CCTV, Chinese National tv made a video about my life in China.
April 22, Chinese wedding of my 2 friends: Luke and Summer
It’s been a couple of years since I posted something here… WordPress was blocked in China and I didn’t have a good vpn, but this has changed now. I wanted to have contact with the outer world again 😉 I am using Astrill vpn, a good and fast one for only 6 US dollars a month.
A lot has happened in these past 2 years, but one thing stayed the same: I still live in Yangshuo!
A couple of months ago I published an article in China daily about my life here:
My Chinese journey still continues and it will continue for many many years. I love this country!
I just came back from Hong Kong and I have a one year visa now, which is again a big relief. The only trouble with living in China is that you are never sure for how long you will have a visa and how much it will cost you. I go to forever bright in Hong Kong. That agency proves to be the best and the cheapest. I go there in the morning and I can get my visa that same afternoon, so I don’t have to stay overnight in Hong Kong, but I always combine this with some shopping in Shenzhen 🙂 If you want to go shopping for clothes and shoes, you can go to Dongmen (metro station Laojie). There you have some good cheap stuff, but all fake. If you, like me, want to have some decent quality and you want to have a foreign supermarket as well, you can go to MixC mall (metro station grand theater). They have all the foreign brands and a big Ole supermarket at the bottom of the mall. If you want to shop for electronics, Huaqiangbei is the place to be!
I took the train back now, because the night bus is a pain in the ass. I never sleep on the bus as it’s quite uncomfortable (bumpy roads, stops in the middle of the night where they turn on the lights, smelly feet, dusty blankets). The train takes longer: 12 hours instead of 8 and stops in Guilin instead of Yangshuo, but at least it goes very smooth and you can get a decent night of sleep (take your mp3-player with you, because you can have snoring people close to you, like I had 😛 The train is also well-organised: I had the hard sleeper, which has 3 beds: 1 down, 1 middle and 1 on the top. On your ticket you see your compartment and the number of your bunkbed. The lowest bed is the most expensive, 10yuan less and you have the middle or the top is another 10 yuan cheaper. At the beginning of your journey, they ask your ticket and give you a card with the number of your bed, that way, the personnel knows where you have to get off. Half an hour before you arrive they give you your ticket back. There is an aisle next to the beds, where you can sit and look outside. There are also enough toilets and in every compartment you have always a tank with hot water.
That’s a bit of information about traveling in China…
Till next time (you won’t have to wait 2 years now)
I’m back in Yangshuo and this is where I longed for!!! I’m finally home again!
I was a bit homesick in India and Beijing, because I really missed my town, my apartment,… And now I’m so happy to be here again and to see all my friends again. I was surprised to see that a lot of my friends are still in Yangshuo. Some go to Thailand or other warmer countries for the winter and come back in April or May. My parents are still here as well and they say they had a great time here. They like Beijing, especially the great wall and the forbidden city, but it’s a big city and it’s too crowded and too busy. Yangshuo is more on the countryside. The food here is more delicious, the environment is beautiful. It’s nice to see they like it as well, but they couldn’t live here, they say, which I’m glad to hear 😉 Don’t want to have my folks around me here 😛
Tomorrow, I’ll go with them to Shenzhen and see them off. And from next week on, I’ll teach English again in the mornings and will practice kung fu and tai chi again. And I will start learning chinese again. I’m surprised of how much I can already understand, but I still have to learn a lot to become fluent. I ‘m also looking forward to have my own life and my old routine again. Although, in Yangshuo it will never be a routine. Here nothing will stay the same: you can meet new people from all over the world, have to teach somewhere else, have a business opportunity,… You just have to stay flexible the whole time, which I like the most about this place. There are already some opportunities for having a business here, but I’ll see what the future will bring. Right now, I will enjoy living here again and I keep my ears and eyes open to certain opportunities… I’ll keep you updated.
Keep mailing me about what’s going on in your lives. Love to hear your stories as well…
Stay in touch
The teacher training course is finished. We all got our certificate and a white shawl wrapped around us in a final puja (prayer ceremony). We went to the beach and made a bonfire, had dinner and did a funny yoga class. Everyone had a name that was remarkable for them and had to teach a yoga pose. I was kung fu Kathy and had to teach the Jackie Chan pranayama (pranayama are breathing exercises). That evening, we already had to say goodbye to people, who would leave early next moning.
I will miss everyone on the course. They were all great people! I got some good friends now from all around the world. ..
