Zhangzhou: Social Networking FTW

Now I have to admit, I haven’t always “got” Twitter. I signed up a few years ago but never really tweeted, not really knowing how the whole thing works and as everyone was on Facebook it didn’t seem worth using.
However, this year I have finally understood Twitter. I use it on Saturdays to chat to fellow Swindon fans about anything and everything. I use it to keep in contact with friends as an alternative to Facebook. I use it to try and get more people to come to my blog by following travel tweeters and retweeting and favouriting their posts, as well as sending them tweets to try and get them to look at my pages. I also use it to enter competitions, which is where the first part of this post is leading.

Last week I noticed that my nice pair of lightweight brown trousers was beginning to get thin in the seat. I knew that action needed to be taken well before they split as otherwise I’d only be left with jeans, and in this hot weather they are just not practical. I searched a few of my favourite clothes sites to try and find what I wanted (a replacement similar to that of the trousers I had already), but to no avail. Finally I went onto the Crew Clothing website as I knew that I fit into their trousers and found some crops, plus they were having a 20% off everything Bank Holiday Sale event. Score! I thought, so as well as some cropped trousers I bought some jeans (to pick up in the summer) and some PJ shorts. I was so pleased about this so I joined their Facebook page to say how happy I was and they also had a Twitter page, so joined that too. On the Twitter page however, they said they were running a competition for a £100 voucher, all you had to do was tweet a picture of your favourite childhood holiday destination. So I thought what the hell?! Dad had sent me a picture of Polzeath way back in October, which is my all time favourite childhood holiday destination (and still is today!), so I thought at least I’d be using a family photo and not something I’d copied off the internet. I uploaded it with a caption “Polzeath beach, Cornwall. Sun, sea, surf, wetsuits and making friends with kites,” and took little notice of it.
Until last night when I received and email saying Crew Clothing had followed me back. Now I was quite excited by this, as generally, “firms” don’t really follow normal people like me. I thought that they had just been interested in my blog. No, it turns out. They had followed me so they could send me a direct message to say I was the winner of the competition, cue great excitement and surprise! So here’s the lovely picture that won me a shopping spree in the summer, thanks Dad!

Polzeath beach

I also found out that Dad Googles me. Apparently if you put “Sarah Bennett Swindon Town” in the search bar, my Twitter page appears first!

Onto my second amazing Twitter discovery. Yesterday I spotted a tweet, which had been retweeted by Lonely Planet, who I follow, about Tibet travel permits. Now, having met people on my travels who could get into Tibet because of closures and visas and the like, I was a little interesting, so clicked on the link and it took me to www.etramping.com. I read the post and it seems like it’ll be even more difficult to get into Tibet now, but noticing that the two contributors to the website were in China. I decided to have a nose around. The post for me that stuck out, however, was the “20 things I hate about China Part 1 and Part 2.” Having written my own list of things here (at the end, after the bull’ penis), I was intrigued to see what was on this one. It turns out, it was uncanny. Agness had said pretty much everything I think about, and more I hadn’t even realised. Take a look yourself, because, quite frankly, Agness’ posts simply rock. They’re well and thoughtfully written and a joy to read. I decided to comment at the bottom of one of the posts, and offer my blog page to compare notes and I got a reply from Agness very quickly. Soon enough we shared our contact details with each other because we seem to be cut from a very similar cloth, with a love of travelling and a love of China and all it’s quirkiness! She’s currently living near Chongqing, which as I’ve already mentioned happens to be where a uni friend of mine lives, and now also Luke, who I lived with in Ordos for a while, so that is even higher on my list of priorities now, to hopefully meet a new friend. I’ve added the www.etramping.com to my links on the side of the page too, so definitely check out the rest of Agness and Cez’s posts.

In all, yesterday was a day of win for social networking.

Snail mail is still in existence though, and I received a letter from Hazel at the weekend (a letter?! I never got letters in Ordos – they vanished!) and a package from Mum yesterday too which was great. Post takes so little time to get to me here (2 weeks instead of over 3 weeks) so I reckon most people in China just don’t know where Ordos is, I can’t really find any other reason. Anyway, in Mum’s parcel was Sherbet Fountains, yay! But how they’ve changed since I began eating them when I was little. The paper tube has been replaced with a plastic one and there is a lid, yes, a lid for the tube so you don’t have to eat it all in one go. As my post all goes to school, the girls I work with were intrigued, so I let them have some sherbet (which they likes) and some liquorice, (which they didn’t, claiming it tasted like medicine). Mum had also sent me some Diamond Jubilee stuff, some Union flag ribbon, a badge and some Deely boppers with flags on the top. The girls were extra excited about all this, so I took a photo of the three of them wearing something each and sent it back to Mum. Here are a couple for you:

Cathy, Joy and Ivelyn enjoying the Jubilee goodies!

Cathy, Joy and myself with all the Jubliee items!

Not much going on elsewhere right now. Yesterday was a staggering 35°C (95°F for those that need it!) so I sat out in the sun for an hour and a half (it was all I could manage!) and confused the Chinese as to why I was ruining my lovely white skin by sitting out in the heat. I also spotted this interesting washing load:

Time for a wash?

Also, when I spent a month in Malaysia, I never got bitten not even once. Here, they seem to like my feet and it’s really irritating!

Yum, feet blood!

Today, however, it’s cooler and raining, which is still nice in a way, so I’m not too bothered about that. Also yesterday, I went food shopping. Not special on its own, but in the live fish tanks (where you get to choose your own), there were also frogs (or toads – they were pretty big and my Chinese isn’t good enough to distinguish the characters of the two). I didn’t know the Chinese ate frogs, but at the same time, why should I be surprised? They seem to eat everything else!

I have another article up on Exploration magazine (link in sidebar). It’s about the legacy of Beijing 2008. Have a read and comment, it’s not too much like what I usually write, but it was interesting to write none the less and hopefully at least a little interesting to read!

Rachel came back yesterday, though she’d gone to bed by the time I’d got home after work. I’ll see her later though, to thank her for my lovely, but totally unexpected presents. So I’ve got some chocolate covered cashews (mmm, Mum’s favourite, nuts and chocolate. Not.), some Vietnamese coffee and also some, I think hot chocolate, but I’ll ask Rachel when I see her later.

Vietnamese goodies

Almost the weekend, and we’re almost at the midway point in the term, at week 10 of 24. As I’m going home the day after week 19 of 24, it doesn’t seem all that far away at all!

In my healthy eating and exercise campaign, I have lost 1kg (2.2lbs), which although doesn’t seem a lot means I can get into the trousers that started it all a lot more comfortably now. Long may it continues…

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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