So we have just arrived back in Lin’an after a great 6 days in Chengdu,Sichuan Province (bottom left hand corner of China for those geographically challenged),and all at the expense of Sichuan University Intensive Language Centre, our future employers.
We arrived about 2 hours late,and there was a poor little student waiting frantically to pick us up with a school car. They took us at 11pm straight to the teachers’ accommodation only to discover that we were to be put up in the University Hotel, so we finally got there around 11.30pm.
The hotel was not luxurious but quite nice and clean. WE were then instructed that Professor Deng was out of town but would meet us on Sunday (this was Friday night). The next day I arranged to meet up with two foreign teachers, Roger an American and Elisa from Liverpool. These two met us and took us for lunch at an Israeli owned restaurant called The Spot,which serves hamburgers and other western delights exactly 5 minutes walk from the campus. It was rather funny to be speaking Hebrew after so long and the owner Amir told us there are about 30 Israelis living in Chengdu, and about 3,000 foreigners – a bit more than in Lin’an!
Anyway it was very pleasant and not too expensive. Amir, who is from Jerusalem, the Yerushalmi family, is married to a Chinese girl and also owns the nightclub next door called the Jellyfish. We enjoyed walking around the University area and finding lots of bars,restaurants and shops.On Sunday we met Professor Deng who came over to the hotel and took us for lunch. The department had planned to take us for the required medical and to register at the police on Monday but we asked the secretary of the office to put it off till Tuesday as we had some questions to ask Professor Deng about the job etc. She said no problem. So over lunch we asked Professor Deng all about the job and what each of us would be doing. It all sounded great and the more time we spent with him the more we felt that Chengdu would be a great move. The campus is not as beautiful as here in Lin’an but it is very green with lots of trees, a(small) lake etc. and it is slap bang in the centre of town. The city is much bigger even than Hangzhou,apparently the population is around 11 million. It has one metro line and more being built. The train station and airport are only about 30 minutes from campus.There is a ton of things to do there, music, theatre, Sichuan Opera, museums and so on. But it doesn’t feel noisy like some big cities. There are loads of tea houses as well and a river.But we didn’t see so much really just the area near to the University. The others told us that there are Metro and Carrefour foreign supermarkets where you can buy whatever you need. The buildings look much older than here and rather tatty,but the classrooms of the language centre have air conditioning unlike here. There are computers and screens but no internet so you need to use your USB if you want to show movies etc in class- no big deal.
Lily Pond on campus
So the next day we went with one of the office helpers Xiao Wu to do the medical- no problems (and they told us no point in going to the police station because we don’t have all the paperwork yet) and to open a bank account to get refunded for the flights and to get paid next semester! Wow, it was all happening. We met some other foreign teachers- Ryan from the US, already fluent in Chinese,Oz (Oswald ) from Oxford and Nottingham University who took us for a curry after the medical, and apparently there are many more teachers some part time. We also met a nice Spanish architect called Pedro who is temporarily in Chengdu with his company.
I told Professor Deng who is such a charming and pleasant chap, that I wanted to observe a lesson and so it was arranged that we would go to his office on Thursday morning and watch Roger teaching the course of students preparing the exam to go to study abroad. This was fine, and the students seemed to be more mature and self confident than my students here (they are postgrads and teachers already) but their level of English was not so great.
So the journey back here to Lin’an was a bit insane. Professor Deng took us for traditional Sichuan Hotpot lunch with Elisa,and we went back to our room to pack up. He took us to the airport in his own car and the flight was supposed to be at 16.30 arriving Hangzhou 18.50.Of course it was delayed and we arrived at 19.45 and the last bus to Lin’an is at 21.00. We had to run out of the airport and jump into a cab across town in Hangzhou to reach the Huanglong bus station in time to get the bus,or alternatively get a private taxi from Hangzhou to Lin’an. Of course we made it and arrived at the bus station at 10 minutes to nine! It was a riot, got on the bus and back to our little room in Lin’an by 11pm.
Next stop -trip to Qingdao to visit Andrea another foreign teacher from Couchsurfing.org and then Shanghai and Tel Aviv! Weird life,right?