The Police Are Coming!

So I’ve settled in nicely with regards to teaching and where I’m currently living. We’ve also visited a few shopping centres that are a few bus stops away from us, plus found new places to eat, so all in all I think we have both settled in ok.

We are always trying to find new places to eat, but in China there will always be food places around. If there are people, restaurants will come.

One evening after class, we decided to venture outside the campus and take a 5 minute walk to a street where there are more restaurants. We come across about 5/6 food stalls literally straight in front of the campus back gates. “This is great!” we thought. Now we have some food on our doorstep!

So we have a look at what they are selling; fried potatoes (great for me), these sort of Chinese pancakes, fried rice, noodle dishes and bbq food on sticks (called shao kao). So quite a nice selection!

We decide to get a rice dish and while we are ordering, one of the other foreign teachers comes behind us and we start talking. He mentions that usually the police show up and the food stalls have to move up and go. I’m not sure if they are legal or illegal, but I’m sure the other restaurants down the road get pretty angry when these people literally park right outside the students campus and sell their food.

So anyway, the teacher leaves with his food and we continue to wait for ours to be cooked. All of a sudden we hear two beeps coming down the road. We look up and we see blue lights flickering down the road. “Oh the police are here!!” we said. And up they come in their police golf cart and park. It’s such a funny sight seeing police officers in this electric golf cart for the 4 of them. I’m not sure if this is in all of China, but in Chengdu it’s very common to see them spinning about in their cart.

police golf cart

Source; google

“Tamen you lai le”…”Here they are again” I heard our lady from our cart say. Of course they know that the police will eventually come, so they quickly try and get as many orders out as they can.

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The different food stalls

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He cooks while she takes care of the orders

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If there are no police, it’s safe to come!

So the police come and stop, and one man jumps out and starts taking pictures of the stalls. Of course he’s seen this before, so he casually waits until all the carts have finished their orders and then tells them to go! We were worried that we wouldn’t get our food, but thankfully they were able to cook the remaining orders and then move on.

Our teacher told us that sometimes the stalls go to different places in the road, and even down a little side alley in order to evade the police!

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My dish which cost €1.30

 

So we are very happy to know that these stalls are about somewhere! Until the police cart shows up that is!

再见

爱玲

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Settling Into My New Home & Job

I’ve been back in China for just over a week, but we’ve been so busy packing our things, moving and starting our new jobs, that it really feels like I’ve been here for weeks already! I’m shocked when I think I’m back only 1 week!

From arriving back in Chengdu, both myself and my fiancé were busying packing the remainder of our things, moving them into two vans we booked, moving into our new place, meeting new teachers (all male by the way, so I’m really outnumbered) … and finally work on Monday! So we were quite busy when we arrived back!

With most of our things unpacked, we can finally relax in our new apartment and area where we are living. Our university that we work in has two campuses; one for the 1st and 2nd years, and another for the older students. We live in ‘villa’ sort houses in the campus for the older students. The building where we live only has 3 floors, and they are dedicated solely to the foreign teachers; each building houses 3 teachers… so it’s refreshing not to be surrounded by people below you, above you, and either side of you! We live on the ground floor, so we just have another teacher living above us.

Apartment wise, it’s a BIG improvement to our old apartment…. our new place is absolutely HUGE! I’m pretty sure the whole of our old apartment could fit into our new bedroom. Now if I lose something, I could be looking for 10 minutes for it! Theres actually too much space now! Another good is that we actually have a U shaped sofa!!!! No more do I have to put up with our tiny, crappy, uncomfortable sofa from the old place. Our shower is fantastic (the shower head didn’t work very well in the other place), we now have a big dining table and a proper bed (instead of just a mattress on the floor).

