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Teach and Travel China - 6 Months

a travel blog by emmarogers85

As most of you already know I am going to Beijing for 4 weeks where I will be studying at the University of Internation Business and Economics to get my Tefl qualification. Once I have completed 4 weeks I will be heading to Shenyang in the south of China where I will work as a teacher for the remaining 5 months! I will have the opportunity to extend this contract nearer the end if I want to, but at the moment I am going to wait and see how it goes!!
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First Day!

Beijing, China

After a experiencing a few hiccups with delays and flight times at the airport I finally arrived in Beijing on Tuesday 30th July at around 5pm local time.
Upon arrival at the University I was given a key and pointed in the direcion of my room! Despite having gone 51 hours without a proper shower, no clean clothes and only a few hours sleep I had managed to remain positive and was still really excited! This wasnt the case for very long!! I had to single handedly lug my suitaces (which, by the way, had been given a 'heavy' sticker at the airport as it weighed over 30 kilos!!) up seven flights of stairs!! It was here that I officially reached the point of being pissed off!!

Once I reached my room I was greeted by Elissa and Lucy, My roommates for the next 4 weeks! They will both be teaching in Shenyang, although we wont be in the same school. They had already taken the double room, which left me with a huge room with a choice of 3 beds!! Suits Me!
After taking 5 to recover from the Suitcase/stairs Trauma I only had enough time to have a shower and get changed before our 'Welcome Meal'! Due to the Jet lag I wasnt really looking forward to it and thought it would be pretty naff, but I had a really great time! There are 104 of us attending the programme (which is alot more than I had imagined) and we were all taken to a rather posh Chinese Restaurant (...they just call them restaurants here!!) We had some lovely food (used chop sticks for the first time!! I'm a natural!), loads of beer and everyone got a chance to get to know eachother, it was great! Towards the end of the night when everyone was getting ready to leave, the heavens opened! I have never seen rain like it! We were'nt allowed to leave the restaurant as it was 'too dangerous' so had to stay for another hour or two drinking beer and watching the Lightning! Fantastic!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on August 2, 2007 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Day 2

Beijing, China

Today I had to be up and ready for 9am as we had a half day orientation! This was basically to help everyone get to know eachother, and although it was pretty cheesy in parts it was quite good fun! This finished at 12 so we had the afternoon free!!
Me and a few others had decided that we wanted to get off campus and explore Beijing for a few hours! We decided to walk! Bad Idea!
You always end up going in the wrong direction, so after about an hour in the blistering heat without finding anything but a KFC and Pizza Hut we decided to get a taxi to the nearest tube station and get the tube to Tienamin Square.
Taxi drivers are nutters!!!! There are no rules on the roads! It was kind of ammusing at first, but when you hear a police siren and instead of pulling over to let it past, the taxi driver sticks his foot down and starts swerving in and out of cars seemingly to avoid being overtaken be the police, it looses some of the fun! (Some!!)
Anyway, we finally reached Tienamin Square, and it is Huge!!! Really beautiful place, although we couldnt get into any of the buildings or museums as they were rennovating in time for the olympics! As its where alot of chinese people go on holiday it was pretty packed, we seemed to generate alot of interest and people were constantly taking our photographs.. its pretty strange at first, but you just have to get used to it!
Before long we were approached by a young chinese couple who were on holiday, Han Bin (Who we called Bing!) and Sunting (I didnt forget... that was her name!!) They were very sweet and said that they were going to Old Beijing and asked in we wanted to go with them! By this point we had lost 2 ( a whole other story!!) and there was just 3 of us! We all agreed to go! It was brilliant, just like I imagined China would be! It is just such a shame that it wont be there next year as they will be tearing it all down to build new housing complexes in time for the Olympics!!
There is a Tea Festival in Beijing for the whole month and Bing and Sunting were going to get some traditional Chinese Tea and asked us if we wanted to join them! This I really wanted to do! The others agreed and before long we were sat in this tiny room in the back of what looked like a supermarket! It was brilliant! We tried 10 teas all together and did it the traditional chinese way. There is no way I can remember all the names, but I did buy some Ginseng as it was my favorite! Sounds a bit sad, but was a wonderful experience!
After all the fun with the tea we headed back to campus! Another wonderful experience thanks to the taxis and public transport in Beijing!! It took us about 2 hours, when we finally got in a taxi from the tube station it started throwing it down! I never would have belived it, but the storms are really mad! We got well and truly drenched and once we made it back to our room it was too dangerous to go back out, so decided to call it a night!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on August 2, 2007 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Day 5

