My Move To Mexico

For months now, we’ve always had the plan of moving to Mexico. The reason was mainly so I could learn Spanish and then when it was good enough I would have better chances of getting a job related to tourism. That was the plan anyway!

I’ve been here I think almost 3 weeks now. (I’m not really counting). We didn’t bring much with us, just some clothes and what not. My fiancés family have offered for us to stay with them and we are very grateful for that!

We have a lot to organise in the next few months! At the moment I am on a tourist visa, meaning that I can only stay here for 6 months. In order to tackle this, we are organising the civil ceremony so that I can apply for a temporary 1 year visa. In that way I’ll be able to work on that visa.

Second, we are also organising our wedding/gathering/party for early next year. We aren’t planning anything wild, just something in my fiancés parents’ garden. It’ll be a small wedding! And big surprise, my parents are actually coming to Mexico! I spent 5 years in China and absolutely no one came to visit me. ( I had to have a wedding to make someone care about coming to see me).

But anyway, they are coming at least. Finally.

So at the moment we really aren’t doing anything productive. With both of us jobless, we are trying not to spend any money. (That also means not going anywhere either). I don’t really mind, I get to study Spanish more.

Oh, and on learning Spanish….. it’s ridiculously expensive to have Spanish classes with a private language learning centre here. It’s madness!!! Most of them are over 400USD per week!! Now they are intensive classes, but I just can’t afford that. So that kind of annoys me. They are catered to Americans who come for a few weeks to learn. They hike up the price so much though, even my fiancé was also shocked at how expensive they are, especially because a lot of Mexicans wouldn’t even earn that in 1 month.

I’ll try and find classes elsewhere if I can. I know myself that I need to be in a classroom to learn things. I’m bad at self-studying.

Exercise wise, my fiancés parents have a pool so I’ve started swimming for about 3/4 hours a week. I’d like to lose some weight and just get fit. The worst thing is just getting in at the start as sometimes it can be a little cold! But if I swam in a freezing cold cenote, then I can tolerate the pool!

So at the moment we are talking about our wedding, what needs to be done, what we need to get for it, and the civil ceremony and what that entails! AAhh!

Aisling

Advertisements

Hostels We Stayed At In Japan

If you are thinking of visiting Japan, here are the hostels in which we stayed at!

Tokyo

bnbplus Ninjadojo Ueno

Good: The location of this hostel is great. It’s about a 10 minute walk to Ueno train station where we could take the JR trains with our JR Pass. We actually had another hostel booked but we decided to stay in this one longer because the location was so good. Also there is a great street about a 5 minute walk with lots of bars and restaurants.

The showers were fine and there was shampoo and conditioner. Also the bathrooms were ok. It’s also very convenient to get to Haneda airport.

Bad: It’s a bit difficult to find, and also it’s very very cramped. I think there were about 22 beds in it and it’s just too small. There’s nowhere to put your bags so you’re constantly stepping over everybody else’s. Also the host wasn’t really there at all, and if we had any questions for him, it was very hard to get in contact with him. He’s also not the most friendliest of people! It can be very hot in the capsules because the curtains don’t allow air to flow in them.

It’s not really a hostel at all, just a room full to the brim with beds.

Would I recommend? For location, I would definitely recommend it. If you plan on staying just a few days, then this hostel is ok. I think for longer then no, it’s too cramped and sometimes quite noisy (apparently it’s ok to talk loudly at 2am).

Would I stay here again? I think for the location alone, yes I would. But If I had more money I think I would choose to stay in a different hostel but in the same area.

Kyoto

Kaede Guesthouse

Good: I think this was my favourite hostel. The staff were very helpful and the common area was really nice. Free tea and coffee was available all day with free bread for breakfast. The location was also very good as it’s only a few minutes walk to the centre of Kyoto. Also you can wash your clothes and hang them on their balcony which they have. The dorms were big and clean, and the bathrooms were good too!

Bad: Honestly I can’t think of any bad things to say about this hostel.

Would I recommend? 100% yes! We loved it!

Would I stay here again? Again, yes!

Osaka

The Dorm Hostel Osaka

Good: The location of this hostel was very good, just a few minutes walk to the centre. The width of the capsules were big and inside you had your own little shelf to put things on. The hostel itself is very nice and clean! They also provide free tea and coffee.

