There is so much exciting stuff going on in my life right now. Firstly, I’ve been doing some more painting, though this time I had to do the drawing as well which was a challenge, but one I think I did OK with? The animals are from our flashcards and the rainbow from a picture on the internet. I took some artistic licence of course, but I’d like to see what you think?
Secondly, we’ve been doing a lot of advertising recently. This has included running around and playing games with children in the park, getting my ugly mug on the school page on the Aston website and also having some photos done for a big screen advertisement, the big screen being above McDonalds near our apartment. These are here:
I had to go to Xiamen on Friday to update my visa. I took a taxi, which fills up with 4 people and costs 30¥ (£3) to go the 40 odd miles to Xiamen. They phone you when they are outside your apartment, give the colour of the car and the last three digits of the number plate. I was told the one picking me up was white, but it was in fact silver…I think Rachel was just having an off day.
On the way, I fell in love with the countryside. It reminded me of taking the bus from Kuala Lumpur airport into the centre of the city all those years ago in 2005. There is so much green, so many tropical looking trees and bushes it’s another world compared to Ordos which just seemed to look brown all the time, despite the blue cloudless skies and sun. I’m sure I’ve mentioned Chinese roads before, but here is a lot worse. There is little to no lane discipline, so 2 lanes become 3, 3 become 4 and so on. If there is a lane for a left turn, then inevitably someone will drive there to nip in front of the queue to go straight on. The roads are also pretty suspect in places. You’ll be happily sat in the back when suddenly you’ll come across a pothole or bump, but most of the time they do tend to avoid them, but traffic jams form where there are holes.
When I got to Xiamen, I got dropped off right outside the Aston school, which is massive. There are apparently 500 students there, which even compared to Ordos with just under 300 over the 2 sites, is massive. I thought I was collecting my visa, but I thought wrong. All I did was go to the PSB office (like the police, but to do with passports etc) with 2 of the girls from Xiamen Aston, sit in a chair and have my photo taken with a webcam and that all took less than 3 minutes, and someone will have to go and pick up my passport another time. The hour to get there may seem a bit pointless, but obviously it wasn’t. I had a good time exploring even the small area around the school. I’d love to have gone and seen the beach, but I had to get back for work in the evening.
What I did notice though, was a bridge above the main roads, which looked like it would carry a metro system or something. In fact, it was just another road for “fast buses.” I was a little bit disappointed, but also surprised as I’d never seen anything like that before. The taxis in Xiamen are really cool. There are several different companies, but you get blue and white, purple and white, orange and white and green and white taxis, which make the whole place look more colourful. I will definitely be spending some of my days off in Xiamen; I’m hoping to go for a couple of nights so I don’t have to waste time taking a taxi in. The beach is calling me – I definitely want to go to there!
Lunchtime was pretty funny. I ventured into Pizza Hut and had lasagne, because I could, but I spent most of my time watching one girl. She was clearly having lunch with her boyfriend and he meal came first, but even by the time his meal came, she hadn’t finished and he managed to wolf down his food before she’d got halfway. It was because she was using the spoon that she had like chopsticks, filling it up and taking bites of food off it. It looked really odd, but maybe that’s because I just shovel with a spoon? I’m not sure. It really irritated me anyway.
Conor has been here the past few days, but unfortunately, the school doesn’t have enough to support a second FT right now. He’s managed to find a job in a primary school a similar distance north of Xiamen, to Zhangzhou being west of Xiamen. Like me though, he’s just happy that he’s not in the freezing cold! It was 28°C yesterday and it’s currently saying 20°C at 10am in the morning. Wow.
I bought a bike yesterday too. It was pretty fun as I’ve not gone shopping for a bike for years. I knew I wanted one with a basket and I’d seen a bike shop near one of the schools we’ve been flyering, so I went there, not intending to get one, but ended up with one anyway for £50 including everything. The guy spoke a little English too, which helped. However, after I’d locked it up outside the apartment and had gone to the gym for an hour or so it had gone. Darn it. Oh well, at least it wasn’t too expensive. I think it was karma for teasing Steph about getting a bike in the first place.
Some funny photos:
Flights home: I know which ones I want, I just have to confirm dates with Phil, today hopefully. It should be 23rd July-6th August with 25th-30th July in Newcastle. I can’t change these dates as I need to be in Newcastle then for the Olympic football, I just don’t want to book without Phil giving the OK first!
We’re up to 23 students now. Apparently when we reach 60 we’ll get to go to a water park in Xiamen as a treat. Excited! It also makes me think that I want to go to Wet ‘n’ Wild when I’m back in Newcastle, Steph, hint hint for my travel itinerary?
Article on BBC about Ordos yesterday: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-17390729
Been there, done that, written the article and have those horses on this very blog!