not me – I’m on holiday for a week, this time tomorrow I will be in Xi’an sitting in a hostel bar with hopefully a very large glass of wine 🙂  No, the area!  My apartment block is right opposite the school – for 5 weeks I’ve listened and watched 4,5000 students go back and forward to classes, listened to teachers banging up and down the stairs, listened to the tannoy of the school play music from 6.30 a.m. until 10.25 pm (a different segment of music is played to indicate when a class has finished, when it starts, so you get music at, say 9,25 (to get into class) 9.30 (class starts), 10.15 (class finishes) 10.25 (class starts)) and you really get used to this, together with the general noise that 4,500 students make going back and forward to the shops (the shops are between my apartment block and the school). 

So, tonight there is silence…….it’s actually quite disconcerting, to the point I’ve put the tv on for background noise.  There are no lights on in the school, no tannoys, no cars, nothing, the apartment blocks are empty as is the car park.  National Holiday means that everyone really does go home/on holiday.

The last couple of days have been fairly uneventful.  No classes yesterday, judging English Speaking Competition again last night.  Again it’s an emotional thing to do, not least because this time – and I hadn’t really realised this – the students were supposed to say their “my dream” speeches off by heart, so my Chinese-speaking compatriot snatched the first person’s speech out of their hand in disgust!  Thankfully he relented and let them place it on the desk, and on more than one occasion I told the person to have a look.  However, the Chinese act of losing face is always in the back of my mind, so I made sure that the other teacher was okay with this.  Not too much talk of “saving the motherland” this time, more just about how they hoped to become a teacher or a doctor to make their families proud of them……truly the pressure on these kids is horrific.

Thankfully me and the other teacher actually agreed – exactly – on which students should be put forward to the final, which is after National Holiday.  I’m very very proud of my students, they’ve put so much effort into this competition, and ALL of them have gone onto the final.  This may be because of the extra coaching 6 of them had got – I had 4 girls in my apartment yesterday lunchtime all practising – they brought gifts – fruit and candies of some sort, which was so kind.

Today – a quiet day, one class, totally uninterested, chatted about food – to those that were still awake, or not doing other homework.  Tony’s girlfriend walked me round to the bus station to buy my ticket for tomorrow – always an adventure, more hair pulling and prodding, one elderly guy even, as I was standing at the ticket booth, pulled my face so he could look at me!  That’s why I want to go to Xi’an so much, not just for the obsessive Starbucks (I never EVER went to Starbucks in Scotland, none near me!) but just to be able to walk down the street, or sit and have a coffee, without feeling as if I am in a zoo.

I’m packed – supplies are brought (cake/bread/chocolate) for the nightmare 6 hour bus journey.  Ipad and kindle are packed, as long as I can a bit of sleep I’ll be fine.  It’s bit like getting the Megabus I suppose, to Manchester or London, you just get on, sit down, and hope you get to your final destination intact.

Skype call to my parents tonight – as usual I did it an hour early, so my mum had to call my dad down from a ladder (I never really acertained why he was up the ladder, apparently he’d been there for an hour!) but I’m figuring their windows are now sparkling!  Great excitement, and if Chinese customs confiscate this I will PERSONALLY rip off the man at China Post’s head…….I have a food parcel from my mum 🙂  Soup (SOUP SOUP :-)), mashed potato and I think I heard chocolate as well!  I have one whole half of my massive suitcase empty to bring  back supplies, and rather sadly I spent about an hour last night googling for shops and supermarkets in Xi’an…..I even wrote down exactly where they were and can work out from my hostel map exactly where to go.  I will be so disappointed if Walmart don’t have frosties (I’m really worried where this Frostie obsession is coming from!) and there is also TrustMart which I think is a bit like Tesco, I certainly remember the one in Hangzhou and it was massive. 

On the basis that I won’t be woken up at 5am as I was this morning with whoever lives upstairs clumping around in her high heels, I’ll be braving the hoards at the bus station at 9am tomorrow to get to Xi’an.  As it will be mainly migrant workers heading home, most of Jingbian seemingly having gone home today, judging by the masses at the bus station, I’ll just have to push and shove my way to find the bus – thankfully Tony’s girlfriend helpfully pointed out to me what XI’an was in Chinese on my ticket!