed them."
I've been to Ruili 4-5 times and I can confirm that they don't allow overland passage for Westerners. That said, policies change regularly depending on a myriad of factors so the Ruili agency thing might be real. Tom is correct that visas need to be done from Kunming (only place in Yunnan) beforehand. I don't know if it helps, but you're normally allowed to cross into China from Myanmar through the Yunnan crossings. It might not be worth the hassle though considering you'd have to fly there first and arrange a ton of things after that. Also since few to no Westerners arrive from there, the border check might not be pleasant nor quick.
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The comment from Chris had deserved a wider audience. Beluga?
Went there yesterday and it totally made my week. Nice decor and friendly staff and a real salad bar. Sadly we both wanted mexican food so I can't really say much about their other courses. The food was great but just a tad spicier would have improved the dish. The best thing was that we almost had the place to ourselves and we could have a quiet conversation without shouting, spitting Chinese people in the background. I realised how much I had missed that since coming here.
We went to Chicago Coffee a couple of days ago and it was a nice experience. The place is cozy with soft comfy chairs (I realized how much I have missed one since coming here) and they have a nice little collection of English language books in the corner consisting mainly of classics and travel litterature. I was looking forward to trying their advertized tortilla bar but it wasn't up and running that evening.
Instead we went for 2 12 inch pizzas -roast chicken and pepperoni- but we quickly realized that 1 would have been enough. Those things are heavy. I am mainly into Italian style pizza but Chicago's double layered pizzas are well worth a try. Their coffee seems to be a bit on the expensive side but people say good things about it and they have got a nice selection. I wouldn't mind dropping by again some day,, hopefully when they've got the tortilla thing going. English speaking staff btw.
I went to Laowo Bar for the first time saturday for the Tribal Moons and others gig. It is a nice big place with a balcony surrounding the central area and the rather big stage has room to dance in front of it. The sound was great and at just the right volume that is so hard to find. You can actually have a conversation in the room if you want to,, nice.
Small Dalis were 5 kuai so that is very reasonable but they had little else to offer in the drinks department. I saw a bottle of vodka and half a bottle of whiskey on the shelf but it obviously wasn't something they prioritized. It's all good though.
I dont know if it was because of the bands but there seemed to be as many foreigners as locals at the place so I guess it is an expat hangout.
I'll definately return to Laowo. It is one of the better places to go here in Kunming imo.