A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: ChinaSarah

My Hong Kong "Adventure"

"You're too young to understand the world" - Judy Yin, deputy principal

sunny
View My placement on ChinaSarah's travel map.

[Hi. This entry is a little dated, I had to wait for a long time before I could post it, due to internet connection and the fact that my office computer has blocked all blogs, my apologies. I will return with more updated scribbles soon]

This is a detailed description of my Hong Kong trip which took place between April 2nd and April 11th. A few mundane details have been spared, but it's still pretty much everything I experienced. If you don’t feel like raeding all of it, this is my trip in short:

I came to Hong Kong
I had fun!
My bag got stolen. It had among other things, my passport, bank cards/ID, mobile phone and camera in it.
This wasn't fun at all...
Then I had to deal with situation mentioned above

Many of you might already know this, but I went to Hong Kong Saturday March 2nd . I didn’t decide to go until Thursday March 31st, so I didn’t manage to book myself a room in a hostel like the others had done. But I figured I would find something there, and I was told by someone I could stay in the same hostel as some of the others. I came to Hong Kong with the others, and joined Amanda to find the hostel she had booked for herself and two others (not me, because I wasn’t planning on going back then) The hostel had no spare rooms at the time, so I spent two nights in another floor. (But apparently the same hostel?) Then I could move back down to the main floor with the others the third night. We were leaving Tuesday, because we started teaching again on Wednesday.

We came to Hong Kong Saturday afternoon April 2nd. That evening we went out to celebrate a TTC participant’s birthday. Someone had made a reservation at a Mexican restaurant/bar. It was a really casual place. But the food was a bit more expensive from what we’re used to in Shenzhen.Complaints aside; We enjoyed ourselves and it was nice seeing people I haven’t seen since we were in Beijing. After a while, we decided to leave, so people started to go pay for their meals. I thought it would only take a minute and made the fatal mistake of taking my wallet out of my bag and leaving my bag under my chair. It was quite dark, so I must have thought it was out of sight.I thought people were still sitting at the table, but apparently everyone left the table at the same time. I came back shortly after, and this is where I noticed that my bag had vanished. I looked under the table and all the chairs- everywhere. Some of the others started looking with me, but we couldn’t find it. I was under the impression that we were alone on the top floor of the restaurant. But someone pointed out to me that there had been two guys in at the table in the corner. They were no longer there,“Great” I thought, I guess I know what happened to my bag now.

What makes this even more annoying is that they were probably just looking for cash, some easily earned yuan- the only thing that wasn’t in my bag! Because I had taken the wallet out of the bag to go and pay. Everything else was in there; my passport, the copy of my passport, my camera, my mobile phone, my bank cards, and more. This was beyond frustrating. My stay in Hong Kong was ruined because of something that didn’t take longer than a few seconds. To make matters worse, I was constantly reminded of the incident by the numerous stickers all over the city saying “Theft is a serious crime” or “Keep and eye on your property”. I really wish I didn’t let my guard down in that night in the restaurant. Usually I keep my belongings really close and never let the out of sight, because Shenzhen is apparently the most crime-stricken city in China. Another teacher intern had a student describe Shenzhen and he said “Shenzhen is like Gotham, but not as bad” If you're familiar with Batman at all, this will make sense to you. I always kept in mind that the city wasn't all that safe going somewhere in Shenzhen. It worked, because I never got anything stolen from me here. I must have thought Hong Kong was safer, which doesn’t make sense, loads of tourists go there and it’s a place of enjoyment. A natural habitat for criminals.

I got very upset when I realized all my things were gone. And it somewhat clouded my thoughts, so I didn’t really know what to do next. I left some contact information with the restaurant manager and someone else gave me their phone number and hostel address. I felt that I couldn’t do anything about it. In retrospect I realize I should have reported directly to the police before leaving, instead of waiting until the next day. One mistake after the other...

The next day was Sunday, and in the morning I went straight to the police office in the area where our hostel was (Mong Kok). They made a record and tried to track my passport number (which I could only remember partially) to see if it was registered somewhere in Hong Kong. After 2 hours, it turned out to be meaningless effort. They couldn’t help me. But I got a report notice from them, so I could prove that my things were stolen. The others had gone sightseeing, but I didn’t know where they were. And without a phone it became very difficult to contact them. I tried at the police station, a public phone and a borrowed mobile phone. The first two wouldn’t for some reason, allow me to call the dialed numbers After several tries, I came through on the borrowed mobile phone. But only because I called a Scottish number. So I could barely speak to them at all, because it’s expensive. I tried to find them, but decided to try find the Royal Norwegian Consulate in Hong Kong instead. Since my hostel owner urged me to fix the problem I was faced with. I didn’t really think about the fact it was Sunday and it was most likely closed. Because Tuesday was a major holiday and it would definitely be closed on that day, we were also supposed to go back to Shenzhen on Tuesday. But that possibility faded away quickly when my passport got stolen.

