Things to come

[Picture: my first view of the incredible beach we are lucky enough to camp on in Hong Kong – excuse the poor quality]

In two weeks I’ll be heading to Guangzhou airport, driven by Sam-the-man (our trusty driver guy), and I’ll be on my way to start my busy summer holiday…

(I so almost wrote vacation then, lord help me…)

I’ll be taking an early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh where my childhood best pal, Alice HD will be waiting for me in Hangout Hostel after embarking on a very long flight the previous day. So far, we have no plans. We’ve booked to stay at that hostel for 2 nights together (Al will have been there for 3), so we plan on spending that first day we’re together planning, organizing and getting SOME sort of idea together about all the places we want to definitely hit on our trip. We have roughly 4 weeks to make it from Ho Chi Minh to Bangkok. That’s a pretty solid length of time, especially as we don’t plan on doing Thailand itself. (Alice has never been there though, so we’re going to fit in a couple of days in Bangkok if we can!)

We were stuck for ages trying to decide whether to go North to South (the original idea), or South to North… in the end we decided to start in the wetter area of Vietnam (the south), and head for drier times and days at the end of our trip (the north). SO, after comparing flight prices, weather reports etc., we chose to start in the south (Ho Chi Minh) and head north to Hanoi before we have to make our way to Bangkok (either by crossing through Laos on land or flying over.)

My research for this trip has been minimal to say the least… I’ve skimmed over a few blog posts describing others routes and suggestions, I’ve stared at a Continue reading

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Is it enough?

[ PHOTO: the view I had when leaving work the other week, sunset and flags over Country Garden]

I’ve been at a loss for words recently, blog wise anyway. Despite having gone through the festive period and New Year’s, I don’t feel like I’ve got much to report on. My last post was a pretty big and it talked in depth about a kind of ‘light bulb moment’, so I’ve not wanted to just tap away meaninglessly about my monotonous daily life as a teacher for its follow up.

I feel like people often expect my life to be so much more than it is. They expect each week, each day to be filled with crazy experiences and adventures that will produce even crazier stories; whereas in fact, it’s not that at all. I don’t even know if I’d want it to be that, it sounds tiring in all honesty. Yes I live away from home, but I’m not travelling, I’m not living on the road, I’m not exploring new places each day and meeting new people. I’m working… I’m living in a small cosy apartment. I have a small group of friends. I have a fridge I try and keep stocked. I have a bus commute to work. I have laundry to do, dishes to wash, bins to empty. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. I’m thoroughly enjoying my life out here. But at times, it doesn’t really feel too “out there”. During the work week, when I barely have time to cook my own meals or get home before dark, I could be anywhere… I could be living in some remote town in England, Germany, America, Wales… anywhere that I don’t have family or childhood friends. Anywhere that I don’t know the backstreets or the roads like the ones I do in Abergele.

Speaking to family and friends over the last few weeks has been amazing… but also a little disheartening… People have been Continue reading

What next…?

[Photo: tegalalang rice terrace, Bali from mine and Shelb’s travel this summer]

Planning for the future is a scary thing. Making decisions about your life is a terrifying concept. What if you make the wrong choice? What if you end up missing other opportunities due to the path you chose? It’s inevitable that you’ll always look back and say “Ow, I wish I could have been there for that.” Or “Damn it, I should have done this instead.” You can never cover all the bases that you wish to. You’re always going to have to choose one side of the coin. My coin currently has a few sides; it’s more like a triangular dice, or cute little (intimidating) cube…

A co-worker sat down with me the other day and discussed in great lengths her options and thoughts for the end of this academic year. It sounded exciting, adventurous, and fuelled with purpose and passion. I guess it helped that there was a love interest thrown in there to help aid and focus her attention, but still, she had a plan (vague as it was), and it could work [for her]. It was so easy for me to sit there and encourage her to follow this dream, to book the flights, to plan her trips. “Just do it!” I cried, “What have you got to loose!?”… Why is it so much easier for me to have that much faith and trust in someone else’s life and travel plan, than I have in my own? I have very little/no faith that the decisions I make at the end of this academic year will lead me to exactly where I’m supposed to be. I feel like I’m being torn across the globe. Pulled in all directions… I have to go there. I have to be back for this. I should think about that. I need to do it…

In all honesty, I feel selfish for what my thoughts and possible plans are. I can’t call them plans; they’re, at best, ideas. I know people repeatedly say “Your 20s are your selfish years. Do what you want. Go where you want. Be who you want.”… but I feel like I have to have some sort of structured plan right? Like, I don’t want to get to 29 and suddenly be like “Oh crap, I’ve had a great 8 years, but what now?! I’m not qualified to do anything; I’ve got no money to start my life. Is it time to whack out the old Maccies uniform and cap?!” I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, I feel like I’ve Continue reading

Bright Colours and Beer…

[PHOTO: Taken from the huge wall sized window in the communal room of our “hostel”]

So, if you have me on ANY social media platform (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Wechat, WhatsApp etc…), you can probably guess what this post will mainly be about.

Work has been non-stop and as crazy as ever. We start to get the hang of our curriculum and the weekly routine, and then BAM a new thing is dropped on us and we’re expected to fit it into one of our five 35 minute lessons a week with the kids. I’m quite enjoying it though, I feel very fortunate I’m in Grade 5 and not in Kindergarten like the rest of my pals. But this isn’t a post moaning or groaning about work… this is about my weekend trip to Shenzhen!

