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Thread: America.

  1. #1
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    America.

    I have met, lived and worked with many Americans and yet to come across a truly bad one.
    Having come close and visited many surrounding countries, but never set foot on US soil, (Unless you count the PX in Frankfurt) I would be genuinely interested in what it's really like to live in various parts of that vast land, from an American perspective.

    PS not so much interested in the cross party political debate, (TD has that covered) but real life day to day living.
    Heart of Gold and a Knob of butter.

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    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    I spent much of my youth on military bases, but my Mom's parents were retired and had a 100 acre tree farm in New Hampshire, at the base of the White Mountains. They also had a part share with two other families in a 200 year old boathouse on a nearby lake.

    We spent almost every summer there (without my Dad) and most Christmas holidays (with my Dad).

    So, that's where I learned to ski, to snowshoe, to hunt, to fish, to canoe, to garden, to raise bees, to do woodwork, and many other things.

    When I think of America, fishing off of the dock on that quiet lake, surrounded by mountains and forests, is the image that comes to mind.

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    I lived in Southern California when I was in grade school. Disneyland, Catalina, the San Gabriel Mountains, Venice beach and the Mojave desert were my favorite places to go.
    I moved to Central Wisconsin during my high school years and have never forgotten the natural beauty of the Kettle Morraine area. I spent my summers fishing and swimming at my uncle's cottage on Spooner Lake. Went to college at the University of Wisconsin and had a blast.
    Lived in worked in Minneapolis, San Francisco, Chicago, Cincinnati, Atlanta and Seattle. Each city had it's plus and minuses but on the whole San Francisco was the best place to live by far because of it's proximity to the ocean for windsurfing, the mountains for skiing and Napa and Sonoma for wine.

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    I've spent most of my 50 years (other than the last 6 when I have been in Malaysia) living in the Northeast US, not far from where Davis has his fond memories. I grew up (and still live) in a small town in Central Massachusetts. A place with neighbors and friends that you have for life (my sister and I built on land from my parents, my neighbors did the same with 3 of their kids, one neighbor built across from my parents in 1980 and still live there, another across from me about 15 years ago). Mostly salt-of-the earth people that will do anything to help a friend/neighbor in need.

    The community had (but is losing it now) a strong sense of community involvement. I spent about 20 years as a volunteer fireman, and another dozen serving on several local boards to help govern the town. There was always something to do, from work on one of the firetrucks, to help a neighbor hay their land, another with a sawmill cut some logs, and so on. Also had a lot of fun with snowmobiles (in Davis' neighborhood and in Maine), fishing, hiking, mountain biking, going to the ocean.

    Things like this are what I miss most about living outside the US (along with temperatures that allowed you to maintain outside hobbys!), and what I look forward to returning to early next year!

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    You will not hear from the southern fat warmongers. They have flounced or have been jailed. Sadly I live in the fastest growing city in the US.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    Sadly I live in the fastest growing city in the US.
    Do you blame Tom Hanks for that?
    Tell me more please.

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    Mighty big country the USA. I've crisscrossed the country, numerous times, lived in Vermont, Virginia, Wisconsin, New Mexico, Alaska.

    I suggest ya do a bit of reading, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Mark Twain, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Lamour, Larry McMurtry, James Mitchener, Hunter S Thompson.. that'll keep ya busy for bit.

    Travelling around the USA is great fun, very diverse if you stay off the interstate highways and avoid the bigger cities. Thought the big cities are interesting too, they all have their own character. From Boston down to Miami, Much of the eastern shore is fascinating, quite beautiful and wild.. Then over to New Orleans, Dallas, Pheonix, San Diego, Los Angeles. San Francisco, Seattle all have unique and interesting aspects.
    Then you can't forget the really unique Las Vegas aka sin city. It's fun for about 3 days and the veneer wears thin. Denver, Albuquerque, El Paso, I lived in Santa Fe NM for many year; second oldest city in the US.
    And you got the great mid-western cities like Minneapolis/St Paul, Chicago, Kansas City (home of the best bbq in the world), St Louis. And there's many little heard of places like Sioux City Iowa, Cairo Illinois, Valentine Nebraska worth visiting.
    Then you got an amazing national park system, spectacular national forests, and state parks all over. Not to mention all the public BLM (bureau of land management) land.
    One of my favorite things to do is travel with the moto on secondary hwy and farm road and stealth camp.
    My next USA adventure will be on an expedition bicycle.
    Last edited by Mr Earl; 23-10-2014 at 06:14 PM.

