Medicals and Mobiles

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Jul 09, 2012

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Flag of China  , Hunan,
Monday, August 16, 2010

The early start was easy enough and after a bit of messing about, we found ourselves on a bus to the medical centre at near as damn it 7:30am. The hustle and bustle of Changsha at rush hour meant our bus driver had to avoid errant mopeds and pedestrians on the drive through town. I must admit to been a little worried after the umpteenth near miss as we jerked our way through the jammed up centre. We arrived at a fairly official looking building with dozens of locals filling out forms and queuing to get the relevant checks and health forms. Fortunately Jacqui and Mary took the process out of our hands and went and began the long process. Most of the perspective teachers had at least some of the medical checks completed and breezed through the process; others like Hugo had to go off to various different rooms to be poked and prodded by a Chinese doctor. After a bit of wrangling I managed to get all my medical documents up to scratch and after a rather uncomfortable x-ray I had all the right ticks in all the right boxes. The whole process seemed to take forever, but it was only about 11.30 when Jacqui hailed our King Long minibus and we headed in search of food. Along the way I talked with some of the newer arrivals. Lorne a pent athlete from Oxford and Freya a recent Oxford grad seemed to be sociable as we discussed the various different ways we had travelled to Changsha. Also in the group was Freddy, a St Andrews graduate from Arizona and Niall a Londoner who was quite but seemed on the level.

The restaurant of choice was a large traditional Chinese style eatery, we headed for two tables near an air conditioning unit and Mary ordered up some food. Over the course of the next 20 minutes a vast array of different foods appeared from the kitchen, all of which were either ridiculously fatty or laced with the hottest chillies I have had in a while. I took a liking to a sort of savoury donut and a red chilli beef dish, which Lorne was having particular difficulty coping with. We had some tea and a plum iced drink which was very nice. After the chilli burning got to be mildy annoying I managed to order a beer, purely for comfort reasons I might add, and the instant it hit my mouth the burning sensation disappeared, Lorne was also struggling so a quick shot of the medicinal Tsing Tao was administered and it seemed sort him out. Along with the nice dishes where a few enigmas, there was a blackened tofu dish that was just about edible, but won't be touching my lips again anytime soon. Another dish was what Jacyi could only describe as 'pigs guts’, after a bit of manning up, me and freddy where eating something that looked suspiciously like a pigs ring piece, after a few seconds our worst fears where confirmed and so a napkin was dispatched and the remants washed down with the remainder of the Tsing Tao. Overall the pigs backside wasn’t enough to put me off my food and so well stuffed we once again headed out on to the Changsha roads in search of a traditional Chinese Wal-Mart. A few near-misses latter we parked up at a very large shopping centre, with Wal-Mart signs adhoring every corner. Me, Hugo, Lorne and Fraya headed off to find some cheap mobiles and adapter plugs.

Finding a phone was a bit harder than expected, after hitting the official shop we found our cheap phone quest may not be as easy as first anticipated. But me and Freya hit Wal-Mart and after a bit of a detor through the weirdly ill, slow swimming fish aisle we found the Wal-Mart electronics department. A little gesturing and hand signals latter we had bought ourselves a couple of the cheapest phones in the shop. Fraya ended up with a LG something or other that she seemed very pleased with, and I plumed for a Samsung that after a bit of messing about with the language settings appeared to fulfil all my Chinese mobile needs. After a bit of shop, during which I bought four bottles of branded soft drink and some chewing gum for 86 pence, me and fraya headed off in search of an ATM. It was at this point we realised we would have to make our first road crossing, my experiences in Beijing meant I was fully prepared for a traumatic experience, I soon realised Changsha roads seem to filled with the same perils as there brothers in the north. After dodging buses, mopeds, taxis and an array of other vehicles intent on pedestrian mayhem we made it back to the sanctity of the shopping centre, we high fived as if we had just achieved a great feat, those who know the roads in China will back up this feeling of joy as you reach the pavement on the other side.

We headed back for our 3.30 rendezvous with the minibus, and all back together we headed off back to our digs. Along the way we hit a series of bumps in the roads that thoroughly defeated the suspension on our bus and meant those stationed behind the back wheels were bouncing off the ceiling. Apart from that we seemed have a fairly smooth ride by Changsha standards. Safely back in the room, me and Tom spent a couple of hours trawling the internet, updating diaries and playing with new mobiles, before we were rounded up for our evening meal. Jacqui dropped us at the campus restaurant, and we met for the first time our American Teacher Alex, he was a business man who had originally entered china with his sights on the automotive industry but after some bad luck he found himself teaching. Jacqui and Mary headed off to get the rest and as the stragglers reached food began to filter through to the table. It was a what is fast becoming a typical Chinese meal with an array of dishes containing pork, chicken beef and fish. The best dish was a beef and potato mix that made us all think of meat and potato pies at the football. Over dinner we began to get a grasp of the TESOL training that awaits us, and judging from Alex’ rather relaxed attitude I don’t think it should be to taxing to get through. When we had all finished we decided to head off for a wander, we walked through the vast campus and on the way we bought a football at a roadside shop. I, Lorne and Kevin our local driver and help stopped off at the basketball courts. We showed Kevin how the Brits play basketball and I think he was especially impressed with my errant shots at the massive back board. After a good chat we headed back to the dorms in search of Air Con and some water. Lorne along with his newly arrived roommate Craig, a 22 year old Bristol native, headed up to our room to use the internet during which time we experienced our first power cut. Hopefully it won’t be too regular occurrence but I imagine that it may become a common nuisance. By this point it was 11pm and with another early start planned for Tuesday, the night was officially over.
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