I am now back in Wuxi after two weeks in the UK; apologies for the ‘blog-silence’ during this period. I flew via Doha with Qatar Airways again. The flight was fine; everything was on time, my luggage all made it and so on. I think years of having to travel via Easyjet and similar budget airlines has lowered my expectations of flying, so it is a pleasant surprise when the air hostesses are really helpful and don’t try and sell you scratch cards.
It was great to see John waiting for me at the airport. We took the Maglev train part of the way, stopped for a quick noodle (Japanese) lunch, and then got a taxi to Shanghai train station. We had to wait some time for our train and Shanghai train station isn’t the best place to hang around (don’t mention the toilets). However, when our train arrived it was quick and clean and we were easily able to get a taxi at the other end.
Despite missing John and having to take an exam, I had a nice couple of weeks staying in Matlock with my parents and with Charlotte in Manchester (big thanks). I was able to meet up with quite a few people, which was great, but there never seems to be enough time to see everyone. I was disappointed not to be able to get over to Macclesfield for a dance with Waters Green (maybe next year?) Thanks to everyone who patiently listened to my ‘Tales of China’ and for feedback on this blog. It is great to know people read it, although I do now feel pressure to make it more interesting.
I currently have terrible jet lag, couldn’t sleep at all last night then slept all day today. I need to find some kind of job, but if I carry on like this it will have to be on the night shift!
Well, we have now spent our first couple of days in Wuxi.
The journey from Macclesfield to Wuxi was okay. We stayed at the Radisson Hotel at Manchester Airport on Wednesday night as we had to leave our little house all ready for our tenants to move into. It was great to be able to relax and go for a swim before our flight on Thursday afternoon.
We flew with Qatar Airways from Manchester via Doha. Our enormous suitcases took us over the allowance and left us with a hefty charge, but we were expecting the worst so weren’t surprised. It is hard to travel light when you don’t know what to expect at the other end.
The flight was fine, but a bit draining. The section from Manchester to Doha was okay. It was a huge plane and the seats were arranged so that we didn’t have anyone else next to us. There was a good entertainments system with individual screens and movie choices, so we spent a lot of the journey watching films and TV.
The leg from Doha to Shanghai was a bit more taxing. We were both so tired and were sitting behind a row of small babies who took it in turns to complain loudly about life’s indignities. So, neither of us had much sleep.
We were met at the other end by Lilian from the Shanghai office of the company that organised John’s teaching position. We were expecting to get the train, but instead she put us on a coach (the train would have meant a change in Shanghai which might have been a bit complicated). We had it in mind that the train would only take 45 minutes, so weren’t really prepared for the 3 hour coach trip! But the coach was air conditioned and comfy and it was really exciting to see the views of China from the window.
Polly, the centre coordinator from John’s school, met us from the coach. We had a bit of trouble fitting our enormous suitcases into the taxi to the hotel. In the end, we had one on the back seat and the other in the open boot with half poking. Every time we went over a bump we thought we would lose half our worldly goods!
We checked into the hotel and John managed to have a shower, but Polly felt the hotel was a bit shabby (it was a bit rough around the edges, but would have been okay). She insisted in upgrading us to a better hotel. So, we packed up our bags and waited for Polly’s friend Alex to pick us up to take us there. We were feeling a bit fraught by now (we hadn’t eaten since the plane and it was now nearly 9pm). When we arrived at the hotel, the Grand Park Wuxi, we were glad we agreed to move. It is really smart and has a bath. We are staying on the 16th floor!
People tend to eat earlier in Wuxi, so restaurants were now closed, so Alex drove Polly and us to KFC (!) to get some tea. Not very Chinese, but we would have been happy with anything at this point.
There is now almost exactly (to the hour) one week before we leave the UK for China. The country seem to be taken over by riots and economic chaos, so maybe now is the right time to leave.
Since my last post we have had a nice few weeks planning, packing and saying goodbye to the people we care about. John broke up from school a few weeks ago and it has been great to spend some time together. I think we are both really itching to get there though and find out all about it.
There are now 35 days before we leave and we have started the process of saying goodbye to people.
We had a barbecue on Saturday to say goodbye to our friends. Our little house and garden were packed, but luckily it didn’t rain (unusual for Macclesfield). I don’t know what we would have done if the weather was bad. It was a lovely day and I felt really touched that so many people came to say goodbye to us.
On Monday Mum and I travelled down to Brighton to stay with my sister. On Tuesday we went on to Waterlooville to meet my Nan, Cousin, Aunts and Uncle for lunch. My Uncle and Aunt have just finished teaching in Singapore and will shortly be moving to the UAE to teach. It was interesting to hear their perspective and get some advice (I will make sure I put my flight socks on before getting on the plane!)
I finished work two weeks ago. My colleagues were all lovely and made a fuss of me , but I still don’t think it has sunk in that I have really left. I feel more like I am on my holidays. I don’t have any work lined up in Wuxi, so who knows what I will end up doing when we get there. It is all very exciting though.