I managed to find the consulate after 3 hours of walking around in the city. My hostel owner had told me the wrong MTR station so I was in the wrong area in the beginning. Thankfully, most people speak understandable English in Hong Kong, so it was easy to ask for directions. But I was pressed on time too, because I wanted to make it there before 17.00. I got there on time. But only found a locked door, and a a dark room behind it. It didn't say when it would open again. I was drenched because of the sweltering heat outside and my feet were blistering from walking along all the streets in Hong Kong. I was fed up with everyting and just left, everything just seemed to work against my efforts. I was under the impression that the consulate was closed on Monday too (but the information on the site turned out to be dated) so I didn’t bother tracing my steps back to the consulate the next day.

I chose to spend Monday with the others instead and enjoy Hong Kong, which was my intention in the first place. We went to see “the Big Buddha” You could take a cable car up there. But it was a really foggy day and cable car was more expensive than the bus. We took the bus up the hill and down again for 35 HK. Cable car ride was 98 HK. The mountain was covered in thick fog. It created a very mysterious mood. It was nice. We met some i2i people (people who took the training course online and then came to China) by the steps up to the Buddha. They told us they couldn’t see anything, because of the fog. We walked up anyway. And it was true, we couldn’t make out the Buddha in the fog. We could barely see the outline and the hands. We went for a walk in the forest by the statue and once we got back the fog had cleared a bit and we could see the big statue. So at least we got a glimpse before we left.

Monday night I met Therese, she's one of my roommates from back in Beijing and we really got along. I knew she was in Hong Kong, and it was one of the reasons why I suddenly decided to go. But without a phone it was hard to get in touch with her. I didn’t have her Swedish number, the Chinese ones didn’t work in Hong Kong. We were sitting at “the waterfront” by the Art museum, where we had a splendid nighttime view of the city. Suddenly she showed up with some i2i people. It’s a long time since I’ve been as happy as I was when I saw her. Especially ever since losing my passport and everything, I've had a hard time feeling truly happy. I haven’t seen her since Beijing. It was a nice reunion. I’m really thankful that I got to meet someone I actually spent time with in Beijing. But it was their/our last night in Hong Kong. They were all leaving in the morning. I was supposed to do that too. But not since Saturday night happened. I was stayng behind.

Tuesday was when I said goodbye to Amanda, Jonas and Faith (they were the ones in the same hostel) by the station. I realized immediately that I was “alone” in Hong Kong on the way back to the hostel, which was really overwhelming. It wouldn’t be a problem if I didn’t have to deal with all the paperwork that comes with losing your passport and ID. It was tough to have to handle it by myself, but I got a lot of help and support from home through emails and also the hostel lady was very helpful. She lent me money to pay for my temporary passport and visa. Because it took a few days to transfer money from home. She had talked to the consulate, because they had called her Monday while we where out. (I had emailed them previously giving them my contact information) She wrote down the information for me and told me I had an appointment on Wednesday. It was easy to find the consulate this time, because I had already been there. But this time I was actually able to enter the office. I had to fill some forms and apply for a temporary passport. Which I had to come back the next day to pick up. I got the temporary passport on Thursday. I headed straight to the visa office and expected mile long lines outside the building, because that’s what the man at the consulate had told me. No lines outside, just a bunch of people inside. I got in and filled the form. I checked “rush” which meant I would be able to pick up the visa the next working day, Friday, and go home that same day. I had to wait for a long time before my number came up. Once it was my turn, the lady took one lightning-speed glance at my papers and said I needed a new photo (in colour) and some document saying I was a teacher intern at OEC. I had to make copies of the documents I brought too. This took awhile to fix, so by the time I got back, the room was strangely empty. I had no idea what time it was, I was out of breath and a bit stressed out. I stood by the machine waiting for the guy to show up and give me a waiting ticket. He walked by, and I asked. But he just said “No more waiting tickets, it’s closed” All my plans went down the drain.

I had already paid the hostel to stay until Friday, but now I had to extend my stay further. I had to return to the terrible Visa Office Friday, but this time I was more prepared, I filled a new form quickly and didn't write ”teacher intern” but just “tourism”, because the previous day the Visa Office had informed me I could only get a tourist visa anyway. After handing in my application I went for a walk in Victoria Park and enjoyed the beautiful weather. Then I visited the nearby Hong Kong Central Library. I enjoyed the rest of my weekend too. I went sightseeing. Saturday I went up to the Peak. (Victoria’s Peak) Which is one of the major tourist attractions in Hong Kong. I made sure to go at noon, so there weren’t too many people. (I walked past the place in the afternoon and there were a lot of people waiting in line) Also I wanted to see it in daylight. It was a nice, sunny day. Very hot too. I decided to splurge on the Sky-terrace ticket (65 HK) so I could get the most out of my trip. I took a tram up to the peak. Once I stepped out of it I entered a mall, which was unexpected. But I guess they know how to milk the tourism there. I went all the way up to the terrace, which is what the Sky- ticket was for. Surprisingly, most of the terrace was closed off (the best view parts). I could see a TV crew on the other side and the man in front of the camera was strangely familiar. Many of the tourists around me got angry because they felt cheated. Some left in protest. But I decided to stay until they opened again. It took about an hour just waiting, I must have spent the most time there out of all the tourists. Suddenly out of nowhere a row of guys with striking, model looks strut by and they’re allowed to enter through the fences. I was confused by this. Is this some sort of commercial? They had them running back and forth in front of the Hong Kong view. I was even more confused by the fact that everyone around were Americans, including the model guys. The tourists were separated from the TV crew by the fence and a few were watching the TV crew filming, some in enjoyment others in frustration. Someone in the tourist crowd muttered “Bachelor” and I suddenly remembered where I’ve seen that smug TV host’s face before. On that terrible show. But it must have been “Bachelorette” because they were a group of guys and only one woman, who I didn't see before they left the terrace. It was strange to see how they do the filming. Not that I like the show or anything, I despise it. I thought they had canceled it years ago!

