I'd have thought by now that my posts would indicate that I'm very
happy - very happy indeed - with my current situation but it seems
from various pieces of private correspondence that some of my friends
seem to have taken only the message from my very early Chinese posts
and not noticed the change.
Let's set the record straight. I am very happy with how things have
turned out. I'm having a whale of a time. The only, and I do mean THE
ONLY, downside at all is that there isn't a whole lot to do for
entertainment in Baiyin.
Otherwise it's all good.
Let's tally it up.
On the plus side I have
i) the easiest and most fun job I've had in my life,
ii) students at school who think I can walk on water,
iii) staff at the school who are incredibly friendly, invite me out,
buy me dinner, help me in every conceivable way,
iv) a very nice free apartment with free utilities,
v) a city where I can buy very nearly anything I want for about a
fifth of the UK price,
vi) a salary that is more than I can possibly spend,
vii) plenty of pool halls, great cheap restaurants* and bars nearby
(even one that I discovered this week selling some very nice imported
viii) a plentiful supply of cheap, if not precisely legitimate, DVDs,
ix) a stress and worry free lifestyle where every possible problem is
someone else's problem
x) access to my friends, games, books, magazines and so on via the internet
and on the minus side
i) it's sometimes a bit boring
I'd say that's pretty heavily weighted in favour of my having a good
time, wouldn't you.
Take yesterday for example. Some of the senior students (aged 17 and
18) had heard that Mike and I like to play pool so they asked us to
meet them after school and go to play pool so that they could, as we
played, get some extra English practice. My classes finish at five but
theirs go on till seven so, at seven, we met them at the school gate.
About a dozen of them had turned up and they escorted us to a
different pool hall where we took it in turns to play every student
there. They were eager to talk about anything under the sun and I got
the distinct impression that they were letting us win. We were there
for about an hour and a half and then they took us to a nice noodle
restaurant along the street where we all sat around a big table eating
the beef noodle soup that is the local specialty.
Conversation was difficult but they were all eager to try. One of the
girls, who was bizarrely wearing spectacles with no lenses in them,
was particularly good at English but shy of speaking as most of the
other students were boys. She did however explain about the spectacles
with the peculiar remark that "the lenses are in my eyes". It seems
not uncommon here that students wearing contact lenses will then add
lensless spectacles. I have no idea why.
When we left the restaurant, with the students insisting that we let
them pay for the food, and they went their ways while we went ours
they all ran up to us and shook hands or hugged us before running off
down the street to go home
And it's like that all the time. Everyone wants to be our friend.
I would post more but I have to go now because I've been invited to
dinner by a colleague of Erika, who I have never met and who works at
an entirely different school. It's a hard life.
(*Across the street from me is a barbecue restaurant where I can eat
ten skewers of spicy grilled mutton, a plate of grilled chicken wings,
ten skewers of assorted grilled vegetables and drink five large
bottles of beer and spend about three pounds in total. We go there a