Arriving In China

Having waited more than fifteen hours for a cigarette, leaving the crafty vape in the Moscow airport toilet aside, I was gasping for a ciggy. My new school colleagues created me with traditional Asian hospitality, ‘Would you like to eat?’ It seems wherever you go in Asia Asians are always concerned about whether you have eaten or would like to eat, rather nice really. I declined the offer having just had a cardboard sandwich on my favourite airline, and immediately asked, ‘Where can I have a cigarette?’ Probable not the best first impression to give, but hey! I needed a ciggy!
I finished my cigarette whilst attempting to use the airport Wi-Fi to send a message back to the family that I’d arrived safe and all was well. No such luck! I then asked where the toilet was. Wow, that was an experience. I’d thought I’d seen some pretty stinky toilets in Thailand, but nothing prepared me for the awful stench that hit me when entering the toilet facilities. Interestingly, the toilet was the first place I learned that the Chinese were in fact concerned about conservation. The urinals had no flushing facility as this avoided so many thousands of liters of water being wasted each day, month or year. Personally, I’m not sure public toilets are the place to conserve water, but hey at least they’re trying. Having braved the public toilets and survived we found our way to the car and set off for Caofeidian some 250km south-east of Beijing airport, and about 3 hours by car.
I will just say at this point that the job offer I had excepted was in a particularly remote part of China. In fact, it is one of the new cities China is developing around the country. I had already done my research, so I knew what to expect. For those of you considering working in China do make sure you do your research too, so you know what to expect. China is full of many different types of cities, so don’t be put off by the description of where I work. It was by choice that I chose to work somewhere where I knew I wouldn’t be spending much money, and therefore could save a huge proportion of my salary.
It was much like I’d expected, although still very strange. At some points we were the only car on the four-lane motorway. Literally no other cars could be seen for miles either way. As we motored on we past huge blocks of apartments partly built with large cranes sitting idle, or partly working. It’s hard to put into words exactly what it was like, but a quick search on Google of ghost cities in China will give you a better understanding.
After traveling about 2 hours the driver pulled off to the right into what was supposed to be a service center. We pulled outside a huge building, probable the size of a large shopping mall, totally empty. You could see from outside that this was designed to hold many different shops, cafes and the rest, but it was completely desolate, not one other person could be seen. I’m not quite sure why we stopped given it was obviously deserted, but I took the opportunity to have another cigarette and wander around. I asked how long we had left until we would arrive at the school and was told it would be another hour. Having just traveled for about eighteen hours I was feeling quite tired, and so I decided to try and get some kip before arriving.
Just before arriving at the school I was asked again if I would like to go for some food, so I agreed, and we headed off for food before seeing the school. I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about Chinese food. As with most Englishmen I love English-Indian curries, English-Indian Mexican food, and English-Chinese food, and I love real Thai food, but I had read that real Chinese food was a bit bland. Nothing could have been further from the truth!
We went into the restaurant which oddly resembled a hotel reception/grocery store as well as a restaurant. There at the back of the restaurant on the side wall were all sorts of fish tanks holding all manner of different sea creatures from fish to prawns, shell fish, and other creatures I just didn’t recognized. In the middle of the restaurant was a huge table displaying all other different types of food from strange looking vegetables to different types of meats. I have to say it made choosing what to eat really easy as it was all laid out in front of me, and it all looked delicious. I don’t know the names of the food we ordered, and I must make an effort to find out, but it really was all very appetizing. One point to note most Chinese it appears don’t often have a drink with their meal, but if they do it’s generally just warm/hot water, I passed.
After finishing our meal, we took off to find the school. The school was only a short ten-minute drive from the restaurant, so it wasn’t long before I saw just what my new school and home looked like.
I had been sent some images of the school, so I had a pretty good idea of what it should look like. However, it didn’t look quite the same as I’d thought. My first impression was it look like a pretty good school but required a lot of snagging. If you don’t know what snagging means, it’s basically the work that’s required after the builder considers his job done. That’s not fair on all builders, some are obviously more conscientious than others, apparently, they weren’t very conscientious when building this school. The same unfortunately was true of my apartment too. I shouldn’t complain however, as after the initial disappointment I quickly realized it wasn’t as bad as all that and having stayed here for nearly 3 weeks I can honestly say it’s quite nice. Add to that I don’t have any rent, bills, or food to pay whilst I’m here. Yeah!

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