When they finally left, all the hungry eyed tourists stormed towards the edge of the terrace. I had spent far too much time on the terrace and once I got inside again I notice that my arms, neck and face had changed colour. I went from being pale to a burning shade of red. Even though I took the tram up and down, I was left exhausted after the Peak. I came back and met a guest staying in the same hostel as me, we talked. She spoke quite good English. She's originally from Malaysia, but she works in Four Seasons in Singapore. It was her first time in Hong Kong too. I asked her what she’d done so far in Hong Kong. She told me about a temple in Wong Tai Sin and a charming fishing village in San Kung District , I think. While the rest of Hong Kong has been urbanized over the course of the years, the San Kung district is known for being “the last back-garden of Hong Kong”. She had also gone to a beach. She gave me directions and surely enough did I find my way to the temple next morning (Sunday). I have seen quite a few temples since I came to China and after a certain point you start feeling they all look the same. But this wasn’t the case with this one, yes it looked like a temple, but it didn’t make it less grand. With the rich colours and delicate decorations, it was quite the sight. I made my way across the temple grounds through the strong incense smoke. People everywhere were waving incense sticks and gathering in front of the different temple altars, I haven’t seen that many people in a temple before. Only once did I see a solitary person worship at a temple in Beijing. This was different. It didn’t feel touristy, because there were barely any other Western people there. After the temple I went to the beach. It was called Clearwater Bay Beach 2. It took awhile to get there. First a few stops with the MTR and then a little shuttle bus. I arrived around 14.00. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the beach from the bus I regretted not taking my swimming suit and towel with me to Hong Kong. But because I was going alone, I wouldn't risk leaving my things unattended again. Ever. So it didn’t matter much. It was still a beautiful beach and I was very happy to walk around with bare feet and end my stay in Hong Kong in such a relaxed matter. It was a great day. My weekend was great on a whole. But spending so much time on my own, left me missing the others and their company. So I felt ready to go back. On Monday I started on the return. I went to pick up my visa at the visa office. I was on my way there when I turned the corner, and saw a massive line of 40- 50 people outside of the building. This hadn’t happened before. I read the sign by the door, and it said something about the number of people was not within the capacity of the office. It didn’t open until 14.00, I waited for almost 3 hours before I could enter the building. I was just collecting my visa, so it didn’t take long, just had to pay up. The waiting had delayed my return, because I had planned to have the visa by noon, and then go back around 14.00. I didn’t get the visa until 14.45. I spent a couple of hours taking in some last sights around Hong Kong. I went to the Golden Bauhinia and took some pictures of this statue and the square. This was outside the expo centre. Then I took the ferry across, from the Hong Kong Island to Kowloon (Tsim Sha Tsui). I had to return to the hostel to collect my weekend bag and sent off a few emails to confirm that I was still alive, before I left for the MTR station.

At the border I had to wait a little longer than other people, because the strange passport situation raised a few eyebrows. But I explained everything and showed the report. They ran away with my temporary passport and I got a bit nervous, but they came back with it and said it was OK. So it wasn’t as troublesome as I had imagined it would be. I had to find a bus to take me to Tao Yuan Ju. That's the shopping area 40 min. away from our school. This was difficult, because the bus number wasn’t posted on any of the boards. I went to two different bus stations along the highway. I came back to the first one again and someone pointed at something, a few buses were in line. And I could eventually see that one was 395. My bus. It was a very uncomfortable bus ride, it seemed like the bus driver tried to break a morbid record squeezing as many people as possible in the bus. The passengers were cattle. My bag got stuck in the door, because there wasn't room to stand in the bus. The bus ride was a little over an hour. At Tao Yuan Ju, I had to wait for at least half an hour before I caught the 776 bus, the one that goes all the way to our campus. I was back on school grounds 22.00. This was according to my schedule. I was beyond tired. I hadn’t spoken to anyone during all this time, so I didn’t know if I was going to teach the next day. I just assumed I was going to, because that seemed most likely. I didn't blame the school, they didn't have any way of telling me in advance while I was traveling, because I don't have a phone anymore.

Because of my extended stay in Hong Kong, I didn’t have time to plan my lessons for Tuesday. I pretty much improvised, which didn’t go too well. But it got me through the day. I managed to plan a bit for Wednesday and Thursday. I am going to finish plans for next week before this weekend. But it’s not very easy to work here. I still don’t have internet on my office computer. And now I can’t even open the office computer and access my files on it, it was like this when I first got here. But then they fixed it so I could access the computer, but never the internet. I've asked them numerous times to fix internet, but it's never been done. So the office is useless. I still have to stay there for several hours every day, or else the teachers will goon whispering behind my back and I’ll probably get major cuts in my salary without notice.

