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Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
South Africa - Travel and Volunteering

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African Dawn and Skotia

Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa

The last week has just flown by. I arrived at African Dawn (Eventually!) on Monday morning. It is located about 30 minutes drive from Jeffrey's Bay and is in the middle of nowhere. I had the day to look around and settle in. The sanctuary is home to Cheetah, Lynx, Marmosets, Squirrel Monkeys, Wallaby, Spring Buck and hundreds of birds amongst other things. The location is stunning. I was staying in the wooden lodge which is a short walk from the sanctuary down a pretty steep hill. All of the other volunteers were stating in the backpackers attached to the sanctuary. I loved the lodge. Outside the window I could see Giraffe and Zebra grazing in the distance. There were also wild Leopard but I wasn't lucky enough to spot one. As it's winter here it goes dark around 5pm and after dinner there really isn't that much to do so I've been having some pretty early nights! On Tuesday morning I realised that this isn't such a bad thing as the cockerels start crowing at 4.30am and don't stop until 9. If I could catch one I would have throttled it! I start work at 7 and work consists of preparing meals for the animals, this could be seed for the birds, fruit for the monkeys or meat for the big cats. The prep room is pretty grim and a lot of the same knives and chopping boards are used for the staff/volunteers food prep which turned my stomach a little but I had to not think about it. The meat used is often off and I had to choke back a gag on more than one occasion. I got stuck in and tried to be as quick as possible when working in the prep room. Feed runs were really good fun, I had the chance to feed all of the animals (Except the crocodile and the adult cheetah as they would more than likely have had a go at eating me!) The Lynx were really friendly and I spent quite a bit of my free time in with them. I also really liked the Marmosets. They have the cutest little faces!
One of the other volunteers had mentioned Skotia, a nearby reserve they had the opportunity to go and work at. I got the contact details and managed to get accepted for a few days work. I didn't have to pay to volunteer and all transport, food and accommodation was provided. I left African Dawn on Friday morning and after about 2 hours arrived in Skotia. It was just incredible. Such a stunning location. We drove about 30 minutes into the wilderness where we stopped outside a large collection of Bush Trees. This would be my home for the next few nights. Inside the collection of trees was a small wendy house style cabin and a tiny outside shower with 2 tin walls. No electricity, no hot water and no noise whatsoever, I was excited. I spent the rest of the afternoon with Edward, a ranger who would be looking after me during my stay. We drove out to a nearby watering hole where I saw crocodile and Hippo basking in the sunshine. My first job was to dig a trench. They had a severe drought this summer and the water from the mountains was bypassing the watering hole so by digging a trench it would allow the water to run straight to the watering hole which was running desperately low. I hopped off the truck, a little nervous as we were only 20 meters from the crocs and hippos. Edward was on the truck watching out for animals which made me feel a little better as they were everywhere! I think he actually took great pleasure in telling me that Hippos kill more humans than any other 3 animals in Africa put together. He was a pretty funny guy, but I never knew if he was joking or not. He kept winding me up about lions saying that he could sense they were close. After a couple of hours I was really focused on my trench digging and started to ignore his constant attempts to scare me (I couldn't get 'The circle of life' out of my head!!). Then, in the calmest voice (I didn't even hear him at first) he said to me 'Don't turn around, don't run, don't make a sound'. I wanted to laugh but took one look at his face and I knew exactly what was behind me. My heart started to race and I actually thought I was going to faint. ' Slowly walk back to the truck. Do not run'. I did exactly as ordered and now idea how I managed not to run. I got back on the truck and then was safe to look behind me and see the biggest fuck off lion I have ever laid eyes on. Edward told me that if I had run, the lion would have killed me. They can go from 0 to 80 kilometers per hour in about a second, I wouldn't have stood a chance. Back on the safety of the truck we headed away from the Lion. To add insult to injury I was covered in pepper ticks. I counted 42 in total! Arms and legs.... not so bad, but the 4 on my eyelids 2 under my fingernails and one up my nose hurt like a mother..!
After a surprisingly good night's sleep I just about managed to pluck up the courage to get off the truck again. (I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm scared of lions!!) I spent the majority of the day chopping down dead trees for firewood. Edward convinced me that there were no Lions in this area but I spent the whole time looking out for them!
During the night I could hear the Lions roaring in the distance. It was pretty surreal but incredib;e to witness, I was just happy listening to it from the safety of my wendy house cabin! The third day made all the ticks, blisters and dicing with death worthwhile. In return for my hard work I was treated to a 6 hour game drive. I saw Hippo, Giraffe, Rhino's (These one's weren't cows!), Wilderbeast, Zebra, Spring Buck, Warthogs, Kudu, Impala, Inyala, Spring Hare and Lions, lots of Lions. We actually saw the lions catch, kill and eat a warthog as well as hunting wilderbeast which was an incredible experience. They really are beautiful and so powerful. Edward told me that a couple of months ago 3 Japanese tourists had been on a game drive without a ranger and saw the lions sleeping under a tree (They sleep between 19-22 hours per day) because the lions looked all sleepy and cute they got out of the car to get closer to them and all 3 of them were killed instantly. Bloody idiots. Yes, they are incredibly cute when they sleep but you won't catch me trying to get a closer look... ever.
After my last night in bushcamp I headed back to Jeffreys Bay where I will remain for the rest of my trip here. My next placement starts on Monday and is in a Foster Home just on the outskirts of the township in Jeffreys Bay. For the first time this trip I'm happy to hear there's no chance of me seeing a Lion in Jeffreys Bay

