nǐ hǎo: easing into life in nanning

Monday, September 1:  I have a long chat on the plane from Beijing this morning with two people who know a lot about Nanning, and they recommend some places I should go while here.  The young woman, Yilan, who works in Beijing, is traveling to visit her family for a holiday.  She recommends I visit the north sea of Beihai, Yangshuo, Yinxi, and Detian Waterfall.   Of course, I have a lot of places I want to visit, if time and money permit: Guilin & Yangshuo, Kunming in Yunnan Province, Hong Kong, Burma and Laos.

Nanning, meaning “South Tranquility,” is the capital of the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China and is about 99 mi (160 km) from the Vietnam border.  It is known as the “Green City” because of its abundance of lush tropical foliage.  If you’d like to read more about the city, you can check Wikipedia: Nanning or China Travel Guide: Nanning.

Nanning sits in a hilly basin with elevations between 230 and 1,640 ft above sea level.  Qingxiu Mountain dominates the southern part of town.  The city has a warm, monsoon-influenced humid subtropical climate, with an annual mean temperature of 71.3 °F (21.82 °C). Summers are hot and humid with July, the hottest month, having a 24-hour average temperature of 83.1 °F. Winters are mild and somewhat damp with January, the coolest month, averaging 55.2 °F (12.9 °C) in January. From February to August, rain is most frequent and relative humidity consistently averages above 80 percent; the annual rainfall is 51.6 in. The area is also frost-free for all but 3 or 4 days a year and snowfall is virtually unheard of in the city.

I disembark at the tiny airport of Nanning Wuxu International Airport, which seems way too small for a city of 6.6 million people at the prefecture level, 2.5 million in the metro area.   Amy, a student at the university, is a little late picking me up, which gives me a bit of a panic.  She takes me directly by taxi to Guangxi University, on the west side of Nanning.  We drive through the bustling city, clogged with cars, buses, motorbikes, trucks and people scurrying along in all directions.  The city is currently building an underground railway, and later I’m told that the railway construction is making for greater congestion than normal.

Amy leaves me on the sidewalk with my bags to wait while she fetches a key from another building.  While I’m standing there, a group of young students comes by and wants to pose for photos with me.

My first encounter with Chinese students upon my arrival

My first encounter with Chinese students upon my arrival

After I drop my suitcases in my apartment, Amy offers to take me to lunch.   She takes me to a fast food restaurant, where she pays for my lunch and then takes off to head to the airport again.

Noodles with vegetables and eggs

Noodles with vegetables and eggs

My first impressions of the apartment where I’ll live for the next 10 months are much like my first impressions of my first house in Oman, a run-down villa: my first floor “villa” behind the shoe store.  That place was run down, dirty and filled with bugs of every stripe.  This apartment in China is smaller, and similarly rough around the edges.  I don’t have a couch at all in my apartment, just some hard chairs, so I don’t see me using the living room much.  The kitchen is small and stained and the bathroom is gritty, but at least there is good water pressure and hot water.  The bedroom does at least have a nice view out over a lotus pond.

My bedroom

My bedroom

the view out my bedroom window

the view out my bedroom window

the living room

the living room

the tiny kitchen

the tiny kitchen

Later, a fellow teacher tells me that at the university where he was last year, he had a spacious brand new apartment, so he wishes he could go back “home” to there, despite the fact that the pollution was so bad he never saw sight of the sky.  Today, he was thrilled to see blue sky and white clouds.

The worst thing are the fluorescent light fixtures.  The previous tenant left a floor lamp, but it has no bulb.  Getting one will be my first priority, so I can read comfortably in bed. Right now the only light is a bright fluorescent light on the wall opposite the head of the bed, not very useful for reading.

Upon arrival, we immediately get busy with settling-in matters.  All of our tasks are done on foot, walking around the campus and the surrounding areas in the sweltering heat and humidity. First stop, a photo shop to have mug shots taken: I am told to keep my mouth closed and not smile, put my hair behind my ears, and pull up my somewhat low-cut top.  What results is the most horrific photo imaginable.  We proceed to the police station to register; I feel sure those pictures will put me on their most wanted list.

Then we go to the bank to open our bank accounts, but they require a phone number before they can proceed. This will have to be put off until tomorrow.

