Monday, 17 February 2014

Welcome to China

Some time ago I saw a list of 20 things which change in you after living in China. So true. Drinking hot water, spitting all over and being tolerant for any kind of weird noises made for example during a meal by Chinese people is no longer weird at all.
4718 m above sea level pass
But anyways - China. Exactly 5,5 months spent in my dream country. 2,5 travelling, rest teaching English (duh! what else white European can do over there :>). I absolutely adore this country, which I probably mentioned in previous post. From the very first moment after crossing Vietnam-China border I was overwhelmed. Maybe not as much as later on, when I was more and more sinking into the world of China. But the positive attitude from the beginning stayed till the end with almost no interruptions. Probably only one or two breakdowns and panic "how can I survive in this place?", but in general I was extraordinarily calm when it came to facing problems.

I hitch-hiked some 5000 km over there, all alone and what should I say? I'm fucking proud of myself. I did it, I survivedthe place I definitely need to visit again.
Hardcore pass through mountainous Sichuan ended in Chengdu - the capital of the province. From there, hitching around 400 km a day, I reached Xi'an with Terracotta Warriors and had a chance to use my fake student card, which I bought in Bangkok, for the first time - it worked all right.
tibetan praying place
yak on my hitch-hiking route
While visiting Yichang - the place of the biggest dam in the world (Three Gorges Dam), I got the humble idea of applying for some teaching positions as I've already found out how easy it was to get a job. On the way to Guilin - one of the top 10 places in China - I dropped by to the house where Mao Zedong was born, and surprisingly I was the only waiguoren (foreigner) over there...
In Guilin I stayed 15 days, 1. because I had to wait some time for my visa extension, 2. I got involved in volunteering as English teacher with quite nice conditions and great environment and nature around. In the mean time, as I expected, I got offered a few teaching positions and after choosing one, went to Beijing to see the agent who organized the school for me. From there I was sent to Harbin, which was like a present for me: I wouldn't be able to visit it on my own due to lack of time, which I would have regretted a lot. Unit 731, which interested me for the last 4 years was/is located in Harbin. Coincidence (fate?) that from all the cities in China I was sent to deal with new visa right in the place I really wanted to visit?
From Harbin I hit the train for a deadly 40 h travel on hard seat with 7 h break in the city with the biggest statue of Mao. How could I miss that! I reached my final destination - Fuqing (pronounced Fuching) near Fuzhou, where I stayed for 4 month, teaching in public Middle School. The best job I've ever had in my life! 3 h a day, 4 days a week, all public holidays off and paid and being the only foreign teacher in the school for 3000 students. The city, or rather town for Chinese standards (only 0,5 mln people) was... very Chinese and not Mandarinian Chinese, which complicated everything quite much. But after fist week of apathy and wishing to run away, I started finding small details which made my stay over there actually damn good time. I loved my students and the other teachers. I loved most of the Chinese anyways :) The best people ever! 
last day and dozens of signatures
miss teacher

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day with Chinese memories.

"enjoy capitalism" so-called democratic tunisia still has a lot to fix.

