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Visitors and changes

Kennedies in Suzhou

We have had a busy few weeks from the end of April up until now. John’s parents were visiting from the UK. It was great to be able to introduce them to Wuxi and environs. They have been to Hong Kong before, but never to mainland China. They made the most of their time by arranging a tour of Beijing, Xian and Guilin while there were here.

They are currently spending a week in South Korea, but will be flying back to Shanghai for one night only on Saturday. Hopefully we will get the chance to show them the lights of The Bund at night time. The view really feels like something from the future.

I think they have enjoyed their time in China. I was very impressed at their language skills. We arranged a brief lesson for them with my teacher, Grace, and afterwards they were ni hao-ing and xiexie-ing like natives. I also admired their chopstick skills, I don’t think there is a noodle or peanut in China that could get the better of them.

It will be sad to say goodbye on Sunday, but we will be seeing them soon, as well as lots of other friends and family. We have made the decision to move back to Europe this summer, rather than staying for another year. John has a job at a school in Lausanne and now I just need to find something for myself. We will be leaving China on 21 July in order to spend a few weeks in the UK before term starts.

Anyway, we have a lot to do before then. John’s students are now in the middle of exams and I have my own exam booked for 17 June (HSK level II), so all being well, I should have something to show for my studies. We planning a tour of Yunnan Province before we leave. It will be good to have an adventure before we go.

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Back in Wuxi

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!

Travelling and arrival in Wuxi

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.