I’m here, Ordos! Before I relay what I’ve seen so far, I’ll give you the rest of my flight information. After arriving in Beijing, I felt awful and tired and emotional. 6 hours is a long time to spend in a foreign airport with feelings like this. I didn’t even know if I was in the right terminal, and despite asking staff if I was in the right place for Ordos, they didn’t seem to know where I meant! Having finally worked out I was in the right place, I headed through domestic departures (with everyone checking I was going the right way!) I boarded my flight from Beijing to Ordos thinking that I would be the only Johnny Foreigner on the plane, I was totally wrong. There were loads of Westerners getting on, which confused me somewhat, especially as the flight was also full. Up to this point, I’d had at least and extra seat next to me to curl up on – including the flight from London which was brilliant! Back to the Ordos flight, I’d got on only to find a man sat in my seat. To be honest, I would have left it, as I just wanted to get airbourne but he had a German newspaper and I just couldn’t resist really. In a land where I can’t speak the language, it was good to be able to talk to someone! He was pretty apologetic and wanted to change seats but by this time a Chinese guy had arrived and was probably thinking we were talking this mad crazy language and I didn’t really want to bother him, as the flight was only around an hour and a half. Evenutally this guy just couldn’t help himself, so in the end I did get my window seat. Don’t fret, he was a fairly typical older German guy, so no chance of me running off with him. He did say goodbye as we picked up our bags from the Ordos carousel, and he also pointed me out to his friends. Lucky them to meet a crazy, university educated,German speaking English girl.
By this time, I was in Ordos. I went through security (security, what security – I literally grabbed my bag and you could see the people waiting for arrivals less that 10 metres away) and found no-one waiting with my name on my card. Considering we hadn’t really discussed my arrival, apart from me sending my flight details and having the school address, I had a mini panic. I also thought there was no point in me having a mini panic with my 20kg bag on my back, so took that off and dumped everything on the floor to wait. It wasn’t really a problem though, as my flight had arrived early, and eventually Phil (one of the managers) spotted me sat down and found I was the right person. He said it was tricky, usually there’s only one foreigner on flights into Ordos, and they’re the person they are looking for. However, as I’ve already mentioned, there were at least German, possibly British, French and possibly Dutch people on the plane too, so you can see it was a bit crazy!
The fun did not stop there as we headed back to the taxi Phil had come in, and no sooner had I hopped in the back when three police/security guys walked over. Now, I was thinking ‘shit’ what do they want and they made Phil get out of the car. So muggins here was sat in the car, watching Phil and the taxi driver talk to these three guys, exchanging phones and such like. Anyway, turns out it was nothing to do with me – the security were annoyed at the taxi driver for being around the airport (not somewhere he is allowed to pick up fares or something) and they were being extra cautious I think because of the amount of foreigners that had got off the place – they were making sure he wasn’t out to make a quick buck or something. Anyway, as Phil had taken the taxi there and wanted it back, it seemed to turn out fine.
We got to the flat and I dumped my bags down. 30 hours of travelling isn’t kind. But, considering it was only 9pm ish, and Phil was going for food with Matthew (the other boss and the guy I’ve been dealing with) and some of the Chinese teachers, I felt it rude to turn it down and grabbed a quick shower (heaven!) and headed off. On an aside, the area I live in is not what I expected at all. Not that I had a perfect idea in my head, but houses with huge bay windows and huge windows in general, with Mercedes, Audis, Ranger Rovers and even a Maserati parked outside one, I was a little surprised to say the least! We’re quite lucky though, we’re at the end of a cul-du-sac so don’t really get traffic up this end which is great.
The meal was fantastic. It was a kind of BBQ, where they had a hot plate in the middle of the table, with an extractor fan above so you weren’t smoked out. You then just put the meat and/or veg on the ceramic plate thing to cook and Bob’s your uncle, BBQ food. Obviously not like what we would call one, but it was tasty none the less and the Chinese beer isn’t too shabby either! Even though I was on serious lack of sleep mode, I managed to maintain some conversation and I think I’m going to get on really well with the guys here, which should be great. Having got back home (around half 12) I was now without serious sleep for the better part of 35 hours, even the fact that I didn’t have curtains wasn’t a problem! I’ve also seemed to have got the biggest room with the bay window. I may regret it when it gets cold, but there you go!
Waking up at around 12.30pm/1pm this afternoon was a real treat. I never lie in normally, but this just felt extra special! Having unpacked most of my stuff, I met Jenny and Vicky, a couple of the Chinese TAs who live opposite in a kind of dorm room (which also makes me feel guilty about the size of my room!) they took me for a wander around. We had some lunch (by this time it was nearing 3pm!) which consisted of a plate of cabbage and potato with some pork (very nice) and a bowl of rice (not a big fan of the whole plain rice thing!) and they also showed me a couple of the shopping areas in Ordos. One of them is pretty new which also has two entrances. One is a pretty, intricately decorated bronze dome, and the other is the following:
It’s some kind of bird. I’m not sure what though, but it is golden! The mall is also near a park in the middle of town, which is a pretty relaxing place to be, apart from the loudspeakers which won’t shut up! There’s also lit fountains displays which happen at night in this park:
So we went for a walk and I saw the two schools – I’m working in one which is opposite Number Two Primary school in Dongsheng (the other name for Ordos), so they have more students because of that! The rooms also are named after various English speaking countries and got a little excited by the fact that the UK one has Stonehenge on the wall!
Another great meal was had too. This time, hotpot, though not as we know it. You get a pot of stock which is put on a heat plate on the table and they bring you various things for you to cook in your stock. We had lamb and beef slices, Chinese dumplings, vegetable noodles, some kind of rice noodles which were very sticky and tricky to eat, tofu, mushrooms and some greenery. To be honest, I didn’t like the tofu, I knew that anyway, but I tried it and that seemed to go down well. My favourite was the dumplings, they were pretty good! More beer, obviously my Newcastle label seems to have preceeded me and coupled with an Irish manager (another region famous for it’s drinking habits) I think I’m going to have to be careful with watching the amount I drink! That and the waitresses top up your glass even if it’s not empty! If I eat like I have the last two nights, I’m not going to go hungry, that’s for sure!
Tomorrow I’m going food shopping, which should be a laugh. We went today to have a browse so I knew where it was and they lady wouldn’t let me take my half drunk Coke bottle in, I had to put it in a special locker.. very strange. Hope none of those shenanigins tomorrow.
Weather-wise, it’s gorgeous here. In Hong Kong and Beijing it was too humid and you couldn’t see the sky. Here, it’s still humid but it’s a more bearable level, plus you can see blue sky, and stars at night. I think I’m going to like it here, however I have prepared for very cold weather and it’s not at that level quite yet!
There’s also a stadium here that is making me feel right at home – it’s got an arch which looks exactly like Gateshead Millenium Bridge. I have told Jenny that I want a good photograph so I will get that as soon as possible!
Hope you’re all well anyway. Just to reiterate that I won’t be on Facebook or Twitter as it’s not allowed here, although I am told that there are ways and means around that. But I think with this blog that’s more than enough. Oh and don’t expect a post this long everyday!