Main mission today is to get my flat/apartment. I am greeted by the finance manager at the school and taken to view a flat about 5 minutes' walk away. Up on the 7th floor of a 16 storey building, amongst other 16 storey buildings, is my new home for the year. Given the least amount of information I've ever received when signing paperwork and agreeing to a year's contract, I part with £200 there and then, with the remaining £600 expected the next day. After many questions in broken English, I derive that I have signed agreed a contract for one year and will pay 6 month's rent up front. A bit worrying seeing as I haven't even started work yet but a lot cheaper than London! And with a bigger room, air conditioning, a TV and a washer/dryer, I can't complain.
Next on the agenda - bedding, initial (a word used very strongly!) cleaning products and setting up my phone. I'm guided through a very traditional Chinese market with my translator/haggler at the ready and everything is fine except for the phone - my UK phone needs unlocking but at £6 I can't say no. I just have to collect it the next day. All being well I'm back in my new home for the first time alone, with an optimistic view on what needs cleaning.
Bearing in mind I have one bottle of Mr Muscle kitchen cleaner for the entire flat, my first spray and wipe on a bathroom tile proves I have massively underestimated the cleanliness of this place. I sprayed the whole bathroom and decided to go for dinner whilst the toxins air-out.
Being your second day in a foreign country where no-one speaks your language, it’s quite common to order food by pointing at pictures in a restaurant. However, in China, this might not be your best option. I thought I’d ordered a nice beef dish with rice and green peppers. It looked nice in the photo, yet one bite into the pinkish, brown and incredibly soft ‘meat’ would tell you otherwise. Now I had been told previously that organs, namely intestine, can be found on the menu here. So, for a good 10 minutes I contemplated whether what I’d ordered was indeed intestine. It has not been confirmed since, but safe to say, I didn’t eat the rest.
On my way home it dawned on me. It is my first day tomorrow and I have no phone. Therefore, no alarm clock. Now I’m walking around my new neighbourhood, walking into shops doing impressions of alarm clocks. Once they got past the fact I was a foreigner, they realised they didn’t sell alarm clocks. I gave in after 4 attempts and hoped jet lag would run its course...
The first night in my new flat ended with a spot of cleaning.