After a weekend spent pondering and investigating, I have narrowed down theBook of Possibilities to a List of Possibilities. A long-term yoga retreat sounds wonderful, but would eat up the savings. I inquired about enrolling in the local Tibetan University (Southwestern Minzu Uni) to take Tibetan language classes, but missed the deadline. On the other hand, getting a PT faculty post there or at Sichuan U. might not be terribly difficult. They offer faculty housing, low pay, and a few other bennies like airfare. In order for me to work in China, I must have sponsorship by an employer to get the appropriate visa (http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/visas/hrsq/#top). They deport illegal and under-the-table teachers like crazy here; I don't want to be one of them. If I take classes at Uni, I can get a student visa which would settle the visa issue, and allows for restricted part-time work. The other options include working PT as a teacher or tutor, or staying on witth a tourist visa. The tourist visa parameters are ridic, in that they issue you a 10-year visa, but you are required to leave China every 60 days and then re-enter the country. Thus, very expensive and time-consuming, but perhaps worth it if I only plan to have Tourist status for a few months. Once my contract ends --in holy-crap-6-weeks! -- I can transfer to a 30-day Humanitarian visa. I believe it's named this because it is so humanitarian of the gov't not to kick you out immediately, but allow you 30 days to get your affairs in order, pack, etc., before departure. I've known some people who have had to plan relocation, pack, and GTFO, the day their work contract ends, so I am grateful to have learned of this option!
I definitely want to stay in the country; it makes the most sense logistically and financially. I will move forward with my trek plans, and perhaps extend my trek and make it less hurried. Hell, maybe I'll just spend 3-6 months trekking, work remotely (copy editor or tutoring or ESL), and write! If I'm in Kham, I can study and practice Tibetan easily through pure immersion, create a network and guanxi, even discovering job opportunites and living arrangements for the coming year(s) along the way! I need to remember that I can definitely get work remotely to cover travel expenses while trekking. In small towns in Kham, staying in a very nice hotel or in the best room of a guesthouse is 300rmb max ($43) per day, and I'd have to eat three 5-course meals per day to spend the equivalent amount on food. Those prices are on the high side, and don't account for the time I will be trekking (camping). Teaching online at the lower end of the pay scale would only require 15 hours each week to pay for lodging and meal expenses if I chose to stay in cheaper places in less luxury or sacrifice privacy and quiet at a hoste, although most hostels offer private rooms, so they are more like guesthouses or inns that offer hostel/shared-room arrangments). If I really want to go low-budget, student-style (I do NOT) I could probably get by on150rmb per day ($21US) for room/board.
During my trek, I will focus primarily on writing, my sparkly *NEW* podcast -- er, Jeenacast! -- (COMING SOON!), and ponder what to do in the fall. I am really keen on doing some volunteer work in small villages in Kham (or Nepal)! Even my small amount of research this weekend turned up a monastery in Amdo (Golok) that hosts an orphanage where I could teach. This idea came to me from the Sherpa Cinema video about the Sherpas who are trying to break the hereditary cycle of need to do the dangerous work of carrying the loads of rich foreigners to the summits of Everest and other Himalayan peaks. They can break this economic and caste cycle by getting access to education for their children.
https://www.apasherpafoundation.org/ The thought of helping a community by teaching in a local school, hopefully in exchange for lodging, a meal now and then, and local knowledge, appeals to me! In Kham I could do this with the nomad population; still giving me time to write and hike and work remotely part-time. Furthermore, learning more about local Khampa customs and culture could potentially pave the road for me to open a business that both benefits the local community and allows me to support myself! Whether the business is schooling, a cafe, a B&B, or some sort of community-beneficial enterprise that I fund through my Jeenacast patrons or Patreon... there are definitely opportunities out there for me to both help the local community and provide for myself, while continuing to do what I love: hike, write, and teach! The expiration date for teaching abroad will approach faster than I can imagine: the majority of countries will not issue foreign work visas beyond age 60. But if I can establish myself and my business as a WFOE (Wholly Foreign-Owned Enterprise) in China, I will be able to establish longer-term permanent residency.
And yes, I would LOVE to remain in China as long as I can live in a somewhat remote mountain village/town. It may come as a surprise (or not), but I have dreamed of opening a B&B since I was in college and began to frequent Bandera, Texas. I would ride my motorcycle throughout the Hill Country of Central Texas on weekends, to hike and visit country-western bars, and fell in love in and with Bandera (that's a whole nother story!! -- in Texas, whole nother is an actual word. I've worked in hospitality, run my own business, have experience in the financial sector, and worked as a private Chef, so I can pretty much do anything -- especially build and maintain a successful cafe, B&B, or learning-enterprise. It all depends on how much I am willing to work and if I want to devote the time to building a business (at this stage, I am probably more inclined to build a virtual, digital nomad-type biz). To repeat, if I start publishing my work and get my Jeenacast and Patreon going, the need (and desire) for other options becomes moot.
The motivation behind my desire to volunteer in Nepal, and closer to home, here in Kham, can be found in the incredible video below from Sherpa Cinema. Speaking in relative terms, I have "a lot" of disposable income thanks to both China's low cost of living and the high wage structure for foreign educators (actually, high salary opportunities apply to much of the International school industry, if you are a certified and experienced educator). As an educator, I already do a lot of "volunteer" work, in the form of working at home in my personal time; although the situation of being overworked and underpaid due to so much "volunteer" at home lesson-planning is much worse in the US: the pay is already very low for US teachers. Teaching is a very altruistic and giving field, IMO. However, I have also wanted to do service work abroad in the field of medicine or education for a long time, and now I have the opportunity! I am in the position to assist people in raising their standard of living in a meaningful and substantial way. And I want to do it! And I am in a position where it will not cause me to move to a subsistence level because I can still work remotely to earn money!
*https://kingcon7.tistory.com/16 Last Holiday on Korean media site!
...Small actions in a dynamic system will trigger vast and unexpected changes