A Travellerspoint blog

Food, Drink, School & Gossip!

Friday, Saturday & Sunday...

sunny 32 °C

So this is my second weekend in Shenzhen, and I’ve seen hardly any of the city apart from the area around school & the area around my apartment. This partly due to the fact that I’ve been busy sorting out stuff for school & my new apartment, & partly because my foot is still slightly swollen & sore. Grrr. I could have gone with Caroline & Cathy yesterday for a foot massage, but I didn’t think that would be a good idea, & as Caroline came back saying it was lovely but slightly painful, I think I made the right decision. We then went out for dinner to a restaurant almost next door to Starbucks, so not too far for me to walk, where they thankfully had a menu in English. It was very nice, & I’m sure I’ll go there again. My plan for today was to sit with my foot up watching DVDs all day (which I’ve been very successful at so far, apart from doing some laundry!). I am, however, going with a few people to watch the rugby this evening (Saturday) in Coco Park – an area not too far from where I live that has lots of bars, restaurants & shops. I’ve been resting my foot all day, & we’re getting a taxi there, so it should be ok. I just hope it’s better by Monday; I can’t really go running around after small children at the moment!

Yesterday (Friday) was spent in school – the morning trying to sort out planning & classrooms, & a policy meeting in the afternoon. I have become quite popular with a few members of staff after sharing some of the resources I brought with me from home, mostly interactive programmes to use on the interactive whiteboards. Four people so far have asked if they can have a copy of the stuff I have! I had another chat with Laura & she was very grateful for the bits & pieces of resources & planning I gave her, as she felt (as I do) quite unprepared & like we haven’t been given enough information. My year group partner, Laird, seems to be very laid back about planning; we’ve done a rough outline for next week, but that’s about it so far. Usually I’d have medium term plans (the learning objectives & lesson outlines for this half term) for every subject I’m teaching in place by now, but as we haven’t sat done & agreed the objectives for anything yet, I haven’t got any medium term plans yet. I have a vague overview of the topics for each subject for the year, but that’s about it. I think I’ll have to spend some time tomorrow going through the little I do have & the plans from last year to try & get myself a bit more organised.

I will write more tomorrow…

Going out for drinks last night was really good (& I made sure I sat down the entire evening!). We watched the rugby (New Zealand v Australia) at a café bar called Rapscallions in Coco Park, which is owned & run by a few of Alex’s rugby mates. It’s a really nice place, although not particularly cheap, as they have a lot of Western food & drink. Some of the prices did seem a little odd, even to the others that have been here a lot longer than me; for example, Jenny had a glass of cranberry juice which cost 35rmb (about £3.50) – this turned out to be the same price as a glass of gin & tonic or vodka & pineapple juice, which Jenny was not very impressed with! Even a can of 7-Up was 20rmb (£2); usually you can buy a 1.5 litre bottle of Sprite in a corner shop for about 5rmb (50p). The food however, was very nice – Jenny, Melissa & I shared some baba ganoush, spicy fries with cheese & a pepperoni pizza, which totalled 210rmb (£21) – if also a tad on the expensive side. Don’t think I’ll be eating there very often!

Jim & Karen were very disappointed that New Zealand lost the rugby being avid NZ supporters as their three children are Kiwis. They’re both from Scotland originally, but have lived abroad in various countries for over 20 years. Myself, Jenny, Melissa & Karen then left the boys to watch football while we moved to a different table away from the big screen so we could hear ourselves talk. It was really nice getting to know some of the people I’m going to be working with. Karen suggested that we meet for a kind of book club once a month, over dinner at someone’s house, once our conversation turned to books. It’s so nice to be among fellow book-addicts! They all have Kindles too, so we’re going to see if we can do a bit of a book swap at some point, which’ll be great. I think I’ve got Jenny interested in the ‘Parasol Protectorate’ series by Gail Carriger which I’m reading at the moment (thanks Bea!), & she’s got the Game of Thrones series, so we’re going to see if we can do a swap. It was also decided later in the evening that we’re going to have a film night once a month too, as we all love watching films & DVDs are really cheap here.

