A casual Thursday evening The Happy Monk in the City enticed us in to grab free Pimms and gin for a few hours!! And we found out that every last Thursday of the month there is an event here.. next one is Matt's birthday so hopefully some football themed one would be great! Oh and that moment when you realise your boyfriend and you are wearing very similar outfits - not ok. Already we wear the same to work, we cannot wear the same socially haha!!
After getting our first China pay packet this week and reimbursement for our relocation allowance - the first shopping trip in the huge malls in town was insight. Until... I lost my bank card! So, over here, when you go to an ATM the cash comes first NOT the card! So you have to press a few more options to get the card returned. I did not wait for this, I had my cash so off I went! Only to find that in the next shop I did not have my card!!! To cut a long story short, I wasted 2.5 hours in a bank queue on a Saturday, admiring this view (when I could have been shopping I hear you thinking...) trying to get proof of identity from my bank to go and get my card from the other bank where the ATM was. The school admin team were brilliant and provided me with written Chinese of what I needed but they would not unfreeze my card until I came back later with my card... Honestly, so complicated. As I write this (Sun 10th Sept) I still do not have it back as now the Visa is being put in my passport and I need that to get my card unfrozen. Thank you to the bank of Matthew for the time being and I will pay you back!!
Obviously a huge priority for moving out here was checking that I would be able to have my nails done haha. So, a lovely lady, Cloudy, is a mobile beautician and so we had a brunch morning with some of us newbies on Saturday...great job and only £14 for a manicure and gel paint, bargain! 4 hours and 5 people later, what to do with the rest of the day before cocktails in the city for a friends 30th... a big wine and food tasting event at The Hilton, which was about £20!
There were wines from all over the world, including one our favourites since being out here 'The Ned' Marlborough, Sauvignon Blanc mmmm (which I hear you can get in Sainsburys - mum make sure there is some in for Christmas!!) Aside from this, plenty of bubbles and red wine as well as spirits. Add to that a big buffet on another floor, that was dinner and pre drinks all sorted.
There was a big bunch of us there from school, new and old which was good to continue getting to know people. A highlight was the raffle, where you could win anything from butter to wine to vouchers to spend on the wine websites. The best bit was they drew it from the entry ticket - so didn't even need to buy any raffle tickets!! There was a big crowd of us, after a few wines we were getting into it and in the end we managed to win nearly everything, when it was not our number as they found us entertaining (or felt sorry for us)!
We had a couple of hours before heading to The Hyatt hotel so we ended up going into a Rose (rosaaaay, not computer savvy enough to put the accent on!) tasting session. It was brilliant! Who knew there was so much to a Rose (or wine, I am truly growing up now). My favourite of the 7, was a Western Australian, Margaret River Rose about 3 hours south of my Uncle and one made by the wine connoisseur Eddie McDougall. I am now a Rose convert...
Grand Hyatt Hotel: Rooftop bar
Afterwards we headed to 'Party Pier' in Guangzhou which has lots of clubs and bars in one place. We went to Zapata's which was amazing with a live band playing all the hits but with a latin twist (great for dancing) and they gave out geek glasses as you enter as well, which was interesting!!
All in all, another top weekend in Guangzhou!
Although there is a pool on our complex, sometimes it would be nice to go and sit in the garden and enjoy the sunshine somewhere a bit quieter! Not quite a garden but on the 19th floor of our building, is a big rooftop area, good enough to put on your sunnies, take up a chair and enjoy some sun! Here are a few pictures of the view from the top, one side looking out towards the city and the other towards the lake and where we work!
A friend and I taxied into the city by ourselves for the first time since being here - super chuffed that we ended up in the right place!! Went and visited the city lot for a girlie night at a friends flat. The views from their apartments are brilliant.
A casual one, ended up being a big one!! Great night dancing, drinking cocktails and some even got up to sing with the band (the ones that could sing!!) Lovely lovely ladies and a lot of fun had, looking forward to next weekend already!
