Shanghaii, Shanghoeee

First of all I just want to thank everyone for all the kind messages I received after my ranty whiney blog post. China has started to like me a bit more now so on to the Shanghai shenanigans!

At the start of October every year China has a national holiday for a week, and everyone goes everywhere! I skipped travelling on the actual national day and missed most of the queues at the airport! I was also so scared about not getting a taxi that I got to the airport roughly 2 hours before check in opened. Can’t call me unprepared! After a kfc, me and my broken toe found a corner to sit in and read until I could check in.

I’d heard horror stories about flights being cancelled and horribly delayed in China but I had no problems. Flight was full but everything was on time which is all you really need from a flight!

So onto Shanghai!! The hostel we were in was so cool!! Had a pool and pingpong table and actual comfy beds and a lock for the locker they provided. Only problem was that I was on the top bunk, and as anyone who has travelled with me knows, I’m not great at getting down from there. In this case I was even worse because of a minor case of big toe breakage.

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Once everyone had arrived we got dressed and found alcohol for free!! The first night was so much fun, it was so nice to see everyone again and not worry about school. The club we were at was really strange and full of smoke, but at one point they gave out what looked like pool woggles but they lit up!! Apart from the fact that I had a mysterious bruise on my forehead the next day and spent a large portion of the night making sure my chest was contained, it was fantastic!

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Le bruise covered in makeup

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I put this photo on a powerpoint slide last week. One students reaction “teacher!! What are you doing?!?!?!”

The next day, after a late start and avocado eggs benedict for breakfast (yayy) we decided to explore the Bund. As did every other person in Shanghai it seemed, it was absolutely packed full of people! Really cool to see it though, super futuristic.

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That night we found a random sports bar and had a brief darts game which I may have lost…. Before we were up slightly earlier to explore some more and check out a propaganda museum in someone’s basement! I didn’t get any photos but it was so cool and worth getting absolutely drenched on the way there! Its basically got propaganda posters through the years on the walls and you can see how things changed. I bought a couple of postcards of my favourite ones.

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Knowledge is power//support the revolution! Use birth control//celebrating the first h bomb.

We met up with some other ELA’s there and arranged to see them later at a sports bar. After a couple of hours catching up we were promptly booted out of the place for not drinking enough!!

Day Trip time!!! Long long day spent at Hangzhou but so much fun was had in the constant rain. Up bright and early to catch the bullet train Charlotte and I utilised the first class seats we’d splurged on and fell asleep for the entire journey. Then after seeing a really famous beautiful lake covered in mist and dampness and some historical dress up we holed away in a coffee place for me to rest my toe and to plan our next move.

Which was to meet up with our hostel friend Scottish Tom in a street and tried to find a medical museum. Whilst we never did find the museum we found a drum tower, traditional medicine shops and street food.

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After the street we walked up to a temple and explored some more. The mist did impact my photos quite a bit!

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All in all though, a nice day trip! When we returned we went to a jazz bar and drank cocktails before heading back to the hostel.

On the last full day some of us went and explored the art district. There was so much to see we were there for a good 3 hours and we didn’t see everything!

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Then after spending hours finding food we attempted to go in the pearl tower and see Shanghai from above. Sadly the admission price was extortionate and the queue was 2 hours long. Instead we blagged our way into a posh hotel’s very high up bar and began to drink. The view up there was spectacular, and because we stayed so long we got to see the sun set.

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After a very heavy night on the cocktails and bumping into Izzie in a club, I spent my last morning in Shanghai in bed wearing what id wore the night before! After hotpot, shopping and a sit down, it was time for me to head back to reality and fly home. My flight was so late that I got into my flat at half 12 and naturally had my longest teaching day the next day so was up at half 6. Yay! So worth it though, Shanghai was amazing!