Beijing, China

Thursday and friday I was kept pretty busy with lessons, and wasnt pleased to discover that we would be having them on Saturdays as well, however we get Sundays and Mondays off instead, so its not all bad! Friday night I found my new favorite place! It's a bar called libetys and it's about an eight minute walk from campus. You pay 30 yuan to get in (just over 2 pound!) and you can drink all you like till 4 in the morning! Need I say more!!!!
Saturdays lessons where a chore!! When the day finally ended we decided to let off some steam and headed to the KTV bar for some Karaoke! This was organised through the uni, and I hadnt planned on going, but it ended up being alot of fun!! Thankfully I wansnt persuaded to sing, but I was persuaded to go home via libertys!!!! The rest of the night was a bit of a blur!!!
Sunday morning we were off to visit the Ming tombs and the Great Wall! The bus left at 7.30 am! My roommates woke me up at 7.15, still being drunk, but having a hangover at the same time is not a great feeling! Anyway it was well worth the effort! They dont call it the 'Great' wall for nothing, it was pretty incredible!!
Anyone who has been will know that climbing it is a bit of a chore, and although I was still feeling a little delicate after my antics the previous nights, I did put every effort into getting to the highest part! After risking life and limb, almost on all fours climbing the steep and narrow steps (occasionaly humming the Indiana Jones theme tune to myself!) I finally reached the top! I would love to tell you that my efforts were rewarded with an incredible view, but due to thick fog, visability wasnt great! However I did have the pleasure of being harassed by Black Wasps (their sting can kill!)!!! It was at this point I started to climb back down! This was alot harder as my legs were really wobbly and I was constantly thinking I had a wasp on me! But managed to make it down in one piece!

We always seem to generate alot of interest with Chinese Tourists and especially at the Great Wall, it was a bit like being a celebrity! They all want to have their picture taken with you! Its actually really sweet, and this time I did manage to get one of my own!

After the Great wall we went to the Night Market in Beijing! It was amazing! I had a wander around the food market and tried Snake, Starfish, Silk Worm and Scorpians! (Seriously, I'd put Indiana Jones to shame!!) I did draw the line at Pigs Testicles though!! But feeling like a bit of a cop out I may go back later in the week!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on August 5, 2007 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Day... not really sure!!

Beijing, China

Having a little trouble remembering how long I have been here!! Have been so busy! (must admit poor effort on the Blog updating, but I will have more time to do this in Shenyang!!!)
I have been here for just over a fortnight now and I feel like it could have been 6 months already! Not because its dragging, but because I love it here so much!
I visited to Temple of Heaven on Monday, it was really beautiful! Because of the pollution, breathing the air in Beijing for one day is the equivelant to smoking 3 packs of cigs!!! Its only when we were in the Temple of Heaven (surrounded by trees!) did we notice the difference in the air, it was so...fresh!!
I spent some time in Old Beijing, I really love walking through the back streets, and eating in the dodgy looking resteraunts...they're the best places to go!!
Wednesday was my first day teaching in a school in Beijing! I love all the kids already! It was a little tough at first, but really getting into it now! I am teaching ten year olds, but only for the next three days. After that I wont start teaching until I arrive in Shenyang in about a fortnight! (As far as I know I will be teaching Kindergarden in Shenyang, but I wont know this for definite until I arrive!)

We also visited Ho Hai (not sure about the spelling!) Bar after Bar after Bar surrounding a huge lake! Lit up and buzzing in the moonlight! (Unfortunatly my Camera isnt great at night picturs so you will just have to use your imagination!!) It was pretty expensive and even after haggleing one beer was 40 Yuan!! Luckily you could buy huge bottles of beer from street vendors for 2 yuan so this kept us going until we reached Huxleys!! I had read about it in my lonely planet and it sounded pretty interesting!!!! That it was! It was cheap compared to the other places at ho hai (beers 10 yuan - 85p!!) It was the smallest bar I have ever been to and we ended up spilling out onto the street!! (make sure you check out my pics!)

The thing I love the most about China so far: Haggleing!! It's fantastic!! You dont pay the asking price for anything!! (except in some of the posher restaurants!) It is so much fun!

The thing I hate the most about China so far: The squat toilets!!! And the fact that there is no toilet roll in any of the toilets, you have to carry your own with you! It's not the horrific experience that it was when I first arrived so am assuming as time passes it gets easier!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on August 17, 2007 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Day 29!