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on May 24, 2010 from Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa
from the travel blog: South Africa - Travel and Volunteering
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Snot, Crap and Cider!

Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa

I've had a couple of days in Jeffrey's Bay and I really love it here. Walking along the beach watching the Dolphins has taken up the majority of my time, as well as hanging out and getting to know everyone here. It's really chilled out and just what I needed after a pretty busy week. My birthday I woke up feeling like hell! Jana made a real effort for me and we had pink champagne and cider by the crate load! Hardly surprising that I didn't want to get up at 6.30am. Moddy had made eggs and sausage for breakfast, I could have kissed him! (I didn't tho, I juat ate it like I'd never been fed!) Luckily we had a 2 hour drive so managed to increase my 2 hours sleep to 4 and was feeling a bit better when we arrived at Craggs Elephant Sanctuary. I walked with 3 female elephants, around the watering hole, through the fields and into the forest. It was incredible. It's breathtaking being so close to them, they're such magnificent creatures!Before long the dull throbbing in my head had completely disappeared and been replaced by butterflies in my stomach. I stood infront of Manny, the largest female, and held my right hand out behind me, she took hold of my hand with her trunk and I lead her around! (I say that, I didn't really lead her anywhere, I walked really quickly infront of her to avoid being trodden on!) She has a really strong grip on my hand and it was really slimey from all the snot, it was quite overwhelming. As we were walking through the forest, Delcuse, the female elephant walking in front of me, decided she had to go and proceeded to do the biggest shit I have ever seen.... all over my feet. Let's just say 3 days on and I can still smell it on me. All part of the experience!
I did have the opportunity to ride one of the Elephants, but I'm not really into riding animals (I also passed on riding an Ostrich earlier in the week!) so I decided against it. I did get to see everything though. I had no idea that their skin is actually hairy, It's a little bizarre! They have the most beautiful eyes with the longest eyelashes I have ever seen. When they walk they only lift one leg off the ground at any one time and their back legs land in the exact same spot their front legs have already stepped on. This is as the skin on their front feet is much stronger and their back feet are much more sensitive, the front feet will flatten and thorny bushes making in more pleasant for their back feet! Elephants cry, but they don't cry from their eyes, they cry from a gland on the side of their head!
I am heading out to African Dawn Wildlife Sanctuary today where I will be volunteering for the next 7 days. I thought I would be leaving early, so I have been sat around for the last 4 hours waiting for my lift! No one here seems to know what's going on! It's a little frustrating, but I'm really excited about this part of my trip! I'm not sure what internet access is like as I will be in the middle of nowhere so it may be a week until my next post.

