Who is rich in China? Don’t ask me!

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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.

 

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A Reconstructed Ancient Town (In The Middle Of Nowhere)

A Reconstructed Ancient Town (In The Middle Of Nowhere)

About a 10 minute walk from our apartment there is a ginormous reconstructed entrance gate to the unknown! We passed it a few times meaning to go in and find out what was inside, so with it being a holiday in China at the moment and because it was a nice day that day, we decided to go and check it out.

We were pleasantly surprised; it was quite big, and it was all constructed to look like an ancient old town. We wandered through the area and we found places with people drinking tea and playing Chinese games. We didn’t expect it to be as nice as it was!

 

But we kept asking ourselves; why would they build this here, in the middle of nowhere?? Well it’s not in the middle of nowhere exactly; there are communities of people and what not. But it’s certainly not in the city. Why go to all this effort and spend lots of money on creating this town, where most people most likely don’t even know it exists??

There were a few people and families in it while we there, so people do come and walk around, but it wasn’t crazy like all the other ancient towns nearer to the city are. It was a nice change though. I’m certain that if it was nearer to the city and more easily accessible it would be bustling with people!

I’m pretty sure in the next 10 years the city will have expanded even more and the area where I live will be more incorporated into it, so I’m sure the town will get more visitors then.

There were a few restaurants opened inside it which people were eating in, but it seemed like before there were many more, but have now closed. It’s weird; looking into the now closed up restaurants, we could see bottles of unopened soy milk, plates and pans about the place, so it’s as if they just suddenly upped and left!

But anyway, it was nice not being surrounded by a swarm of people for a change!

再见

Aisling.

 

 

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

Transferring At Manila Airport

Having heard some bad things about Manila Airport, we weren’t exactly too keen on having to transfer there. Our friends who have travelled through it didn’t particularly enjoy their experience, and there are plenty of negative reports about it on the internet.

Coming back from El Nido, we needed to wait at the airport for about 11 hours until our next flight, which was at 4:55am. We didn’t want to go into Manila itself: we still had another 2 flights to go and we just wanted to relax until it was time to depart. We knew we would be exhausted by the time we arrive back in China. Before arriving at the terminal, we both decided we would just stay at the airport and relax there.

Our plane landed at the airport at around 2:30pm… and we took the shuttle to our terminal. Oh my god the place was mad! There were people everywhere, because they check your documents even before you enter the terminal, there was a big queue outside waiting to get in!

When we got in, there were loads of people. And this was where we would be staying for the next 11 hours……

At this point we were starving, so we asked where we could get some food. Apparently in the terminal that we were in, the options available to us was the cafeteria or a place called Jollibee, the Filipino equivalent of McDonalds. So we opted to go to Jollibee.

The food wasn’t too bad, it’s just because everyone else had the same idea of eating there… there was a big queue and plenty of people eating!

So after our meal, we found the waiting area…. right next to the restaurant stuck in the corner of the airport. And it definitely wasn’t big enough for the amount of people there. The seats were metal and nearly every one of them was taken.

Looking at the waiting area… we really didn’t want to have to spend our time there…. it definitely wasn’t relaxing. So after a short discussion, we decided to rent a room in a hotel nearby. All we wanted to do was relax, and we weren’t going to be able to do here.

Now we had to find someone who could help us organise this. We went over to a security man and lady and we asked them where could we do this. They told us to wait nearby and they would call an airport hotel for us. Both of us were so surprised! They were busy doing their job but they decided to help us out and the man left and started talking on the phone. They were so nice and helpful.

The lady told us to sit at the waiting area and when the car arrived she would find us. And so we waited until she beckoned us to follow her. We were blown away by their helpfulness. They really didn’t need to help us, but they did. Throughout our whole holiday we were amazed at how friendly the people in the Philippines are. And this was one example of it!

