Monday, 25 February 2008

The bus trip to the city

On Saturday we caught the bus into the city of Shaoxing. There are regular buses from opposite the West Gate of the College, and we line up with the other students. When the bus comes there is a rush - it is not uncommon for the bus to be already fully loaded, but everyone squeezes in to fit more in.

(I don't know whether I look like a weary senior, or whether it is the blonde hair, but each bus trip I have been offered a seat by either a young girl, or an older gentleman on the return trip.)

One of our trio, M1, had already been in Shaoxing so we felt some comfort in knowing that he knew his way. The ride was fascinating as the bus weaved its way through traffic of all sorts, and one wonders how there are not more accidents.

The bus stops at the railway station so we disembarked and wandered back through the city. We went to a huge supermarket which has more imported foods, and were able to buy cereal, milk, yoghurt, and other items. Here there are more staff who speak English so a little easier to find things. The customer service was extra ordinary!

Dragging our bags we went back to the street, only to bump into one of the other teachers (who hails from the Gold Coast). Fancy that - amongst the masses we find one of the handful of people we've already met!

We walked along the street trying to take in the sights, smells, and experience of it all. It is overwhelming.

And where did we have our lunch? KFC of course! Very much like at home, and very busy.

Afterwards we went to help M2 organise a mobile phone - and that was an experience and a half - it took almost 2 hours. All sorts of explaining to do with folk who speak little English even in the big bustling office of China Mobile. In the end he got what he wanted, while M1 and I just sat and watched the activities in the building. Chinese people are very superstitious - and they like phone numbers with the number 8 in them. There is a big wall of numbers - and those wanting to get a mobile phone spend ages choosing their preferred number.

Back onto the street, and by this time the traffic was heavier. We found our bus stop and once again had to find a tiny spot for us on the very crammed bus for the return journey to the college. It is a good feeling to be back inside the college gates again!

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