About 4 months ago we decided to move to China for an opportunity that had come up…(more on that in another post), last week on the 11th of September 2019, we boarded our plane to start our new adventure. We were leaving from Johannesburg, South Africa to land in Beijing, China.
|FINALLY got our visas after months of stress|
The plane ride over.
We had booked through Emirates, in my opinion it is the most comfortable, the food is great and the on-flight entertainment is fantastic. We had a lay over in Dubai for 4 hours, which isn’t too bad. Both flights we took were double decker planes. I personally am not the biggest fan of them because it always feels too heavy and I have a slight fear of flying. ANYWAY… our first flight was pretty empty so no one was sitting next to us, which gave us space on the three-seater to spread out. The service on that flight was phenomenal. The service is generally good on an Emirates flight, but this one was extra good. We then had our lay over in Dubai for the 4 hours. This time went quite quickly as you walk around the shops, grab something to eat, find your gate and then wait to board. This flight was very full and overcrowded. We were seated at the top of the double decker as there was an economy section upstairs, which isn’t common. But there seemed to be less space up there. We were also on a two-seater which seemed cool when we booked, and it was, as it does make it easier when you need to go to the bathroom, but like I said it was over crowded. We didn’t enjoy this flight as much. Our total travel time was about 23 hours.
Arriving in Beijing.
When we got off the plane we had to head through to immigration. First though you need to insert your fingerprints into a system so that the government have you on record. It is a digital system so it really doesn’t take that long at all and there are many stations for you to do it. Then through to the stations where your passport gets stamped. This is always nerve wracking for me as I feel they could always stop you form coming in or detain you etc. I stress over everything whilst travelling. However, we didn’t have any problems and went right through. I would say the only “problem” would be that we waited in a line for about 30 min because of the amount of people coming through at that time. I would also just like to note that is was also scary because husband is on a spousal visa so we were just extra nervous coming through, but everything turned out just fine. So, from there we went to collect our bags, this was a mission in itself, again because of the amount of people, everyone pushing each other looking for their bags. We were good though because Dillan went running after the bags and I stayed in one place watching all of our stuff. It just made it easier for us. We then purchased our sim cards, which can be done right next to the bag carousel which was pretty awesome, changed some money and went to find our driver. That process took almost two hours after landing. We found our driver, he had the most beautiful Mercedes, the interior was fabulous and comfortable. There were even cool lights right around the doors. It took us another hour and a half (instead of 45 min) to get to the apartment where we are staying temporarily, because the day after we arrived was the Mid-Autumn festival, which is a national holiday in China. So, the traffic was bad. I kept dosing off in the car because we were exhausted.
The apartment and area where we live.
After our long travel time we finally arrived at our apartment. The buildings here are so different to back home, there are skyscrapers everywhere, but funny enough not as many as you would think, but I also think that’s the area where we live. There is a lot of greenery everywhere and people really take care of their environment. Anyway, back to the apartment. Currently we are staying on the 8th floor which gives us a great view od the city. We are staying in Beiyuan. So, we lug our many bags up and put everything down, then my amazing HR director shows us everything in the apartment along with the estate agent. Then the HR Lady (lets call her V) takes us to get some food, show us a round a little bit and helps us get some essentials for the apartment, like breakfast and toilet paper. She wanted to show us where the important things were so that we would survive the long weekend. We then went back to the apartment, let everyone know we were safe and then slept. We slept until 2pm the next day, that’s how exhausted we were. Over the weekend we proceeded to look around our blocks and found three great grocery stores. We didn’t stop walking and my feet ended up being super swollen. We eventually figured out that we could use the app DIDI (this is an app like Uber, for taxis, the don’t have Uber in China) without using WeChat Pay (this is an app within WeChat ((WeChat is like WhatsApp, but the Chinese version)) that you pay for everything with. But we couldn’t set ours upset because we didn’t have a bank account yet.) We could use DIDI with my credit card so we went to a big mall about 3km and found Carrefour. This is a mall that stocks a lot of imported goods as well as local goods. We also went apartment hunting because the place we are staying in now is temporarily, it was what the school organized for us to stay in until we managed to find a place. We found a great place not too far from the school so we are pleased.
