Teaching in China: the Ins and Outs

It was mid-summer, when tiny, white butterflies flutter around blossoming carnations, in soft pinks or delicate cream shades. The sun plunges late in the day and every soul prefers to be outdoors rather than watching the world through smudged glass. It’s the season that induces drowsiness, the lure of drifting off. Yet, this time I was wide awake.

It was a standard lunch hour with my colleagues and they were discussing the teachers who taught their children. We usually sat in the fresh air, by a fountain implanted near a set of office towers. With the noonday sun blazing upon our heads, what kept me alert was the vitriol. How they described their children’s educators as lazy, incompetent and useless. That level of hate surprised me, made me wonder how they could form such an opinion and why teachers should deserve this tide of red.

If that wasn’t enough, a friend of mine who taught high school once described the majority of teachers as that awful label – ‘square’. In my ignorance, I personally backed that statement up when I was set up on a blind date with a teacher.

This was no ordinary teacher, he was part of a dynasty of teachers. His father is a principal, his twin brother a teacher and he, too, was in charge of shaping young minds.

Lord – he hurt my head. On the phone he described himself as tall, would be wearing a leather jacket. Sure enough, a tall, dark, hot stranger walked in wearing a beaten leather jacket. My loins thumped wildly until I realized that wasn’t him. Instead, what walked in was a science experiment gone wrong, a lumbering man in a Roots varsity jacket that may have been happening in some outdated collegiate atmosphere, and well, his hot factor? I recall him being the secret love child of Chris Farley and Jay Leno.

By |May 29th, 2012 |Categories: Travel Tips, Wuxi |38 Comments

What You Need to Know About Sex Abroad

When I think back in time to my sexual education it amounted to a few glances at my father’s Penthouse magazines. I was shocked to realize that one day I would look like that – perhaps even make Miss May or July. Though I never did secure the cover of Bob Guccione’s tribute to the male organ, I finally got more educated through awkward experience. It grew worse as I traveled. What do men want? What do I want? How to tackle the signals and raging desires that can sweep you into a sexy, Argentinean’s bed? North America is one of the few cultures that lack initiation rites on sex and love for women. While I counsel young women on bravery, itineraries and packing items, the dearth of information on sexual behaviour abroad is astounding. As much as travel can create a kind of emancipation for women ages 18 to 25, it can also be mired in confusion when it comes to attraction. Will Peach, the sassy creator of TravelSexLife, will now step in to offer some insight into the male mind. And no, it’s not spineless of me to forgo the task, Will is the Dan Savage of the travel blogging world (but he’s straight ladies, so what are you waiting for?).

As a young, rather inexperienced male, being asked to offer up sex tips for a website was never going to be easy. But compound that with being asked to write on the subject for Nomadic Chick, and well, things suddenly become a lot trickier. The legion of young adult females that read this blog? Far more qualified than me to be dispersing advice of this nature. At least that’s what every young traveling male likes to think anyway!

Yet instead of copping out completely, I’m going to give it a crack. As a guy that heads up a site dedicated to sex abroad, this seems like the kind of thing I should be doing anyway – even if most of my contributors are young independent women much like yourselves.

So, that being said, where is a good point for a guy to dive in and start offering up advice to a species (women) that still remain to him, for the large part, a mystery? The working mind of a sexually active traveler. That’s where.

Don’t Repress Your Desires: They’re Fundamental to the Experience

Instead of making this all about my own sexual urges (I don’t want to repel you), I’ll try and do this as generally as possible. I’ll start by saying this: both sexes are just as horny as each other abroad. Instead of fighting it, learn to embrace it.

Sex, just as it is in life, is important. When you travel, all that excitement of being in a new place, having new people to interact with, is bound to accentuate your feelings and bring up urges or thoughts that maybe you didn’t have too many of back home. The nature of travel – and having the opportunity of being somewhere different every day of the week – means that sex (and potential sexual partners) suddenly become a whole lot more interesting.

As humans (regardless of gender) we shouldn’t suppress these desires. Exploring and learning more about ourselves, one of the most fundamental wishes of any traveler, is just as physical as it is mental. Having a one-night stand abroad (or even sleeping with a fellow traveler in a hostel) doesn’t make you filthy, dirty or a slag. It makes you human.

The Day I Invaded House Hunters International

 

It’s finally available for all of you to gawk at! My network television debut on House Hunters International.

