Monthly Archives: December 2008

UPC Wars

The one huge differance between Czechs and South Africans is, generally speaking, South Africans know how to complain, and politely too, not like those infernal Yanks. Because Czechs don’t generally complain, large corporates walk all over the small guy, and in effect can get away with “murder”.

Take UPC, the local internet provider –, when I signed up for my service, I paid the full price for a 2Mbps connection, about 2 months ago I logged onto their site by accident, and noticed that they no longer offerred anything under 10mbps, oddly the 10mbps connection they were now offering was at the same price as my 2Mbps connection (thank you UPC for letting me know about this service upgrade).


I got my wife to phone them up, actually this was harder than it seems, remember I don’t speak Czech well enough to make a useful business call, and Czechs don’t typically speak english. My wife is daily becoming more and more reluctant to handle these affairs, especially the “god damn” internet, which is not exactly high priority for her. She was informed that we were to expect a “free” upgrade to the 10Mbps connection 01/01/2009, so patiently we’re still waiting.

Problem is yesterday I logged on and noticed my usual download speed was pretty slow, this carried on for a few days before I reset the modem and ran a speed test, 1Mbps, UPC downgraded me “free of charge” only I am paying the  now 10Mbps tarrif, to a westerner, this is most frustrating, but I’ve asked around at work, and most Czech people are very relaxed about this sort of thing.


Are you freezing your bollocks off yet?

Short Answer: No

Long Answer : Global warming means warmer winters here, this year there’s even less snow than the last, and last year there was bearly enough snow for some ski-ing, if this continues I’ll have to move to Lesoto to learn skiiing.

-10 or -20 is over rated, its not that cold, it really all depends on the chill factor (or the wind), a very windy -2 day can feel much colder than a -20 night without any wind.

I’ve often left the door open to get fresh air at night when the tempurature was below 0, its no big deal, the buildings here can take it.

Main lesson is try not to touch anything in cold weather and you’ll be fine.


3rd world driving, but its getting better

Czech drivers are far more politer than South Africans, but thats not saying much, driving in JHB South Africa means risking your life, in Czech its not near as dramatic as that, but its still a hardy little country, full of hardy little people, people who although are not usually armed, have very little consideration for the next on the road.

Since Czech have entered the EU, I think there is pressure on the Czech people to become more “Western”, basically more civilized, and this also means they’re going to need to learning to drive like westerners. The transition is slow, but its noticable, there are still a great deal of old cars on the road, but its nothing like Romania. Czech traffic police are active, and seem to pull you over randomly for spot checks on a regular basis.


Oki Doki, I’m not really british, I’m South African, a Zar, but not a boer (farmer). I don’t know any other South Africans foolish enough to move to CZ,  I’ve never even met a fellow countryman who’s visited the Czech Republic. Most people try France or Germany. I might  know 2 South Africans who could find CZ on a map, and my family still ask me “how is life in CzechoSlovakia?” (sigh).

Before I came to Czech Republic I used to feel smart, almost as smart as this fellow.


There were many good reasons why I felt so utterly dog smart. But mainly I was happy because in the western world, I was:

  • Able to communicate with others and glide through most social situations, lately I try speak one word at a time, while watching the speakees face very carefully for that dumb (I don’t understand a word) type of look.
  • Order obscure stuff from resturant menus, nowadays I point and pray the right food arrives, if it doesn’t I guess I deserve this type of godly retribution for leaving the fold. Often I curse out load, complaining loudly in the car about “This is the only country in the world where you can order a juicy hamburger, and when it arrives, all you’ve got is the roll with a piece of fried cheeze and no meat. “, thse fun outbursts are regular occurences.
  • Not living in the pokiest flat on earth, yes yes you can call it an apartment, but there is a differance, my apartment in the UK was stylish, fully furnished, all mod cons and had a view overlooking the Brindley Place Canals. My flat in Ostrava reminds me of the rotten asshole of a road kill skunk dozed in beer. It was so bad when I moved into the place, I needed to buy it a new toilet immediately. Its so tiny and pokey, I could use the walls as leverage to get out of bed in the morning. My wife, being Czech, thrives in this type of environment, its great value for her, and she always hated our luxury apartment in the UK.
  • Able to order a pizza!
  • Able to talk to the mechanic about my broken car!
  • Able to watch and understand TV
  • Not be thought of as some rich foreigner with pounds when looking at buying or renting a flat/apartment/house
  • Not have to stand around in most conversations being ignored, trying to look  interested but not understanding a bloody word, missing all the jokes, and generally feeling brain damaged. 
  • Not asked constantly where are you from, then get a suprised look and the so common “I thought only black people came from South Africa”

The list continues…..

I will continue to blog my experience, I hope you can relate to some of this, if you’re living or have lived in the Czech Republic, as a native english speaker. Above all the blog is supposed to be fun, sometimes in life we need a good laugh.