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Trip Report on my First China Visit (Part 3)

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Trip Report on my First China Visit (Part 3)

Postby DiscoPro_Joe » Sat Aug 23, 2008 6:13 pm

Finally, here it is...Part 3 of 3. Enjoy!



-------------------------------------
Tuesday, July 22nd

I checked out of my room in mid-morning and met a substitute guide named Rosanna. She accompanied me to the airport and led me inside to register and obtain my boarding pass for the flight to Shanghai. Since plenty of time remained before departure, Rosanna hung out with me in the main lobby for the next half hour.

We enjoyed a fun time becoming acquainted, and I played her a few songs from my iPod -- songs that she hadn't heard previously, which she really liked. One of those tunes was the 1982 American pop-rock hit, "Rosanna," by the group Toto. She loved it, and I told her I would E-mail her that song after the trip.

Just before expressing our goodbyes, I tried to give her a small tip. She politely rejected it, stating that her aspiration was to make friends. This was very inspiring, and further portrayed the people of Chongqing in a colorful, positive light.

Takeoff was at noon on Shanghai Airlines, and the flight lasted two hours. I arrived at the impressive Pudong Airport, located about 25 miles (40 km) east of downtown Shanghai. After walking about 1/3 of a mile indoors and retrieving luggage, I met my final tour guide of the trip named Sissi.

The ride to the hotel was 45 minutes, and Sissi and I had a lively discussion along the way. She was surprised that I was so young and traveling alone. I explained that I was exploring urban China to verify if I want to live there, and to determine which city is my favorite.

Sissi was *very* startled at this. She disclosed that nearly all of her American tourists had been retirees who were "very proud of and loved the U.S." She also said, "In all the American TV shows and movies, the people seem so happy!"

I acknowledged those details, then revealed the hard truth: life for most young adults in the U.S. is very difficult, and Americans in their 20's and 30's are less likely to love their country than older residents are. The standard of living of the average U.S. citizen peaked in the early 1970s, and has been trending downward since then -- in spite of technological advancement. (This is the first time in U.S. history that young adults have endured a lower living standard than their parents' generation did at the same age.) The stress level of most American jobs today is excruciating, in which most employees feel extremely rushed nearly every minute of the workday. They return home from work exhausted, without any desire to socialize or acquire new friends. Loneliness is rife.

I continued my rant: one of the most defining aspects of American culture (both traditional and contemporary) is an ideal called *The American Dream*. This paradigm suggests that if a person works strenuously every day, then he or she can acquire a nice big house, own a fancy new car, buy anything he wants, become popular because of it, and find true happiness as a result. Probably 80 to 90 percent of U.S. inhabitants subscribe to this principle, and cannot imagine how they could be joyful without their "stuff." Most Americans also have poor health. They believe constant high stress (from their careers and materialistic maintenance) to be a normal and necessary way of life, and will always choose to consume cheap, chemically-processed food in order to "save money" for "stuff."

(And then, humorously, after whining about their cancers, heart conditions, and weak immune systems, most Americans arrogantly brag about being "better than" everyone else in the world because they "have more stuff." Americans call their lifestyles "freedom"; I call it slavery, regardless of the regime form.)

I concluded in my testimonial to Sissi that a *vast* difference exists between the glamour shown on U.S. television and in movies, versus the stark reality of living in America. It is entirely incompatible with my values and objectives; I don't fit the culture, and am searching for a better place. And from what I had observed in China -- and especially in Chongqing -- the young adults appeared much happier, healthier, and more human, in spite of owning fewer material possessions. The layout of their metropolises did not require them to own a personal vehicle and drive everywhere, which virtually all U.S. cities do. And nobody was labeled a "loser" for not having a house.

Sissi was both shocked and fascinated by my revelations as we proceeded toward the downtown area of Shanghai. She replied that she had heard about Americans being more stressed, but had never received the story directly from a U.S. citizen. It was a worthwhile and meaningful conversation, and I even gave her the name of a website called Happier Abroad (http://www.happierabroad.com) that explains in-depth why a small but significant number of young Americans are yearning to escape.

Well, we finally neared downtown, and it was time for the epic battle to commence between this city and Chongqing. Which one would win my heart the most? The contest was sure to be interesting.

Tall, fabulous buildings greeted me more and more often as I approached the Huangpu River, which runs through the center of Shanghai. But when crossing over the river on the fancy Nanpu Bridge and looking north toward the heart of downtown, Shanghai made a sensational first impression.

The Bodacious Beast of the East proudly pounded its chest and let out an unmistakable howling roar so shocking, that it could be heard piercingly for hundreds of miles with an ominous echo. Literally thousands of new and futuristic skyscrapers dotted the scenery in every direction, on such a scale that would easily rival New York City's. Everywhere I faced, hundreds of cranes and magnificent structures galore gazed at my eyes in alluring fashion. And for the first time, I also beheld the magnificent Pudong city skyline, which flaunts the famous Oriental Pearl Tower, Jin Mao Tower, and soon-to-be-finished World Financial Center. It all was such an amazing sight that in one fell swoop, it instantly topped Chongqing in the categories of scale, spectacle, and elegance. Shanghai's ferocious onslaught was underway...in a big way.