After the football match, we stayed to watch the England v Ireland rugby match (yay England!!), which people were much more excited about, & by that time the bar was quite busy & quite a few more people (almost all of whom work at the school) had joined our group. A couple of members of staff got quite drunk, & one in particular was really funny! I found out some interesting information & points of view of some people about school & other members of staff, which I’m not going to repeat here because it’s too public. Let’s just say that I had some intriguing insights into what the school & staff are like. After the rugby, I chatted to a couple more people, then shared a taxi home with Paul (a secondary PE teacher at the school) about 11.30pm, because he lives in the same apartment complex as me. I think a few people were going to go out clubbing, but I thought it probably best not to join them as I’d just have made my foot worse again. Maybe next time!

I had a bit of a lie-in this morning, although, as I woke up at around 6.30am, then again at 9am (at which time I ate a bun thing, took my last antibiotic tablet & read for a bit before going back to sleep), it didn’t really feel like much of one. I spent another exciting day sitting with my foot up on a pillow on the coffee table with an ice pack on it, watching episodes of Alias. I’m halfway through season 2 already! I think I’ll have a break at the end of this season & watch a few films instead, especially as the teacher who was in my classroom previously left behind a few books & DVDs which I’ve taken ownership of as he’s not coming back! (Laird said it was ok…)

I came to Starbucks at 4pm to meet Laura & Caroline for coffee (I say coffee, but of course none of us actually had any coffee!), & I brought some of Caroline’s things that she’s been storing at my flat. She moved into her new apartment this morning (even though it still doesn’t have a kitchen), & I felt really guilty that I couldn’t help her move after she helped me, because of my (stupid, annoying) swollen foot. Luckily, one of the people she used to work with in Ethiopia who now works here helped her instead, which made me feel slightly better. The three of us had an interesting chat about various things, all coming to the agreement that none of us are sure what’s going on with regards to school & planning, & we’ll probably have to make it up write it ourselves using the learning objectives from the British National Curriculum… Anyway, it was nice to see them & compare experiences & opinions. We’re meeting at 7.15 tomorrow morning to get a taxi into school together. I’m not looking forward to getting up that early! Caroline left after one drink because she wanted to get back to her new place & get it all sorted out. Laura stayed a bit longer & borrowed my headphones so she could make a couple of Skype calls from her iPad. I had a nice chat with Antony on Skype too, which was fab (apart from the fact he didn’t have any gossip for me!!), & after Laura left (about 7pm) I stayed to Skype my Mum & sister (& write this!), which was also great. It’s now 9pm, so once I’ve posted this, I’m going to head home, have a bite to eat, watch some more Alias, check my planning for tomorrow & go to bed.

Some information about food here…
The buns that I thought tasted chocolatey, aren’t chocolate at all – they’re red bean bread buns, which is apparently a popular filling/topping for various cakes & other bread products. They’re really good as a quick & easy breakfast. I tried some of the weird crisp flavours – lime (quite nice, very lime-y), fried shrimp (not as nice as prawn cocktail at home, but ok), Italian red meat (tastes a bit like T-bone steak crisps, but more tomato-sauce-y) & lobster cheese flavour (surprisingly edible, tastes like that cheese dip you get with nachos at the cinema, with a vague hint of something else you can’t quite put your finger on). I also had some Pringles, BBQ steak flavour (as that was the most ‘normal’ flavour I could find) – the tube & crisps are much smaller than at home, but they were just like Pringles anywhere apart from that.
There's also a weird concoction most supermarkets have instead of our usual black tea - tea which has milk already added. It's really weird.
It’s possible to get some imported foodstuffs in most supermarkets, but it’s usually quite expensive. Everything else is generally much cheaper than in the UK. For example, I bought two giant white peaches which would probably be at least £1 each at home, but here the cost was 5.6rmb (56p) for two.
There is some recognisable chocolate here too – Galaxy (although it’s called Dove here), Ferrero Roche, Kinder & Snickers all seem fairly common. They also have Wrigley chewing gum by the bucket load, in little pots as if it’s medicine as well as the usual packets.
As well as food, there are some quite funny names of other products when they've been translated into English... Here's one example: DSC01260.jpg

Anything else you want to know, just ask!!