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on May 17, 2010 from Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa
from the travel blog: South Africa - Travel and Volunteering
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Elephants in Addo

George, South Africa

After posting my last blog in Jeffrey's bay I headed down to the sea front, there were so many dolphins jumping out of the water, I've never seen anything like it! But unfortunatley it wasn't long before I had to leave and head to Sunday's River Valley where I would be spending the night. I'm really looking forward to returning to Jeffreys Bay. We arrived at Sundays River Valley at around 3pm, such an incredible location. The area is all citrus fruit farms and we were surrounded by orange and lemon trees. My room had a really nice balcony with incredible views, not another building for miles. I sat there until sunset just watching the monkeys playing in the trees and listening to the crickets, I could have stayed forever. After dinner I headed to bed as we had a really early start on Thursday. There was an absolutely enormous cricket in my room, I had to practically wrestle it to the ground bafore throwing it out the window! Had a great nights sleep and getting up at 5 wasn't as hard as I thought it would be! I was so excited to finally be on my way to see some Elephants!! We arrived at Addo just before 6am and had a 2 hour game drive in an open topped truck. It was really cold, but as soon as we started to see the animals I didn't notice. First we saw Kudu (Which I later has for lunch!) then Ostrich, Black Backed Jackels, Mongoose ( I don't know the plaural.... Mongeese, mongooses... or just Mongoose.... I'm giving you multiple choice!!)Meerkats, Warthogs, Zebra... It was about 45 minutes in before we saw our first Elephant. It was a huge male and I mean huge. It was so much bigger than I expected! (I have seen elephants in real life before, but not like this!) He walked straight past me and if I held out my arm (Which I wasn't aloud to do!) I would have been able to touch him. I could feel my heart beating really fast, I've never felt anything like it before. We watched him dissapear into the bush. This was by far the most incredible experience of my life. When we got back to base Moddy took us out twice more and we were lucky with the weather, as it was nice we saw so many elephants. All the females and the young at the watering hole, the females are much more social than the males, when the males reach 10-13 years old and hit puberty they are forced out to the group to avoid and inbreading. Last week the oldest male and on of the younger males had a fight. The oldest male was killed and the younger died shortly afterwards. We saw the remains, which was only bones, the rest had been eaten by the Lions and Hyenas. It was a bit sad to see, but that's nature I guess.
I had a really amazing day and thoroughly enjoyed myself. We headed to Port Elizabeth where we would be spending the night. I went into the city for a look around but felt really unsafe for the first time since I have been here, I didn't like it at all so headed back to the Backpackers where I ended up having a Birthday Eve party until the wee hours! Next Stop - Walking with Elephants!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on May 15, 2010 from George, South Africa
from the travel blog: South Africa - Travel and Volunteering
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Cape Town to Jeffreys Bay

Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa

Well I've had a few days here now and completely lost track of what day/time it is and I'm bloody loving it! I managed to have a day in Cape Town after catching up on some sleep. I bumped into a couple of Aussie girls I met at the Airport, Ivy and Nadine ('Just call me Nads, Y'know, like testicles!' Australian accent please!) we had a mooch around the antique stalls and markets before going for some lunch. They were heading off to Table Mountain and asked if I wanted to go with them, I thought I was going on Sunday so I declined only to find out that I wansn't going on Sunday! A little disappointed I missed it. My experience of South Africa so far is nothing like I was expecting from what I read in my guide books. I feel completely comfortable and safe here and all the people I have met here are friendly and welcoming. I'm already planning my trip back! I am currently in Jeffreys Bay on the South Coast. Over the past 3/4 days I have been travelling with Maudicai (Moddy) my tour guide. There are 2 other people on the tour. Jana, a 23 year old German girl working in Cape Town for 5 months as an intern and Thomas (not Tom, Thomas!) a 28 year old guy who is studying Computer Science and over here for a holiday. I really like Jana, she's typically German, but fun to talk to and up for a laugh. Thomas is a bit of a wet fart. He doesn't do or say much. Occasionally I will say something he finds funny (I say funny things all the time, I'm on fire over here, but he only occasionally appreciates my gift!) and he will burst out laughing. The only thing I can compare it to is a 6 year old girl, it's actually a little disturbing!
We left Cape Town and headed south to Cape Agulhas and the Southern Most point of Africa. In the Backpackers (That's what Hostels are called over here) I met 2 guys from the UK who have been travelling for the last 11 months. They are cycling from London to Cape Town and were on the last leg of their trip. They've raised over 11,000 pounds (I cant find the pound sign on this keyboard! They're a little different over here. I'll blame any spelling mistakes on this too!) for Eye on Africa. www.eyeonafrica.co.uk. www.justgiving.com/eyeonafrica I was really inspired by their efforts and have already sponsored them. We then travelled through the Langeberg Mountains and along Route 62. We visited Cange caves, this wasn't really top of my list of things to see but I was actually really impressed! I'm running out of time so apologies this last bit is a bit rushed! We then travelled the Garden Route which is absolutely stunning! This morning we went to Tsisikamma Falls and on the way we saw baboon crossing the road! I got a little bit over excited. As I mentioned before we are now in Jeffreys Bay, this is where I will be volunteering but I am only here for a couple of hours today! The beach is beautiful. The weather has been mainly sunny but windy and occasionally really wet, but today is really hot and the sky's really clear.
I have seen Ostrich, Spring Bok and Zebra en route, but tomorrow I have to be up at 5am for my first game drive! Super excited!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on May 12, 2010 from Jeffrey's Bay, South Africa
from the travel blog: South Africa - Travel and Volunteering
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Trains, Planes and a sleeping Swede