Beijing, China

I cant believe tomorrow is my last full day in Beijing! This last week or so has flown by! I have spent alot of time in the classroom, working hard, but have also had plenty of time for fun! I visited The Summer Palace yesterday. Unfortunatly it was raining but I still really enjoyed it there! We decided to hire a peddelo and venture to the other side of the lake. It was great fun apart from when I was peddeling! It took us 30 minutes to get to one side of the lake, where we swapped over as it was my turn to peddle, then realising we only had ten minutes to get back!After what felt like an eternity of peddeling like my life depended on it and feeling like we werent moving we finally mad it back in time!
In the evening I went to see an acrobatics show! I really enjoyed it!! Unfortunatly taking cameras into the theater was forbidden (along with dangerous explosives and fluid according to the back of my ticket!!!) but being the rebel that I am I did manage to take a couple of sneaky illegal pics, although the quality isnt fantastic! The show was incredible, I had goosebumps the whole time and would reccomend anyone in Beijing to go and see it!
I have my final 2 lessons of the course tomorrow and will be leaving for Shenyang on Wednesday 29th August at 2pm local time. Shenyang is pretty close and will only take 4 hours on the high speed train! I will be teaching at Shenyang Dandelion Kindergaten ages as young as 2 (eek!) and as old as 6!! Although this could change! I have been given all the details about my transport to the scool and my accomodation upon arrival, but I wont know for definite until I arrive! Things change here last minute and nothing is definite until you are actually doing it, when you ask for a reason the answer you always get is: ' This is China!!' It can get a little frustrating at times, but everytime I hear it I cant help smiling! What else can you say!!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on August 27, 2007 from Beijing, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Arriving in Shenyang

Shenyang, China

(Bit of a long one!)

Arrived in Shenyang 6pm Wednesday 29th August. Luckily the 4 hour train journey was bearable as I spent most of the time sleeping! (I was awake to catch some incredible views of the mountains tho!!) Our Graduation Ceremony and after party went on until 7am so I was left with one hell of a hangover! Saying our goodbyes and leaving Beijing was pretty draining (emotionally as well as physically!) I have met some really amazing people and wish I could take them all with me!! However, there are ten of us in Shenyang and I get on with everyone really well so its not all bad! We are all teaching in different schools and staying in different places, all about a 40 minute bus ride from eachother. I am staying outside the City Centre with Lea, a 19 year old German Girl (Hard work at times, but sweet!)