Posted by Persephoned 20:59 Archived in China Comments (3)

Meet The Parents Day

sunny 30 °C

My foot was a bit better this morning – the swelling has gone down a bit & it’s a bit easier to move – so I wasn’t limping as much as the last couple of days. The antibiotics seem to be working, hoorah! I had to wear my flip-flops to school though (which nicely match my smart pinstripe trousers & purple top for work!) as none of my other shoes or sandals would fit! I had quite a few people at work asking how it was, including someone who had heard about my foot even though I hadn’t met him personally yet!

When we got to school (me, Melissa, Alex & Jenny shared a taxi again), we had to all congregate in the auditorium. The staff stood along the side as the rest of the room was full to overflowing with parents & children. The principal & head of primary gave an introductory speech (translated by the vice-principal), most of which couldn’t be heard because of the number of people talking in the audience. Anne, the head of primary, introduced all the staff & explained which teachers & teaching partners would be in which class, & once we’d been introduced & waved, we could go back to our classrooms. Most of the rest of the morning was then spent meeting the parents & children that are going to be in my class, & getting their contact details. Only about 4 of mine didn’t show up, out of a class of 20.

The parents & children all seemed very nice, although as the parents spoke very little English & most of the children seemed quite shy, they didn’t say very much to me! The parents spoke to Susan, my teaching partner (TP), much more, as she’s Chinese, & she just translated any questions the parents had for me. Almost all the children in my class (& the rest of the school) are Chinese, with a few Koreans, Americans, Indians & one or two from other countries.

The rest of the day was spent sorting out school stuff & trying to find out necessary information for the start of term next week. I think the school has had a fairly difficult & slightly chaotic last couple of years, with the old head being asked to leave, a new head doing some things to sort everything out & then having to leave herself, & the new (& current) management being thrown in at the deep end, as the principal & head of primary only started at the school about 4 months ago. Quite a few things that should be in place ready for the start of a new year aren’t yet (although hopefully the meeting tomorrow will shed some light on those things), such as various policies, including marking & homework. I’m sure it’ll all be fine, but I know that myself & the other two new teachers are feeling a little overwhelmed about what needs doing in such a short space of time. I’m bringing my laptop into school tomorrow so I can access & share the resources I’ve brought with me. Hopefully we’ll be getting some planning done tomorrow too, as we haven’t done that yet either. Panic!! I guess I know what my weekend is going to be spent doing…

That, and sitting with my foot propped up on a pillow with ice on it, because since getting home from work (not sure whether it was walking around during the day, although I tried to sit down as much as possible, getting a bit of food shopping done as I’d run out of water & had nothing for dinner, or standing up for a while to wash up & cook myself dinner) my foot & ankle have swollen up again. Pants. It did seem much better today; I could move it more without pain & it wasn’t as swollen earlier, but now it’s all red again. Caroline suggested that I might have scurvy because I mentioned that I hadn’t eaten much fruit or veg for the last few days & felt I needed some. I hope it’s not scurvy! I’m sure it’s not, but just in case I bought some fresh apricots, two of those huge, really nice apple/pear things (I don’t know what they’re actually called, so I’m going to call them papples) & a bunch of the tiniest bananas in the world! They’re really sweet – not just in appearance, but in taste too. I highly recommend them if you see them anywhere; the yummiest bananas I’ve ever had. I also bought lots of veg & I found some pasta in the supermarket too, but no sauces of any kind, so I’ll have to make my own. I was going to cook either pasta or noodles with lots of veg, but by the time I’d washed up the crockery & pan that had been left in the apartment so I could use it to cook, my foot had started hurting again, so I resorted to cheesy beans on toast (not Heinz, soya beans in tomato sauce, but really nice), preceded by two mini bananas & followed by a papple.

