Posted by Evan on Friday, 23 September 2005 at 11:45 am
There’s been so much happening lately for me that I’m not entirely sure where to being. As you may recall I was to begin a new English teaching job at Beijing Normal University in Zhuhai at the beginning of this month–Chinese universities with ‘normal’ in their name specialise in training teachers.
A rather upsetting element of my transition to Zhuhai is covered in Breaking Up (Again), however, a lot of other things were happening at the same time.
After arriving at my new job I found out that several important aspects of the position had been misrepresented by the school. The apartment was completely inadequate and required extensive (and expensive) additional furnishings.
Compounding this situation, they announced that I would not begin classes till one week after I was previously informed. Thus leaving me stranded in my partially furnished apartment with nothing to do for two weeks (and most importantly, as the job paid hourly, no source of income). The fact that none of my foreign colleagues and I had anything in common made the whole situation quite a lonely and alienating one.
As Zhuhai is located in Guangdong province they speak Cantonese, not Mandarin. This made the situation even worse as I greatly struggled to make myself understood with my rudimentary Mandarin.
After my rather dramatic breakup with Lisa I felt even less like remaining in such a physically and culturally isolated place–Zhuhai, itself, is a small and boring town that is only accessible from the university by catching two consecutive busses, which takes up to an hour.
After having what turned out to be a rather bad job last semester, in Chengdu, I was still able to have a fantastic time because of the close-knit ex-pat community and the lively nightlife. Zhuhai, on the other hand, seemed to have neither of these things.
The much vaunted beaches of Zhuhai also turned out to be a great disappointment–almost all of the coastal areas are owned by cultured pearl farms and, due to the underwater fixtures (visible at low tide), completely unswimmable.
In an attempt to break out of the funk I was in I decided to go to Macau for the weekend on my own. Macau is a very interesting city–the juxtaposition of Portuguese food, colonial style architecture and traditional Chinese culture make the place something quite unique. On Saturday night there was an international fireworks competition that was going on at the waterfront, so I settled down into a nice bar and enjoyed the spectacular scenery–I can’t remember that last time I saw such a high concentration of beautiful foreign women. Chengdu is famous among the mainlanders for having the best looking women in China.
After coming back from Macau I returned to find new administrative delays were going to further prevent basic services being supplied (e.g. a phone) and well as the signing of my employment contract, thereby denying me any job security whatsoever.
Consequently, on the 14th of September, I resigned my position, packed up my now considerable pile of luggage and got a ferry across to Hong Kong (considered an international destination despite reunification with the motherland).
I spent the next week hanging out in Hong Kong, and generally having a great time. At first I was flabbergasted at the cost of everything in HK, however, much to my detriment I soon stopped worrying about such matters and binged on great seafood and all the international cuisine that I’ve been deprived of on the mainland.
Hong Kong must be one of the nicest cities that I’ve been to so far. I’m certainly a big city person, but I love to go hiking. In this regard HK is perhaps the best city in the world for me. In the middle of a beautiful sunny day I was sitting on my own, in complete silence, in an absolutely beautiful historical park only 10 minutes from the downtown centre of the city that holds the world record for population density.
On my first night in town I met a Swiss businessman who’d just returned to HK after having lived there before the handover. A few days later we took a ferry out to Mui Wo, on Lantau Island. From there we did a delightful six hour hike across the tops of the mountain that form the backbone of the island. From the top of the second highest peak on the island the view looking out across the innumerable small islands that surround Lantau looked like a postcard from the Caribbean.
I was also lucky enough to catch up with a friend I met in Chengdu a few months back. He often has to travel down to HK for business trips, but took some time out to show me a taste of the more up-market nightlife. Drinking fine Australian wine was definitely a highlight–Chinese wine is notoriously bad, and after many prior attempts I now refuse to drink it.
After getting a new Chinese visa issued I booked a flight back to Chengdu, and flew back two days later.
I’m currently looking for a job, which may prove a little difficult as the semester began four weeks ago. The remaining vacancies seem predominantly to be for jobs that were so bad that no one wanted to take them.
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