Ever since I had to move out of my nice room where I had internet (I moved at the beginning of April), I haven’t been able to access internet since before then. My temporary room lacks everything, so naturally, it doesn't have modern appliances like internet or even a washing machine. The shower they installed, broke immediately so it's just a short tube, but at least there's water in the tank. I’ve borrowed Amanda’s internet a few times. To write emails and find a little bit of inspiration for my lessons. But it's not very convenient because she needs it too. My meal card that I use to get food in the canteen got stolen in Hong Kong with all my other things. So I have to get a new one. This takes time, I spoke to the vice principal about it. I was supposed to get it today, but the people who are responsible for it, only work every other day. I probably have to wait until tomorrow, and have to continue to borrow Amanda’s. Which also isn't very practical, because she has another schedule than me and I can't call her.

I went to the bank on Tuesday with a Chinese teacher. It was the maintenance lady, Caroline. When we got there I was told to call a number before I could get a new card. It was a hassle. First they only spoke Mandarin, then we eventually got an English voice. But they said since it wasn’t a credit card I had to call 095566, which was the exact number I already had dialed. It was a bit confusing. They told us the card was stopped, this happened automatically since I had called and because I was applying for a new card. I got to keep my old account number, but I still didn't remember this because the card was new when it was stolen. My temporary passport and the copy of my old one, caused some puzzled looks. They wanted me to contact the embassy in Beijing to get them to verify I was the same person. That’s ridiculous. I kept pointing to the same information on both documents. I had to punch in my pin for the former card. No problem. They asked when I had received the stolen card. I didn’t remember the exact date. So I said “March?” After a while someone came back with my old application form that I had written some weeks ago. They saw that it was the same signatures on the documents, this was apparently enough proof. I expected to get the card right away, but I have to wait a week before I can get it.

It’s strange because we got the card immediately the first time we applied for bank cards. I got a document with some numbers, when I got back I compared Amandas account number with a number on the paper. The two codes where similar and had equal amount of digits, so I’m certain that it was my account number. So at least I have the number, even if I don’t have the card right now. But I don't have the rest that is needed to get money transferred onto the card. I tried to find the address of the bank, but that proved to be very difficult. I know it's called Bank of China (Shenzhen branch) and it's in an area called Tao Yuan Ju. That's it. I have no SWIFT code or IBAN number either. I don't know what to do. Without these bits of information I can't get money transferred, I was hoping to get it done by Tuesday, so I could book my flight and leave Thursday. But maybe that's not possible. I hope I get the IBAN number, SWIFT code and address of the bank when I collect my bank card on Tuesday. If not, I'll have to wait even longer before I can go. I feel like I'm in China on borrowed time, just under 30 days now. Time is running out.

I'm sure it will be fine in the end. I just hope that's soon.

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 02:20 Archived in China Tagged china trips hong kong ttc oec Comments (0)

Ihavetoomuchtodo!

Stress. Nothing more, just stress....

sunny

“There are thousands of causes for stress, and one antidote to stress is self-expression. That's what happens to me every day. My thoughts get off my chest, down my sleeves and onto my pad.”

~ Garson Kanin

Primary School Building

Primary School Building

After my first lesson today, I rushed to meet the people who were supposed to give me a wardrobe. I'm not the slightest embarrassed to admit that I thought "I hope it's a magic wardrobe that takes me to Narnia". I ran up to my room to get my phone, which I had forgotten to bring with me that morning. No missed calls. I felt a strange mix of relief and disappointment. Went down again to wait.

Nobody was there when I came to stand by the door of my "new" room. I thought "Maybe I'm early", but it was already a few minutes past nine. I waited for 20 minutes before I texted the teacher who told me to do this, "I have to work, please call me when they get here" I went up to my room to work. After a short while I hear loud voices coming from the first floor. I went out to see a group of men gathered outside the door of my "new" room. I ran down. There was no sign of wardrobe. "No Narnia, then" I thought with a sigh. They were standing around a large, white, cylindrical thing. And there were tubes too. No, it wasn't some kind of machine you find in hospitals, to keep me alive in that room for two weeks... It was a water heater. They were installing a "shower". I found it ridiculous to do something like that in that ugly, moldy place of a bathroom. Instead of just standing there awkwardly, flipping though my dictionary in search for some words to say, I went back up and checked the room after they'd left (When I did this I was supposed to be on my way to the office. I had no lessons, but I'm forced to go although I can't do anything there...) Or else they won't pay me. (they've threatened with this).. I texted one of my contact teachers and told her I couldn't come because I had to waste time trying to clean the place before I can move in. She didn't answer, hopefully I didn't piss her off.

So instead of going to the office (which was pointless) I pulled out my recently purchased yellow household gloves! (I felt like Dexter's mum from "Dexter's Laboratory") And I could feel a germophobic tingle in my fingers when I wore them. I attacked the dirt! I imagine it was quite the sight. I scrubbed the filthy walls bare in the bathroom and the squat toilet too (couldn't get it completely clean...my inner germophobe screamed in agony because of this) The latter was completely covered in grime, dirt and unmentionable things. The "shower" came in handy. (basically a short tube with a loose shower head- it fell of multiple times) I got soaked, but something in me really wanted to clean that nasty place- I think it was some sort of outburst of bottled up anger over the past week.

