Hello from the other side – a working traveler’s diary

When I came to the Middle East in August last year, I did so with a number of goals in mind:

  1. Gain international work experience
  2. Get out of my slump, my routine and comfort zone and meet new people from all over
  3. Participate in more global races (triathlons, marathons, long distance swims)
  4. Travel
  5. Save

I’m happy to say that I’ve done a fair amount of 2, 3, 4. I continue to gain international work experience and I’m finally on track to start saving. If you look at my social media properties, you’ll get a glimpse into a few of the adventures I’ve taken (Besides Doha, Dubai, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, desert safaris too), or the people I have met. But don’t for one second think it has been all peachy, all happy times. It’s real life and in real life you battle real things like missing family and friends, missing key events, not knowing when you can take leave, being tired, salary issues, and not living in a place you’re happy to call home. I’ve been to dark places in my mind. Anxiety has been a big thing for me too, especially in a professional capacity, but I know my limits and I know when to switch work mode off. Have I perfected the art of doing that? Not at all, but I’m doing my best to get it right. I’m lucky in that I have my sports and training to preoccupy my mind when I’m feeling low. It’s a good release, in terms of expressing my frustrations in training. If you see me on the road on a Friday or Saturday, and you see me talking to myself with very strong expressions, you’ll know why now. Haha. You see these are real things you deal with when you live abroad. And thanks to technology, we can always send a WhatsApp message, talk to the family and friends on FaceTime or even write posts like this.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. You learn a lot about yourself when you move away from your comfort zone. And that is probably the best experience you can take away from moving. I have no regrets about moving. It has been an incredible experience and one that I want to continue for the foreseeable future. Whether I stay here, or move on will be determined in time, but as a traveler, an explorer, a realist and a storyteller, I felt it would be good to share an alternative view on the happy, smiley selfies too.

I’m interested to know a few things from those of you reading this.

  • How have you dealt with moving away?
  • How have you adapted to the new cultures, languages you’ve been exposed to?
  • What do you do when you feel low?
  • If you’ve dealt with anxiety on your journey, how do you channel it into something positive?
  • What’s your tipping point, your limits?
  • When you’re on the road, exploring the world, what tricks or tips do you have when you’re feeling bleh?Has your experience been better or worse than the place you originate from?
  • Has your experience been better or worse than the place you originate from?
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Wanderlusting no more?

This proposed bill to tax South African expats has me baffled. For a number of reasons. It’s making me worried too (I’m a Virgo, it’s in my nature). I’ve read many articles, seen groups on Facebook trying their utmost to grow their numbers to petition the finance minister’s proposal and I’ve reached out to a few people too. Cape Talk’s Kieno Kammies spoke to a tax practitioner this week (listen here) and from that, I thought it might be a good call to gather my thoughts, questions and put this post together. This isn’t what you would expect to read on me blog, but because I’m on what some may call an adventure that involves a fair amount of weekend getaways, this proposal will directly affect me. So maybe some tax experts can weigh in here.

Disclaimer: If you have an opinion that you wish to add, please be constructive (whichever side you are on). Hate speech or cockiness is not necessary. I’m trying to understand this and also have an adult conversation. K, thanks, humans.

My questions:

1. Why should you have to pay tax if you aren’t living there anymore? Paying for something that you’re not benefiting from seems a bit pointless don’t you think?

2. People go abroad to save and travel. Surely it’s their choice to do so? If they return, they will be paying tax and contributing to the economy they now live in.

3. How will SARS implement this? Do they know the number of citizens living abroad? This is going to be very costly to the economy. Another area where budgets and resources could be better allocated, perhaps?

Yes, moving to low/ no tax jurisdictions seems appealing. ‘Inflated’ salaries are a thing, but don’t think for one second we’re living like kings and queens. Rent is ridiculously expensive for what you get. Food and transport aren’t cheap either. Then there’s just living; movies, celebrations with friends, escaping the city for a weekend getaway, VISA APPLICATIONS (Death)… When you add it all up, those inflated salaries are done. So with this new proposal of being taxed on top of paying those bills means there’s not much left. You’re also now, by SA standards, in a higher tax bracket, so obviously, you’ll need to pay more when doing the tax return.

So what are the choices? Of course moving back to SA isn’t a bad choice – it’ll always be home. I’m just not there right now. Sometimes you just need a bit of adventure in your life. I’m not married, I don’t have kids, I don’t run a business… I’m relatively responsibility free. So why not take up a challenge, an adventure like this while I can? If I’m to be somewhat selfish for a change, professionally this is good for me. I’m able to gain international work experience, which is arguably the biggest pro in this whole experience. Plus, I love to travel, but traveling from SA often isn’t doable from a financial perspective. Geographically it’s challenging too.

