48 hours in China

Mayday mayday… I’m homesick as BLEEEEEP.

I apologise for not updating yesterday, I’m using my UK SIM card for internet on my phone and it’s costing me AN ABSOLUTE FORTUNE!! Thank god I left money in my UK bank account. Wow. So far £8 per day. My entire phone bill, when I finally get a China SIM card is only going to cost £11 per month for UNLIMITED DATA and UNLIMITED HOME WIFI!!! £11 guys!!

Okay I’ll back track a little,

Thursday morning we woke up in Ringwood to a fair amount of snow. Like, more snow than we’ve had in Ringwood for about 7 years. Bournemouth had more! My sister and I layered up over our PJs and went outside to take photos before we froze to death. 2 days layer there was about 2ft of snow in Bournemouth. It’s safe to say I’m quiet envious of everyone. ,y colleagues and students went sending me photos of the snow, snowball fights, classes were cancelled. I can’t believe I missed out!

On the hand… this is what I got up to.

My first flight was cancelled so they put me on one at 8:35pm, after my parents dropped me off at 1pm. I was 3kg over on my baggage allowance and I could see the woman wanted to charge me but after about 30 seconds of contemplation she just warned me about being more careful next time. If only she knew how much I had left behind already. My hand luggage was heavy and killing my shoulders, but thankfully UK security is always really easy and well organised.

I wandered around and around terminal 3 for hours, had some food, coffee, walked some more… I won’t lie, I hate terminal 3. It’s so boring. The shops are totally overpriced and pointless. Finally 7:20 arrived and I could go to the gate. Everyone was running around like headless chickens and at least it gave me, and the guy next to me, something to laugh about.

Luckily, I sat next to two lovely ladies who were on their way to Hanoi! And I had no one sat behind me! So the flight was relatively comfortable, even though I have always struggled with flying. I can never, ever sleep. I’m never comfortable. This flight wasn’t too bad. I watched Coco (it’s ADORABLE!! You have to see it!!) and my favourite, Walk the Line (I’m still singing the soundtrack now) and Wonder (with Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson) which was a truly moving film. I think I cried at least 4 times! Plus, ordering an Indian vegetarian meal was the best decision ever – absolutely delicious!!

Unfortunately we were delayed by an hour, which meant we landed AFTER my connecting flight had taken off. There were at least 10 of us in this situation and the minute we stepped off the plane there were about 5 different ground staff helping us. Each passengers name was on a big board and we had new boarding passes issued. I still only had 30 minutes before the next flight took off so I ran through the airport, getting totally lost as I forgot you go through a transfer security check in Hong Kong and absolutely no one was helpful in directing me on WHERE THE HELL I NEEDED TO BE. I was the last one on the transfer bus and finally made it onto the plane.

That flight was also delayed by 45 minutes and they had no vegetarian food, despite offering me the choice of pre-ordering it. So I had a salad and glass of Russian orange juice, which was bright luminous orange and tasted bizarre! I’m still alive though.

Once I arrived in Shanghai, it was all quite simple and I was pleasantly surprised, thinks ‘ooh this is easy’. WRONG CLAIRE. WRONG!!!!! My bags arrived very quickly and as I looked for the exit I felt something just shy of horror. A SEA OF PEOPLE. AN OCEAN. OH MY GOD. And what were they waiting for? Yes, the exit. But why the queue? A bag scan. At the exit. So everyone was queueing up to have their bags scanned before they leave the airport. In theory this makes sense, but it is NOT PRACTICAL AT ALL. There is one X-ray machine, one thin line and about 400 people all trying to push, shove and barge their way through. Twice I had my ankles clipped by some douche with a trolley. As if that’s going to get you anywhere faster mate! Ugh.