In the end I could actually see the squat toilet, not just a dark spot. Under the sink was a collection of cocoons, let's just say, those cocoons are no more. I had to sweep the floor again (Amanda swept some when I first entered the room a week ago) The crunching sound of dead flies under your shoes...not very nice. A foreign teacher spotted me through the wide open door (had lot let some sunshine in that gloomy place) I have run into him before, but I don't think he remembers me. He's American and his name is Damien (I think?) He also lives on the 7th floor and has to move too. He looked past me, in the awful room and said "Isn't this crazy?! Moving in the middle of term!" He was also upset that this stupid thing took up time he would've spent planning. "Teaching's obviously not the priority here" he said. He'd tried to make them decide to renovate later, but the principal at his department (IB World School- also Amanda's department) said he had no power over the decision being made. It's strange because Damien's room is already a double. The difference is visible from the outside, it seems like they didn't finish the renovation the first time around. Some rooms have windows in front of the balconies, while others doesn't (like mine). So, his room is already a double- but he still has to move because they're putting up a wall to make it a more "western styled apartment"... *sigh* (This is CHINAA!)

I'm going to Hong Kong this weekend! I decided today, which I realize was a little late. I will probably join Amanda and Aline. Some other people from other places are going too- and that is what made me want to go now. Everyone has booked hostels, except for indecisive, little me. Amanda and Therese (whom I'm meeting in HK) both told me that they'll give me the names of their hostels, so I can book. Hopefully I can live at the same place as someone else. I don't feel like getting lost in HK by myself, although I'm sure HK is a perfectly fine place to get lost in.

My 'old' room

My 'old' room


This is my room
My 'new' room 2

My 'new' room 2


"My new room"
My new room

My new room


"My new room"

So I have loads of stuff to do...
1. I have to pack all my thingsso I can move out after lunch tomorrow
2. Pack for HK
3. Plan lessons for next week (hard one as I don't have internet in new room or in office... I'll have to confront them again)
4. Plan lessons for tomorrow (unexpected because I have my Monday classes tomorrow all of a sudden!)

Saturday has my one Friday lesson- that's already planned, so that's one less thing to worry about.

I still have to pack and plan my lessons, it's getting late! I'm thinking I have to go to bed late and get up really, really early. Shame that my "last" night in my proper room is "ruined" because of all of this...

I can't wait to go to HK and to move back to the 7th floor. It's gonna be grand, baby.

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 04:55 Archived in China Comments (0)

Wednesday

"Everything's just so weird lately"

overcast

Today is almost over. I have a break until 14.40 when I have to og to the office and attend an observation of a Chinese English teacher with other teachers. After the lesson observation we have a meeting. I have no more lessons today.

Building 3

Building 3


This is the building I live in

I got up at 06.00 to finish my presentation. I’ve been feeling ill for the past days, (caught a cold from sitting in my drafty room and a sore throat) so I have barely any energy to spare. This is unfortunate, because the holiday’s coming up and I want to go somewhere. (Some people here are going to Hong Kong) Our visas say 2 entries, but someone mentioned that the way it’s written means that it’s only 1 entry. This is confusing. I want to go to Hong Kong now, but I want to go there later too! I don’t know what to do about that. We’ll see what happens.

I had two 4th Grade classes and a 2nd Grade class today. In the first class we ended up watching the new “Karate Kid” film after finishing my planned lesson. This time the film was in audible English, so they weren’t totally dependent on the Chinese subtitles.

The second class of the day went well too, but towards the end we played a game. I made a Hidden Picture Game, where they have to guess what item is behind the squares (I remove them one-by-one) When something caught my attention; I went over to the girl crying her eyes out. Someone pointed to her back, where someone had scribbled in pen Chinese characters on the back of her white uniform jacket. I looked around for the guilty face, and someone pointed to the boy sitting behind her. The arguments and quarreling in Chinese left me utterly confused. A boy tried to translate for me, apparently someone (a boy) poked the boy behind the crying girl in the eye with a pen. And he wrote on her jacket? The translator- boy left to bring back a Chinese teacher. So I was left very confused for a few minutes. She came, but she just stood outside in the hallway. She poked her head in the “window” to the hallway and shouted a phrase in Chinese while giving them the look of doom. She just stood there, watching, I was waiting for her to enter to deal with this unexpected, uncomfortable situation. But it never happened. Instead I resumed the game, but the atmosphere in the classroom had changed drastically and it was just an awkward few minutes in the end.
The 2nd Grade class is energetic to the max. Loud and crazy. Nothing out of control, though. I just have to speak a a lot louder to drown out their tiny voices, even though I fully know I shouldn’t do that. But it’s either speak louder or wait for them to quiet down completely, the latter will never happen in this lifetime. Their short attention span is the most challenging thing I face with them. But we did our fair share of work. I tried to vary my approaches and “milk it” (as we were told to in the TTC course) Meaning that we use the material every possible way imagined. I played the Hidden Picture Game with them too, which was a little bit difficult when a lot of students shouted the answers instead of raising their hand- making it hard to give points to the teams. But I can easily get them to raise their hands. I can see the disappointment and frustration in their eyes, when they feel like I’m being unfair (with points). Which frightens me a bit, I don’t want to be labeled as an unfair teacher, I think it’s one of the worst things a teacher can be. But it’s hard to keep up, only chance is to develop some sort of strategy as you go. Which is not easy to explain.

