I became an expat after having a serious back injury, which resulted in my losing my job in the UK. By the time I had recovered from my illness, my wife and I had used up all our savings, and were to put it mildly in a serious financial situation.
I decided that the best way for us to get back on our feet, would be for me to get a job overseas. I made this decision as I knew from previously working overseas; I would be able to earn far more money than I could in the UK.
I first worked in Riyadh where I lived in a company paid apartment, until later being transferred to Jeddah. Here the company paid for me to live on a camp with all meals provided. Unfortunately, due to a lack of work the company made me redundant, after I had only been in Saudi for 7 months. I then returned back to the UK.
However, in this short space of time I found myself able to pay off all our debts, as well as being able to buy a new car for cash. This would have been impossible to do, had I been working in the UK and not overseas.
Shortly after my return to the UK, I contacted a company that carried out works in Oman. After an interview they offered me a 4 month contract as a joiner, which I accepted.
Whilst working in Oman, the company paid for me to live and eat in 5 star hotels. On our days off work, along with some work colleagues we used to drive to a beautiful long sandy beach.
Behind the beach were large land dunes, which were used for what is known as “Dune Bashing.” This being where drivers try to drive their jeeps up to the top of the dunes. When first witnessing this activity, I thought that the driver had gone crazy. But it seems that Dune Bashing is a very popular pastime.
A week after completing my contract in Qatar and returning to the UK, my old boss from Saudi contacted me. He offered me a contract to work in Brunei on a Palace for the Sultan of Brunei. His phone call resulted in a complete change of scenery for me. I went from working in the desert; to working in the jungle.
A few weeks later I flew out to Brunei. At first I lived with a few of my work colleagues in a hotel in town. However, a few weeks later we all moved from the hotel to a government camp, which was set up in a large flat grassed clearing in the jungle. The camp accommodation consisted of a large number of Portakabins. I lived in one of them, which I found to be very comfortable.
While in Brunei I had my first experience of going on a Hash. This involved a large group of runners, who ran through the jungle following a paper trail, which had been laid down by what is called the hares. I also went Jashing. Instead of running through the jungle, we used to drive through it in specially reinforced jeeps. Although it seemed rather crazy, it was a lot of fun and an experience I will not forget.
During my time in Brunei I acted in two Amateur Dramatics shows. Although I had never been in one before, I enjoyed being in them very much. All in all, I had such a great time in Brunei that I did not want to leave at the end of my contract.
Before leaving Brunei, my company arranged and paid for me to fly back to the UK via Thailand and Hong Kong. In Thailand I met up with a number of Thais that I had previously worked with in Brunei and Saudi. While with them they treated me as an honored guest, and took me to several places of interest including the Kings Palace, and a crocodile farm.
On leaving Thailand I flew on to Hong Kong where I stayed in a 5 star hotel for two days, which my company paid for. I then fly back to the UK.
Whilst later in London seeking a new contract, a recruitment company arranged an interview for me re a contract in Qatar, which turned out to be a Palace for the Emir. Shortly after being accepted by the company, I flew out to Qatar. Once again I found myself back in the Middle East.
The company provided me with accommodation in a camp, where I had all meals provided. I lived in one half of a self contained Portakabin, with a work colleague living in the other half.
On our days off work, some work colleagues and I used to enjoy driving across the desert in an old pick-up truck, which the company had provided me with. We also went snorkeling, and spent long lazy hours relaxing on a beautiful sandy beach
Shortly after returning home from Qatar, my ex company offered me a short contract back in Brunei. Surprisingly, this involved some refurbishment works in the Palace I had previously worked on.
Once again I left the desert and returned to work in the jungle.
This time I worked in both the Palace that is home for the Sultans second wife, and also in the main Palace that has four mentions in the Guinness Book of Records.
1. The Sultan was the richest man in the world.
2. The chandeliers in the Palace were the heaviest in the world.
3. The main Palace had the most amount of rooms in a single building.
4. It has the smallest hill in the world. (which is in fact a hummock on the golf course)
Whilst working in the Palaces, I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with both of the Sultans wives.
Before leaving Brunei, I received an invitation from a construction company to attend an interview in London, re a contract in Algeria.
After landing at Heathrow, I went and attended the interview. In this I was successful, with the company then offering me a one year contract.
Once again I returned to work in the desert. This time however, it was in North Africa and not in the Middle East. The work involved construction projects for the Gendarme in several desert locations. Here I lived in camp accommodation with all meals provided.
On my days off work, along with some colleagues we used to visit various places of interest. On one trip we came across a deep canyon, where in the dried up riverbed we found many fossil sea shells. Obviously at some time in the past, the river had been connected to the sea.
I happened to be on a short break in London, when the owner of a Jordanian construction company contacted me re a contract in Jordan. After having an interview, I accepted a contract to work on a Palace in Jordan for King Hussein.
In Jordan I lived in a large well furnished company apartment, with the company also providing me with a car.
I was fortunate in that while in Jordan I visited the ancient city of Petra, which is an incredible place. Both the Treasury and the Monastery are really spectacular buildings. It was however, quite a climb up the trail to reach the Monastery.
Shortly before leaving Jordan, a recruitment company contacted me about a contract in Turkey. The project involved a 5 star hotel complex on the Mediterranean coast. Thanks to my recruitment company and the fact that I had a good CV, the client offered me a contract without even seeing me.
This contract turned out to be the best I ever had. Not only did I receive a very good financial package, it also included married status. This being my first such contract.
On my arrival in the village of Kemer, which was a short distance from the hotel site, the company put me up in a Pension, where I lived there until my wife joined me a month later. On her arrival, the company then put us into a hotel. They later provided us with a furnished apartment, and also gave me a company car.
