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Published: September 7th 2014
China! The mysterious Orient...actually mysterious is not really the right word--perhaps 'exciting, puzzling, frenetic, frustrating rewarding...' might start to describe a fascinating country and equally fascinating culture and people.
I am in Jinhua for a four-month teaching gig at Jinhua Polytechnic University as part of an exchange program with Royal Roads University, Victoria, BC, Canada. The intent of the program is to deliver RRU's Hospitality program to Chinese student at JPU. The program is taught in English and the Canadian teachers work with Chinese translator's in the classroom to help facilitate the course. I teach Marketing and Sales: this is my second placement and I have just arrived and anticipate getting going in the classroom in a few days.
I arrived in Shanghai from Vancouver where I stayed to 'acclimatize' and de-compress before heading to Jinhua--this was a bit of a mini-vacation and I played full-on tourist. Shanghai is an amazing city--estimated population is 23 million making it the largest city in the world depending on whose estimates you use--suffice to stay it is wacky! I did the hop-on, hop-off Big Bus tour--great value and a fun way to experience parts of the city that you may not otherwise
The walkway to the Pearl Tower
get to--a 24-hour ticket on all three of the routes is a 100RMB (about $17CAD).
One caveat, however, Shanghai has always been a place of, shall we say, 'personal enterprise'...I was waiting to change buses at Peoples Square, which is, more or less, the centre of downtown Shanghai, when a shoe-shine guy accosted me--I tried walking away and not being out and out rude, but he was very insistent. I reversed direction, thinking I had shaken him off, but he was still there...he grabbed my arm and pointed to my shoe on which he had just squirted a BIG dollop of shoe polish--of course, now I have no choice but to have my shoes shined...aaarghh--mugged by a ninety-year old shoe shine guy...I won't go into how much it actually ended up costing, as that is also a bit embarrassing...oh, well...
I stayed at the Riverside Oriental Hotel in Pudong, which is part of the Shanghai International Conference Centre complex. Nice hotel, great service and very pleasant rooms--by western standards very affordable--I paid $120 per night including taxes and fees. A similar property in Vancouver would be easily double. Generally speaking China is still an affordable (and exciting!) destination--public
Traffic Circle and pedestrian walkway, Pudong
This was taken quite early--it gets very busy on the walkways seen in the distance with tourists and workers. Close to the Pearl Tower
transportation is excellent: inexpensive, fast and reliable. Accommodation is also reasonable and loads of options--check out Agoda for decent prices!
The trip from Shanghai Hongquio station to Jinhua is around 3 hours and costs $17 on a high-speed air-conditioned bullet-type train. A word to the wise--it can be tricky getting a ticket unless you know a local that can book it for you. The self-serve kiosks do not accept foreign passports for ID and tickets need to be purchased from the ticket office, which is ALWAYS busy and often it is difficult getting a ticket for same-day travel. it is advisable to get your local contact to book a couple of days ahead as the rail system is vey busy all the time and you may not get the train you want for the day you want to travel.
I was picked up at Jinhua station by my new translator, Belinda a delightful young lady, who I am sure will be a great asset in class. Jin, my fixer and friend, came by the apartment to make sure I had everything I needed--wifi and so on. The apartment is quite sparse, but has everything I need, including the
Pearl TV Tower Pudong Shanghai
One of the major tourist attractions in China--a few steps away from my hotel
all-important toaster--it is the same unit stayed in last time (2012), so no surprises.
Jinhua is a decent city and I feel quite at home here, given that I am six thousand miles from Nanaimo and my lovely wife Mary and wacky dog, Lewis, as well as my Mum and good friends. But you only live once, right...
I went for a walkabout yesterday and not much had changed, although things like controlling traffic and giving pedestrians a little more safety were obvious--previously, it seemed, that drivers ( cars and scooters) could more or less go where they wanted, now it seemd to be a little more disciplined--pedestians and scooters have quite distinct lanes at cross-walks. This might sounds like a petty concern, but you took your life in your hands at crosswalks when (silent) electric scooters whooshed by inches away from you.
It is still very warm here--today the Weather Network said high of 36-C: feels like 46-C...I think I will wait until it cools a bit tonight before I venture out. The heat and humidity is exhausting and after a few hours wandering about you feel like a wrung-out dish-rag...fortunately beer is cheap...ha!
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