Blogs from Benxi, Liaoning, China, Asia


Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi February 10th 2013

This is my nephew, so cute.... read more

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi December 26th 2011

By the time you read this post, I should be back from the edge of civilization. Ok, not quite, but probably as close to the edge as I have ever come.Today we are flying from Shanghai to Shenyang and then driving to the small village where Liang’s Dad is from, Benxi. We are staying at a hotel where I have been told to “expect the worst and hope for the best”. Not encouraging. Liang has been hording water from each hotel we have stayed at during the trip like its going out of style. His checked luggage bag is so heavy with water its been a pastime for us to see the reaction each time a cab driver or airport worker tries to pick it up. They usually end up laughing and turning to someone to ... read more
Benxi is surrounded by mountains

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi January 2nd 2011

Benxi Future English School ( is a private language school in the industrial city of Benxi in north-east China. Benxi offers an unrivalled chance to immerse yourself in Chinese culture, in a real working-class city, away from foreigner orientated larger cities, where Western amenities and English speaking locals are close at hand. Alongside my wife, I taught here for fourteen months between 2009-2011. It’s easy to say my time teaching here wasn’t one of unadulterated passion. It was sometimes a long, hard slog. An experience though that has enabled some of my most rewarding and satisfying moments. I doubt I’ll ever get use to feeling like an expendable commodity, where qualifications and experience count for very little. I’ll also never understand how respect can be measured in wealth rather than personal attributes. On the other hand, ... read more
Benxi Future English School Students
Public School Teaching
Benxi Future English School Students

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi January 1st 2011

I still have to pinch myself. After fourteen months and over 1200 hours of teaching, my time in Benxi has come to an end. I was expecting to walk out of school on my last day like a freed Nelson Mandela; the euphoric scent of freedom in the air and visions of a more fruitful existence on the horizon. Strangely though, like a person suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, I had nothing but feelings of sadness and regret towards the city that had held me hostage for all this time. It’s easy to say my time in China hasn’t been one of unadulterated passion. It’s been a sometimes long, hard slog. An experience though that has enabled some of my most rewarding and satisfying moments. I doubt I’ll ever get use to feeling like an expendable commodity, ... read more
Benxi - My English Classes
Benxi - My English Students
Benxi - My English Classes

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi December 26th 2010

This has been my second Christmas spent in China. While last Christmas still felt like the festive season, this year, even with a full day off on Christmas Day to celebrate, failed to ignite the giddy levels of child-like excitement of yesteryear. With just over a week left in Benxi before I can shake away from the shackles of permanent employment once again, this was proving a far more appealing date than the birth of Mary’s first born. As usual, most businesses and shops waited until the last possible moment to put up their Christmas decorations. I’m sure the majority have no idea to the real meaning behind this season of festivities, only the commercial, non-religious side gleamed from Western images. Once these decorations are up, there is little chance of them coming back down until ... read more
Birthday Shenanigans
Birthday Shenanigans
Christmas in Benxi

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi December 19th 2010

Wow! How time flies, right? I can't believe it has been four months since I have been in China. So let's recap. Last I remember writing, I was still trying to get used to everything and seemed to be moving along just fine. Now I'm starting to believe that you can't ever get used to anything here. Everything is always changing. And I say that particularly with the education system in mind. There was a point where I was really starting to feel settled. The kids and I were really groovin. I looked forward to seeing them. The kids at Guang Yu became my favorite. They would come into the classroom during my lunch break and hang out with me. One day, three boys came in with a chocolate surprise. They said, "Here, this is for ... read more
Outside Guang Yu
The Three Muskateers
Lunch Gang

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi November 28th 2010

Since coming to China, adaptation has been key to any successes enjoyed. Being viewed as an expendable commodity, even with plenty of experience and qualifications, has been the hardest truth to swallow. A little sweeter on the ego though has been the celebrity status granted my presence for nothing more than having blue eyes and white skin. You can never grow tired of such attention, whether it be excitable teenagers or giggling mothers. It cannot fail to boost self-confidence levels. With any positive though, there’s always a negative, and like any ‘z’ list celebrity I’m sure would tell you, with ‘fame’ comes plenty of mocking and abuse. Up until now, I’ve taken the mocking and constant gawping in my stride and with only weeks left in the ‘Middle Kingdom,’ I thought I would leave with my ... read more
Benxi Winter Skyline
Benxi Winter Skyline
Benxi Winter Views

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi November 7th 2010

Drinking in China has always been a minefield of potentially explosive situations. Even after learning the drinking customs and the consequences they bring, drinking in China still brings about new experiences that surprise me. I was recently sitting in a local bar with friends, contemplating the merits of English classes that day. As we exchanged stories regarding the questionable behaviour of students and their parents, a procession of eight young Chinese girls entered the bar. They were dressed to impress with high heels, short skirts, and enough make-up to make a clown wince. These beauties wouldn’t look out of place on a night out anywhere in Britain, but here in China, their appearance could only mean one thing: they were prostitutes. Like a police line-up, they sauntered up to the table behind me and stood in ... read more
Benxi Life - Exercise Park
Benxi Life - Card Playing
Benxi Life - Traditional and New

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi October 23rd 2010

I have lost track of the weeks but I have gotten better about the days. October has come and gone like a leaf in the wind. I have taken this time to really soak up China and now I finally feel at home. More or less. Traffic I find that I always choose a taxi with the most aggressive driver. Where that would have originally scared the bajeezus out of me, now I think, yeah, he knows how to drive! There have been a few close calls where I thought we would hit a motorcyclist or a person crossing the street. People here, though they have guts, are sometimes very oblivious when crossing. Horns go off right and left. That has always annoyed me, even back home, and it's more obnoxious here. Especially when I'm crossing ... read more

Asia » China » Liaoning » Benxi September 29th 2010

With my time in China quickly running out, there has still been plenty of opportunities to enjoy festivities in Benxi. In recent days, Mid-Autumn Festival (also known as the Moon Festival) was celebrated, a festival commemorating the autumn harvest, when the moon is at its fullest. There are many traditions related to this festival, the most important of which seems to be the ability to eat as many moon cakes as humanely possible. These cakes, the Mid-Autumn Festival equivalent of mince pies at Christmas are small pastry cakes filled with a variety of sweet and savoury fillings. Moon cakes are a delightful little creation guaranteed to expand your waistline at incredible haste. During an English class I noticed one girl playing around with a couple of these moon cakes under her desk. As she continued to ... read more
Benxi Lake - Boating Lake
Benxi - Street Vendor
Benxi Lake - Temple

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