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    Thailand Expat VocalNeal's Avatar
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    Having lived in Canada and traveled up and down the west coast I cannot see that living in the US in certain areas is any different to living in Canada.

    The difference is only the size of the town city and the location aka climate.

    A big place, lots of outdoor activities, bars not pubs, houses generally very nice, quirks like underfloor warm air heating. Cars cheap relative to European prices, plasticy but cheap.

    Most things are the same numerical price as the UK just the dollar is worth less so stuff is cheaper.

    People in small towns are very friendly but in larger towns the burbs can be a social wasteland as there is not local focal point like the village pub.

    A very hands on DIY sort of attitude to most things. Need a garden climbing frame you buy some 2x4's and build one you don't call someone to come and do it for you.
    Better to think inside the pub, than outside the box?
    I apologize if any offence was caused. unless it was intended.
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    Steinbeck, Faulkner, Mark Twain, Truman Capote, Raymond Chandler, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Louis Lamour, Larry McMurtry, James Mitchener, Hunter S Thompson..Just the white type ones I have never read.

    Thanks for all the info guys. It goes without saying that you are all proud of your old country and you would make convincing used car salesmen.
    I am surprised that so many who are long term expats have gone out of their way to express such fond memories, and not a single complaint.
    If I had asked the same of fellow Brits they would be hacking the place to pieces by now.
    It shows that although we have a (mostly) common language and similar belief systems, we are deep down, quite different.
    I take the same view with Canada and The US being the same but different. Can't put my finger on it but you'e lived there Neal and I didn't, just an impression I have developed over years.

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    One of the interesting aspects of USA is the ethnic diversity. Canada generally lacks this, the exception being perhaps Vancouver and Montreal

    And the USA is becoming more and more ethically diverse. More and more Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Mexican restaurants are seen even in the smaller rural towns.

    There's plenty to bitch about in the USA, but I consider myself lucky I don't have to live there and be a slave to the Federal government and can go back and simply enjoy the country as a tourist. It's a pretty amazing country, you should go, allow plenty of time because it's very very big.
    My grandfather would joke about driving through Texas..."the sun rises, and the sun sets, and you're still in Texas.

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    Guest Member S Landreth's Avatar
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    South Florida – was wonderful growing up there (you have to enjoy water and water sports if you want to take full advantage of the area). Up the Miami River; in dinghies, camping with friends not even in our teens yet. South beach when it wasn’t a tourist trap. The influx of Cuban girls in the 60’s. Still a nice city with its sunshine, clean beaches a heavy presence of South Americans, that I look forward to getting back to every year.

    It took me a while to leave the place. I figured I had everything I needed there and why travel anywhere else? That cold weather and being stuck inside the house (basements) for weeks on end in the northern part of the states is not where I would like to spend my free time.

    Because I’m a bit older and have traveled a bit (very little compared to others here), if you do come, think about stopping in NY city first (not during the cooler months) before you venture out.

    If you do decide to visit South Florida and want to stay, only rent and don’t buy.


    To back up Bsnub’s Seattle,……..I have a nephew who was raised in South Florida and who was recruited by Micosoft (while at Georgia Tech finishing up his MS degree) to come and work for them. He’s in Seattle now (been there for about 3 years?) and loves the place. About Humbert’s San Francisco,….the girlfriend travels there often to visit (Thai) girlfriends of hers. The girlfriend enjoys the area.
    Last edited by S Landreth; 24-10-2014 at 04:44 AM.
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    The greatest American that never was..
    Thomas Paine

    Thomas Paine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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    Canada is known as a "mosaic" and US of A a "melting pot"...One thing to consider, and an interesting study...

