Asia | China – So far, soooo good!
Today is my 4-month anniversary of arriving in China! I’m struggling to get my head round the speed the weeks and months are going by at. This diary entry is the last 4 months condensed!:
So china is an amazing country. All the stereotypes you’ve ever heard are true, and you come across many more when you get here. The cities are very busy and noisy, with street stalls everywhere selling vegetables, notebooks and the completely gross stinky tofu! The people are kind, and talk very loudly; the streets are very dirty; the people do work very hard; the countryside really is full of rice fields, water buffalo and peasants with traditional hats and shoulder poles.
I only teach 10 classes a week and each class has about 70 students in it. The kids are friendly, and compared to English school students they’re hard working and well disciplined (this may be cos they’re all too tired to move – their school day starts at about 6am and finishes just after 9pm!!)
I live in a cool apartment (really ‘cool’ at the mo – no central heating – I’m looking forward to spring!) in fact a plush apartment – better than any of the places I’ve lived in since home, and get paid more than the headmaster (before all his bonuses, bribes, etc!) and get called a foreign expert(I have a certificate to prove it!) just cos I’m a native English speaker. Of course I have to deal with the guilt of knowing that my Chinese colleagues share one room between 6 with just a cold tap to wash under – China is a country of huge contrasts.
I’m really enjoying living here and experiencing all the weird and wacky stuff. Absolutely everything here is different to England.
The only things I find a bit tricky are dealing with the ridiculous amount of attention I get every time I walk out of my front door (I have stupidly blonde hair) and walking down the street! The streets in our town are very busy, there are obstacles such as toddlers digging in the dirt or peeing in the gutter, shoe shiners on tiny stools, aggressive old beggars who will literally chase you down the street for money, rubbish, rubbish, and more rubbish, mopeds (for some reason they haven’t fully gotten the point of the road – although to be fair that is where most pedestrians decide to walk), and a trail of 10 year olds trying to follow the ‘laowai’. Everyone is very friendly though and all Chinese people know one English word – ‘heeelllloooooo!'(I end up saying hello about 1 million times a week!) But all of these things are fine, in fact jolly good fun! The thing I don’t like is the stares. Everywhere I go everyone stops whatever they are doing (often risking their lives!) to stare at me – not sideways glance, subtle looking. Oh no! This is full-on, in-your-face, blatant staring! Enough already! Actually I’m not sure I should be allowed out any more – I’m a health hazard – some one will get hit by a bus cos they were too busy watching me to check the traffic! Speaking of traffic, motorbike taxis are much fun (and life risking! – no helmet, no road rules – generally in China its ‘he with the loudest horn’ wins).
So it turns out that over here pale skin is highly desirable – people are actually jealous of my paleness!! Crazy times! And apparently I’m very good at speaking English – so finally I find something I’m talented at!!
In the evenings the city/town streets are full of stalls selling food – some is nice – e.g. sticks – like kebabs – some is bad – e.g. bean curd in slices, large portion for 1 yuan (10p), smells, and tastes, like it was scraped from the gutter!
Most food here comes on a stick and is barbequed e.g. bird-on-stick (very tasty), chicken’s feet – (totally minging – but a good photo op!), squid, and cartilage – yummy!??
Last weekend we went to a Christmas ‘party’ for foreigners in Wuhan. It was at a really good restaurant called Brazilian BBQ, and its normally pretty pricey but it was free food, which was nice. Chicken’s hearts, you’ll be pleased to hear, taste a lot better than chicken’s feet, but are still a bit odd to eat!
So basically I’m having a fantastic time here. Everything is amazing and quite a challenge!! I love it!