My boss’ stepfather in law (lol) was collecting me, but he was nowhere to be seen. Nor did he accept my friend request on wechat (basically Chinese what’sapp) so I messaged my boss and his wife to see what had happened. 20 minutes later he finally showed up, it turns out he had been waiting in the car lol. Not very helpful, especially as I was hungry, tired and very cold. We took a taxi from Shanghai Pudong airport over to a hotel next to Shanghai Hongqiao airport, which took over an hour as we dropped one guy off in a different part of town. This was a culture shock, this drive. Ready for this? 1, they chain smoke IN THE CAR! Now for some people that might be normal, but I felt like my asthma was coming back after 20 years. And 2, they spit. All the time. With noise. With force. Oh my god it’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever experienced. I really, really hate spitting. I find it vile and offensive (you may remember my previous post on manners? Haha)

When I finally arrived at the hotel, the staff were rude. Their English was fine, I didn’t really need to use my Chinese but they were very short tempered and were happy to let another couple push in front of me WHILST THEY WERE CHECKING ME IN. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! No way. I don’t think so.

It took them half an hour and 3 phone calls to check me in. My boss was going to pay over the phone and they just weren’t happy with it. It was gone midnight before I finally got to my room. It was noisy. Kids were running up and down the corridor, people were shouting, etc. So I jumped in the shower, spent forever washing my hair and then ages drying it. Everyone else was making a noise so why not, right? I fell asleep around 1:30am, and had to wake up at 5:30 to get the shuttle bus to the airport.

TWO COUPLES shoved me out of the way to get on the bus. Not a single person helped me with my 4 bags. And this kid was jumping around and shouting. Talk about a painful start to the day. And at the entrance of the airport was that bloody X-ray machine!! Aaaagh it’s such a nightmare! It’s logical in theory but not at all in practice. Again, no one offered to help me, but they certainly didn’t mind shoving me or my cases out of the way!! Check in took ages and the place was like a zoo. I had to pay for excess baggage, which I knew I would. For 13kg over I only paid about £20! They charge £30 per extra kilo back home so I was ridiculously lucky. I barely had time to grab a croissant from costa before heading to the plane. Of course I was the only white person. And I had a window seat next to a rather large woman who was immediately hacking, coughing and spitting into a bag, all whilst shouting down the phone to someone. I was horrified and I think it showed on my face. The air hostess looked at me and said, ‘excuse me mam, would you like to sit at the front?’ YES I BLOODY WOULD!!!!!!!!! I could have hugged her, or cried. I did neither. But I did enjoy my flight in peace and with a little extra space.

The flight was less than an hour and weirdly, we had to have the blinds down and all of the lights off as we landed. Very bizarre. The airport was minute. I don’t think I’ve ever been in such a small airport in my life. We were inside within about 30 seconds of stepping off of the plane. It was dark, dirty and very eerie I must say.

One of my colleagues came to pick me up, which was certainly appreciated, and the drive into the city reminded me so much of Phuket, except for the tropical island thing. It was run down, barren almost. People were working in fields, little huts were people’s homes. The traffic is as mental as I remember. No one follows any rules, everyone beeps continuously for absolutely no reason and you almost feel like you won’t make the drive.

We went straight to the school were I met my boss’ wife and some other colleagues, who all seem lovely and the school itself is amazing. So many lovely pictures, paintings and BOOKS!! The cutest book corner. After dropping off my heavy bags we went to Starbucks for breakfast, and later on I met my boss. I first interviewed with him 3 months ago, so we’ve spoken quite a bit since then but he is just as nice as I imagined. Very professional but a decent person, that’s already obvious.

The contract for my apartment had just been signed so he helped my take my suitcases over, and I finally got to rest. The apartment is awesome. There is so much space!!! I’m fully expecting people to come out and visit me, ok guys? I have TWO BEDROOMS!!! The only thing I find odd is the bathrooms in China, and I know Taiwan is the same, but a toilet and a shower right next to each other?? With no shower basin?? So the shower sprays aaaaaall over the toilet. It’s bizarre and I totally do not understand this! And my hearing doesn’t work at the moment, but that’s apparently because the remote batteries are dead. Even though the remote turns on. We’ll see what happens when I replace the batteries later. Haha. “This is China!”

So I tried to sleep but I was cold, hungry and didn’t yet have a kettle. Or any water. Which meant nothing to drink, eat and no hot water bottle. I had awful stomach cramps and really needed medicine and some comfort. But hey, I survived. Around 4pm Vivi, one of my colleagues, brought over some things for the flat and took me to try and get a SIM card, which didn’t work out, so I took a walk along the river and then a taxi to one of the nearby malls. It was awesome!

