So today started yesterday. We have literally been up now for a hundred hours. Okay, more like 42 hours, but that’s plenty.
The flights were great, (thanks Cathay Pacific and Dragonair), after a manic two weeks of preparation it was a great feeling to be able to put our feet up and do nothing. Instead of sleep, we managed to catch up on all the newest film releases as well as some old favourites on the in flight TV. A whole six hours of The Night Manager was completed (Callum is slightly smitten with Tom Hiddleston). Food was unremarkable but they kept it interesting by serving lunch, snack, and breakfast in an order that might surprise you. Personally I loved the non negotiable “chicken bread” – a sweet bread loaf baked around a filling of chicken sweetcorn. It was like having a picnic at 37000 ft.
Once here – tired and smelly – we were picked up and taken to our new flat by a beautiful lady by the name of Chloe. The traffic (if you can call it that) was non-existent, but what cars that had ventured out were absolutely mental. There are no obvious rules to the road here; you just drive whatever contraption you can cobble together in whatever way you think is appropriate. The saving grace is that everyone goes slow enough not to cause anyone serious damage when they hit them. Horns seem to have a default setting of on, but despite the noise and chaos, everyone is completely chill, I suspect you can walk across a busy four lane road with your eyes closed and everything moves around you (I have yet to test this theory).
When you’re not looking at the road (or your phone!) you can look out of the window at tower blocks that look like they’re straight out of The Great Gatsby, massive scale construction projects, and a backdrop of untouched green mountains; a green that is as green as the greenest thing on the sunniest, most beautiful greeny green day. (Yes, Tolkein, I can do it too, see!). The air isn’t noticeably polluted, although we’ve been told that “sometimes” they have blue-sky days (!), and there is a constant under-smell of Chinese cooking.
Our flat – well what can I say! It comes with all the mod-cons: an outdoor washing machine, a plug-less Jacuzzi bath, a dish sanitiser (doesn’t seem to clean anything, but blasts it with radiation for some reason), a completely unintelligible super-smart internet TV, two trendy pink martini glasses, a jet engine above the bathtub, the MOTHER of all hatstands, and of course, one pair of chopsticks. The electrics are literally shocking, and the plumbing looks like it was designed by a 3 year old with a crayon. Outside, a child is arguing with a dog in the otherwise quiet street.
Madness aside; it’s awesome. There’s so much room here, one could apparently do three cartwheels from the one balconette to the other, though Sam has yet to try. Considering how close to a huge boulevard we are, we cannot hear any traffic. How bad can it be when we have two chandeliers?
So for dinner we were taken out by our new boss Leo (who is awesome, by the way) to the local mall, a sprawling american type affair. As we’ve yet to master the finer point of the Chinese alphabet, we were reliant on hit-and-miss English menu translations ( I suspect this will be a regular feature). Today we ate “spring rolls”, “potato chips”, “mutton strings”, “elements of frozen lamb”, “sheep fish”, and “mammal ribs”. Out of it all, I can wholeheartedly recommend “sheep fish” which turned out to be a kind of fluorescent yellow soup with a whole fish -eye included, one clam, two large unshelled prawns, spring onions, and a tonne of meat that we could only guess was mutton. It was heated at the table over a blue fire lighter which really added to the ambience. It literally bubbled like a witches cauldron. HAPPY HALLOWEEN!
From here we made our way to the Chinese supermarket (because the one pair of chopsticks didn’t come with plates/bowls/glasses). As big as an IKEA, laid out like an Aldi, with a butchers counter that looked more like a pet shop and a grocers stocked with luscious but only half recognisable fruits, it sold everything from live toads to the aforementioned over-bath-jet-engines. We bought neither of these, but came away with some Chinese Sunny-D, Milk but no tea, and a bowl each because despite everything else they don’t sell plates.
So here we are, sat on our fluorescent pink sofa, touching base with you all quickly before going to bed. More antics to come (we start work/training tomorrow!) so watch this space!
To finish, we hope you are all well, we apologise that we can’t call/text at the moment but we shall sort out mobile apps to contact you all asap. Love! Our quote of the day: “It actually never occurred to me there’d be so many Chinese people here!” – Callum Jackson (the great philosopher) in the airport.