Back to Uni

Trip Start Jan 07, 2008
Trip End Jun 30, 2012

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Where I stayed
Yun Tu Hotel

Flag of China  ,
Friday, February 15, 2008

After thinking a lot over the last month or so about learning a language I have decided to go for it and have enrolled the "Yunnan Normal University", in Kunming to do a semester of Mandarin.  It has worked out really well because Kunming is a really nice place to live and is a popular place for foreigners to come to learn Chinese.

Kunming is a really modern city with lots of shopping malls and high rise apartments blocks although thankfully it is still not hard to find interesting stuff like markets, temples and street food.  It is also really cheap to live here if you want it to be unlike Beijing and Shanghai (so I've heard anyway).  Kunming is at 1890 metres above sea level so the weather is quite mild most of the year round apparently, although it was freezing when I got here a few weeks ago and it actually snowed one night!  It has warmed up nicely now and the weather is similar to spring in Perth.  Another good thing about Kunming is that the air quality is really good here mostly because just about all of the motorbikes here are electric. Apparently the government gives tax breaks on these so they are much cheaper to buy than petrol motorbikes.    The only downside of the electric motorbikes is that they are almost completely silent, and at night people don't like turning there headlight on because it drains the battery faster.  I have almost been cleaned up by them a few times already. (A risk well worth it for breathable air I reckon).   

I have been at Uni for 2 weeks now and the course is really full on but I am really enjoying it.  I already have over 200 words to learn and the teachers speak a lot of Chinese in the class so it is quite easy to get completely lost.  I am also learning to write which is a big job.  Apparently you have to know about 3000 characters to be able to read the newspaper!  The guys in my class are really good too and we have been hanging out a fair bit.  Just in my class there people from Israel, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Japan. Korea and Thailand

I have rented an apartment which is really close to the Uni and lots of shops and restaurants.  I am paying about $190 Aus a month for 1 and a half bedrooms with a tiny kitchenette and a small bathroom/toilet where you pretty much shower over the toilet. A positive of this is that the the toilet stays quite clean!  Speaking of toilets, one of the most confronting things about China is that it is quite common to have very low or no partitions and no doors between the toilet stalls so I got a big shock the first time I wandered into a public toilet and was confronted by a row of squatting Chinese men.  Another thing that takes a bit of getting used to is the spitting.  The men and women here are always clearing their throats and nasal passages which can be a bit off putting, especially when you are trying to eat.

I have been hanging out with the guy who owns my apartment lately and his friends.  He teaches English and has been inviting me out a lot.  The other night we went to one of the many Karaoke TV bars here and had a great night out. I wasn't keen on singing at first but it sort of sucks you in.  People seem to have no inhibitions about it here and the good and bad singers just blast away at full volume.       
Other than that the big news that most of you will know is that the Socceroos are coming to town to play China.  I have met a group of Aussie girls at Uni and we are all going which I am really looking forward to so watch out for a large white bald head in the crowd.

Anyway I am here until at least July so if you want to plan  a trip to China you are welcome to come and stay at my place.  I have just got the internment connected at my apartment so I will be checking my emails regularly.

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