I am unable to download my own photos as the internet cafe computers don't have USB ports, so for the moment I am stuck with 2 useable photos - sorry!
Bianca, my co-volunteer, and I are going to another school tomorrow - one that seemingly has a computer with, possibly, USB ports, so. who knows, all may not be lost! We have been persuaded to go with promises of better facilities, a newer school, a room of my own, younger, brighter pupils, slightly smaller classes and last, but by no means least, the offer of the equivilent of approx. 100 pounds per month! This offer is for 'travelling expenses', which makes one wonder how much travelling is going to be involved. We will live at the school but I suspect that it will be in a more remote location than the current one. I also suspect that there will be very much less to do in the evenings (no western-type bars, restaurants, etc) and we could be quite isolated, but if the living and working conditions are better, I think that it will be worth it. The appearence of 3 cockroaches in my room the other day was the clincher! My bedroom is approached through the kitchen and that was obviously from whence they came, which has been a bit of a turn off, eating-wise.
My other news is that I've decided to return to the UK a month early. I contacted the travel agent who is arranging the return train trip just to enquire about the possibility of changing but she has gone ahead and made the changes, so it's a bit of a fait accompli. So, I will be teaching for 3 months instead of 4 and returning to the UK in mid September instead of mid October. I have to say that a sense of relief accompanies this decision as living conditions are quite squalid, although, of course, this could change quite dramatically with the new school! But I imagine that I will be quite redundant by July anyway, as the schools are embroiled in exams, then break up in mid July.
Yesterday, having finished our 'orientation', we were treated to a ride on the Li River on a bamboo raft. It was a perfect afternoon, weather-wise - warm and sunny and the scenery was beautiful (the above picture, but green!). It's a bit overcast today, but,so far, no rain!
So, I think the teaching starts in earnest next week, then we have a 5 day holiday, starting the following weekend. The place we will be going to is called Yongfu and is about an hours' bus ride from Guilin, in another direction. I hope that this turns out to be the right decision as I don't think we will be able to reverse it, but it is only for another 10 weeks. If I sound a bit negative, I think that it is because there is no-one here of my age and the move to Yongfu makes it even less likely that I will meet anyone of my age. Ah, well... I'll be in touch again soon.
(Sunday) Well we have just arrived at the new school and things seem to be pretty good. We live in the teachers' block and have what almost amounts to a suite of rooms! I have a bedroom with a COMPUTER AND INTERNET!!!, another small undesignated room, a sort of kitchen with a sink and washing machine and a squat loo (with a stool with a large hole in the seat perched over it!). The loo doubles as a shower room. I also have curtains!! The bed is still prison issue and the rooms very sparsly furnished, but I'll get it cleaned up and it'll be fine! The important thing is to be able to contact anyone anywhere and at anytime, so be warned!
The staff have been very welcoming and there seems to be more and better food than last time. But we are remote! A bus runs into the nearest town every half an hour, so that's ok and I think that the secret of survival will be to get away every week end, so have made plans accordingly! I think it will be an interesting experience and, possibly, a more authentic one than if we had stayed in Yangshuo. The pupils seem very friendly as well and we will start teaching on Tuesday.
The rain continues to fall and the weather is much colder than normal for the time of year. We are surrounded by flooded paddy fields, water buffalo and Chinese farmers in 'coolie' hats, with trousers rolled up to their knees, planting rice. It's like a geography lesson come to life! These were the pictures of China I remember seeing at school at the age of 12! Until next time...