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    Posted November 8, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Life in China

    My China

    My life in China began in 2008, just a few months before the Beijing Olympic Games began. I was to teach English at an International School in the city of Qingdao and, without knowing a word of Chinese I admit to being terrified at lay before me.

    Having never lived in a Communist country before I did not know what to expect but before long, I discovered that life went on pretty much the same as it had in Australia. The big difference was that China was exciting! Everywhere was an adventure. Something as simple as the supermarket could present the most amazing. The day I saw a crocodile's head next to a chopped up shark in the local supermarket had me shaking my head in wonder at the range and variety of food available to the Chinese. The smells, too, were different. But I loved it all.

    I loved how cheap things in China were, bus trips for 16 cents, fantastic Chinese meals for under $3 (including a 600 ml Tsingtao beer), quarterly water bills of about $10. Each weekend became a journey to see what else I could discover. The local markets, the pier and railway area, heading off up to Fushan or Laoshan, watching the Chinese on the beach in summer. Fascinating stuff!
    Of course, when you are in China working you absolutely must gather some Chinese language and I did just that, mainly through the Chinese friends I have made since I arrived. The Chinese love it when a foreigner tries to speak their language. Yes it is difficult, but worth it when you meet someone and say "Ni hao" to them in Mandarin. They simply light up.

    Travelling in China by road can be a nightmare. Road rules are said to exist, everybody says so, but no-one bothers to obey them. I cannot count the number of times I've seen drivers going up the wrong side of the road, or turning in front of on-coming traffic, or forcing their way into heavy traffic, or even just giving up and driving up onto the footpath, scattering the poor pedestrians. One has to be careful, if on foot. I was hit once by a taxi driver, luckily not sustaining any injuries but I let him know just what I thought of his idiotic driving. He had a red light and I had the green to walk but he just ignored that and clipped me! So be careful!!
    Some other cities I have been fortunate enough to visit include Beijing, Shanghai, Xi'an, Shenzhen, Nanjing, Pingyao and Datong. All have their attractions and each is an adventure. There are many things that differentiate Chinese culture from the West but you must remember that this is their country and this is the way they live. You have to get used to the hawking and spitting, for example. I put up with it but I've never liked it and thankfully not all Chinese people do it.

    I have quite a few Chinese friends who will be friends for life. They are wonderful people who work very hard for very little, something I wish I could change so they could live an easier lifestyle. I miss them all.
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