Well, having watched another few episodes of Alias (I couldn’t face trying to figure out the planning for school) whilst eating my beans & papple, accompanied by antibiotics & ibuprofen, & written this, I think it’s now time for bed. I really miss having friends & family around me right now, probably because I’m incapacitated & it would be great if I had someone here to look after me & get me new ice packs & drinks, instead of having to hobble around my apartment. Ah well. Hopefully it’ll be a better day tomorrow.

Posted by Persephoned 18:21 Archived in China Comments (4)

My First Two Days at School (without the kids)

…and a small medical incident (don’t worry, I’m fine!)

semi-overcast 31 °C

Work started on Monday with a meeting of all the staff, primary & secondary, in the auditorium. This was lead by the Principal of the school, followed by the Vice-Principal, with further comments by the Head of Secondary & the Head of Primary. Fairly standard stuff – introducing the new staff (we had to stand up & wave to everybody), results from last year, thanks to various departments & staff for various things, & a few things about policies & dress code. We then had a meeting with just the primary staff to discuss various things about the new school year, the primary curriculum & odds & ends. Following this a few of us had lunch in the school canteen (which was free on Monday) – an interesting mix of Western food (pizza) & Chinese food (frog with green beans & chilli among the dishes - & no I didn’t try it because I didn’t find out it was frog until later, & the chilli had put me off!). Very interesting, eating pizza with chopsticks.

I had a bit of a chat to some of the staff there at lunch time, primary & secondary, & they all seem very nice. There’s quite a few members of staff who live in the same area as me, & they invited me out for dinner that evening to their local haunt – a Malaysian restaurant with really good food that’s quite cheap & walking distance. More about that in a minute. After lunch we had time in our classrooms to get stuff sorted out, most of which I spent talking to Laird (the other Year 4 teacher), Susan (my Teaching Partner or TP) & Joy (Laird’s TP), trying to find things out about the school, routines, curriculum, etc., etc. I found out some useful information, but there were lots of other things I either didn’t think to ask until later or wasn’t told about, but I made a mental list & asked more questions on Tuesday. It felt a bit like being thrown in at the deep end, and the other two new teachers, Caroline & Laura, said they felt the same way. I’m sure it’ll all be fine, it just seems a bit overwhelming at the moment – so much to do you don’t know where to start.

I had to rush home for 4pm on Monday, because the guys were coming to install my air conditioning, & it’s a good job I did rush home because they arrived just after 4pm. It took almost 2 hours, but there were very clean & tidy – they wore covers over their shoes & swept up after themselves! Once again, I had to pay (after checking with Mandy, who checked with my landlady) & will take it out of next month’s rent. At this rate I won’t have to pay anything for my rent next month!

I thought I’d pop down for a quick swim in the complex’s swimming pool before I went out, but when I got there I found that you have to pay to use it – 12rmb (£1.20). Apparently, according to other people that have lived here longer than me, it’s fairly standard to have to pay to use swimming pools in apartment complexes, even though you’d have thought it was included in the maintenance fee. By the time I got back to my apartment, I wouldn’t have had much time for a swim (as I hadn’t brought any money down with me), so I just had a quick shower (which was almost pointless, as I was sweating again minutes after leaving my apartment) & headed out to meet Alex & Jenny (who are married), Melissa & Paul (who aren’t!). We went to the Malaysian restaurant where we met up with Janine & Mike (also married) & a bit later Jim & his wife (whose name I can’t remember) turned up too. It was at this point that I noticed that what looked like a small bite on my ankle that I’d spotted in the afternoon, had got a tad larger & more painful. I thought it a little odd, as I’ve never been bitten by mosquitos in any country I’ve previously been to, or if I have, I haven’t reacted to them. Melissa, Jenny & Janine said I should get some insect repellent & some bite cream to put on it & it should be fine, so I thought nothing more of it & enjoyed the meal. Don’t ask me to name everything I ate, because people (mostly Alex & Mike, because they were sitting nearest me) kept putting different dishes in front of me or passing me things & saying ‘try this’! I remember the fish with mango (pieces of fish in a really light crispy batter, with strips of mango & various vegetables, & a mango sauce) was really delicious, as was the coconut rice that came with it.