Yesterday night we went out to eat at one of the (2-3) proper restaurants here (Now when I say proper, I don’t mean a fancy chandelier- place) But a regular Chinese restaurant. The alternative is eating stuff that’s basically been cooked on the ground. We weren’t too hungry, so we ordered two dishes and rice to share between the five of us. I started feeling bad on Monday. It has gotten worse gradually since then. I much suspect the diet to have something to do with it. I eat at the canteen daily, at least once a day. But usually I have both lunch and dinner there. It’s a universal fact that canteen food, in most cases, is bad. But I don’t want to spend much money on food during the week. On the weekends I spend a little, but that’s when I have better meals. Anyways, I just hope I don’t stay sick when the holidays starts. We’re working odd days in order for the holiday to happen- I think this Saturday has Friday’s lessons and the upcoming Tuesday has Monday’s lessons. Not entirely sure about that, though.

-- UPDATE

I got a phone call from a teacher. She asked me "where are you?" "In my room" I answered. I had left because my last lesson was done at 10.55. I stayed in the office until 11.20, then I headed to my dorm to plan a bit before lunch. After lunch I went back to my room. She told me that whenever I leave the school building or even the office I have to report to the other teachers. The teachers must keep some secret record on me or something, because not once have I been told to register my office hours anywhere. They just see me come in and go. Sometimes I'm the first one arriving, so I don't understand the point of that spying system of theirs. I told her that I can't plan lessons in the office, because the computer is old and the PowerPoint is from a different decade. Anyone can access it and read my stuff, which I have proof of that they've done, someone made a "shortcut" to a folder, and it wasn't me. Internet doesn't work either. So I go back to plan in my room whenever I have a free period. They never told me specifically what the working hours were, so I assumed it wasn't a big deal. Now she was talking about my salary and I guess she tried to say that they will withdraw my money if I "show up late" Which I have never done. She said something like "The other teachers get less money if they show up late" Whether they've already done this, I don't know. I guess the money issues with this school wasn't all lies...

I live here

I live here


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I've stayed in my 7th floor room for a week since the maintenance lady told me to pack up my things. The teacher who called me told me about my room. She told me that tomorrow they're putting a wardrobe in my "new" room, the one I so vividly described in a previous post... I HAVE to move the day after tomorrow. I told her the room lacked everything but a bed. She called back and said she was going to have them install a shower. I wish they could clean it... and connect the internet too. I asked about the holiday and working hours. She was very confused when I asked when I had to work. "Our schedule is from Monday to Friday- that's when you work" she repeated this 10 ten times in her heavy accented English. "I know my normal working days" I said. I mean, I've been here for over a month already! I said that Amanda had to work Saturday and asked if I had to do that too. "Saturday? Who is Amanda? Where is she working?" she asked. "We in primary school never work Saturdays, no" she said. Eventually she understood that I meant THIS WEEK. She told me that this Saturday I have the one lesson I usually have on Fridays. This Friday I have the lessons I normally teach on Mondays. Tuesday is the actual holiday, so we go back to teaching Wednesday.

I want to go somewhere, because there's no chance of me staying in the scary room over the weekend. People are going to Hong Kong. But I'm still not sure about how many entries we have, I'm sure it's two, because that was what we were told in Beijing. So the thing is if I want to use one entry now and the last one for my birthday or go again after my birthday. Not knowing when we have time off makes this hard. I know my birthday is on the weekend, though. And maybe I won't go to Hong Kong for my birthday at all, but somewhere else. If nobody want to join me in May, there's no point in going alone.

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 22:04 Archived in China Comments (0)

Shenzhen Oriental English College

overcast

Shenzhen Oriental English College
No 10, Xuezi Road
Bao An Education Town
Bao An, Shenzhen
CHINA 518128

Building 3

Building 3

View from one of the hallways

View from one of the hallways

“OEC International School (OECIS) is a division of Shenzhen Oriental English College founded in 1994, a co-educational school with students enrolled from kindergarten to high school. OEC occupies an area of 150,000 sq.m. (about 37 acres). The College is proud of its sophisticated european -style teaching and living facilities, and extensive sports grounds.

OECIS is an IB World School authorized to deliver the Diploma Programme since 2004.

Located in Bao, an Education Town, only five minutes drive from Shenzhen International Airport, it is situated at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain and surrounded by picturesque natural scenery. Shenzhen City, also known as the first Special Economic Zone in China is easily accessible from Guangzhou and Hong Kong.”

It sounds quite impressive, right? I'm not saying it's bad, but like most things here facts are easily tweaked to create a flawless facade. Speaking of facade, the school is 16 years old and the building looks it. It's a very tricky structure to maintain over time. Almost every surface is covered in tiny off- white tiles. Pollution and age has left its mark. But they make an effort to make the school look nice from the outside, the main gate looks like it doesn't even belong to the school. This is, I suspect, solely for making a first impression and a good photo opportunity. Online I found messages on forums from previous interns. Many complained about their schools, because they all ended their internship- it's easy to think that they're just disgruntled and take out their rage on the web. One extreme case was a young man who had some trouble with the administration and money affairs- he lost his temper and punched the principal in the face. But some things did seem like possible things. Like money and visa stuff.