Off we went to the western markets in Guangzhou, near the station, as were half of China. There are a lot of western clothes, shoes, bags, watches (LOTS of watches!) and people wanting to give them to you for next to nothing. Quality with some stalls was better than others, but there were definitely bargains to be had! The 'fish flops' a friend found were a particular highlight...I played it safe with a hat! Looking forward to the leather market after pay day for all the handbags!!
After a 2 day climbing course I am now a qualified indoor climbing instructor! It was intense with a lot of climbing (shock), belaying, instructing but it was a nice team building session with the PE department! You do underestimate how hot it really is here, until you are out in it all day!
At the end of the week we were whisked down to the bank in town to set up our bank accounts, another lengthy process, but we were fed and watered afterwards in a very nice bar Social & Co. so that made up for it! On our way back from the city centre out to our district a few of us stopped for some al fresco dining. Lots of random food - one dish we didn't pick wisely and it looked and tasted like cartilage - not pleasant...still, no chicken feet or insects (yet!)
We braved the metro and the bus back rather than a taxi... Matt was telling all his really good jokes to the locals!!
After I braved staff netball this evening (great fun and inside thankfully)! Matt and I headed out to the road by our apartment. Lots of street sellers, including fish (which are alive until you ask for one to take home!) Fresh fruit and veg at great prices and then we visited our noodles man again for a quick, cheap supper! Met our neighbour on the way back the other night and she came around with some Red Dragon Fruit which she picked. The lady could not speak a lot of English but we managed to somehow communicate through pointing and acting haha! So sweet! But did have to google what we were actually eating so that I can get some more soon - DELISH, but possibly the most purple thing I have ever eaten!!
I think that the instructions and the title of this post gives you an idea of what happened on Saturday afternoon! A bunch of us Newbies were all sent off in small groups to fulfil as many things as possible within 2 hours... in 38 degrees and humidity of 85%!! So that was an added part to the challenge - luckily there was food and drink awaiting at the finish line. A great way to see part of the city, as for us living nearer the school - we had only been bused in for our medical and IKEA trip earlier in the week. The pictures are much better than reading - winners of the challenge are yet to be announced! Matts rendition of the Champions League theme outside of the Opera House has to be a particular highlight of the afternoon (can't quite work out how to put that on here- sorry)!!
Saturday then carried on well into the early hours with current staff joining us for drinks and our first visit to a Karaoke Place: K-TV. Amazing place on a floor in an unassuming high rise building, where you have your own private room for your party! Then after experiencing my first proper karaoke, we got a taxi ride home for the first time and visited MacDonalds for some early hours food! All in all, a GREAT first proper night out...not so sure about the singing, Wannabe by the Spice Girls, will never be the same again!
First scenes of the Guangzhou skyline
The Canton Tower in the first picture, should be in the background...need to improve on the photography!
In order to get your working visa approved in China, as well as having your medical in the UK, you have to have certain elements re done by Chinese doctors at their discretion. Now, we had read that they could re-do all your medical tests you've had done in the UK, even if you have paid in excess of £400 to have the whole shaabang at specialised clinics. Therefore, we went for the option of a medical test through the GP surgery (around £100) and that did the trick - well for Matt, he only had to have bloods taken, chest x-ray and temperature taken. Now, my form was exactly the same. HOWEVER, the doctor had not stapled the visa photo in the correct place and had not stamped the medical centre name OVER the photo...so I became a human guinea pig in the production line of medical examinations. So, do make sure these little things are done correctly to help get through this process with only a few tests.
So, I mentioned a production line, because it is. There are 2 floors with lots of treatment rooms and you carry your checklist/medical sheet around with you to each door and are examined! There are no airs or graces, you are summoned in, poked, prodded and sent on your way. No bedside manner BUT my word was it efficient!!! I had: a blood test (3 of you sat at a time at a reception desk, 3 nurses behind and your blood is taken in front of the waiting room full of people!!); chest x-ray; ultrasound; ENT check; height; weight; temperature; urine sample (interesting experience in a long drop toilet....); an ECG and a sight test. I think that was all and it took about an hour, rather than a day perhaps on the NHS!!