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Published: December 6th 2013
A Statue from Dongguan
As I peered out my window in Dongguan for the last time the sun brightly shone down as it always did at this time of day. I knew that I would not have the same view the same experience where I was about to go. I knew what lay ahead was something different something needed. To fulfill what I needed to do to be with the one I wanted to be with. Soon I was about to leave here for a new city, a city quite a bit smaller than Dongguan. Both in the amount of people and the size. But in its quality that is yet to be determined. As I slowly pulled away from the window looking around the apartment one last time to make sure I hadn't forgotten anything and to make sure it was clean to my satisfaction. I stop upstairs and looked around thinking about all the memories that I had made during the two years that I was here in Dongguan and at EF Dongguan. All the hope and anticipation that I had when I first arrived had slowly and methodically disappeared over the time. In its place was a routine that I came to
cherish and rely on for a certain sense of sanity. Not to say I still didn't have hope or any expectations at the end but they were replaced like everything else. I grew to expect very little from the city or its people itself. Like myself, most of the people of Dongguan came from other cities throughout China, Bringing with them their own ideas and rural customs. Some were friendly and very helpful while others were not. There are a lot of things one can do and things to see in Dongguan if one knew where to go and who to talk to.
I had seen QiFeng Mountain and went to Humen to see the museum of the long past Opium Incineration which brought about the war with the foreign powers which led the Imperial Chinese government losing and ceding Hong Kong and Macau to the British and Portuguese respectfully. As well as numerous side markets and smaller venues throughout the city. With Dongguans close proximity to neighboring cities like Guangzhou and Shenzhen and shopping heaven of Hong Kong travel to these places were easy targets for day trips. Not that I went to any of these cities too
often. II preferred to stay indoors and concentrate on other matters. I know in hind sight I should have been more outgoing and more adventurous, but that is the benefit of 20/20 hindsight.
The time came that I left the apartment and met my ride; the ride to Baiyun Airport in Guangzhou. I grabbed my luggage and proceeded to leave the apartment leaving some small things that I knew the next day would end up either in the trash bin or someone else’s’ possession. That didn't bother me for the fact that I didn't have room in my luggage to take those things, as well I knew I would be able to purchase those items again once I had gotten to my new location. As I rode down to elevator I knew it was for the last time, at least for the foreseeable future. Although I didn't well up at the thought of it being the last time. I was somewhat apprehensive of the change I was making. I am always apprehensive of change, especially when I am uncertain of what the outcome would be of the change. But I also knew I had to make this
change in order to have some happiness even if it was a small amount. But anyways I am getting off topic. The ride to Guangzhou was rather uneventful, listened to some music on my mp3 player, spoke with the driver a bit and took a brief nap. I arrived at the airport and thanked the driver for his helping me arrive in a timely fashion. Unloaded my luggage onto a trolley and proceeded inside to get my ticket check my luggage and proceed with my pre-flight ritual for which most of you are well aware of. I waited for my flight the approaching time came and I checked in and went to the proper gate. Having my final smoke there I re entered the airport. And proceeded to check in to the non smoking area of the airport walking around finding where I was supposed to be. Knowing that I was rather early for the flight I still wanted to get my bearings in the area. I noticed near where my gate was there was a Star Bucks coffee place. So I decided to sit down for one final cup of the delicious java. I know what most of you
are thinking. That Starbucks is this and that but in my defense they do provide a reasonable tasting coffee similar to that of home. So in lieu of a Tim Horton’s coffee I had to make do with what I had. I sat there watching people going to and fro with the same idea I had finding out where there were suppose to be. Of course this is an airport after all. Down stairs from where I was of course the smoking room. A special area of the airport once you have checked in that you can go and have a smoke. So of course I went and had a smoke after which I preceded back upstairs and sat waiting for the boarding process to begin for my flight to Qingdao. The flight itself was nothing special, nothing remarkable happened. Although as I got to the gate of the airport leaving Qingdao I realized I had left my smokes on the plane. Cursing myself for being careless, I did a quick check to make sure I didn't forget anything else before leaving the airport and going to the hotel for the night before continuing my journey to Rizhao the next
morning. So after booking a room for the night at the hotel I am quickly escorted to a waiting car that drove me to a hotel. Now, I have been in hotels that wouldn't really qualify as one back home here in China. For the most part it’s a room with a bed a TV and a bathroom all the comforts of home. The room itself wasn't too big nor was it too small. I liked it. I quickly dropped off my luggage in the room and proceeded back out to the front lobby to inquire about where one could find a store open this late to buy a pack of smokes and something to drink for the morning that wasn't tea. The kind people at the front desk said that I was to go out and turn left and went back to what they were doing, which to my surprise was talk about actually having a foreigner stay in their hotel. This being the first time that they ever had a foreigner stay with them. So I, armed with the directions that they were so kindly given me went in search and it wasn't long before I came along
the driver and the front desk clerk
The driver that brought me from the hotel. and the front desk clerk that checked me in.
