Home Sweet Nanshan
After 21 days, 10,000 miles, exams, lesson plans and a stay in a ridiculously posh resort hotel, I have finally made it to the place I will call home for the next 10 months.
I have a little bit of catching up to do. Let me start with the Silver Lake Resort, because it was such a ridiculous adventure and I think it bears sharing.
We rolled into Shenzhen around 9pm on Wednesday night, elated to be off the train and psyched to be in “our” city. After a 45-minute bus ride through downtown Shenzhen, we pulled off the main drag onto this kind of twisty mountain road that led past a lake to– wait for it–a PALACE. Where we parked. And disembarked. Now, the Silver Lake Resort is not actually a palace, despite the minarets and distinctly palatial structures. On the other hand, compared to the adequate but unfussy accommodations we’d had in Beijing and the 18-inch plywood beds we’d been sitting/eating/sleeping in for the previous 25 hours, it seemed like a paradise. Opulent, even. The room that my roomie and I walked into led first into a living room that we shared with the two boys across the hall, and we ventured onward to find a tastefully decorated hotel room with an adjoining bathroom that was (at least) the size of the room. With an amazing, huge, sprinkly shower head. Which provided hot showers. I cannot stress this enough. The more used to lukewarm water you get, the greater the luxury of a hot shower seems. It was magical. And our room was actually pretty small and unexceptional compared to the absolutely gigantic and palatial rooms that some of our members got. One suite had a master bedroom with an eternity tub, an elevator, and remote-controlled curtains. Insane.
We were also fed a buffet for 3 meals a day. Free food is always a winner, even when it is spaghetti made with ketchup next to chicken feet in mushrooms. No, I am not kidding. I ate a lot of fruit for three days.
Today we had the contract signing ceremony and banquet luncheon with the contact teachers and heads of our schools. It was a strange day, because we had to pack everything the night before, and show up for the contract ceremony at 9:30. We were ushered into a big hall, where our schools awaited us with massive bouquets of flowers and name cards. As I think I mentioned, I’m placed at a school with another CTLC teacher named Stephanie; we were met by our contact teacher, whose name is Wallace, and the vice-headmaster Mr Zhong, both of whom have been incredibly kind and solicitous since we shook hands. The contract ceremony, which took forever, was followed almost immediately by a Chinese luncheon, and then we all pretty much dispersed. I had roughly 20 seconds to tell my roommate goodbye before we were scuttling off to grab our luggage and head toward the waiting car.
Stephanie and I have been talking most of the day about how ridiculously lucky we’ve gotten with our apartment situation. Consider the fact that we were all told we would be lucky if we had more than one room to our dorms, let alone anything more than a bed and a hotplate. Oh, and a fridge. These were our expectations. Instead, I walked into my apartment to find a spacious living/dining area with a largish (for China) fridge, a nice sturdy dining room table, and a flat screen tv; off to the left is my bedroom with a double bed (score!); and around the corner is a kitchen with a sink, hotplate, microwave, toaster oven (again, score!) and a coffee pot. I also have a brand new washer and a separate room called the “wetroom” in which I have a western toilet and shower. It is exactly how it sounds. There is no partition between the toilet and shower, and there is a drain in the floor. It’s strange but it works.
I am also sharing the apartment with several shetland-pony-sized cockroaches. As a result, there are now roach traps all over the apartment. Guh.
In all though, it’s going to be a great little place to live, and certainly better than what I was expecting. Major points for that. Now I just need to get out and explore…