March

 

 

 

We try to get of the city at weekends to explore the nearby countryside.  Some areas are surprisingly beautiful, with not a skyscraper or factory in sight.  One Sunday we hiked upto a typical Chinese pagoda, perched right on the top of the hill. Chris had just picked up the latest childrens hiking boots from his factory visit in Indonesia which Henry and Amelia enjoyed testing out.

 

   

     

                                        

          

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One of the aspects of our lives here that I really appreciate is the fact that we live in a quiet, residential neighbourhood in a green area on the outskirts of the city.  When we drive home with the lake on one side and the golf course on the other side and enter our neighbourhood I feel we are leaving the skyscrapers, the pollution and the noise behind us. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We are getting used to eating Chinese food. Amelia in particular loves it and gets stuck in with her chop sticks, swishing it all down with gulps of Chinese tea!  She is still renownd at school for asking for second helpings of school lunch!

 

         

 

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The monsoon season has started early! Just as we were getting used to the warm, dry weather we are now getting our raincoats and wellies out. It has rained everyday this week, with the rain getting heavier day-by-day. Thunderstorms and lightening are becoming the norm on a scale I have never seen anywhereelse in the world.  I picked Amelia up at lunchtime during the first storm, the sky was so dark she asked if it was bedtime. Now I know why our house does not have gutters: the rain is so heavy and torrential they would just overflow in no time.

   

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One of the weekends Chris was away on business we went a friend to the Science Museum in Guangzhou, an hour away.  It was amazing.  Henry said he wanted to live there as there were just so many fun things to do (especially compared to Dongguan!).

 

   

 

   

 

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We made a day trip at the weekend to Shenzhen, located an hour away just before the China / Hong Kong border. The children enjoyed exploring a large park featuring China's sights in miniature and Henry now wants to re-create it all with his lego at home!

 

Shenzhen became China's first Special Economic Zone in the late 1980's under Deng Xiaoping and transformed from what was then just a tiny poor fishing village into a booming metropolis.  Shenzhen is now China's richest city so it is no wonder that it proudly displays enormous billboards featuring China's then leader.  The endless factories and dormitories for migrant workers start here and carry on for hours inland.  Most people give this place a wide berth but we were intrigued by the place's transformation in the past twenty years. The ultra-modern architecture was amazing!

  

 

Being a coastal city we ended the day at the Xiomeisha beach. Most of the Chinese stood fully-clothed by the waters edge, keeping on their winter poloneck jumpers and jackets.  It was a really hot day and as well as being the only white people(as usual) we were the only ones in shorts and short sleeves t-shirts.

     

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Henry had a fun playdate recently. His friend, like most people here, lives in an appartment and is fortunate to be on the top floor and have a huge roof terrace with wonderful views over the city. The boys here are into Alterman Superhero - Henry enjoyed re-enacting it all.

   

We stayed for dinner which was a huge feast of Korean rice rolls, Japanese Sushi, Chinese rice paper wraps and Italian pasta. Amelia's friend inthe photo below is only two but already eats with chopsticks.

 

While we were there Amelia learnt to ride a 'grown-up bike' and spent two hours going round and round with the city of Dongguan and the residential skyscrapers in the background.

 

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Our visas expired towards the end of March so we needed to make the trip over the border to Hong Kong to renew them.  The date coincided with Mothers Day and escaping to Hong Kong was the best treat I could have had!  It was our first visit there and what a contrast it was with Dongguan:  street cafes with muffins and croissants, shops with clothes bigger than a size 8, All the things that I took forgranted in the UK but now have to learn to live without!   It was a wonderful long weekend and I have created a dedicated page to share our stories:

 

                   http://www.themolefamily.co.uk/Hongkong.html

 

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I had a fun experience trying to get my hair cut. You can’t go wrong I thought: just cut a straight line across the bottom. I hed experimented with Henry first to see what it would be like. At the age of 4 he enjoyed a full-on head massage whilst his hair was washed 3 times over whilst lying completely horizontal. The head massage took ten minutes and the haircut two! Even though he had 3 hairdressers watch whilst his hair was cut he enjoyed the experience and the end result was alright.

 

So okay, I thought, its safe to go back and have my hair cut. First it was my turn to lie horizontal for ten minutes while what felt like a whole bottle of conditioner was massaged into my hair.  So far so good.  Once rinsed the hairdresser started blow drying my hair.  No, they did not comb it out first.  I reminded him that I would like a cut and how about combing it first but no, he said he knew that I wanted a cut and to wait. This conversation repeated itself a few times whilst the knots in my hair got worse and worse as my hair got dryer and dryer.  My phrase book (yes, the one permanently stuck to my hand!) did not have the word for comb or brush so I got up and opened a few drawers to hunt around for one in an attempt to suggest that he might like to comb my hair out first.  “Just wait!” I was told again.  “Wait for what?” I thought.  After my hair was completely dry, frizzy and knotted up we got his scissors out.  Uh oh! I told him very nicely that I had run out of time for the actual cut, paid up and left.  Apparently this is normal : yes, the Chinese wash hair, then dry it, then comb it out and then finally cut it ….  I think I’ll pass on that one!   You could be forgiven for thinking that same simple things like a haircut would be the same everywhere around the world but in China alas no. 

 

 

 

I did not think I would return there, I had images of us all returning to the UK with really long hair but I gave in, I went back and Amelia had her hair cut.  All I need to do is muster up the courage to have my own done now ......

 

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