The following is the third report of Michelle Elia who is ‘our’ teacher at Shandan Bailie School (SBS):
Six months and I’ve made it and what’s even better is that it is officially springtime in China! I actually survived the winter. Although it’s still cooler than Spring in New Zealand (it’s 1°C as I’m writing this report), anything is warmer than the -20°C I experienced in early winter. So I’m grateful for anything above the 0°C mark.
Both Christmas and New Year’s holidays aren’t really celebrated in Shandan… However, my fellow colleagues made an exception for me! I was wined and dined for both holidays! I definitely missed my family during this time so it was a little hard, but I made it a priority to call them on Skype during the holiday season. Christmas and New Year are also not public holidays here at SBS! I worked right through! Which was totally okay because my students (oh, bless them) threw me a party as well. How spoilt am I? It was exam period during Christmas and New Year as well, so I was very appreciative of the efforts they went to just to make me feel at home.
On a side note, I’ve just had the longest holiday in history. It’s currently 23rd of February and my holiday started on the 10th of January. Yes – you read right! I wasted no time when it came to travel plans. I made my way to South China: Chengdu, Yichang, Zhangjiajie, Changsha, and Wuhan before making my way back to Gansu. The highlight of my trip? I saw the pandas! I visited the Research Breeding Centre for Pandas in China [near Chengdu] and I was the happiest person in the world as soon as I arrived at the front gate. My second highlight of the trip would have to be visiting the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park. I’ve never seen anything like it. The mountain peaks are so beautiful and I even got to go on the Bailong Elevator which holds the world record for being the highest outdoor elevator! I made many new friends in South China as well and I’m hoping to see them again soon.
In my spare time (I’ve had a lot of spare time over the last month!), I read books, exercise, watch documentaries, and try out new restaurants in Shandan. I also go to Zhangye, which is about an hour away, when I feel like exploring the big city. Shandan really has everything I need, so I don’t need to go too far. Before I came here, I always thought that I needed to make trips to the bigger cities to buy necessities but there’s no need. My next wee holiday will be in May so I’m going to head up to Dunhuang (I’m SO excited!) to celebrate my 26th birthday! By myself! It’s going to be fun!
So until then, here are some pictures to feast your eyes on. My next report will be when I’m in Dunhuang [famous for its Buddhist caves]. So keep an eye out for that!
And by the way… Xīnnián kuàilè! (Happy New Year!)
I recently made a video answering my friends’ questions about China on Facebook: Click HERE
– Michelle Elia