Spontaneous expression of thoughts and emotions in words.

What it means to be in Australia- The so called DOLLAR fetching zone.

“Even now when I hear that sound of the mobile ringtone, it gives me a painful feeling. I hate that sound. That sound is connected to a very difficult and painful part of my life in Australia”, says Wangmo with tears almost forming in her eyes and voice breaking off making me go teary eyed too.

Wangmo had come to Perth some four years back with her husband Kinley carrying with them lots of dreams. ‘Life was not so easy. We were without works for around 5 months. We worried a lot and we had to grab every little work that came by our way even if it was for a penny. We had to do that to make a living. ‘

I am told that they used to get up in the middle of the night to go to work. Wangmo says that thinking of those days scares her now for the very fact that they used to go to work in half sleep that too driving about 30 to 1 hour distance to the workplace. It indeed sounds so dangerous now.

They labored and worked hard spending sleepless nights and putting their lives at risk to earn the few dollars that they made and slowly got their way up to where they are today in Perth.

Today Wangmo and Kinley can happily take a month off from work and go on a vacation to Thailand with children and family member joining them from Bhutan. They have worked hard to send hard currency home enough to buy a land for themselves, send their children to private schools and also support their parents back home.

Like Wangmo and Kinley, there are many Bhutanese who came with big dreams but started with struggles. A Bhutanese who has been in Perth for the last four years and who doesn’t want to be named here says, “we struggled so hard without works and with the little money we got we could not dare spend on anything luxurious. Vegetables are very expensive and chilies even more. For us, chilies were a luxury. When we finally could afford to buy a chilly each to bite with our meals, it was like reaching in heaven.”

But our fellow Bhutanese have found the way out and today everyone who is out here in down under has a decent job, make a decent earning and lives a decent life. And that decency would mean getting up at 2 am in the morning to go to work for the morning shift, doing a round of days chores and back to evening work at 5 p.m. This is just one example of a work schedule. Every single cent that the Bhutanese in Australia make is a result of their sweat and blood. It is the result of their lack of sleep, lack of food on time, working round the clock and so much of other sacrifices and compromises.

Besides the regular works that our Bhutanese take up, there are quite a few enterprising ones who have taken to sales of local products such as doma, (betel nut or areca nut), ara, (local alcohol brewed at home), dried chilies, and other delicacies such as juma (homemade sausage), momo (dumpling) and all during festive occasions or gatherings. People have started growing local chilies in pots at home, which not only suffice their taste buds but also fulfill the taste buds of many Bhutanese in Perth. A piece of doma would cost $1, which is equivalent to round of Nu.50 back home. A bottle of ara would cost $20 which is equivalent to round of Nu. 1000 in Bhutan. Doesn’t it sound so tempting to do doma and ara business than to slog for $20 per hour? (The minimum wage)


All in all, you will find a little Bhutan in Bentley and Wembley. If you take a little walk around the corner to IGA in Glendalough, it is just like walking to a local store in Thimphu. Every single customer is a Bhutanese. You will find that one in every five person on the street is a Bhutanese. If you go to Herdsmen Parade 47 and 49 and you will find that every next house is occupied by Bhutanese either in shared mode or single occupancy.

However, please note that life at the beginning is not so easy. Little did I realize that I would be living the story of Wangmo and Kinley just a few months after my arrival in Perth. The stress that you go through for not getting work is depressing at worst and the conditions under which you have to work is needless to mention. My hubby and I drove several times in sleep in the middle of the night or at the wee hour in the morning either to work or back from work. Many a times you have to put your safety and life at risk.

You meet all kinds of people-our very own people here in Perth. Friends become strangers and strangers become friends.

Gumtree is the buzz word around for newcomers. The seasoned and the experts will only tell you to download the app and look for work on Gumtree. You really think that you will find some works through Gumtree and you spend hours every day till it hurts your eyes and fingers to find something suitable for you. You then apply online as advised by the seniors. You keep on applying a million times and wait for responses. As time moves on you learn that applying for works though Gumtree is just a myth. You know that it is not going to work yet you keep searching and applying with a hope that someday a miracle might happen. But time only proves that it doesn’t happen. Time tells you that you need connections to get work. It is the recommendations that get you work not the countless applications you make on the Gumtree or Indeed, SEEK Jobs, Perth Jobs, Job Search and many more job seeking apps.

Remember, when it comes to work, Bhutanese are by far very reluctant to help for reasons I really don’t know but I did hear of some rumours of the past of how people used to snatch jobs from each other and off course many ill intended stories. Not even our people will help you find a job if you are not the real siblings. One has to find your way the hard way.