We also have big air conditioning units in both the living area and the bedroom. Our toilet is a huge improvement too! In the old apartment, their was literally no water pressure whatsoever in our toilet, so we always needed a big bucket of water to give everything a helping hand…

The only problem with this apartment is the lack of a cooking area. Now I don’t usually cook anyway, but it’s always nice to have the option. Here we just have a portable electric stove top … and it’s actually broken. Plus we have no electric fan to get rid of the food smell. So that’s one negative thing about the place.

But apartment wise, so far I really like it!

As for my job, I feel this has been a REALLY long week! Every foreign teacher here teaches 1st year students, and whatever lesson plan we do for our first class of the week, then we use that one for the remainder of the week….. so it does become very very monotonous! I have 10 classes, so I have to repeat the exact same lesson plan 10 times. Sure it’s easy, but when it comes to the 6/7th time of doing the exact same thing, it does grate on me a little. That’s why it feels like such a long week.

Most of my students are girls, with only 4/5 boys in each class, and generally they are ok. Some of their English is atrocious though, so I really don’t know how I’m going to teach these kids anything if they can’t even get the basics right. But thankfully the school doesn’t put pressure onto the foreign teachers, so we are free in doing whatever we want in class. It’s up to the students to try and learn!

Location wise, because we are outside the city, I really do feel a bit lonely and isolated here. As I said before, I loved my previous area where I lived. Now… it takes 1 hour by bus to even get to our nearest ATM! By taxi it would take 30 minutes to get to somewhere where there is a decent amount of people…. so yeah, I do feel very isolated from everything. I don’t think I could live here for longer than 1 year.

For food, we’ve only had one dish which we have really enjoyed. Because we are located where students live, the restaurants near us aren’t exactly good quality or flavoursome. Yeah it’s cheap, but the food is very basic and I don’t particularly enjoy some dishes. Also each restaurant basically serves the exact same thing, so it’s hard to find a good meal here!

So there are some positives and negatives of moving. One good thing is that we are guaranteed money each month so we can save for our wedding and what not. We are guaranteed the same holidays as the students, and with the amount of walking and cycling I do… I’m optimistic I’ll lose some weight!

I know I’m going to feel down some days and just wishing I could leave, but I’m glad I didn’t come here by myself… I don’t think I could last!

再见

爱玲

Soon To Leave

With only 1 full day left in Ireland, I’ll soon be heading back to China again. Having been home for 2 months, I’ve sort of gotten into a routine here, and I’m finding it really hard to get my head around the fact that I’m leaving again. I’ve come to the realisation that this will be my last year in China. Theres a number of reasons why. I just sort of feel done with China now. I’ve been there 4 years and I just miss my family, Ireland, the people, and of course my Mums food.

I enjoyed my time in China a lot, it’s just now, I really really don’t want to go back. This is the first time that I’ve been like this. Being home for the summer didn’t help either, but I just don’t want to go back now. I want to be close to my family, learn Spanish, maybe live in Mexico for a while, plan on getting married… and I feel I can’t do any of that while there.

For the past two months I’ve been organising on getting a work visa, and thankfully I finally got it! There was a point where I thought I wasn’t going to get it, but I received it in the nick of time. Me and my fiancé will be teaching 1st year students in a University for a year.

I suppose the reason why we wanted the job was because we needed the money, it’s much easier to teach older students, and because we will get winter and summer holidays (whilst being paid). So there are some good benefits to the job.

However we will literally be in the middle of nowhere! The nearest metro station will be a 40 minute bus ride away. There are no real high rise buildings near the uni, and when you can drive down a road without passing any other cars, you definitely know you’re not in the city! So I’m very apprehensive about moving there.

As I said before, I love living where we live at the moment ; it’s close to everything and it’s very easy to move about. Our neighbours drive us mad, but apart from that I really love it. I think that was a big part of why I was living in China so long; the convenience of it. So now I feel like I’m leaving the one thing I stayed in China for. . . so that’s why I don’t want to return.

I’m trying to be positive but I’m afraid in case I will be stuck for a year hating it. But at least I won’t be going on my own…. I think I’d be pretty lonely!

