A Travellerspoint blog

Sexy Pigs Kidneys

Crabs, crabs, crabs

Today, seeing as my last lesson was finished by 11am i spent the afternoon skiving school and spending time with one of the Chinese teachers at my school Michelle and her friend Nila.

First stop was lunch, four huge bowls of food, salad covered in oil and vinegar, shrimp in oil with chunks of potato with cucumber covered in coriander in a sauce of soft onions and big dishes of spiced crab, picked straight from the tanks, whose brethren sat and watched as I sucked the soft meat from inside their unfortunate friends. Finally a dish that I was refused knowledge of until I had tried it, that I was promised would make me ‘hot in bed.’ It turned out to be spiced pig kidney cooked with hot red and green chilli peppers. Everything but the kidneys was delicious, I’m not a picky eater in any way, but I always hate offal,and chowing down on pig insides, to me, doesn't seem a like it could ever be a massive turn on. I actually can't think of many things that would be less of an aphrodisiac than someone cracking out a pigs kidney to 'get you in the mood'.

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After lunch we visited the memorial of the Wuchang uprising of 1911, as all the information was in Chinese I can't say I learnt a whole lot, but it was an interesting place to look round, the large red brick building of a western archetectural style. A small museum inside had original prints depicting traditional chinese painting used for cigarette or similar advertising. I had a fun few minutes explaining the word laxative, an advertisement depicting only a beautiful young chinese princess, who, I can only imagine, had some distinct need for western laxative pills.

Outside there was a stall where you could dress up in old fashioned military uniforms and get your photo taken. The Chinese teachers dismissed this as a silly tourist trap, I nodded along and decided to come back another time without fear of judgement.

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The day was finished off with a visit to a giant supermarket and probably my favourite purchase so far in China, Cocopops. Been feeling a little down and tired the last few days so this taste of my English childhood worked as a bit of a pick me up. I bought Michelle some too, I have a feeling she isn't going to be that impressed.

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Posted by Jessica_l_ball 03:26 Archived in China Tagged food china teacher crabs wuhan tefl wuchang kidneys cocopops Comments (0)

Yellow Crane Tower

Huáng Hè Lóu

For a mere 80 kwai the Wuhan tourist is invited to climb a billion steps to the top of the beautiful Yellow Crane Tower and wander round the extensive gardens buying over priced drinks as they go. In general I'm not usually one for tourist traps but as one of Wuhans few big tourist attractions I felt that I should at least visit, I'm glad I did.

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After a few weeks living in among the chaos of suburban Wuhan the yellow crane tower and surrounding grounds presented an area of calm I hadn't realised I was wanting so desperately until I was there, whether it was the peaceful gardens or the mere proximity to actual plant life, I felt like I could breathe again. The gardens are beautiful and the view atop the tower really is worth seeing, just to experience the view of a city-scape and the yangtze river stretching as far as the eye can see.

In researching the tower (Wikipedia got me through my degree it can sure as hell get me through China) I read that there are two main legends surrounding the yellow crane tower, they both include immortal guys on yellow cranes, whether stopping for a nice little rest in the case of Fei Wenyi or as a place of departure as in the case of Wang Zi'an. The original tower was built was built in commemoration of them, it has since been rebuilt atop Snake hill which is where i found it this smoggy day in September. I imagine the original tower was lacking an electric elevator.

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As the tower attracts tourists from all over China it was interesting to discover that there are many Chinese people that consider a western face worthy of holiday pictures to show the people back home, apparently just not my western face. Apparently I’m odd enough to be stared at all day, especially on those days that I’m hungover and look like am hanging on by a thread, but I’m not exciting enough for Chinese tourist pictures. The American guy I went to see the tower with got dragged a way for photos repeatedly while I was of no interest, heartbreaking feeling of rejection.

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Stepping back onto the streets of Wuhan was a little harder after the visit, the engine smoke and stinking stinky tofu were just a bit more unbearable after the quiet and calmness of the yellow crane gardens. Still loving the bizarreness of this place though, as calming as the yellow crane tower and gardens are, they've got nothing on seeing a guy on a moped 'walking' a dog down the middle of a busy road or seeing little old ladies dancing in the middle of a shopping mall. The best things about China so far have been the things I've seen, that haven't cost me a penny.

Posted by Jessica_l_ball 03:27 Archived in China Tagged buildings history china tourist wuhan yangtze tefl yellow_crane_tower wuchang Comments (0)

Shopping!

Too susceptible to pretty packaging

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I shouldn’t be allowed to go shopping alone, the packaging is too cool looking to resist, who wouldn’t want a drink with this happy looking little kid on it? Well me, after I opened it and realised that it was some kind of sweetened milk, it sort of tastes like what is left after you finish your Frosties. The birthday cake flavoured Oreos though are pretty tasty, full of crunchy hundreds and thousands.

