got paid!

Finally got paid yesterday, and to my surprise, in full; including the extra overtime. Also got the visa situation sorted out, though I’m not too happy at forking out the extra 1500元 for the privilege. Apart from this, I’m pretty pleased. Especially, that I don’t have to go and do the pointless medical exam for an extension to my Z visa.
Over the last week, my student’s have started to slack in their attendance at my classes. Unlike the Chinese teachers, I have quite a laissez-faire approach to whether students come to my class or not, they all know this. They also know that if they persistently don’t attend, then it will affect their final grade.
Unfortunately I’m going to have to start to require they attend every class, if they miss three then their mark will be adversely affected.
It’s a shame that I have to do this, they are all adults. I shouldn’t have to treat them like children, but due to the way things work here (all their other classes have compulsory attendance, with 3 missed classes = fail) understandably they take advantage of my class being more laid-back.

Just worked out how to attach this form to a post, so now it’s easier to send me feedback.

Holiday soon…

Only one week to go until the National Day holiday, when I will have a week off work to celebrate the glorious communist founding of China.
Or something like that anyway.

Strangely, this holiday technically isn’t a week long, although it lasts for a week. In reality it’s only three days, with the other two work-days shifted to the Saturday and Sunday before. So really i’ll be working for 7 days straight, after which i’ll probably need a holiday!


Still pretty hacked-off today about a few things. Firstly the fact that we’re still yet to be paid our salary; despite having worked for the last 6 weeks.
And secondly my visa still hasn’t been finalised!! We gave our documets to our boss over 2 weeks ago, and our boss hasn’t even started the visa-getting process!!!

Despite the fact that she knew about the urgency of the applications (most of the teachers’ visas have now expired due to her incompetance) they are still not done!!!
So the 500 Yuan A DAY overstay fine has come into effect, and i’ll be damned if i’m paying!
It’s really frustrating when things like this happen – as they all too often do in China – especially when the person in question refuses to accept that they are at fault. When to any ‘normal’ person they are banged to rights.
All of us foreign teachers are becoming increasingly concerned over the salary, or to be more precise, lack of salary. Our contracts stated that we should have been paid at the end of August, however we accepted our bosses appeal that full salary will be given at the end of september.
The problem arises later, in money is becoming rather thin on the ground for all of us. We need to pay our rent, and we need to live!
Our boss refuses to give a solid date when we will receive our cash, she simply says between the 25th and the end of the month.

What upsets me is that we know that she has long had our paycheques. She is stalling because I think she is using this money elsewhere – or she is spounging the interest off the significant amount of capital, that has been residing in her bank account for over a month – over 50K Yuan!

Why do some Chinese value money so highly, almost as if money is more important than ANYTHING else – including honesty, integrity and morals. Call me old fashioned, but i find this intoxication with cash totally abhorrent and completely counter-productive. If you upset your employees just for the sake of a few extra bucks in the bank, the only thing this proves is how greedy you are .

Questions, Questions

Here’s the answers to some of those questions that have been asked by some my new students, over the last couple of weeks. So as promised, here are the brief answers:

“Where do you come from?” UK
“Can you use chopsticks” Yes
“Are you cold?” No, and you can’t catch a cold by opening the window on a bus
“How tall are you?” 1.87m ish
“How old are you?” 23
“Why you come to China?” To teach and learn
“Do you like Chinese food?” yes
“Is Chinese food delicious?” yes
“Do you like Chinese girl?” yes
“Can you speak Chinese?” some
“Do you very like CS?” So so
“Do you like basketball?” No
“Do you have QQ?” Yes it’s 125873000
“What do you do in the morning?” Get up, shower, eat, go to work
“What do you do in your free time?” Sleep, study, eat
“What are your hobbies?” Sleeping, playing CS, reading etc…
“Where have you been in China?” A few cities, not been to the south yet
“How do you buy things?” I use money, just like you!
“Do you use bus?” Yes, everyday
“How do you get to China?” Hot-air balloon, then hitchiked via Mongolia
“How long you been in China?” 11 months
“Where do you live?” Off-campus
“How do I improve my oral english?” Practice, Practice, Practice
“Can you sing us a song?” No
“Do you eat KFC everyday?” No
“What’s your favourite Chinese food?” 宫煲鸡丁
“Do you like China?” Yes
“Do you like Changchun?” Yes
“Do you colour your hair?” No
“When are you online?” All the time, but I’m not always there!
“Can I have you mobile phone number?” No, it’s a secret.
“Do you like Chinese pop music?” Generally no, though I like some

Any more questions??????

Then post a comment !!!

Finally It’s getting a little colder!

The weather is turning.

Today was the first day that I’ve felt a little cold in a long time!! Tomorrow the shorts and sandals will be consigned to the back of wardrobe for anoter 6 months!!

I’m actually quite pleased that the long, hot summer is finally nearing an end.
Soon, the trees will once more be without their leaves, and the familiar smell of sulphurous coal will fill the evening air. The seasons here are so completely different, it’s as if the city is on a different planet come the winter.

