Sunday we discovered that our school had been changed on us again and that we were leaving that afternoon. Suddenly it was time to pack, get postcards made and sent, get snacks. We said our goodbyes to the other teachers, loaded up in the van and off to the train station.
The porter we hired was worth every penny. See, with the trains you take your luggage with you. There isn’t a baggage car. So our lower sleeper bunk got to carry all of our luggage with only the upper bunk for us to sleep which wasn’t large enough for both of us. The good news was that the guy in the other lower bunk went to go spend the trip with his family. So I got the top bunk and Amanda got a lower bunk to sleep in. The bad news was that he and his family were German and loved to party with a Chinese family on board. For the entire trip, all night long. So we didn’t get any sleep.
The car ride to our town of Li Xian took about 5 hours. Another Chinese fact, they want you to be happy. So for a five hour trip you’ll be told its only three and a half hours. Any length of time they tell you a trip will take will always be shorter than it actually will be. Aaron and Colin also came along with us to the same town, and were dropped off first. We then had lunch. Bi-Jo note, if you don’t want to drink it you need to tell them no. Me, I hate the taste of alcohol so my story is it just plain makes me sick. My dad suggested I tell folks I’m diabetic, but then what if they want to get me medication?
So then it was to our apartment. Now..the last few days we’ve had other school’s FAOs (Foreign Affair Officers) come by and show off the schools, and the apartments. Beautiful, clean, roomy apartments. We were dropped off, checked out the room and our FAO, Cindy, left so we could get some sleep. Amanda then broke out into tears. Fixer-Upper is what I’d call it. There was mold on one of the kitchen cabinet doors, in the water cooler, the water purifier, and the smell was coming out of the air conditioner in the bedroom. The Internet wasn’t working and the bathroom had a half-naked woman on it. Granted it was tastefully done, she was getting ready to take a bath, the artwork was very good, but her towel had slipped down so that one of her breasts was exposed. Its not something we want decorating our home for guests and possible surprise visits from students to see when they use our toilet. Added in that Amanda was in pain, wasn’t about to drink any of the water we had, and no clue where to go for water. The school is a bit of a walk from the city. So everything boiled up and we started thinking we’d made a big mistake.
So Amanda called Greg, told him how she felt. Owen called us and explained that he would talk to the Principal, just be sure to talk to our FAO and explain it to her. Cindy showed up shortly there after, and showed us another apartment that was cleaner and in better shape. She explained that she would also get the cleaning crew in, do a through scrub down, get the Internet working, and let us take the pick of the furniture from both apartments and have students move stuff around. So also explained how we would get meals at the school, and that there would be two school shops to get supplies at, and how to get into town via the bus. We were then taken to a very nice hotel (which I’m at right now as I’m typing this). The new place looks nicer, and Amanda seems to be happy. She’s got decorating plans now. Its not home yet, but we should be able to get there.