Well. I have my placement and I can't say I'm completely happy about it.
I'll add more afterwards but for now here is a verse I dashed off a few minutes ago while eating what will be my last western meal for some time. (Pizza, chips and a bottle of Guinness.)
Baiyin Part 1
Well, they told me where I have to go
and I admit I'm not impressed.
They tried to woo with flattery,
said, "This school wants the best."
But from what I've read of Baiyin,
there is nothing there to do.
When I put this to the agent,
she said, "It simply isn't true.
There are several good pool tables
and ping-pong clubs galore."
I confessed my disappointment,
said I'd hoped for something more.
The bad news kept on coming
when I asked about the school.
From the lack of information
they took me for a fool.
Class sizes? Didn't know!
Facilities? Shook her head.
Perhaps you have some photographs?
"There's nothing!" so she said.
The only information
they could find to relate
was that my class were 12-year-olds:
an age group that I hate!
And as for an apartment
it was small and I must share
with a teacher from the last group
who's already exiled there.
So all in all the prospect
is looking rather bleak.
Maybe it will look better
when I write part 2 - next week.
And that's about it. They have subsequently said they "will try to find another apartment" but that it will be "a few weeks" which in Chines time could mean six months. It also means that anyone planning to visit me might as well not bother. The journey from the UK would be something like Heathrow-Amsterdam, Amsterdam-Guangzhou, GUanzhou-XiAn, XiAn-Lanzhou followed by a two hour bus ride through the desert and all to get to a place that isn't worth visiting anyway. There is still hope though because I have the end of January and most of February off and could fly down to meet elsewhere - say Guilin or Lijiang. I'll see what the transport situation for me is like and let people know by email.
I don't know yet what my computer access will be out in the middle of nowhere so it might be a while before I post again.