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Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, Wherever You Are (reprise)

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From the "old days" (old daze?), here is a revival.

In March 2015, a previous employer decided to revert to using an agency and cut their permanent hire foreign (Pinoy & Pinay are not "foreign") teachers loose.

I was soon confronted with one of the most agonizing decisions of my life:
A secure position at an excellent school walking distance from my home.
A great big question mark in Inner Mongolia.

Learning some Chinese had always been on my bucket list, and for reasons I still can't explain, IM just felt so right.

The visa process took longer than expected. Two visa runs, one to Singapore and one to Georgetown, resulted. We also moved to Lampang province, about half an hour outside of the city and Big C, Tesco, and Central. The village had a 7-11. Such hardship! I bicycle commuted and shared the road with buffaloes (both two-legged and four-legged) and cattle.

My work permit came through. Getting the visas was another adventure. I then bought my wife's ticket in her maiden name and caused midnight hour chaos.

We arrived.

Then my father-in-law died and my wife had to scurry back to Bangkok.

Then there was a problem with her paperwork and I had to scurry back to Bangkok.

Our trip to Hohhot ensued, and those pic are elsewhere on the board.

Coming soon: Mrs. Calabash does Tianjin.

Air Asia is quite cheap and it flies Don Muang to Macau. It is so cheap that taking trains from Baotou to Shanghai and Shanghai to Hong Kong and flying AA to Krung Thep is about the same as China Southern from Baotou to a Chinese gateway to Swampy. Guess how we'll go home next year.

Lhasa will not happen. Travel permits are not cheap, and independent travel is not allowed.

The only other trip left is Harbin and the ice festival. IF I receive a fourth contract and leave in July 2018, Dame Calabash will drag my wife to the ice festival where she will freeze her Siamese ass off in January and we'll head home by train, jetfoil, and plane in July . If it all ends in January, Harbin doesn't happen and we head to Macau in January.

Calabash will spend nine to ten hours on a hard seat in two weeks from today.


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Calabash found herself on a nine hour plus train ride on a hard seat.

She, bless her pointed little head, had a seat.  A lot of passengers did not.  It was noisy and crowded.  Fortunately, the dear lady is infamously flatulent and was prepared to hold her own against the cacophony.

Arriving at the hotel, the restaurant had already closed.  The quest for fire, er, food began.

The first place near the hotel that was open was McDonalds.  So much for exotic Tianjin cuisine that first night.  To compound the travesty, the beloved damsel, now menstruating, ordered meals, not just the rice bowl and burger for her and her spouse.

Rice bowl, burger, two orders of fries, and three beverages were prepared and brown bagged.  The staff just assumed that Calabash and her plus one were couriers for a larger group.

Calabash hadn't eaten (or used a toilet) in 14 hours, but wasn't even hungry.  Her spouse was.  Most of the food was consumed.

Today, it's off to a Buddhist temple and the Tianjin Eye, and more hours standing in line.  I suppose that she's rehearsing for a trip to Shanghai or Hong Kong Disneyland.


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Either there are two hotels with the exact same name, or Google Maps has made a boo-boo.

I walked and noted the street names and finally found our true location. The Google Map for it had errors. Shocking. Our hotel is on the wrong side of the street. Or, maybe I just can't read a map.

Long story short: in spite of ourselves, we made it to the I of TJ

The taxi driver home extorted a "no meter" fare from is, but to my amazement I spoke a little Chinese and paid half his asking price.

Tomorrow, a dawn patrol (early morning flight).


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Calabash & +1 were tired as they struck out at 4:00 a.m. in search of a taxi. They were not extorted for a no meter fare to Binhai airport. The airport was full of campers. They began the line at the check-in counter. I'll let you guess whose diabetic foot was aching.

The dapper duo managed to go the wrong way once past security and walked away from their gate and the lounge.

Murphy's Law kicked in and nature called a couple of hours after leaving behind the friendly porcelain in the hotel room. Chinese public toilets are not famous for being clean. Mrs. C dropped what was big and soft enough to have come out of a horse and missed the commode. At times like this, the ass blaster hose in Thailand is missed.

In spite of their dulled mental states and not the clearest of directions, they found the VIP lounge they had sprung for. What seemed like an extravagance when purchased was now money well spent.

Not yet done, the two innocents abroad headed off in opposite directions for the gate, one calling back the other.

Should you ever follow in their footsteps and arrive at Eriliban Airport (which was built with the help of Nazi Germany - who knew?), be advised that there are public toilets on your left immediately prior to entering the baggage claim area (from a domestic flight, anyway). These have my vote as the cleanest public toilets in Asia if not the world.


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Christmas is as present here as it is in Bangkok or California.

Next stop: Harbin's Snow & Ice Festival


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Strange, I teach online to Chinese kids & I've never been busier the last few days. Apparently it's not a 'big thing' over there...or is it like over here where they play Jingle Bells in Tesco & don't need an excuse for a party?

I may be joining you soon although it'll be in 'Outside Mongolia', probably Shanghai. I have several interviews lined up in the new year. This is my favoured option:

High School Physics (IB)

Position information:

Ages of students: Grade 10, 11 & 12
Schedule: M-F, 8:00 5:00
Location: Shanghai

Compensation and Benefits:

Salary: 330-420K RMB/annual
Additional salary for HOD or Curriculum director (IB Experience required)
Housing stipend: 6,000RMB/month (taxable)
Comprehensive health insurance
Flight allowance
Relocation allowance
Tuition for 2 dependents
PD grants


Bachelor's or Master's degree in your subject field
Recognized teacher certification
At least 3 years of relevant teaching experience
Knowledge of the IB Diploma Program is preferred but not essential

Is that good? beers


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Online teaching is huge here. In spite of my age, I might work for a Chinese company after I return to Thailand.

I cannot do it while still in China and under contract with the college.

Christmas is also big, at least where I am.

The plan is to take a train to Shanghai next July and continue on to Hong Kong. Our paths may cross.

Be advised that there is no "outer Mongolia." "Inner" in "Inner Mongolia" is not an English word; it's an Anglicization of a Mongolian word. In Chinese, we're Nei Menggu.

I'm into the term break now. Two months are free. For us, this job has been ideal. I don't think it's suitable for most people, though. For a number of reasons, it's been a good fit for us.

We've had a few other pleasant surprises.


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I'm glad all is going well for you, gungchang.



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I've been happy here and I feel like I have a small idea of what it means to say "I am Chinese."
(Students did exactly that yesterday.)

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