Bad: I’ve read reviews from this from other people and they said there is a lack of atmosphere, and they are right. I think the staff need to learn how to communicate better. When we arrived we had to sort our bags out and they just stood and looked at us while we were doing this, so it felt a bit awkward. Also there’s nowhere to put our bags before we check in. We had to leave them in the main common area, which we didn’t want to do.

Another thing is that at night there is a bar downstairs which plays loud music, so when you’re trying to sleep you can hear it, which is very annoying. For me, I can only sleep when it’s quiet, so I was quite annoyed by that. So if you are like me and can’t sleep with loud music, buy earplugs!

Finally, the top bunks are extremely difficult to get in and out of.  As you can see from the picture, the opening is too small. At one point I thought I’d never be able to get out of my capsule, as it’s too narrow! Ask to stay in a bottom bunk!

dorm

Source: booking.com

Would I recommend it? No, I wouldn’t. I like to know that I would have a good sleep, but here I knew it would be noisy at night from the bar downstairs. Also the lack of energy in the common room isn’t very good.

Would I stay here again? No. The reviews on booking.com are good, but for me, not being able to get out of my capsule to go to the bathroom at night is a no no. Plus the music at night does not lull me sleep!

Koyasan

Sekisho-in

Good: This is a buddhist temple that allows tourists to stay. It’s extremely expensive but it’s not very often you can stay in a temple. The location was perfect, with the main road right outside. Our room was very nice and the monks were also helpful.

They also had an Onsen which at first was very very intimidating (I thought there were showers) but I took the courage and went in anyways, which I was very happy I did! If you don’t like having a bath with others, then this may be a problem.

Bad: The dinner and breakfast wasn’t the greatest. It was just too different for me, plus there was lots of seaweed and tofu which I don’t like. Also we thought it was a tad too expensive.

Would I recommend it? If you want a different experience, then yes!

Would I stay here again? No. Once was enough. It’s very expensive and I think it’s only a one time thing.

We used booking.com to book these places, so if you thinking of staying in Japan these could be options for you!

Aisling.

Chinas obsession with its phones

Every traveller who visits China will say the same…”Chinese people are obsessed with their phones”.

And they are correct. On the bus, everybody has their noses stuck in their phones. In a restaurant, in a cafe, in a park, in the metro. Everywhere. It’s actually quite terrible to look at. 6 people in the metro sitting together and every single one of them is on the phone, oblivious to what is going on around them. The amount of times people bump against me because they are too busy looking on their phones while walking I can’t even count. When parents take their kids to a restaurant and all of them are on their phones, even the kid! On the bus, the parent will be sitting with their child and the the mum/dad have their face stuck to the phone constantly, while the child just sits their quietly….. not getting any attention whatsoever from their parent. It’s really quite sad to see.

But that is the reality now in China. They are absolutely obsessed.

We recently went to a bar and our friends had a thing connected to their phone. We didn’t know what it was. They replied that the bar rents out power banks so you can charge your phone. Our Chinese friend who was with us said “That’s exactly why Chinese people are addicted to their phones”.  So they don’t even have to worry about their battery running out; just rent out a power bank for 1 hour and they are good to go!

While myself and my fiancé were in McDonalds, a girl and boy couple sat beside us. As soon as they sat down, out whipped a phone and the girl started playing a game on it, of course with the sound turned on really loud! Then the boyfriend took it off her and for the whole time we were there, he was sat there playing with his phone….. while the girlfriend hand fed him chips.

So he was busy playing the game while the girlfriend just sat there looking around her. Sometimes he would say something (i’m not sure if it was to the girlfriend or just to himself), but apart from that, there was no interaction with them at all. Then to make things worse, he had a big smudge of mayonnaise on his face and not once did the girlfriend mention to him/ clean it off him!!

Me and my fiancé were just there sitting there looking at them in disbelief. No communication between the pair of them…… mayonnaise on the guys face….. girlfriend didn’t even bother telling him….????? Honestly we couldn’t get over it at all.

How can these people become so addicted to their phone? We know other Chinese friends and they are the same; stuck to the phone… even when they are with a group of people, they don’t care. They will just continue on their phone and not make conversation.

Now not all of our Chinese friends are like this, and even one of our Chinese friend admitted that this addiction thing is really bad in China.

Another example of this is in Starbucks. Sometimes we would go there and treat ourselves, and we would constantly see people on their phones. No talking, no nothing. Just on their phones. When we were in Mexico, we realised how cheap it actually was, so we decided to go in and have a drink. We looked around and EVERYONE was talking! We looked around and not one person was on their phone. They were talking, playing card games…. interacting with one another.

