Getting to know the neighbourhood

Trip Start May 05, 2012
Trip End Mar 01, 2013

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Flag of China  , Tianjin,
Thursday, May 10, 2012


So seeing as we don't head over to the school until 4pm we figured that since we had the day to ourselves we would go for a walk and try to find the major river that weaves its way through the city of Tianjin. Aside form seeing this river on maps and a couple times on our sensory-overload trip in from the airport the river had so far alluded us.

Armed with a keen sense of direction, thanks to the mapping function on Steph's smartphone, we set off from our apartment building in the sweltering Tianjin heat and humidity. After fumbling around for a few minutes we managed to get headed in the right direction and soon enough we had found it. Funnily enough we had found the exact spot that is used in all the promotional shots for Tianjin. The bridge itself was massive and had an array of fancy-looking sculptures and monuments on it. See pictures

Note the the fancy-LOOKING part. We have started to notice that in China nothing is quite what it seems. Everything only ever seems to work up to about 80% of its capabilities/capacity. Its true that you get what you pay for!
Our current example being the golden sculptures that adorn the carriageway look grand and solid, in reality they feel like the are made of cardboard and polystyrene. Still the look is there.

The river on the other hand looked grimy and disgusting, and that's exactly what it was! We took a short stroll along the shore and noticed a dozen or so dead fish floating in weeds just from where we were standing. But still on our way back across the bridge we noticed two locals stripping down and going for a mid-day swim! No thank you!

Since we were both sweltering from the heat we managed to locate a subway station that took us back to our apartment in air conditioned comfort.

That evening we returned to Ao Cheng and before class had Mini Hot Pot for dinner. Hot Pot is perhaps the coolest Chinese tradition that we have come across yet. When you go for Hot Pot the table is set with one large cooking pot that sits on a hot plate. The pot is filled with a sort of soup broth and vegetables, meats and spices to your liking and brought to the boil. Since we had Mini Hot Pot we each had our own pots. They then serve you with a selection of finely sliced raw meet and vegetables which you are able to cook to you liking by dunking them in the pot. They also have a sauce bar where you combine various ingredients to make your own custom sauce to enjoy with your meats and veges. Hot Pot was delicious, definitely something to try again!

The classes we were observing that night were another experience. While Steph had a great time making animal masks with her kids I was in a class with kids running wild!
Every couple weeks the kids have PCA classes. I'm not sure what it stands for but it means that the parents come along a watch and get involved in the classes with their kids. This also means that the kids get really excited as they now have an extra audience! It was cute to see how proud they were to show their parents their drawings but I'm sure a couple of the more hyperactive ones could have done without the extra attention. I'm not looking forward to teaching my first PCA class!


This morning we had our veges our breakfast, only this time since we had stocked up on Soy Sauce they actually had some flavor, horray! We have decided that since most of the meals we have when we are out are meat focused - 80% meat to 20% vege - we will try to eat vegetarian at the apartment and get a good vege serve in for breakfast. It seems to work well so far but could be a differerent story over the weekends when we have to be out the door by 7.30am.

After breakfast we decided to try and find a large vege market that we have seen a couple times on our taxi ride home from Ao Cheng. We walked for about 30min in the direction that we thought it should be only to find a couple schools, one with a whole bunch of different flags up in the play ground including NZ!, and some beautiful European inspired architecture.

At about midday we went up to the adult school that our company also runs and meet Chris who is going to be teaching us Mandarin. We have now organised a schedule and will be starting on Monday afternoon. We will get 2 hours per day with Chris, or one of the other teachers, and hopefully we should be catching up to the level of the other foreign teachers in no time. We are really excited as it will be great when we can actually order items without having to point awkwardly to them!

Sorry for the long post today, it was a rather challenging night in Thursday hence the double whammy today.

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Aunty Pam & Nana on

Whew!! We are quite exhausted... Off to have a lie down now!! This is soo cool...feel as though we are there with you Hugs and kisses

Dad &Lou on

Hi Guys, this is great, and becoming addictive, checkn all the time for the latest installment.
The hot pot sounds like the kiwi boilup, sounds delicious, the river not so.
Lots of love, us xx

carol on

just love your blog you guys, its very interesting and obvious that you are having a good time and making the most of your time there.
Should be lots of vegetarian places to discover as there are many hindu there, and good luck with your mandarin!!!!!

Suzanne Franklin-Gard'ner on

Hi Steph and Evan
Great reading your blog and get a glimpse into your new experiences, seems there are many but you are coping with the different culture - heyk that is what the trip is all about. It sure gives you an understanding of how others live, and also, makes one realise that NZ is still a great place. You are coming into summer so expect the weather get hotter and more humid, but air-con is the live safer. I never thought I would be into reading/responding this way, but here I am-guess never too old to learn!

Tomorrow is Mother's Day here but guess it is not celebrated over th
Bless--lots of love Suzanne
there unless expats! Have fun and enjoy the journey, take care and God

Jane Eyres on

Sounds like you have done really well on your first few days, finding recognisable foods and places! Mandarin lessons will be a real help to you, and good luck with the teaching...remember who is the boss!!!!!!! Lovely to read all about your is great reading. Take care of each other.
Sending love
Jane x

Mac on

nǐ dào nǐ liáng hǎo dōng xi - I am only confident that it won't make sense, but go you good things!! Mxx

Debbie on

The hot pot must taste better than it looks! I will expect a whole new range of recipies being demonstrated when you get back..

Jenny on

I have to agree with Debbie, the hot pot looks like a major challenge - glad you like it!

Sam Humphris on

Looks awesome guys! Amazing new crazy foods that's for sure! Yum!

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