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10 February 2024

What? Sai Gon? No, Mexico! New chapter.


Hola! Bienvenido a Mexico! 

This is how we will greet each other from now on. Surprised?

You've probably wondered why it's been so quiet on the blog and in the podcast?

Well, the change of continents, a dozen or so time zones and the battle associated with moving consumed all my time. And time flies inexorably, very quickly... Before I knew it, I landed in Mexico. And it wasn't that simple.

After nine years of wandering around Asia, it was time for a change. Basically, it was known that I wouldn't be able to spend my entire life in Asia, but still, subconsciously, I hoped that it would be a slightly longer adventure. After all, we still have some places left to visit. However, there is no need to be sad. The world is beautiful and I will definitely come back to Asia. Now it's time to explore Latin America and the Americas in general.

So what? Shall we go?




New chapter...

The information that I would be implementing my new projects in America came in the middle of the year, around June, and it seemed that there was enough time to sort out all the documents and say goodbye to Asia. But life wrote a different scenario. Unfortunately, it wasn't as easy as I thought.

I decided to spend a quite pleasant holiday in Australia, which was in the plan but postponed from year to year, mainly due to the pandemic. Eventually, the plans came to fruition and we had a wonderful holiday in kangaroo country. Of course, I will share my impressions from this trip in subsequent articles.

Today a bit about whether it is easy to move from country to country, or in this case, from continent to continent. As I mentioned, life has written quite an interesting scenario. But. First things first...



Waiting under stress...

September was spent waiting for a visa.

This was the first, but not the only, obstacle that had to be overcome in order to leave Viet Nam and have the right to enter Mexico with a work permit.

At first everything looked very simple. You need to make an appointment at the Mexican Embassy, present a set of documents, and you're done. This can only be done at the Mexican Embassy in your country of residence or country of origin. And this must be done before entering Mexico. In my case, the entire procedure had to take place in Viet Nam because I also had to make settlements in Vietnamese offices. Close tax matters, social security matters and so on. I had to open a new and close an old chapter in my life at the same time.

And why was September spent waiting for a visit?

In Mexico, all matters are handled electronically, as I also discovered upon arrival. In short, I had to register myself as a petitioner on the Mexican Embassy's website, which was actually very simple. Then, book an appointment with the Mexican Embassy. Unfortunately, the problem was that the embassy only has a few "windows" a day for all types of consular matters. I've been trying to arrange this meeting for a long time. For over three weeks, from mid-August to September 7th, it was impossible to arrange such an appointment. There was no "visa" option to choose from.

The situation became tense because I had to arrive in Mexico at the beginning of October, between the 1st and 5th day of the month, to start all the necessary procedures for starting a job. Therefore, I had to have this visa no later than September 29th. The nervousness was terrible. Daily, multiple checks to see if it's OK or not. Finally succeeded.

After three weeks. It's finally here, I managed to make an appointment. I had all my documents, a photo, and with $25 cash in hand (you have to pay the calculated amount because they don't give change), I went to Ha Noi. I scheduled the return flight after 2 days, hoping that I would be able to collect the visa on the 3rd day.

While the first impression I had based on this unfortunate wait for the visit to the embassy about the work of Mexicans was quite bad, the visit to the embassy itself was exemplary. I met very nice, young Mexicans who processed the visas, and they, after listening to my story about how long it took to arrange this appointment, did not allow me to wait 10 business days, as was described in the process. The head of the visa department ensured that the visa was ready on the same day. Fantastic! It was a very positive experience.

Since I bought return tickets to Ho Chi Minh City two days later, I had an unplanned opportunity to visit several places in Ha Noi that I had not seen before. I will write further articles about this.

So, I have a visa, I have tickets to Mexico City, I know where I'm going. There was one more minor snag to sort out in Viet Nam. Tax and social security settlement.

