Sunday, May 19, 2013

Layover in airports - Tips on how to survive a long layover when the airline doesn't provide a hotel?

Airport Doha Qatar DIA

I'm now in Doha International Airport in Qatar for a 12 hour layover before i reach my final destination.
I thought i will be offered a hotel room or at lease to enter the airport lounge and have a meal but unfortunately the class i booked on doesn't give me this privilege, I'm not really complaining about Qatar Airways for having this situation because to be honest the flight was fucking cheap and they are one of the best airlines you can fly with.

so I came up with some ideas how to spend the time in the airport without getting dead bored and without spending a lot of cash.

1- Airports are expensive...period. That means you need to get as much snacks as you can so you don't have to hurt your wallet to buy something to eat.

2- If you have a laptop or a smartphone load it up with as much music and movies as you can because this will be the main thing you are doing.

3- Most of the international airports offer a free wi-fi service so use that to spend some time checking out your instagram feed or watching videos on YouTube or whatever else you fancy doing.

4- Take a walk in the airport and check out the prices of some of the goods in the duty free shops....this is handy sometimes when you can get yourself a good deal by buying something which is much cheaper than your destination or origin cities.

5- Books are also a good friend for spending a good 3 or 4 hours of your time.

6- Don't allow yourself to just sit down and look at people or to check out your watch every 2 minutes you'll be bored to hell.

7- I personally recommend not sleeping in the airport because we all know it will not be comfortable and you might wake up missing your phone or laptop or i prefer to exhaust myself in the airport and sleep during the flight time.

8- Talk to people....I find talking to people so interesting and I actually met some awesome people in airports and we are still keeping in touch till now.....think of it this way: if you are bored then there must be some people in the same situation who are bored as well so don't be shy and start up a small talk with the guy sitting next to you or in the smoking room or wherever but be sensitive not to keep talking to someone who has something to do.

9- Use the time to do business....if you are travelling for business then you probably have a lot of preparations to do and it will be a good idea to finish that while in the airport not doing anything.

10- Ask the airline staff to help you and make it their problem politely because most of the time they have the authority to make an exception and offer you a meal voucher or even give you a transit visa so keep asking but don't lose your temper and don't have high hopes.

This is the juice of what I've learned spending 12 hours in the airport....travelling is a great experience and I'm certain I learn more and more every time I fly.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

