My Photographs: Top 5 Lao Waitan – Ningbo, China.

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Lao Waitan, August 2017. One of the many challenging things about living in an inconsequential Chinese city like Rui’an is the limited nightlife options. There’s no such problem in Ningbo though thanks to the fantastic Lao Wai Tan neighbourhood, a labyrinthine restaurant and bar district perched on the bank of the Yong River.

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My Photographs: Top 5 Tianyi Square – Ningbo, China.

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Tianyi Square, August 2017. If you’re into branded clothing, luxury accessories and being followed around by fussy over-attentive sales clerks who desperately want your money, then no doubt Tianyi Square will be pushing for top spot on your Ningbo to-do list. I couldn’t give a crap about any of these things, but I still wanted to swing by to see what kind of vibe lay within the city’s largest and most famous square.

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Bad Moon Rising – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilization and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

I can pinpoint the exact moment our seemingly idyllic teaching jobs began to unravel. It wasn’t an earth-shattering incident, but it did represent the tumbling of the first domino, setting in motion a string of bizarre events that would ultimately sour our Beijing dream. “I need to speak to you guys,” said Lily one afternoon. We were gathered round the kitchen counter at school in the prep hour before lessons. “Today is my last day, I’m leaving!”

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The Good, the Bad and the Naughty – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilization and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“Good afternoon Krista, how are you?” I chirped, bouncing into the classroom. “I’M FINE THANK YOU, AND YOU?” came her robotic reply, a standard response so ingrained she hadn’t even looked up from the hairband she was twiddling with. For Krista the conversation was now over; her duty done; any answer I might have to how I was actually doing completely inconsequential.

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Camp America – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in grey, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

It was a warm, smoggy Beijing morning as we boarded the bus at Dongzhimen, taking our place among the throng of fidgety hopefuls. There were about fifty of us in total and even at that early stage I got the distinct feeling that as Europeans, S and I were heavily outnumbered. Zac from Oregon had packed a sweater in case it got cold at night. Steve from Philadelphia was wearing a new pair of sneakers fresh from a Beijing market. And Sandy from San Diego was flashing a picture of her nephew around, a chubby little thing wearing nothing but a diaper. Everyone agreed the photo was awesome.

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Take No Notice – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilisation and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in gray, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

I was beginning to think we’d never get to Qufu. The journey from Tai’an was only supposed to take an hour, but our sweatbox of a bus had been stopping at five-minute intervals to pick up the entire province (and their mothers). As a result, the vehicle was now audibly straining under the weight of its occupants and the fans were broken, an experience that was every bit as shitty as it sounds.

Another downside was our moron of a driver; a pubescent rake of a boy dressed in a silly cap and oversized trousers. He had no concept at all of how to appropriately use the brake and honked his way through the entire journey. He honked at other vehicles to tell them to get out of the way. He honked at the people he was about to pick up on the side of the road. He honked at the sun for shining so damn brightly and when there was nothing left to honk about he honked some more just because he could. When we finally honked into Qufu, there was a palpable sense of relief for everyone on board as we oozed out of the bus like molten liquid. “Thank god that’s over!” puffed S.

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Two Men and a Refrigerator – a short story from China.

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After a happy, prolonged period of stabilization and life-altering romance, I finally bid farewell to Belgium in the summer of 2009. Uninspired by life in gray, uneventful Brussels, my girl and I headed off to China for an unforgettable year of teaching and travelling.

“This is pretty kooky,” I laughed, admiring the large black and white canvas of Audrey Hepburn at reception. “I wonder if they have Oscar-winning rooms too”. Approaching the grinning mannequin of a receptionist, I asked her if we could see a double, before making a self-satisfying joke about Gregory Peck. But of course she didn’t have a clue what I was talking about. “Hotel name is movie?” she asked during my messy explanation, her furrowed brow dislodging a few flakes of her ridiculously thick makeup.  

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