I’m back to the world of social media!! For the last 3 months I have been Working and Travelling in China. No one has heard from me since my last post in Bangkok because even though China now has good internet and access to Facebook and stuff, I just didn’t have time while working. And you can only access Facebook using a VPN which is pretty slow! That’s why not many people in China use Facebook, and it is fair enough; they have “Wechat” which is now my FAVORITE social app. Facebook has so much to learn from its Chinese competition. But then, the whole world has a lot to learn from China!
The other day, I was on a high speed train, doing 307 km/h between Guangzhou and Shenzhen. A few days after that, I was on the 118th floor of the world’s second tallest building. The engineering in China is incredible; unlike anywhere else in the world except maybe Dubai. What used to take 12 hours by slow train between Guangzhou and Yangshuo now takes 2.5 hours and costs about 15USD.
I have been working as an outdoor instructor/program coordinator for “Dragonfly” , a company based in Hong Kong. My job was to oversee programs, taking groups of international school kids on outdoor and cultural experiences. This was the perfect job for me as I got to work in four different locations in China – unlike English teaching, where you will be stuck in the same place the whole time. I got to work in Yangshuo, Zhaoqing, Yunnan and Hong Kong.
While working, everything was very easy. I always worked alongside Chinese logistic staff who were amazing. Everything that was in Chinese was sorted by them. On my weekends though, I would go off by myself to try to get away from work, and it was a completely different world. As a non-Chinese speaker, it is very difficult to travel there. You don’t know the language, either spoken or written. It is very hard to order food unless there are pictures and taking a bus is almost impossible! It’s also unlikely that you will find anyone who speaks English well enough to help. However, the train system and the city underground systems are in English. Once you leave that it’s tough!!
For me, this was great! After travelling for 5 years, everything has become kind of the same and quite easy, even if the language is a bit different. China is definitely the hardest country I have travelled in and it was a great Challenge! There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being completely lost and not having a clue how to find yourself!
After a few months, I picked up enough of the language and could recognise a few characters, so that I could make my way around easily enough!
Chinese people are some of the nicest I’ve ever met. At first they can feel a bit “cold” but once you get to know them they are amazing! Most people know some English but not many are confident enough to speak to you. The funniest thing was when a group of girls would say “Hello” to me and then run away in fits of giggles! As a tall white person, I was pretty popular. You get very used to being asked to take selfies with people. The funniest one was when I had a guy ask if I would take a photo with his wife. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t ask my wife to take a picture with a strange guy!
I had dinner with the family of a friend-of-a-friend and her father had never had a white person in his house before. A lot of people have never seen a white person before, so you get a lot of attention! I love taking photos with people and after 9 months in Asia am very used to the attention.
This was one of the best meals I have ever had anywhere in the world; Sichuan hotpot, with Anya and Queenie. I travelled with these two in Indonesia for 3 weeks in July. You can read my post: Picture Perfect Indonesia from that trip.
China is fast becoming the most powerful country in the world. In my opinion, they already are but some still argue that the USA and China are pretty even. Even though the USA has a much larger GDP, they owe trillions of dollars to China. China is a booming country, growing at 7 percent every year, and they own the money! And lend it to everyone else. If you lend others money you basically have control of them. If you own the money there’s much less that can go wrong. The Chinese are rapidly buying up and investing all around the world, especially in Africa.
There are a lot of similarities between the USA and China and some big differences, but I will talk more about that in a later post.
Pollution is always a big talking point. Compared with places like Beijing, where I was in the south east the pollution isn’t usually too bad.
However, I did see some bad pollution. In Zhaoqing, near Guangzhou, the visibility was under 1km for a few days. The sky was blue but you could hardly see the sun. Most places you go there is always a constant haze and it is very rare to see clear blue sky and clear mountains in the distance.
I think it is very unfair that people in the western world give China a hard time for this. In my opinion, any person who buys cheap Chinese-made goods can’t point a finger, and that includes about 99 percent of people. The western world makes things in China because it’s cheap and there aren’t so many rules. If we paid more for the products, they could afford to follow more rules about pollution. The rules are in place but in many cases, small factories just can’t afford to follow them.
My time Working and Travelling in China was amazing. I recommend it to everyone and I think it’s something we should all experience. China is fast becoming the world leader and this country has so much to offer. From incredible nature, to food, technology and amazing people, it has it all. Outdoor instructing is a great way for people like me who are more adventurous and don’t really want to teach English in the same city for a year. China is slowly opening its borders and it is becoming much easier to work and travel there.
I can honestly say China is the first country I have been sad to leave and I will certainly be going back.