I left Benniu last Thursday and arrived at Shanghai Hongqiao Airport in good time. Because of all the stuff I still had to bring with me, I ended up paying excess baggage, but I’ll claim for that as part of moving expenses.
I was met at Fuzhou Airport and taken to my flat near the school. Oh dear. It’s not so much that it’s a bit ragged around the edges in that it’s too small. Bedroom-cum-study, dining room, kitchen-cum-front entrance, and a Hong Kong bathroom (i.e., the loo and the shower are squeezed into the same tiny room). I managed to find space for everything I’d brought with me, but I have another eleven boxes to come and almost no storage space.
I may have to put up with some cramped conditions for a month or so because I don’t want to start asking to be moved if I’m actually going to end up somewhere else. Although I don’t really want to go anywhere else, somewhere acceptable might be on offer.
[07.08.14. I never did get moved, and compared with what Glen and Row had to deal with in their flat – tons of cockroach poo – mine wasn’t that bad. However, it should’ve set alarm bells ringing that the school was very cheap to the point that it turned the water off in the teaching block, which meant the student loos absolutely reeked. The district itself was also run by some very corrupt people, and I have no doubt that that extended to the school.
The following year, so I heard, the school started farming out the teachers to other schools for which, I have no doubt, it was charging money, and engaging in a massive scam.]
The school is in the back streets south of the River Min on a large island (so I find from looking at the map; as I eventually learnt, this was Nantai Island; 南台岛, I believe). It’s an absolute rabbit warren around here. Very easy to get lost.
The narrow lanes are like hutongs in Beijing, but they wriggle around more like snakes. A lot of dilapidation, but the place has character and is very photogenic. Once I have Internet access from some home somewhere, I’ll post a few photos. My guess is that this area was occupied by foreigners in Colonial times because there are quite a few European-style buildings.
The really odd thing is the number of churches. There are at least three or four in this general area alone. One old church just near the school now houses a printing company owned by the army. There’s also a small Daoist Temple up the road.
The climate has been hot and humid with the overnight temperature being about 26° or so and daytime temperatures allegedly getting as high as 38° or 39°. With dry heat, I could probably cope, but the humidity is brutal and I reckon that I’ve probably drunk my own body weight in water since I got here.
I went into the centre of Fuzhou, but thought that it was pretty much a repeat screening of every other Chinese city. I’ve at least managed to track down another source for free copies of the SCMP, although the copy I got was two days out of date.
All right, that’s enough out of me for the moment. I’m hungry and want to have lunch.
[07.08.14. I regret not having a bike in Fuzhou because I thought the place was reasonably interesting, especially on the island. Thus, I never really got to know the city as well as I ought to have. Although there was much to dislike about the situation (ghastly accommodation, ghastly pupils, ghastly school), I decided to stay for a second year until I got dispatched to Chengdu.]