This return into China has been so busy, so rapid that I’ve barely had time to think where I am …

The cultural bustle of modernity and traditional I still recognise, know and love as the great China experience – but man, getting here and organized has been one frantic, twisting ride.

So, ok, I was applying for job in China online while travelling Armenia …

(I had intended to find work in Turkey following my Central Asian overland journey) to then fly to Bangkok for two Skype interviews including a class-teaching demo to then be accepted but I knew it would be a month or so of waiting around until my papers came thru so I high-tailed it to Cambodia to chill and wait.

Amid this period I had a nasty tooth extraction amid cycles of boozing and solving on-going credit card reissue problems with my bank in New Zealand or lengthy Chinese-visa-document courier issues. But after 5 weeks of hiccups & fuck-ups – it all came to together, fast.

speed clock bullet train shanghai

Zipping by @ 311 km / hour (recently reduced from 350 km after an accident some months ago) towards Hangzhou

And barely in time.

With only a week to get to Shanghai, to meet my employer’s monthly training schedule, I collected my Chinese visa docs and my re-issued credit cards from FedEx & DHL offices in Phnom Penh and then did a medical (required for a Chinese work visa), rushed to the Chinese Embassy with all my docs then booked a flight to Shanghai at a local travel agent, picked up some tailored dress shirts and trou, bought some silk ties at a market and then purchased a powerful, new laptop, only hours before my midnight departure from Cambodia to arrive in China at 4:30 AM.

Luckily, the company sent a driver to pick me up from the airport to deliver me to a very nice, company-paid hotel in central Shanghai, where I crashed out at 7 AM.

shanghai train station platform

Shanghai train station – awaiting the bullet train to Hangzhou

From this point it was a 6 day (44-hour, paid training course) conducted with other new recruits. The other new employees were fun. But soon we were all travelling out of Shanghai to our different bases within the region. But not before another full medical check across town and an observed teaching class in another center right in downtown Shanghai.

The bullet train ride followed. The speed was addictive, the journey bliss – on the road, again.

A quick 50 minutes to Hangzhou from Shanghai. Then another company hotel for nearly a week, to start work, search for an apartment, sign lease papers, open a bank account, get shirts dry-cleaned, make zillions of lesson plans and teach English to adults.

Now, today, the long-haul is nearly over (after 2.5 months) as I move out off the hotel to my apartment and then later go to the PSB (Public Security Bureau) to register my residency before returning to the bank, who gave me the wrong details so that the company couldn’t pay me yesterday – but hey, tomorrow I’ll get cashed up. Maybe.

So I reckon, apart from going back to Shanghai for a day trip to get my Z visa converted into a Foreign Expert certificate, etc, it now may well be time to fully unpack my backpack …

Travels in China – 2012

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