Caleb, about the age of my oldest son, is another newbie to Guangxi University; we’re going through all these processes together.  He’s from North Carolina but studied in China for several years and taught at another university in China last year.  He speaks fluent Chinese, so it’s great to have him around. He’s an easy-going and bright young man and  I’m happy to have met him.  Chen, the Human Resources person at the university, is also very helpful.  He’s patient with all the long waits and paperwork and his patience rubs off on me.  This is highly unusual, as I’m not known to be a patient person.

I meet another teacher named Kelly.  She, Caleb and I seem to be the only new teachers who need a visa, as most of the other teachers have one already from having worked in China before.  Kelly came from Indonesia where she just bought a bungalow.  She’s here in China to work to pay for the property.

I’m trying to think of the positive and to enjoy the experience, although it can be trying.  I do love being out on the streets and seeing all the interesting sights.  Once we get all these necessary things done, I hope to take to the streets with my camera.  It’ll be a while, I think, before I’m settled, and can explore further afield.  I’d like to go into Nanning proper at least by the weekend.

For dinner tonight, I eat nothing.  I am too exhausted to go out, and I don’t have any food in the house.  Maybe this will help me lose some weight, all this walking and not eating.

Tuesday, September 2:  The air-conditioning in my apartment is freezing, and I can’t seem to adjust it to a more reasonable temperature.  So in the middle of the night, I turn it off and open my window, which looks out over a lotus pond surrounded by weeping willows and other lush trees. This is around 2:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, and I can never go back to sleep.  It’s lovely on this first morning in my new apartment, seeing the sun rise and listening to the birds singing, with a view of the pond. I’m so envious that most of the other teachers have balconies looking over the pond but I don’t. Oh well, at least my bedroom has a nice big window, with bars on it, that allow me a lovely view.

the view of the pond out my apartment window my first morning in Nanning

the view of the pond out my apartment window my first morning in Nanning

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morning view of the pond from my apartment

the pond outside my apartment

the pond outside my apartment

When I finally get up, a neighbor named Eddie offers me a packet of coffee, that kind of three-in-one coffee I had all the time in Korea. I boil water in a frying pan as no saucepans or kettles are evident in my apartment.  It takes a long while on the stove contraption I have.  When the coffee is finally ready, it’s time for me to meet Chen and Caleb to go to the phone company.  I don’t even get to drink the coffee, and I have no breakfast.

We proceed to the phone store, where I get a Chinese SIM card for my iPhone.  It doesn’t work too well, possibly because my iPhone 5 is a 3G, and the Chinese SIM is a 4G (whatever that means!).  The phone stuff takes hours. By this time, Caleb and I are starving, so we go to a food stall to slurp down delicious noodles. Then on to meet Chen at the bank, where it takes awhile to get our accounts in order.

When I’m walking around the campus, I feel like I’m not in China, but in some combination country of Vietnam and Korea.  Lots of people, including teachers, ride electric motorbikes everywhere.  Many of the locals wear masks while riding about, or carry umbrellas.  Some people wear what looks like flowered or patterned hospital gowns or long-sleeved shirts, worn backwards, maybe to block out the wind or protect their skin from sun.  There are also a lot of strange transport contraptions, funny looking trucks, bicycle rickshaws, old-fashioned bicycles.  Driving through Nanning Monday on the way from the airport, we passed people on motorbikes carrying caged chickens.  Today, someone motors by with a cage of groundhogs.  Maybe they are going to cook them up?

The lotus pond behind my house, from a different location

The lotus pond behind my house, from a different location

In the afternoon, Caleb and I go to an outdoor food market, and I buy fruits, vegetables and eggs.  When you buy eggs here, they don’t come in a carton.  The vendor just puts them into a thin plastic bag.  I bought 6, along with some plums, walnuts, a passion fruit, tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, a red onion and some cabbage.

the open air fresh food market

the open air fresh food market

We walk all the way home carrying our goods, the bag of eggs nestled carefully at the top.  While unpacking in the apartment, I pick up the eggs and SPLAT!  They drop to the ceramic floor as I am putting them in the fridge.  Egg yolk and whites seep across the floor among the shattered shells!  I wasn’t planning on scrambled eggs, but that’s what I get.

fresh food market

fresh food market

By this time, I am exhausted.  Chen had already told us he wouldn’t be able to set up our internet until later, around 6:00 possibly.  In my room, I lie down on my nice hard bed to read Amy Tan’s The Bonesetter’s Daughter, which I’m quite enjoying.  While reading, I drift off and sleep for three solid hours.  I guess I’m not on Chinese time yet.