While tax matters went smoothly, social security took a long time until October 15th. When leaving Viet Nam, foreigners receive a one-off amount of compensation for contributions paid to the local Social Insurance Institution. Submitting the application and documenting the entire history of my stay was not a problem. Unfortunately, someone mixed up the order of the names in my full name in the application and this disqualified the application. Unfortunately, only four days later did someone from the office bother to inform me about it. I had to apply again. From the date of submitting the application, the office has 10 days to pay the money. In my case, he did it only in mid-October. Another nervous breakdown. I had to leave Viet Nam by September 30th due to my residency card expiring, unsure whether my bank account would still be functional. The rule is that in Viet Nam, the bank account of foreigners is closed on the day of departure. I finally managed to convince the bank to keep my account open until the transfer from the Social Security Office. It was supposed to be a few days, but it turned out to be two weeks extra. We managed to close everything. I was able to leave Viet Nam without any open official business. I'm going to Mexico!





Tired of packing, I realized that we are collectors after all ;).

To sum up my adventure in Asia, I can only say that I flew to China 10 years ago with one suitcase and four boxes of personal belongings and necessities were sent by DHL. In China, from Qingdao to Shanghai, I have already moved with 43 boxes. From Shanghai, after three years, the move to Viet Nam took place with 116 boxes, including, of course, individual items such as a sofa, furniture and 2 bicycles. In Sai Gon, moving from District 7 to District 2 after another 3 years, it was already over 125 boxes... Shocking.

The question that arose was what to do now? How to leave Asia when "the house is full" as they say?

At the suggestion of my friends, I decided to sell everything I had at my disposal. At the same time, I also got rid of old clothes and some trinkets that had accumulated. The plan was that, in addition to the garage sale, the family, returning from vacation, would take one extra bag, and another one, weighing 25 kilograms, would be taken by a friend who was flying to Poland two weeks after me.

The sale has started. I sold almost everything that was for sale. However, there were a lot of trinkets, decorations, etc. left. Fortunately, we managed to give them all to the inhabitants of the Mekong Delta.

I was left with four bags of different sizes. Fortunately, I was flying back on Qatar Airways and as a "silver" customer, I had one suitcase for free. To sum up, we managed to bring everything included in the ticket.

After 10 years in Asia, it's time to fly out. A bit sad. I will probably miss the atmosphere, food and color of Asia in the coming months. However, I look positively at the whole change. After all, I have a new continent, new countries, new challenges ahead of me...  It's worth taking the risk and opening a new chapter in my life.




On the way...

I must say that traveling between Asia and Europe is most convenient with Qatar Airways. This is an airline that not only flies to the largest number of countries but also has excellent on-board service. It also offers the shortest Asia-Europe arrival times. I usually choose Berlin as my landing place. The transfer in Doha usually takes 3 hours. As for flights to Warsaw, the waiting time for the next segment has now extended to 7 hours. This is the result of the cancellation of one flight between Vietnam and Qatar. However, there are more flights to Berlin from Doha, hence only a 3-hour wait. Another jump, 5 hours, landing in Berlin, transfer to Szczecin and already at the house.

A quick repacking in two days, some laundry and I'm off to Mexico.

I fly to Mexico City again from Berlin. Lufthansa via Frankfurt to Mexico City.

The flight is long. 12 hours and a day flight. We fly following the sun, which means that, leaving Europe around noon, I land in Mexico at 7 p.m. on the same day, local time. Huge challenge. You don't want to sleep, you spend 12 hours on a plane, you sit because what can you do? So far, my longest flights were 9 hours long. During the years I lived in Shanghai. Qatar Airways flights are 7 hours first segment and 5 hours second segment. Fairly short. Now the challenge, because after the short hop from Berlin to Frankfurt, the 12 hours from Frankfurt to Mexico City were quite tiring. But I made it :).

I had already rented a temporary place to stay in the form of a small apartment in Polanco. I was hoping to spend two, at most three weeks there, hoping to find the final apartment quickly, but here too, life wrote a slightly different scenario.