The episode follows my friend, Matt Gibson, a blogger and travel writer as he makes the big move from Cranbook, British Columbia, Canada to Tainan, Taiwan.

And me? I play the friend “Jeannie”, who tours the potential apartments with him and helps him pick the best home. I’m generous like that.

It originally aired on March 5 and being stuck in China, I haven’t even watched it yet! Was told by those who did watch that I call Matt cheap and giggle a lot (okay, maybe I had one drink or two before the shoot).

By |May 17th, 2012 |Categories: Life, Tainan |47 Comments

Confession: On Roomorama

Sometimes a blog is a confession. Intended or not. Writers spill their secrets, their darkest desires and ensnare you involuntarily into their web.

So, here goes – in the depths of my heart – I’ve been cheating. On hostels.

Don’t mistake me, I still love the devil-may-care attitude of hostels, the loads of multi-dimensional, sometimes bizarre people you encounter, the management’s admirable attempts at breakfasts you recall from home and the cheap beer easily attainable from a fridge. Just slip some dollars into a jar and let the drinking begin.

But now, there’s room for another in my heart: Roomorama.

Ever since I got the lucky chance to test drive some properties in Taiwan and Hong Kong, I’ve grown quite fond of you. See – I savor my alone time even more these days. Space for me to roll out my yoga mat. Snort with laughter at things I read or watch. Chat to my close friends back home with freedom to discuss my innermost thoughts without an audience.

I was blind to the other side of the fence for too long. That short-term accommodation at times can appear more expensive, but it reaps so many benefits.

I’ve touched on this in the past, somehow having your own room is so bloody relaxing. The solo female traveler can unclench – be flexible with her guard a little.

Second confession: when researching accommodation options for San Fermin, I was worried. Although my timing of six months in advance seemed smart, hostels and hotels proved unforgiving.

Yangzhou, China: Photo Essay

Though not a well-known destination in China, Yangzhou has charms worthy of seeking.

Situated at the northern bank of the mighty Yangzte River, Yangzhou grew to attention during the Sui Dynasty, under Emperor Yangdi. It was named the southern capital of China – Jiangdu – until the completion of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal – one of the largest man-made canals in the world.

Like many great cities throughout history, Yangzhou underwent a succession of ruling parties, from the Wu Kingdom to the Qing Dynasty. What has remained consistent is this city fostered foreign trade, development and cultural exchange through the ages. The discovery of Katarina Vilioni’s tomb dated 1342, suggests a thriving Italian community existed in the city. Vilioni was the daughter of an Italian merchant, her father likely involved in the silk industry.

Two hours from Wuxi by bus, my university took us for a weekend excursion, where I captured some photographs.

Ge Garden is a human devised oasis, built by Huang Zhiyun in 1818 during the Qing Dynasty. A rich salt merchant, Zhiyun admired bamboo for all it symbolizes – uprightness, longevity and good luck. The Chinese characters for bamboo leaves resemble the world ‘ge’, thus Ge Garden was baptized.

The garden is a veritable wonderland of serene pools among a canopy of trees and clusters of bamboo.

The Danger of Rock Stardom in China

MIck Jagger once said this of rock stardom: ” A good thing never ends.” As late as 2007, at age 63, Jagger was still performing at rock concerts with his legendary band The Rolling Stones.

Now he’s 68 and still elicits screams, panty scrunching and propositions.

And it seems so do I – in China.

To be frank, campus life is sedate. I spread out in my apartment and write prose, ride my bicycle to the teaching building where all my classes are and soak in the manmade lake, curved bridges and pagoda structures.

I assumed I’d glide through, be unnoticed, because I look like everybody else. That has been an adjustment in itself – living in a country where literally everyone resembles me to some degree.

But not so – strange occurrences began to happen. It started with students early in the semester. Girls or boys standing up in front of an entire class gushing about my hair, eyes or overall beauty.

Emails from students dinged my inbox. My favorite to date: “Teacher Jeannie, I am very glad to be in your class, to learn all the English and yes – you are pretty.”

I was then asked to train faculty – help improve their communication skills. During the first class, two adult women shyly introduced themselves and then called me so beautiful before sitting down slightly embarrassed. It wasn’t just beautiful, but so beautiful.

By |May 4th, 2012 |Categories: Culture, Wuxi |28 Comments