We were met at the train station by Icely and Linda who work for TTC - Teach & Travel China.Our accomodation wasnt ready so we were told that we would be staying in as hotel for the first night. That was fine by me, I just wanted to sleep, didnt care where! We went to the main road to flag down a taxi and this is where the fun started!!!
The roads in Beijing were pretty mental, but if at all possible, they are worse in Shenyang!! A taxi pulled over and Linda and Icely were rushing us to get in. Lea's suitcase took up the whole of the boot, and she climbed in the back seat with my bag! A bit spaced out, I was stood on the road confused as to where my suitcase was going to go when the taxi driver decides to pull off into the middle of the road! (When I say road I mean a 4 lane motorway like road in the city centre at rush hour with hundreds of cars all driving like maniacs!!) He stopped again about 10 meters away from us.Instead of helping Lea out of the Mad Mans taxi, Linda ushered me in to the front seat before heaving up my suitcase and plonking it on my knee!! At which point the taxi driver decides its a good time to drive off again with my door still open- fucking lunatic - (If he had been laughing, it would have been a joke, He wasn't. He started ranting in Chinese!) My suitcase was flung back, knocking Linda flying!! The taxi driver stopped again and I went to get out, but Linda shoved me back in with my suitcase and closed the door before jumping in the back with Icely! I was a little confused and unhappy about being manhandled, but pleased we were all in the taxi and we can finally go to the hotel!!! Oh No.... That would be far too simple!! A police car pulls up in front of the taxi (more angry ranting from the taxi driver - This time most of it was pointed in my direction!!! Cheeky tw...Not a wise thing to do when I am loosing my patience!! I decided to do a little angry ranting of my own and point it in his direction to shut him up!) The policeman asked to see his licence, he handed it over... the policeman obviously want happy, without saying a word he dragged the taxi driver out of the taxi, into the policecar and they drove off! The four of us just sat there in the taxi for a minute a little gobsmacked! The drivers door was wide open, cars were whizzing past and beeping like mad, the keys still in the ignition, the engine still running and our driver had been arrested - it was pretty surreal! I was tempted to hop into the drivers seat and do a little joyriding of my own, but decided on the safer option. We grabbed all our luggage and braved it back across the road, flagged down another taxi and were on our way!!
Thursday 30th August - After a decent night sleep we were taken to our apartment. I wasnt really sure what to expect, and was pretty excited. Our accomodation is in the grounds on Shenyang Art School about 30 minutes bus journey from the School where we will be teaching. I wasnt impressed. Me and Lea are sharing a room, the beds are 2 wooden boxes pushed together covered with a sheet and a duvet! Thats it! The bathroom was a health hazard with no glass in the windows and the shared kitchen I wouldnt even step inside!! I'm not sure why our apartment 'wasnt ready' the night before, it's certainly not because someone was cleaning it!!! We didnt have long to take it all in before we were whisked off to the police staion to register at our new address (you have to do this when you live in China!) this took fookin ages, but it has to be done. Finally it was time to go and see the school!!! We will be teaching at Shenyang Dandelion International Kindergarten. Its so bright and clean and the kids are adorable ( I soon forgot about the state of our accomodation!) We arrived at the school pretty late in the day, so had a quick look round and then we were taken out for a Welcome Dinner the school had arranged for us.
We had a private room set up in a really nice restaurant. The President (of the school!!) The Manager, The Headteacher, two English Teachers ( Lisa and teacher tang) and Linda joined Lea and Me. I had such a lovely time! Lisa and Linda speak English and spent most of the time translating, its a little strange at first, but you soon get used to it! The food was amazing and everyone took it in turns to make a speech, welcoming us into 'their family'. It was actually quite moving!! Lisa kept saying to us ' If you have a problem, you tell me your problem, I will fix your problem, no matter how big or small' (Sweet!!)
Chinese english speakers often adopt an English name and the President (all the English speaking teachers call him 'The King'!!!)took it upon himself to give me a Chinese name! It is 牛牛 (niu niu) It means ' Energetic and mischevious"! Apparently it is relevant to the year I was born (The year of the Ox!) and is a playful nickname especially in Shenyang (Everyone was rather amused when discusing my new name, and I later discovered that Niu Nui is a boys name and very rarely used as a girls! Glad to see 'the king' has a sense of humor!!)! Nontheless I feel very proud of my new chinese name and very lucky to be working with such lovely people.
Just when I was beginning to think that things couldnt get any better, it was time to go home! The appartment worse than I had remembered. As soon as the light went on we could see the number of mosquitos in our room (I dont mean a few, there must have been a hundred at least - a result of having no proper windows!!!) Luckily Lea was armed with 2 fly swatters and we got straight to work killing the little buggers! After what felt like an eternity we had managed to kill all of the mozzies we could see (our walls were covered in little black/brown dots! Ewww!) we settled down for the night as we only had 6 hours till we had to be up again. I was just nodding off when Lea let out an almighty scream! I looked up to see the bigget spider I have eve seen. I dont know if they have terantulas in China, but this was as big and twice as hairy! It was actually pretty amazing! Due to the commotion the spider scurried back behind Lea's bed! Lea is petrified of Spiders (and a bit of a drama queen!) so armed with a fly swatter it was my job to locate and destroy the beast. Now, I'm not scared of spiders, but I didnt fancy touching this fucker! So afer a half hearted attempt I gave up, convincing Lea (and myself!!!!!) that the spider wasnt going to crawl all over her face when she was asleep and lay eggs in her ears! Finally we got into bed! I didnt sleep a wink that night. I was rolled up like a catterpillar in my duvet so the mozzies didnt eat me alive, but with no air con I was in danger of sweating to death. I had to get up to kill about a thousand more mosquitos and was actually relieved when 6 am arrived and I could finally get out of bed and out of that stinking apartment. We spent the morning doing a dummy run of what will happen on the weekdays (Breakfast, bus to school..etc) We told Lisa about the problems with the mosquitos & the spider, and just like she said she would.. she solved our problem!! She bought us electric mosquito killers and creepy crawly spray! She is so sweet!! We decided to remain positive although we were knackered and went to buy cleanig products to make our flat nice!! We got back but our water was brown and lumpy so unfortunatly we couldnt do any cleaning. However we did have some new friends waiting for us, cockroaches! (as big as my thumb - no joke!) I dont mind them because you can swat them, but when I moved the chair to try and find one that was getting away, a rat came scurrying out!! Now it was my turn to scream! I can cope with the bugs, not the rodents! I grabbed a bag of clothes and went to stay at Heidi & Elisas flat! I'm not going back until the rats are gone!
I have told Lisa about my problems with the flat and she has told me that she will fix the problems for me! I belive that she will!!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on September 3, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Life in Shenyang