At 11.50am Friday afternoon, I made a mad dash from work, to the bus stop and waited for Kyle, Kim and Danielle. We all headed to Subway (not the healthiest, but definitely the quickest) and grabbed a quick lunch. Kim was hanging around the free WiFi until 1.11pm for the massive Taobao (Chinese version of eBay on steroids) “single-day” sales. Single day is on the 11th of October (the 11th month) of each year, and it’s basically like the western black-Friday times 1000… I left her and Kyle there, munching on their free cookies and hopped on the bus heading back to Dong Yuan (East Garden). It was so cold for a couple of days last week, Friday it was down to about 14`C, bearing in mind less than 2 weeks ago it was 34`C… So back to my little apartment I went, and had probably the most productive lunch break of my life. I did all the dishes left over from cooking the night before, I did a load Continue reading

Working, wandering and the everyday…

[PHOTO: Guangzhou Tram line stations]

This week has been loooong. My Sunday started well, I managed to sleep until 9am (the latest lie-in I’ve had for a few weeks), I knew today was going to be productive, and someone on Facebook had shared a link to my favourite scene from the amazing, yet totally messed up, not suitable to watch with family, TV show, American Horror Story. This clip was from the 2nd season: The Asylum, watch it for yourself. . You don’t really need much context apart from the fact they’re in a mental asylum, the singer (Judy) used to be the nun who ran the joint, and the two other main characters, Kit and Lana, are totally sane (one of them just saw some aliens take his wife and baby, and poor Lana has just been locked up for being a lesbian and a reporter who snooped a little too much.)

Anyway, so after watching that clip, I was fully awake and in a good mood to take on the day. Sundays are supposed to be for relaxing and enjoying the weekend while drinking lots of tea. I don’t know anyone who actually manages to achieve this every week. Sundays usually turn out to be a day of house work, shopping and catching up on things you didn’t have time to do during the work week. I knew this was the fate of my Sunday but I didn’t mind.

Up I got and out I headed to the bus stop, Kobo e-reader in hand. (I’m reading NOS4A2 a book by  Joe Hill, Stephen King’s son. I wasn’t aware it was over 700 pages when I started it, but I’m really enjoying it so far!) It may be mid-October but my god; it’s still so hot here. We have days when the temperature drops to the mid-20’s with a breeze, but most of the time it’s still pushing 34`C. I waited for the bus and got off at Continue reading

5 Days off, 2 days out…

[Picture: as mentioned in a blog post way back in May/June, I collect things. All things. So, this is my mini collection of tickets and cards etc. from the past couple of days. Don’t they look pretty!!!]

How lucky am I? Shamefully, it’s only hit me today just how fortunate I really am. On Monday 3rd, I decided I wanted to go to Hong Kong to see Candice, Julie, Richard and Katie. Wednesday 5th, 11am, I was on the ferry at Shunde Dock on my way. How many people can say that within 5 days they can decide to go to HK, get tickets, get a ferry, be there for 2 nights, and be back home in their pj’s by Friday? Not too many (apart from the billions of Chinese people who do it every year…)

Country Garden School broke up for the holiday on Friday 30th September; a lot of the teachers had pre booked tickets to escape the crazy mad rush of holiday tourism over the Chinese break. Myself and my friends however, (Danielle, Kim, Kyle, Collin, Becky, Gabby and Cassie) had not done this at all. Each of us had our own reason for not planning a trip away; whether it be lack of money (yes us Worlda employees are STILL waiting for our first pay check, only 13 days to go…), lack of passport (visa changes etc…), or simply the fact they wanted to relax or explore the area we had all found ourselves dumped in. I spent Saturday, Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mainly with Danielle hopping on busses, going to markets, ending up in various shopping malls, and just generally wandering around (somewhat aimlessly) working out the surrounding area. We headed to Guangzhou on Saturday and Tuesday, Saturday with 2 other Kindergarten guys, and Tuesday with Kim and her Dad who left pretty soon after we arrived. We ate some great food; hotpot, Muslim rice, Italian, questionable Chinese food and much more. Friday night we had a nice chilled evening at Kims watching the first half of the extended version of The Fellowship of the Ring (I forgot just how bloody long those films were) with some pizza that Continue reading

3 Days of Week 3

[PHOTO: A page from my sketch book that I did while playing around with watercolour back in Dulwich]

Yes, this is week 3 of working at the school… how has that happened? Ok so Week 1 only consisted of 2 days, and Week 3 ended on Wednesday (yesterday), but still, this year is going to fly by. I left the UK 22 days ago, which also means, it’s been 22 days since I had a cup of tea… That is NOT OKAY. Once I’ve typed this up though I am going to head to the nearest coffee shop and see what I can do to change the lack of tea in my life.

This week was only 3 days long because it is Mid-Autumn Moon Festival here in China, the festival that celebrates and remembers a woman who was sent to the moon by her lover and she lived out the rest of her life there with a rabbit. No joke. It is celebrated by eating “moon-cakes”, which are not as fun as they sound. But, I’m in China, so I must respect and accept their culture and festivals, plus, anything that changes a 5 day week to a 3 day week is ok by me!

Last night I was introduced to a new kindergarten teacher, Danielle. She’s having to crash in Kim’s spare room at the moment because her apartment contract fell through due to the fact her landlord refused to provide her with working AC, which, let me tell you, is no luxury here, it’s a daily necessity. The rough average temperature has been about 33/35’C, and obviously, being in a sub-tropical climate, it’s humid as hell. I think I’m Continue reading