I wake up to a phone call from Chen, who wants to come hook up my internet.  I am excited to finally have internet, although I can’t get on Facebook or WordPress.  I expected Facebook to be blocked but not WordPress, so this is terribly disappointing.

Despite my numerous trips to the market, I still have no oil to cook with, so I don’t cook anything for dinner. I have no salad dressing, so I don’t make a salad, even though I have lettuce, tomato and cucumbers.  I have one plum and a handful of walnuts for dinner.  It’s like I’m doing everything piecemeal.

As soon as I send a long email to Mike, my computer shuts down and restarts all of a sudden because of a “problem.”  That leads to nothing but frustration, so I go back to The Bonesetter’s Daughter until I drift off to sleep.

Wednesday, September 3:  This morning, after I walk 0.6 miles each way to the NanBai Supermarket, Caleb and I stop by the SCIC (Sino-Canadian International College) building to talk to the schedule coordinator, Lisa.  She tells us orientation for the teachers will be next Wednesday, the 10th, and teachers of second year students start teaching on the 15th.  Teachers for Freshmen (me, apparently) won’t start until the 22nd.  Wow, that’s a lot of time to kill, especially if I don’t have internet.  We pick up our textbooks.  It looks like I’ll be teaching Speaking & Listening and Writing, as well as an English Language Interest course of my design: “Road Trip, American Style.”

After our brief meeting with Lisa, Caleb and I take the K-1 bus to downtown Nanning, where we walk around downtown, and Caleb, a Starbucks lover, is anxious to find his favorite spot for coffee.  We find couples dancing and people sitting on squares of newspapers playing cards and other games in a lively square.  We walk amidst brightly colored buildings, electric motorbikes galore, and a mosque.

dancing couples

dancing couples

dancing couples

dancing couples

Nanning

Nanning

Nanning

Nanning

Motorbikes in Nanning

Motorbikes in Nanning

a mosque

a mosque

Colorful downtown

Colorful downtown

We end up finding a paved walkway beside the Yongjiang River and we wander down that for awhile.  We see some of Nanning’s bridges and some interesting statues, fishermen, and boats.   As we headed back toward the city, it starts raining.

Along the river

Along the river

River in Nanning

River in Nanning

the river

the river

fishermen and fishing boats

fishermen and fishing boats

the river in Nanning

the river in Nanning

fishing boat

fishing boat

baskets and debris

baskets and debris

statue in a park

statue in a park

statue in a park along the river

statue in a park along the river

sea nymphs

sea nymphs

Statues along the river walkway

Statues along the river walkway

Eating snails

Eating snails

We end up in a shopping district called Chaoyang Lu, with pedestrian walkways much like the main shopping district in Daegu, South Korea.  At one point, I stop for a strawberry milk tea with surprising tapioca balls that I have to chew up.  The cute girl who runs the shop wants to have her picture taken with me, so we take turns posing, her coworker taking the shots (you can see him in the mirror). Caleb gets some bite-sized pieces of fried chicken; he shares a bit with me.

a cute Chinese girl after she serves me a strawberry milk tea

a cute Chinese girl after she serves me a strawberry milk tea

Finally, hot, sweaty, and drained, we find a Starbucks and stop in for a coffee, a bit of air-conditioning and some free wi-fi.

Nanning

Nanning

We make our way back to the bus stop and take the K1 bus home.  I ask Caleb how to say “chicken” in Chinese and he says “jirou.” He heads home, and I stop at a little fast food restaurant and say at the front counter: “jirou?”  The boy behind the counter looks at me quizzically.  I say, “jirou?”  He hands me a menu with pictures and sweeps his hand over it.  I can’t tell what’s what from the tiny pictures.  I say again, “jirou??”  More bafflement.  Finally, I do a chicken imitation with my arms, making little “bawk, bawk” noises.  He still has no idea what I’m saying.  Starving, I just point to something on the menu that looks like it might be chicken.  It is, thank goodness, and it’s delicious.