If you see greener grass in down under and plan to come this way, know that you need to possess the following attributes:

  1. Be emotionally and mentally prepared and strong enough to go through the stress of not finding the work for quite sometime after your arrival in Perth. Some I believe spend almost a year to get job while some lucky ones get job on their arrival.
  2. Make sure you have someone in down under who will not hesitate to recommend you for work.
  3. You should possess driver’s license and be able to drive in Australia. You don’t have a job if you cant drive.
  4. Be prepared to take up any job. If you come with the values ‘no job is too small or too big’ nothing like it.
  5. Be prepared to sacrifice your sleep and shift your meal times. In other words be ready to move out of your comfort zone.

Once you are here, you will find that the grass is indeed not green on this side but then your positive outlook and the dollars that you get in hands will motivate you to keep going.

By doing this story, I am hoping that our fellow Bhutanese back home will know that life is not all about glitters in Australia. I want our people to know that they cannot afford to dance on the dollars sent from Australia. That would be the greatest crime against humanity. This is also a preparation message to any newcomers to The Land of Kangaroos.kangaroo-beach (1)

The last and the best part for the Bhutanese in Perth happened on 21st February 2018 when the Bhutanese in Perth came together to celebrate the 38th Birth Anniversary of our beloved His Majesty The King of Bhutan. It was the most befitting gift His Majesty gave to his fellow Bhutanese residing outside of Bhutan. We were surrounded with our Bhutanese celebrities like singers Lhamo Dukpa and Namgay Jigs, actor and actress Sonam Tenzin and Sherab Lhamo and the most famous comedian Gem Tshering accompanied by the officials from Royal Bhutan Embassy, Bangkok. I don’t know about the Bhutanese gatherings in the past because I am also very much new here and this is my second visit to a mass Bhutanese gathering in Perth my first one being the visit by his eminence Khamtrul Rimpoche. However, I am told this is the greatest ever congregation of Bhutanese and it was a very momentous occasion to listen to His Majesty’s words of wisdom through the harbingers of His Majesty’s message. From what I could gather, following are the messages from His Majesty in a gist:

  1. Our Bhutanese in Australia are contributing hugely to the economy of the country through the hard currency that they remit to Bhutan.
  2. They create a very financially stable family and social life back home.
  3. Parents are able to support their children and children are able to support their parents.
  4. They create employment opportunity back home. The jobs that they leave behind are seats left for someone else.
  5. They get exposure to the third country, widen their horizon of learning and also bring rich experiences with them back home.
  6. No matter where our people go, they will always use the Bhutanese intrinsic intelligence and be able to survive amongst the fittest.
  7. Most importantly they promote friendship and maintain good foreign relationship with Australia government at the same time maintaining our own identity.
  8. Bhutanese in Australia have proved as the best ambassadors of Bhutan.

This is to our entire fellow Bhutanese not only in Perth but also in the whole of Australia and elsewhere outside of Bhutan that His Majesty The King is aware of the hardship and contributions we make to our country. It doesn’t matter what kind of jobs we take up because there is nothing called small or big jobs. What matters is that we make a difference.

Hats off to all the hard working Bhutanese who sacrifice their personal comfort zone for the sake of larger interest.








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36 thoughts on “What it means to be in Australia- The so called DOLLAR fetching zone.

  1. The harsh realities and truth of life. But the truth it is. Not many tend to talk about the insecurities and the vulnerabilities of working abroad. But you are so bold to show what it means to have the ‘Australian dream.’ This comes as a strong reminder to others ‘the grass is not greener on the other side.’ Thank you for sharing Aue. I hope this prepares all Bhutanese going down under with the resilience required to work hard for a better tomorrow. Look forward to hearing more of stories from you la.

  2. Bhutanses are bhutanses, very unique in culture. Stay United and support each other there la. We appreciate your Hardwork which helps in building strong Bhutan. Love you every individual there scarifying yourself for better tomorrow, better future and better Bhutan.

  3. Dear Author,
    Greetings from the Land of Thunder Dragon, Kingdom of Bhutan where Gross National Happiness (GNH) rooted.

    Above story of lives in Australia is not easygoing, so it saddened me. However, you all are recognized by His Majesty King as you mentioned. We know that our own people are going through such hardship in Australia.

    Thank you for sharing such story.

  4. Tshering on said:

    Well said Mam Karma!!🙏👌👍

  5. Jamba Gyeltshen on said:

    A beautiful piece of writing indeed. You have rightly captured the trials and tribulations of the Bhutanese in Australia. This would help to dispel the myth, prejudices and a false sense of security. The resilience of the Drukpas is truly amazing. I guess, it is the genuine aspiration for happiness and well being of the family and parents back home that keeps them going despite all odds. All is well that ends well. Your article will certainly help aspiring Bhutanese to come prepared to weather the storm.
    Hats off to all Bhutanese in Australia.