Look, I’m in my 30s. I didn’t move abroad, leaving my family and friends behind to battle to make ends meet. That’s not the life I want. So I guess, I’m left wondering WHAT NOW? I’m just keen to hear from the experts and my fellow expats.

Road to Rio Corre – day 2

Today we put on our tourists attire and headed around the city of Rio De Janeiro. We started out with a few pictures of should I say selfie opportunities of Sugarloaf Mountain from Copacabana beach. The weather wasn’t fantastic, but it was still very humid and actually pretty pleasant. Once we’d met Claudio, our tour guide, and we’d picked up the rest of the group! we headed off to Sugar Loaf for a ride up the cable car and a chance to see the city from a higher point.

When you go up Sugar Loaf, you take two cable cars up. They’re short rides, probably around two to three minutes, but you’re elevated to nice enough heights for you to see the city from a different angle. You also get a better idea of the north and south, the mountains that divide it up and the lagoon, sea side. Check out the pics below

After that we made our way to lunch at a place I can only describe as delicious and awesome. It’s called Porcao and it overlooks the sea and if you’re a Johannesburg resident, you can liken it to Carnivore. The meat and poultry selection is yummy and obviously we all overachieved somewhat… Moegies vol oogies toe.

We visited other parts of the city to like Lapa, Santa Teresa and , which is where the video for the song Beautiful by Snoop Dogg/ Lion and Pharell Williams was filmed. Nice vibe around that part of town.

After a bit of downtime, (and a bit of Futurelife snack for me) we headed off to Plataforma for a bit of dinner and a Samba show. Shem, we were all so exhausted still that we passed out on the bus to venue. Awkward much? Haha… Stupid jet lag and time zones 😉 that didn’t stop us from having a jol though. The samba show was great and damn these people are incredible, wow. The dances they do, the costumes are incredibly detailed and they know how to get a crowd moving. Maybe 2014 will be a year for me to get my samba on… It looks like a lot of fun and a great workout too, they’re not in bad shape either.

One more day to Nike’s Rio Corre 10km and a little more sightseeing today – cant wait! Adios.

Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project: Day 1


Woohoo, I’m here! It’s a little cold I won’t lie, but having said that it isn’t unbearable and the city of Berlin has treated me well so far. Before I elaborate on what we’ve been up to since arriving in the city, I must just backtrack slightly. First of all I must say I’m so impressed with how functional and world class our public transport system is becoming. I caught a cab to the Gautrain station in Sandton and within half an hour I was at the airport, ready to kill some time as I waited for my flight to Frankfurt. I met up with my fellow travelers ahead of our flight Paul was the lucky one chosen as the South African winner to attend the Berlin leg of the Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project. Accompanying him on the trip is his girlfriend Sindi. Lizzie, who is the Brand Manager for Smirnoff Triple Distilled & Black is also traveling with us. We boarded our Lufthansa flight at around 7pm. Having spoken to several of my friends before departure, it became clear that Lufthansa wasn’t the preferred airline to use, but I was pleasantly surprised. The service was fantastic, the plane was clean and it’s one of their new additions to their existing fleet. Their choice of in-flight entertainment was really good. Over 100 cds; a variety of hit TV series like Modern Family, Two and Half Men and 30 Rock to mention a few. The choice of movies was great too: Inception, Grown Ups, and Killers. There were loads more, but if it weren’t for me being so tired, I probably would’ve watched more. Now of course I would notice this, being an avid follower of entertainment, but also on the flight was actress and acclaimed dancer choreographer, Lorcia Cooper. I didn’t get a chance to speak to her, but I would presume she’s got a little project lined up in Berlin. If that is the case, then big up to her. Another South African success story.

We arrived in a cloudy and cold Frankfurt in the wee hours, cleared customs and boarded our next flight to Berlin. It’s kind of like flying to Durban, short and sweet. Continue reading “Smirnoff Nightlife Exchange Project: Day 1”

I’m in love

But it aint what you think… My girl Ashlee Simpson is back in the USA, recovering after an incident in Tokyo. Come to Aspen Ash..No but in all seriousness, get well Ms. Simpson. Hey her new video is awesome too- “L.O.V.E”. Watch out, You’re all gonna L.O.V.E it!!!

Everything is good on this side. Nic- I finally got my snowboard, so Thursday is the day I take on the slopes! Got the first pay cheque, and lets just say when one converts back to Rands… It’s awesome, but for now it’s Dollars. Hope everyone is good and well. Leave me comments people, let me know how y’all are… Good stuff, ok bye