But simultaneously, the view also exposed a flaw: it undoubtedly was the smoggiest urban area I had ever seen. In the other three cities, my lungs didn't notice the smog in the least bit. But they could in Shanghai, albeit barely. Luckily it didn't bother me.

I continued trekking toward my hotel, situated a few miles northwest of the city's center. A plethora of more fantastic buildings passed me by in a grandeur I had never perceived, and it all seemed like a marvelous dream. While waiting at an intersection, however, I peered at the cab driver in the next vehicle and uttered to Sissi, "Hey, there's something I haven't seen before: a chubby Chinese person!"

She explained that heaps of fast-food restaurants tainted the city, and about 10 percent of Shanghai residents were overweight. I was both surprised and intrigued at this.

We finally reached the accommodation, and after checking in for a three-night stay, I was left alone to explore for the remainder of the day. I initially relaxed in my room for a while and familiarized myself with the city map and subway system (the system was super-extensive, well-established, and complex). Then, in late afternoon, I stepped outside to put the Bodacious Beast to the test. What were its people like? How would my experience make me feel?

I strolled over to the Shanghai Railway Station and found the subway tunnel. As with the other cities, it featured touchscreen vending machines and had similar prices. I selected The People's Square as my first stop, changed to another train route, and rode it to the Nanjing Road exit. But unlike in Shenzhen and Chongqing, the trains' interiors here did not sport bright colors.

I ascended the stairwell and entered onto Nanjing Road. Finally, there it was...the most famous shopping avenue in all of China. I had seen hundreds of Internet pictures and videos of this corridor for more than a year, and was actually witnessing it in person. Flamboyant hues adorned the outsides of storefronts, stretching for at least a mile. Fancy buildings towered over me in all directions, crowds of people were bustling about, and no actual street existed (this pathway was special). It once again was a spectacular scene to behold.

But almost immediately, merchants began hounding me. "Come into my store and buy something!" they demanded, persistently and obnoxiously. "I can sell you this! I can sell you that!"

Some of them even followed me for more than 100 meters before giving up. And probably all of them were singling me out for being a white guy, by assuming I was flush with cash.

After ending up at The People's Square on the west edge of the shopping strip, I turned around and walked along it again (in the opposite direction) to head toward the Huangpu River. But this time, a young woman greeted me upon re-entering. She acted very nice and introduced herself as Melisa, and we became acquainted for about 15 minutes while strolling down Nanjing Road. Merchants kept heckling, and I continued to brush them off. As we neared the east edge of the market strip, however, she spoke with a soft damsel-in-distress tone, "It's very hot out here. Let's go inside and have a beer!"

I instantly said no; I wanted to experience the view from the river, and then return to the hotel for a much-needed good night's rest. She replied, "It's not completely dark yet, and the river scene won't be at it's best. Let's go inside and have a drink!"

I must have told her "no" at least four times.

Soon we were past the shopping area, and I concluded the conversation with, "Why don't we just exchange E-mail addresses? Then if I choose to live in Shanghai, we can meet somewhere."

She reluctantly settled upon that, mentioned that she enjoyed meeting me, and left.

As I continued walking, I felt happy about the encounter, but a bit suspicious of her motives. Was she up to something?

I soon arrived at the edge of the Huangpu River just after dark, along what is known as The Bund. This is a lengthy row of 100-year-old, Western-style buildings facing the river, which welcomed foreigners to China many decades ago. But the ultra-famous, mouth-dropping spectacle was the Pudong city skyline across the river, as viewed from The Bund.

And what a scene it was. The Oriental Pearl Tower sparkled with a flashing rainbow of lights, as did many of the other skyscrapers. Two of the buildings boasted enormous TV projection screens along their sides, and dazzling colors illuminated many of the other structures. This was another sight I was so glad to witness firsthand after looking at numerous pictures on the Web during the past year.

After a half hour in awe, I returned to Nanjing Road again to observe its nighttime brilliance. And once again, it absolutely blew me away. Energetic vivid radiance glittered at me from every facade for more than a mile, with wild marquee signs beaming their vigor as far as I could see. The scenery instantaneously outdid Jiefang Bei's, and I was mesmerized.

But right away when re-entering the market strip, another young gal who acted friendly introduced herself as Lisa, and immediately began using the same words and voice tone as "Melisa" had done. Within less than five minutes, she solicited, "It's very hot. Let's go in here for a beer!"

I probably said "no" about three times until she backed off and left me alone.

By then, despite all the bright lights, I knew something was shady. I recalled reading a horror story on the Internet prior to the trip. It warned about fiends luring Western tourists into certain bars and cafes in China, and charging them exorbitant amounts for the drinks. (My tour guide the next day confirmed this was the case.)

As I continued roaming Nanjing Road, I must have shrugged off at least 15 more annoying merchants, and two more female swindlers. Finally, I went to the subway and rode it back.

Wow...the Beast of the East was certainly getting clumsy...and mean!

The social experience of Shanghai obviously was frustrating that evening, but the amusing icing on the cake presented itself as I rounded the corner at my hotel. A lady standing on the sidewalk addressed me as I passed by with, "Hi, I want to give you a massage. We can go up to your room, and I can give you sex!"

