Saturday, 31 August 2013

Beijing, baby!

Hello all,

I haven't had much chance to update this blog in a while, because we've been so busy! This post will just be a quick summary of what we've all been up to this past week (assuming I can remember everything that is...):

We spent the last week in Harbin, which is in the north of China - it is a lovely city and the weather was good - not too hot and not too cold (although apparently it's so cold in winter, people have to wear face masks!!). We finished off our TEFL course - passed with no problems which I'm very happy about :) - although it is still very weird that I could walk out of the door right now and teach English!...which actually, if you think about it, is exactly what I will be doing....hmm...

Our program was split up so we did our TEFL course for two days, had a day off, and then had two days of culture classes, while the other half of us did their TEFL course. The culture classes were good - I really enjoyed doing calligraphy (dunno if the teacher was very impressed with our efforts though...but apparently it does take a lifetime to master, so I guess we shouldn't feel too bad :P), tai chi was good although we did get stared at a lot by the Chinese university students, and learning Mandarin was ok - it was hard, but at least I guess it'll come in handy (providing of course, all I want to buy is a mango - that's the only word I can remember right now....)

We got back to Beijing on Thursday night - we couldn't wait to get back as it turned out we were finding out our placements that night instead of the next day! And it turns out that I've been placed in Beijing!

I'm pretty happy because I asked for the North, so the weather here shouldn't be too bad (not as cold as Harbin at least). I know I'll never lack for things to do, and if I don't have wifi in my accommodation, at least I can just find a cafe and use the wifi there instead! Plus, Beijing has amazing transport links to the rest of the country, so it'll be easy for me to go and visit people and vice versa. The only downsides are that I haven't been placed with anyone I've become really close to over the past few weeks - I am looking forward to meeting more new people, but at the same time, I am going to miss everyone I've met so far! The other big thing I'm not too sure about is the pollution - we've been lucky the last few days with blue skies and sunshine, but the smog here can be appalling. I already feel like I have a scratchy throat and I've only been here a few days! Ah well, at least I'll never complain about pollution/traffic/people whenever I visit London again....

So that's all for now. Going to go and check out now, and wait downstairs for my school contact to come and pick me up - exciting times! I just hope they're not expecting me to start teaching tomorrow morning - I have NO idea what I should do for a first lesson, so I'd like some time to prepare!

Until next time - zaijian!


Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Zaijian Shanghai, Ni hao Beijing!

Today I have to say goodbye to Shanghai, as we make our way up to Beijing to meet up with the rest of the TTC interns. We'll only be there for today, before travelling up to Harbin tomorrow, to complete the rest of our TEFL course. Not looking forward to the trip there though - we're flying up to Beijing, but I know I'm going to have to pay excess baggage fees...let's hope it's not too expensive! (Although it probably will be...)

Thoughts on Shanghai? It is a lovely city and I've really enjoyed my time here, but tbh, I'm ready to move on. It's far FAR to hot and humid (although apparently Beijing had 94% humidity yesterday! Eek!) and being a simple country girl from the north of England where it's sunny about 3 days of the year, it's just too much for me to handle. Plus, I have a sneaking suspicion that Shanghai is quite an expensive's hoping I'm right and Beijing/Harbin will be cheaper!

Will update you all soon, once I get wifi again :)



Shanghai Adventures Part Two...

Continued from last post...


We decided to take it fairly easy on Sunday (as we only got up at 12.30pm...) so we walked down to People's Square, which was okay, but I don't know whether we actually managed to explore all of it, as there was a main road running through what we thought was the square, and we got confused....after that, we took a trip to the Yuyuan Gardens. Initially we got a bit lost when we emerged from the subway, but we persevered and we finally found it. Unfortunately, it was 4.45pm by the time we got there and as it cost 30 yuan to get into the gardens and they closed at 5pm, we decided not to bother going in. But all around the gardens is a beautiful bazaar, filled with all these kitschy shops where you can buy all these typical Chinese souvenirs, such as fortune cats, or having your name painted in Mandarin on a was pretty cool! We ended up having Chinese tea in a tea house which was awesome - the tea was so refreshing – nothing like the herbal tea we have back in England! The only downside was a man hacking up spit every five seconds on the table behind us....I don't know whether I'm ever going to get used to that noise.


Yesterday, we visited two museums – one was the Former Residence of Zhou Enlai, and the other was the Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen. Brief history lesson for you, folks (although I'm sure you're obviously already clued up about China's history anyway ;)....) - Zhou Enlai was the former Chinese Prime Minister during the 1960s and 70s, and is seen by many as one of China's greatest twentieth century leaders. He was a keen military strategist and was was a key figure in negotiations between the U.S and China in the 1970s. Sun Yat-sen on the other hand is seen as the forerunner of the Chinese democratic revolution, the founder of the Republic of China and a respected contributor to Chinese modern history....but I'm a bit annoyed at him right now, as we had to pay 20 yuan to get into his museum and then the whole bloody thing was in Mandarin. Not cool Sun Yat-sen...
Last night we went back to Hengshan Road, which was good – we weren't quite so late back this time, although the taxi woman we got to take us back to the hostel didn't understand English, so instead of dropping us off at East Nanjing Road, she dropped us off at the very start of Nanjing Road (West)...look it up, and you'll see how far away that is! After about 45 mins of walking, we finally admitted defeat and hailed another taxi, which took us to Shanxi Road, where our hostel is. Although my feet were on fire, it was still something to walk around Shanghai at night, and we saw some interesting sights, such as a security guard shaving his face while he was on duty, and a shop display full of entirely naked mannequins...weird just doesn't sum it up...

