Being the only foreigner on the plane making the decent for landing on China soil felt…well, like a dream…It would be the first time ever traveling to the Republic.
Looking out the window and down below, I noticed small irregular green hills and miniature limestone mountains also covered with patches of greenery mostly near the base. Some were left undisturbed while others had great big chunks missing created by nearby heavy mining machinery. Plots of farmland lay on portions of the lush land. A few streets were visible with a few vehicles driving. There seemed to not be much activity going on on this side road of the airport…
After snatching my hiking pack off the conveyor belt, I make my way to the arrivals section.
At most busy international airports, there is a cluster of people holding up signs to welcome certain passengers entering the arrival section from baggage claim. The signs state a persons name, a group name or the company the greeter is representing. Even though my future manager didn’t tell me to expect some one holding a sign with my name on it, I figured a company greeter would be there with a sign or even the company name I’d be working with.
Walking past the group and looking for an English written sign, I saw nothing helpful. So much for feeling important…
Standing nearby feeling dumbfounded and looking around, I noticed that I was the only foreigner here! On the plane its a bit understandable but in this entire arrival terminal?! There was no need for a greeter to be holding up a sign – I’d be easy to spot out by the person who would be picking me up. The best option was to stay put.
As I stood there waiting, a feeling of being engulfed by hundreds of people overcame me. I was in hiding, yet noticed by many passerby’s gazing at my foreign face, clothes and luggage of choice. I was a curiosity standing still among the many moving Chinese people. This feeling would become a familiarity I would soon discover. One of many discoveries and ‘learned’ familiarity’s that I would realize during my stay in China…
A hand grabbing my shoulder gently snaps me out of my daze. A phone was pressed to my ear from the groper…
‘Hello Robert. Welcome, this is Jack’.
My mind thought of scenes from the movies where adrenaline filled events would ensue after landing in a foreign country and speaking to a Mafia Bass named Jack on a mysterious old school Nokia looking phone…
‘Um…Hello, Jack…your guy found me’ – adding to my imagination of the movie scene…
‘Good, hope your flight was good. ******** will drive you from the airport to your apartment in the city’.
I didn’t catch the Chinese name, but I assumed the guy holding the phone to my ear was him…
Getting comfortable with my new life as a foreigner in China
I arrived in Nanning at the end of April 2017…
I would soon discover that Jack was not a mafia boss but was instead a very cool guy in charge of settling in the new teachers. He would line me up with an apartment and hook up all the monthly services such as gas, water, internet and other essentials.
Getting acquainted with my new coworkers was interesting. The teachers came from Ireland, United Kingdom, United States and eventually another from New Zealand. The wonderful teacher assistants and company secretaries that helped us teachers and the parents/clients were all locals of Nanning. Their ability to speak both Chinese and English along with their great personalities made a huge difference in the overall experience. I would be in charge of teaching kids, teenagers and adult in private lessons. They made sure up teachers had a good relationship with our non-English (differed in levels) speaking students and their parents. They did anything for us foreigners to make sure our experience was pleasant. I’m forever grateful and hope that they will be life long friends.
Outside of work, I made it a point to connect (amidst the language barrier) with the locals-especially the business owners at the markets and restaurants I liked. Here and there were English speaking people at my local gym, library, cafes and throughout my local neighborhood. I soon would meet many great people outside of my work circle.
One of those people was a woman approaching her mid thirties with the air of a teenager. Her English name is Ellen. I would soon call her sweet Ellen…and she enriched my experience during my time in China – even in Thailand – as you will read that she joins me along my travels back in Chiang Mai, in Bangkok and the wonderful south Thailand island of Koh Lanta.
I would discover certain areas around Nanning where markets and foodie heavens exist. Neighborhoods where bustling open air markets served its many citizens nestled in between cement built multi-level apartment buildings. Also, notorious BBQ alleys where thousands of locals and tourists flock for an array of foods and snacks.
Stick around, subscribe and read on. There is more to come about my experiences in China and my South East Asian adventure.
Sweet Ellen and I eating stinky tofu
There’s a wal-mart in this shopping mall…
One open air market near my apartment
Grandma and Grandma threw their baby on me for a photo
The best way to get your chickens to market
My first time at KTV (karaoke)
On the outskirts of the city
Exploring parts of Nanning while cruising an electric bike
There are many ways of seeing the sights and exploring the city. Getting around Nanning is fairly easy. You have options that is for sure…
The most convenient is using the metro. The entire system is fairly new, safe, clean, efficient and affordable. When I was there in 2017, there were two lines that went through the main parts of the city. Pick a stop and see what you will find. There is always something to discover if your a foreigner.
Other options are using a taxi, shared bicycles (using mobike, offo and other apps), jumping on the local bus or even on the back of an electric bike taxi. However, the simplest choice of transportation to get around with is an electric scooter. If you plan on living there, its worthwhile to purchase your very own. Prices start at around $350usd.
If you think an electric bike is nothing more then a toy, that assumption is wrong. Even the low end styles can cruise around 30mph. This is not that fast, but trust me, in a city among millions of electric bikes drivers, you don’t need to go any faster then this speed.
The main road infrastructure is suitable for both motorists. Vehicles have their own lanes (and lights) and the bikes have theirs. This makes commuting more efficient and generally, a bit safer.
The luxury of owning an electric bike is that you are free to explore every street, ally or neighborhood easily. Feel free to get lost! Just make sure you have a fully charged battery before taking off.
Here are a couple of photos of cool sights while out and about on the streets of this growing city.