Shenyang, China

Really starting to settle into life in Shenyang. The problems with our flat have been sorted out (for the most part anyway!) Lea & I now have a flat each, directly opposite eachother. Lea lives in the original flat and I am in the new one, although it is not new, and by no way shape or form any nicer than the original flat. I have rats, but apart from keeping me awake sometimes at night I'm not really there enough for them to bother me. I spend the weekends in the City with my friends, who all have lovely, modern, clean appartents (Hmph!)!
I have a pretty long day during the week, but it flies by. I get up everyday at 6am and get showered and dressed in time for breakfast at 6.50am. Everyday I go to breakfast and everyday I wonder why I bother! There is a choice of rice soup (which is literally rice and water, generally the safest option!), Pickles cabbage or seaweed, cold tofu, fish heads, slimey cucumber with small prawny fish things of whole fried fish! Not appetising at the best of times let alone 7 in the morning. Occasionaly we get really lucky and have the option of steamed bread, nothing like 'normal' bread, but the closest you'll get in China.
I leave breakfast in time to catch the bus at 7.20 just outside the school. Now although the school looks pretty posh, the area isn't. We are outside of the city centre and the road is a dirt track with rows of shabby buildings selling all kinds of crap you will never need, restaurants (if you can call them that!!), loads of fruit stalls and the occasional supermarket. Most of the people here have probably never laid eyes on a westener before, and this becomes pretty obvious with all the pointing, staring and even people slamming on the brakes as they drive past only to reverse to get a better look at you! After hearing this you may find it strange for me to say I wouldnt rather be anywhere else. With the atmosphere and the buzz you get walking down the street, you cant help but love it!
I have eaten at one of the 'restaurants' several times, the food is amazing as well as unbelievably cheap, plus it gives me a chance to practice my mandarin! (which is really not great...but getting better!!) The main reason for going to the same place all the time is beacuse you get to know what not to order (fried rabbits brains of cold chicken claws! Tried them both, but there is a reason why people dont normally eat this.....because its fucking gross!!) But the main reason is that it is the only restaurant along the road with a fridge. The hot weather and no fridge for the meat is really not a good combination and unfortunatly I had to learn this the hard way! Enough said!
Back to the bus! I catch the bus at 7.20 every day and it takes 30 minutes to reach the Kindergarten. 30 Minutes of hell!! When the bus pulls up to the stop it is so crammed that peoples faces are pressed up against the window! (No Joke!) You have to fight your way on and literally hang on for dear life. I have learnt (once again the hard way!!!) not to be the last person to get onto the bus, the driver drives off before giving you chance to actually get on!
Getting onto the bus safely is only half the challenge. There are very few seats and most of the bus is standing space, there are so many people that everyone is touching everyone with one body part or another.... some days are much worse than others!! There are handles to hold onto, mostly above your head, but when the driver is swerving all over the road to avoid cars, cyclists and crazy pedestrians it's easier said than done!! I have had one near miss which involved me loosing my grip and nearly crushing a poor chinese man to death, but the worst was actually today when I had the 'pleasure' of taking the bus in for the first time in the rain. Normally it's tricky to hold onto the rails due to sweaty hands, but when its raining all the windows are closed and due to the number of people the condensation makes the rails really wet. Not only is it almost impossible to hold on, the floor is soaking wet and your feet are constantly moving, although you wish they weren't. After over a fortnight of this journey there is one point inparticular I have learnt to watch out for. It is a mixture of potholes, a really sharp bend and a head mental driver who refuses to slow down! I knew it was coming up so I had two hands holding on a tightly as I could and my feet as firmly on the ground as possible. We started to turn the corner, I remember feeling quite pleased that my efforts were paying off when a rather large old man (who had been stood next to me for most of the journey, stinking of garlic and sweat!) lost his grip and came flying towards me knocking me to the ground. Another woman was pulled down with us, but I got the worst end of the deal! The old man landed directly on top of me (Face to Face!!!) and I was pinned to the floor. He was unable to get up at first (yeah right! He was having the timeof his life!!!) so I had to just lie there, helpless and hoping that he didn't notice me wretching at his sweaty garlic stench!! After what felt like an eternity someone pulled him off meand helped me to my feet. I was offered a seat and gladly accepted. As I had no one with me to laugh it off with I spent the rest of the journey staring out of the window, embarassed, dirty and smelling like garlic.