As I walk back from lunch, I take some random pictures of the campus.

Front Gate of Guangxi University

Front Gate of Guangxi University

A rock in a garden on the campus

A rock in a garden on the campus

statue on campus

statue on campus

Reflections

Reflections

Lotus pond on campus

Lotus pond on campus

Lotus pond

Lotus pond

I loved the reflections on the pond

I love the reflections on the pond

motorbikes ~ the preferred mode of transportation

motorbikes ~ the preferred mode of transportation

the view of our pond from another part of our building

the view of our pond from the patio of our building

motorbikes with personality

motorbikes with personality

I go back to the apartment for a while to wait for Chen to come back by to fix my internet.  He comes by and takes my Mac to Internet Services.  At that time, I walk to yet another market to buy some more household goods, including some light bulbs.    On my way back, I find yet another lotus pond.  There are plenty of them on the campus.

Lotus pond behind the supermarket

Lotus pond behind the supermarket

When I return Chen brings back my computer with the internet working… sort of, slowly.

My dinner tonight is really special.  I make a salad of lettuce, tomato and cucumber with a little olive oil.  No vinegar, no seasonings of any kind.  I should be wasting away to nothing with the little eating I’ve been doing.

I settle in with The Bonesetter’s Daughter, and freezing once again, I open the window,  even though it’s quite muggy.  I enjoy hearing the calls and twitters of the birds.  I also hear cheers and slogans from the students doing military training on the campus.

My biggest pleasure is having the floor lamp beside my bed to read by, light bulb and all.

Thursday, September 4:  This morning, Chen takes us downtown to do a Chinese version of the medical exams we already completed in our home countries.  We need this in order to get the resident visa.  When we finish that process, we take a taxi back to campus where Caleb and I search in vain for a dim sum restaurant that Chen told us was in the “mall,” which I see as more of a department store.

Caleb says he has leftovers to eat, so he heads home and I go to the supermarket again.  As I prepare to cross the street near the front gate, my arms loaded with supplies, a man in a truck drives slowly past.   I haven’t found a lot of people staring at me here in China as I did in Korea and Oman.  But this man is staring at me out his window.   As he passes me, I cross the street behind him.  Suddenly, I hear a loud crunch.  The truck has pinned a motorcycle beneath it.  The shaken motorbiker stands and brushes himself off.  I wonder if that truck driver hit the motorbiker because he was staring at me.  Oh dear.

Settled back into my apartment, I spend the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out how to get my internet to work properly.  A Xiaomaiwang beer helps the process along.  I finally do, after many long hour and fruitless attempts, and that’s why you can now experience a bit of my life in Nanning on my blog.

And by the way, I do cook a dinner tonight: a stir-fry of broccoli, mushrooms and red onions, served over the rice I had leftover from lunch.  Maybe I won’t get skinny after all. 🙂

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Categories: Asia, Chaoyang Lu, China, Guangxi University, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Nanning, Nanning Wuxu International Airport, Xiaomaiwang beer, Yongjiang River | Tags: , , , , , , | 33 Comments

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33 thoughts on “nǐ hǎo: easing into life in nanning

  1. Phyllis Horne

    Hey! I was just thinking of you! Remember me! At the nail shop? Telling you that I would miss you? Laughter!! Just wanted to say that I am happy to hear from you, delighted to read about the exciting things, trials, tribulations, food, people and the laughter!!

    Phyllis Horne 703.966.6227

    >

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    • Hi Phyllis, oh yes, I do remember you. And I miss you too! That conversation we had in the nail shop was so hilarious. I’m so glad you found me here in China! I sure hope we can be in contact when I return home to the US next summer. I hope you’ll enjoy coming along on my journey. 🙂

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  2. Wow, what a great blog that is. It took quite a while to get through it and look at all the pictures. You’ll be okay soon when you suss out where to get everything you want. Do you have a fridge and dare I ask, a freezer ? The one thing I hated in the pictures were those shockingly high apartment buildings. I like to be low amongst the greenery. Write another blog soon with your progress. Best wishes from Dai

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    • Thanks so much, Dai. I know I squeezed a lot into that post, but it’s taken me 5 days to get the internet to work and to gain access to WordPress and Facebook, which are blocked in China. I just wanted to write it all down before I forgot anything. Hopefully I can keep up better now and have shorter posts. With all these changes I haven’t had time to visit you in a while, but hopefully, I’ll find time soon. I hope you’re well.