Wan da plaza

It’s brilliant. Loads of restaurants, some fresh fruit stalls, fruit juice, ice cream, whatever you’d want!

Plus, my favourite kind of stores. The stationery, random crap, weird phone cases types of shops. Of course everyone was staring at me or following me around, but I felt happy. I could buy things and not break the bank. Of course it’s not as cheap as it used to be when I first lived in China but it’s still much cheaper than the UK! Then went to the supermarket to buy a few essentials. Some girls asked if they could have my trolley because they didn’t have coins, I said yes,and they were adamant that they wanted to send me the 1 yuan (10p!) by the Chinese version of PayPal (more of less) and they were horrified when I said it didn’t matter. That was a funny, odd, experience. I also bought a stove kettle for £2 – hahaha! Who even uses those anymore?

The taxi home cost me £1! What a bargain hey?!

I couldn’t be bothered to cook so I had some koala crackers for dinner and made myself a hot water bottle. Out the new bedding on my bed, grabbed my hoodie and fluffy socks and jumped into bed.

10pm to 9am of sleep, with a 3am snack and quick chat to my mum.

I’m not going to lie to you guys, I cried myself to sleep last night. The homesickness hit hard just before bed. Actually whilst making my bed. It’s the only household chore I hate and my mum almost always helps me do it, this was just another reminder of how far away she is. I didn’t think homesickness would really happen, and certainly not this quickly, but it has. It’s here.

I woke up feeling it. I’ve cried at least 6 times today and it’s only 3pm.

  • I cried when my jeans got soaked in the rain.
  • I cried when they couldn’t issue me a SIM card.
  • I cried when I heard despacito playing.
  • I cried when this kid pointed at me and called me American.
  • I cried saying goodnight to my mum
  • I cried because the ‘taco’ restaurant is actually a steakhouse.
  • I cried when I couldn’t find Starbucks.
  • I cried when I instagrammed about being homesick.
  • I’m crying now as I write this.
  • I’m crying stupidly now about how much I’ve been crying.

Dear god please make my brain realise that being here is a good decision.

I keep trying to remind myself that being here, on my own, without my ex, is so much better than if he was here with me. Being here in my own is 100% the right decision for me and my future. I just hope I am strong enough to stick it out, and not run home like a little baby.

So as I sit here in Starbucks, trying to feel a little normal, I realise I’ve been writing this blog post for an hour, and during this time about 40 people have stared at me, 5 or 6 have pointed at me. I realise that things could be worse. I could be out of a job, struggling for money, trying to get people to notice me, like me, talk to me. I’m certainly not short of the first and third thing here. Everyone’s looking, everyone’s trying to talk. Tomorrow I am meeting so foreign locals for dinner and from talking to them online they seem really nice! Tuesday is football day. I have a lot to look forward to, I just hope it works out.

On a side note, I took a weird electric tuktuk taxi thing to get here, thinking it would be cheaper, the bloke charged me more than double what the taxis do and then had a fist fight with a guy and wouldn’t give me my change…. are you freaking kidding me?!?

I’ll wrap this post up now, I want to head off and find some food and craft stuff. Possibly an extra jumper and a pair of slippers, as it’s only 5°C here!

Addition:

I’m back to where I started this morning, all because no where in this city seems to have working wifi.

ALL I WANT TO DO IS TALK TO MY FRIENDS AND FAMILY!!!

Ok so the second mall I went to was good fun, I already like it there. I managed to buy a sketchbook, FINALLY some nail files, after looking in about 7 different shops!! I got called ugly, by a woman who definitely wasn’t attractive, and then I cried some more.

I took a taxi home, thinking there was a cafe with wifi nearby. WRONG!! Then I walked to two different cafes and neither of them had wifi, so I kept walking, for 25 minutes just to use a western toilet and finally get to a Starbucks with working wifi. All I wanted to do today was talk to my mum. I can’t wait to get a working sim card so I can stay at home and talk to people.

Anyway, I’ve also decided to start a YouTube channel, please let me know if you watch it and if you have any tips! My username is gzxklair and I’ve also made a hashtag for Instagram #gzxklairinchina

Link: https://youtu.be/xkIvv22VLbk

Happy Sunday everyone and stay tuned!

xo

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