I arrive at the school around 8am and lessons start at 8.30. I teach 4 days a week, and although I have no lessons on a Thursday I still have to attend as normal. It's a bit of a pain, but it gives me time to plan my lessons. I teach 4 different classes all ages 3-4 years old. The kids are adorable! You've got the smart kids, the cute kids, the kids that always cry and the demonic kids that enjoy making your life a living hell! It's swings and roundabouts!
(I wanted to put horses, but most people wouldnt understand!!) The kids are getting used to me, and I'm getting used to making myself look like a prat to keep them entertained! Lunchtime at school is great, the chef cooks amazing food and 9 times out of 10 it isnt fish heads!! Happy Days!
Because the kids are so young they have a sleep after lunch, which means a 2 and a half hour break for us!! Most days I catch the bus to the Korean street or the local market to do some shopping or, if its not too hot, play badminton with Young or one of the other Chinese Teachers. Young is out appointed 'buddy'! He is an Chinese English teacher and is quite possibly the campest Chineseman you are ever likely to meet!! He's 24, he's geeky, he takes to many photos, he talks to much and could quite possibly make you go insane, but he has a heart of gold and would do anything for you!
After lunch I spend 2 hours teaching the Chinese English teachers during 'free talk'. I dont really need to do lesson plans for this as it is a relaxed way of practicing and developing their spoken English. I really enjoy it as it gives me chance to practice more of what I learnt when achieving my TEFL in Beijing and is challenging in a different way to teaching the kids.
Last week I was asked to attend the International Art School (where I live!) to 'free talk' with the students for an hour or so. As it meant an extra hour in bed I agreed to go! On the morning I was told that the Senetor of Education in Shenyang (the most important person in the city as far as Education is concerned) was visiting the school and thats why I had been asked to attend. This didn't really make a difference to me as I was just going to be casually chatting with the students and practicing their spoken English skills (or so I thought!!) The students were alot of fun and a refreshing change to the kids at the kindergarten and we did spend half an hour or so chatting. Then, out of nowhere I was dragged on stage (yes, they have a stage in the classroom!!) and forced to sing 'If you're happy and you know it clap your hands!" I have never been so embarassed in my life! I would have welcomed the smelly garlic man on top of me at thast point if it would get me out of singing in front of thirty 15 year olds! (Maybe not.... he was pretty smelly!) I was that busy making myself look like a coplete wally I didnt notice the senetor and 10 of her 'people' crowding into the doorway! The students loved it (the chinese are wierd!!) and the senetor was that impressed she demanded and encore (Or so they said, I am convinced she enjoyed watching me make a fool of myself!) I could hardly refuse, and being put on the spot like that the only thing that would come into my head was 'The Hokey Kokey' (I shit you not!)! So once again I sang, this time with actions (On my own!!) praying that I wasnt being filmed for some cruel prank TV show!! Thankfully before long my ordeal was over I was allowed to leave. I guess making myself look like a complete prat is something I'm slowly but surely getting used to!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on September 19, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Golden Week - South Korea

Seoul, South Korea

The week commencing October 1st is a National Holiday in China (Called Golden Week!) Therefore I have the week off work, after working the Saturday and Sunday beforehand. This wasnt too bad, Saturday was Sports day, which was pretty bizzare, the sports included the children racing against eachother to set a table and then clear it relay style and running to the end of the track, catching LIVE eel like fish and running back to deposit them in a bowl!Remebering that the oldest children are 5... even the adults had trouble holding on to hte wriggling fish, after a minute or 2 the track was covered in slimey fish! I was happy to see that everyone took great care not to stand on them and luckily none of them were squished. However they were served to us for lunch once Sports day was over (This is China!!)... I dont think I need to tell you that I gave lunch a miss!!
Monday morning I was up bright and early to catch my flight to Seol the capital of South Korea. I then had only an hour or two before another flight to JeJoe, an island off the south coast of Korea. When I arrived it was getting late and after finding somewhere to stay I headed out to get some food. In Korea alot of the resteraunts dont have chairs as they sit cross legged on the floor like the Japanese, its not as comfortable as it looks!! I had korean barbecue, where you choose your salad and veg and you have your own little hotplate on your table where you cook your own meat. The food was really good, similar to chinese, just a bit more spicey. The waiter spoke a little English and I was chatting to him throughout, but when I finished eating he sat with me for a while. Now I have learnt not to bother asking what I'm eating... as long as it tastes good, thats all I need to know! But as we were talking I made the mistake of asking what the meat was I had just taken a mouthful of and he answered 'dog', I knew immediatly he wasnt joking! There is mention of people eating dog in China, but it is more common in South Korea, and although I had joked about trying it It's probably one of the few things that I wouldnt try. If it hadn't been so tasty I would have spat it out, but I did spend the rest of the evening feeling terrible. But then again, if I hadn't eaten it someone else would have!! The whole time there was a group of Koreans kicking off over the street and after an hour or so the police turned up.. this only seemed to make it worse. I watched until they all started fighting then decided to call it a night. During the short walk from the resteraunt to my motel I saw 3 lads running off with a womans handbag the womans husband/boyfriend went chasing after them and she wasnt hurt so I decided to walk a little quicker!!
Back in the comfort of my room (which was like something out of a bad movie with a video player, a huge collection of porn and a seedy red light along with a condom machine right outside the door!) I had the pleasure of listening to yet another brawl in the alley below my window until the early hours.
Je Joe Island was beautiful, and after only a day of exploring (and another charming evening in the 'Love' Motel!!!) it was time to get on another plane to Busan (South East). Busan has a famous beach called Haeundae which is incredibly beautiful. The weather was amazing so it was easy to relax on the beach engrossed in my book! Busan International Film Festival was kicking off the next day and was quite interesting to see everything being set up!! Now I dont carry around alot of cash or any travellers cheques (They are so much more hassle than their worth!) and had been sensible enough to check out the ATM situation in S Korea online, and as I could use my credit card in most ATM's I thought I would be ok! Things really are never that simple though and my credit card stopped working on the third day! I was in Busan and had to get a train to Seol (The Capital in the North West) in order to get my flight home. Luckily I had enough in my purse for my train ticket... but that was about it!! I had to spend the remaining nights in an Internet cafe and the train station! Needless to say I didnt get much sleep!!!
However I tried to remain positive and got my train to Seol where I had arranged to meet up with 2 Korean girls I had met in Beijing, where they had been studying, a few weeks earlier. Jinsol and Aram are both the same age as me and took me to a Korean resteraunt where we had the most amazing food! They ordered and like china everything comes and you all share. We spent a couple of hours chatting and drinking but before long I had to leave to get the last bus to the airport, ready for my flight home at 9am. I arrived at the airport around 11pm and found a comfy spot to snooze until it was time to check in. Now, I'm really not quite sure how this happened as I didn't sleep, but the worse thing that could have possibly happened... happened! I missed my flight back to China. After 3 sleepless nights, 3 days without a shower, no money, no possible way of getting money
and the thought of being stranded in South Korea I wanted to cry!
However, somehow managing to keep it together I tried to sort something out and was told that I could get another plane at 3pm, but it would cost me 50 quid.... I tried to see if there was a way around this as I had NO MONEY... but nearly ended up kneeing the arrogant and unhelpful manager in the balls. So I decided to give my credit card another go. It didn't work (Surprise Surprise!!) I decided to que anyway to see I I could pay on my card. Its impossible to put into words how relieved I was when my payment was accepted and I wasn't going to be forced to sell my belongings in order to get home!!
I have gone over it a hundred times and I still have no idea how I managed to be at the airport 10 hours before my flight and still managed to miss my plane. It probably had something to do with the lack of sleep, but whatever it was this time, for a change, I had no one to balme but myself!!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on October 4, 2007 from Seoul, South Korea
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Shenyang - Back to Normality (ish!)