  6. Sonam on said:

    No pain, no gain. Dollar Rinpoche is precious, but isn’t easy to grasp it. It’s a word synonymous to hard work, pain, stress, tired, and many more. Yet, we prayed a lot for it. We lounged for it. We performed rituals inviting best of the best lamas to get rinsed from obstacles. We went to Dechenphug many times to toss a dice, until we get the best result. Let’s enjoy the pain now.

  7. lam norbu on said:

    Hats to those who are working in Australia for adding hard currency to Bhutan through remittance……

  8. Good luck for adding hard currency through remittance.

  9. Sonam on said:

    No pain, no gain. Dollar Rinpoche is precious, but isn’t easy to grasp it. It’s a word synonymous to hard work, pain, stress, tiring, and many more. Yet, we prayed a lot for it. We have sacrificed a lot for it. We performed rituals, inviting best of the best lamas to get rinsed from obstacles. We went to Dechenphug many times to toss a dice, until we get the best result. We did all these to get here. We are here for it now. Let’s endure the pain. 😛

  10. I mean hats off……..

    Sorry for the typing error…about

  11. Sonam on said:

    Success doesn’t happen by chance. It takes strategic actions in the right direction to get there.It doesn’t happen overnight either. There are more failures during the journey than most people allow themselves to admit, it’s just that the stories about overnight success sound better.
    In the end of the day, it’s all about how hard you’ve worked on the right thing – the one which will get you closer to your goal.
    I too will work hard when i reach Australia and m just praying to get there soon…

  12. Tyra on said:

    i really appreciate this article and i am not from Bhutan but from west africa. i can relate with everything that was written here

  13. Pingback: Australia Dollar Rush – myths and reality – Dorji Wangchuk

  14. hello Karma, thank you for this article. I hope it finds a large readership.. No country is rosy, and work is always necessary

  15. Love going though. Inspiring. Thought provoking to those who are dreaming to come there and to those are staying in Bhutan.
    Once I dreamed to work there but, I couldn’t make up my mind.
    Keep moving! Keep dreaming! Keep hoping!

    And Never forget to miss emadatshi***

  16. The worst part is that some senior settlers who are sometimes called team leader or supervisor don’t hesitate to takes Changjey or gifts from new comers by making false promises to offer jobs.

  17. Bill Buggie on said:

    Bhutanese are hard working and resourceful people, as your article shows. The Bhutanese students, and their dependents, who come to New Brunswick to study and work, are well respected workers in our community. They work while they study and during breaks to make their lives better for when they return home. Also, the Bhutanese are very supportive of one another here and help each other find employment.

  18. Aita Rani Subba on said:

    Very true la… when I gone through your writing I feel like crying. I remember all those hard moments when I first time came to Brisbane, QLD, Australia. We had tough time to survive here. Slowly we get to know the system here and grab any job that came to our way, doesn’t matter even it’s less $$$. Really very sad. People must be thinking those who are in Australia must be having a good time, but they may not know how we r having such a painful life. Once again thank you so much for sharing so every one knows how the life in Australia.

  19. Singay Dukpa on said:

    Nice reflection of true story and it a 100% piece of good advice to our aspiring Bhutanese fellowmen who dreams to hunt job at Australia. Unfortunately, life is never a bed of roses but pays off at the end after lot of hardships. Take care and continue sharing with the such facts la.

  20. Very interesting and informative article for our fellow Bhutanese, aptly captured the true picture of hardships and sacrifices….sorry, i shared your article on fb without your permission, hope that’s fine with you.

  21. Bluemoon on said:

    The writing is quite pessimistic and discouragement for new aspirants wishing to come to Australia. I heard, people say all ill things about Australia only to retain their jobs for the fear that they may lose their job to the talented new comers. No hard feelings..No pain, no gain!

    • If you read carefully, it is meant to prepare the newcomers to the harsh realities in Australia. You will find me pointing out somewhere in the article that seniors are not willing to help newcomers find jobs.

  22. you are the strongest woman i know who is always ready to share her strength. take care

  23. Thank you madam for sharing the reality of life out there in Australia la..still there are lots of younger generation who are dreaming to study and work there, so in such situation we would be grateful if madam…..under your kind guidance helps to new comers to seek part time jobs and other guidance la.

    Thank You…

  24. Thank you madam for sharing the reality of life out there in Australia la..still there are lots of younger generation who are dreaming to study and work there, so in such situation we would be grateful if madam…..under your kind guidance helps to new comers to seek part time jobs and other guidance la…..

    Thank You…

  25. keith gregory on said:

    Yes should be compulsory reading for ANYONE from a developing country coming to Australia to study etc …Thank you for your honesty and forth rightness ..definately worth a share

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