So that's all for now! Sorry for the uber-long post, I'll try not to leave ti so long between updates next time! Hopefully I'll be able to let you know I'm alive and well once we reach Harbin :).

Until then,

Zài jiàn!

Shanghai Adventures Part One...

Hello all!

Thought I'd give you all a quick update now, as we leave for Beijing tomorrow, and then it's on up to Harbin on Thursday, so not entirely sure when I'll be able to get on the internet again!

Finally seem to have gotten over my jet lag - apart from an occasional moment of dizziness, I think I'm ok :). The secret to beating it seems to be sleeping a lot and drinking Coke! Or maybe that's just wishful thinking....

Anyway, here's a brief overview of my Shanghai adventures for you :) - no photos I'm afraid, as the wifi in the hostel isn't great :(, but will try and upload them onto Facebook instead.


Went to the Jing'an Temple, which is a Buddhist temple at the end/start of Nanjing Road. It was quite pretty, but because the weather was so hot and I was still suffering from jet lag, I couldn't really enjoy it.


Actually didn't do anything! Me and Kristen were ill (mine the result of jet lag, Kristen's was self inflicted, bless her) so we napped/lounged around the hostel, before going out for dinner (will explain more about the food here in a separate post) and then heading back to the hostel to watch a film. Not the most adventurous of days, but at least it meant we were refreshed for the next day!


On Saturday we walked up Nanjing Road and visited the Bund. It was really interesting to see all the buildings, but I've got to admit, it was far too hot to be wandering around for long! We had to keep ducking inside air-conditioned shops, just to get away from the heat! We also went to see the Monument to the People's Heroes, which was just up the road. It's a monument in the shape of three rifles touching each other, and it was built to commemorate the revolutionary martyrs. We then took a trip through the 'sight-seeing' tunnel to the other side of the Bund. The tunnel was hilarious, it was basically all these different coloured flashing lights, but the voiceover kept saying things like 'space' and 'magma' when the lights changed...

Once we got out of the crazy tunnel, it was time to do something I've been looking forward to since we first arrived in Shanghai – we went up the Pearl Tower! It was pretty awesome I have to say – although the glass floor on one of the levels was a bit unnerving! Me and Kristen got asked to take a photo with this Chinese guy and his son, which was random, and then when we accidentally got separated for 2 minutes, another Chinese guy asked Kristen for a photo (not with him – just a photo of her!) and I met a Chinese girl called Hello...yup, no joke. She was very nice, although she did offer to hold our bags for us at one point while we took a photo...may have been completely innocent, but you never know! We went out for dinner (which wasn't very nice unfortunately) and then went out to Hengshan Road, which is the road where all the bars are. We ended getting back to the hostel at 4am, so needless to say, we were a bit worse for wear on Sunday!

Continued on next post...

Thursday, 15 August 2013

Ni hao from Shanghai!

Hello :)!

So I've finally arrived safe and well in Shanghai :), got here last night and I cannot believe how hot and humid it is over here! As soon as you walk out onto the street you start to sweat!

The plane journey was fine, the Newcastle to Dubai leg was good - got chatting to the people next to me who were travelling around South Asia before immigrating to New Zealand! I got a pleasant surprise when I checked in at the gate in Dubai though - I'd been upgraded to Business Class! I was well chuffed lol.

I'm really enjoying Shanghai at the moment (although I know I've only been here a day!) - the hostel is nice and luckily they have western toilets here, for which I am very grateful!! Everything still feels like a bit of a dream at the moment though - but I think that's jetlag more than anything! Hopefully once I've recovered, I will start to appreciate everything a bit more, but right now I'm off for a lie down - it's only 3.45pm at the moment but as I write this, it feels as though the whole room is swaying slightly...oh the joys of long haul travel!

I'll try to upload a couple of photos later from my trip out to the Jingan Temple this morning, before the heat and the sickness got the better of me and I had to retreat back to the blissful air conditioning of the hostel!



Monday, 12 August 2013

Ni hao!

So this time in twelve hours I will be in the airport, frantically hyperventilating at the thought of a 15 hour flight (7 to Dubai and then 8 to Shanghai). And this time in 24 hours, I will be well on my way to CHINA BABY!!

On the one hand, I'm super excited - I've always wanted to go on an adventure, and here I am, about to go to China to teach English to little cute Chinese children for six months...I'm just going to conveniently choose to ignore the fact that a) I'm terrified of flying and b) I'm not that fond of children....but still, it'll be a good life experience, and something to tell the grandchildren one day ;)

Anyway, best go and get my beauty sleep - still need to pack my carry on case and check-in online...hmm...think mother bear was right when she tried to get me to pack/get organised last week!

Will update as and when I can :) - until then, Zaijian!