      I do have a fridge and a freezer. Those high apartment buildings are all over Nanning; it’s quite a much larger city than I imagined. But with China’s 1.3 billion people, I guess they’re a necessary evil. Luckily I’m on the third floor, so not too high up. Looking out my window, I’m right in the branches of the trees! Thanks for your good wishes. At least I have some time to settle in before I have to start teaching.

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      • I forgot to say before, Kat…… those noodles and greggies look exactly my style. I’m a big fan of green vegetables, especially when they are just blanched.

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      • Yes, I love this kind of food too, Dai. I also love all the fresh food markets with their fruits and vegetables. I’m with you, I could eat like this the whole year ahead. 🙂

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  3. CATHY!!! The beginning of your post took me back to when we first arrived in Gumi when Mr. Smith and Coffee J picked us up. Remember our day at E.mart? Shopping for furniture and lastly our first meal with them… our first Samgyupsal? And the kitchen looks SO much like the color of the one in my apt. right across from you, remember?
    I though it was CRAZY how that truck driver just ate that motorcycle! ay ya yai!!!

    I am so glad you’re writing this blog, because I can feel the sense of living abroad (all over again) through it.

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    • Oh Myrna! How I remember those days. Everything was so strange and confusing, and Coffee J and Mr. Smith were so efficient at getting everything done! They took such good care of us, didn’t they? I’ll always remember that first night eating samgyeopsal and drinking way too much soju and sleeping on the floor of your apartment while they replaced the floor in mine. You know, my kitchen is the same color as your kitchen (and mine) in Daegu, that kind of light teal or aqua. Except this one is a lot more stained and rough around the edges.

      It was really crazy how that truck “ate” that motorcycle. That poor motorbike driver! And I was just walking along minding my own business, while things were crashing around me. 🙂

      I really missed living abroad in the last year, even though it was nice to be home. I just couldn’t resist trying it out again in another country. As I only have 9 more years till retirement, I think I might try to keep doing this here and there, as long as people will hire me. Once I retire, I’ll settle down and enjoy, maybe, my grandchildren. Haha, that is if I ever have any. 🙂 Miss you so much, Myrna!! What are you doing these days? Hugs and love to you. xxx

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  4. What an interesting place you arrived at, Cathy. good thing you have a few weeks before you start teaching, that will give you a chance to find your way around, figure out where things are. Looks like you have a wonderful market for fresh produce and the fast food places look a lot more appetizing than the McDonald’s kind of food…

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    • It is certainly interesting, Annette, a barrage on the senses! It really reminds me of Hanoi with high rises. It’s very hot and humid though, and that will be tough for me to deal with, as it’s like this much of the year. I think the food options are definitely healthier than the American fast food joints, although when I went into Nanning yesterday, I saw a number of McDonald’s and Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants. Today, I made it a goal to notice whether the Chinese are fat, and here in Nanning at least, they seem to be in good shape. I don’t think I’ve seen a single fat person. 🙂

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  5. Oh my goodness I’m totally in awe of your ability to tolerate this stuff. I would have starved by now because the language is so totally different to anything I’m used to. This is a great read Cathy thank you! 🙂

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    • Thanks so much, Gilly. It doesn’t help that I haven’t studied a word of Chinese, except hello and thank you (which I still can’t pronounce properly)! At least Caleb showed me a Chinese translation dictionary to put on my iPhone, and now when I need something, I can just put in the English word and I get the Chinese translation. I can even push the speaker button to hear how it’s supposed to sound. Obviously I didn’t have that on my phone when I went to lunch. But later I used it to find salt in the supermarket. So it does work!! Thank goodness for modern day technology. It will save hopeless language learners like me. 🙂

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  6. Wow Cathy, it has been fun reading through your first adventures in China! Kind of reminds me a little of when we went to visit Jake in Seoul and Japan. We had a hard time with the language there and pictures in the restaurants were lifesavers for us! 🙂 Hope you continue to get reception and a way to blog and do Facebook. It will be fun to see China in your eyes! Jake says Laos is beautiful! My husband and I will get to travel to Taiwan in May, when Jake graduates from his online masters program. He and his fiance, Serena are back in Busan, South Korea now. Had a great couple of months with them this summer,when they came to visit! Good luck with everything! If you need spices or small things, send me your address and I can send you a care package from California! 🙂 Take care girlfriend!