I stayed in Rishikesh for another 10 days and I was a bit bored. It was really hot, so, I couldn’t do a lot of yoga, because I was really suffering from the heat. On 24 march, I went by train to Delhi. That was again a real adventure because of kumh mela, the festival. I had to take a rikshaw from Rishikesh to Haridwar, but they couldn’t bring me to the trainstation, because the city is still closed because of the festival. They could take me to 2 km from the station. Hmmm, picture me with a heavy backpack, a heavy handbag, a yoga mat and another plastic bag in 40 degrees. I didn’t like the thought of walking like that through the crowd, but fortunately, I saw some bicycle rikshaws (they can go into the city) and I took one to the station. I paid the man more than double the price, because I was so glad he helped me, and which was still less than 1 euro.
When the train entered Delhi, 6 hours later, it had something of a scene from a WWII movie. I saw ruins and a lot of debris. Very skinny people in rags were walking or crawling over the debris. It looked I entered a warzone. I could also hardly breathe because of the pollution. The next day, I stayed in my hotel, because I had a major headache and I didn’t feel safe to go outside alone: all the men on the street were staring at me and shouting. The city is really dirty and polluted, you have to watch where you walk and the traffic is pure chaos…
The day after that,26 march, I booked a sightseeing trip through Delhi. But the bus was not what I expected. I booked the luxury thing, which was only 300 rupees (4,5 euros) for a whole day. But the bus was really small, and there was no A/C. The bus was full of middle-aged men, who, as soon as I stepped on the bus, undressed me with their eyes. I felt already uncomfortable. There was 1 guy of 25 years old and we started talking. He was really cute and nice, his name is Guru. He is from Kerala, but works in Bangalore and he was for his work in Delhi and had some free time. We had a terrific day together: we made a lot of fun, talked about all kinds of things and when we visited Qutab minar, a famous tower in Delhi and I had to pay 250 rupees and Indians only 10 rupees, he said that he said he would’ve tried to tell them that I was his wife, so I had to pay less as well, but he thought it would take a lot of trouble. They would’ve checked it. But it was sweet of him.
The tour was finished around 7pm and we had dinner together. After dinner, we walked a bit around in Delhi, but it was too chaotic, too dirty, we couldn’t breathe, there were drug addicts alongside the road giving each other a shot. So, we looked for a quiet spot and sat and talked. We embraced each other and stayed like that for a long while. He told me about his difficulties with girls and how relationships work in India. The parents have a major influence on the girl and the caste system is still strong. I was shocked to hear his story and wished I could say something. Instead, I just held him in my arms and listened. I think he needed that. After some time, we both went to our own hotel and the next morning I had to go to the airport around 7.30 am. I called him around 7 and he came to my hotel to say goodbye. It was sad, we both didn’t want to leave each other. He is so sweet, I like him!!
I’m in Beijing right now. It feels good to be on Chinese soil again, but I will miss India too. I know that I only saw a little part of India, so I will definitely come back to see more. And I want to see Kerala, now I have an extra reason to visit it 😉 My hotel in Beijing is in the middle of the hutongs, really a nice spot. It’s nice and I can’t wait to welcome my parents in China.
I had a great birthday, christmas and newyear!!
First, I had to work on my birthday. I had a job at a hotel where I taught English to the staff. The hotel is near moon hill, which is 45 min cycling from Yangshuo. I always went by bike (it’s a good exercise 😉 I wa nearly there when I had a flat tire, again… It was the 6th time in a couple weeks time already. The manager of the hotel, passed by on her scooter and I asked her if there was a repair man in the village. She said she will already tell him that I was coming. So, when I was at the village, some farmer women yelled at me and took me to the repair man. While he was repairing my bike, they kept on talking to me. By that time, there were already 5 women. It was a great way to practice my chinese and in the end, it seemed that they all had at least 1 son and they wanted to introduce me to their sons. No thanks!!
In the evening, I had an early christmas dinner with some friends at minority cafe, a small restaurant where we sit almost every day now and where the English people told the girls how to make a proper English christmas meal. Poor girls… But the christmas dinner was really good!!! I had nutroast for the first time in my life and some good old English gravy 😀
After that, we went to a new bar, where George, my kung fu teacher knows the owner. He hung a banner with ‘happy birthday’ and gave us a fruit platter and cake for free. We were with 15 people and it was great. I really enjoyed it!