By the time the meal was almost over, my ankle had become quite painful & slightly swollen. The bite (or whatever it was) was right on my ankle bone, which made it painful to move my foot much. A few people left at this point, however, Alex, Mike & Paul decided to stay & have a few more drinks. They invited me to stay too & get some wine in for me, & I would have stayed if my ankle hadn’t been so painful. I walked (or should I say hobbled) back towards my apartment with Melissa & Jenny, who both insisted at stopping at a pharmacy on the way (called ‘Wedge’!). It was then an interesting task to try & get them to understand what it was we wanted. I think we got there eventually, as they sold me some cream which seemed to be for insect bites from the hand gestures.

After hobbling home, I put the cream on & went to bed, thinking it’d be better in the morning – which it was, a bit – it only hurt when I moved my foot instead of all the time as it had done the previous evening. Anyway, I got a taxi to school on Tuesday with Melissa, Alex & Jenny, as I thought walking the 10 minutes from the bus stop to school might not be a good idea, & would probably take a lot longer. We had another primary meeting (which lasted all morning) about the primary curriculum, science & peer & self-evaluation. A few people asked me why I was hobbling & Caroline called me ‘hoppy’! Me & Caroline went for lunch in the school canteen again, & Susan (my TP) found the school nurse for me, whose very helpful opinion was to put cream on it & if it got worse, go to the hospital. Great!

After lunch, we had more time in our classrooms to get things sorted out. I found out some more useful information, like my timetable (I only teach English, Maths, Science, Humanities & PSHE – 18 hours in total!) & my provisional class list – provisional because the parents have until this Thursday to pay the fees, so a few places weren’t confirmed yet. I also got a copy of last year’s planning from Laird, so we can use a lot of that & just adapt it for this year. We’ll also be doing a trip to the Botanical Gardens with the kids at some point, which I’m looking forward to already.

I started heading home just before 4pm, as the guy was supposed to be coming round about 4.30pm to re-attach my kitchen door for me. On my way out I saw Jessica, who saw me hobbling & took me to see another member of staff who used to be a doctor. Their opinion was that I should go & get checked out, because my ankle & foot had started to look a bit on the swollen side. Jessica came with me, & we went to the local hospital. Apparently it was better to go there, because the doctor was further away & would take longer. Wonderful way to spend the early part of the evening – at a Chinese hospital! Jessica was brilliant though – she sorted everything out for me & stayed with me the whole time.

After waiting for what seemed like an age, I saw the doctor (a dermatology specialist) & Jessica translated for me. He then sent me to get a blood test – quickest one ever! We walked straight in to the blood test room & were seen straight away, then had to wait a total of about 20ish minutes for the results. We then took the results back up to the doctor, who again saw us straight away & gave me a prescription after prodding my ankle a few times (& very painfully). He said it was an allergic reaction to something & I had an infection in it (hence the swelling), but he didn’t think it was a bite because he couldn’t see an entry point. The annoying thing was that he didn’t know what had caused it!

I had to pay, because the insurance was still being sorted out, but it wasn’t too expensive – 10rmb (£1) to register, 25rmb (£2.50) for the blood test & the most expensive part was the prescription: 245rmb (£24.50); mind you that was for 3 different things, two types of antibiotics & a cream. Jessica said she’d try & get it reimbursed through the insurance company. In total we were probably at the hospital for about 1½ hours, I think the quickest trip to emergency I’ve ever had (all previous ones being for other people, not me, by the way)!

