Teaching in Liuzhou

By Matt W., Cultural Embrace Teach in China program 

So when I left off last time I wrote about my final few days in Yangshuo.  I really enjoyed my time there.  But now after my weekend in Nanning (which I will get to later)  I really think the people are what made Yangshuo so great.  I feel that the route I took with Cultural Embrace’s Teach in China program was an ideal transition to life in China. Getting training and starting in Yangshuo was great. It is a very Western city by Chinese standards, so it allowed me some time to transition from Western culture to a full-on Chinese culture that I have here in Liuzhou.  So yes, here a more of a rundown of the past two weeks to finally get up to speed on my blog.

On Monday morning, the 28th Mr Meng drove me to the Yangshuo bus station to take a bus directly from Yangshuo to Liuzhou, where someone from the school would pick me up.  So everything went smoothly until I actually got to Liuzhou. When I got off the bus I was expecting either the headmasters of the school, who I met a few days prior, or someone with a sign with my name on it, like when Tina picked me up at the airport in Guilin.  But of course neither were there and I was given almost no direction on where to go or do.  So I just stood… and stood… and stood.  For about an hour.  While I was standing countless taxi and tuk tuk drivers were asking me where I wanted to go, and that they could take me.  One even had the gall to ask for 100 kuai for a ride.  I declined.  So I figured I probably should call Isabella.  I of course only had Isabella’s phone number on my computer which I didn’t want to pull out in the middle of a busy street in china.  So I made a plan.  I was going to go to a noodle shop, open my computer there (where fewer people would see) and then go back across the street to where there were several phones that you could pay several kuai to use.  So I started proceeding with my plan.  While I was in the middle of eating my noodles this guy comes up to me, starts talking really fast in chinese and so I didn’t understand him.  I figured he was trying to sell me something so I started repeating “wo bu yao” (i dont want it).  Then he pulls out his cell phone and calls someone and puts the phone to my ear.  On the other end is Joanna, the foreign teacher coordinator at my school.  So this was my guy.  Apparently he was walking around for an hour trying to find me, which I don’t know how that happened because I was standing outside the bus station for an hour, and the bus came right on time.   Regardless I made it and everything is good.

So when I arrived at school I was quickly introduced to all of the other foreign teachers,  Stephen from Ireland,  Freda from Ghana, Elana from Latvia, and Laura from England.  All are pretty nice people as usual.  So after meeting them I was shown my apartment.  I was pretty surprised because the place is pretty nice in comparison to the dorms in Yangshuo.  Granted, I don’t have the same view but the amenities are a bit nicer (I have a two bedroom to myself so if anyone wants to stop by YOU’RE MORE THAN WELCOME!!!).  So, my first night the teachers take me out to eat, a nice gesture that I was very appreciative of.  So the next few days were all pretty similar because I spent time observing classes, which to me seems pretty uneventful and very similar to my training classes because I just spent about 10 minutes each class introducing myself and answering the kids questions about America.   Now this reminds me of something.  The school I’m at here in Liuzhou, is like the Taj Mahal compared to the school in Yangshuo.  In every way this school is nicer.  I guess the school in Liuzhou has more basketball  courts.  So if thats how you want to measure a school then, I guess yangshuo is better.  I haven’t taken any pictures here of Liuzhou yet, but I’ll make sure to take some of the school.  It’s really nice.

So events that have happened in Liuzhou… On the 3rd day a Chinese teacher comes up to me and tells me that Stephen is going to his friends house tonight to eat dinner.  I was slightly confused by this because I had never met this teacher before but if Stephen was going it probably was legit.  So, that night Stephen and I hop in a cab to his friends house.  It was really fun just hanging out eating dinner in the way they do social dinners, Hotpot (i think i explained this already).  So after eating dinner for like 2 hours, I’m told we’re going to the city center for a few beers and that we’re not going to be out that late.  Well “not that late” turned into 3am.   Luckily I didn’t have class until 11.  The next night Stephen and I start doing the same routine but we make sure get back early because we both had early class.  So on friday me and Stephen decide to go to the city center with his girlfriend where there is this massive pool hall where they charge for tables by the hour.  So we play for an hour or so and then we decide to go to a bar, but something more low key.  So Stephen knew of a spot so we went there.  But after about 15 minutes one of Stephen’s Xhinese friends came and told us to come with him.  So we followed him and he leads us to a KTV bar where he has a room rented.  So KTV for those who don’t know is karaoke, but where you rent private rooms so you only embarrass yourself to your friends rather than an entire bar.  So we spent our evening there which was a pretty good time.  After Friday night, my weekend went very slow.  I slept in really late on Saturday and didn’t really get out until 3 in the afternoon.  I basically went running and went to dinner with Stephen and Xiao Liao.

So I’ll talk about running some, because my blog is titled running through china.  So.  Running in Liuzhou actually has been suprisingly good.  I live really close to a very large park called Longtian park. Its pretty big and has several miles of roads which makes it a decent running spot.  The main problem is that the park can get really really busy, particularly around lunch time, when its most convenient for me to run.  So I have to do a lot of weaving.  One nice thing about the park is that I’ve notice the air is significantly better in the park than on the regular streets so thats better than breathing the polluted air of typical Chinese cities.  An intersting thing about the park is that the Chinese love putting little carnival things everywhere, gokarts, bumpercars, boats etc.  It was like this in Yangshuo too.  But Longtian park touts itself about being undeveloped but it has all this stuff…. I don’t really get it.  Also, this is nothing new but chinese love trying and failing at being discrete at taking pictures of westerners, particularly when I’m running.  They’ll pretend to be taking a picture of something (most of the time is like a tree which gives it away) and then turning their camera to me at the last second.  When I catch them doing this I usually try to make some sort of face to show that I know what they’re doing.  They also love yelling hello to me.

Okay, I’m tired.  I didnt sleep much last night in Nanning, and I promise I’ll get up to date tomorrow.

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