Introducing new teacher guest blogger, Alex Feal, who’ll be sharing his teaching in China experiences with us over the coming weeks.
Alex has a degree in History from the University of Edinburgh (UK), and currently teaches in a public school in Shenzhen as part of the 2018 Teach China Graduate Program. He’s a passionate traveller and you can follow him on Instagram @latte.wanderer
When choosing where to live in China, there were a few things that I really wanted/ needed the place to have. The city had to be fairly big, slightly chaotic, and with an artsy scene that would make the weekends that I couldn’t get away interesting. Oh, and it has to be easy to get out of – either to another place or into nature. Thankfully, Shenzhen ticked all the boxes so that’s exactly what I’ve spent the last two weeks doing, escaping the concrete jungle.
To be honest, I have a huge love-hate relationship with hiking and mountains in China. Wanting more people to get out and appreciate nature, local governments have made the mountains near cities really easy to get to and then paved paths all across the mountainside to make it as easy as possible for everyone to enjoy. The problem is that it then becomes too accessible, what could be a really relaxing hike could (if you’re really unlucky that day) feel like walking down Oxford Street in London on Christmas fighting crowds on the pavement. Thankfully it is just 3 hours from Shenzhen to the karst mountains of Guilin by high-speed train, and under an hour to Hong Kong and their mostly still trail hikes, making it super easy to get out into nature.
Hiking in Hong Kong
Needing a break from the car horns and motorbikes I spent last Sunday getting out of the city, taking the trip across the border to Hong Kong’s Plover Cove and its trails around the bride and mirror pools, an awesome hiking area without a glass skyscraper in sight! Apparently getting its name from a bride who fell into the pool and drowned, the Plover’s Cove area of Hong Kong is a maze of trails and paths that, if you’re lucky, you can pretty much have all to yourself.
Thankfully, I had just that and spent way more time than I initially planned to laying in the waterfalls relaxing. Plus, there are like zero drone laws outside of not flying near the airport so I had no excuse to not fly around and grab some aerial shots in nature. From there, it was a short metro ride to the Chi Lin Nunnery and one of the famous Hong Kong housing estates before jumping back across the border in time to get some lessons planned for the week ahead.
Back to the Grind, and a week of Celebrations
Back in Shenzhen, it was back to the grind… -ish. School this week may as well have been one constant feast, snacking our way through office hours without a worry. With Women’s Day on 8th March and my birthday on the 9th my office became more of a break room than a place actual work happened as we planned lunches and brought in cakes and sweets to get through the day.
Being the only English teacher at my school, it is easy to feel separate from the rest of the teachers who are almost always busier than you and can rarely speak English, but having a chilled week with music and every teacher making the effort to chat (mostly over google translate!) was super sweet and an awesome way to feel welcome!
Remember to follow me on Instagram (@latte.wanderer) and check out lattewanderer.com for coffee/ city guides including some of Guilin’s most fun sunrise and sunset spots if you are in China and wanting to get a little further away from a city!
Send me a DM if you have any ideas for things I should try/ places I should go for some of these blog posts.