القاهره فى عصر الرئيس مرسى - حضاره انهارت و اخلاق انعدمت

Microbuses Cairo Mess

في إحدى أيام صيف ٢٠١٣فى القاهرة حوالي الساعة الثالثة ظهرا كنت واقفا في الشارع منتظرا صديقي.
الشارع يبدو و كأنه تم احتلاله من الباعة الجائلين و سائقي الميكروبص، ضوضاء الاغانى الشعبيه تنبعث من عده اكشاك و عربات بيع الكبده المتراصه بشكل غير منظم .....كل شئ في زحام غير  طبيعي و أصوات الكلاكسات تدوي من السيارات في نفس الوقت و تختلط بأصوات الأغاني الشعبية لتكتمل المقطوعة القبيحة التي تطاردك في كل مكان في القاهرة.
الشوارع قذرة و مليئة باكياس و أوراق تتطاير مع نسمة هواء نادرة الحدوث في شمس القاهرة الحارقة.
الكثير من الشباب واقفون في الشارع لا يفعلون شيئا عدا الحملقه في خلق الله و التعليق عليهم و هم ينفخون دخان السجائر.
من بين حرارة الشمس و إنعدام الهواء الذي خنقته المباني إلمتلازقه القبيحة يمكنك أن تشاهد البنات بزي يوحي لك أن درجة الحرارة تقارب الصفر.
في وسط هذا المشهد رأيت بنتين محجبات يبدو عليهم الاحترام و البراءة و صغر السن، حوالي ١٥ أو ١٦ سنة. ما جذب إنتباهي كان ارتدائهم لنفس التنورة ذات الألوان المزركشة.
فجأة قام شاب من الشباب الواقفون بالتعليق و حاول لمس إحداهن. المدهش في ذلك عدم اكتراث أي رجل في الشارع بما يحدث و لكن الأكثر دهشة هو رد فعل البنت فقد تحركت بعيدا عن الشاب فى استياء و لكنها لم تتفاجأ و كأن ما حدث هو شئ تربت عليه أو كأنه شئ طبيعى يحدث كل يوم.
نظرت بعيدا عن البنتين اللتان اكملا طريقهما بلا اهتمام و في نفس اللحظة سمعت صراخ إمرأة على يميني فتلفت للنظر و رأيت شابان على دراجة نارية يخطفون شنطتها و هم يلوحون بالأسلحة البيضاء في أيديهم. رغم ازدحام الشارع لم يتحرك أحدا حتى افراد الشرطه لم يهتموا بما يحدث.
لم يمر الكثير و رأيت حادث بسيط نتج عن اصطدام توكتوك بسيارة أدت إلى خناقة عاديه بين الطرفيين تعودت على رؤيتها أكثر من مرة في اليوم الواحد.
بدأت أشعر بعدم الارتياح لما يحدث و قررت الابتعاد عن الزحام لتجنب كل هذه المشاعر السلبية و عندما دخلت في شارع جانبي وجدت قهوة مكتظة بالرجال و الشباب من مختلف المراحل العمرية. جمع بينهم سمه واحدة و هي العبس، لم أجد حتى إبتسامة واحدة مما جعلني أشعر إني دخلت مأتم.
في تلك اللحظة إتضح لي استحالة معيشتي في مصر و قررت الرحيل بلا رجعة.

القصة غير حقيقية ولكنها تعكس صورة مصر التي أراها من خلال عيناي.
لكي الله يا مصر.


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teaching ESL in China - Are you sure that's what you want? and how?

Starting a new job is always stressing and includes a lot of paperwork processing and a lot of hassle. Imagine that stress when it includes going to a different country and having to deal with different labor laws and rules.

I signed my contract with a Chinese Agency before to go and work as an English teacher which i was so excited about to the point that I didn't check my contract thoroughly and as you might expect it got me into a lot of problems once I arrived in China.....reading a contract before signing it is important and you should make sure what you need and anything the company promises should be stated in the contract. Otherwise you lost your rights and you don't stand a chance of making these promises come true.

I will make it really simple for you by posting a checklist of things you need to check in your contract:

  1. READ the contract carefully...not once or twice but as many times as you can....much more better if you show it to your legal adviser or friends....
  2. if the company provides accommodation make sure the address of the apartment and photos from inside the apartment are included in the contract, a list of the amenities of the apartment is also handy in case you don't find a washing machine or that painting they promised you they'll hang on the wall or whatever.
  3. make sure your working hours and if you agreed to having fixed weekends (Saturday and Sunday for example) are stated in the contract otherwise expect them telling you that you'll take Saturday off and half of Monday + half of Sunday off (happened with my friend)
  4. make sure it's mentioned in the contract how your salary will be like if they can't provide classes (which happened with me, I stayed 4 months without them providing classes and of course i wasn't making any money)
  5. In case you are planning to leave soon (which will likely happen because you need sometime to realize what's going on in China before you find the perfect agency or school for you) so make sure there are terms in the contract stating what will happen if you want to cancel the contract.....having a penalty fee of $3000 is not helpful by the way especially if you decide to leave before them providing any classes
  6. make sure the contract states what grade you'll be teaching....they always promise you whatever you ask for so if you want to teach university they will say yes but once you arrive they will force you to teach kindergarten.
  7. flight reimbursement should be divided on the contract term so if they promise 12000 RMB flight reimbursement I would recommend getting 1000 RMB every month.....because let's be frank if you agree to take it once you fulfill the contract there's a 70% chance you'll never see this money.
  8. before signing the contract you should do your homework and google the agency's name to check and see what people are saying about them....use email or skype or whatever method to contact teachers who were working in the same agency and take their teacher is never enough because sometimes the agencies pay them to write good reviews online or to tell you that they are the best agency.
  9. I would recommend starting with a short term contract like a 3 months or a 6 months contract and if you like it there then it's easy to extend. Don't get yourself tied in a 1 year contract in shitty conditions.
  10. NEVER ever leave your passport with the agency....they will take it for exactly 10 days to get the residence permit but after that your passport is yours....if they keep your passport then you lost any leverage or even the chance of leaving the country.....NEVER EVER ALLOW THEM TO KEEP YOUR PASSPORT FOR WHATEVER REASON.
Finally there's never a way of knowing for sure....I know friends who did everything and checked everything with the agency before they come and then they experienced the worst days of their lives wasting too much money in China trying to work it out only to realize there's no way except for doing the infamous midnight run (which i never recommend)