    And the national sport of Canada is lacrosse, not hockey, to the chagrin of many Canadians...

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    Quote Originally Posted by chassamui View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    Sadly I live in the fastest growing city in the US.
    Do you blame Tom Hanks for that?
    Tell me more please.
    No that movie did inspire some to move to Seattle, but the real boom started around 2000. Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Starbucks are a big part of that. Seattle is a tech hub that is rapidly eclipsing silicon valley and San Francisco. It was once a sleepy blue collar provincial town just 20-30 years ago whose main employers were Boeing and the fishing industry (the overwhelming majority of the Alaskan fishing fleet is based in Seattle). Today it has a completely different a skyline dominated by construction cranes and the city has been completely gentrified demographically.

    I still love where I live however as it is a place were the air is still fresh and it possesses tremendous natural beauty.

    How many people do you know that can claim that within two hours drive of a major metropolitan city the can go to the Ocean, a temperate rainforest, alpine skiing, and a desert? Two of the best national parks, Mt. Rainier and the Olympics, the San Juan islands and countless other sites to see are also a short drive or ferry ride.

    Washington also has some of the lowest pollution rates around and almost all of its energy production is green (hydro and wind). It is a better educated part of the country that has a much higher standard of living than the rest of the US with the exception of the northeast and the rest of the west coast. The only other states in the US I would consider living would be Oregon, Alaska, California and maybe Hawaii.
    Last edited by bsnub; 24-10-2014 at 01:34 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by chassamui
    I take the same view with Canada and The US being the same but different.
    Yes I would agree. The have a lot of things in common but are distinctly different. That said I think that your average British Columbian has more in common with a Washingtonian then someone from eastern Canada and vise versa.

    Quote Originally Posted by chassamui
    Unless you count the PX in Frankfurt
    Been there many times years ago. When I was a kid the first encounter I ever had with a British solder was close by there. He taught me how to open a beer bottle with my teeth.

    Quote Originally Posted by S Landreth
    It took me a while to leave the place. I figured I had everything I needed there and why travel anywhere else?
    That is why Americans have the stigma of not traveling abroad we already live in such a big geographically and ethnically diverse nation that we have a lot to see at home.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    Yes I would agree. The have a lot of things in common but are distinctly different. That said I think that your average British Columbian has more in common with a Washingtonian then someone from eastern Canada and vise versa.
    Indeed, it is much the same...The west coast of the Americas is very hard to beat, all things considered...

    Some good reading here, guys...

    And bsnub, you are right about the travel reasoning regarding US citizens...I figured that out long ago...There is no other country in the world that I can think of where you can have darned near anything, almost all the time...You can have the southern beaches in winter and the sub-zero cold on the northern border at the same time...Incredible diversity in climate, unmatched I believe...

    And that's just part of it, of course...I had many friends when I went to university in the Midwest...Lived there close to ten years and met some amazing people...I am smiling as I type this at the fond memories...

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    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub
    Been there many times years ago. When I was a kid the first encounter I ever had with a British solder was close by there. He taught me how to open a beer bottle with my teeth.
    We have our uses.

    Many thanks for the contribution Snubs and others. Appreciating the insights.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BaitongBoy
    And bsnub, you are right about the travel reasoning regarding US citizens
    Yes it is a common misconception that because Americans do not travel abroad in the same percentages as other many Euro countries that they are somehow less intelligent and this is simply not true. I will say that there happens to be more and more Americans who are travelling abroad these days simply to get a passport stamp. It has become trendy to say "oh I just got back from [inset country here]" in the more affluent areas of the US. Everyone wants to be that eco, backpacking trendoid here. At least in my neck of the woods. I doubt it is the same in the midwest or the south...