Cape Town, South Africa

Well I think it might be best to cut a long story short!
Yesterday at half eleven I got into a car, then I got onto a train, after 3 hours I got onto the tube, then I got onto another train. Then I arrived at Heathrow airport. By this point I already felt as though I had travelled long enough to at least be in another country. After 4 hours of hanging around I got onto a plane to Paris only to be told seconds after boarding that the flight would be delayed by 20 minutes. That's not so bad. We were told that the delay was due to the amount of air traffic but whilst we waited the horrific grinding noise the plane was making made me think otherwise. After an hour and twenty minutes of god awful 'on hold' music and fear of being strapped into the plane of doom we finally took off. Only a short 2 hour flight to Paris where I would be changing over to Johannesburg. As each minute passed I know my chances of arriving in Paris in time to catch my flight were getting slimmer and slimmer. We landed in Paris 20 minutes before my next plane took off, by the time I managed to get off I only had 10 minutes to spare. As I stepped of the plane a member of the 'Air France' crew ushered me down a set of stairs onto the runway bit (where the planes park?) and bundled me into the back of a van. I figured she was tring to get me to my plane on time, but she could have been kidnapping me, I couldn't understand a word she was saying. She drove like a maniac, dodging other vans, busses and luggage carts before arriving at the departure gate for my flight to Jburg. I was very grateful for her efforts, but when I arrived the flight had been delayed so it was all a bit unnecessary. I had another 45 minute wait before the flight finally boarded. It was the Airbus A380, which I later found out is the largest plane in the world. I've never been on a double decker plane before! The novelty soon wore off. I was sat next to a youngish Swedish girl, who was really sweet, but she fell asleep straight after taking off and slept for almost the entire 10 hour flight. I had the window seat and couldn't get out! The plane wasn't crowded and I wanted to move so I could get comfy and have a kip, but I couldn't. For a while it was because I didn't have the heart to waker her, but 6 hours in I did try gently rouse her from what looked like an amazingly deep and wonderful sleep (I wasn't watching her sleep, that's creepy, it's an assumption I made after one or two sideways glances in her direction!) but to no avail. She was out for the count.
Again due to delays when I finally arrived in Jburg I had about 30 minutes to get my onward flight to Cape Town. This time though, as I was changing airlines, I had to go through customs, get my visa, collect my luggage and check in all over again.
I really had no idea I could run so fast.
Bearing in mind my combined luggage weighs approx 4 stone and at this point I was 30 hours without sleep or a shower and 24 hours without a fag I'm surprised no one died.
I got on my flight to cape town. I had no one sitting next to me, we took off on time and I wasn't forced to listen to some random nobody singing Celine Dion 'My Heart Will Go On'.
Upon arrival I got the shuttle bus to the hostel, had a shower and a fistful of cigarettes. Feeling refreshed and looking forward to some shut eye, but with only the offer of Macaroni Cheese for tea if I stay here I think I'll venture out for a wander before it get's dark.

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on May 7, 2010 from Cape Town, South Africa
from the travel blog: South Africa - Travel and Volunteering
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Borneo Baby!!!

Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

I have been in Borneo for 2 weeks now and the time is just flying by!! I met Mike at the airport and was surprised by Abbey and Andy! It was really great to see them all and we found a lovely little bar where we started our New Year celebrations and had a good catch up. After a couple of days in KK getting over our Jet lag and enjoying the sunshine and a spot of snorkeling on the surrounding islands, we headed off to The Kinabatangan river to stay in the jungle.We all stayed in a basic little hut with nothing but a bed and went on 4 river cruises and 3 jungle walks (2 at night!). We saw plenty of wildlife: The amazing Proboscis Monkeys, Macaques, Monitor Lizards, Crocodiles, Giant poisonous spiders... the list is endless! Unfortunately we weren't lucky enough to see any pygmy elephants or Orangutans. However when we were on one of the night jungle walks the guide found a pretty big scorpion and picked it up, after a minute or 2 he asked if anyone wanted to hold it. Before it had even registered in my brain I was saying "I will!" Then immediately wishing I hadn't said it and not wanting to back down I let the poisonous scorpion crawl up and down my arm! He took it back and after another girl had a go, I took it back and this time it crawled up my right arm and right across my chest under my chin and down my left arm!
After our junge fun we headed to Sepilok Orangutan sanctuary! It was amazing! Feeding time is twice daily and although the Orangutans dont hang around for long it was amazing to see them and one of them had a baby which was adorable! There were some other cheeky monkeys constantly trying to steal the food and climbing all over the viewing platform where we were stood, this was alot of fun!
We decided to head across to Semporna for a spot of Scuba diving before heading back to KK. We needed to backtrack all the way to KK before we could travel south into Sarawak, which was a bit of a pain, but when we arrived at KK (after our bus breaking down and being practically stranded for 4 hours!) we decided to hire a car in order to journey down South!
The weather is AMAZING, the food is a bit of a let down, but the people are really friendly and I'm having a brilliant time!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on January 12, 2008 from Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Last Blog entry in China! :(

Shenyang, China

Well, We had the Christmas party and I dressed up as Santa - it was pretty humiliating, but also alot of fun! As it was snowing I didn't have to climb through the windows in the end - thank God!! My buddy Mr Young has made a video for me so you can all see it when I get home! Unfortunatly I have been ill - AGAIN! My friends Amanda and Miranda came to visit from Beijing, but not long after they arrived I had to go home to bed. I had a throat infection and lost my voice which was a real shame, bit I will see them this weekend as I am staying in Beijing for one night. It also meant I missed out on the Christmas celebrations with my friends, it's a good job it doesnt feel like christmas, otherwise it would have been pretty depressing! I did manage to pick up by Christmas Day and made it to the City to my friends appartment for a Christmas Party! I told everyone how to play the animal game and we ended up doing that for nearly 2 hours! We had quite a few Chinese friends there... so it was alot of fun!!
School is over and saying goodbye was harder than I thought. I am really going to miss all the kids and all of the teachers, but most of all my Buddy - Mr Young! Young insisted that he come and see me off at the train station on Friday evening, so I arranged to meet him at 9pm. I was finally happy that everything was going according to plan and enjoyed my last night in Shenyang with a few beers with my friends. Feeling a little worse for wear on Friday morning I was not best pleased when I recieved a phone call from Rice telling me that my bus had been cancelled due to a heavy snow storm! (The highway had been closed!) Fuck!! I had to trapse all the way to the train station in the snow in a mad panic thatI was going to be stuck in Shenyang forever and miss my flight to Borneo! After a couple of hours queing I managed to get my hands on 2 of only 4 tickets left to Beijing!! (Gemma was coming to beijing with me!) I only had a couple of hours to meet my friends for one last farewell before I had to go to the train station. I said my goodbyes to everyone except Lea, Alex and Gemma who were all coming to the train station with me. I met Mr Young at the staton and he had some surprise visitors for me! No 2 House and Jo Pang Jui! (I may not have mentioned these previously, but I went to her Birthday party and they are friends of Mr Young!) They had come up from Dalian especially to wish me farewell and invite me to their wedding next year! I was really touched. No 2 House is a sailor and considered quite an important person, he managed to get us all VIP passes to the train station to wait for my train in Comfort and the passes also allow everyone down to the tracks to see me onto the train. I was really moved and as you can imagine pretty emotional. When the time came for me to go Young and No 2 house got my suitcase and backpack onto the train for me (Both incredibly heavy!) and then returned back to the trackside for a final goodbye! I'm really glad I had Gemma with me otherwise I may have changed my mind about going. Everyone was in tears and I was waving like mad out of the window. As the train pulls off Mr Young runs after it so I can see him through the window, doing a silly dance!
I arrive in Beijing and leave my suitcase at UIBE before heading across the city to meet my friends. As I have a pretty early start we opted for a night in and it was really nice to unwind and try and forget about all the emotion of leaving my friends behind.But then morning comes and it's time to do it again! Only this time it isnt too bad. I will see Amanda and Miranda again in Beijing before I fly home , and Gemma lives in Manchester so it wont be long before I meet up with her once I'm back in old blighty! Still another teary farewell and the start of my long journey to Borneo!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on December 23, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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The end is nigh!!

