(Chinese New year... Sponsored by Pepsi...?)
My China Adventure – 3 Months in!
Ok, so as many of you already know, on the 11th of January this year, I made a rather huge decision. I packed up my bags, got on a plane and moved to China. It is without doubt the best (and scariest) thing I’ve ever done!
So my adventures so far… Well in-between teaching English in my little, off-the-map town, I have managed to pack in some major travelling. I’ve been to Shanghai, Hong Kong, Hangzhou, Xian and various other places that I can neither spell nor pronounce. Here are the highlights!
Small Town China
Everyday life here is never dull. There’s always something new and interesting to see, and just when you think you’re getting use to it all, something comes along and takes you by surprise.
For example my first day here, I was woken up at 7am by what I thought was a marching band passing under my hotel window. Turns out it was actually a funeral possession. The fireworks and trumpets are apparently there to scare off the evil spirits that may try to take the dead persons soul. Really though the noise would have kept any sane person away, let alone spirits.
Another shock – people walk around outside in their PJs. I can’t describe to you how strange it getting onto a bus full of people who are wearing nightclothes. It’s like a very strange dream, especially as they all stared at me as if I was weird one (I’m one of only 3 foreigners in my town – which basically makes me a celebrity). There was this one woman in particular who wouldn’t look away from me and all I could think was – “of the two us, you’re the one standing on a bus in padded duck print pyjamas, in your wellies and picking your nose! Look away lady!” (yes, picking their nose then playing with what comes out of it seems to be another terrible Chinese habit – although that’s mostly kids and the over 60s.)
I asked my colleague if she had padded pjs too and she said she did, but only women and older men could really wear them outside. If a younger man tried he would be laughed at, but only if he wore the pj bottoms as well as the top. If he wore just the top over jeans, that would be considered fine – go figure? And sure enough, two stops later, a guy my age got on the bus in jeans and a padded pj top with Spiderman on it. All I could think was ‘Oh, he must be a real heartbreaker!’
Then there are the supermarkets. There you can buy chicken feet, snakes hang in lines above the butchers shop along with dogs tongues, animal brains, intestines, lungs (lots of lungs) and other various body parts. It looks like something from a horror film… or maybe a witch’s cottage. There are also live fish of every kind. Sadly I didn’t have any pictures but I think your safe using your imagination on this one. I would like to say they also stock normal stuff too but nothing in this supermarket looks normal. The bacon is black, Ham comes in sausage shaped format and there are various fruits and vegetables that I have never seen or heard. Its also impossible to buy Cheese, for that I have to travel 1hour to the nearest city!
Oh and another random fact. All the ashtrays here have coffee inside them - its meant to help soak up the smell of smoke. Strange huh?
(This is where I live)
(on my way to work...)
(not far from my flat...)
Now Shanghai was truly amazing! It just so happened that my trip there coincided with Chinese New Year – It was phenomenal! We spent the entire day in the old part of the city and it was such a great atmosphere. For this, I think I can let the pictures do the talking!
(Its the year of the snake... oh yeah!)
(I love this photo - I think it sums up the atmosphere so well)
(Night view from atop the bottle opener)
(The famous bund walkway - hell of a view!)
This is a very beautiful city and one that truly comes alive at night. These are pictures are from Victoria Peak at sunset, and the light show from across the bay & on the star ferry. There is also my journey on the night bus – think a coach but no seats and instead there rows of tiny bunk-beds. Interesting and cheap, but certainly not the most comfortable way to travel lol.(The night bus...)
(Sun set at the Peak)
(Everything I brought in Hong Kong - essentials for surving in a small town in China lol)
Without doubt one of the most beautiful places in China. Hiring Bikes, me and my fellow teaches made our way around West Lake and it was gorgeous. Lots of Temples and Pagodas and what’s probably the most stunning scenery you could ever imagine. The city also offers some pretty amazing Muslim restaurants and is a great place to buy souvenirs.
(me, my bike... and my friend Zak)
(Tell me this isn't the most beautiful place you've ever seen?)
(This was pretty to...)
(Ancient Pagoda, modern day escalator...? crazy!)
(Ancient wood carvings)
A city full of history. I loved how all the buildings here were mixes of Chinese architecture, ranging from very modern to more traditional styles. Here I saw the Terracotta warriors, Climbed the famous Hua Shan mountain (Ok, I took the sky lift up but hey – there was a lot of climbing to do once you got there!) and witnessed a very spectacular fountain light show. Check it out:(Mountain entrance)
(Leave a lock and a red ribbon on the mountain and your wishes will come true...)
So to conclude…
I’m having a blast! Another 9 months to go and I can’t wait to see where this adventure will take me next. I’ve tried to keep this post short – so far my diary of everything is over 20,000 words! However if anyone is interested in my adventures, let me know in the comments and I’ll start making regular (and most likely overly detailed) updates on what I’m doing, where I’ve been and just the general craziness that is life in China. J
Speak to you all soon
As this is a book blog, you are probably wondering how China has affected my reading. Honestly… I have only six actual books with me! It’s so sad! Thankfully my Kindle has been my life saver, along with my mum, who is kindly posting out my “I need them now!” books.