One Month In…


Hard to believe it’s already been a month, it’s only been a month since I touched down in Shanghai before being whisked out to Nanjing and then sent north to Binhai. Seems I’ve accomplished a fair amount in the past month. Let’s quickly go over the highlights.

– 1) I love travelling. The difference in my ambient happiness factor on the road versus back in Canada is palpable. I feel slightly guilty because I have a great family in Vancouver but something about that country and me just do not click. I’m great with my nieces and nephews but on most other levels something does not synch up for me. I blame myself for much of it but I do know I feel more at home the further away from Canada I am. Yet I am proud, undeniably Canadian.

– 2) China is cooooooold. Normally my instincts prove accurate, not this time. I figured I was South enough to not need the massive near parka jacket I bought in Suwon years ago. I was wrong. Shanghai, Nanjing and Binhai lied to me! I lied to myself.

– 3) According to Lonely Planet, Binhai is a spot on a map. That’s it. I don’t fully blame them, but in over 1000 pages of Sino information, Binhai got the shaft. Also, punching Binhai into a search engine will direct people to Binhai  of Tianjin, the port suburb of Beijing (and new economic zone), my Binhai requires some Jiangsu love.

-4) I’m writing again. Frequently. Copiously. Yay for me! Thirteen blog posts in the past month, in addition to things taking a while to get sorted and settled. Today I also had some RPG ideas; a short story to explain a language and the basis for another language altogether.

– 5) French proves invaluable. The president of my new job LOVES me because he’s a Chinese man who speaks fluent French, I’m a Canadian who joyfully fumbles in French. Turns out I may just be his favourite hire in recent memory.

– 6) The Chinese love to eat.

– 7) “Saving Face” – as it seems so many Asians adhere when dealing out of their comfort zone is frankly, foolish. I appreciate the etiquette involved but I maintain it is impossible to truly embrace a language without being willing to make mistakes. Today, I misspoke three or four times as I attempted to speak Mandarin. They politely corrected me. I didn’t save face, I landing on it, but people appreciate the attempt to speak a new (four-toned) tongue.

– 8) I love fresh, hand made noodles.

– 9) I was quiet most of the last week thanks to having to do a business trip to Hong Kong. Spending money, hotel and flight paid for? Yeah and yay! I need more of these. Thanks.

– 10) I’ve missed teaching. I doubt I am the best of teachers. I know a lot more skilled ones than I, but I keep things entertaining and educational. With only four students they get the sort of opportunity and attention that most only dream. On the downside, it is *ME* that gives them answers.

– 11) Checked off the bucket list, being paid by a Communist country. Vietnam earns Communism light status, China a much more thorough mark (thankfully not full marks though).

– 12) My time in Dongducheon and Oyu in South Korea taught me about being the Other, in Binhai I’m the Only. There are no other Westerners here. People stop and stare at me. Not cast a quick glance, but stop and stare. Not everyone would thrive in Binhai.

– 13) Ideas, ideas, ideas. I’ve got one in particular percolating in my brain. If I can crack the logistics… who knows… but the thoughts keep forming. Stories. Concepts. Goals.

14) Running amok (all too briefly with) CWB.

It’s only been a month and I’m about to get some (undeserved) holidays, thanks to the looming Spring Festival. (Lunar New Year). I decided immediately I’d spend it in northern Jiangsu province for a couple of reasons; I just got here and am being careful with my coin and once I leave Binhai (for Nanjing) it is unlikely I’ll find myself here again. I want to enjoy and maximize my time in this tiny village of 500 000 plus people in a coastal region of middle China.


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