Primary School

Primary School

Primary School

Primary School

Primary School

Primary School

Hiking

Hiking

Our paycheck was a bit delayed, but we were told that the money was transferred. I have yet to check, though. We're usually being paid by the 15th of each month.We opened a Chinese bank account a couple of weeks ago in order for the school to pay us. According to the contract, we're given 2000 RMB per month. We started 21th February and we've gotten 600 RMB this far. Some people at nearby schools got 740 RMB and others received their 2000 RMB, but then again several people have extra tutoring to add to their income. One girl gets 200 RMB per hour, two hour sessions twice a week (week days that it) That is an extra 800 RMB! I would love to do tutoring! But so far I haven't been offered anything.

Boardwork

Boardwork

Greenery

Greenery

Primary School

Primary School

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In recent news, a bunch of people been 'kicked out'. One because she “wasn't suitable to teach at her school” another because of “foul language in the teacher's office” These reasons seem strange. I'm sure swearing loudly in my office would be frowned upon, but the teachers mostly leave us alone- so I can't image they would be very dramatic about it (I might be wrong, of course) Some people have had difficulties adjusting to the fact they didn't get exactly what they wanted (are/age group etc) but nothing was guaranteed before we came here, we just had to keep an open mind and prepare for anything, really. Maybe they came here for the wrong reasons, or just wasn't prepared for the very spontaneous lifestyle of China. We compare our home countries with the destinations, but only to a certain degree. We shouldn't compare too much, or else you just end up unhappy, regretful and frustrated about everything.

Easier said than done, maybe, but still worth a shot.

A few trips have been planned. The first one to Inner Mongolia. It's planned by TTC staff. Apparently it includes camel tours and sand surfing (?) and more, but it's far away. (Check the map above!)We don't have that many days off. It's going to take a full day to get there and it's far from cheap. Some people are considering going to Shanghai, this is of course closer and therefore not as expensive. I still don't know what I'll do, it depends on who's going where and if I can allow myself to splurge on something this big. I'm not entirely sure where people are going this weekend, some ordered flight tickets- but I think that's for Shanghai. I'll need to check with them again.

I've stayed in my room/on campus for longer than I've done before. It get's monotonous and boring after awhile, it's not much to do around here. I want to wander around more this week. It's easy to say that we have it all mapped out after a few weeks here, but I beg to differ. I'm sure there are some things yet to be discovered around here. But we're close to the airport, so it's not very central. I just recently got a bus card which makes it easier to get around, when you don't have to dig around in your wallet for 2 RMB in the middle of a crowded bus.

Tomorrow we'll eat dinner at our local place i think. I't's been awhile since we had a meal together there, and it's nice to hear what people have been up to.

Posted by ChinaSarah 02:22 Archived in China Comments (0)

Coastal City Weekend (Shekou)

"Like all great travelers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen."

sunny

I’ve been here for over a month now. I feel like I should write more about the school, and so my next entry will probably be about OECIS (Shenzhen Oriental English College International School) I have taken some pictures, but I might snap a few more shots of campus. I intend on trying to upload some video too. I need a few days to do this, so I’ll upload and write this as soon as I can.

But here’s some of the things I’ve done this weekend. Not chronological, which is on purpose of course. Normally I would list everything chronologically, but that’s just boring. So I’m being totally reckless and not caring about whatever rules that apply for writing whatever that is I'm writing on here. And not only for writing I might add, like today when I decided to stand on the left side of the escalator and not hold on to the rail- when the metallic voice on the speakers repeatedly tells us the opposite. I’m a real badass, I know.

“Where is the bus?” wins the prize for the most used sentence today. Among the nominees were “I don’t know where we are...”, “I’m tired!” and “Where should we go?”.

It pretty much illustrates the experiences we’ve had today in short. We were taking the ‘school bus’ to Tao Yuan Ju and switched bus there to go to Shekou district. We wanted to find this huge mall; Coastal City. The plan seemed easy, but actually getting there proved to be something else. To spare you from painstaking details about our journey to this mall; it took 3 hours. We did a lot of waiting and there was some confusion about directions. But we made it in the end. So it wasn’t for nothing. When we saw the mall through the dirty bus window- the first thing someone said was “It’s ugly”. Which seemed a bit disappointing when you’ve spent hours getting somewhere. And it was true, it wasn’t a beautiful mall from the outside. Luckily it was better inside. But it was enormous! We walked around and got lost a few times, but as a traveler I love getting lost. It’s all a part of the story. I want to see what I see, not just what I came here to see, like a mere tourist! I prefer the term traveler, thank you very much.

Half the fun of the travel is the esthetic of lostness.
~Ray Bradbury

I freeze as I hear a scream of terror shake the room. A terrified face meets me in the door. Her trembling mouth utters one word, that terrible one beginning with “c” and has 9 letters. It belongs in the animal kingdom. I peak my head in the doorway and search the tiled floors for a dark spot. Nothing’s there. “Where is it?” Our neat and tidy German friend sweeps the creature out, while Amanda and I stand as far away as possible, facing the wall, cringing and shivering like autumn leaves. I wish I didn’t have to see it. I imagined them to be much smaller, but in reality you could strap a saddle one of those things and ride it to town.

