Sunday, 19 December 2010


Yesterday Nanjing's tallest building officially opened, under the jazzy name of the Zifeng Tower. It is just 5 minutes away from our pad so we went to check it out. It is 1,480 ft tall and was built by the same architects as those who worked on the world's tallest building, the Birj Khalifa, in Dubai. It has a shopping centre on the first six floors, many many office floors and then the rather suave Intercontinental Hotel towards the top. It also has a viewing platform on the 72nd floor, which we will be investigating around Christmas/Boxing day as a super dooper treat.

Inside the building isn't as impressive sadly. The shopping centre is half finished, with plaster still muddying up the otherwise shiny walls, and the job just doesn't look done. One of the lifts' buttons were actually only half stuck to the walls, and I think I could have done a better job with the tiles and plastering... shame. Everything here only ever seems to be half completed.

Photographical evidence:

Pretty festive if you ask me.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Caught on Camera

I finally managed to get my one off lecture on British history over with successfully on Wednesday this week. After 90 minutes of waffling, there was to be a Q&A session. I am now recorded on camera explaining why English and American accents are different. Obviously I must have skipped over the part where lots of English people moved over to that part of the world.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Birthday haul

Just to show you all what a birthday in China looks like:

It involves bear hats, fish piggy banks, cat notebooks, rabbit jumpers, reindeer scarves, bunny pens, hello kitty stamps, floral bags and earrings, Taoist books and pink nail varnish... oh and of course, a panda hot water bottle.


Thursday, 9 December 2010

Late night exercise

Everyone knows that in China the elderly have no embarrassment to simply walk around on an evening, clapping, spitting, chatting and most importantly, listening to their portable radios.

The other night upon returning home I passed an old man doing the usual walking backwards evening routine when I heard exactly what he was listening to on his portable device.

Correct. This old man was listening to George Michael's Careless Whisper whilst wandering around late at night in darkened corners...

Monday, 6 December 2010


In a nutshell, my birthday here in Chinalands was an ultimate success. Ate lots, drunk lots, got lots of (unexpected) presents, and had a nice wee trip to Shanghai and back... what more could you ask for.

Here are some photographical highlights:

Nautical themed hotel room... always a winner. As seen in 'The Captain' Hostel on the Bund.

Demolished food, yum yum yum.

And finally, the usual drunken poor photography skills.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Question Master

Last night I was a 'famous English teacher' who took on the role of QUESTION MASTER 3000 at the 5th Annual English speaking contest. Apparently now I am indeed famous, it's how I always planned... 

To kick off the proceedings we had a perky exchange student from India singing a song... in his native language. Now obviously I am all for multiculturalism but an Indian exchange student singing not in English at an English speech contest in China to 99% Chinese attendees was fairly odd. It doesn't even sound possible when you write it down. Then the 13 finalists (yes, there had been first and second stages...) got started on their pre-prepared talks. Most were either on 'If I were Barack Obama' (note: spelt Brack Obama in the programme) or 'If I were Bill Gates' but four of the 13 did 'If I were the President of the University'... and my task was to listen in earnest to their tales and think of a question frantically which I could ask them afterwards... hence, question master. Just about managed to think of a suitable question for all 13, but when it got to Vol. IV of the presidents, it did get a bit tricky to remain original.

We crowned the winner after another exchange student took to the stage and sang not one but two numbers, one of which featured an English rap section. He didn't break into a rap though sadly. He did, however, have rather good dance moves. 

To finish off the night there were many, many photos, and a fair few prizes. There was a first prize, three second prizes, and everyone else was given third place. How's that for fairness?

And just to round off this post, I'll leave you with an image of most lecture rooms here:

 Heads on desk.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Thanks for the giving

We had a rather lovely Thanksgiving pretending to be American with our Americano friends. We had a feast worthy of kings laid out on a very long table which made things quite official. Apparently you don't normally eat KFC buckets as your central item, but I enjoyed that part very much. We also had a wide array of dishes including yummy cheesy pasta, broccoli and crackers, green beans, mashed potato, cheesy mashed potato, turkey subs from subway (oh yes) and then more... plus desserts, which were amazing, and all home-made by the chef supreme David. I had a bit of all three naturally, seeing as I was a newbie to one of the desserts... pumpkin pie! It was uber tasty too.

And now for this week the celebration will be... my birthday! To Shanghai we go...

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


My parcel finally arrived from home. It contained mostly knickers, for my woes with buying new pantaloons here were extreme.

To estimate... the Chinese customs have had my pants for about a month.

Should I still even wear them...?!

"Examination Notification: Your mail has been examined by China Customs."
I liked the flowery touch.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Spoils from last night

My new best friend, Dewey. You think that's naughty... one of our friends borrowed the entire collection of Tin Tin books.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Pandas, Parents and Presents

There are three things I would like to update you on today.