Jessica put me in a taxi home once we had collected the prescription & she’d explained what I have to take when. I went home, put on the cream & made some food (a pot noodle type thing, quick & easy) to eat with the antibiotics. I watched a couple of episodes of Alias, having decided it wasn’t a sensible idea to try & make it to Starbucks so I could check my email & update this, then went to bed, hoping it would be better in the morning (again).

This morning I decided it might be a good idea to rest it, so I phoned Anne (the head) & explained the situation to her. She agreed that I shouldn’t walk too much & should stay at home today, but said I have to be in tomorrow, as all the parents will be there to meet the new teachers. I took my antibiotics with one of those really nice chocolate bun things for breakfast, then went back to bed. After what would have been a nice lie-in if I hadn’t’ve kept waking up, I spent most of the day watching episodes of Alias on my laptop with my foot propped up on a pillow on the coffee table with an ice pack on it. It feels a bit better now, but I can’t really tell if the swelling has gone down at all. It’s a bit better to walk on now & a bit less painful to move it, so I guess the antibiotics are working – hoorah!

I’m writing this on my laptop at home, with my foot still propped up on a pillow on the coffee table, & I’ll upload this after school. I’m hoping my foot & ankle will have improved more by tomorrow, as I have to go to school to be introduced to the parents – oh joy. I think I might have to wear flip-flops though (which we were told not to wear to school) as I don’t think any of my other shoes will fit!

Posted by Persephoned 15:59 Archived in China Comments (0)

The End of My First Week in China

...And what a week it's been!

semi-overcast 33 °C

I'm sitting in Starbucks (hoorah for free wi-fi!) drinking a mango & hibiscus fruit cooler (which is really nice & refreshing, even though it is a tad on the expensive side).

It really doesn't feel like I've been here a week already, it's gone so quickly.

I sort of had a lie-in today - I say sort of because although I didn't get up until midday, I kept waking up throughout the night & morning. This was partly because I was too hot so turned on the ac, then after a while I was too cold so turned it off again, or I was uncomfortable because the mattress is really hard (I don't mind a firm mattress, but this one is rock solid!), and then I started waking up because daylight was streaming in through the too-thin curtains.

Caroline came over about 1pm so we could go for lunch together. We had a wander & found a nice little restaurant (with very helpful pictures of food on the menu!), which is the Chinese equivalent of a fast food place - although Chinese fast food is actually properly cooked, healthy & tasty food, not junk. We had a sharing meal deal, with free tea, a bowl of rice each, cooked cabbage in sesame oil, soy sauce & garlic, & a main dish of fish in a kind of broth with beansprouts - all delicious, and for the bargain price of 45rmb (£4.50) between us! We then popped into Vanguard to pick up a few things I forgot to get yesterday (bought a kettle but no mugs!) & so Caroline could get some cakey things to take round to the friends' house she was going to for dinner this evening. She already knows people here because the couple she's visiting for dinner used to teach at the school in Ethiopia that Caroline has just left, and they've worked at the school we're both starting at here for a year. they say it's a really nice place to work, and of the few members of staff I've already met, they all are happy working here & really love it, and two people (that I know of) have extended their contracts for another two years. It's quite reassuring to hear directly from existing members of staff that it's a nice place to work.

Once we'd struggled up to the apartment, I made us a nice cup of tea in my new mugs & managed to put together my new fan without a screwdriver (thankfully, someone had left some needle-nosed pliers in a drawer, so I used those instead!), so I now have some semblance of coolness in my living room, which makes it relatively bearable. Even now it 9.30 at night, and pitch black outside, it's still really warm & quite humid - flip-flops, shorts & a strappy top are the most I can bear wearing at the moment. Goodness knows what it's going to be like tomorrow, when I have to wear vaguely proper clothes for work! I'm quite sure I'll be a puddle on the floor before I've even reached the bus stop. At least the buses are air conditioned...