Sorry for the length of this, it really spiralled!!! Next time you’ll hear all about the time Chinese families got me and Izzie drunk by 2 in the afternoon

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The realities of life in China

So I haven’t posted in a while and I apologise for that. This isn’t going to be the huge, picture filled, Shanghai shenanigans extravaganza I thought i’d be posting as well, so sorry about that too. Honestly, I’m currently struggling a bit in Shijiazhuang, and don’t want to look back on a couple of weeks ago when I was having loads of fun because it just makes me wish I was still there and having that much fun.

The reality is, living in a foreign country is hard. I have a great set up where I am and I am incredibly grateful for that, but its still difficult to live in a country which is so different to everything I’m used to. I have a lovely group of friends around me and another set dotted around China who message me every day. But still, when everything that could go wrong does go wrong, its hard to bounce back.

Lets start with the fact that I caught a cold in Shanghai. Took Annie a week to get over it, a week that included heavy drinking and little sleep. its been 2 weeks and I’m still ill. Classic Daisy.

I only do 16 hours a week at the school, way under my contracted 20 hours a week. But everyone else repeats the same lessons, I have to do 5 different ones. That’s a lot more preparation than everyone else. But I don’t get paid to prepare lessons, only to teach them and from next week onwards i’m teaching at a primary school an hour a week. Don’t know what i’m teaching them in particular, all i’ve been told is that me and Thandie will be taken by car someplace at 3.30 and they’ve prepared something on self-introduction. But that’s China for you.

I missed a meeting accidentally last week as I forgot the time changed and missed something about exams. I teach 3 different classes and for 2 of them I can tell them to do a presentation. I don’t know what date the exams on, I don’t know if I need an extra teacher checking my marking and I don’t know if I do it in regular class time or not. I’ve asked, but as usual there’s a delay in getting me the answer. Oh China.

Speaking of classes, most are starting to like me and there are a couple in particular which I really enjoy teaching and look forward to. And then there are 2 of my classes on Thursday. One of them is usually okay, but this week one boy refused to admit that he was wrong for talking when I was and instead blamed his misbehaviour on my tendency to point at him. The other problem class had me close to tears on Thursday. Thursday is my longest day, I have 6 classes spread out from 7.55-18.50. By the time I teach my penultimate class I am tired. Usually classes that have a behaviour problem have 1 ringleader. This class has 4. All spread out. They do not listen, they distract others, and they can’t even be quiet enough to write lines. Seriously, last Thursday I told them to write lines until they could be quiet for 5 minutes in a row. After 25 minutes the class had ended and I was close to tears. And they have the cheek to ask me if they can play hangman! Hopefully they’re being removed from my class, I told my contact teacher that I simply cannot teach those 4. Teacher problems!

I really desperately want a bank account. I’ve been pushing the school since we got here to help us get one and they were so procrastinatey that the Japanese teacher at the school Sean rescued us once again and finally took us this weekend. Finally! I can get a bank account and organise trips to see people. I was planning to go down south for Halloween and its starting to become time to think about Spring Festival travelling. But my names blacklisted at the Bank of China. Not my passport number, my name. So it’s a no-go for a bank account. We tried other places (literally hero Sean) but they fobbed us off because it was nearly closing time. So my halloween plans have been ruined and I don’t have anything really to look forward to. Quick google search told me I shouldn’t worry about being blacklisted, they’ve probably had a problem with a ‘Daisy’ before and just blacklisted all the names. Because that’s China! Always logical.

China’s tested me more than ever this week. If it wasn’t for the classes I enjoy I would be considering coming home because its so difficult. But when students give me orange segments, when they ask me questions about English that stretches me and the looks on their faces when they’ve learnt something new and understand it, I know that i’m here for the long haul. I’m lucky to have people around me who message me daily, or who bump into me and express concern as to why they haven’t seen me that week, and who have conversations about the validity of democracy in China in the middle of a shopping trip. I have many more reasons to stay here than I have to quit, I just have to force China to like me as much as I like it.

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I climbed another mountain!

