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I went to China

by Jeanie Hore

Sunset on the Li River at Xingping

Sunset on the Li River at Xingping

Sunset on the Li River at Xingping A wet morning in Yangshuo at the Li River Xingping Morning mist in the village

The opportunity to go to China and work revealed itself to me and one month later I was there with no idea about anything. I was just so excited to be able to travel somewhere new. I was 56. I had a year contract at a lovely school town two hours inland from Shanghai. However within six months I thought "this is way too much fun, I'm not going home." I moved around to a few different areas teaching in different environments finally finding myself in the beautifully scenic town of Yangshuo, Guangxi province. I was home.

Being a tourist town there is a high level of English spoken and the western food is not a Chinese version of it. Many expats live in Yangshuo as there are several English training colleges there who need foreign teachers. Some of the beautiful resorts are owned by expats too. Yangshuo has the Chinese experience without the stress of having to have that one more bowl of rice or strange food. Restaurant menus are in English and deliver what they say. It's also very safe apart from pick-pockets.

Things changed, as they do and thanks to one of my adult students I opened an Art Gallery in Xingping, a nearby smaller town. I specialized in oil paintings depicting the local scenery. "I can stay here for the rest of my life" I thought. It was so much fun. I met people from all over the world. I lived in the middle of the community with very elderly neighbors, young business owners and spectacular scenery.

However a year later family problems arose so I returned home to Australia. I was eligible for the age pension so I applied, but "you have to stay here for two years to keep the pension if you want to leave again" said the man in the government department. Gulp!!

Small family problems kept me occupied for most of the two years. Finally I discovered that I could travel to NZ without affecting my pension so I traveled there on two cruises and will return again very soon to do a road trip. I will return to China one day. I miss my life there.

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