a store that to my surprise was still open. Went in and bought what I needed for my travels for the next day. Last thing I needed was to be grumpy when I arrived at my final destination. I returned to my room then I changed after a quick shower and hit the hay, considering the time almost 3 am. My head and body felt like it was in heaven wrapped by angels I quickly fell asleep. The next morning around 8 am I woke and drank what was left of my Coke and had a morning smoke. Did my normal morning routine and checked out. Making sure that I had everything packed that I unpacked the night before. As I looked around I felt a certain level of goodness about the place, it was nice and clean spacious. As I rolled out to check out I asked the front desk staff about where I can get a bus to RiZhao in my limited Chinese. I felt that my Chinese is getting better due to the fact that i am being forced to use it in times like these and that I had gotten rusty being in Dongguan for so
on the way
on the way to the bus station in Qingdao
long where most people I know spoke English or wanted to practice their English rather than speak Chinese with me. They had mentioned that I could return to the Airport and that there is a bus that runs from the Airport directly to Rizhao. So I went, they had agreed to drop me and my luggage off at the Airport to wait for the bus. Unbeknownst to me, that the bus was going to leave at 10 and i was several hours early for it. While at the airport i had some breakfast, thinking about what I was to do. Would I wait another 2 hours for the bus or make my way to the bus station and take the bus directly there and save some time. After much consideration I decided that was what I was going to do. So I gathered my things and thanked the wonderful staff at the Airport restaurant and proceeded to go to the bus depot. I got outside and showed the person helping the passengers with the taxis where I wanted to go and off I went. we got to the station. Well, sort of. I was dropped of outside and across the
street from the bus station. I was lead astray by a man knowing where I should be. I stayed where he instructed for a good 20 minutes while each passing bus he would either stop and talk to before they would continue on their way to their destination or just not bother talking to them. After awhile i was beginning to feel frustrated by the lack of results by this gentleman. It was at this time he lead my away from the station and across the street him lugging one of my luggage bags behind him and heaven forbid I was not letting him out of my sight with my back. So I followed trying my hardest to communicate with him in Chinese, being that my Chinese is not as good as it should be. I had to listen closely to make full sense of what he was trying to say to me. I was not accustomed to the accent of the people here so I found it somewhat difficult at first. Even as I write this now more than a month afterwards I still find the local dialect somewhat hard to get used to. So across the street and
beyond the underpass I now stand, the man telling me for 90 yuan i can catch a bus to Rizhao. So I handed him a fresh crisp 100 Yuan bill and he gives me a receipt. I stand waiting for the bus along with several others that are waiting for the bus. Only to find out that the bus I am waiting for is not coming this way but heading the other way and that I have to return to the bus station and purchase a ticket properly. So the man a little upset that he couldn't make a brief fare from me, returned the 100 yuan and I returned the receipt and the change he had given me. He was kind enough to help me bring my luggage back to the bus station door so I could purchase the ticket. Of course once there he did ask for a little something for his time and effort. I did not feel of letting do all that work and not get anything out of it. I asked how much he wanted and we settled accounts for a firm price of 30Yuan after all he did do some heavy lifting. I stood
