A Travellerspoint blog

August 2010

You Know You're in China When...

"When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable" - Clifton Fadiman

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When packing for a trip abroad, you might as well leave the comfort zone behind. Life in a foreign country ensures the exotic will spring from even the most mundane activities.

Below is a compilation of daily novelties which have colored our experience in southern China so far.

1.) Clothes dryers do not exist, only clothes lines.
2.) Children greet your face with either open-mouthed awe or open-mouthed terror.
3.) B.Y.O.T.P (bring your own toilet paper) is an unspoken rule, because public bathrooms won't have it.
4.) Umbrellas pop up everywhere, rain or shine.
5.) Water coolers take the place of water fountains.
6.) The supermarket includes a magnetized escalator ramp (when you wheel your cart onto it, the wheels magnetize to the ramp - ensuring a safe-non-cart-toppling journey).
7.) Your washing machine greets you with a cheery version of "Jingle Bells" when you press "start."
8.) The shaving cream you purchased has a scent remarkably akin to lime sherbert.
9.) Local drink stands sells delicious, fresh drinks for the equivalent of 50 cents.
10.) The iced drink you ordered arrives at your table...with the ice already melted.
11.) Your employee information form includes questions about your use of birth control (whether you use it & how often).
12.) Quality time with coworkers means an evening spent singing at a KTV (karaoke joint).
13.) When ordering a class of water, don't expect it to be iced or even cold - most likely it'll still be boiling.
14.) A honk from behind you on a sidewalk is a signal to either move or be run down by a : bike, scooter, bike-driven hackney or car.
15.) Items at the local shopping plaza are either purposefully overpriced or not priced at all, because bartering is both expected & encouraged.
16.) The beauty aisle at the local supermarket includes "skin whitening" products (whereas, in America, shelves are stocked with tanning products).
17.) Your foreign face causes a riot wherever you go (supermarket, post office, restaurant, bathroom...). People stop to stare, take a photo, or nearly wreck their scooters while struggling to a get a look.
18.) A two-seat scooter can seat as many as 5 people at a time (plus a dog, potted plant, or package of toilet paper).
19.) The overflow from your water heater drips into a bucket.
20.) Dvds sell for about 50 cents each.
21.) Every time you successfully complete a barter, you wonder who got ripped off in the end (you or the vendor).
22.) Splurging on a meal means spending $3 - $7.
23.) Smacking & slurping loudly while eating is not rude.
24.) Meat is rarely de-boned (eat slow & carefully).
25.) Buffalo wings are eaten with chopsticks (quite a feat).
26.) Most restaurant meals are eaten in a family-dinner style. Dishes are set in the middle of the table & shared by everyone present.
27.) Meat dishes often include the animal's head.
28.) Central air conditiong & heating don't exist.
29.) Incorrect English appears everywhere (especially on t-shirts, buildings, & notebooks).
30.) Cough drops are found in the candy aisle.
31.) You don't know what you've been served, but you eat it anyways.
32.) Drivers flash their brights to signal, "I'm not stopping, stay out of the way."
33.) Mob dance sessions are the norm each evening, where hundreds of people meet to perform synchronized dancing in various outdoor venues.
34.) Following traffic rules WILL get you into an accident.
35.) Most of the webpages you try to visit are blocked.
36.) Your kitchen appliances include a water-boiling device, for making tap water drinkable.

At the local shopping plaza

At the local shopping plaza


Zhuhai

Zhuhai


Local coffee shop

Local coffee shop


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Posted by rovingduo 07:07 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (5)

Home Sweet (Away From) Home

"To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted." - Bill Bryson

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We offer buckets of apologies for our lack of blogs this past month! Since arriving in Zhuhai, we have been extremely busy getting acquainted with our new jobs, new home, and new lives. Also, Internet access has been rare at best. To make up for our neglect, here are some much overdue photos of our Zhuhai apartment.

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Entryway.

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View from living room balcony. What you see is Yien Kindergarten (aka: our place of work).

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Living room.

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Living room.

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Bathroom (without western toilet).

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Bathroom (with western toilet - this is the one we use :))

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View from our bedroom balcony. What you see is the courtyard of our apartment complex.

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Our bedroom.

Our apartment (fortunately) is about a 30 second walk from the kindergarten we work at. Technically, I suppose it should be called a "dormitory" (or at least that's what everyone refers to it as), since it has 3 other bedrooms meant to house future foreign teachers. For now, though, Jake and I are the only foreign teachers, & so we have the place to ourselves.

As always, thanks for reading. :) More to come!

Posted by rovingduo 05:39 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (6)

Changing Our Address...Again

"There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign" - Robert Louis Stevenson

semi-overcast

Our last blog entry was written over a week ago, from our apartment in Foshan. Well, much has changed since then. For starters, we no longer live in Foshan...

We now reside in Zhuhai, the seaside garden city of China. Nestled among such cities as Macau, Zhongshan, and Hong Kong, Zhuhai is a multicultural haven for tourists. Its name, which means "Pearl Sea," derives from its location at the mouth of the Pearl River.

Our new apartment, supplied by our employer, is ridiculously comfortable and greatly exceeds our prior expectations. It is a four bedroom "dormitory," with kitchen, living room, and two bathrooms. Though Jake and I are currently the only foreign teachers, the dormitory is meant to house any future foreign teachers as well. The dormitory was completely renovated before we moved in and everything is brand new - from the bathroom mirrors and sinks to the furniture in all the rooms. There are also two balconies, the first is off the living room and the second is accessible by a sliding glass door in our bedroom.

Though we have been in Zhuhai for only a week, each day has been packed with activities. The school we work for, Yien Kindergarten, is as new as our apartment. In fact, it is still under construction and won't be completed until September, when the fall semester begins. Until then, our work consists of promotional activities, which makes for a hectic schedule. We work from 9am to 5:30pm Wednesday through Sunday; but, we work an additional 3 hours every Saturday and Sunday evening.

Upon our arrival, we learned that the school has been prepping for a promotional performance on August 14 - so, as the two foreign teachers, we'll of course have starring roles. The event consists of various segments, and is meant to promote the school and its teachers to parents and potential students. The segements generally consist of dancing, music and English games. Jake will play a piano solo for the opening act, and I am involved in a singing/dancing act of various children's songs (including 3 songs I'd never heard of until now: "Ding Dong Bell," "Froggie, Froggie," and "I Had a Little Nut Tree). Also, Jake and I will perform a segment of English games (which are still under construction while we brainstorm ideas).

During Saturday and Sunday evenings, everyone (us and all of 15 or so coworkers) set up tables at public areas (such as Vanguard, the local supermarket) and hand out balloons (with the Kindergarten's logo) to children and brochures to parents. As the foreign teachers, our unfamiliar faces are like blazing neon lights against the nighttime sky.

Needless to say, we have been very busy adjusting to our new lives. But, this unique and exciting opportunity is worth it.

Speaking of being busy, this blog must come to a close - Jake and I must be off (we have to work on our English games).

  • *We had planned on including several photos of our apartment/Zhuhai, but we forgot our external hard drive at home! So, we'll add them tomorrow! Stay tuned.

Posted by rovingduo 04:49 Archived in China Tagged living_abroad Comments (9)

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