China II: Week 15

I plan to keep this weeks update a little more brief than the last one…because I definitely waffled on last week. Also, I feel a little more excited about the coming weeks as this was my last week in Foshan. But I havent set myself a word limit so the waffling may continue.

Much of the week consisted of saying my goodbyes. However, as I am returning for a day or two I have been telling people who I will see them then, although this is incredible unlikely given the amount of people I have met and befriended over the last 4 months.

Initially my work began with an unscheduled kindergarten morning where my lessons were observed by an external teacher. I didn’t know who she was until after my lessons but she was there to see if my lessons were suitable for parents eyes. This week was the second kindergartens parents week. Luckily she thought my lessons would suffice so I left quite happy.

Before my goodbyes could begin I had the small matter of a Great Britain vs China badminton match to contest. Myself and Cameron were to team up against Carol and her boyfriend. As it turned out more people turned up to play (including a German). This meant we didn’t quite have the intense match was expecting, but you would not have been able to tell from the sweat I produced. Within minutes of arriving on the 4th floor court with no air conditioning a tin roof and close to 40 degree heat I began to drip all over. This was not helped by Carols amazing ability to make me run all over the court. Then, after an hour of play I was able to wring out my shirt…and then my shorts began to fall down because of the volume of liquid held within them. I must have looked like an abstaining crack addict.

My Tuesday began with potentially my last Guangdong morning tea. This meant I had to eat pigs trotter and chicken feet for breakfast, an experience to be remembered but will never be craved. Later, my Chinese lesson was cancelled. I have been enjoying the chinese lessons and they seem to be having some benefit already, if only with my confidence. I am still incredible reluctant to use chinese when other westerners are around out of fear of making a mistake. However, when I am by myself I don’t mind looking stupid and making mistakes (like asking for a cuddle when I actually want a takeaway).

Anyway, myself and Cameron instead decided to have a meal outside at the chinese restaurant. This time we were joined by Kat and Sarah. As the night got a bit late Cameron and Kat decided to retire home but Kat tempted me to a pool party at a bar not far from the restaurant. As it turned out the pool was a paddling pool full of e-coli ridden liquid (that did not resemble water) and contained none of the bikini-clad women I had imagined. Instead, and perhaps ironically, we decided to play pool until we were joined by Danny.

The next day came the first of my any goodbyes to Emily. I still felt bad about missing her birthday the previous weekend so instead decided to take her for lunch/dinner. The previous day she told me that she was ill and had to go to the hospital. Naturally I assumed that something serious had happened. When I met her she seemed bright and happy (as I watched her have her hair washed) and it turned out she had a runny nose. I always forget that the Chinese refer to their GPs as Hospitals.

Once her hair was clean we were able to go for a late lunch. We ate in a chinese coffee shop (like Starbucks with chopsticks). The food was nice but nowhere near as nice as the Muslim noodles i regularly eat for a 5th of the price…not that I’m stingy. As we were walking home we stumbled across a mountaineering shop and noticed some hiking boots reduced from £60 to £16. I intend on doing some hiking during my trip in China so required some boots. However, I don’t think I would have bought them if Emily wasn’t there to tell me I should. If Emily has a legacy it will be in my suitable footwear.

Thursday saw another morning of parents lessons and my penultimate day as an English teacher in China. Luckily for me the children were really up for it and I would count my first lesson among the best I have ever done in China…this made the parents happy but once again I could wring my shirt out with sweat (bloody absent air-con). Perhaps I have a problem? But nowhere in the world is supposed to be this humid…surely?

In te evening I went to Wonderland for the very last time and visited the kindergarten for the last time. My original intention was to see all of the children but I bumped into the head mistress who invited me to her office for a drink (this did not happen the whole time I worked there). At first I thought she was just being nice and hospitable but then she started asking me questions about my future. I could see where the conversation was going and she cut to the chase. She asked me to do 3 days work at the end of the month, do some part-time work for her ‘friend’ in September and return to the kindergarten. I like her as a person but as a business woman she’s not very subtle. I told her i would think about the work at the end of the month (as I am unable to say the word ‘no’) but I will actually still be away then. Eventually I was able to see some of the children and was surprised how some of them have changed in just a few months…there were certainly fewer teeth on the gums of the older children.

Later that night I met with Claire, Judy, Angel, Zoey and Iain for a traditional Wonderland cabbage and spicy food feast. It was great to see them all one last time. I will miss them all.

By 10:30am on Friday I had competed all of my teaching for the term and the only thing holding me to Guangdong was payday (Monday). I was so happy to have good lessons to end the week as it meant I left the school, and work in China, with a smile on my face. Its always nice when that happens.

For a change I decided to get the coach home. I booked into the coach that left at 10:50 only to notice it got to 10:55 and I still had not boarded. I asked an attendant and she told me that there was not enough people for that bus so I will have to get on the next one (what if I was in a rush?). I huffed and sat down, restraining myself from cursing come aspects of Chinese culture that I will never love.

Once I was home I had a little rest (after noodles of course) and met up with Cameron for a meal in the evening. unfortunately we were joined by English Chris. English Chris in incapable of talking about anything but himself, which always sends eye rolling around the table. It almost makes him humourous. However, just before we called for the bill Chris told us that he had to leave so got on his bike and left without paying any part of the bill (apparently he is famous for this). We tracked him down in a bar later and Cameron asked for his share ( I of course said nothing out of fear of confrontation…of which there was none). We all enjoyed the rest of the night together and it turned out Chris was not as bad in a noisy bar.

On the Saturday it was time to say a formal goodbye to Carol and Kiran over a traditional chinese meal that Carol had booked. It was actually really nice and I will miss both of them as they have become good friends. We then met with Kat at Lazy Mamas before I decided to call it an early night (which meant falling asleep at Cameron’s whilst watching Toy Story…perhaps time away from Cameron will do us both good :p).

I saw Sunday as my day of preparation for the weeks ahead. I did not want to start my trip unprepared or over tired (although I have been ‘tired’ for 15 weeks now). It was important that I headed to Tony’s at some point to pick up my pay. We arranged to meet at his at 2pm to give me enough time to get there and him enough time to have an early afternoon nap. When I arrived it turned out that he wasn’t in and was instead an hour away. I didn’t mind but began to question if Tony has been in China too long :p. This extra time gave me the opportunity to go the Tian He to looks for some Guangzhou football memorabilia. I couldn’t find any but did stumble across the ticket office selling Guangdong vs Liverpool tickets for the coming Wednesday. It was slightly tempting but I was not really willing to give up 3 days travelling for the sake of the match. Instead I bought 3 tickets for Danny and two for Tony upon their request. I’m pretty sure Liverpool will be favourites there.

I managed to get back in time for Tony’s arrival and picked up some of my pay, exchanged good byes and headed for the pub to say my goodbyes to Iain and Judy. I wa snot able to stay long as I had football that evening, much to Judy’s displeasure.

Just in time I managed to get home and changed for football. It was to be my last session and we had even more recruits to face the chinese opposition. New nationalities included Italian, Irish and Spanish. Naturally the Italian and Spaniards were very good players, and the Italian was wearing the shortest shorts in the world.

The night, the week and my time in Foshan ended playing blackjack for peanuts (literally peanuts) with Cameron and Roger…a fitting end.

And now. I’m off! I have waited for this for a very long time. Mission: Lijiang, Yunnan province. We shall see if that changes in the coming days. Tomorrow is the day 58 days on the road begins….

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