Ni Hao! Well we're well and truly settled back into the rhythm of Chinese life now as we go about our 'business' not noticing what shocked and horrified us this time last year!
Angie has now accepted the 'squat' toilet as the norm and in fact
when she discovers a 'western' style pedestal toilet she has adopted
the same method of use as the locals ie she climbs up on to the
pedestal and 'squats' there: LOL
Who would have believed it this time
At the moment we are enjoying a week's holiday for China's National
Day. Yesterday we returned from a three day touring trip with two of
female students who had never travelled outside their own province and
keen to be our guides on this trip.
Talk about the 'blind leading the blind'!!
We travelled to Xiamen and Quanzhou in Fujian, our neighbouring
by local bus. Now remember the two students wanted to organise this
so we left them to it; yes we are definitely becoming more laid-back
learnt to go with the flow. As the students here in China don't have
much money we travelled 'their way' ie cheap! And we mean cheap!
Hence the transport reflected this. But the people on board the bus
exceedingly friendly and even shared their food with us. Travelling by
local bus we
also managed to see more local villages etc which we would have missed
had we travelled in comfort on the air-conditioned, mechanically safe
secure bus which takes the modern highway route.
After about five to five and
a half hours (to cover 200 kilometres) we arrived in Xiamen. We spent
first two hours wandering the streets of Xiamen trying to find a
suitable hotel; suitable to the students' pockets and our expectations!
to say we rejected a few before finally setting on one.
Xiamen is on the coast; it is clean, organised and 'almost' western
which was a great shock to us having come from Chaozhou.
We enjoyed a couple
of nights here except that Angie managed to get a cold and had to spend
the afternoons 'resting' in the hotel room while Mike and the students
the 'touristy' things!
On the third day we got another 'local' bus to Quenzhou about 60 klms
north of Xiamen .
Now this WAS an interesting trip as the bus was overloaded
and there were a few police inspection points along the route. Did this
create a problem? No... with the use of mobile phones the driver
knew in advance where the checkpoints were and as we approached these
places the excess passengers were told to lie on the floor out of
sight! See... there's always an answer to any problem here in China!
Of course the obvious solution of NOT overloading buses in the first
NEVER occurs to them here!
Quenzhou was an interesting city as it had some Islamic architecture
and history; it used to be the beginning of the 'Sea Silk Route' in the
olden days. Quite different from anything we'd seen before.
Our salubrious accommodation here was a military hostel! Clean? Yes.
Starched linen on
beds? Yes. Safe? Very! Cheap? Of course! Comfortable? You must be
Now here in China because we are foreigners living here we are
obliged by law to carry our little green book (our foreigner's
residency permit) AT ALL TIMES as a form of ID. All native Chinese also
carry their own ID cards too. In theory we can be stopped at any time
by the police or military personnel and asked to produce our little
However, in practice (like most things in China) it doesn't happen.
Even here at the military hostel only the students were asked for their
they were not interested in seeing ours! We think it is all too much
for them as it is easier to ignore the foreigners, except for the
endless staring of course!
On our return trip we were dropped off under a bridge on the side of
the road to wait for our second bus to bring us 'home' to Chaozhou. Now
this organising of buses was done at the last moment by the students
DIRECTLY with the appropriate bus-driver via mobile phones; you have no
chance trying to get around in China this way without the 'contacts'
and the language too.
Now while we were waiting with all the other Chinese
squatting on our haunches at the side on the road a funny thing
happened; a car
pulled up, a Chinese man got out and approached us (not the students or
other Chinese there but US) and started asking in Chinese for
Obviously as with a lot of Chinese, the man was very short-sighted
because as he got closer to us he realised his mistake and apologised,
redirecting his questions to some other Chinese standing close by! We
realise how well the daily consumption of 'rice' was changing the shape
of our eyes!
Anyway, to cut a long story short, we arrived back to our familiar 'home' ground safely having seen yet another aspect of Chinese life. Will we ever allow students to take charge and organise a trip for us again? From Mike's point of view, no problem; from Angie's point of view, probably not! Cheers