A weekend in paradise

Hello dear readers!

It’s been another couple of weeks since I penned my last entry, and I guess there’s been quite a lot going on.

I’ve been continuing about my daily life, experiencing more of the ups and downs mentioned a fortnight ago. This daily life has involved studying during the mornings, doing a lot of exercise – thanks in part to the exercise bike I purchased a while ago – and enjoying plenty of cooking for and with friends. Part of the exercise has been through football. A group of us foreigners have been meeting up in the afternoons occasionally, either to play amongst ourselves or to find a Chinese side to beat on the seven-a-side pitches. I’ve got some new kit and boots for the purpose now. But sadly, this dispenses with my final excuse for being pretty dire: “I’m wearing running shoes…”

There was also the semester’s opening ceremony (ironically, four weeks into the semester), where I was asked to make a speech on behalf of the eight of us who received Hainan government scholarships for outstanding study or extracurricular activities (mine was the latter, as a result of the speaking competition). That went pretty well.

Last weekend, Brent, Paulina (his girlfriend) and I planned to go to Riyue Bay. The weather intervened, so it was postponed to this weekend. More on that later…

Instead, Will, Brent, Dani, Vlad, Patrick and I had a bit of a cooking fest on Saturday night, followed by a game of Cards Against Humanity (“A game for horrible people”) and a trip to Which bar. It was my first time there – amazingly, really, given that it’s right next to the North Gate – and was a good fun evening. Apart from Sunderland’s result… Their position is becoming more and more precarious with each defeat!

This week, then? On Tuesday, Brent and I went to a driving range at Baishamen. It’s a really cool place, but is as expensive, if not more so, than in England. He had a contact there, but she sadly stood us up after agreeing to meet us and (potentially) come to a deal of some sort…

After that disappointment I headed back to uni to meet a Chinese friend who works at Yes bar (the coffee place on campus). She’s learning the guitar, so we spent a couple of hours together practising… I hope I helped, but it’s difficult to explain in Chinese, when you’ve forgotten how to play it even in your mother tongue!

I’ve also been budgeting/planning for the next 18 months. A fair bit of proofreading work seems set to come my way over the next month, which is a timely boost to see me through to my summer internship. Even so, I’ve got back in touch with the school to see if they need my services this term – I’m not hopeful though, as there’s a lack of response so far.

Riyue Bay trip

This weekend.

It’s been an awesome trip to be honest. On Friday I was hugely stressed out about getting everything ready in good time, so ran back to the dorm between the two classes to try and sort myself out, before returning to class.

It was at that moment I decided I’d treat these two days as a relax/refresh opportunity, then I’d re-find my bustling, busy self on my return. I’m starting off with this budgeting thing, and will continue by getting my bike fixed up. I’ve been walking everywhere, which is all very well, but it’s easy to forget the little things which ordinarily make me so time-efficient. It should just be a replacement inner tube; I’ve been putting it off for long enough now!

What about Riyue Bay then? On Friday, we took the train from Haikou’s East Station to Wanning, and a taxi from there. Including a coffee, it came to £10 for the whole journey – not bad!

After arriving at 4pm, Brent and Paulina set their tent up, before we took a dip in the sea and an explore. The hostel is a very cool place. It’s a surf centre downstairs, and is a hub of activity – it has a restaurant, skating halfpipe, perfect trees to set up a slackline (next time…), and all sorts of other outdoor installations. I had a dorm to myself on the first night (perfect) but have since been joined by a Korean guy studying in Hangzhou. (Can’t get away from these Koreans!!)

Saturday, we got up reasonably early and took a walk to Shimei Bay, roughly 10km away. There wasn’t much there when we eventually made it, but the weather was perfect for a stroll – sunny with a bit of a breeze. On the way back, we were all feeling pretty hungry after 36 hours of eating fruit and snacks and a good hike, so Brent led us into a tucked-away family restaurant in a tiny village off the beaten track, where we duly ordered an outrageous quantity of food – probably enough for five or six – and felt much better. After a good long walk, we’d earned it!

Then it was back to the hostel for a chill and some more beach time. We’re all fairly tired so plan to hit the hay pretty early after a couple of drinks and a light bite of fruit. The weather certainly isn’t conducive to heavy eating!

Tomorrow’s check out time is 12 noon, so before then, we plan to head for another wander – just along the beach this time. After grabbing our stuff, we’ll head to the roadside and hitchhike back to Haikou. It’s all a bit of an adventure!

From there, my streamlining and re-finding myself starts in earnest! Bring on busy Jack again.

PS. No idea if the below photos will work. If not, I’ll re-upload them when I get back tomorrow!

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Two pretty mundane weeks…

I like to think I’ve been entertaining you over the past nine months, and that there haven’t been many of these posts to endure… Sadly, however, there’s not much to report on in the last two weeks!

My mood has been up and down, as a consequence of events mentioned in my last post. It’s been a bit of a trend: a few good days, where I’m feeling content, then something happens which sets me back (for example, having a minor accidental collision with another pedestrian, who then threw a bottle of orange juice at the back of my head and pushed me over on a staircase via a rugby-style hand-off to the face… And yes, that did actually happen!).