So when we arrived at the hotel, we were so so happy we decided to book a room. We didn’t really want to be spending money for a hotel that we weren’t even spending a whole night in. But at Manila airport, it was just too crowded, busy, and certainly  not somewhere I wanted to spend all day at.

If you are transferring through Manila, my suggestion is to think about lay over times and whether it would be better booking a hotel or maybe go into the city and explore.

When we arrived back at the airport at 2am, thankfully it was much much quieter!

*TIP: When entering the airport, there is a security person who will check your documents (they don’t allow people who aren’t travelling into the airport). Make sure you print out your ticket details. Luckily for us we had ours to show. It just makes it easier for yourself if you have it in paper for them. I don’t know what will happen if you don’t have your flight details for them to show.

**TIP: If you decided to go to the fast food restaurant, you will need to put your bags through security all over again when entering the airport. The food court is technically inside the airport, but after eating, you need to exit the airport AGAIN and re-enter through security.  Pretty annoying!

***TIP: For us, when we arrived at our gate, there was a table where we had to allow security people to check our bags AGAIN. They opened our small bags and searched inside, while they just felt our big bags. This may not happen you but just be aware of it.

So we survived Manila airport, but I don’t fancy visiting it anytime soon!

再见

爱玲

What A PERFECT Holiday To El Nido, Philippines.

What A PERFECT Holiday To El Nido, Philippines.

We have just returned home from having a blast in El Nido, Philippines. Having never been to a place like it, to me it was like paradise. Crystal clear water, white sand, cocktails and relaxing… it was perfect. Plus my boyfriend proposed to me on a spectacular beach! What a surprise!

It was just a perfect trip. Well almost a perfect trip! Our second day there I got very very badly sunburned on my legs and feet while kayaking… to the point that I could hardly walk. I thought that would ruin the holiday, but I persevered through the pain and they are slowly getting better now.

With travelling included, we were there 10 days. And I definitely could have stayed longer!

The weather was great, it wasn’t too hot or cold, the prices weren’t  expensive ( cocktails cost around €3, a 6percent beer was about €1) and the Filipino people are just so friendly!!! We both couldn’t believe how friendly everyone is. They always said ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ when they addressed us. The people we met were really really friendly.

I would definitely recommend a trip. Although it is a little difficult to get there, it is definitely worth it!

We are so sad to be back in China; but we have great memories from our trip!

Where we stayed in El Nido;

Aqua Travel Lodge:

Liked: We really don’t have anything to complain about Aqua Travel Lodge: the staff were friendly, our room was perfect, it was actually quite cheap for it being the busy season. The location is perfect: right next to the beach and beside some lovely restaurants. Right in the middle of everything which is great.

There are quite a few bad reviews coming from people, but come on… if you are expecting a mini bar and a fridge in your room, annoyed at the instant coffee they give you for breakfast.. then you should be looking at more top range hotels. For us, we thought the hotel was perfect.

Anyway, you will be so busy going on tours to different islands and out enjoying El Nido town that you’ll only be at the hotel for sleeping!

Disliked: Breakfast was so so in my opinion, but the pancakes and the waffles were fine. But it was included in the price so we opted to keep having breakfast there.  Also it’s a bit noisy at night on the right side of the building, as there is a popular restaurant located close by, so I would suggest you ask your room to be on the opposite side.

But apart from that… no complaints! I would recommend staying here if you plan on going to El Nido!

再见

爱玲

Two Mexicans in China

We have been busy lately, with my boyfriends Mum and Dad coming to visit; bringing with them plenty of Mexican food, nuts and my favourite spicy watermelon lolly pops. Oh and a very good quality Tequila with them!

So far they have really been enjoying their time here; walking around the area of our community, going to Walmart and Carrefour, and having a wander in and around Chengdu.

While we were not working, we brought them to a few famous places… we definitely had to bring them for some Chinese tea in a tea house, so they can experience the relaxed nature of Chengdu people.