We then realised how different it was in China. I suppose we didn’t really notice too much, we just became accustomed to it. But yeah, I think we kind of made a mental note to ourselves not to use our phones as much.

But yeah, it’s a terrible problem that Chinese people have… and I really don’t think it’ll stop. They use their phones to pay for things, buy things (such as cinema tickets)….. pretty much everything!

We even saw a homeless guy asking for money with a scanner code! You simply scan the code he has, then you pay him through your phone!!! That is actually a thing now!

So yes, I won’t miss the obsession with phones here. I’m not sure if it’s the same in Ireland (I hope not) but I’ll definitely try harder not to use mine as much!

Aisling

Things I Will Miss From China

With my time coming to an end soon, I’ve made a list of everything that I will miss about China.

Of course the first one is food. If you love spicy food, definitely come to Sichuan. They even eat spicy things for breakfast here! There are loads of different dishes to try, and every province has their own speciality food, so if you’re a foodie, you will love China. My only problem with Sichuan food is it’s rather oily. That is its only downfall!

Independent Lifestyle: If there are people, there are buses and restaurants. That is one thing that’s guaranteed. I’m going to miss being able to go anywhere I want in the city, and not needing a car. I like that I can walk at night time (on my own) and not be afraid. I really will miss the independence that I have here. In Ireland everyone needs a car to go anywhere. If I don’t have a certain thing in China, I can simple walk down the road to a shop and buy it. No car needed!

If I’m hungry, simply walk to the nearest hole in the wall restaurant and order something. It’s great! Most of the time if we are hungry, we simply order online and wait for it to arrive outside our University campus. The driver will ring us when he is there, and we just go and collect it.  We have become so lazy!

Transport: Again, people = buses. The transport system in Chengdu is incredible. With buses going EVERYWHERE, and new metro lines popping up every year, it’s a great place to live if you don’t own a car. To be honest you really don’t need a car in Chengdu. We have transport cards that we can use for busses and metros, and transport is so cheap too.

For buses, at every stop in the city there is a display showing the bus numbers and how many stops there are until they arrive. I’m REALLY going to miss the transport here.

My apartment: I have lived in 5 apartments since coming to Chengdu, but I really really like the one that we are living in now. It’s huge, the shower is fantastic (we don’t need to wait for the water to heat up,  hot water lasts for like 30 minutes, and the pressure is great) our sofa is big and comfortable (3 people could sleep on it), we have carpet (which is rare in China) and it’s literally 15 steps away from the University shop.

IMG_9131

Yes I know it’s messy…

But of course there are some problems with it: theres not really a kitchen, there is a basketball court right outside and it literally drives me mad when they come out to play. BANG BANG BANG is all we hear. Also as you can see theres absolutely nowhere to put our things. No shelves whatsoever. So it would be a bit tidier if we had places to put things. We have two small balconies but we don’t use them as then everyone would look at us lounging.

To get this apartment we had to move way out of the city. But because it’s in the University, we don’t have to pay rent which is good!

Easy money: For this Uni job I’ve literally taught whatever I want, and I get paid quite good money. For teaching English, you will usually get well paid, because they really really need teachers. However now, many private companies are increasing the work hour. When I started a full time job was 20 hours in the private company where I used to work. Now it’s about 35 hours. But you can save a bit of money here, unless you go travelling and spend it all (which we have done…)

It’s also extremely cheap here! Although I do notice that it’s slowly getting more expensive, but generally it’s very cheap for food. For other things such as deodrant and foreign brands, they can be very expensive though. But travelling and eating here is cheap!

I also love that it’s so safe. I’ve never once had a bad experience either when I was cycling or walking on my own here. It’s very safe. Many parents let their older children get the bus to/ from school. For younger children it’s a little more dangerous, as there are MANY cases of child abduction, especially babies. It’s sad but true.

In my hometown I wouldn’t walk around at night time, too many drunk people/ bad people about unfortunately.  So I’ll miss how safe it is here.

But yes, I really will miss living here though. I’ve realised why I’ve been here so long. There are definitely problems with the country for sure, and sometimes all I want to do is complain about China and the people and what not, but it has been good to me too.