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    I was born in L.A., Whittier, Calif. in a 7th day Adventist hospital. Mom walked there from her little house for my birth. Dad was away it seems, still in the military from WW II, (remained in till his premature death), so mom being both pragmatic and poor walked. She was a product of the Dustbowl and came to California along with her older sister during those early bad old days.

    We eventually lived at Fort Ord up in Monterrey California prior to shipping over to Japan for a three year assignment. My dad used to play the ukelayle and sing Hawaiian songs he learned when he was single and hung out with other G.I.'s who were native Hawaiians. They all use to come to our house for parties, get drunk and sing all night long. Great stuff. We lived in a Japanese house which seemed uncommonly natural for me. I spoke good Japanese and faulting English as a result. I loved Japan. Still do.

    We moved all the time from fort to fort. Army life especially one that allows its members to put in for transfers is pretty unpredictable. I remember at Ft. Reiley Kansas they had a stable of horses from General Custers Little Big Horn massacre.
    cold as hell there in the winters with black ice and freezing winds.

    We saw a lot of America during my father's lifetime. Endless driving from California to a new destination only to drive again back to California when another assignment was completed or he asked for another transfer. I thin I knew every sign post on route 66 by the age of 8. We saw the two headed babies, snakes galore, indians selling along the roadways, Carlsbad Caverns, the Painted desert, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Alamo, etc. Life was one big geography lesson for us. Little did I know or suspect that this wanderlust would continue into my adult hood. Dad infected me I suppose.

    I lived and have worked in many states. When I wasn't working I was touring. I have criss crossed the USA, circumnavigated it and driven straight as can be across it. I love it. I love the South. so different, so beautiful. Old mansions, Spanish moss, Ceder trees, miles of farm lands, the gulf of Mexico. Amazing people in the South. Friendly and gracious in all my encounters.

    I lived and worked out of Colorado for 10 years. I learned to snow ski there and it became an obsession. I also learned to golf there. some of the greatest golf and ski locations in the world. I hunted and fished throughout the mountain states. I owned a house in conifer Colorado that sat at an elevation of 10,000 ft. I could look south to Pikes Peak and East to Denver for views. 2 acres adjacent to National Forrest. Elk, deer, and brown bear all around. Wild lands all around me. I hiked and camped almost every holiday there as well.

    I had a job in Moab Utah in the late 70's. Canyonlands. Great place. Red rocks, arches national park, sitting in hollowed out sandstone pools atop the flat top cliffs taking fresh rain water baths, smoking pot and watching the clouds float by in a turquoise sky. Great assignment. More of a holiday for me than work.

    I worked in Naturita, Colorado for 6 months as well. Use to drive after working up the canyon to Telluride for our nights partying. Naturita was situated along the Deloras River, which during mining days had a sluice box that ran along the canyon walls. Miners had to hang by ropes to build it at their risk. Guys lived in tents on that site. No hotels or other forms of living quarters there for them that they could or would afford. Most commuted on the weekends when not working home to Grand Junction. We all got together at the Jungle bar there during off days, which were few and far between. Driving to Naturita from Grand Junction there a place called Paradox Colorado. Seems that in Paradox the river flows two directions. Theres also a ton called Gateway because as you approach it the mountains open into a gate way as you enter visually.

    There is so much to see and do in the Southwest you could never leave if you got hooked on it.

    I have lived and worked in many places in the world. All had their attractions, but none had the variety that is offered in America. There's something there for everyone. Living as an expat is natural for me. I've been one all my life it seems.

  20. #20
    The Fool on the Hill bowie's Avatar
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    America;

    The continental USA is approximately 3 million square miles (8 million square kilometers in area). This allows for a vast diversity of habitats and environments.

    A population of greater than 300 million provides for a great cross section of humankind encompassing virtually all ethnicities and socioeconomic platforms.

    America has it all, from the most impoverished inner city slums that no one would live in by choice to the most opulent protected communities that only the ultra-rich can afford.

    In a nutshell - America has everything. The good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly.