Shenyang, China

I cant belive 2 weeks has passed already since returning from South Korea. When I finally made it back to my apartment in desperate need of a shower, I wasn't best pleased to find that my water heater had broken and my water was freezing cold. I also found that since I hadn't been there to kill the bugs I had a weeks worth in my apartment. The rats were also still at large! I wasn't as happy as I thought I would have been to be home! Having only an hour before I had to leave to meet the guys, I armed myself with a fly swatter and bug spray and tackled the bugs before braving the shower!I was happy when it was once again time to leave my apartment.
After having a really good night out, meeting up with my fellow teachers and swapping golden week stories I finally made it home at 7am!! It wasn't surprising that when I finally woke up the next afternoon I wasn't feeling great, and blamed it on a hangover until I started throwing up. I didn't stop for 2 days.
After missing a day at school I was determined to go back in, I dragged myself out of bed at 6am (still feeling like death!) and went to school. I threw up twice before 8.30 and Young (my Buddy!) insisted on taking me to the hospital. Now, as most of you know, I'm not a fan of hospitals/doctors in England, let alone China, so I refused to go! But after telling me that I had to because of woking with the kids I was left with no option.
The hospital was worse than I had imagined. It really wasn't clean and was full of sick Chinese people. I was still feeling really poorly and it was the last thing I needed. Luckily I got to see a Doctor straigt away. She took a blood sample and after quite a bit of persuading a urine sample (I was given a plastic cup and pointed in the direction of the foulest squat I think I have ever been in! Armed with my antibacterial handwash and wipes I braved it!) I almost felt a little relived when this was over, but little did I know the worst was yet to come!! After a bit of trouble translating, Young finally managed to get it across that they needed a stool smaple. Oh No You Dont!! No Way! It was at this point I made my first attempt to escape the poor excuse of a Hospital. All I kept hearing was 'This is China", "This is how we do things here". Yeah, well not with me you don't!! And after 20 minutes or so I managed to talk my way out of pooing on a plate.
After waiting about half an hour I was told that I had to go on a drip and would be given some tablets to take. I had a virus and needed to go on a drip because I hadn't eaten in 3 days and needed fluid etc so I thought it was fair enough and didn't have the strenght to argue with them anymore. After a bit more waiting I was taken to this tiny room with 2 beds. In one of the beds was a really old, smelly Chinese woman attached to a drip, who sat up and got really excited when I entered the room. The room wasn't clean and the 2 beds were practically touching. It was at this point my second escape attempt was made.
After a few tears this time I was told that I would be given my own room, I was so fed up at this point I really wanted to leave, but knew I would have to go back to the hospital before returning to school, so just decided to get it over and done with. I was taken to a small, but cleanish room (unacceptable to English Standards, but spotless to the Chinese!) where I was attached to a drip.
After attaching me to the drip I was told that I had to have an injection (to stop me from being sick).... in my bum. Now, I think they must have gotton wise after my attempts to escape as they attached me to the drip before telling me that I had to undergo the humiliation of dropping my trousers in front of, not just 1, but 6 doctors (all female thank god!) in order to have an injection. Why did it take 6 doctors to give me an injection? Why couldn't they just do it on my arm? Guess why.... Go on!! "This is China!". "This is the way we do things here!" Argggghhhh!!
Do you know what I think!? I think they saw a westerner and all placed bets to see how much humiliation I would take before I walked out! Well I showed them ! 7 Hours I was on the drip, feeling helpless, humiliated and incredibly sorry for myself before I was allowed to go home.
As you can probably tell I am more than fine now, and I wasn't going to share this as I didn't want my folkes to worry, but seeing as so many Chinese people had a good old laugh at my expense why not let you lot have a giggle too!!
After my ordeal things have slowly got back to 'normal' as far as life in China is concerned. I only have 10 weeks of teaching left, and I'm busy teaching and planning my trip to Borneo in January. After not going out for a fortnight I am looking forward to seeing my friends this evening and, I'm sure, having a good old laugh at my expense!