On christmas day, we had a party at Gerd’s. A man from Belgium, Gent, who has a guesthouse just outside Yangshuo. We had to dress up: some came as Jesus, some as elves, 1 as a reindeer and I was a christmas tree. We were with 15 people and had a great time. The food was delicious, Gerd even had a deep-frier, so we had good Belgian fries… It was also 15-18 degrees, so we sat outside the whole evening. After dinner we danced for quite a while. Around midnight, I went back together with Russ, a friend from England. And because there were roadworks, I fell with my bike. I didn’t feel a thing, untill the next day: my chin was swollen and the skin was scraped off, I had a couple of deep cuts in my right leg, some bruises… I had difficulties with eating for a couple of days, but that’s all better now!
On newyear’s eve, we hired a KTV (a karaokebar, which is very popular in Asia, but last month we found out that you can also put on some dance music and have your own rave party) and invited everyone we knew. At first, we sang some songs and around 11pm, we put on the dance music. At one point, there were some 40 people. It was great fun, but around 12.30 a lot of them left: all the chinese people went home, because for them it was just a regular weekday, they had to work the next day. We went to a dancing club on west street: the stone rose, where apparently all the other westerners were and danced there for a couple hours. When the music there became too cheesy, we went to kaya, but there weren’t many people left and we left after half an hour. It was already 4.00 We ate some rice noodles, before going home (dancing makes you hungry) and went home after that. It was a great start for the newyear!!
On January 8, I’m flying from Guangzhou to New Delhi and will do a yoga course in Rishikesh. After that I will visit the Taj Mahal, and from there I will go to Kerala by train, a journey of 46 hours… I don’t know yet how long I will stay in India. It depends on the fact if I like it there and what things I can do. I’m really looking forward to it!!
After leaving this place for 3 weeks to go and visit family and friends in Belgium, I’m glad I’m back home, in Yangshuo. I missed my little town! I flew from Paris to Hong Kong, which was exhausting: 11 hours on a plane and I couldn’t sleep. I flew from Paris on Friday evening 11pm and arrived in Hong Kong at 6pm Saturday evening local time (there’s a 7 hours difference). That same evening I went by bus to Guangzhou, because I wanted to meet a Chinese friend there who works in a hotel and I hadn’t seen her for almost 2 years. It was really nice to see her back! On Sunday morning, another Chinese friend called me at 8am. I was still sleeping and the first minutes I didn’t know where I was. I dreamt I was still in Belgium and there I was, lying in a hotel room with someone on the phone speaking in Chinese. That was a real shock! I had a nice day in Guangzhou, but I wanted to go to Yangshuo as soon as possible. On Sunday evening, I took the night bus to Yangshuo and finally after 8 hours, I was in my town ! The soon as I saw the karst mountains, my heart was pounding and I knew this is my home, it’s not in Belgium anymore… That Monday I saw some friends again and we were all happy to see each other again. We missed each other a lot! I didn’t sleep that Monday nor the next night. I was too excited and overwhelmed. Everyone was telling me about what they’ve done the past weeks and about their plans for Christmas and New Year. The first few days I ate everything I had to miss during my weeks in Belgium: chao da chow mien (fried peeled noodles) at gan’s, shucai tang mien (vegetable noodles soup) at minority’s, making huo guo (hotpot) at home, eating snacks and fruits, drinking cha… I love this life!! Every day, friends are calling me or they see me on the street and they say that they’re glad to see me back. On Thursday, I had Chinese class again with Janie and Tom. Janie told me that maybe Tom and I are on a different level, because, Tom practiced his Chinese a lot and I didn’t. But after 3 hours of class (!), in the end my head couldn’t take it anymore, she was amazed and said that my Chinese is still really good and that I will be able to keep up with Tom 😀 Nice to hear that I’m not so bad after all. Thursday evening we hired a KTV, karaoke bar, with 20 friends. At first we sang some cheesy songs and around midnight we danced on some good music. We danced until 2am. The next morning I had to get up at 7am, because there are 2 Israeli girls that want to learn tai chi and I have to teach them. Sihai, the bar I used to dance every weekend, is closed this month, but Friday was the fishing festival, so Ricky, the manager called me that he opened the bar for just that evening. But I was too tired to go out. Yesterday, Saturday, we had a dinner at our apartment. We were with 10 people. Tom made his pumpkin soup and I made hotpot. It was really nice! We had great fun. After that we went out. We went through west street, but it was really quiet. We bumped into Ricky (keep on bumping into him ) and I asked him if the bar could be open at western newyear and he said he will try, but he can’t promise anything, because they’ll do some big construction works to make the bar bigger. We finally found a bar where they played some ok music and we danced there until 3am. I’m also excited of going to India: yesterday, I booked my flight to Delhi on 8 January…