My wife loved Turkey very much. After only being in the country five weeks, she suggested that we bought some land and had a house built. This we did. It proved to be the best move that we ever did. The region where I worked and still live, is known as “The Turkish Riviera.” This region has stunning mountain and coastal scenery, with many beautiful sandy beaches.
Whilst living in Turkey my ex boss from Brunei contacted me. He offered me a contract to work on a 5 star hotel in Northern Cyprus. After accepting his offer I flew over to Cyprus a few weeks later. Here I met up with several of my old work colleagues from Saudi and Brunei.
The company provided us with accommodation in furnished apartments. They also provided me with a car. Unfortunately, due to the client running into serious financial problems, the project closed down a few months later.
During a break between contracts, I happened to meet up with my old Turkish boss. During a talk with him, he asked if I would help him on a 5 star hotel project in Turkmenistan. Even though I had never heard of Turkmenistan, I agreed to go there.
I later found that it was once part of Russia. Having never worked in this region before, this would be a new experience for me. The project was in Ashgabat, which is the capital of Turkmenistan, a country with vast deposits of oil and natural gas.
Most of the houses in Ashgabat are connected to a main central heating system. This system I found to be very efficient during the winter months that I spent living in a bungalow provided by the company.
Whilst later in London looking for another contract, a recruitment company contacted me re a contract in Indonesia. The project turned out to be a 5 star hotel in Surabaya, which is the 2nd largest city in Indonesia. Shortly after being accepted by the company, I flew out to Surabaya where the company provided me with a furnished apartment.
On completion of my contract, I accepted a contract from another company. This again was another 5 star hotel in Surabaya. As this contract included married status, my wife came out to join me. We were fortunate in that the company provided us with a well furnished house.
Indonesia is an inexpensive place to live with food, living costs and local transport being quite cheap. At one time I travelled from Surabaya to Yogyakarta, a journey taking approx 12 hours. The fare cost less than the taxi fare from the station to my hotel.
Whilst in Indonesia my wife and I took the advantage of being able to visit the beautiful island of Bali. Had I not been working in Indonesia, this trip would have cost us a lot of money. We also travelled to Singapore by train. We used this method of traveling, due to it being far less expensive than flying there. The money that we saved on air fares then paid largely for our hotel room, which made it an inexpensive weekend.
On completion of my contract we returned home to Turkey. I later flew over to London to look for another contract. After making numerous calls to various recruitment companies, I received two job offers at the same time. One being in Vietnam, the other in Malaysia. I accepted the longer contract in Malaysia, which was a five star hotel project. As my contract included married status, my wife came with me.
Malaysia is a beautiful country with numerous places of interest to visit. The light railway system offers a cheap way to visit numerous places outside the capital city of Kula Lumpur, commonly known as KL. Although it is more expensive to live in Malaysia than Indonesia, I found living costs were less than those in the Middle East.
Shortly before leaving Malaysia a recruitment company contacted me re a possible contract in the Philippines. After having an interview in Malaysia, the company offered me a three year contract. The project turned out to be a 52 storey luxury apartment block in Manila, which is the capital of the Philippines.
As my contract again included married status, my wife went with me. We were fortunate in that the company paid for shipping various bits and pieces that we had bought during our time in Malaysia, over to the Philippines. In Manila the company provided us with a large and beautiful well furnished apartment.
My wife and I had an incredible social life in the Philippines, where we attended numerous Balls and dinner parties. I also learnt to play golf there as lessons were not expensive. Thanks to the low living cost in the Philippines, my wife and I were able to afford visiting several beautiful islands.
On one trip we went to Boracay that has one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The journey started with a flight in a plane decorated with flowers, which brought back memories of the Hippy days. After landing at a grass strip runway, we then had a short trip by motorcycle and sidecar down to the beach. Evidently, this mode of transport was the usual way to get from the airport to the beach.
On our arrival at the beach, we climbed onto a boat that took us over to the island of Boracay. As there were no jetties there, the boat went as close as possible to shore, before the passenger had to get off and into the water.
It was quite funny to see a long line of people carrying their bags wading through the shallow bright blue sea. It took about 5 minutes to wade through the water up to the long gleaming white sandy beach. Once there it only took a few minutes to walk along the soft sand to our chalet, which was nestled under some palm trees. We could not have wished for such a fabulous location.
Due to the company extending my contract, I stayed in the Philippines for nearly three and a half years before returning home to Turkey.
My next contract occurred when the company I previously worked for in Malaysia, offered me a contract in Morocco. The project being a five star hotel complex situated half way between Rabat and Casablanca. Unfortunately, due to it only being a short term single contract, my wife did not join me.
One again I returned back to North Africa. However, this time instead of working in the desert, I would be working on the edge of a beautiful long sandy beach.
While working on the project I lived in one of the hotels luxury bungalows that were set on the edge of the beach. Before having breakfast, I used to start my day with a jog along the usually deserted beach. On my days off work I visited Casablanca and Rabat, where I enjoyed wandering through the old parts of the cities.
From being down and penniless, my wife and I enjoyed years of travelling at someone else’s expense. During my working career I have worked in 14 countries and visited a variety of fabulous places.
Most of my contracts came from contacting recruitment companies, re contracts listed in a magazine published by Expats International. Unfortunately, this company of which I was a member for many years no longer exists. However, there are other similar companies dedicated to providing employment opportunities. I highly recommend that you join such a company. I also advise that you sign up with recruitment companies, which specialise in the type of work that you are seeking.