Attempting to avoid laughing, I answered that I was searching for a girlfriend and not a one-night stand, and walked away.

Ugh! What a strange difference Shanghai was, compared to the other Chinese cities. I reflected upon my adventures that day while preparing for bed. Unlike the wonderful and genuine people of Shenzhen and especially of Chongqing, within the first few hours of exploring Shanghai I had met four devious scammers, about 34 obnoxious retailers, and a hooker outside my hotel. I felt like everyone in Shanghai was chasing me for money, and not friendship. The only folks who seemed nice were simply posing for cash.

I felt incredibly relieved that I had opted to visit Shanghai as the final city on this trip, and not as the first one. Boy...would that have given me a devastating first impression of China if that had been the case! Prior to the trip, I had read on the Internet that Shanghai was China's "best city," and that it was "the place to be" if you desire to earn a large amount of money. But it also was "the place" where everyone in public seemed to be *pursuing me* for money. Did I really want to live in a metropolis where merchants, swindlers, and whores constantly hound me because I'm white? And would a location where I continually feel suspicious toward others -- where trust is the exception and not the norm -- ever have a hope in hell of becoming my favorite city?

In spite of its glorious spectacle and magnificence, the Bodacious Beast of the East had seriously fumbled the football in its hotly-contested epic showdown with Chongqing. After only one day of battle, Chongqing was already emerging with a solid and nearly insurmountable lead. Chongqing's heroic virtues had withstood Shanghai's monstrous blitz -- with unwavering courage and stability. The game wasn't finished yet, but my mind was almost settled.

During the following two days, could Shanghai repair its image and avoid the embarrassment of being totally routed? And what would these next two days teach me about China? I awaited the answers eagerly as I fell asleep.


Wednesday, July 23rd

I headed out from the hotel with Sissi around 9:30 AM for a full day and evening of activities. The first venue was the Yuyuan Garden, a classical tourist attraction originally constructed in 1577. It contained several historic buildings and relics, small ponds, and a courtyard with a Confucius statue. It also featured a teahouse that Queen Elizabeth II and President Bill Clinton each had frequented in the recent past. Upon entering the site, however, several annoying souvenir sellers in the crowd instantly besieged me, and Sissi told them to scram. (This was my first time this had ever occurred in the presence of a tour guide on the trip.)

The next excursion was the Shanghai Museum. It was a modern facility that displayed objects and artifacts from the last 5,000 years, and offered a supplementary audio headset available in English. My memorable moment at this place, though, was my second encounter with young Western women on the trip.

I was descending an escalator and noticed two attractive blondes riding up in the other direction. I made eye contact with one of them and smiled. Her reaction was a quick glare and a frown, and then she looked away permanently.

"Yep!" I thought to myself. "This supports my theory...that after all these lonely years, the 'problem' isn't me after all."

I had a lively and lengthy discussion with Sissi about this during lunch. We ate at a restaurant on the north edge of The Bund, and discussed the subject of women, relationships, and romance.

I elucidated about my complete lack of a love life since my early days of high school (I'm now 30 years old), and listed several major reasons for this super-long slump:

1. I'm not a Christian, which 85 percent of Americans are, and most require a mate who shares similar religious creeds and passions.
2. I don't want kids and have already had a vasectomy, while probably more than 80 percent of American women desire to raise children.
3. I earn less than $40,000 annually, which is an automatic disqualification for about half of American women.
4. I don't fit in with American society and culture (neither traditional nor contemporary), as explained throughout this trip report.
5. Americans in general are very cliquish, prefer not to make new friends, and are usually fearful toward anyone who's different from them.
6. A substantial percentage of young straight females in the U.S. are extremely insecure and uninterested in men.

Sissi was quite intrigued at this tragic tale. She first responded, "Perhaps you just don't understand women?"

I thought about that for a minute, and then replied that it's probably merely Western women who baffle me.

She then warned that most Chinese gals also wish to raise children, as Americans do.

In addressing that issue, I indicated that five of those six alienating factors listed above are entirely *reversed* in China. I also pointed out the massive population numbers and densities of Shenzhen, Chongqing, and Shanghai, and contrasted them with Oklahoma City's relative insignificance. I reasoned that in urban China, I would have a tendency to acquire a *plethora* of genuine friends -- both male and female -- unlike in the U.S. And within that large group, at least several of them most likely would tell me, "Hey Joe, I know somebody who's looking for someone just like you!"

So mathematically, my odds of finding a compatible girlfriend in China are roughly between 100 and 1,000 times greater than in Oklahoma.

Sissi then mentioned that most Chinese women are seeking a man who is monogamous, and who could be a decent husband. This news was very encouraging to me, since I personally exhibit that need, and hope to get married once I find the right person.

I finally concluded the fun discussion by revealing a startling detail: in America, women over the age of 50 often compliment me on my looks, whereas young gals almost never do. But throughout this trip in China, nearly every young woman I'd met had told me I was "handsome"!

Sissi was quite astounded at that dissimilarity.

