Fortunately (on this occasion) it’s all happening at 6am in China – bangers going off or taxis honking their horns relentlessly. As soon as I’m woken up I turn on the TV to find a channel with the time. It’s 6am. Providing I can stay up for 2 hours watching Chinese TV, I’ll be in work on time.
My first day is spent observing one of the other foreign teachers – it’s an insight into the workload which doesn’t appear to be too heavy but the energy does need to be high. I am working in one of 3 schools in Yangzhou, with the other 2 being 30 minutes away in the next town over. I find this out as there is a leaving dinner at an all-you-can-eat-and-drink Teppanyaki restaurant and therefore a chance to meet the other foreign teachers.
After work, but before getting a taxi to the restaurant, we agree that I will start at 12pm tomorrow and I go to collect my phone for the evening ahead. I’m told the phone needs ‘more work’ and that I will have to collect the phone tomorrow and pay more money. I’m in a rush so I agree with the guy who does seem pretty genuine, even if his 2 year-old daughter is playing with lighter fluid and half a phone in the corner.
We arrive at the restaurant where the sushi (all-you-can-eat sushi) is amazing. I’m being my usual self trying to get to know people without saying, or drinking, too much. As is always the case, I’m initially stuck with the less cool cats but eventually I make a break for it and start chatting to the “cooler” kids. We decide we have not drunk all that we could (for the fee of £18 including food) and head to a local bar.
The beers and conversations are flowing but now we are back mixing it up with the locals. I find myself drawn to a group of 4 within which a stunning Chinese girl appears to be entertained by my interest. Eventually she approaches me - thank Christ! – and we begin to speak in completely fluent English. Apparently this is very rare so I don’t hesitate to get her digits and ‘WeChat’ number on a napkin due to the lack of phone. We go our separate ways and I head home with the other 2 English guys but some positive steps have been made.
I get home around 2am – seemingly sober - so with work at 12pm tomorrow I’m not too fussed about the alarm clock issue. I’m sure I’ll be fine.