Day trip to Tanggu

•June 16, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Monday was my day off so a couple of my landlord’s students invited me to go out to Tanggu, which is kinda like the business district area of Tianjin but also kinda like a separate town altogether.  You can see from the first picture here that it also has a lot of European influence in it’s architecture.  It’s really not too far (about 20 minutes by light rail) but it has a little bit of a different feel to it.  It’s not quite as crowded and it’s on the ocean!  I actually really liked it.  I got to go to a big, very interesting shopping center, see the Pacific ocean in China for the first time, ride on a boat, and  see a park that reminded me of some parks back in the US.  Oh, and I also found a motorcycle shop which I think I might visit later when I’m in the market for one.  🙂

There are some cool indoor shopping places in Tanggu

There are some cool indoor shopping places in Tanggu

This was some kind of park... I forgot exactly what it was.

Here are some of the big boats that come up the river

Here are some of the big boats that come up the river

A bunch of white birds in the park.

A bunch of white birds in the park.

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I made the move

•June 12, 2009 • Leave a Comment

There have been some changes with me over here since the last time I made a post.  In fact, I had to change the name of my blog from “Darren’s life in Beijing” to “Darren’s life in China.”  That’s right, I don’t live in Beijing anymore.  Just a few weeks ago I moved to a smaller town called Tianjin.  Now, when I say smaller I don’t mean small.  Not at all.  It actually seems small compared to Beijing but it’s still about 12,000,000 people.  It wasn’t my plan to move here but after months of looking for a job in Beijing and not being able to find a good one I decided to take a position here in Tianjin.  It’s not so bad.  I’m still getting used to it though.  Despite being only 90 miles from Beijing (a short 27 minute train ride), the city seems very different.  It’s interesting how there are so many differences depending on what part of China you are in.  Anyways, Tianjin has an interesting history and had some European influences along the way.  You can definitely see it in some of the architecture around town.

I have a new apartment.  This one is a little bigger than my last one, has nicer furniture, and a more centralized location in the city.  Oh, and it’s cheaper too!  The new job is going pretty well so far.  I’ll work at total of 6 weeks at my current location and then switch to a REALLY small one where I will be from then on.  I worked one day there last week and I was the ONLY teacher in the whole center…  just to give you an idea of just how small it is.

Anyways, I’ll post a few pictures of my apartment, the building I live in, and maybe a few from around town.

This is the building I live in

This is the building I live in

This is the street that I live on

This is the street that I live on

That’s a pretty great wall

•May 9, 2009 • 1 Comment

Today I went with Torrey and Heather, who are here visiting for a few days, to the Great Wall.  We went to the section called Huganhua.  I’d been there before a few years ago with my good friend Justin but when we were there it was night time and we didn’t hike too far before sleeping in a guard tower.   So, today I didn’t actually realize we were going back to the same place I’d been before.  We ended up taking quite a hike and some parts of the wall were really really tough.  It was a GREAT time!  *no pun intended* —well, maybe a little.   They’ve been here for the past three days and in that time we’ve covered all of the major attractions in Beijing and made a trip to Tianjin!  They are heading out tomorrow to do down to Tibet but it was great to have them here.

 

Torrey and Heather at the Great Wall.

Torrey and Heather at the Great Wall.

 

The hightest point we climbed to was quite a ways up there ans it was a relief once we got to the top.

The hightest point we climbed to was quite a ways up there ans it was a relief once we got to the top.

This section was in need of a little regular maintenance.

This section was in need of a little regular maintenance.

This might give you an idea of how steep some parts were even without any stairs

This might give you an idea of how steep some parts were even without any stairs

Parts of it were like rock climbing.  No hand rails.  No ropes.

Parts of it were like rock climbing. No hand rails. No ropes.

Spa

•March 27, 2009 • 2 Comments

I’m at a spa.  I think that’s what you would call it.  In Chinese it’s more like the word for sauna, which they have here, but that’s definitely not all they’ve got.  I was invited by my friend to go get a massage this evening and what I had in my mind was something much more low key.  The massages I’ve had here before have been mostly at little places and nothing fancy.  But here when you arrive are taken into a HUGE “locker room” for lack of a better term.  The locker room has a row of showers along one side and many hot tubs at different temperatures.  No bathing suits needed… or allowed for that matter.  There are also a coupe of saunas in the “locker room.”  After you are finished in there you can put on some clothes which are provided for you and walk downstairs at eat at the all-you-can eat buffet.  There is also a large public co-ed room where they show movies and put on shows while you get a foot massage or you can go up to a private room and have a full body massage.  The massages cost extra but if you get one you get a discount on the price of the spa admission.  There is also an exercise room in case you feel like a work out or a computer lab with “free” unblocked Internet access which is where I am right now.  The one down side is that NOTHING is in English.  Nothing.  And none of the staff speak any English either.  But even that has an up side:  it’s good practice.   All of this is available 24 hours a day and you can stay for up to 24 hours.  Simply amazing!

I didn’t spring

•March 9, 2009 • Leave a Comment

With the exception of Hawaii and all but the Navajo Nation part of Arizona, all of you people back in the US just suffered the loss of an hour of sleep.  Daylight savings time.  What a joy!  The only real way that this affects me here in China is that I now have to recalculate in my head the time difference.  I WAS 14 hours ahead of central standard time and now I’m only 13.   So, while most of your are having your alarm clocks go off earlier than your body wants them too I’ll be drooling on my pillow for another hour.

It’s 2am and I want a Big Mac!

•March 6, 2009 • 1 Comment

Not to fear if you live in Beijing.  There are McDonald’s restaurants (Mai Dang Lao) scattered all over this city that stay open 24 hours a day and, provided you can speak the language, you can call in any time of day and have your order delivered to your front door.  It’s actually kinda cool.  I’ve never had any McNuggets or anything delivered to me since I’d probably just call in and confuse the crap out of whoever answered the phone.  They delivery guys wear these big boxes on their backs like backpacks to carry the food and they ride their little electric bicycles to your home if you don’t live too far away.  I think there is a minimum order or something but it’s probably only about 3-4 dollars.  Oh, and since tipping isn’t allowed in China you don’t even need to tip the delivery guy.  (But you still kinda feel like you should.)

dsc07171

 

He's getting ready to make a run.

He's getting ready to make a run.

Scouting out my ‘hood.

•March 4, 2009 • 1 Comment

The place I live now is near where I lived when I lived in Beijing before but it’s down the street far enough that my immediate surroundings are unfamiliar.  So, I decided to take a day and just walk around to see what all is around me.  I’m not really in the part of town that has a whole lot of stuff so I really wasn’t expecting to find much at tall.  I was really surprised to find an Italian restaurant really near my house!  So near, in fact, that I was surprised I hadn’t seen it before.  I could see it from out my window if it weren’t for another apartment complex blocking the view.  Another really cool thing that I found was a HUGE outdoor sporting goods store.  This will be PERFECT if I ever decide to take up mountaineering!  Haha!  Or maybe just buy a really good sleeping bag to go camping on the great wall or something.  I really was surprised to find this place as well.  All in all it was a great day of learning my surroundings. (I still have yet to try the Italian place but I’m looking forward to it.)

Pictures are as follows (left to right, top to bottom):

  1. Some apartments near my place
  2. My apartment building
  3. Some of the sporting goods inside the store
  4. The outdoor sporting goods store
  5. The Italian restaurant