I'll tell you one thing for sure... There's never a dull day in China!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on October 18, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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Pissing, Hocking & Cockroaches!

Shenyang, China

Reading through my Blog I have realised that I have missed out alot of what I have learnt about China and the Chinese culture since I have been here. It's little things that slowly become the norm after a while, and I forget that when I first witnessed the things to follow I was a little shocked but mostly disgusted! Ha!

Firstly, all the babies (Children that would normally wear nappies!) wear babygrows that have a split in the back, and dont wear nappies or pants! The children have their little bums showing and just do there business as and when they please, but without anything to catch it! Now I have seen lots of kids wearing these, but the first time I actually got to witness it was in Tesco (of all places!). A little girl obviously needed to go, so her mum held her near the ground and she proceeded to do her business in the middle of the dried frut aisle! (Luckily it was only a number 1!) I think I did just stop, open mouthed and stare! I couldn't belive it! Everyone else didn't even blink and went on with their shopping as normal! When she was done, the woman didn't even call someone to clean it up, she just walked off! This was quite a few weeks ago, and is something I have now witnessed many times! I realised a couple of days ago after an incident in the restaurant (near my house) The woman who works there has a baby who's probably not even 1! He's really cute and she is always plonking him on my knee to take pictures! (I'm careful not to hold him for long incase he pisses on me!) Anyway, I was just enjoying some noodles and right next to me she holds him to the ground so as he can have a wee. I didn't even blink. It was on the floor of a RESTAURANT! I was eating! They have a toilet! And I wasn't bothered in the slightist! Only afterwards did I realise how shocked I was when I first arrived and now it's just another one of those things that become "Normal"!!!
The Hurrendous noises made by the chinese (Men and Women!) when hocking up phlem really did make me heave when I first arrived! Now I only notice it when I'm walking down the street and I dont have to dodge loogies!! I realised this a week or so ago when I noticed the hocking for the first time in quite a while! It was when I had my rather unpleasant visit to the hospital! Walking down the corridor of the hospital, My Buddy - Mr Young had a little phlem he needed to be rid of, so he hocked it up and spat it out right on the floor! Not in the greatest of moods at that time I did stop in my tracks, giving him my best 'disgusted' face and said (shouted!) " This is a hospital!!!!" before giving him a tissue and demanding that he remove his fluid from the dirty floor! Luckily we can laugh about it now! It's something that the Chinese do, and they don't see it as disgusting or rude (they actually think we are gross for blowing our noses!) Oh yeah, sometmes they just put there finger over one nostril and force the snot out of the other! ( Strangely it really makes me laugh!) It's another one of those things that really is disgusting, but you quickly forget and it soon becomes normal! I'm sticking to blowing my nose though - let them stare... they do anyway!!
Flicking cockroaches off the table when eating at a restaurant does happen on a regular basis, but this is something I don't think I could ever get used to. And although I don't scream anymore it's still something I would rather not have to do!!

I will leve it there for the time being, but will try to remember these litlle things and include them in my Blogs!

permalink written by  emmarogers85 on October 30, 2007 from Shenyang, China
from the travel blog: Teach and Travel China - 6 Months
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