High on the list was of course food! So far, they have both really enjoyed everything that Chengdu has to offer; hot pot, rabbit, different varieties of dishes… all they really liked.

This Monday we will take them to Kunming, a city that is south of Sichuan province. Here we will spend 5 days where will we have a look at the city, then we will go to Dali, a supposedly quite attractive ancient town. Although I have heard it is very touristy, but that’s no surprise in China!

They still need to go and see the famous pandas, and there are a few more places where we would like to bring them if we have time. Coming back from Kunming, we will have another few days in Chengdu to go to more places.

Because the weather here is becoming colder and colder, that of course brings more smog. Thankfully there have been 2/3 days where the weather hasn’t been that bad. But I suppose they have been warned about the smog so they knew what they would expect!

There are some things that they have been surprised about; such as people appearing more rude than in Mexico. But they have also been surprised about our life in Chengdu and I think they figured out why we have been living here the past few years and what has kept us here.

So all in all, I think their holiday has been going well so far!

再见!

爱玲

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Teaching My Chinese Students: An Update

Because teaching here in China has now become ‘normal’ and well, not terribly exciting, I’ve kind of neglected to write more posts about it. But I’ll write an update about how it’s going.

At the moment I have about 10 groups who I teach. Although when I go back full time It will increase. Thankfully, everyone (apart from one group) are fantastic. My youngest are aged about 6/7 I think, while my oldest is 14. My youngest are learning phonics, so for me it’s quite an easy class, plus for them they enjoy it because they don’t have to actually learn English vocab and grammar, just how to say the words.

I’ve had one student for over 2 years now I think, and she moved with me to my new campus from my old one. Her English has improved really quickly! From 2 years ago to now I really do notice her improvement. Now I’m not saying that’s all because of me… but she’s the student I’ve had the longest, so I see the most improvement in her. She’s the one that keeps calling me ‘fat’ (huh and she’s the one that talks about food in class all the time) but overall she is a great student.

My not so great group is with two boys. The two boys that I used to have got split up, so now I teach them separately, but now the oldest boy has been paired with another boy…. and unfortunately the group isn’t so good anymore.

Now my old student ‘S’ has become much more disobedient! It really annoys me because I know that his behaviour used to be good, and I enjoyed teaching him and the other student. But since ‘T’ has joined, he has affected ‘S’s behaviour in class. It’s such a pity, because I know ‘S’ is a good student; I’ve seen it. But unfortunately this other boy is effectively ruining his learning in class.

If it continues I think I might tell ‘S’ that his behaviour isn’t good anymore… shame him a bit about this fact. I know he’s a good boy underneath it all.

But anyway, I’ve recently had a 21 year old studying with me for a few weeks. She is not resigning so I only have her a few more times. She is studying to do an English test, but the way it’s going, I don’t think she will pass. Her vocabulary just isn’t good enough, plus I feel like she isn’t very motivated. haha I can say the same for myself with Chinese sometimes!

In my opinion, it’s a shame that she isn’t resigning again, she really needs extra English classes to improve. I really can’t see her studying by herself.

But she is a nice and friendly student though, and I enjoy teaching her.

Company wise, it definitely need more improvements. Especially with Chinese PA’s… they are dropping like flies in our campus. The PA that has been with us the longest has just left as she hated her job, so I’m pretty sure every other PA has only been with us for a few months.

It’s coming to the stage where I don’t even try and remember their names, as most likely they will leave soon enough. It’s pretty sad though; the company treats teachers with good pay, holidays and two days off a week, whereas PA’s aren’t paid a lot, they only get 1 day off a week, and they have to put up with a lot of crap from parents AND from teachers complaining. So I’m really not surprised that so many quit.

Unless all the PA’s decide to revolt and protest, I don’t think much will change, especially if they don’t want to ‘lose face’, a strange Chinese phenomenon.

If you have never heard of this, have a look at the link below for some information about it!

‘Losing Face’ in China

再见

爱玲