 Well, well, well...
"we make revolution" tunisia still unstable.
First, I'm leaving Polish section of the blog as I guess most of the people who are interested in my posts in here can more or less understand English and it was quite an issue to translate every post into 2 languages. Second, great apology for abandoning the blog for more than half a year! My laziness and unforeseen circumstances made me do this. Mostly, because I spend almost 6 months in China behind iron curtain of Internet censorship which blocked my blog (even though I manage to open other devil's websites such as youtube and FB). After I came back to Poland (yes, I finally came back home; absolutely temporarily though!) I was really too lazy to catch up with the posts. And I'm not gonna do it now either, as I can't quite imagine writing about my last 7 months of life. I can do some retrospections and digressions in following posts or adding some stories from my time in China.
Long story short, I travelled 2 months in China, alone, hitch-hiking, it was fucking awesome and I absolutely fell in love with this country, and as today's Valentine's day: I'll always love you, China! Later 4 months I spent being so-called spoken English teacher Middle School, in the city facing Taiwan. Awesome time of working 3 hours a day, 4 times a week and earning over $1000 ^^ If that was bigger city, with a little more than 5 foreigners (including me) I'd beg to stay longer. But I'd really wanted to do big homecoming and making my folks drop dead when they saw me (almost succeeded). Anyways, 6 months in China, was probably the best time I've had from those 28 months I was abroad.
Again, unforeseen circumstances lead me to Tunisia for lovely 2 weeks of hitch-hiking, meeting loads of people and smoking Algerian hash. As I had 3 weeks time before flight China-London and London-Poland, and I wasn't reach and spoiled enough to spend it in the UK, I chose Tunisia as my side trip. Couldn't have made better decision!
I was chickening out a bit before going to Tunisia alone and, what's more, with a brave idea to hitch the country. But I did and survived, and had a blast! From the first moments of hitting the road from the airport to Tunis until my last lift back to the same airport, I had only 4 immoral proposals (don't forget: blond European female, solo in a Muslim country - Turkey was 100 worse even with a male travel mate) and 1 semi-dangerous situation (which I, personally "asked" for, as I agreed to go alone to some guys flat - don't ask me why, coz I don't know myself :/). In most of the cases drivers were more worried about me then I was myself. I exchanged dozens of phone numbers and was almost forced to inform the previous driver when I reached my destination. 4 times was invited to spend the night with locals:
village on the desert in the early morning
1. in the desert village near Matmata - village which was a film set for Star Wars. Amazing experience to come out after sunset and see all the stars on the sky and absolutely no lights; and to wake up at 5:30 am to set up the fire to bake morning bread for breakfast. who gave me a lift invited me for a wedding in the village, where I also spent a night and got henna tattoo on my hands.
me and bride at the wedding party
3. random guy on the street of Douz asked me for help with writing a letter in English to his foreign friend. It started like this and ended up with a party in his flat with his brother and friends, drinking beers, smoking hash and making a BBQ inside a room.
4. another driver and his family got so interested in my story, that they invited me to their house some 400 km away from the city I was going to. But because I saved some time afterwards I finally made in to Kasserine, there they lived and stayed there one night. We're still in touch until now.
I really couldn't believe in those people, so friendly, helpful and welcoming. And always greeting you by kissing either twice or 4 times in the cheek. Kinda Polish style (we do it always 3 times).
After China and its size, whole Tunisia seemed to me like a tiny place. I've never had to hitch more than 200 km a day, which makes you feel comfortable without worrying about being too late or having problems with lifts. I've never waited more than 10 minutes for a car (ok, ok, I'm a single female, that helps a lot!), sometimes squeezed between 2 guys, sometimes having really comfortable ride with extra snacks and coffee. Thanks to the size of the country I managed to visit most of the places I wanted to, including 3 or 4 UNESCO sites (I think I've missed only one or two more), but on the other hand I had this feeling I've been doing some kinda race, changing cities almost every day, not like before - staying in one place for 2-3 days and exploring most of the attractions. Anyways, small country, so you don't need much time to see medinas and ports (actually, after being in 2 or 3 port cities, all you see in another medina, another souk and another port, so you get sick of it). I love Tunisian tiles! They're everywhere, in every house and every city, with lovely ornaments and bright colours. And on the last day in Tunisia I prayed in mosque in Sousse, first time in 1,5 years I think. I love the people, food, architecture. Got at least 2 invitation for another weddings and had to make promises I'd visit all those people again in summer or in not specified future. And I will! I really, genuinely want to :)
And now I'm still at home, Radom, Poland. Starting from Xmas Eve, 6pm. i did, what I wanted to do - got drunk, high, stoned, met loads of people, went to dozens of parties, read books and watched films whole days, slept whole day and generally did nothing constructive. I even tried to get a job and lead "normal" life for some time, but well, that's Poland, what's more - that's Radom, where some things are harder to be done than the other. But leaving is quite easy, and that's what I plan to do in near future...
 bakery in Sidi Bou Said