Following lunch, we traveled through a street tunnel underneath the Huangpu River, and into the downtown area of Pudong. This was the heart of Shanghai's new financial district. I gazed up at more than 100 ultra-neat, magnificent skyscrapers, which actually were the coolest-looking structures seen on the entire trip. We then arrived at the front of the Jin Mao Tower, currently one of the world's 10 tallest. Nevertheless, this paled in comparison to the adjacent Shanghai World Financial Center. Its interior will be finished in December 2008, and it holds the number-three spot on the list of tallest buildings in the world (after the Burj Dubai and Taipei 101). I stood in awe as I peered up at its staggering dominance of 1,615 feet (492 meters).

I subsequently entered the Jin Mao Tower, and rode the elevator to the 88th-floor observation deck. The ascent was very fast, with the acceleration and deceleration so soft that the motion was hardly apparent. Unfortunately at the top, however, the vicinity's super-dense smog rendered the view less than spectacular. The picture was still impressive, but not wowing.

Afterward, while still inside the building, I toured the interior of the Grand Hyatt rotunda. This five-star hotel (which, in my opinion, should be labeled as a six-star) occupies the top third of the skyscraper. I stood from an *interior* balcony on the 85th floor, and stared down about 300 feet (90 meters) at a 56th-floor cafe at the base. I even clapped my hands once to hear the echo from the opposite wall. I then descended to the cafe and gazed up about 400 feet (120 meters) indoors at the central dome. The sight and experience of this enormous atrium were amazing and beautiful.

We returned to the lobby, and upon exiting the building with Sissi, I joked in a meek female mocking tone, "It's very hot out here. Let's go to the cab and have a ride!"

She enjoyed the humor as we traversed back under the river to the west side again. During the commute, Shanghai alas exposed another flaw. Unlike in Shenzhen and Chongqing, I began noticing that the quality of the pavement on the roads here was terrible, as I was frequently subjected to hard jolts and thuds while riding around.

So not only was the Beast of the East excessively hazy and grumpy, but bumpy, too.

I briefly visited a department store to examine how pearls are created from oysters, and then headed for dinner at Wangbaohe Restaurant. This upscale diner served delicious dumplings with a ball of chicken and soup broth inside them. Three women performing in the background with traditional Chinese instruments also made the savory meal entertaining and pleasant.

The final activity of the evening was an outstanding acrobatic show at Yunfeng Theater. Numerous stunt performers flaunted their array of talents to various music in a vibrant multihued fashion. I enjoyed a great seat near the front and center, and thoroughly relished the presentation. But at this event, I also came across my third and final young Western woman in China, sitting a few places to my left.

Prior to the show, she was already seated when I slithered past her. She had dark hair, was overweight, and appeared to be from the U.S. (and quite possibly the South). Before and after the event, I attempted making eye contact with her. I was curious about where she came from, and what she was doing in China. I know she saw me.

But during both attempts, she seemed to put forth a significant effort *not* to notice me, in a rude and paranoid fashion! She didn't seem interested in talking to me at all.

By then, the differences in temperament, classiness, and sanity between young Chinese and Western gals were obvious. I was certain that I had found the right country to cherish and build a life in.

After leaving the venue, Sissi instructed the driver to swing past a section of town with dance clubs, in order to show me the location. She recommended a hotspot called Babyface, which boasted two dance floors with different music. I also noticed a sign near that enterprise that beamed "Disco Bar," advertising another nightclub. We proceeded to my hotel following that deviation.

During the ride that evening, I felt something seriously missing from the scenery. "Where are all the bright, colorful, flashy lights I witnessed throughout Shenzhen and Chongqing?" I wondered, while peering around at the relatively lifeless structures and storefronts.

It didn't take me long to realize that Shanghai's dazzling sparkle was primarily *concentrated* in one portion of the city: Nanjing Road, The Bund, and the Pudong skyline near the river. In other words, the energetic brilliance was clustered in the one area where I was constantly hounded and beleaguered.

That night while getting ready for bed, I looked back upon that day with both satisfaction and resolve. I had totally enjoyed the sightseeing ventures and was glad to be visiting Shanghai. But simultaneously, that's only what Shanghai seemed to be good for: tourism, and not living. Chongqing's victory was all but certain at this point. My main question now was whether or not Shanghai could find a life raft to cling to that could rescue it from utter annihilation and complete embarrassment.

The trip's final full day in China was next. I anxiously awaited what I would find, and whom I would meet.


Thursday, July 24th

For the whole day I was on my own to explore the city. I awoke in late morning after the hotel stopped serving breakfast, but its lunch wasn't ready yet. So I returned to my room to snack on organic raw nuts and seeds brought from home. I then left the hotel to seek a full meal and meander the malls and streets.

On the nearby sidewalks, I must have moseyed past more than a dozen fast-food chains. Several of them were the typical McDonald's, KFC, and Burger King. But when glancing inside other eating establishments, I said to myself, "Oh wait...that's Chinese fast food. That stuff's bad, too!"

I finally discovered a place by the name of C. Straits Cafe on the second floor of a building, and devoured a decent Western-style meal that included spaghetti with meat sauce.

Afterward I browsed a few neighboring five-story department stores. Most of them maintained plenty of staff available, although not as much as in Chongqing. And even though the stores and merchandise were very clean, modern, and elegant, fewer bright colors were present, compared to the other cities. Luckily, though, no one hounded me.