Aisling

Japanese Food In My Hometown

If I ever moved to Japan, I know I would definitely struggle with the food! As they love everything got to do with fish flavour, I honestly wouldn’t really know what I could eat if I ever went there!

So anyway, in my hometown a new Japanese restaurant has opened up. Apparently it has rave reviews, and being the only Japanese restaurant (that I know of) in the area, I wanted to try it out and see what it offered!

Of course they had sushi, but they had other dishes like ramen and teriyaki, so I thought one of those may do me! I met my long time friend and we headed there for lunch, and I must say the chicken teriyaki was lovely!

Haha I did notice that throughout our meal I did hear 1 or 2 Chinese songs being played in it! The opposite would absolutely NEVER happen in a Chinese restaurant in China!

They gave us chopsticks and although I’m now good at using the Chinese style ones, the Japanese chopsticks are a little more difficult!

The Japanese style ones are shorter and taper to a fine point , so it’s harder to pick up the food, whereas Chinese ones are thicker and they have a blunt tip. They are also longer. The Korean chopsticks are the same as the Japanese, but I think (but not sure) they usually use chopsticks that are made of silver… so obviously even harder to use!

chopsticks

So I was a little slower than usual eating my food! But it was delicious and I would definitely come back again!

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While we were there, two Japanese girls came in to eat and then a single man came in, most likely on his work break. So it really does cater for the every kind of person. In my hometown, most Chinese restaurants cater only for takeaways or as a posh restaurant, but I feel this Japanese place can be for people wanting a casual lunch or even dining out with friends.

I think another reason why this place is successful is because it’s the only Japanese restaurant around; we have plenty of Chinese/ Indian places, but I must say my small town is lacking in places to try more international food. I suppose the older generation are just used to eating the same stuff over and over again, so trying new food might be a bit daunting for them!

This definitely applies to my Dad… he doesn’t even like spaghetti!

But I hope the next time I come back there will be many more restaurants offering more ‘exotic’ dishes!

But anyway, it was a nice experience trying out some Japanese food…. my first time trying sushi ( and forever hating it) was a different story!

再见

爱玲

Why are you always looking at me?

Why are you always looking at me?

The longer I have lived in China, I’ve noticed that less and less Chinese people stare at me here. When I first arrived, everyone on the subway would gawk at me, some might even take photos! Now however, with the influx of more foreigners, this (thankfully) is disappearing!

But not completely!

So yesterday, myself and my fiancé decided to go to Walmart to pick up some things for home. We were looking at some flasks and I turn and see a worker down the bottom of the aisle looking at me. So anyway, I continue browsing.

I look around and he’s still there. Staring.

So I say to my fiancé “That worker over there keeps looking at me, we’ll go to the next aisle and see if he follows”.

We go to the next aisle and low and behold he appears!

I’m getting a bit annoyed at this stage. So back I go to the flask section, waiting to see the worker.

What a surprise, he appears again….but this time at the other end of the aisle.

That’s it, I decide to walk over to him. At this point he’s looking at me while talking to another lady, but I don’t care. I go up to him and ask him in Chinese “Why are you always looking at me?”… He replies he’s not. Haha the face of him when he realised this foreigner was coming over to him!

I think he was shocked that I actually confronted him. But it worked! I didn’t see him lurking around again!  haha well maybe he was but did it with a bit more stealth this time! When someone is standing right in the middle of the aisle gawking at you, it’s not very conspicuous!

For me, it drives me mad when people do this. I just want to go and browse… and not have someone staring at me thinking I’m going to steal something. I hate that feeling. I’m not going to take anything. Just leave me alone and let me shop.

Did he think I was going to steal something? Was he just curious at what I was looking at? Was he just looking at me?? Do I even look like a thief????

Usually this sort of thing doesn’t really bother me, but when someone is constantly staring at me and making me feel like I’m doing something wrong, then that needs to stop. If he thought I was stealing, then keep an eye on me through the security cameras. Just don’t make it obvious!

