I have successfully touched down in China and have navigated my way to a small three-station internet hovel, situated in a 3-foot wide dead-end alley, to send you greetings! I hope to be able to write folks individually and with more frequency once I get everything together.
My apartment is good and very non-western, I will take photos as soon as I can. Suffice it to say that my shower, stove, washing machine (score!) and mop sink are all within 36 inches of one another, while my refrigerator is at the other end of the apartment, by the television. I have three clean rooms, which seems luxurious when I look at some other living quarters around here. I am in a funky old building with a lot of Chinese, and we have chickens in the courtyard! If the air is still and the day warm (as it has been), the open drain alongside the building can be a bit, um, fragrant.
So far I have gone to the Wal-Mart and stocked up on some basics (cleaning supplies!!!), eaten at a couple of really cool holes-in-the-wall, and found a bar. Dinner of a delicious chicken and rice soup bowl was about 30 cents and a giant bottle of beer (the standard is 355 ml, I believe) was about 70 cents. Everyone drinks 40's here :-) ! Budweiser is readily available, but Wind-Sun-Moon brand was very good at $1.20 at a fancy (or should I say "fancy") bar. I have found an incredible farmers' market, and as soon as I figure out what all the food is and how to cook it I will be shopping happily. Big tubs of live eels, whee!! I am completely lost at this point regarding the food. I guess I'll be eating a lot of rice until I get it sorted out.
There are an awful lot of Chinese here. My limited speaking skills have come in handy, but I have forgotten a bunch, and really didn't know an enormous amount to begin with. It will come back shortly, I expect. I start work tomorrow morning, and classes start next week. I have no idea what I'm teaching yet, but should find out tomorrow. Another woman from Bellingham is furious because she's been assigned to a high school instead of graduate school as she was promised. Evidently, discipline was non-existent in her class. Yi! Based on the level of Engish-speaking I've encountered so far, I'm a little worried about classes. Another teacher was advised to use very small words.
Well, I'll let it go at that. I hope everyone has been well in the three whole days I've been gone. Boy, a lot can happen in three days if you want it to! :-)