I next rode the subway a few miles to Huaihai Road. Several shopping malls abounded here, and it was close to the Babyface nightclub. Many of the malls were five or six floors, and extensive. Although most contained *some* stores with luscious spectrums adorning them, fewer existed than in Shenzhen and Chongqing. But on a positive note, several cute Chinese women smiled at me in passing!

I later rounded a corner that took me back toward The People's Square. When approaching that park, however, I needed to walk onto the west edge of Nanjing Road's market strip in order to access the street tunnel leading into the square. While briefly traversing that section, a middle-aged man introduced himself and told me he wanted to learn better English. I replied that I was aspiring to teach English in China and learn Mandarin. He acted very excited, and within a minute, requested boisterously, "Let's go get some coffee together at this shop right here!"

"No," I answered. "I'd like to return to my hotel and relax for awhile."

"Yeah, but come on! Let's go have some coffee!"

After the third or fourth solicitation, I simply gave him the cold shoulder and ditched the scammer. I chuckled to myself about it while riding the subway, and soon arrived back at the hotel to chill out and reflect upon a broader topic.

I pondered about the meaning of "cosmopolitan" society versus "local modern" culture, and about whether a person has a preference for one or the other, depending on where he lives. Throughout most of my life in Oklahoma, I had always been enticed by the cosmopolitan societies of New York City and Los Angeles. I was bored with -- and often repulsed by -- the local mainstream culture of America, and those two cities seemed to advertise a more worldly experience.

But when visiting China, the local modern characteristics of Shenzhen and Chongqing put me in absolute cultural ecstasy. Shanghai, on the other hand, is known as *China's* most cosmopolitan city, and I found its society to be *less* appealing. Now of course, I certainly would choose Shanghai over New York or L.A. in a heartbeat, but it totally paled in comparison to my taste for Shenzhen and Chongqing.

What does this experience indicate? It strongly suggests that I had truly discovered a nation that was *distinctively* compatible with my values, preferences, and lifestyle. I had an enthusiastic fondness for China's local, urban, modern culture *far more* than I ever could for "worldly" society. Obviously this was bad news for Shanghai, but it was excellent news for China in terms of my liking.

Following this musing I headed outside for dinner. After roving past another plethora of fast-food places, I found a Chinese cafe and gobbled a delicious meal with beef, rice, and vegetables. I then returned to the hotel to check E-mail and change into nicer clothing.

To my pleasant surprise, one of the gals I met at the Chongqing Wal-Mart had sent me a message! It was from Min, who expressed that she was happy to meet me, and hoped that I could come to China again so we could keep in contact. I was quite flattered to receive her E-mail, and replied that a very high chance existed for me choosing to move to Chongqing and building a life there. I also wrote, "The people of Chongqing are awesome."

So even while visiting Shanghai, Chongqing was continuing to score more points to extend its astounding lead.

After switching outfits, I took a taxi to the area with the Disco Bar and Babyface venues. I first approached the facade with the former marquee and asked the doormen, "Is this the Disco Bar?" They pointed in the direction of Babyface, so apparently, the Disco Bar hadn't yet debuted. Shortly thereafter I walked into Babyface to begin my final night of clubbing on the trip.

The place was packed with people (with an equal ratio of males to females), and contained two dancefloors: one featuring hip-hop and mellow R&B, and the other playing house music. I opted for the floor with the house-music beat and took my spot. Some of the songs were OK and others good, but none were great. The melodies just weren't as bubbly, bright, and happy as at the hotspots frequented in Shenzhen and Chongqing. Overall, the atmosphere was satisfactory and enjoyable, but the place didn't wow me.

At this point, the Beast of the East was preparing to be hauled out of the boxing ring on a stretcher. The epic showdown was nearing its end, and Shanghai was facing the prospect of dire humiliation from a total rout. It seemed to possess few outstanding assets besides scale and spectacle, versus the other cities.

But suddenly, somehow, desperate Shanghai finally found the vital life raft it needed to save its precious dignity from dreadful disaster.

An attractive woman whose English name was Shelly made eye contact with me on the dancefloor and introduced herself. We grooved together joyfully for about five songs, and then I inquired, "Why don't we go somewhere in here where it's quieter, where we can talk and get to know each other a little?"

She graciously concurred, and we delighted in a worthwhile chat in another room and became acquainted. She currently was working as a general agent for a Korean shipping company, and was fascinated that I was learning Mandarin and aspiring to move to China. I told her how much I liked the Chinese people, how much better I fit the culture, and how superior she was to American women! She was quite thrilled to hear that.

We exchanged contact information, and then returned to the dancefloor together for another half hour or so. The music was only marginal, but dancing with Shelly made the experience all the better.

We finally exited Babyface after 1 AM, and she introduced me to her nice friend Linda outside the club. Linda worked as a logistics associate for an ATM company. The three of us conversed for a while, and they both informed me that if I chose to live in Shanghai, then they could help me search for employment as an English teacher.

I expressed my gratitude and told them I'd let them know after returning home which city was my most preferred. (At that minute my mind wasn't 100-percent decided, but Chongqing's victory was still imminent.)

At last we called it a night, shook hands sincerely, and waved our goodbyes. As I was climbing into a cab, however, Shanghai's flaws reasserted themselves. An old lady was selling roses on the sidewalk, and obnoxiously stuck them in my face. She finally gave up when I tried closing the cab door forcefully enough to possibly damage her merchandise.

