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Hairy arms and taxi rides

Dongguan, China


Hi there,

It's a hot Saturday afternoon in Dongguan. I think it's about 32 degrees and with all the concrete around it feels even hotter! We went out this morning and explored 'South China Mall' which is only about 10 minutes down the road by taxi...but there wasn't that much there apart from a MacDonald's and a big grocery/department store called Spar...Andrew tried on some shorts but couldn't get any big enough!!! There is also an 'International' Cinema there and they had pictures of Harry Potter etc, but when we went in and looked at the board to see what was on, it was all in Chinese. Maybe another day if we really want to go to the movies we'll try asking if they movies are in English...

I thought of a couple of funny things that I should tell you about. One is about personal space and hairy arms. The kids are absolutely fascinated by Andrew's hairy arms - and often in between classes the kids stand around him and want to pat his arms!!! It's very funny. He was a bit taken aback though when one of the students patted his chest hair. The kids don't think anything of personal space or personal possessions - so after class if we're not quick enough, we'll find them looking through our bags - just happily going through our stuff to see what we have!! And they know that the English teachers often give out lollies, so the kids are always saying "teacher, give me candy". I really think we need to do a lesson on 'please' and how touching other people's things is just not on!!

We went into Starbucks this afternoon - it's a new branch that's just opened and it's closer to our apartment in Nancheng. There was noone else in the place apart from us, so the staff came over and stood around our table and talked to us - one of them, called Falen, who we had met at the Dongcheng branch, even sat down with us because he was on a break. They laughed at the few Chinese things we can say (we started an online Chinese course, and I've learnt to say "do you speak English" - not the most helpful thing is it really, because if they spoke English I could just say it in English and I'd know right away!!).

On the way home we had the funniest taxi driver - we got out our little notebooks and we were practising saying "left", "right", "go straight" etc. He thought it was so funny and he was giggling away. I said to him in Chinese 'do you speak English" and he waved his arms and said "no", so at least he understood me!! We can say where we live in Chinese ("Riverside Homes"), and we find that if we at least try to say where we want to go in Chinese (and sometimes it takes a few goes of us repeating it, or me trying to say it instead of Andrew or vice versa, before the taxi drivers will give a laugh and finally recognise what we're saying) - then the taxi drivers tend to go the direct route, but if we pull out our 'Here, Dongguan!' magazine and point to the place (written in Chinese and English) then sometimes the taxi drivers take that as a licence to drive us all around the city for a few extra dollars!! One day early on we were getting totally ripped off - I think the metre had reached 35 and was still ticking over, for a trip that had previously cost us 22, so I pulled out my notebook and started writing down the complaints phone number that was on the dashboard (yeah right, like I was going to be able to call it!!), and the taxi driver noticed and gave us back 10 yuan when we got there. Yay!

Well, I suppose I'll sign off now - we're going to go to the pool this afternoon to cool down and tonight is the big night - Wallabies vs England - so we're off to the English pub to see that - there should be lots of atmosphere there....

permalink written by  arterra on October 5, 2007 from Dongguan, China
from the travel blog: China Adventure
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Hi there,

I am Ray from Malaysia and I am planning to move to Dongguan with my wife very soon. We are having problem deciding where to stay, it is either Chang An or NangChen. Can you please tell me a little more about NangChen and what is the apartment rents range from?

Appreciate if you are able to reply me. Thanks.

permalink written by  Ray on October 7, 2007

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