This time it was intentional however! When we were exploring the zoo we noticed the nearby mountains, and the  next week ventured that way again. After walking in the wrong direction for a bit (thanks Sam!) We eventually found the right mountain! Even though the pollution was relatively good in comparison to what it had been, it still managed to creep into the photos.

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National day was creeping ever closer, and every section of the path was decked out with Chinese flags which smacked me in the face wherever they could. Once again, it was just not my day. As you all probably know, I’m not the fittest human in the world, and when I’d got to the top (or what we thought was the top) I was ever so slightly red and out of breath. The walk up was at least well paved and with loads to see when we stopped. But the village at the top was what we had come to see. We cable carred it to the top and were swarmed with fans wanting photographs, especially Izzie, Thandie and Johnathan!! I had a random woman jump in my tourist photo too.

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Once we’d escaped the mob we got to exploring. We found a quiet wall section and had pot noodles for lunch (where I was hit by more flags!).

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Since Marta had ditched us for more exciting places we made the effort to take photos of ourselves, but I don’t think Izzie and I were great at it!

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That redness which is making me oh so attractive turned out to be sunburn. This day really did hate me!

Anyway, after lunch we wandered around and found all sorts of statues, climbed down some steep steep stairs to go underground to see more statues and saw some wonderful Chinglish.

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My personal favourite sign:

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At our weekly Monday meeting, our boss promptly told us that we’d seen the wrong mountain and that he would take us to the good one at the end of the year. So yay more mountain climbing!

Top tip for life: don’t climb mountains in jeans!

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The Return of the Phone!

Hello folks! Its been a while since I posted, I’ve been too busy exploring, teaching and holidaying! Good news is there’s much to tell!!

So I left off with my phone disappearing into the night in the back of a taxi. After Izzie magically calmed me down and messaged everyone, a teacher at my school stopped by the next day to basically tell me that it was probably lost forever. Great! Other people were slighly more comforting, especially Sean and Mery who stopped by with baked goods and sympathy. After a day of isolation I pulled myself together and explored a park near the school. The only word I can use to describe it is weird! It had a cool lake and pedalos and then really rickety looking rides and old Chinese people dancing everywhere. Plus paint your own money box.

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As we enjoyed the lake, me Sam, Izzie and Thandie somehow looked like a pop group!

Then a wonderful thing happened….my phone returned after quite an adventure! It turns out that the man that got in the taxi after me picked up my phone and decided to return it. I had the business card of my boss in the pocket so he knew where I was employed. The man went to Beijing over the weekend, charged my phone in case someone called it, and rang the school periodically until someone answered Monday morning. Then a couple of hours later he was at the front gate with 3 others in a car, my boss and a photographer from the school and I had my phone back!!! So so so lucky.

After that exciting Monday, teaching for the week was relatively ordinary. I’m still getting used to the schedule but managed okay and only had to do some minor discipline.

On the Friday night we went out to a new bar called Fighting club (could not make up these names if I tried). Inside was an actual boxing ring and lots of masks, because it was a masquerade party at a fight club. Totally normal….

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Getting served was an actual nightmare. Once I’d bought a beer they refused to give me the change so Marta and I were just stood there confused until the boss rocked up and sorted things out. Then, since the night wasn’t strange enough, I ended up being on a tug of war team against angry Zimbabwean women! Surprisingly my team won!! As a reward we got a bottle of probably fake peach schnapps and a roulette wheel of shot glasses. China continues to surprise me!

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After a girly Saturday of shopping and western food, the teachers at my school decided to visit the zoo. Because pandas!

Shijiazhuang zoo wasn’t as good as Beijing, and the apes in particular were kept in dreadful conditions which clearly agitated them. One threw his body weight against the glass a fair few times. The rest of the zoo was okay though, and it was nice to spend a hot and barely polluted day outside.

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Marta became the official photographer after the zoo trip! The best part of the zoo was the giraffes, you could feed them and get really close. For some odd reason Julian wanted to touch the tongue of a giraffe, but I was happy with just a selfie.

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42 crew ♡♥

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