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Natalie Bowie’s First Shandan Bailie Report – Feb 2014


Natalie BowieNatalie Bowie, our new Shandan Bailie teacher, has sent in her first 2 diary entries.   The first covers a briefing meeting prior to leaving.

The second was written from the airport as she was about to fly to China to take over from Brendan Corbett.

Feb 11, 2014:

“Yesterday I was fortunate enough to meet up with Brendan (my predecessor) and Jimmy (his predecessor) at a pub in Auckland.  For 2 and a half hours they regaled me with stories about Shandan over a pint (or two).  Some of their stories were so absurd that I suspect I will save them for another time when I encounter equally similar random events myself!  Instead, I figured a quick synopsis of the pros and cons [of Shandan] might be more appropriate…..


  • The amazing, friendly people
  • The incredible culture
  • Losing weight (the healthy way due to amazing food and their passion for fitness)
  • The music room
  • The trips out to the Gobi Desert
  • Being treated like a celebrity
  • The basketball courts outside my window
  • How fit I am going to get!
  • The yummy food
  • The lack of pollution


  • Cold showers
  • Electricity that comes and goes at random
  • Struggling to breathe due to altitude (Shandan is 2000 metres high)
  • Constant changes in timetabling for my classes
  • Seemingly random events that I will be asked to speak at with no preparation whatsoever
  • Losing weight (the unhealthy way due to food poisoning)
  • The most dangerous part of nightlife in Shandan – the potholes in the road
  • Being treated like a celebrity

“In my mind I certainly know which list wins.  Both Brendan and Jimmy said that teaching at Shandan has changed their lives. I think that, if they could, they would both be jumping into my suitcase and coming along with me!!

Feb 17, 2014:

“It’s feeling Real!!  Last post in NZ! [Editor: the latter refers to Natalie’s blog, see below].

“Well I am sitting here at Auckland Airport, its 11.45pm and I am thinking it’s probably time I went and found my gate.    I suddenly realised today that I will actually be standing in front of 40 students on Wednesday who will all be expecting big things of me and the nerves really started kicking in!   Mum, being the ex-primary school teacher, had plenty of good ideas for my first lesson so at least I should be able to get that one out of the way before I need to do some more serious browsing of the internet for lesson plans!

“It has been quite a surreal last few weeks.  I have been completely overwhelmed by the support from everyone.  I certainly didn’t imagine that so many people would be interested in what I was doing and where I was going.  Words like ‘inspirational, brave, admirable’ have really embarrassed me and I have felt incredibly humbled by all of the words of wisdom that have come my way and all of the good luck messages I have received.

“I hope that I can stay true to my plans and blog here at WordPress as much as I can.  I have recently heard that WordPress is unavailable in China so I will see how I get on!

“Right-o, 10 minutes until boarding.   Best be off to put on my compression stockings, buy my trashy novel and poke around the shops one last time……”

Editor’s note:  In fact, Natalie’s fears for her blog not working have proved to be unfounded.  If you are interested in more details on all Natalie’s reports, click HERE for her blog.  This includes lots more photos as well.

Natalie Bowie, March 2014