With regards to my future however, I just couldn’t see myself living permanently. The government is too restrictive, the education system is too harsh and stressful, and sometimes the attitudes of it’s people are just too different to my own. I don’t believe in their values, such as money is the most important thing in life, blah blah blah. ha plus I’m always going to be fat here.

But yeah, it’s time to move on, and leave all these great things I mentioned above behind. Sniff Sniff…..

Aisling.

Things I Won’t Miss From China

After 5 years of living in China, and with departure only a few weeks away, here is a list of things that I won’t miss from China.

If you happen to be from China and don’t want to get offended then I suggest you don’t read this blog. I have lived here for long enough and I’ve experienced all of the things listed before, so I’m not making these up. These are all my own opinions so this doesn’t represent every expat here in China.

Of course my own country has it’s fair share of problems, I know this… it’s known as having a  ‘compensation culture’, sky high rents and having a homeless epidemic, among many other things! So I can even write my own post about the problems in Ireland!

Maybe this blog will might help foreigners coming to China for the first time and what to expect!

Drivers; I honestly feel most people here have paid their way to be able to drive on Chinese roads, and they actually haven’t done the apparently very difficult driving test.

People don’t indicate… or they indicate right but then they turn left. They don’t use their mirrors, some don’t put their lights on at night.  Some stop at road corners which is incredibly dangerous.  I don’t know… it just feels like they have no regard for anything/ anyone except themselves. Once they find a spot to park their car, regardless of if it will affect other people… it doesn’t matter. They’ll park there.

They parked in the middle of the road to take a phone call and there are 5 cars behind them beeping like crazy for them to move. . . and they will continue to just stay there. They are oblivious (or don’t care) for other people. And I have witnessed this plenty of times.

Lack of common sense: Time and time again I have seen people casually walking across the road and NEVER look left or right! I remember once I was waiting to cross a busy road. There was a lady about my age waiting in front of me. So the green man comes on and out she walks into the road. But I saw there was an e-bike racing towards here. Thankfully he managed to stop in time but he was only 1 foot away from her. Not once did she even glance left to make sure nothing was coming. Because I was maybe 3 feet away from here, I saw the e-bike coming, and I was thinking “Is she not going to look left before she crosses?…..Oh, no she didn’t”

So when the e-bike had stopped, she got a bit of a fright… but carried on. She didn’t once look at the man on the e-bike and apologise, but just continued on walking like nothing happened.

To me, this is pure common sense to be aware of your surroundings. Chengdu has loads of e-bikes, and they won’t stop when the light is red. . . people here are aware of this, but still they don’t look before they step onto the road.

When I used to live in the city and I would cycle to work, and plenty of times people (without warning) would just step onto the road in front of me, and I would have to slam on my brakes to stop a collision. It’s so frustrating.  And of course they don’t look first.

Another time I was cycling around a corner. What a surprise, there was a car parked on the corner of the road, and a man and woman standing right in the middle of the road… TALKING TO PEOPLE ON THE OTHER SIDE. Jesus, why stop in the middle of the road and start talking to people who are on the footpath???

Obviously I didn’t want to cycle on the opposite side, so I had to cycle between the man and the car, and as I did I was ringing my bell on my bike furiously and I shouted “Jesus Christ, will you move out of the way!!” He looked at me with such a dirty look  and was probably thinking “huh, this foreigner telling me what to do.. IN MY OWN COUNTRY”. . . Yeah I will tell you what to do… if you are that stupid to stand in the middle of the road, then someone needs to tell you.

Lack of Queues: When I go to Walmart to go and buy things.. I hate queueing up…. just because no one here apparently knows how to do it. Because someone skipped us in the queue once before, read here: Skipping The Queue = One Angry Irish Girl I’m always constantly aware of the people coming behind me… Oh are they going to skip me?? Oh they moved, where are they now? (quick glance around my shoulder) Make a barrier so they can’t skip ahead.... You really shouldn’t have to be thinking about that kind of thing, but unfortunately here you have to.

Another time my fiancee was waiting to get veg weighed, and of course an old granny comes up and puts hers on first. He didn’t do or say anything because whats the point, he will most likely be ignored by the old lady plus the worker there, so he let her go ahead. The old lady wasn’t even fazed about it. Maybe she was thinking I’m an old women I deserve to go first. 

For buses, people (especially old people) make a mad rush to get on, it’s like if they don’t get on, then the bus will go without them. Planes are the same. Once the plane touches down, there is a mad dash for their bags. We always joke that they are afraid they’ll get stuck on the plane forever if they aren’t the first 10 people to get their bags. Haha that’s what it looks like though.

