Friday, May 27, 2011

The Border: Visa Nightmare #3

I can barely stomach writing about the whole chain of events that led up to it, but I can tell you that I spent the better part of the day yesterday trying to get to Bahrain, with an exit visa I had been assured by my administration was valid, only to be told at the border that it was not in the computer.

(You see, the Kingdom is such a fun place, you even need a visa to LEAVE.)

This is the third time something like this has happened to me. In 2000, when I first went to Russia by train, I discovered the hard way that I needed a transit visa for Belorus, despite being assured by the school I was applying for that I did not.

In 2009, I returned to Russia with a new passport that did not match the numbers in my old visa, and was turned away, despite being assured by my school that it didn't matter. The expense and conflict caused by this was the Prime Mover that got me out of Russia, so perhaps that was Allah working in his mysterious ways.

I spent about $100 on taxis and buses yesterday, and I'll be charged one night for the hotel I reserved. All in all that's cheap. I spent over $1000 in Germany getting a new Russian visa back in 2009.

The visa thing is a nightmare on many levels -- not only is it impossible for you to know what's correct, with the language barrier and everything, it's generally impossible for your school to know what's correct, because rules change all the time.

One mis-spelled word, one wrong date, one lacking stamp, one wrong number, one picture with the wrong colored background -- and YOU'RE FUCKED.

The government offices involved tend not to be much help because there are so many people involved that different people will tell you different things. (Assuming you can find somebody who speaks English in the first place.)

The internet is a help, but of course, you get people mouthing off with great authority who don't have any fucking idea what they're talking about.

It's such a nightmare of beauracracy now, being a TEFL teacher. That was kind of one of the appeals of it, back in the day -- you didn't need references, certificates, work visas, anything. You could just roll up and work on a tourist visa, get paid in cash, take a few months off between jobs. . .

Now it's all one big apostiled document. Stamped with The Mark of the Beast.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Second Book

By popular demand. Wait, is three people asking me for something, popular demand?

Anyway, here are the collected, chronological, edited, EXPANDED adventures of English Teacher X between 1995 and 2000. These are all stories from the old website, but heavily revised and with a lot of NEW material added -- maybe 15 percent new stuff? At least 10, anyway.

This is old-school TEFL teacher shit -- brazenly dishonest and illegal schools, foreigner groupies, filthy pre-globalism third-world hellholes, and drugs and alcohol for all.

And finally revealed -- the story of how I worked in Phuket, Thailand and lost my job after snapping a small child's arm.

That's worth $2.99, wouldn't you say?




One man. Five years. Five countries. Seven cities. Seven employers. A lot of alcohol. Countless brain cells.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Every Teacher's Fantasy

So, yeah, I made this cartoon in like 2004; does anybody even remember POLYPHONIC pop song ringtones?

And of course, now, that kind of rampant phone abuse usually doesn't happen because people don't show off with their phones much anymore; even homeless people and peasant farmers have Iphones these days.

But I'm sure plenty of teachers still fantasize about shoving phones up their students asses. Completely sure. 

Thursday, May 05, 2011

They Whacked The Beard!

So they finally whacked The Beard.

Nobody in a passing car has shouted anything about it; no little kids have accosted me with thrown rocks.

Only one of my students mentioned anything about it, asking me if I thought it was true.

"I guess so," I said. "I saw the same thing that you did on the news," I hedged.

The student shrugged and let the subject drop.

My colleagues, however, are full of theories; some believe the one that he's been dead for a while and the US has only now revealed it; the most popular one seems to be that he's not actually dead, he was abducted and is being held in a secret prison somewhere to be tortured and interrogated at the US's leisure.

That does make more sense than the theory that the whole incident was faked for PR purposes; I mean, how would they get Bin Ladin and Al Qaeda to go along with it?

Unless maybe they did it to smoke the real Bin Ladin out of hiding. . . or maybe the whole of Al Qaeda is just a crypto-fascist government plot . . . in which case why would they fake Bin Ladin's death now? And why reveal it now, unless they needed good news after the J-Quake and the tornados in America. . .

Anyway, let's leave that serpent to devour its own tail.

So assuming that it all happened much as reported, that a crack team of US badasses gunned him down in cold blood -- is this really going to incite extremism?

Think it through -- what, was the whole of Al Qaeda sitting around waiting, going, "Okay, well, we'll give the foreign devils one more chance -- OH NO THEY KILLED BIN LADIN! NO MORE MR. NICE GUY!"

I mean, they ALREADY hated us and tried terrorist attacks all the time. What will change?

The average person in the Middle East is probably not going to be too swayed one way or the other here; Bin Ladin was a very vocal self-professed enemy of the US, vowing more death and terrorism, and the US finally manged to kill him.

So what's the problem? He's going to Paradise for the cause anyway right? With his 40 virgins or whatever.

It's the thousands upon thousands of completely innocent Muslims killed in Iraq that incited people to hate the US; compared to THAT, how can you hate a country for killing a guy who was their sworn enemy?

And now we hear that they shot him when he was completely unarmed; the only REAL question that raises to his fans is, why was the guy who was supposedly the most dangerous terrorist in the world completely unarmed and helpless, when it came right down to The Moment of Truth?

His WIFE was rushing to protect HIM, or so recent reports have it. AND he was in his pajamas when they blasted him.

News stories a while back had him living in caves and wired with explosives so he could never be taken alive; and in the end he gets killed so ignominiously, in a suburban compound retreat.

So basically, all the unrest in Egypt, Syria, Libya etc, is a lot more on people's minds then the death of The Kingdom's most infamous son. A revolution that undoubtedly wants more money, video games and Internet porn, and less old school terrorism.

Anyway, I'm packing my piece of pipe with the tape around it in my backpack; so far, no unrest or confrontations to report from Desert Station X. Observing all standard high PERSEC and OPSEC.

Over and out.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Double or Nothing

So, in response to the unprecedented unrest in the Middle East, the King gave all government workers DOUBLE salary last month.

Naturally we were all looking forward to this, being government workers.

Of course we didn't get it; only the local teachers (a small minority)got it. This didn't really surprise anybody.

But then we heard that teachers contracted to the military through British Aerospace got it. Then we heard that teachers working for the national oil companies got it.

We found we got a raise of about $75 a month, however.

Teachers here are understandably mercenary; there are very few other reasons to be here. A few wrote angry letters, a few swore they'd stay here only "one more year."

Angry English teachers rioting in the streets? Stay tuned.