Friday, June 13, 2014

A new adventure starts - in Northam

So we don't really want to go to Ningbo. (Although they have offered us jobs - six weeks later.)

Northam looks nice, though, doesn't it? (and there might be some jobs there - or we could just kinda retire ...)
For some people living in a place like Northam in the wheat-belt area of Western Australia would be ordinary. But after everywhere we've been, for us it is another new adventure.

So ... what's in Northam?

 Well, this is what we know thus far (thank you, Mr Google). Of course, we have driven through Northam a few times on our way back and forth between Perth and the eastern seaboard.

It's a fairly typical Aussie country town - population around 6 000.

It's well-known for some of its beautiful old buildings.

It's a farming district, with the Avon River (which goes all the way down to the Swan River in Perth) winding through it.

In the right season the Avon River swells and everyone comes here to watch the start of the exciting annual boating event - the Avon Descent.

In 2011 there was a remarkable dust storm that engulfed Northam.

There is an Immigration Detention Centre on the outskirts of the town.

And, of course, there is lots more! That will have to wait until we start a new blog!

July 4th leaving Malaysia. No more Jolly Good Fellows.

On the Ning Nang Nong

We were probably thinking a little bit of Spike Milligan's old poem
             On the Ning Nang Nong 
             Where the Cows go Bong!
             and the monkeys all go BOO!
as we planned our trip to Ningbo, China.

They have finally admitted that the idea of a continuing Fellows Project here in Malaysia is truly dead in the water, and so we are looking around for a different job, and a new adventure.

We saw a possible job in China, and thought that after 10 years of travelling around we might have come full circle to where it all started in China. We have very happy memories relating to the people in rural LongHu in 2004, and then we loved living in the small (5 million) city of Wuxi for a year. So, maybe it would be nice to revisit China.

Getting a visa
Getting visas in and out of China - even for a short visit - is generally more complicated than most other countries! If we were in Kuala Lumpur we could apply and then wait for four days or so ... but not out here in Kuala Terengganu. We heard that you can get a visa in one day in Hong Kong. So we decided to go there first.

Hong Kong
Hong Kong (all those amazing tall buildings!) was quite awe-inspiring and a little overwhelming for us country folks!
We arrived on a Saturday ... and the visa office was closed on the weekends, so it ended up being a four day stay just to make sure we had a visa.

We stayed in a high-rise hotel with a view of the harbour.

We had a suite, and we had brought with us books to read and our computers to 'play' on!

The hotel had a nice pool - there it is down there below our window - one of the reasons we chose this particular hotel. But ... seriously the weather was quite unpleasant and we didn't even go in. We turned off the air conditioning in the room, and still had trouble keeping warm (with the summery clothes that we had brought with us!)

Nottingham University, Ningbo
Finally it was time to fly directly to Ningbo - another reason why we had gone via Hong Kong, because there were direct flights to Ningbo.

With various delays and all the things that happen, we arrived there quite late, and settled into a room in the Staff Hotel, ready for our interviews the following day.

The next morning, in the hazy light of day, we had a chance to look around a bit.

Apart from the haze, it was all very green, and generally clean.

Not exactly thronging with activity as we headed up to the ostentatious main building.

Coming out of the main building, looking across at the auditorium and teaching rooms.

So ... that was a month ago. They said they would be in touch. Not yet!