Well, I have a little more time this evening and a keyboard that doesn't have half the keys sticking so I'll update you now.
To start with my luggage turned up and everything is going really well. There's so much to be optimistic about it's hard to know where to begin. It seems that I'll be teaching twenty lessons a week and if you suddenly went "Wow, that's a lot!", you shouldn't have because it's twenty forty-five minute lessons to twenty different classes at the same level. So that's preparation for one forty five minute lesson which I then get to deliver twenty times. The salary works out at more like 90 pounds a week than the 50 I was expecting but I'm told it will be impossible to spend it as almost every day someone or other will be inviting me out to eat - school principle, foreign affairs officer, head of Foreign Languages, parents of students and so on.
On the other hand it's clear that I almost certainly won't be working in Yangshou. That's just where I'm doing my training for a week. I could be literally anywhere in China! I'll have to let you know where later. The apartments that we have seen in the training material and the information I've had from talking to some of the existing staff about them also makes me pretty happy. In some cases people have had huge three-bedroomed apartments and fully-furnished apparently means exactly what it says.
Tomorrow I spend the whole day observing some of the other incoming group - some of whom have never taught before and then the next day I get my turn to be observed. It's a thirty minute lesson with a very set structure of warm-up/input/activity/review and it's a breeze. Took me ten minutes to plan.
Other plus points are that my section of the students' course isn't examined so there's no pressure, that there is a coursebook to work from if I want to (though it's optional), that I don't have to set or mark homework, that I don't have to teach ANY grammar, and that all I have to do is speaking and listening activities. It's impossible to imagine a lighter workload and impossible to find anything to complain about. (Though some have tries.)
And the good news just keeps on coming. The school holidays are frequent and long - altogether I have about four and a half months off and once my residency permit comes through I will be able to use those long holidays to fly off to other nearby countries at very low cost and have some great holidays. I'm already starting to plane where I'll be going.
As for being here in Yangshou, well it isn't really like being in China at all. Tonight, for example I've just been out for a curry in the local Indian restaurant - something I won't find anywhere else, I'm sure. Even here, in the heart of the most expensive touristy bit of China my curry, rice, naan, lassi and coffee cost about a fiver. Last night a group of us went to a rooftop bar and, once again in an expensive part of town, the beer (such as it is) was a pound a pint.
I've also bought a pile of new DVDs. I have a feeling they may not be entirely legal copies as both season three of Chuck and Season five of The Office show station idents in the corner of the screen and occasionally have "what's on after this program" info running across the bottom. The two boxed sets cost about five pounds each. Movies, including ones not yet in the cinema, are a pound each.
At the moment, there isn't much else to report but I will still have internet accesss in my new apartment so when I'm settled in and have my own computer I'll post regular updates - I may even use this as a proper diary - and I'll posst some of the pictures that I've taken.
I'll be in touch later.