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All in all much better than the last mystery purchase, the unidentified smiling Chinese man 48 proof clear alcohol . It smelt like summer but tasted like acid. Though a biggish bottle was about 60 pence so I don’t really know what I was expecting, maybe I should just be pleased I survived.

Posted by Jessica_l_ball 04:46 Archived in China Tagged china milk shop sweets teaching wuhan oreos tefl Comments (0)

One week strong

"Who do you think are more handsome, kind and loving? English or Chinese men?”

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In arranging to come to China my contract was to work at a primary school, when I got here though that was not the case and I was told that I would be teaching 7th and 8th graders at the middle school, so 12 and 13 year olds.
Children studying English in China often adopt an English name to use in lessons, thank god as there isn’t a single Chinese name that I have heard and can still remember so far! Sometimes the children pick their own names or a word that reflects or sounds similar to their Chinese name and sometimes their foreign teacher will choose them, as far as I can tell, because they are hilarious. Some of my favourite names in my class include Aristotle, Maraschino, Beryl and Absolutely. I also have a few Dragons, Candys, Chrystals and a Smile. One of the other foreign teachers here told me that she used to have a kid called Vampire Killer, just brilliant.

My first lesson with each class I introduced myself, talked a bit about my life in England and invited any questions from the kids. I got all the usual how old are you and what are your hobbies type questions, but in every single class, without fail I would have a moment when the giggling started and I could see what was coming, one kid would be pushed to stand up and ask me, while staring at the ground and blushing profusely, whether I had a boyfriend. I suppose that they are just at that age when they become obsessed with the whole boy-girl thing. My favourite question came from one of the boys in my class, he stood up, looking very abashed and asked whether I though Chinese or English men were the more "handsome kind & loving." It was obvious what the situation called for, "Chinese men" I had replied "are definitely the most handsome kind and loving."

So apart from their intrusive interest into my romantic history "Have you ever held hands with a boy?", their overall confusion with the very size of me "Is there a baby in your belly?" and the awkward questions about politics the kids so far are AMAZING, so well behaved you wouldn’t believe. When I found out the class sizes here are hitting around 50 and I would be teaching independently I was a little concerned, but the children have such a lot of respect for their teachers. I think as well they want to be liked by their new foreign teacher, in my school there are 3,000 kids and I am the only foreign teacher so the 200ish children I teach are supposedly the lucky ones as they get the opportunity to practise their English with a native speaker. I try to make myself available to chat at break times to the kids, I have had more conversations this week about Twilight and Taylor Swift than I’m happy with but its nice to be able to speak with the children. I am quite pleased actually now to be teaching older children as I get more of an opportunity to speak with them than I would of with primary age kids whose English is less developed.

OK so that was a lot of me just talking about kids, next time I should have some pictures to upload of my room and the school and stuff and I can tell you a little bit more about my ‘adventures’ so far. Too many of them involve alcohol but who would have of expected otherwise?

Posted by Jessica_l_ball 03:37 Archived in China Tagged children china teaching wuhan tefl first_week Comments (0)

The Journey

On my way to Wuhan

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Sitting in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport I have officially embarked on my lengthy trip to China. After a quick return from a birthday beach break I have made elderly relatives, and the not-so elderly weep and worry and have set off with an enormous pink suitcase and a back pack that threatens to send me over backwards every time I put it on.
I find myself in the city of love, waiting for my flight to Hong Kong seemingly surrounded by what I’m sure I will soon find out not to be, the majority of the Chinese population. I sit wiping pain au chocolate crumbs from my shirt and wondering what on earth would convince the guy opposite to purchase a novelty t-shirt where the Eiffel tower is wearing a beret and holding a baguette. I kinda want one.

For the past few weeks I have answered the common question “aren’t you scared?” with a considered nonchalance that I felt suitably conveyed the cool and collected world-ready and cosmopolitan traveller that I felt myself to be. And I genuinely wasn’t scared, at all. Until last night, when I laid in bed barely able to breathe thinking “honestly, what the f*** have I done?” I freaked out, badly. I had to be tempted downstairs and away from my tightly stuffed case with the odd culinary mix of black Russians with sausage and mash just to stop myself from throwing away all my clothes and filling my case with books, pillows and nostalgic cuddly toys. Would I really need a large fleece tiger print onesy in China? I was asked, OK probably not.

Later . . . . .

Finally arrived in Wuhan a mere 25 and a half hours after i set off from home. I was happy to be welcomed into my new flat with a Mcdonalds and the chance to get a bath and sleep.
I managed not to get lost or get on the wrong plane so I'm actually pretty happy with that, the new room is pretty nice & reminds me of halls, I’m hoping to recreate freshers as much as possible.
I just need to unpack now, then tomorrow is my first lesson.

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My new bedroom finally unpacked!

Posted by Jessica_l_ball 01:11 Archived in China Tagged china plane journey teaching wuhan tefl new_start airfrance Comments (0)

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