I saw the picture above on my Facebook timeline, it reminded me that 3 years ago I was Hong Kong International Airport, after a 12 hour flight from Tel Aviv to Hong Kong (with a layover in Doha).
I officially moved from Israel, September 14, 2015 to try my luck teaching English and building my startup in China.
So my plan was to spend 5 days in Hong Kong while I applied for a 10-year visa to enter China, and once there check out the school that offered me a teaching job.
If you don't know me at this point, I'm a planner a meticulous planner, even in chaotic situations, I always have a plan.
But of course, life has its own plans and this photo reminded me of that.
See, what many of you don't know is that I had my eyes set on making it in China.
But life not only had a different plan for me, but a completely different location to build my dream.
When I got to Chongqing, I realized wasn't Chongqing, China.
The school that offered me a job, via an agent, didn't disclose how isolating and far it was from the city of main city of Chongqing, 30 million people.
And how few foreigner teacher were in the school and in the suburb.
It was a bit traumatizing for me, to go from a country of 8 million people, to a city of 30 million people. I knew this was not going to work.
But I spent a total of 3 days at the school figuring out paperwork, and had to leave if I were going to apply for my Z-Visa (work permit).
One of the foreign teachers reached out to a teacher friend who recommend me to go to Bangkok, Thailand, because it was cheap and I wouldn't spend too much time and money while waiting for my Z-visa.
I didn't know much about Bangkok, other than that it was a Buddhist country, and from the movies I saw, The King and I, and The Hangover II (I know so ignorant).
So I packed my stuff, booked a flight, and left to Bangkok.
I arrived in Bangkok, absolutely fascinated.
The first thing I notice was pictures of the royal family everywhere, I saw buddhist, hindu, and Chinese temples, and monks in orange garbs on the streets.
I could smell fresh food being cooked and sold on the street markets, and as I was making my way to my hostel, tall shiny building, condos, and a sky train.
And I'll never forget the smiling and kind faces of people that I saw.
Okay, this was definitely an interesting city.
I planned to stay 2 weeks in a hostel, recommended by a fellow traveller I met while I was in Hong Kong.
And from there just explore Bangkok while I decided what I was going to do.
After 2 weeks I thought to myself, I really like this city, why should I have to go back to Chongqing?
Bangkok, I could get around independently, there was western food options, people were used to seeing foreigners, and it was a more young professional city.
After careful consideration, I decided that never again would I depend on someone else to find me a job (no agents!),
So if I was going to make it as an English teacher and entrepreneur I would have to find opportunities myself.
So I contacted the agent and school and told them I wasn't interested in taking the teaching job.
So back to square one.
I'll admit I was a bit scared, but with fear comes a new type of motivation :)
I started "Googling" teaching jobs Bangkok, and emailed my resume to a few schools.
And didn't hear back from anyone... so I asked the staff at the hostel how could I find a teaching job?
They told me that schools want to see their applicants, basically I have to go to the schools and apply in person.
And that's exactly what I did.
I was on a mission to find a job.
I printed and made several copies of my resume, passport, and carried my diploma and teaching certificate with me.
My first day job hunting I got dressed up, had a list of universities I wanted to see, and hoped into a tuk tuk to each university and school.
None were hiring.
And at one university I accidentally walked into the middle of a graduation ceremony!
I didn't know it was a graduation because the gowns looked different, but it was clear seeing all the parents, people taking pictures, balloons and decorations.
The next day, I asked the hostel staff if there were any schools nearby.
One person told me that there was a Catholic primary school not too far from the hostel.
So I got dressed, took a copy of my resume, and left.
I consider this day one of the most luckiest days of my life.
First, when I walked into the school, the guard directed me to the high school, not the elementary school (which I later learned didn't hire walk-ins).
And as I was walking into the high school I ran into one teacher, who I later learned was the Head English teacher.
I could see that she was surprised and excited to see me, because the school was looking for a native English teacher.
The timing couldn't have been any better because the school was on break so they were happy to to hire a new teacher to enter the upcoming semester.
So I got an interview about 1 week later, which went okay, and didn't hear back after she said that she'll email me (emailing is not popular I later learned).
At first I waited, got a bit depressed, then decided,why wait for an email to determine my future?
So I walked over to the school, and asked if they considered hiring me.
And not only did I get the job, I got housing!
There was no way I could have planned all of this!
Job, housing, and located in the center of Bangkok a vibrant city full opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Let's just say, this particular time in my life I constantly remind myself everything will work out when I'm in a tough situation.
With a job and housing secured I wanted to check out the startup scene.
It took awhile for me to find entrepreneurs, meet up groups, and key players in the Bangkok startup community, since I had no contacts, but once I found one, it was easy to find the others.
And once I got into my teaching routine I was experiencing a whole new culture shock.
After living in Israel, and adjust to being in an environment where people are extroverted, likes a good debate, and there's not much hierarchy in the work place, I had became very Israeli, and that didn't work in Thailand.
Thailand, was completely opposite.
So I "tone it down," kept my opinions to myself, and embraced a more "soft" approach to conflicts.
And after a year I eventually made my way as a teacher.
Now, as for my startup, I've failed, made several pivots, rebranded and finally had a break through discovering the demand for organic and natural hair products.
And and finding supportive meet up groups, key entrepreneurs, mentors, and advisors to help me navigate the Bangkok startup scene.
Over the next 2.5 years I've made friends, found a partner, found an investor, built my personal brand and blog, and the rest is history.