To follow that, I think I’ve had a dose of food poisoning in the last few days, which hasn’t been great. I’ve been pretty much bed-ridden since Friday afternoon, but am feeling more like it now.

Class change

Probably the most noteworthy news was that I changed class. I started out in D-ban, which was just the level up from last semester, but it just took me one day to decide that it wasn’t right for me. Firstly, I found the teaching of the comprehensive class too slow (as well as the fact that I already had come across 75% of the vocab in the first few lessons of the book); secondly, I felt it made quite a lot of sense not to have to see Sunghee in every single teaching hour of every single day. It’s still very difficult to avoid – we live in the same dorm, and the classrooms aren’t far away at all – but it’s something.

So how is E-ban in comparison then? It’s definitely a big jump! I’m learning lots of new vocab, especially chengyu (the Chinese classical idioms), and a couple of the classes are actually more like lectures taught in Chinese than interactive classes. The reading class is a massive leap up, mainly in terms of reading speed required, but again, I am here for 103 more days, so it doesn’t make sense to coast. I might as well make a big effort to improve!

The only class I feel as though I’m missing out on is the colloquialisms class in D-ban. The teacher of that class is great, and you learn some useful, everyday language. So I decided to buy that textbook anyway and study it myself; in E-ban, we have Thursday’s second period free, so I’m setting that aside each week to sit in Coffee World and do the week’s colloquialisms. In conversation with Will, I’ve not fallen behind it seems. I’m sure I miss out on some useful information in the classes, but the book has English and Chinese explanations, as well as plenty of usage examples, so I’m sure I won’t be too disadvantaged.

Other activities?

They’re very few and far between as it stands! I’m doing some more singing and lyric-writing and I’m keeping up with the gym regime… The only few things on the horizon are potential plans made with Brent. There’s a possibility of a Riyue Bay trip this coming weekend to try out surfing and either camp or stay in a hostel. I’ve also enquired at an international golf course nearby and a turtle sanctuary on the south-east coast of Hainan about volunteering (the former, with the intention of angling at a free round in return!) for a weekend. I’m still awaiting responses on both, though…

Oh, and I’ve been round to Dave’s a few times for proper home-cooked food. I’ve since bought my own equipment; it’s amazing how cheap and easy it is to produce filling, very healthy food here. Eating out isn’t expensive, but a big tofu, chicken and veg soup with rice came to about £1.10 each, for three of us.

Otherwise it’s just the usual routine I guess! Hopefully a few things will come up for the next month or two to keep me ticking along. But one way or another, these 15 weeks will slip by, and then I’ve got my internship as the next challenge! Can’t wait! Speak soon (hopefully with some more fascinating anecdotes and news…)

Line in the sand… (bonus tracks included)

Well, it’s been a week to forget here, through no fault of my own. I’ve spent most of it in a bit of a rut; it’s been a really disappointing start to the second semester, considering I spent a lot of the time back at home looking forward to getting back, and planning what I would get up to in the next few months. That’s all changed now, and after a few days of feeling sorry for myself, I thought it was probably time to draw a line in the sand. So I did. Literally.

So what else has been going on? While we’re waiting for classes to re-start on Monday, I’ve been up to a few different things…

Work – One aspect that’s been going really well. The proofreading and editing work has been really busy this week, so I’m well on my way to having this semester’s expenses put aside, allowing me to chill out and not worry. I’ve not heard back from my school here. I assume that means they don’t need me this semester, which I’m not overly bothered about. I mean, the money is good for what it is, and it gets me out and about away from campus, but the proofreading more than makes up for it. Oh, and: remember the agent lady who was interested in my singing? Well she’s been back in touch. Not for singing this time, but for a Chinese couple who want a foreigner to 主持 (compere) their wedding. Another bizarre offer. I’m waiting on a fee, and then I’ll decide if it’s something I’m interested in…

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Singing – talking of singing… While I’ve had plenty of time recently (and back at home too) I’ve been experimenting with GarageBand on my phone. It’s awesome. I attach here a playlist of a few covers I’ve done. Credit also to Stu for drumming (with chopsticks on the side of a bongo) and some vocals. I’ve written some lyrics of my own, but somehow find tunes hard to come by…

Gymming – Obviously… Making more of an effort to both maintain cardio fitness,  built up by running longer and more in England, and improve strength. I gave Will a free week’s pass, and he’s been a few times this week. He may have been unimpressed by my “savage” core and abs workout on Monday, but is now considering joining for the next few months with me and Brent. We’ll see how classes go in the first week, and try and find a suitable routine.

Cheesy chips… on Wembley Way! Getting psyched up for tonight is the next thing on the agenda. And yes – we have found a stall selling chips nearby. Cheese may be ambitious, but chips, we can do. Plan is to get the SAFC shirts, flags, jumpers, greetings cards out, and show Brento the highlights from both semi-final legs as a warm-up… Ha’way the lads.