The first is that my favourite door guard guy here in our building, the one that me and Iain call 'Panda man' for his friendly demenour and look-a-likey status to the very animal, saw my Panda jumper today, pointed at where the panda was on my chest, and gave a massive thumbs up. He definitely knows what he likes. And it was clearly the panda and not my actual chest.

The second is that my Parent's Day showcase showdown was a relative success. Despite many of the dads being on their mobiles pretty much the whole time, we had a few laughs, had a rousing sing-a-long, and none of the kids made a mistake which would be the type to lead to them getting no dessert with their dinner that night... hopefully.

The third and final update is that I have now finished my exams with the first four university classes. Hurrah! There's now four fresh groups of students to poke into talking every week, which will definitely be more fun second time round. I will actually see at least one of my ex-students again though... he emailed me and asked for his grade, I told him what he had scored, he asked to be given a better mark of 75 instead. I was very confused after being asked to just give a nicer number, and said I couldn't do that really, not without a resit. So I will see the happy chappy again at Christmas time!

Here is one parting gift I was given:

It's a snowglobe that also lights up with a variety of colour patterns... I love it.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Cleaning and Protesting

Today we witnessed two things I feel I must share. One is China at its best, the other at possibly its worst...

The better event is that here in Nanjing, the government has a street-cleaning van drive around every now and then to spray water on the roads and 'clean' them. You don't normally get wet if you're on the pavement, but if you're cycling next to the road at the time, you get a nice little sprinkle. Usually you are informed of their approach in advance though, thanks to a handy little tune the van pumps out - a bit like an ice cream van, only edgier. This tune once upon a time went like 'doo-doo-doo-dooooo' but today, yes today, they changed the tune to JINGLE BELLS!!! I was most excited. It's like seeing the coca-cola adverts on TV back at home - you know it's nearly Christmas time when the street cleaning van changes its choon to Jingle Bells.

(Fig. 1:It looks a bit like this)

The lesser event of today was that we witnessed our first protest here in Nanjing. At first I thought it was a Chinese police officer's day out - there was literally about 200 officers, no word of a lie. They were stood around in what looked like a solid square, a solid square of police officers on their picnic day. But when we got closer we could see inbetween the officer legs were ordinary Chinese citizens sat on the floor, and they were in fact being surrounded by the police, three officers deep at least... shocker. We wondered whether it was the street vendors protesting about being forcably moved on from their selling hotspots (as that's what we've been hearing recently) but sadly we were too chicken to get too close to investigate. There were even three buses stood waiting, ready for all the policemen to go home in. We walked past as slow as possible and then escaped into McDonalds to get a McFlurry and hide from the law in peace. When we'd hid enough to feel safe, we went back around the crowds to get to the subway, and they had started chanting!! Modern China is a changing place it seems... 

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Power mad

This week and next I am doing my final exams for the spoken English classes at SEU, as after next week I get four whole new groups to start from scratch with again. Maybe I am getting a bit carried away with this new-found ability to grade people, but I'm rather enjoying myself. I'm using the grade scale that I've been set via email - give them a mark out of 100. When I tried to ask for more details I was told that it's fine, don't worry, and a pass mark was 60. 

So - I have dreamed up the ultimate scoring system. This involves a mix of how well I remember each person from the last 9 weeks, whether they giggle or not when I talk to them, and how little they read aloud in their presentations. The top scorers therefore are very well known, non-giggling, non-reading aloud people. They are few and far between.

  And if I hear another person say 'every coin has two sides', I will cry.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Winter's here

It's bloody well freezing here today. 

(maybe not THAT freezing yet...) 

I'm both sad and excited about this... it might be cold and miserable, but it means I can get my mac out again (joy) and also, the numbers of hawkers selling scarves, winter jackets, christmassy jumpers, bobble hats and all those other lovely things are multiplying in the subway...

Claire especially, if I can, I'll get you one of these beauts and send it home with my momma and pappa when they come visit. My personal favourite right now is a white knitted number with three pink hearts on and underneath, "Catch my heart".

Photos to follow...

Friday, 22 October 2010

Teaching and Biking

 I will present to you some photographic evidence of my teaching campus  all the way down in Jiangning... 

Nice and sparse as you can see... Above is the library - the big, sprawling structure of it is certainly a sight to behold, no?

I only teach here one day a week, but its a mission and a half to get down here and a mission and a half to walk around the bloody thing. In the morning I teach at the graduate side of campus, and in the afternoons now I give the British culture lecture at the undergraduate side. It literally takes me 20 minutes to walk there from the grad side, and there is really no reason for the campus to be this spread out, or at least not one I can think of...

In other news, our pretty little bikes took us on a wee bike ride the other day, around the lake in our bike garden, XuanWu. We managed to half-catch a sunset (a rare treat here recently in the smoggy weather) before we were turfed out of our bench by some people with big professional cameras. We weren't about to argue with media-looking types so we cycled off back home gladly. We even stopped off half way and had a muffin and a pastry as a treat for all our hard work pedalling (guess which one I had!)