I'm looking for my place...

I started looking for an apartment the first week after arriving. The choice was simple - Polanco, as the safest district of Mexico City, was the first choice. By the way, close to the office so you can walk again. I managed to narrow down the search area and started visiting the apartments.

Interestingly, even before flying to Mexico, I visited websites offering apartment rental agency services. It turned out that even though I found interesting and cheap apartments, I couldn't just walk up and look at the interior. You can just select from the website, rent and pay. In my case, that was out of the question. I have to come in, feel the atmosphere and have the feeling that this is the place where I will spend the next few years. Therefore, I had to reject this idea.I began visits with a real estate agent, which showed a rather interesting aspect of the rental market in Mexico.

A long story in short words boils down to the fact that only the fourth apartment was completed before the contract was prepared and signed.

The first apartment, even a nice one, was rejected because the owner did not want to sign the contract we had prepared. There were still some legal provisions that didn't suit her. The second apartment was ready to be occupied immediately, but it was unfurnished. I really liked the third one, it was to my taste, everything suited me. We were about to sign the contract, but the lawyer said that the person who rents the apartment to us is not its owner. Due to procedural reasons, I had to cancel this rental. A fourth apartment appeared, in the same housing estate, close to the center, close to the office. Everything suited me. It's true that the first impression may not have been the best, due to the specific smell of the apartment, but I really liked the layout of the rooms, location and interior design. Six weeks after starting the search, I was able to finalize the lease agreement. I finally have my own place.

So it's time to move from my temporary apartment to a new one. The surprise when I moved in was that the owner installed a new TV for me and prepared an office corner. He bought a new desk, bookcase and office chair. That's nice. And the smell turned out to be the smell of... dust. After general cleaning, everything smelled fresh.

This is how I established myself on my 4th continent and 45th country.




So it's time to explore Mexico. I just happened to be on the biggest Mexican holiday, the Day of the Dead's - Dia del Muertos. I attended the Avenida de la Reforma parade, which I will write about soon. We managed to visit the Aztec pyramids again and wander around the area. Chaputalpec Castle and Park, Lincoln Park, Linea Ferrocaril de Cuernavaca Park and many smaller local attractions have already been visited. Just like a trip to the beach in Veracruz, a flight to Tijuana and Tecate where I saw the famous Trump's fence separating Mexico from the USA, and several days' stays in Saltillo and Monterrey, where I saw the second largest grotto in the world, Gruta de Garcia. As you can see, new blog articles and podcast episodes will appear soon. There is something to talk about.

The time of change is over and I am starting a new chapter of my life. This time in Latin America.




The plan is to visit the Caribbean islands, maybe also visit South America. Chile and Argentina for sure. Brazil and the United States, of course, too. Things are going to happen. So far, the beginnings are good.

Poles can enter Mexico for tourism and business purposes without visas, of course, except in a case like mine, when you need a visa with a work permit. I already have a driving license, so I drive legally on Mexican roads.

When it comes to cuisine, which I will also describe to you in subsequent articles, it is known that here corn, beans and tequila are the basis of everything. Good cuisine and good interpersonal relations. Jalapeno peppers complete the bouquet of flavors. I have to search for my favorites, radishes and kohlrabi, but there is very delicious bread and all Western cuisine dishes.

I can already see that there will be no major problems with satisfying culinary curiosity, and the longing for Polish cuisine will probably be slightly smaller than in Asia.

So much for first impressions.

Oh, and also the weather. The weather is fantastic. During the day, even though it is winter, the daytime temperatures range from 22 to 25°, and the evenings are cool from 7 to 12°. It's the height effect. Mexico, as a city, is located 2,400 m above sea level. so this altitude affects the weather. It's good.

Dear friends, keep your ears open and look out for new articles on the blog. We're starting to explore Latin America! Following the presence of bamboo, I will tell bamboo stories...


Hasta luego!



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