Shenyang, China

Well, the last week or so has been a bit of a blur, tying up as many loose ends as possible before its time to leave. After a huge amount of dicussion we have finally agreed that my last day of teaching will be Thursday 27th of December. I have now booked my bus tickets (train tickets cant be booked until 4 days before you leave, and I didnt want to leave it that late!) to Beijing on Friday 28th December and will go overnight. It will take 8 hours and I will arrive in Beijing Saturday morning! I have my Flight tickets - finally, and everything seems to be falling into place! (I am certainly not holding ym breath though, I am expecting something to go wrong - this is China!!) But I do appear to have everything in order and plenty of time to leave my suitcase in Beijing and catch up with a few friends before I fly to Borneo on Sunday 30th December PM!! I cant wait!
The kindergarten is busy preparing for their Christmas party, and although Christmas isn't a big deal in China, it is at the kindergarten as it is an International school! Everywhere is looking very festive and there is a nice atmosphere as all the kids are preparing songs and dances to do at the party. Just as I was beginning to wonder what part I would play in the party, I was given a Santa suit by the principal and told that I would be dressing up as Father Christmas! I wasn't sure whether to feel honoured or offended!! I tried it on and I look like an absolute tit! After agreeing, as I could hardly refuse, I was told that I will be climbing through the windows of each and every classroom so as to surprise the kids. I will be handing out presents and singing and dancing with all the children! There will be hundreds of parents and teachers there all filming and taking pictures! Great!
5 months ago I seriously doubt I would have been able to do this, but now, after months and months of practice, I am actually looking forward to making a complete arse out of myself! Bring it on!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on December 11, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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English Competition

Shenyang, China

So, I don't feel like I have alot to report since my last entry, and as it would be pretty risky putting the details of the the one exciting/dangerous thing that happened to me last week( involving Magic ants and the Chinese Police!!!!), you wll have to wait till I get home for that story!!! :)
The weather has eased off a bit and although it is still really cold, it's a little more bearable. Unfortunatly the snow has gone, but I'm certain that I will see more in the next 4 weeks, Alot more! (It will drop to as low as minus 26!)
As previously mentioned I judged an English Competition last weekend and it was alot of fun!! I had some kindergarten and some from primary school kids. They were all really good and so adorable! I arrived at the hotel on the Friday night, as we would be judging early Saturday morning. I went with Aga, another teacher from the Shenyang Gang! When we arrived we were placed in a room with about 50 kids and all of their parents and teachers and we were told that we had to keep the kids amused for an hour or 2!! Because the ages ranged from 4-12 we had to quickly think of an activity where all the kids could join in! We were struggling to come up with something, when Rice (from WTTC) pulled me on stage and announced that I was going to sing a song!! (WTF - Why does this keep happening to me!!) I bet you can all guess what I sang!!!?
I started to sing 'If you're happy and you know it' and thankfully all the kids joined in. I was feeling happy and relieved until they started singng words I didn't know and I had to fake mime/mumble the words stood on a stage, (Once again!) alone and infront of 100 strangers being shown up by a bunch of kids!!! I must have a sign on my head that says 'Humiliate me please, I enjoy it!!!'
Anyway, after that was over we played a game of fruit salad. (You have 4 or 5 different fruits and each kid has a piece of paper with one fruit name on. Everyone sits in a big circle and I stand in the middle and shout 'Banana' all the kids that are Bananas have to get up and change seats, I have to find a seat, and no one is allowed to sit in the seat they got up from. Whoever is left with no seat has to call the next fruit name... and so on. When you Shout 'Fruit Salad' everyone gets up and swaps seats!!!) It was alot of fun and managed to keep the kids occupied until it was time to go to bed!
Judging the kids was actually more fun than I thought it would be. There were three parts: an introduction, A show and then questons from the judges. All I had to do was to ask a few questions after the had introduced themselves and either sang a song or told a story. Two of the kindergarten kids were from my class! I didn't know they were going to be there, and when they had their chance to 'show themselves' they both did things that I had taught them! It was such a nice feeling seeing them up on that stage at 4 years of age, singing their song and doing their Magic trick knowing that I had taught them that!!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on November 29, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Winter is here!