Caroline left about 5pm, after which I put out my washing (I'd put on a load this morning). In case you're wondering where I put my washing out, being in a 10th floor apartment, I have 2 rails almost the length of the balcony which hang from the balcony ceiling & can be lowered & raised with a winch attached to the wall. You simply lower the rails, hang your clothes (on coat hangers) on them & raise them out of the way again. Very handy. I also set up my new lamp, then refolded the duvet cover I'd bought yesterday & put it back in the box, because annoyingly it still had the security tag on so I had to go back to the shop with it to have it removed. I set off for Carrefour shortly afterwards, where I bought a few other bits too - a DVD player, more coat hangers, plates (as VanGuard didn't have any plates - lots of bowls, but no plates), a plug extension lead & some food items. They actually had real cheese! I was very excited, & bought some cheddar, Dutch Edam & American Monteray Jack, as well as some proper butter. I then discovered the aisle of weird crisp flavours - fried shrimp, lime, cucumber, French chicken, Hong Kong style fish balls, lobster & cheese - to name but a few. I chose three flavours to try, & I will let you know what they're like as & when I feel brave enough to attempt them! I also picked up some really nice (yes, I've already tried one) chocolate bread bun things, some Danish waffles, & two bottles of Bacardi Breezer - just because they had it!

For those of you who smoke, you may be interested to know that packets of cigarettes range from about 8rmb to about 25rmb - 80p to £2.50. There is also a vast range of cigarettes available, including Marlboro (which of course are the most expensive). Not surprising then, perhaps, that so many Chinese people smoke!
Anyone for a cigarette?

Anyone for a cigarette?

I made it back to my apartment after my shopping expedition (this time I'd remembered to bring lots of spare carrier bags with me, & I tried not to buy more than I could carry!) quite easily, although I still need to practice my pronunciation as I keep having to show taxi drivers the address written down in Chinese - some of them have understood me, some haven't.

In the middle of sorting out my shopping, my doorbell rang, which I wasn't expecting. A man was there saying something about the gas meter to me, but of course I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. Mandy to the rescue once again! I phoned her & passed my phone to the man so she could speak to him & find out what was going on. Basically the gas bill hadn't been paid because the agent hadn't had time to go & pay it after the landlady had given her the money for it on Friday. The end result being that I had to pay it, but I will then take that amount out of my rent for next month. It seems like this is how they do things quite often here. It was the same when the guy came to collect the old fridge - he paid 50rmb for it, which was given to me to add on to the rent next month; it's easier for the landlady to get it that way as she lives in a different city.

Having sorted all that out, as well as my shopping (& eaten one of the nice chocolate bread things) I headed down to Starbucks, & here I am now.

If anyone wants to Skype me (although it may have to be IM rather than video call while I'm in Starbucks), I'll be here around the same time tomorrow - 9pm ish my time, 2pm ish your time. I know most people will be in work, but I'll try & do the same next weekend too. & of course you can email me any time!!

Posted by Persephoned 21:12 Archived in China Comments (3)

My First Weekend in Shenzhen

sunny 32 °C

I’m typing this in Word because I’m sitting in my new apartment, eating the jelly beans Emma bought me, & I have no internet access until I go to Starbucks tomorrow to upload this. It’s 10.20pm on Saturday 20th August & today has felt (if it’s possible) even longer than all the other long (yet strangely quick) days this week!

I was fully intending to have a nice lie-in this morning. I’d set my alarm for 10am, and was going to check out about 11am with Caroline helping me transport all my belongings to my new place. That plan was scuppered when Mandy phoned me at 8.50am to tell me that the new air conditioning unit & fridge-freezer were going to be delivered to my apartment in half an hour’s time. I hadn’t noticed her text message sent the evening before telling me that they were going to be delivered between 8.30am & 11am. Ooops! Needless to say, I got dressed very quickly & jumped in a taxi to take me over to my new place. I just about managed to get the driver to understand where I wanted to go, but thankfully Mandy had written the address down for me in Chinese, just in case. I got there at about 9.30am & the delivery guys were nowhere to be seen. After calling Mandy (the font of all knowledge) I found out they had another delivery in the area & would come back in 10 minutes as I hadn’t been there when they arrived.

They did, in fact arrive about 10 minutes later, the funniest part of which being when the doorman/concierge phoned up to tell me they’d arrived (I’m guessing) & he kept asking me questions in Chinese & I kept saying ‘shi de’ (yes)!! He must have realised what I meant because the delivery men made it up to my apartment (on the 10th floor) a few minutes later. As a result of all this (as well as a lot more not-understood questions or comments in Chinese & various hand gestures & arm waving to tell me not to plug in the fridge for 3 hours & to remove all the packaging first – I’m sure there were other things they were telling me too, but that was the only bit I understood!) I now have a brand-new fridge-freezer. However, the kitchen door is still currently leaning against the wall instead of attached to the hinges.

Once all that was sorted, I headed back to the hotel to collect all my stuff & check out. (Hoorah for hotel business cards – so much easier to just show that to the taxi driver than try & correctly pronounce the address!) Myself & Caroline managed to bring everything over in one trip, although both my suitcases wouldn’t fit in the boot of the taxi so one had to go on the back seat instead. Having deposited everything in my flat, we then went straight back out to go to Carrefour – a huge supermarket-type shop that sells everything: food, drink, clothes, shoes, kitchenware, electrical goods, household goods, bedding, you name it. We both bought a mini-trolley’s worth of stuff, then realised we didn’t have enough bags to put everything in in order to carry it from the shop to the taxi (you’re not allowed to take the trollies off the shop premises) or from the taxi to my flat. Doh. A few back & forths to the taxi then the pavement outside my apartment complex, then I left Caroline with about 2/3 of the stuff on the pavement while I took the rest upstairs & came back with a couple of large carrier bags so we could carry the rest up. Why is it I never seem to manage to do things the easy way?!

We got there in the end & by that time (I think it was almost 2pm) we decided we deserved to investigate Starbucks. A very expensive lemon & strawberry juice drink accompanied by a cheese & vegetable scone later, we felt quite a bit better & decided to go for a wander round the area & see if we could find Caroline’s new apartment (which she can’t move into for another week because they have to move out of it & install a kitchen). We found where it is – not far from me at all – had a wander around the shopping mall/department store across the road (mostly looking at sandals, which Caroline eventually bought a pair of), then headed back towards my place & went to have a look round VanGuard – another shopping mall/department store type place. Here I bought a few food essentials – bread, flora (only type of spread/butter they had), cheese (they only had plastic cheese, but better than nothing), noodles, water, sprite, wine & a corkscrew.

Exhausted from all the shopping & lugging stuff around, we thought a well-deserved hot beverage & cake was in order, so we headed back to Starbucks. It looks like they do have wi-fi there, as there were quite a lot of people with laptops about the place, so that’s where I’ll be tomorrow somewhen. Caroline then headed back to the hotel, leaving me to my own devices in my new apartment. I cleaned the kitchen (apart from the floor, which there’s no point doing until the workmen have installed the ac), unpacked & found places for some things like bathroom stuff, books, kitchen stuff & shoes, then made myself some toast (but not tea because I forgot to buy any mugs) & sat down to write this.

So tonight I spend my first night in MY apartment. It’s quite weird saying that & thinking that I actually live in this city I’ve just arrived in. I feel like I don’t know enough (of the language, where things are, how to get places, etc.) to be allowed to live here! & Monday I’ll be starting work, which is almost an even stranger concept!

Well, hopefully I’ll sleep a bit better tonight than I did in the hotel. It certainly seems quieter here.

Posted by Persephoned 21:11 Archived in China Comments (2)

(Entries 11 - 15 of 20) « Page 1 2 [3] 4 »