    We have all the problems other countries have, crime, drug addiction, politicians, poverty, unemployment, bigotry, pollution, inequality, taxation, privileged untouchables, white collar crime, political patronage, etc. The list goes on and on.

    We also have the best of the best - all the good things in life can be found here; freedom, housing, food and water, medical, religion, sports, entertainment, arts, education, etc. the list goes on and on.

    Many try to categorize the American way of life, but that is an impossible task. The truth is that America is the melting pot - Ellis Island isn't a story. The American way of life is nothing more than a combination of all ways of life.

    If it exists, you can find it in America.

  21. #21
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    As the world's sheriff being from America evokes very different responses throughout the world...some loving , some violent.

    I've always stated that America's fabric is comprised of every different nationality, ethnic, group, race , colour, creed and religion that the world has.
    Somehow American's pull together when the times are tough (ie: 9-11) ;even though there are huge racial and ethnic riffs lying close to the surface.

    When you look at past events where two religions , two tribes or two ethnic groups living in the same country in various parts of the planet will kill each other because of their one difference then you'll come to realize what is great about America.
    I say, "Sure we hate each other...but we hate each other equally."
    (
    Recommend you watchSpike Lee's "Do The Right Thing" set in Brooklyn , NY).

    America assuredly is changing from what most Americans over 50 can remember...
    "The land of the free and the home of the brave."
    Times will get tougher even in America.

    Some advice:
    Chas, whatever you do - DON'T sleep on a beach after midnight.
    As a Brit only drink 'true micro-brews' or you'll dislike America just because of the shyte beer.
    There are certain areas where to go alone is simply unsafe. Do your research in advance. Yes, in some areas it is legal.
    We do drive on the RIGHT side of the road. Stay left and let others drive in the fast lane while your reading signs and looking at girls.
    Alaska is huge and cold. Don't live on a reservation and don't take an apartment (flat) in a project. Don't consider taking an oilfields job in North Dakota if money is not important.
    Do leave a gratuity (15 -20%) to anyone that serves you anything in a restaurant, bar or give $1 - $5 for anyone that carries your bag from a hotel door to the taxi stand. Tipping is not a city in China nor how Britain functions but it is how people earn a living wage within the service industries of America. That beautiful waitress / dancer/ bartender is never going to give you a happy ending without seeing your sense of gratuity in advance.
    Don't call french fries 'chips' or sausages 'bangers' or expect to find every sort of condiment on your table at Dennys. Beans are only served with hot dogs (frankfurters, weiners et al) and not ever at breakfast. If you want beans go to the Mexican restaurant, senor.
    Do fall in love with any southern gal, at least once. You'll enjoy the bar-b-qued ribs but will be disappointed by the choice of beer. Just opt for a nice bourbon and her family will love you. "Sure is a nice fella with that metro-sexual accent."
    Never order hot tea but iced tea is OK in the South.
    DON'T ever call anyone you don't know personally a 'homey' or 'nigga' particularly if YOU don't have a posse locked and loaded.

    On that note - I Love America.
    I just can not envision myself living there at this point in my life. Why ?
    That's a story for another time. Peace2U. Travel safe whenever you travel.

  22. #22
    Hansum Man! panama hat's Avatar
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    I'll pitch in , not as an American, but as someone who has lived there for many years, in many parts of the place.

    First time - We were posted to the US after being evacuated to Cyprus when our house was shelled as we lived very close to the presidential palace in Baabda, Beirut.
    We lived in a place called Grosse Pointe - a very pretty suburb (well, a cluster of suburbs all called Grosse Pointe City/Forest/Shores etc..).
    It was great - it was green - the neighborhood kids all played in the street and on front lawns.
    Parents too the kids to McDonalds and the public pool wasn't far.

    Paradise.

    Second time - doing my post-grad studies in Chicago, at Northwestern. Lived in Winnetka, my parents had a house there.

    This time was a bit different - I enjoyed the place, but not the winter - it was horrid. The other students were far less interested in the intellectual side of Uni than in Oz or Germany.