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    • Thanks so much for reading about my first “adventures” in China, Theresa, and for your comment. There are many similarities between this part of China and Seoul, also many similarities with Vietnam, possibly because of the hot and humid climate. Yes, the pictures in restaurants are life-savers in these countries, where too often, no English versions of menus are available. I would love to go to Laos, so we’ll see if I can get there. Lucky that you get to visit Jake in Taiwan; I’m sure you miss him now that he’s back in Busan. Thanks so much for your kind offer, Theresa. Hopefully I’ll be able to find everything here that I need. Thanks, and you take care too. 🙂

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  7. I so admire you, Cathy. I’ve read every word and perused all of your photos. I’m sure things will get easier as you get more used to where everything is. It’s good that you’ve hooked up with Caleb, and can share some of your experiences together. Maybe you should buy one of those motorbikes and a pink hat. 😉 I remember when we went to China, that everyone was so fascinated to see my blonde hair. Fluorescent lights are awful, and give me a headache. So happy that you have a lamp and managed to buy a bulb for it. That Starbucks must have seemed like an oasis in the desert. I’m sure that before long , you’ll be speaking some Chinese. Learning to write it is quite something else, isn’t it? Take care. I look forward to your next installment. *hugs* Sylvia

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    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Sylvia. Don’t admire me too much, as this is some crazy compulsion I have to live and try to survive in these challenging situations when I could easily be enjoying the comforts of home. I’m so glad to have met Caleb, and I hope to find other adventurous teachers as well. I can just see me on a motorbike and pink hat. I’d fit right in. I could use an umbrella too. I too hate fluorescent lights, and I may have to buy another floor lamp just to avoid using them altogether. The Starbucks was a great oasis, but it is extra expensive here, so I doubt I’ll be frequenting it much. I hope to learn a little Chinese while here, which will be more than I have now: virtually none. I think it will be almost impossible to get by without some. I don’t even think I’d be able to write! That being said, it might be fun to take a calligraphy class. Thanks for coming along on my journey; I hope you enjoy it vicariously. Where did you go in China? 🙂

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      • We booked for a guided tour, and found that we were the only people on it, so it was very intense, and quite exhausting, as we had to pay close attention to our guide, every minute. His English wasn’t very good, so we really had to concentrate hard. 🙂 We took in Beijing to see the Great Wall, The Summer palace and the Forbidden City, Xian to see the Terra Cotta Warriors, the City Wall and the Mao Ling Mausoleum, and Guilin, where we had a wonderful cruise down the Li River.

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      • I’ve been on tours like that. When I was in Cambodia, I was all alone with a guide whose English was atrocious, and it wore me out to listen to him. I found myself wishing for silence. Needless to say, I just went on my own for the next several days. I saw all the same things you did in Beijing, but I didn’t see the Terrace Cotta Warriors. Guilin and Yangshao are about a 4 hour bus ride for me, so I plan on going there during my winter break. 🙂

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  8. So glad to hear you have arrived, are settling in, and can blog from China. I was beginning to miss your informative contributions. From the safety of my home in the UK I can get a certain vicarious satisfaction from hearing you get used to a different way of life! Not sure I could do it, so the next best thing is reading about someone who can.

    I was interested to hear about the Chinese dictionary app. What an excellent idea and as you say, how wonderful is modern technology! As I’m off to Burma next month for a holiday I might just see if there is one for Burmese, not that I’ll really need it, but it is nice to have the odd word of the language and I think it is appreciated that tourists make a bit of an effort.

    How long is your contract for? Whereas China is not currently on my list of countries I must visit before I die, your contribuions from that country might just persuade me otherwise.

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    • Thanks so much, Vee, for checking in with me. I wasn’t sure at all about blogging from China; let’s see how it goes going forward. Lucky for you that you can be happy living vicariously, so you don’t have to suffer through culture shock! I don’t know why I have this compulsion to do this to myself, when I could be comfortable at my home in Virginia, but I have wanderlust and I don’t know what I can do about it!! I just have to follow my heart for now, at least until I feel too old to do this anymore.