Be sure to do your homework and leave the rest for fate so at least when it ends bad you know you did everything in your power to make it work.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Prices in Egypt - Listing the change in the prices during the course of a 6 months period in Egypt

I recently came back to Cairo after staying in China for a period of 6 months from November 2012 until May 2013. When i arrived in Cairo I noticed the obvious increase in the prices of every item in the market.

The instability of the political situation in Egypt that has been going on for around 2 years now is definitely affecting the economy of the country and with the elected president (Mohamed Morsi) leading the government there's still no signs of economical reform on the contrary the signs are showing a huge economical deterioration evident in the way Egypt is now asking Qatar and other countries for help. 

In this post i will be listing the prices of a couple of the basic items before I left, the prices when I came back and the percent increase.

ItemPrice in November 2102Price in May 2013Price increasepercent increase
Pepsi bottle1.51.750.2516.67%
a cup of tea (in my fav. Baladi café)1.520.533.33%
a pack of Merit cigarettes1416214.29%
a pack of L&M cigarettes1011.51.515.00%
microbus fare (from Faysal to Tahrir)
a shirt from Newborn1001606060.00%
* All the prices mentioned above are in Egyptian pounds (EGP)

As long as our politicians are only concerned with gaining more powers and arresting TV presenters who criticize them or bloggers who oppose them and with all the shameful acts of the Muslim Brotherhood's regime, Egypt will continue to struggle with this unprecedented economic crisis that will surely put more and more citizens under the poverty line.

I will end this post with a photo of a bill for a Solitaire ring with a diamond called brilliant that was sold in Cairo in 1940...the total for the bill was 49.50 EGP.....comparing this to the prices today means that instead of buying a shirt i can buy 3 diamond rings.
Bill old Egypt price

I know that in years from now people will be looking at the prices from 2013 and thinking to themselves "these were the good old days".


Google Adsense - How I managed to make my first big fat check from Adsense on my blogs?

Google Adsense

Well the answer is that I never did because since I started using Adsense from the biggest company on the internet (Google) I've had nothing but waste of time and being dragged from one page to another without finding solutions and not to mention the lack of support I received from Google after trying to call them and filling out forms and using their forums and everything you can suggest and think of before i finally gave up.

Don't get me wrong here, I still love Google with all their products and services. They are all awesome and useful tools that enhanced the lives of the internet nation but when it comes to Adsense i don't think they actually put enough thought and effort in a tool that is supposed to make them and the publishers money.

I had some problems installing Adsense because of a technical issue that they have on the sign up page which is stuck all the time on my old blog which was deleted long time ago....i tried to change it to my new blog but failed many times....anyway i tried to contact Google and they said they don't support Adsense and that i need to go to the online help center which I did and after wasting a good 5 hours reading and going through the support forums and trying different things the result was me giving up because none of the cases mentioned resembled my case. I also tried their Google+ page and their Twitter but in vain.

That's when i decided to look for alternatives for Adsense. Now i will not be listing alternatives to Google's Adsense here because a simple search on Google will bring up thousands of blogs and websites that list other affiliate programs and can find some of these on the following blogs:

However what i wanted to point out in the first place is that Google should pay more attention to Adsense and provide some channel of support if they need to keep the publishers working with them.

It takes a lot to provide a service like Adsense but i guess it takes so much more to keep it running.