    Third time - San Diego (six months) - One word: Brilliant.
    The people are nicer than in LA, the weather is better and there is much less crime -

    Fourth time - Hudson, Massachusetts, just outside of Boston.
    This has to be the best area in the whole country - New England, you can't beat it for scenery, even though I am a complete beach-fan.
    The drives through autumn/fall countryside - a few hours to Quebec - excellent seafood and meats . . .
    Nice beers and nice people. Genuine people

    Fifth time - Seattle and then Phoenix
    Seattle was nice, but I wasn't too impressed - it rained for three weeks solid until I asked to be sent to HQ in Phoenix.
    Phoenix is an empty place - devoid of any personality, occupied by those who simply want to get to the sun . . . take the wrong turn and you end up in a place you don't want to be at all

    Last time - Sunnyvale, San Jose . . .
    Loved it . . . house paid for by the company, cars by the company etc . . . six months before I wanted to leave, but enjoyed it immensely. It has the same ethnic complexity as many other cities in the US, but a newer variety . . . it is dynamic, fresh and well set-up . . . also, it is close enough to SF to get out for some great seafood.

    All in all, the US is what you make out of it - making acquaintances is easy, easy, easy . . . making real friends not . . . I have two whom I still see a few times a year - one in Clearwater, Fla and the other in Phoenix.

    My one complaint about the US (not including the massive income disparity and poverty) is that the inner cities are soul-less and that life has migrated to malls.

    All in all . . . an excellent place to live if you don't get involved in the politics of the place . . . which, as a foreigner, you shouldn't anyway.

    Great place - provided many years of happiness

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by PeeCoffee
    On that note - I Love America. I just can not envision myself living there at this point in my life. Why ? That's a story for another time. Peace2U. Travel safe whenever you travel.
    Thanks for your contribution PC. Not really looking for a lonely planet/trip adviser list of dos and don'ts, I am a fairly well travelled grown up.
    More interested in your impressions of the country and the places where you lived or grew up.

    Cheers Ocker, outsiders view equally relevant. I have to say I'm very impressed especially with the views of those who have chosen to leave the US and settle elsewhere. Very proud and supportive of the qualities of the home country.
    Can't imagine Aussie or Brit exiles being so full of paise.

    Suspect it's a lengthy process to get a long term visa to visit these days even for a Brit.

  24. #24
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    America is an incredible place to visit and that's how I want to enjoy the last part of my life. I lived it. Saw it from west to east coast whether with family or on business. Quite diverse.

    While I agree with all the positive sentiments posted by my fellow Americans the one thing I did not see mentioned is that to travel around as many noted takes a TON of cash. It is not very user friendly to see the things many have mentioned. Air travel is expensive and cumbersome, hotel costs are ridiculous, rental cars for the most part are pricey, you can rent a motorhome for $400 a week but MPG is 8 so do the math on a tour. Example: My wife wants to go see NY. I said OK. we started with all the internet hotel places , then airfare, rental cars, food, sight seeing etc. A week in NY will set a person back a minimum of 60,000 baht and that is doing it tight. To go see the Statue of Liberty is $200 including the boat ride.

    Again beautiful place, lots to see and do if you have deep pockets, Most sadly have to work and cram life into weekends as they have to cover the cost of living then get too old to go later.

    Its nice to leave it and return on my terms.

  25. #25
    Philippine Expat Davis Knowlton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chassamui View Post
    Suspect it's a lengthy process to get a long term visa to visit these days even for a Brit.
    You pretty much get six months on arrival at port of entry if there is no reason not to do so. I just helped a Filipina teacher through the process. She was going on a ten-day school-related trip. Single Asian female teacher - young too.

    She got a ten year visa, as well as six months at point of entry even though she stated she was only planning a ten-day stay.

    Sorry. My bad. Three months, not six.
    Last edited by Davis Knowlton; 25-10-2014 at 11:21 AM.

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