Shenyang, China

So, winter is officially here! it's averaging around minus 12 during the day and as low as minus 16 at night & early morning. There is currently about 6 inches of snow outside and all hell is breaking loose! The roads are not salted and the snow is crushed to form an inch thick layer of ice on the road... you really wouldn't belive the amount of accidents I have seen so far! This morning I had an absolute nightmare getting to School. As I have mentioned before I live miles away, and have to get the bus in. I made the effort to get up early and out for the bus as sometimes they are too full to get on and you have to wait for the next one. I was showered, dressed and out the door at 6 am. Cold and tired I wasn't happy when not just 1, but 3 busses went by and (along with other Chinese people) I was unable to get on the bus. I decided to walk down the road to get a taxi instead. With 7 million people in Shenyang I think half of them had the same idea!! By this point I had been outside for nearly an hour and a half with no sign of a free taxi I decided to walk whilst flagging one down! After nearly 2 miles I managed to get one! Happy that I was finally in the warm and on my way to work, I started to read my book. After only 3 or 4 miles the taxi stopped and I looked up to see hundreds and hundreds of cars, I couldn't even see which sides of the road were which or were the pavement was, the cars were everwhere!! They were facing all sorts of directions and the honking was deafening!! The driver did try to communicate with me, but I didn't understand him. I was miles from school and was already late so I just figured I would be patient and we would soon be on our way! After 20m minutes I noticed people getting off the busses infront and people even leaving their cars to walk in the direction they were heading! I probably would be still sat there now if I hadn't decided to do the same! I paid the taxi driver and set off on my way to school! I had no clue where I was, but was I was on a mission, I just kept walking straight and after nerly 3 miles (and what felt like an eternity!!) I arrived at school, freezing cold, soaking wet and well and truly pissed off!! Stupidly thinking that my ordeal and lateness would mean I didn't have to teach, my mood worsened when I was immediatly taken to a classroom full of 3 year olds and told that my lesson today would last for 3 hours!! Great! (My mood soon picked up tho, and I had a great lesson!!)
After saying all that, with snow comes snowmen and snowfights and ALOT of fun... so it's not all bad!!
I am now officially RAT FREE!!!!!!!!!! Woo Hoo!! The boss came to my appartment and moved my wardrobes to find a huge hole where the little buggers had been getting in. The wardrobes were removed from my appartment, the hole was filled with poison, filled in and then covered with slabs!! I am happy to report that since that day I haven't seen or heard a thing!!
One of the main resons I am so pleased about this is when I arrived at home one evening last week we had a power cut due to the bad weather. I had no electric, no heating and no hot water. When it's minus 16 outside and not much warmer inside it really isn't pleasent, the last thing you want is rats running around your front room when you can't see them! After putting on almost every item of clothing I own I huddled up in bed at 6pm (there was nothing else I could do!!) under 2 duvets and a thick blanket, after 2 hours trying to get warm I finally fell asleep! The next night was the same, although I did realise when I got close to my appartment and went to the supermarket (where I was follwed by a young girl holding a candle so as I could see where I was going!!) and bought a torch. It was just as cold, but at least I could read my book!! Thankfully, my heating & electricity is back on now.. showing with freezing cold water in a freezing cold bathroom is something I never want to do again.... EVER!!!
I feel the need to tell you that the previously mentioned Guard is no longer with us. He decided to go AWOL from the kindergarten and sadly he paid the price. Enough Said.
Finally, on a lighter note, I found it really amusing the other day when I saw people stacking cabbages on their roofs & balconys and hanging leeks out of their windows!! I found out that because the weather is so cold the vegetables are frozen and stay fresh for as long as they are left out there!! Most peole in China (especially in the poorer cities like Shenyang) don't even have fridges, let alone frezers!!Who needs a freezer when it's this cold outside!!!?
This is China.... and it's bloody freezing!!!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on November 19, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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