Well we’ve only been in China for a month and a bit and already we have a holiday! China doesn’t have long weekends like North America but they do have a few really long holidays. In October and May there are national holidays (A week long for us), in February we get 5 weeks off but I think the national holiday is actually only 4 weeks. We work a lot of Saturdays in order to have these holidays. Then for the teachers, we also get the summers to go back to Canada, see our families, take professional development courses, etc. So a lot of time off…it’s nice.
Brogan and I are planning on going to Beijing. We were going to go to the Gobi Desert but I keep hearing that my language abilities thus far are not developed enough to travel that far inland so it’s better if we go to a more international place. In the Gobi there will be no one who can speak English. Most of the time here in Jinshitan that isn’t a problem because I know where I’m going and can point it out to a cab, or point at something on the menu and hope it’s good. The problem with going so far away with no Chinese language is that if something goes awry, it will be difficult to get help. So I will wait until I know Mandarin more and go next year. Oh but we wanted to ride a camel so much! :)
We are still loving it here. There are things I don’t love of course. The horking is kinda gross, the way people paw at Brogan is annoying and sometimes I feel like Im a zoo animal on display. People do not seem to think it’s rude to poke your child, or take photos of you without your consent, or point at you and talk about you while you are right there (oh yes, I may not understand your language but I know when you are talking about me! Duh) I also don’t love when I need something but really can’t ask for it and my hand gestures aren’t working. I get frustrated easily sometimes because there is just no way to communicate when even the hand gestures are different.
There are things that are good though: food, movies and shoes are super cheap. I bought real running shoes yesterday for 150 RMB which is less than $40 CAD. In Canada they would have been $150. We eat out all the time and rarely pay more than $6 Canadian for our meal. Rarely I have paid 100RMB ($18) but that was for an all-you-can-eat Thai buffet. I bought an entire season of a TV show the other day for 45 RMB and most of the movies were 15 RMB (So around $2) Life is a little free-er here too. Alcohol doesn’t seem to be restricted too much, you can walk down the street drinking a beer for example. Alcohol is for sale everywhere. People smoke in restaurants and although I don’t like being exposed to the smoke when I’m eating, I appreciate the fact that they are allowed to. Living as an ex pat is really awesome. Here we have a community of Canadian teachers who really help each other out. We all know what it’s like to live in a foreign country and how alone you can feel so they really come through for you when you need them. Most people here are fairly nice to us and they all LOVE Brogan. He has learned that if he smiles at the teenage girls when they take his picture, they give him candy. He often comes home with his pockets stuffed full of candy. He even takes his hat off when they get close because he knows they love his blonde, soft hair. It annoys him sometimes when they surround him but I think he secretly loves the attention. He does NOT love it when old ladies poke at him and has told a couple of them off (“Get your hands off of me”, he yelled when someone pinched his cheek one day)
I am excited about Beijing and also a little nervous. It’s such a huge city! I know so little Chinese and I have never been there. A bit scary. I also have to find my way to the airport, hoping that I can ask a taxi to take me there when I get to Dalian off the subway/train from Jinshitan. I worry about pickpockets, which are in abundance in big cities like that. I worry about losing my son, or getting hopelessly lost, or any of the other crappy things that can happen when travelling to a new place. However, it is one of the biggest cities in the world. It’s probably incredibly crowded and dynamic and I am excited about seeing a piece of the world that I have only seen photos of.
Anyway, I will let you know how it goes and hopefully have some photos to show.