It has been two months since arriving to Anqing in China – our new home for 10 months.
Where do I begin?
Anqing is a different world. It’s definitely what you call “real China” with not a lot of Western influence. There are old men and women doing tai chi in the parks, playing Chinese checkers or cards outside shops with a cigarette hanging in the side of their mouths. The uneven concrete streets are occupied with many restaurants, alleyways, freshly roasted chestnuts, shops, bake houses, vendors and markets dotted around the place. At night, the city is lit up with bright lights and you will be spoiled for choice with the clusters of KTV (Karaoke) Bars.
Photos of the school and Sports Day.
We’re only English teachers but we eat like kings here. Food is crazy cheap and we would often spend as little as $3NZD on a meal for both of us. Many locals here have told us they never bother using their kitchen as it’s easy and affordable to eat out all the time. We’ve had some amazing authentic Chinese food here and some places we just keep on going back to.
So how are we getting from A to B you ask? Our apartment is located conveniently in the city centre so we usually walk or grab a taxi, which is extremely cheap here. Most locals zip around on an e-bike and they say it’s the best way to travel because they are cheap to run, there’s no need for a license, no need to obey traffic rules, you can ride on the footpath, park them anywhere and beep the horn when people are in your way. E-bikes rule.
Ni shi nar guo ren?
There aren’t many foreigners in Anqing, so the locals are like curious meerkats when they see a different face walking down the streets. Of course Alan gets stared at more than me as I’m incognito, but as soon as they try to speak Mandarin to me – I’m screwed. You should see the look of confusion on their faces! But no doubt, some basic phrases get you a long way here.
We have found the locals very friendly and welcoming here even with no spoken communication. The cheerful security guard at our school gate, the owner of the noodle shop just around the corner, Wang who works at our gym, Zhou – our martial arts teacher. We get by with a mixture of broken Mandarin, translator apps and, we’re now masters of charades
Oh. Yes of course, the pollution. Well we’re in China, so that’s a given. There are petrochemical plants here and we can see the smoking chimneys from the school with occasional flames coming out, just casually. But we’re surviving and you take the good with the bad I guess.
Appreciate the difference and enjoy the experience! 😉