China II: Week 7

After the few adventurous days in Hainan during my 6th week it was now back to the routine, albeit with extremely painful sunburn. By the end of the week I had a nice new coat of skin for the mosquitos to attack.

The last week also ended with something I associate more with Brighton than China….the lump. This is a large swelling that appears in random locations on my face from time-to-time. In fact, it only appeared once in the whole time I was in Guangzhou and that time I had antihistamines to reduce it. This time it was on my eyelid and I could hardly see out of my left eye and the first person to see it was a Chinese doctor, Danny. Instead of giving me an Ibuprofen she decided to attach two sets of electrodes to the floor. I had to stand on one set whilst she stood on the other. When she touched me the ciruit was complete and the electronic current ran through my body. She then used her hands to manipulate the current through to my eyelid. As can be imagined, this was a very scary experience and one that required me to place trust in her and a method that I didn’t really have any faith in. She then directed the current to several points on my back, the 2nd, 5th and 7th disks of my spine if I remember correctly. I am not sure how much my life has been reduced by this exercise. Danny then told me the lump has something to do with a problem in my lungs (another problem to add to that long list she has made me).

I was now a little traumatised but ready for work when she told me to lie down on the sofa. I did as I was told and then she returned with what looked like a Giant’s cigar. She told me to shut my eyes as she lit it and placed it near my face. She kept the burning rod close to my eye for nearly 15 minutes and I honestly thought I would be blind when, and if, she finished. My face was on fire. However, she eventually did finish and I didn’t really feel much different except my eye was a little hot. I guess there must be some science behind it all though?

People were quite sympathetic about it at work, except for my boss who told me to ‘lose it soon because you will scare the children’. I’m glad he is supportive.

The week began with another visit from Jack (I have now found out that his name isn’t John..opps). Jack had visited my work on 3 consecutive days asking me to come out and play with him. Each time I had some reason to not join him. However, the boy is persistent and knows my work address, my home address, my mobile number and my QQ number; thus, there is no escaping him. On the Sunday I gave in and joined him at the same expensive Japanese restaurant that we went to before, but this time I told him I didn’t have enough money to eat all the weird things he likes. What made the meal a little easier was the arrival of Lucas, a man from the Czech Republic. He has a rather interesting job as a China tour guide which sounded amazing until he told me it was mainly for people too old to travel by themselves. As usual Jack contributed to conversations with random war stories that I still don’t know if were factual or something he did in a video game. It was quite a pleasant evening though. I told them both of my desire to watch the football with a beer at home afterwards but Jack had other plans….he wanted me to go to the Kung Fu temple and ‘watch the football on the internet there’ whilst he did some of his moves. I snubbed this particular offer.

Instead, I returned to an empty house as Momo and Danny had gone to Thailand for the week. This mean I could sit in front of the TV in my boxers with a beer and without feeling any guilt. It was a fantastic end to the evening, until Stoke scored.

Since I now work in Guangzhou twice a week it is often nice to see some people I know from there. On the Monday evening I decided to get back in contact with Andrew. We met for a pint in a bar near his work and had a couple too many. It was nice to have a good catch up with him though as I had only seen him once since he allowed me to stay in his apartment in my first week. As it turned out I woke up the next day in Patty’s old bed…she wasn’t there.

Despite being slightly hung-over and tired, the next day was one I had kind of being living for…payday! It had taken me 47 days in China but now I was finally alive again! What surprised me was that I was not hit with a spontaneous urge to go and spend it. Instead, I don’t want to touch it at all. Perhaps the financial struggles of the last few weeks have taught me the true value of money. Hopefully I can look back on the time I had no money in China as an accomplishment, or I may look at it as a lesson in stupidity…either way I must’ve learnt from it.

In order to celebrate having the money to socialise I decided to go with Kiran to a house- party in the evening. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect from it so just took along a couple of beers in the hope that would be ok. When we arrived it was instantly apparent it wasn’t going to be anything like the house parties experienced at uni. Instead, the hosts were two middle aged American ‘free spirits’. But it was exactly the type of atmosphere that I needed. I believe a large portion of the Foshan Westerners were at the party, along with several Chinese people. There was pizza and endless beer. I managed to have conversations with many different people throughout the night. Many more interesting than others; Cameron appeared to be very much like me. He had been in China for 4 months having graduated from Bournemouth University. It appeared that he had a similar job to my first one. There was also, Mike, owner of Little Italy, who had a Chinese wife obsessed with Arsenal and had supplied the party with Pizza. Later into the night a lad turned up who looked a little shaken. After introductions he told me it was his first day in China from Canada…good effort making it out. Then came a short silence as we both thought of what to say next; he filled the gap with “some mushrooms can cure cancer”…to my surprise he was being totally serious. I looked around to see if anyone else was listening…and everyone now was. I think the bloke was a little nervous, and I can guarantee he regretted that outburst.

Later in the week I joined some of those that I met at the house party to an English speaking pub quiz nearby. As it turns out many of the teachers in Foshan come from the same agency in Britain, so the pub had about a dozen Brits in it. Although we spent most of the night with them I came away feeling as though I didn’t really want too much association with most of them…although they did seem like nice people. We split into teams of 4 for the quiz, and I was teamed with Cameron, Kiran and a man named Dom from Canterbury. Together we weren’t such an intellectual force but we did get a few of the tricky ones. My main contribution was recalling the Ghana capital city, Accra, and then claiming it was a guess (it wasn’t a guess but gave me an excuse to pull a surprised face when it was read as the right answer). It was quite an enjoyable night and one that I may visit on a few occasions.

Away from the Western socialising, I also met with Vivian and Sally for dinner as they have returned from Changsha to Guangzhou for no particular reason. I am not sure how they are surviving with no job but they don’t seem to be too worried about it.

Saturday once again came around and I was looking forward to this one as it was FA cup final day. Since I had the house to myself I suggested to Iain that he comes to watch it with me. After work I took him to Little Italy for some dinner where I hoped to meet with Mike (from the houseparty) and watch the game in English there. It turned out that Mike had broken his foot the night before and wasn’t there, nor could he come to the Guangzhou football with us the following day. Instead we at a pizza and then went to a place known as ‘Peasants’ which is basically a corner shop selling 30p beers with tables outside. We then went back to my apartment to watch Man Utd win the league and Man City win the cup. It would probably be fair to say that football results haven’t quite been going for me whilst watching this TV.

There came the end of the week, the next day will be my first visit watch Guangzhou in the Chinese Super League…which I am Super excited about.

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