That’s why I never go to markets here; every time I pick up something I feel as if the worker is thinking “Oh… oh she’s going to steal that!!!” Haha plus they would most likely rip me off with their hiked up price.

So anyway, that was my shopping experience in Walmart. Usually there’s no problem, but maybe yesterday I looked more a thief than other days!

Check out my other (not so nice) Walmart (yes, the same Walmart) experience here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl

再见

爱玲

Spur Of The Moment Decision

Spur Of The Moment Decision

After a spur of the moment, I’ve decided to book flights home to Ireland. Being away for 2 months, I will definitely miss my fiancé while I’m away. Unfortunately he’ll be staying in Chengdu for that time.

I think it’ll be a nice break from each other though. The only time we’ve been apart was when he went travelling with his sister for a week. It’s not that we need a break or we are getting fed up of each other. We have a great relationship.  Just a little time with my family without him will be nice! Plus it’ll make us appreciate each other more while I’m away!

As I still have no job, my thought was ‘well I’m not tied to work or anything at the moment, so this would be the best time to go and visit.’ Plus, If I don’t go home now,  god knows when I’ll be back. I miss my nephews and my sister a lot, and I know they can’t come here to visit.

I’m looking forward to visiting home; enjoying Mums food, catching up with friends, my sister, playing with my nephews. Even sleeping in my old room!

I would have booked flights just for a month, but because it was such late notice, the cheapest flights back to Chengdu aren’t until the end of August. And the cheapest leaving are only at the end of June. At least I won’t miss out on my last few weeks of studying. Only 3 weeks!

Another reason why I think it’s a good time to go home is because I have a few things to sort out at home, eg wedding info, bank things….. so I can sort all that out while there!

I don’t really have the money for visiting, but I suppose my family outweighs my financial concerns. When you’re away, you realise how important your family is, and how much you miss them… so I don’t mind paying for the flights to visit.

So as I’ll be away for 2 months, I will expect my Chinese level to go down… but…. I will definitely try and keep on studying! I know it’s all well and good saying that, but I really need to concentrate on my Chinese this summer. As I plan on moving up to Level 7, I need to make sure my level is up to par.

So that’s what my summer will entail!

再见

爱玲

Chengdu is becoming more expensive

Chengdu is becoming more expensive

Having lived in Chengdu for nearly 4 years now, we’ve been noticing that Chengdu is sadly becoming more expensive. Of course it’s still incredibly cheap to live here, with regards to food and that… but I’ve definitely noticed that the cost of living is gradually becoming higher and higher.

One thing that I’m sure every expat in Chengdu is aware of is how rent has increased in price. With the new metros popping up everywhere, that of course means that the rent nearby these metro stations will go up. Our rent has increased by 200yuan a month, and this is only because of the new metro that has opened up nearby us.

Also, today we visited a jiaozi (dumpling) restaurant for lunch, and we saw that they have upped the cost of their portions by 2元 (€0.26). I know it’s not by much, but it’s still an increase… every little counts!

Here in Chengdu, if you want to buy some foreign products, most foreigners head to Metro. This is a huge supermarket which sells a lot of foreign products in bulk.. like milk, cheese, Chinese products and so on. We haven’t been there in ages so we decided to go and have a look around!

And of course the prices have went up there too!

Since coming here, foreign teachers salary has been getting higher and higher, but I wonder is this the same for Chinese workers? Have their salaries increased I wonder?

But anyway, that’s the reality of living in a constantly growing city like Chengdu! I wonder is the rest of China getting more and more expensive or if it’s just here?

What will the cost of living here be like in 5 years time… Will there be anymore expats living here, or will they have all decided to move on to somewhere cheaper? China is an attractive place for foreigners to live because of it’s low cost of living… but if it increases, I’m pretty sure many will leave!

So we’ll have to keep an eye on what else has gotten more expensive!

再见

爱玲