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How did I end up in Pingguo Lv? Where is Pingguo Lv?
Aug 23rd 2010 at 7:48 AM
I had been teaching English in China for over seven years. I don't have any official qualifications other than my life experiences. These are the best qualifications 1 could possibly have, but unfortunately the Chinese Government does not see it that way and are becoming stricter about teachers having proper qualifications. They also don't think a woman over 60 years should be working. However it's still possible to find work. The right connections, with my work experience help me.
For three years I worked at an English training college for mature age students in the beautiful scenic town of Yangshuo in Guangxi Province. It's a county town of Guilin. I loved working at the college as all the students paid to be there and wanted to learn. I always taught the higher level students so I could also indulge myself by having interesting topics. I made many wonderful friendships which I treasure. However one day I decided that I was no longer going to tolerate my boss who did not appreciate me. I walked out. That same evening his brother got to hear about this and reminded me that he had told me to contact him the minute I quit. Seems he knew I would do it one day. This brother is an agent and sends foreign teachers to schools all around China. When new foreign teachers arrive in China, unlike a lot of other agents, he gives them a weeks training before they go to allotted schools. He is very supportive and always within easy contact should there be any problems. His company organizes visas & health insurance. I'm very happy he's my agent.
Of course I didn't need to do the training & as it was half way through the semester we didn't discuss where I was to go. He needed me to help him out. Surprise, adventure!! Pinggou Lv was it. Six hours by bus from Yangshou to Nanning, the capital city of the Guangxi Province. To Pinggou city another ninety minute bus ride in a very comfortable bus. From Pinggou city it's a local bus ride for twenty minutes to Pinggou Lv. (you would not want to travel very far on a local bus) One of the very good things about these jobs is that they are in places one would never travel to. So I get to see much more of China than a tourist would.
However on my initial arrival in Nanning I was met at the bus station by two teachers from my new school. The very friendly driver spoke no English, but he was in charge. He's a PE teacher. (All teachers multi task) The other teacher spoke English so he came to help me. He was a Math’s teacher. First stop was a hospital. I had to have a medical check to get an "Expert's Certificate". This was very efficiently handled in 90min exactly. Including walking down the street to get photos taken as all documents must have a photo attached. They also used the web cam to attach a photo to online documents. The Experts certificate is to confirm that I was physically capable and healthy.
I easily settled into life in Pinggou Lv. This town was established 20 years ago for the workers of a huge Aluminum company which is the second largest factory in China. The town had all the facilities of a city including a big hospital which had specialists. I found this out as I had a very sore ankle when I arrived & I was astonished to find a bone specialist there. All the big banks had a presence. A clear indication that a lot of money is being made. The town and factory was built around a river and the area I lived in was a residential park. All along the riverside were lovely gardens with creative scenic seating areas. The wide concrete streets had wonderful big trees creating a canopy over them, making it a wonderfully cool in the summer, but keeping the council staff very busy constantly sweeping up leaves. This park/residential area was not huge...a 45 minute walk covered most of it. But everything I needed was there. The wet market supplied all the fresh food 1 would ever need with small shops nearby selling commodities. The well stocked supermarket nearby filled in any gaps.
The residential area was well serviced by moterbike taxis. They can carry two-three people depending on how big they are. When my ankle was sore I used them to go to school. School was only a ten minute walk using a footbridge across the river and the taxi takes five minutes. (They have to use a different route). The drivers got used to me using them to go to school so I just continued when my ankle recovered, but when it got hot I realised the ride was very cooling. A walk to school in the heat would be just the opposite. The ride was not expensive so I was happy to contribute to their meager income.
To go to Pinggou city I used the local bus with its very cheap fare, but taxis were always available. I really had no need to go to Pinggou city except for a change of scenery. However I did climb up the 450 steps to visit the pagoda and got great views of the city.
I had a delightful "cubby house" apartment. Perfect for one person and it contained all I needed to be comfortable. Best of all, it was on the ground floor. Every week day morning at 7.30 I was entertained for 30 minutes by songs coming from a nearby kindergarten's loud speaker system. They were happy songs and a good start to the day. Some people were quite friendly after they got used to seeing me, but most could only greet me. For many foreigners it would be very lonely there, but I used my time to do some online research & writing so it was of no consequence to me. However no school staff offered any social invitations, which was quite unusual. There was a small English training college nearby & I got to know the young owner & his foreign teacher, a woman from Canada. Most of her time was spent working & living at an orphanage in the city. We all used to meet for lunch on Saturdays.
My time in Pinggou Lv finished mid June as the students had one week of reviewing then one week of final exams before they started their summer holidays at the end of June. The job was for only two and a half months and I was very grateful for the opportunity to discover Pinggou Lv. Not on the tourist route, but definitely an interesting & beautiful place.
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