Did I say that before? China is AMAZING.
Forget any preconceived notions of this being a poor, backward, oppressed communist country. The city of Shenzhen is a thriving metropolis filled with a vibrant energy. It is fast becoming one of the most important cities in China as many of the bigger manufacturing businesses move here. It is a city growing at a rapid rate, and the skyline reminds me a little of Dubai, with cranes dotting the horizon where huge new buildings are under construction.
The area we have chosen to make our base for now is called Sea World, and has a wonderful mix of Chinese people, most recently moved here from all parts of the country, eager to take advantage of the possibilities offered by the booming economy in this area. Mixed in with the local population a reasonably-sized expat community, so we don’t feel too much like the proverbial fish out of water.
The area is quite western in appearance, with a few familiar fast food outlets mixed in with a huge number of local food outlets. There are cafes everywhere – coffee culture has been embraced with wild enthusiasm. In fact, there is a passion and desire for all things western, and we feel we have been greeted with open arms.
Everything is lit with neon at night, and shops, restaurants and bars are open late into the night. There is obviously a lot of money here, judging by some of the high-end designer outlets. But right alongside this modern landscape you can find the more down-to-earth Chinese food outlets where you can eat wonderful freshly cooked dishes for less than a couple of dollars.
We have progressed well in a chaotically busy week-and-a-half. We already have passes for the bus and metro system, and a local bank account with a cashpoint debit card (although no money at all in the account at the moment). We know our way to quite a few places, and have sampled many restaurants – we are already building a list of our favourites.
Vanessa’s friend Chris, who was our inspiration to come to China in the first place, has been incredibly helpful, showing us around, introducing us to people, and generally helping us to settle in. He is teaching English at an English centre near where we live, so he introduced us to his boss. This quickly developed into an interview, and before we knew it, we have jobs as part-time English teachers – goal achieved!
We both taught our first lessons last night. Much of the work is evening and weekends, as the clients tend to want to study English outside business or school hours. Teaching English is big business here, and we have spotted dozens of businesses as we have travelled around. We didn’t really have to do any sort of job hunting, as our jobs practically fell into our laps.
We also have a home now. We spent a coule of nights in our first little hotel close to the port, then moved to one closer to the area we were interesed in settling in. A brief period of visiting rental agencies, of which there are many, produced a spectacular three-bedroom apartment on the 18th floor, with amazing views. The area is very trendy, with lots of restaurants and cafes, and we even have our own ship in the middle of the plaza!
The apartment was a bit dilapidated, but over the past few days we have cleaned and re-furnished, and are really starting to feel at home.
We originally had plans to look for a much smaller one-bedroom place, but for just a little more we thought it would be great to have a room for guests, and to perhaps to rent out via AirBnB. We also have plans to offer an initial accommodation and orientation service for newly arrived TEFL teachers.
So who wants to visit? Your room is almost ready.