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Posts Tagged ‘life’

This post is a little overdue but it is also very important as it is likely to be my last post on this blog. As you may have gathered from the title my time in China has come to an end. I had every intention of writing this post from the airport as I waited for my flight out of China but there were a few other posts I hadn’t written yet and so many photos I still wanted to share from the holiday to Guilin and Yangshuo that it just didn’t happen. This post does come on a rather auspicious day however as it was on this very day, two years ago, back in 2009 that I left Cape Town International Airport with a one-way ticket to China.

I think you’ll agree that something’s just not quite right about this photo…

It is hard to sum up the last two years in a single post but with any luck you will have been following my adventure via this blog so all that is left is for me to do is to give you my impression of China. Writing this several weeks after leaving China I am able to look back on my time there with some perspective. There are several people I’ve met that have asked me, “how was China?” and my response has been this, (more…)

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Today I collected my passport from the Hangzhou Police Bureau after my application for a tourist visa as my Residency Permit has expired. The tourist visa is valid for 30 days from the date of application but they take a week to process so despite applying for it on the 24th June, it was only issued today, the 1st July and expires on the 23rd July. Add to that the fact that whenever you stay in a hotel in China you must have your passport it makes life a little difficult.

My 30 day tourist visa only really usable for 22 days.

With that out of the way it is time to be a tourist and see some of the sites of China. The only place in China that I really want to see and still haven’t is Guilin and especially Yangshuo just to the south of it. For those of you who don’t know anything about it here’s a little teaser. It is said to be one of the most beautiful areas of China because of its characteristic karst peaks that rise up on either side of the Li River. You may well have seen some of these images in picture books about China and it is so beautiful it is also the illustration found on the back of the 20 Yuan bank-note.

So tomorrow, Margaurita and I catch an overnight train for the 20+ hour journey to Guilin where we will spend 3 days and hopefully get to view some of the must see sites including the Elephant Trunk Hill.

Elephant Trunk Hill, Guilin (Wikimedia Commons)

After that we will head a little further south, probably on a river cruise, to Yangshuo for 4-5 days which is a smaller village and backpacker haven with lots of activities like biking, bamboo rafting, fishing with cormorants, rice terrace tours and more amazing views of the karst peaks rising up all around.

Karst peaks along the river (Wikimedia Commons)

Bamboo rafting on river (Wikimedia Commons)

Hopefully it lives up to these pictures and expectations. I probably won’t be posting much while travelling, I’ll be too busy trying to take as many pictures as possible of the landscape but rest assured there will be full reports on the trip with lots of pictures when I get back. Maybe even some more HDR images so stay logged on.

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The time has come, the day has arrived, I’ve taught my last class and now it’s time to say goodbye. I’ve finished my second teaching contract here in China and I thought it would be nice to look back over the last 9 months and my experience teaching in a primary school. You may have seen some of my exploits in these previous posts classroom antics, bittersweet ride to workstaff tour to see the flowers and the day we got beer at lunch. Today however I’ve gathered some never before seen photos like this one.

Student Feedback - don't take it personally

I also took some pictures of the school grounds to give you a better idea of where all this took place and put them together in a video slideshow. Even better, I’ve used the song that gets played everyday at the end of school over a loud-speaker system in every room so you can have the full experience.

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Beigan Shan(Mountain) is more of a hill that divides Xiaoshan into North and South. I used to drive through it via tunnel to go shopping and now I can see it and the monument on top of it from my apartment but in all the time that I have lived in Xiaoshan I haven’t gotten round to climbing it.

Google Map of my area of Xiaoshan and Beigan Mountain

I could say that I was waiting for a clear day and there is some truth in that but you can count the number of days with high visibility in China on one hand so this last weekend the weather forecast looked descent and so we woke up early and set out to climb the mountain and see pagodas and monument up close.

Panorama at the bottom of the stairs of Beigan Mountain

With a backpack carrying water and snacks, and cameras in hand climbed the first set of stairs to this plaque of Chinese characters with the view slightly spoiled by the workers hut to the left and especially his underwear hanging out to dry. So we didn’t linger and headed straight up the stairs to the (more…)

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We were told only a week before that the school was having its sports day (or days) last week Thursday and Friday. Not only that but we were on the teachers team number 5 and were to report to the canteen after classes that day to practice jump rope. Needless to say I was hopeless with my timing as was always the one ruining the rhythm with the group jump rope so it was decided I would be running. How far was still unknown.

We all know stretching is important

It wasn’t until our 2nd and last practice the day before that we found out the running option was in fact a 6 x 150m relay. Each runner having to run half way around the slightly smaller than regulation track. It isn’t too far but the nerves then started to kick in. I can handle losing in a 100m dash, but dropping the baton and disappointing 5 other team mates wouldn’t go down well. So we did a few practice hand off runs at jogging speed and that was it. See you tomorrow. Friday came and it was 41 degrees in the shade; the hottest day we’ve had this year. (more…)

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With only a few days left we had done most of the must see items on our list so it was time to just kick back and relax. That being said I had some doctor’s appointments, just checkups, not being daring enough to trust the Chinese medicine practitioners or their propensity to prescribe dried plant roots over FDA approved antibiotics. I got the all clear from the dentist but the dermatologist was a different story and I was scheduled for minor surgery the following day. I won’t bore you with the details but all went well.

my mom and Di catching up on the deck

By chance our trip happened to coincide with one of my mother’s best friends 60th birthday celebration. Her family and ours have been friends as long as I can remember as well as having gone on several holidays together over the decades so it was great to be there for that and catch up with some old (no pun intended) friends. The weather was just perfect for our last couple of days as you can see from the photo above. As is customary with the bigger birthdays, Di made a speech which was very funny as she ran through how each of the people there that night fitted into her life with the backup of a slideshow with a few surprises but it was after dinner that the party really started… (more…)

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In the distance you could hear a low rumble. We sat outside on the verandah at Ilala Lodge as we ate our include breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, yoghurt and cereals as well as an a la carte menu looking across to the mist rising up from the Falls less than a kilometre away.

Welcome to the Victoria Falls, "The smoke that thunders"

According to the Victoria Falls guide, “They are not the widest waterfall or the highest waterfall but with all dimensions taken into account, including almost the largest flow rate, they are considered to be the biggest curtain of falling water in the world,”  and we were just about to see them but first (more…)

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