The Monday before work started.
So here in China there are many laws in place for foreigners to work, but not only that, there are just a lot of laws if you are going to work with children. In order for you to get the permanent residence permit, you have to go through a medical check. I would suggest, if you are going to Beijing, not to do it at home, because there is a whole center you have to go to here, and even if you have done it already back home, you have to do it again, so save your money and do it here. It costs about 500 RMB to do the test and you will need about an hour if it isn’t too busy and you get there early. Now this process is pretty efficient and harmless. Once you register, you are given a check list and a page with stickers on (the stickers have your name and a barcode). The stickers are taken at each station so that they have the records down. The check list has all of the procedures you need to have done. For example, you need to have blood tests done, a chest x-ray, an eye test, a chest sonar, a vitals test, an ecg for the heart, and a BMI test. Its really quick once you are in the room, each one doesn’t take more than about 2 min. The most invasive thing was when they had to take the vile of blood. You can go to the rooms in any order as long as you get your check list signed and they take the sticker for each one. You then hand in the paperwork at the end and it takes a few days to process. Now what was interesting to me, is that the whole thing is fairly inexpensive, back home if you had to do all of those checks, you would possibly pay triple maybe more for all of those things to be done. (We passed our medicals so we are very happy about that)
We then waited for our police registration which didn’t take long, and then went to open a bank account. This was a long process because we are foreigners but V was there every step of the way helping us. We got it done and managed to link it up with WeChat pay which is great. We also went to sign for our apartment and V helped us with that too. We had lunch with V at this great place called Tulip Coffee. Their food was really good. In China it is their custom to order lots of dishes, put in the middle of the table and share it.
All in all, the Monday was extremely busy but we got everything done we needed to which was great.
First Week of Work.
I was hired as a foreign English teacher at a Kindergarten. So far, it is really great. During the week I’ve been training and I was only supposed to get my class on Monday, but the substitute left on Thursday so I had to start with my class on Friday. (I was late in coming to China because of paperwork issues so classes started 2 weeks before.) I have a class of 2-year olds. They are adorable and a lot of work, but I am up for the challenge. On Friday I got home from work and we were going to go get food, husband goes " are you going to shower before we go?', I say "why do I stink?", He goes "I am trying to tell you nicely", I say "what I do stink of?" he says, "Children" hahahahaha
Because we had arrived on the Thursday and have had heavy jet-lag, we haven’t gotten to see a lot of Beijing as of yet, but yesterday we decided that before the rugby game (South Africa vs New Zealand) we would go to a place called Lama Temple. We took a train ride and did a connection and then got there. When we left the station, we were confused as to where to go, husband was like we should have had a game plan. I said “I DID, we get here and look for the Buddha”. So, there were two temples in the space of about a block so we went to both, one was the Lama Temple, which inside of the one temple is a big Buddha. This was beautiful, the detail was incredible. They have incent burners everywhere that is like a big braai (BBQ). They use this to pray. The other temple was Confucius Temple and Memorial. This was interesting as they had his ashes in a shrine and many other people in the shrine as well. They were all in was seemed like concrete coffins. They also put on a mini show at this temple which was beautiful to watch. We then left a bit early because we didn’t want to miss the Rugby hehe.
NOW (Sunday 22 September 2019)
It is now Sunday morning. It is the first morning I have woken up and not felt completely exhausted. MAYBE my jet lag will go away soon YAY. Husband is still sleeping and I am excited to finally share our first week of our journey.
That’s all for now, see you later my Chinas. (in South Africa there is a saying that if you call someone your china, you are calling them your friend, a mate, it’s a positive term, and I am being punny hahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha)