My working holiday in China [1] [2] [3] [4]

Ni Hao Everybody!
I have been in China for a week on a Tefl (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) working holiday in China and to be honest so much has happened and I have had many different feelings that it feels like a lot longer already! I shall back track slightly so you all get the full story, so here goes!
I am here with a company "I to I" that work in conjunction with IES Global and Teach and Travel China and they seem terribly unorganised to say the least. They ask us all before leaving our countries which area we would prefer to be and most of the 100 people that are with me are unhappy with the outcome.  Some requested South as they hate the cold and they have ended up in Inner Mongolia with -30! Some have requested a city and are rural and  couples and friends who have requested to be together have been split up. 
Me on the other hand wanted somewhere surrounded by rice paddies, lakes and mountains but I knew I would be asking for too much. I really didn't have any expectations and decided to go with the flow. So I accepted Hengshui and crossed my fingers.  There are still people in Beijing waiting to be placed somewhere and two ladies have been knocked back from a school twice (I think because of their appearance, tattoos and piercings)   We have had to take visa photos repeatedly because they cant get it right and their timings and schedules are never to plan! Apparently you have to be flexible with the Chinese culture as things change all the time and at the last minute. They're not wrong.
Anyway Friday 6am i get up really excited for an organised tour.  £40 to see The Great Wall tomorrow, Ming Tombs, a market, a Peking dinner and an Acrobatic Act then a Farewell Party for £12 with an open bar!!   Things are so cheap here I probably won't need to dip into my savings. I can certainly live of £200 a month easily which is my teaching internship wage.
There is a great mix of people here from all walks of life and all ages up to over 50.   I have met up with the girls from facebook that I met prior to coming and Stacy from the Rhondda is lovely.  I have also met Catrin from Llanelli who I have been chatting in Cymraeg with and I met a man called Matt from Trefnant, North Wales (he also worked in Llanelian in the nursery and went to The White Lion) What a small world we live in!!!)
Me, Stacy and Catrin where sitting together on the coach on the tour having a big giggle (hence why I have lost my voice me thinks!) and we set off to the great wall. Wow it's  massive and we walked quite a distance.  It's very steep and quite a challenge to walk, but it was an amazing experience and  would love to go back and spend more time walking the wall and taking it all in. 

Another highlight of the day was the acrobatic show, I have never seen such bendy, flexible people! and 2 guys where in a huge hamster wheel pining around just like a hamster and then standing on the outside of the wheel running on the outside. My heart was pounding and it looked like he was going to fall off a few times! 
The food is obviously all chinese but very similar to home chinese in Beijing, apart from more dumplings which Mary will be very jealous about!!! It's all banquet style and my use of chopsticks is getting quiet good even though I do say so myself!  I haven't had anything awful in front of me yet but I'm sure I have that to look forward to!!!!
We then went to a bar for our farewell drinks £12 for an open bar 11pm till 3am! Tequila Tout was on form! It was a good night; and I had to say my goodbyes to the friends I had made as they where off to different provinces. 

Everything is so cheap here, £2 for a taxi for quite a distance, 20p for the underground tube (I experience the tube on the way to the forbidden city) Busy busy busy and felt like a sardine! Although I didn't think Beijing was as busy as I thought it would be. And there was English signs up that helped us find our way around. There where many bikes and I'm not surprised as you can buy one for £20!!! 
We also met William a few days earlier at the forbidden city a Chinese student studying English and he offered to be our tour guide for free.  He was a lovely person and bought us all gifts which is what the chinese do apparently. Very generous people and they love making more contacts especially English speaking contacts. 
Anyway I left the hotel a little tired on Saturday morning @ 10am and headed for the school and we had the luxury of being picked up and going by mini bus!! no sleeper train for me with my big bag thank goodness (I shall experience one of those with a nice light bag!!) 
We arrived at 3pm @ Hengshui and although the roads where a little bumpy I was more concerned I couldn't  see anything that resembled nice scenery! I kept nodding off and opening my eyes hoping the scenery would change. But no! I shall never complain about the british sky again! It really aint that bad after you see the smoggy grey sky out here!

We arrived at the private school with security gates! I smelt curfews!
We got to our accommodation block and unloaded.  I have a large living area with sofa, Tv (but not much use to me!!), a computer, and heating/air con.  My bedroom is also large with a double bed and a wardrobe. A kitchen with fridge/freezer and a cooking ring and a bathroom with a western toilet yippee , a wet room and my own washer and kettle.  Great stuff. Now my expectations for accommodation was a lot lower so i'm happy.  I needed to give it a good clean though even to my kinda messy standards so it must have been pretty grim! I never imagined I would have my own flat and the rooms are bigger than mine at home.
We then where accompanied to the shop which is about 15 mins drive away and we went to the local supermarket.
Now this is China, everything is in Chinese and there are no other white people about.  It's the closest I will ever feel like to a famous person, everybody just stares at you in shock and takes pictures. If you look at them and smile and say "Ni Hao" they give you a lovely smile.  They really appreciate you speaking a bit of Mandarin so i'm trying my best to learn.
I bought some food that I recognised and a big plastic carton of water that I later found out was actually rice wine!!!! Smelt like turps so I think it will stay on the shelf or I shall use it to clean the toilet!!!!
We got back to our flats and then were left to our own devices until today (Monday).  There was nothing we could do though as you have to let the school know when you are leaving for security purposes and also we wouldn't have been able to speak to the taxi driver anyway!!! So we relaxed and unpacked our bags and settled in.
The girls I am with are fairly young so they are upset with their placement.  I on the other hand am getting on with it at the moment. I am happy to concentrate on my tefl teaching for now and I'm sure once we are established,  invites to escape!!! hahahah will come flooding in.  I have told them to stop moaning and get on with it! After all this is the chinese culture. 
I was told today that I am teaching 15yr olds!  I better start looking at my grammar books and put my flash cards, alphabet and children's songs away for the time being!! 
Flora the schools contact is meant to be coming to see me at 8pm tonight to discuss a few things as she hasn't seen my contract? and there are a few disputes (which doesn't surprise me!) it's nearly 9pm and I'm still waiting. Hopefully she will be hear soon. Speak of the devil she has just arrived, I am now teaching 8, 9 & 10 yr olds. Grade 1,2 & 3.  My first tefl lesson tomorrow at 11.10am.  4 lessons tomorrow, 50 minutes each. Wish me luck!
My voice is slowly returning although I'm coughing a bit but I feel ok. I had to go to the hospital today as they are paranoid about flu's!  It was the craziest doctors/hospital I have ever been to.  He took my blood pressure, pulse etc then sent me to get an X-ray in radiology? I stood in front of a huge machine and they took x rays of my chest.  I was assured my lungs and heart where all in one piece and thankfully I left the hospital without being put in quarantine!!
OK well that's it for now folks! my first week has been an eventful one.  I need to organise myself for my first lesson tomorrow so I'll will keep you updated. 
  Lots of love


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