Materialistic: Because China has become rich quite fast, this means that a lot of people think about material things. Every Chinese person NEEDS to get the latest iPhone, or they will seem poor.

Every week= new shoes, new clothes…. it’s a never ending battle to look rich and pretty here! I definitely can’t handle it! I can’t wait to go back home and not have to worry about looking like I have money.

Wasteful: Because of this new wealth, unfortunately many Chinese people waste a lot of food. Once I saw a family of 3 (mother, father and a 5/6 year old daughter) come in to a restaurant. Usually when you order food, for 2.5 people you would order maybe 3 dishes and rice. But this family ordered about 6/7 dishes of food! Just for the 3 of them! Usually this is to show ‘we have money, we can order as many dishes as we want’. We left after our meal but I seriously hope they got the rest of that food to take out!

But anyway, here they do waste a huge amount of food. I hope in the future the government will educate China about wasting food, because it’s such a a shame. There are many many poor people… give the leftover food to them instead of throwing it all in a big bucket.

Pollution: I don’t need to elaborate on this.

Being ‘fat’: I’m absolutely fed up of feeling constantly fat in China. At the moment I’m 9.5 stone, but be god thats FAT here. I constantly feel like every Chinese girl is looking at me and thinking “Oh wow look at her skin, it’s so white…. but she’s fat.” I know 100% that that is what they are thinking.

I can’t wear shorts because I just feel so self-conscious. I don’t like like wearing t-shirts because they ‘showcase my fat arms’. To be 45kg (7 stone) is the perfect weight for Chinese girls here. WTF!!??? To me that is just unhealthy, and definitely not attractive looking. So I really do worry about my weight and just feel so self-conscious here. They think that I don’t exercise and I eat crap, and that’s why I’m like this. It’s true. In class sometimes we would talk about health and what not, and the students would say “Don’t eat unhealthy food so you won’t get fat”. Simple as. So they must think I gorge on food and don’t exercise whatsoever.

So yes, I really really won’t miss that aspect.

My god that’s a long list!

I know It sounds like a big rant, but I honestly have enjoyed living in China. And don’t think it was all about getting good money; I’ve been here two years working part time, so I really didn’t earn a lot. If I wasn’t fed up of teaching and had a job related to what I want to do, I think I would have stayed here for longer. So although I have mentioned some things that I won’t miss about here… there are a lot of positives about living in China.

So that will be another post to make, things that I WILL miss from China.

Aisling

Who is rich in China? Don’t ask me!

pexels-photo-462368.jpeg

From living in China, I’ve quickly realised that material things matter to many many Chinese people. Whether it’s a new pair of shoes, a new bag, getting their hair done every week, looking great…. people here need to look….. well, rich.

One thing that I dislike about China is their need to persuade to others that they have money. They need to have nice clothes, they need to have an iphone, preferably and Iphone6+ and newer. They need to have that fancy car. It’s a constant battle to appear rich and that you have money for these things.

So it’s quite difficult to spot the people who are generally well off, and the people who are on an average wage here.

We found an example of this when myself and my fiancé went for food at our local dumpling restaurant. Now this restaurant is small, not very modern and it’s a typical hole in the wall style of restaurant that you see all over China. There’s really nothing fancy about it at all.

So we order our food and we wait, while the owner (we guess he’s the owner) is starting to leave. He has taken a shine to us and always cheerfully welcomes us in. As we wait we see him and the wife leaving, and in such a surprise to us, they get into a big, new jeep that was waiting outside.

We were both really surprised about this! How can he afford a jeep when he runs this small hole in the wall restaurant that only serves like 6 types of dumplings??!! We thought that he wouldn’t be making that much money. Maybe we are totally wrong and he actually makes a tonne of money from his business! Now we are in doubt about the whole thing!

We do know that people take out loans to buy whatever they want here, so he could have taken out a very big one for his jeep! That’s the problem here; so many people take out loans for cars and phones and what not so then they appear to be very rich, but in fact they have taken a loan for all these material things. That’s how it’s difficult to figure out who is well off and who is not.

I don’t have a car, an iphone 6+ or anything else fancy really, except for my macbook air laptop…. but at least I’m not drowning in debt! My family taught me “If you don’t have the money for it, then don’t buy it”.

Plus, I’d rather spend my money travelling!

Aisling.

 

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