Mind you, i’ll miss being able to have the option, of walking back from work when the sun shines! 🙂


So I boarded the train at Beijing station at 11.50 on Monday morning, glad to be leaving the city after spending an extra night in a hotel because there were no tickets on Sunday.

As I pushed my way through the chaotic queue of people waiting to get down to the platform, I hoped that the bed I had reserved actually existed on this train; I was also preying that the train was air-conditioned. As I walked down the steps, winding my way through groups of people carrying everything- including the kitchen sink, my train came into view. There it was, the L25 from Beijing to Changchun sitting at platform 2. So I walked briskly along the platform to the 10th carriage, showed my ticket again and boarded.

I stepped up onto the train, no AC. Turned left past the toilets and into the carriage and to my surprise found my bed unoccupied and looking pretty good for the 120RMB ticket. Apart from the searing heat (one of the reasons I wanted out of Beijing ASAP) accompanied by humidity that made your clothes feel damp and sticky within 2 minutes of stepping outside, the train was fine – and at only 15% of the price of an aeroplane ticket.

I was in the section known as hard sleeper, it consists of six beds in a open cabin. I was in one at the top, mainly because it’s out of the way and i can put my bag behind me and it is safe from theft. The problem with the top is that you can’t sit up because of the low train ceiling and it’s a pain climbing up to.

I put my bag up onto my bed and realised just how much hotter it was up there, and quickly got down and sat at the fold-down window seat. The thermometer in the carriage read 37°C , the humidity at well over 90%. Sweat was dripping in my eyes – something that I have never experienced before – just by sitting down.

Finally the train left and the momentum of the train allowed a little breeze through the windows, which made little difference. It was at this time that I asked the guard when does the train arrive. The answer she gave me I understood, but I didn’t believe myself – it couldn’t take that long ? She answered with “ming tian, wu dian shi wu fen” which means tomorrow, 5.15 AM.
So I only had another 17 hours to go.

Hearing this seriously dampened my morale, I thought that the train took 8 hours or so, like the train on the way out. No wonder the ticket was so cheap, I’m on the train that stops at every damn station for the next 700 miles. Some 20 minutes into the journey the train stopped at the first of many stations.

At this moment I was counting my blessings that I spent a small fortune at the Beijing Book City, knowing that in Changchun the only English books that are available are abridged versions written by Chinese authors or Uri Gellar (this is true, if you would like any of Uri Gellar’s books – probably long out of print on the UK – I can get them for you!! ).

The bed was okay if rather narrow, had nice pillows and duvets – not that I would be needing them. I was told to take off my shoes by the guard when on the bed – but there was nowhere safe to put them, and these trains have somewhat of a reputation for theft, so i put them on top of my bag next to my head. I managed to finish one of my books during the journey: A Year In The Merde a very funny read, took my mind of the travelling.

At 9.50 the guard said something that I didn’t understand and 30 seconds later all of the lights in the carriage were cut. No more reading I thought. The only option left for me was to try and get some shut-eye, even if the top of the carriage was now infested with mosquitoes and other disturbingly large biting insects.

Now I was wishing i was somewhere else. The sticky sweat, the bugs, the uncomfortable bed – and the boredom. Eventually I got to sleep, I finally dozed off sometime after 1am.

I must have woken up at least ten times during the night, usually when the train stopped at a station. At 3.30am and much to my disgust, they turned the lights back on. I have never felt sick from just fatigue, but now I was starting to.
I was told to get down from my top-bunk because they were replacing the old sheets on the beds with new ones, “Why now!!!???” I asked, all that attracted was that look one sometimes gets from Chinese people; a look of confusion crossed with that “you must be mad foreigner, this is how we always do it ” look. I was now perched on a fold down seat in the aisle of the train, knowing that the train didn’t arrive for another 2½ hours and it was still the dead-of-night.

Of course I was probably the only one on the train thinking why did they wake us up with still 2½ hours to go. Anyway, people were eating breakfast, talking as if they’d had one of the best nights sleep in the life, playing cards or even Mah Jong.
I was in pain, the tiredness and back-ache combined with sleep deprivation was taking its toll – I rested my head against the window and drifted into a quasi slumber.
I thought I was having a particularly bad dream when I heard music being played, bagpipes – folk music.
I woke up.
Just when I thought it couldn’t get any worse, out of the PA system came music at an annoyingly loud volume. I immediately recognised the song as ‘Mull of Kintyre’ by Wings – In my opinion one of the most annoying tunes ever recorded – anyway, I drifted in and out of sleep hoping that this wasn’t the last song I would ever here.

The train finally arrived at 5.15am as promised. I don’t remember much more, apart from hailing a cab at the station and getting back home, where I went straight to sleep.

I’m now back teaching again, and almost all of my students are from the very south of China. The have to travel for anything up to 60 HOURS!!! just to get home. They go to university over 2000 miles away from their home town. I now have a new level of respect for my student’s, I for one, know that I could not do that sort of travelling at every holiday 🙂