      That dictionary app is a lifesaver. Now I really have to learn some Chinese myself. I think I’ll start working on the numbers tonight. That would be very helpful. Lucky you to be going to Burma!! I would LOVE to read about that. It’s high on my list of places to visit while here in the south of China. You don’t write a blog, do you? If so, I’d love to see it.

      My contract is until July 25, 2015, less than a year. I know it’s a slow process adjusting, and just when I’ve adjusted, it will be time to go home. I’d love to go to Japan next, after staying home a bit. Pretty soon I’ll be too old for anyone to hire me, but I’ll do this when I can just for the experience. We only live once, right? 🙂

      I have to decide where to go on the National Holiday beginning October 1, but as we won’t have but one pay check under our belt by then, I don’t think my holiday can be very expensive. I really do want to take advantage of the time to travel though. I won’t get another break until February. Thanks for following, Vee, and thanks so much for your words of encouragement. 🙂 xxx

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  9. I’m just catching up with your new adventures in China, and enjoyed this first post very much. I love your photos – they really give a great flavour of the area. The gate entrance to the university looks very grand, doesn’t it?

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  10. Well, you’re not going to be bored any time soon, Cathy! 🙂 I’ve read all your comments on mine but not had time to respond to them all. I got in at 1.30 this morning and have done my Saturday morning zumba and whirled about the place shopping and washing. Speaking of which, you’ll definitely be wasting away, lass!
    Your ‘pad’ doesn’t look too homely but I expect you’ll be adding colourful touches, Cathy, and the people seem very friendly, so that’s a big bonus, isn’t it? I’ve read the Bonesetter’s Daughter too. 🙂 Glad you sorted WP so we can keep in touch, hon. You must have felt a bit desolate when you were talking to Mike, and thinking ‘what have I done?’ But you’re our trail blazer, Cathy. Looking forward to China through your eyes.

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    • You are a busy gal, Jo! I don’t know how Mick, or anyone, keeps up with you. I hope I will be wasting away, but who knows? It seems no matter how hard I work at it, I never lose weight.

      You’re right that my pad doesn’t look too homely; I would try to make it so, but as I only intend to stay for one year, and I want to travel as much as possible, I don’t see myself spending much money to fix it up. The people so far have been very friendly. I’m looking forward to meeting my students; I hope they’ll be enthusiastic and well-behaved! I have had my moments where I’ve thought “What have I done?” But they pass when I find something to interest me. It will be an adventure for sure; I never could have been able to imagine what it would be like to live in China, and now here I am with the opportunity to do so! I’m glad you’ll be coming along on my journey, Jo. 🙂

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  11. So lovely to catch up with you Cathy. I can’t imagine putting myself through that sort of challenge now, though when I was younger I’d have thought nothing of it. I think I have become very boring… never mind I shall enjoy living in China through your eyes, knowing that I don’t have to worry about the food or the language! Good luck with the teaching when it starts 🙂

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    • Hey Jude, so nice to see you dropping by here in China. I know what you mean, I can hardly imagine putting myself through this kind of challenge, and yet here I am. Sometimes I wonder, why on earth am I doing this? Maybe boring is not such a bad thing. Maybe after this year I’ll have had enough; I can see this will be a challenge mainly because of the sheer number of people and the tropical weather. I can’t deal with this humidity!! One more week until I begin teaching, but we have more meetings and preparation this week. Some of my colleagues have already started. I’m going to go set up my office today. 🙂

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  12. Cathy, it looks like an auspicious beginning! I love all the lotus ponds and your photos of the university are great. I remember when we moved to Khartoum one of my greatest joys was getting a lightbulb for my reading lamp to escape all the harsh fluorescent lights. Wishing you all the best, Terri

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    • Thanks so much for dropping by, Terri. I’m glad you like the lotus ponds and the university pictures. It really is such a nice campus, and a huge one at that.

      I’m always happy to find a way to avoid fluorescent lighting. Every place I’ve lived abroad has had them. I guess they’re just the cheapest thing to put into apartments. Thanks for your good wishes! Just started teaching this week, and I’m adjusting slowly, only to have the National Holiday next week. 🙂

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