Thursday, 21 October 2010


I've finally decided what I'll be going as this year for Halloween...

Sunday, 17 October 2010


Yesterday was mission: drink.

Oktoberfest at the Regalia Hotel began supposedly at 1pm and ended at 12 midnight... we were the first people there at 2pm and I vaguely remember us leaving around 11.30pm when the drinks had seen people off. So basically we were ultimate lads and saw everyone arrive and most people leave.

The crowd was half expats, half Chinese so it was fairly entertaining once the beer had worked its magic. I had an indepth discussion with one Chinese gentleman for perhaps an hour, no idea what about, but I must have liked his chat. There was arm wrestling, dart competitions, a small child dressed like Frank Sinatra, some western singers with beanie hats and acoustic guitars, and pour-your-own pilsner... so all in all an event to remember.

We made it home in a taxi by some miracle, with Iain drunkenly repeating 'thank you' to the poor guy the whole journey. This morning we were not a pretty sight. But a McDonalds soon cheered us up...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Bicycle Success!

We are now the proud owners of two 'second-hand' bikes, complete with ding-a-ling bells, baskets (joy joy joy) and two locks apiece. Pray that this bike lasts a bit longer than my unfortunate Papa's bike did in Manchester...

Photo to follow. However, I should let you know now... it's literally a Giant bike:


Just because.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Update schmupdate

I'm not very good at keeping the writing aspect going but I promise I will try my hardest to. I am currently planning for my first ever lecture on British culture, what an intriguing and obviously well-thought out class topic! I have six 90 minute lectures to wow my undergraduate students on the British way of life... any suggestions? My introductory lecture as planned so far includes a fair few video clips, involving Only Fools and Horses, Extras, the Queen listening to the national anthem, Blackadder II with Queenie, and Twist and Pulse from Britain's Got Talent 2009. 

Apart from everyday teaching/planning life we have successfully installed our wireless interwebs, hurrah! And tomorrow is attempt II re. bicycles, so wish us luck. Tonight we are meeting the first ever group of Brits we have discovered in Nanjing so my British culture class is being researched very well. We are going for a very Chinese meal because you know, we're all sino-cised now (!). Actually I am officially legal as of later this afternoon when I will get my passport back from the PSB, complete with my resident permit...


Watering water... what a demand...

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Picture of the Day

To carry on my trend on t'other blog, here is my photo of the day!
Click on it to fully understand this bar's strict rules ...

Back in Black

So I can now get back onto blogspot (hurrah!)
All updates up until this glorious point have been made here:
But now, as this site is prettier and I have some friends yes I do, I'll be posting again right here right now.

This week was a week of joy as it was National Holiday! We all had a week off to celebrate China's founding of the PRC on Oct 1st, 1949. Me and Iain took our chance and got on the only train that had any tickets left, and ended up in Suzhou, only an hour away from our abode, but still... it was a holiday! We stayed 6 days, which is probably a little too long for Suzhou which is mainly feeling the gardens vibe and not much else, but we managed to keep ourselves busy by sleeping late and eating lots.

Highlights of the trip included our day trip to neighbouring town Luzhi which at first sight was more like a model village full of shops rather than an 'ancient water town' but it improved slightly with time, especially after a small child shouted 'hallo!' to us as she stood with her pants down and wiped her behind.
We had our paparazzi days at Tiger Hill (an ancient pagoda just on the outskirts of Suzhou) and at the Humble Administrator's Garden, both major tourist hotspots. We basically had a photo shoot at Tiger Hill, we'd have been rich if we'd charged for every photo that was taken of us that day...

Food wise Suzhou is now my favourite place in China. We fell in love with an all-you-can-eat restaurant called Amazon, which had sushi, chinese food, korean food, and... salad!!!! It even had a chocolate fountain. And it was a mere 6 English Pounds for this delight, with unlimited soft drinks too --- they even had a nescafe coffee machine (ultimate joy!)

Another part of our trip worth a mention was our uber skilled playing of pool. All the hostels and most of the bars had pool tables so we hit that up big style, with me actually improving enough to almost win on occasions, muy impressive. The dorms in the hostels were a bit of an experience, thankfully we only stayed in dorms for 3 of the 6 nights... Chinese tourists are definitely not familiar with dorm etiquette... rustling plastic bags and talking loudly at 6am does not come into my knowledge of hostel practice!

So we are now back in Nanjing sadly, back to work and back to trying to fix our wireless internet. Mission plan for this weekend is also to invest in some bikes, but I had a tantrum yesterday when we tried to barter unsuccessfully in half pidgin Mandarin, half mime, and so we came home with no spoils. Attempt two will begin on Monday... wish us luck.

Saturday, 21 August 2010


I am finally here in China... but having to use a proxy to get on Blogger! So perhaps I'll change to a China-friendly blog site soon.

In the meantime, if it works... my new pad: (Click to view properly)


Retro washing machine:


Dining Room:



Saturday, 14 August 2010