outside the terminal for a few minutes finishing my smoke and looking around trying to make sense of things so far. I snapped a few shots from the camera, and proceeded to go inside and purchase the ticket to RiZhao. The bus was leaving at 9:20 and i had about 5 minutes before the bus was to depart. So I thanked the lady that handed me the ticket and left. I proceeded back outside and next door through the security check and to the proper line for my bus. I had just gotten there in time. I had pulled out my phone and made a quick phone call to the person I was to meet in RiZhao letting them know that I am at the station and at the bus station in Qingdao and should be in Rizhao around noon. We had agreed that once on the bus I was to phone back and hand the phone to the bus driver to get a more accurate time of arrival so that they could meet me at the bus station in Rizhao. Well needless to say the bus had arrived about 30 minutes ahead of a schedule. Fortunately for me I
had the address of the school in Chinese so I found myself a taxi and went to the school. Once i was on my way I had phoned the school and informed them that the bus had arrived ahead of schedule and I was on my way to the school. As we went through the relative short distance from the bus station to the school I had a feeling that this city was a fresh start that I needed. A fresh start after much of what happened in the past several months had gotten me down. Was I nervous? Of course without a doubt. Did I know what my future here had in store for me? No. Was I ready for what was to come? To an extent I was but still who knows what the future had laid out for us. Life has a tendency to throw curve balls at us. As the taxi drew closer to where I was to teach the nervousness had increased but being a traveler that I am, new places are a common thing for me. So this nervousness I had was a trusted companion for me. The anticipation, the worry of what lays
ahead. The taxi came to a stop outside the building. I paid the good man took out my luggage and phoned. Needless to say I didn't have a chance to phone the person for they were already outside waiting for the lone foreigner who came alone and from there we had gotten back into the cab and drove to the place i was to spend the next several months. A very spacious home two bedrooms a huge living room, a bathroom and of course a kitchen with the standard appliances. Who knew that so far a month in the only reason for me to go into the kitchen is to use the kettle for making coffee. I had dropped my bags off and looked around to familiarize myself with the apartment and then we were off once more. Walking back to the school. This is so I would know the way. The people that had accompanied me thus far were very pleasant. We had walked back to the school so I can meet my future workmates and I had met some of the students I would be teaching. Looking around at my future workplaces with that of a newcomer a
sense of unease and excitement. Unease for the part of not wanting to say the wrong thing. Excitement for the opportunity that lay ahead. I think I will like this city. After meeting everyone I were to teach and work with (although one person was on holiday i would meet a few days later) I felt a difference almost right away with the people here. I felt welcomed. I had informed them that I was about to head back to the apartment and felt confident that i knew the way to the place. Even on my first day I was reluctant to call it home. For home is where the heart is, and my heart was off in distant parts doing its own thing at least for the moment. I proceeded back to the gardens where I was to live. Made it back to my building placing the key in the lock only to find out that it didn't unlock. So I thought i was at the wrong building. Retracing my steps I eventually found a map of the Gardens and looked at it wondering where i may have taken a wrong turn.
As the sun sets on a
action packed day leading me to a new city and a new lease on life. I lay my head on the pillow wondering what lays ahead for me.
Over the course of the next few weeks I had expanded my exploring techniques to some of the local night markets, and a few of the tourist attractions that this city has to offer. The photos of those places i will put forth to the eyes and amazement of my dear readers as soon as i finish writing about the place. As you know when it comes to my writing I am a perfectionist. Until then my friends.
P.S. For any students of mine from Dongguan that read this. I am sorry for not being able to say goodbye to you in person.
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