While heading back to the hotel, I was in pleasant disbelief. After 12 years of patronizing dance clubs, I, for the first time, had just managed to meet a gorgeous woman who actually was interested enough in becoming acquainted with me away from the dancefloor. Wow! China had thoroughly impressed me once again.

Upon arriving back in my hotel room, I decided that the favorite-city contest was concluded, with Chongqing the obvious champion. Although Shanghai was defeated, it had managed to score several late points to render its loss respectable. Despite its many faults and shortcomings, the Bodacious Beast had a heart after all.

By now I was getting tired of traveling, and was ready to return to Oklahoma the next day. But I also was longing to make Chongqing my new home in the near future. The feelings of excitement and resolve guided me to sleep.


Friday, July 25th

At noon I checked out of the hotel and handed in my rented Chinese cellphone at the concierge desk. Sissi was in the lobby, waiting to accompany me to Pudong Airport. While en route I described to her my awesome social experience at Babyface, and she was pleased. She was a bit startled when I announced that Chongqing was my most-preferred city (and not Shanghai), but she understood.

We reached the airport, and she led me inside to show me where to register. The line was very long and the staff spoke English, so Sissi and I gave our farewells. In parting I proclaimed, "This is not the end of my Chinese experience, but only the beginning!"

The departure was at 3 PM on a large China Eastern Airlines jet. I immediately set my watch back to 12 AM for Los Angeles' time to begin Friday #2, and the flight was 11 1/2 hours. I sat next to a friendly American woman in her 60's who lived near L.A., and was on a sightseeing tour. She mentioned that she also is into organic foods and natural health, in order to avoid the regular American-processed food. She also disclosed that one of her sons shares my sentiments about young women in the U.S.

Just before noon I arrived at the Los Angeles airport, retrieved my luggage, and passed through customs. Rather than my receiving the anticipated "third degree," the official didn't even open my bags. He simply asked if I was carrying any foreign animals or agricultural products, and let me pass.

I trekked across the airport to the United Airlines terminal, checked in, and loitered at the gate for several hours. During that interval I overheard a young woman whine, "Gosh, I just had this five-and-a-half hour flight, and it was sooooooooo long!"

I wanted to approach her while haughtily pointing and laughing, but didn't.

Takeoff was at 7 PM with a sub-three-hour ride. I landed in Oklahoma City at 11:45 PM local time to finish the 22-hour journey, and my parents welcomed me. I obtained my luggage and they kindly drove me to my apartment. They were happy to hear that I had a blast.


Conclusion

At the time of writing this finale, four weeks have passed since arriving back. I've already received communication from most of the people I met, and never did I imagine that my adventures in China would be so meaningful as to require more than 14,000 words of narratives.

This trip has thoroughly and inspirationally confirmed the optimism that my longtime youthful dreams can still be realized. It has rekindled my deepest hopes that somewhere in this world exists a place where I truly can assimilate with my own identity still intact, where my personal uniquenesses are assets -- and not liabilities.

I have always fervently desired to find an available beautiful woman who shares my values and passions, and who is really interested in the qualities I possess. I have always wished to find many true friends who enjoy similar hobbies and pursuits, and who actually do care about making new friends. And drawing from the resulting motivation that this sought-after social life and love life can bring me, I, for a long time, have aspired to someday write, compose, and perform my own pop music with utmost enthusiasm and glory.

I now am 30 years old, and it's time for me to stop dreaming my dreams behind closed doors. I have spent the last 15 years developing my inner world, and am now ready to build my outer world -- in a harmonious and receptive place.

So ladies and gentlemen, that's my story. My concern now shifts to the logistical planning and preparation for my move to Chongqing. I probably will complete an online certification program for teaching English as a second language prior to my relocation, and will be contacting many knowledgeable people for advice. I also will be selling most of my personal belongings, including my vehicle with a massive sound system. Ultimately, I wish to return to China by the end of October if possible.

It's a wonderful world out there. I hope to be on my way soon.
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Postby Winston » Mon Aug 25, 2008 3:34 pm

Thanks for posting this trip report. I know you have a lot of pictures from China. Can you upload them to an account at www.picasaweb.com or www.flickr.com?

Those are two popular photo sharing sites that are easy to use. Then you can give us the link to it and we can view all your pictures.

Thanks for recommending my site to Sissi, though I hope the home page doesn't turn her off and make her think this is a sex tourism site. lol

If you have her email, you can just send her the link to the list of quotes from foreigners and immigrants about the US. It gets more to the point without having to wade through a lot of stuff.

http://www.happierabroad.com/ebook/Page32.htm

I hope to be able to travel to China someday too, and meet you.

BTW, why did you pick China instead of Japan, Vietnam or any other Asian country?
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Postby DiscoPro_Joe » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:02 pm

"BTW, why did you pick China instead of Japan, Vietnam or any other Asian country?"