At Coastal City, we tried to go to the cinema. They had 6 different movies, I think. And most of them were of course in Chinese. Which wouldn’t be a problem if I only understood the language, which I sadly don’t. The two English movies they had seemed very bad, so there was unfortunately no munching popcorn in the dark for us. And talking about popcorn, like everything the Chinese prefer to eat the popcorn is sweet. Everything they stuff their faces with has to be incredibly sweet. A lot of things tastes different here, because they alter things to make them sweeter. I would appreciate if they had a more diverse pallet. But it’s not really a problem.

We walked around the shops until our legs begged for rest. We spent some time looking at cameras, because Aline was replacing her lost camera. Over the past weeks, it’s been a search avoiding the dodgy places where you shouldn’t buy electronics to find the genuine, serious sellers- which we can proudly say that we did today. Looking at the cameras made me want to purchase a new one too, there were plenty of nice ones to replace my 5 year old Nikon, but I still have to think about it and do some searches on the web before I can settle on what I’m going to buy. My camera had ‘lens error’ for awhile today, but when I turned it on after a few hours it worked fine. What happened was that I was taking a picture of this wonderful gate made entirely of plastic fruit (amazing huh?) and the lens wouldn’t work. Trying to turn it off- it wouldn’t retract. So I had to force/push it a little, it made a terrible screeching sound as it retracted. I though "Oh no, I just broke my camera" I thought "I won't be able to take more pictures of this cheesy gate!" "What am I going to do?" But it worked after that. Kinda. Pictures get a little blurry around dusk, because of a funky flash. It works OK now, but I still want a new one 

I bought a flashdrive as I didn’t bring mine from home (stupid Cecilie!) I did bring my big, external harddrive, though. And I’ve used (to save PowerPoints) this the past weeks in the classrooms with varying results. Sometimes it works, sometimes not. A portable flashdrive makes it so much easier to manage teaching material. Or so I hope.

We soaked up the sun for at least half and hour, waiting for the bus driver to show up at our school. The three, yellow buses were all there. But no sign of a driver. As time went by, more people came to wait by the buses. Multiple sighs of relief soared through the air when the driver finally decided to start the bus. The bus paves its way trough the dense traffic like a cobra. Avoiding the cars on all sides by mere centimeters. I’m amazed that I have yet to see any accidents, but then again I’ve only been here for a few months. In the beginning this crazy traffic and how the cars just drive past each other randomly, scared me. But now I feel strangely safe in the metal shell of the yellow vehicle that carries us through the jungle of cars. I stare out the window, at people in passing buses or entire families balancing on tiny motorcycles. Helmets are not very common here.

Tired from walking around the big mall. We return to Tao Yuan Ju. But at least we weren’t hungry. I was quite full after our heavenly meal at The Spaghetti House. We probably spent a full hour trying to decide where to eat, this is a challenge with four people. Each has his/hers own preferences. "Sushi!" "I don't like sushi", "Pizza?" "No more pizza!" We agreed upon avoiding fast-food chains, because too often do we drop by one of the numerous fast-food places here. It's dangerously convenient and relatively cheap, but healthy? NO. But this meant that we spent ages on searching for a place. Although restaurants were bountiful in this area. We ended up going back to one of the first restaurants we'd spotted. At the Spaghetti House I had Caesar Salad and Pasta Carbonara, which was very creamy and cheesy- and also very good! A bit too much of a good thing dare I say. But fear not, I go out to eat at Chinese restaurants a lot too. That’s what we normally go for when we eat out. So western food is an anomaly for me here, apart from the occasional burger, or in this case pasta dish. After dinner we went to Smoothie Factory, but we turned to leave almost the minute we entered, the prices were ‘high’ and none of us really wanted smoothies after such a heavy meal. We spotted cereal in the shelves there, and I happily exclaimed “Ooh, All Bran!” Much to the joy of the Smoothie Factory employees. Cereal would be nice, if only there was good milk available and a nice, clean refrigerator in my room.

I had a scoop of ice cream (If you must know: mint chocolate) and we set out on a quest for Dunkin’ Doughnuts which took us almost to every corner of this huge place. We asked a Chinese guy, he pointed in a general direction and we followed. We finally found it and so I added a glazed chocolate doughnut and a coffee to my list of things I’ve consumed today. I felt a bit sick on the way back, mostly because it’s impossible to sit/stand still in the shaky bus. And it took a few hours. But we arrived safely at Tao Yuan Ju and climbed out of the packed bus. We walked to the outdoor stage in Tao Yuan Ju (the place with the big supermarket Ren Ren Le, 30 min. bus ride from our school) Apparently there had been some sort of big performance there, but we just missed it. So people were leaving, but some were still on stage. Performing some kind of martial arts and dance. We walked some more (a lot of walking today) and eventually walked passed the gates to our campus. We sat in Amanda’s room trying to stream some football match online (BBC), but ended up only getting the sound. The eager voice of the commentator was in the background for a few hours. It got late and we went back to our rooms, I a little bit more frightened than before. Peaking my head in the bathroom, before I stepped inside. Nothing’s there, phew. I’ve been lucky so far!

- Cecilie

Posted by ChinaSarah 11:44 Archived in China Tagged city china coastal mall guangdong shenzhen shekou Comments (0)

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