Monday, September 22, 2008


The first major impression is the humidity. Although much cooler than Kuwait, it's much more uncomfortable. In addition, there is far less sun, while the air conditioning, less desperately required, is inferior in its performance and range. I want to suppose not all of the mist is caused by pollution.

Waiting around in Shanghai for my flight to Ningbo was helped by taking a trip to the centre of town. Strangers, as well as friendly, were helpful, giving directions, writing out the destinations in Chinese, showing me which buses to take, and how to use the Underground. One guy paid for my ticket because I didn't have the correct change. Another carried my bag as he showed me the way through an alternate turnstile after the first one wouldn't budge. A fellow teacher thinks they were like this because I gave off a 'new guy aura'.

It was good to see the 'Bund', the heart of the largely European 'International city', a non-Chinese association reflected in the architecture.

I'm still jet lagged. I haven't taught yet. This begins tomorrow but next week I have a holiday which I wasn't expecting and which is nice. Unfortunately, however, I cannot leave the country since I have a temporary single entry work visa. So I may go to Beijing instead, or just explore Zhejiang province.

My flat is in a staff hotel. It comes with a kitchen, living room, bedroom and bathroom. It's fine, but I may move on soon. Alas no bath, but I got used to that in Kuwait. There is also no oven, oddly enough, but apparently this is normal, given this is the land of the Wok. I live on campus, so am surrounded by other teachers and loads of students, who also live here. I have yet to explore Ningbo or any of its unknown attractions. Nearby, there is a sacred mountain and an island of some repute, so I hear.

My friend, whom I know from Slovakia and who's also here, tells me to avoid talking about the 'three T's'. From his look he expected me to know what they were, which shows he's been here too long. They mean (of course!) Tiannemen, Tibet and Taiwan, the latter being the most touchy. I must remember that Taiwan is not a separate country. Curiously, the Taiwanese agree, so explain the problem to a five year old! Happily, most websites I like are unblocked, but I haven't been able to surf much yet. We shall have to see.

I don't seem to have any significant troubles with my chopsticks.

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