Because of its booming economy, its dramatic rise in living standards generating a huge sense of optimism among the young adults, its amazing cities, its urban contemporary culture, its women sharing my sense of classic feminism (without the paranoid form of modern "feminism"), its valuing of consumerism without putting it above personal health, prudence, or balance in life, its love of capitalism without "social democracy," political correctness, or imperialism.
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Postby DiscoPro_Joe » Tue Aug 26, 2008 9:15 pm

By the way, Winston, why did you choose the Philippines, considering that 90% of its population is Christian?
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Postby Mr S » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:11 am

If you are serious about teaching English overseas I would not do an online TEFL/TESOL course. You want to go to a location where you can have face to face instruction.

The reason for this is if you ever want to branch out to work at more legit educational places, those places will not recognize an online certification program.

Actually many do not recognize many TEFL/TESOL programs either as most are not independently certified by an outside agency.

I would suggest flying to a country and school that offers a certified "CELTA" certificate program. CELTA is recognized all around the world and is verified by outside educational agencies.

If you don't want to pay or fly to another country to do CELTA training than go ahead and find a decent face to face TEFL/TESOL program.

I have a TEFL and ran into this problem trying to apply for a more lucrative teaching position as they would not recognize my TESOL as an approved and certified training program. I eventually earned myself a masters degree in education to get around this, but you will run into barriers in the future if you want to move up the educational ladder as there is a lot of competition for the more lucrative teaching positions with decent pay.

Here is a list I pulled off a website that lists different training programs in various countries: http://www.learn4good.com/schools_list/ ... te_map.htm

Just giving you some solid advice from personal experience teaching in various Asian countries.

Also just to give my two-cents worth I prefer SE Asians to NE Asians. For me they are more attractive and more easy going than Chinese, Japanese or Koreans. SE Asians aren't as obsessed as their northern bretheren about making a quick buck. However most Asians seem to be obsessed with money in one manner or another, just in various forms. I can tolerate SE Asians more than I can NE. Just my personal preference.
Last edited by Mr S on Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mr S » Wed Aug 27, 2008 9:12 am

This is the leveling of teaching jobs overseas and who gets top dibs on jobs:

Education majors - Masters, bachelors
English majors - same
TEFL/ESL majors- generally they have a masters degree not undergraduate

Than you start dropping into the any undergaduate degree with a "CELTA" or "DELTA" who is a native speaker.

Than you just change "CELTA/DELTA" to "TEFL/TESOL" certificate

Native speaking individuals who just have an undergraduate degree but no CELTA or TEFL/TESOL but teaching experience

next to last are individuals who have just a CELTA/DELTA or TEFL/TESOL but no undergraduate degree

Bottom of the barrel are native speakers with no undergraduate degree or certification but have some ESL teaching experience (or so they say)

This is a general leveling of who is out there overseas trying to teach English.
Last edited by Mr S on Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:36 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby DiscoPro_Joe » Wed Aug 27, 2008 11:11 am

Thanks for the sound advice, Mr. S.

Tell me what you think of these two:

Beijing Cambridge CELTA

Zhuhai TESOL

TESOL is just as good, if not better, than TEFL; is that true?

The CELTA course listed above is the only one I found that's offered in China within the next several months (not until late December). I really don't want to wait that long.

On the other hand, how good does that TESOL course appear? It starts on October 20th.

After a few years (once I've become fluent in Mandarin), if I want to continue teaching English, then I might pursue a CELTA. But in the meantime, that TESOL course in Zhuhai looks like a good place to start.

What do you think?
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Postby DiscoPro_Joe » Thu Aug 28, 2008 3:51 am

Well, I'm starting to realize that the next school semester in China doesn't begin until late February. (I see that in China, the semesters are from early September to mid-January, and then late February to early July.)

So it might be best for me to wait until December to return to China. That CELTA course in Beijing might be preferable, then. After that, I could go to Chongqing in late Jan/early Feb to job hunt and live.

Otherwise, what could I do during all that idle time if I left for China in October? Be a private tutor?
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Postby Mr S » Thu Aug 28, 2008 7:51 am

Sorry I always get TESOL and TEFL mixed up. I actually have a TESOL certificate but its with a company that is not externally accredited. I found that out the hard way.

I would go for the CELTA as it’s a higher valued certificate program than a TESOL. CELTA is accredited by University of Cambridge so it enables you to get better teaching jobs around the world, and in China if you want to work there for a long time. (Example: if you wanted to get a good job in Hong Kong or Macau you would need a CELTA as they wouldn't look as highly on someone with a no name TEFL/TESOL certifcate) Also it would enable you to pursue their DELTA program which is a very good certification to have if you’re an English teacher but don't have a master’s degree or don't want to pursue one. (it's a higher end teaching cetification, basically stating you are a master guru of ESL teaching)

I'm sure you could find teaching work in China whether you are certified or not but if you have never taught before the experience and stress could overwhelm you if you have to teach a number of students in the same class. Going through the CELTA course would prepare you and give you feedback on your teaching and learning directly. If you start teaching right away you won't be getting much feedback from your employers or students as Asians never give constructive criticism as they don't want others to lose face.

If you still have a job in the states I would just keep working and saving money, than maybe a month or few weeks before the course starts travel to China and bum around until the course starts.

Another alternative is you could fly to another country to do the CELTA course if you can find one starting earlier that way you can get experience working with a different country and culture. That looks good on your resume that you have worked and taught a bit in another country as you will understand how cultural differences affects learning and teaching styles.

If you chose to do the CELTA in another Asian country it would make a good comparison for you between them and China.

To sum up I would go for a CELTA that way it will give you an option to go for a DELTA later if you wish.

If you can't do the CELTA or don't wish to, then go for a TESOL. The only problem is finding a good one as they are not monitored by any outside agency, only self. So when they say they are accredited usually means they accredit themselves! Ha, Ha so you have to really pay attention and ask a lot of questions.

You don't have to worry about that with the CELTA as any school teaching it has to get permission to do so and pass certain quality marks. So you know you will actually learn something and get your money's worth over time.

I'm kinda pissed myself that I spent over 2 grand to get a TESOL and find out it isn't worth much on paper when trying to get work with more reputable educational institutions.

So lesson learned is: Choose where you have your education wisely and make sure it's properly accredited!

Here are detailed info about CELTA and TESOL programs that are accredited:

http://www.britishcouncil.org/teacherre ... ates-2.htm
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/teac ... celta.html
http://www.trinitycollege.co.uk/

You can do a broader search here for training centers:
http://cambridgeesol-centres.org/centre ... g/index.do


I think you will get all the info you need to make a good decision from the above web sites. Let me know which one you decide to go with and how it all works out for you...

Mr S
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Postby Mr S » Thu Aug 28, 2008 8:33 am

I'm not sure if they are accredited or not. They say they are but then when you go to the accreditations main website they are not listed so they could just be scamming. This is the website I checked that the school lists as being checked for accreditation: http://www.iatquo.org/centres.shtml

I wouldn't go with them, I'd rather spend my money on a CELTA that is backed by a real university. It's possible this certificate program would not be recognized with higher end educational institutions.

Usually a really slick website with trainings every month is a dead give away. They are just for profit, not with trying to obtain any real certifcations from an outside educational body.

I wouldn't waste your money with them.

Zhuhai TESOL
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Postby Winston » Fri Aug 29, 2008 11:56 am

DiscoPro_Joe wrote:By the way, Winston, why did you choose the Philippines, considering that 90% of its population is Christian?


W: Well first of all, I don't have a problem with people being Christian, as long as they don't try to convert you or respect others or demean other people's beliefs. But most people here are Catholics. In my experience, Catholics are not much different than secular people who believe in God. They are not religious, fanatical or overly righteous. Most Filipinas can't even cite any Bible verses or explain the basic tenets of Christian theology.

As to why I chose the Philippines, well a lot of reasons:

1) The girls here speak basic English, so the language barrier isn't as much of an issue as it would be with Thailand.
2) I've heard so many wonderful stories from western men who went there.
3) Filipinas are open, like to meet people, and easy to chat up, so my approach of meeting girls in public fits in there. But in most of Asia, it wouldn't be as easy.
4) There are dark and light skinned Filipinas, so I can date oriental looking girls here too.
5) The Philippines is very pro-US and American friendly.
6) It's also one of the easiest places to get sex, so I knew that I wouldn't be suffering from horniness and deprived all the time.
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Postby Winston » Fri Aug 29, 2008 12:13 pm

DiscoPro_Joe wrote:Well, I'm starting to realize that the next school semester in China doesn't begin until late February. (I see that in China, the semesters are from early September to mid-January, and then late February to early July.)

So it might be best for me to wait until December to return to China. That CELTA course in Beijing might be preferable, then. After that, I could go to Chongqing in late Jan/early Feb to job hunt and live.

Otherwise, what could I do during all that idle time if I left for China in October? Be a private tutor?


W: What do you mean? You can't find anything to do in a country full of friendly beautiful women?!

If you have a few months free there, you can go sightseeing, meet women in public places, visit museums, take pictures, go hiking, see panda bears in their protected preserves, read, study, learn tai chi, meet girls from online, etc. etc. Heck you can even walk along the Great Wall!

The options are endless!

Are you one of those Americans who feel bored without a job? I've never understood those types.

I'm sure you can find a cheap nice place to rent. Then you can study Chinese, do something on the internet, go meet Chinese people and have lunch with them, etc. Or go party at night. Or learn kung fu. Or whatever.

Or you can study for your TEFL test. There's so many things you can do! Having free idle time is a blessing!
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Postby DiscoPro_Joe » Fri Aug 29, 2008 6:54 pm

WWu777 wrote:If you have a few months free there, you can go sightseeing, meet women in public places, visit museums, take pictures, go hiking, see panda bears in their protected preserves, read, study, learn tai chi, meet girls from online, etc. etc. Heck you can even walk along the Great Wall!

The options are endless!

Are you one of those Americans who feel bored without a job? I've never understood those types.

I'm sure you can find a cheap nice place to rent. Then you can study Chinese, do something on the internet, go meet Chinese people and have lunch with them, etc. Or go party at night. Or learn kung fu. Or whatever.


Money plays a role in this decision. I absolutely plan on doing those things you describe during the winter and summer breaks (which are 6 weeks apiece in China). I just feel uncomfortable about having too much idle time and not enough money when I first move over there, prior to starting work.

As for feeling bored without a job, that only holds true for me here in the U.S. But in China? Not a chance of that, my friend! 8)
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