Sunday 24th May
As I sit in the back of the Ningbo taxi, I am flooded with relief. I have come to learn and firmly believe in that if you are not happy in a situation, only you have the power to change it. Of course this is relative to the person. For me, flying back to ningbo to 1. sort the issue I faced myself with but also 2. to leave ningbo right this time. Without the rush, the mis-packing, and the denial that it is the end of our year abroad. I also can’t wait to have a room just to myself, and I’m say to you pesky mosquitos.. And whoa.. (When I first started typing this out on Sunday:) The taxi just drove past a building that looked like a hotel in a poorer part of Ningbo that had a box of firecrackers going off! Who knows if they were celebrating something or if someone just felt like having a little party. But to someone unfamiliar to the antics of the Chinese, it would sound like there was a gun fight going on!
As you have probably gathered: I am back in Ningbo. Why you ask? Because I’m a plonker. In short, I’ve had to come back and have stayed for almost four days before flying to Kunming to meet Lisa and Becky! I would’ve only stayed in Ningbo for a day except for the fact that there are no direct flights from Ningbo to Guilin. So going to Shanghai to catch a flight would mean that I wouldn’t have had much time in Guilin at all. And I didn’t want to rush it. Nevertheless, going back was almost like fate saying I get a chance to actually ready myself to leave this semester behind. I arrived at Ningbo in the early afternoon and, as I said above, felt great!
I spent the whole time staying with Sooguen, Jisoo (they are Korean), Luis (Mexican) and Michelle (American). On the Sunday Luis and I ended up going to InCity to buy food and eat an early dinner. The other three still had to revise for exams on the Monday so we were happy to get out and about. For the first time during my whole stay here I actually spoke to Luis in Spanish for a long period of time. It was so fun! I kept accidentally adding in random Chinese words but apart from that, success! We went for dinner at this Italian restaurant… It was okay. China isn’t the best at doing fantastic western food and this was a perfect example of that. Similar to Europe, the bread is quite sweet so the garlic bread we ordered was a little odd! Although we did play it safe by just having some meat as the main rather than a pizza.
The best part of the trip was going to a dessert place called Sugar Report. We shared a massive bowl of this ‘mango snow’. It was like vanilla ice cream shaved into tiny pieces that melt altogether in your mouth when you take a bite. There’s pieces of mango and mango sauce on top which just makes it divine. Once we were happily stuffed we headed back. It was a chilled evening and I was excited to sleep seeing as I had been awake since six that morning.
Monday 25th May
I slept in until eleven (which was my first sleep in in aaaaages) and once awake we had lunch on campus. From there we went to the Ningbo Museum. Sooguen, Michelle and Jisoo wanted to at least have a look at the outside. The building has a rugged exterior because it is made from all the old pieces of Ningbo housing that were knocked down to make way for new buildings. It’s quite a cool concept but also saddening to think of all the places people called home are no longer there. Unfortunately it is common for museums to be closed on Mondays. We only remembered this when we arrived! Luckily there is a big beautiful park across the road so we had a wander around that. The sun was shining and it was reaaally warm! I love this weather.
We then wandered around CBD (Central Business District) that is an area of restaurants and cafés. Eventually we decided to go to the centre of Ningbo, Tianyi Square, to have dinner. Luis also wanted to join so we wandered around a shopping centre until he arrived. There is Tesco here in China but it’s not that good. It did make me more excited to visit a supermarket the minute I get home (in the UK)!! Just to walk up and down the aisles full of so much food that isn’t something weird, dried, has a head and feet attached etc… would be amazing! Once Luis joined us we went to a sushi restaurant for dinner. It was really nice and laid out in the way of Yo! Sushi back home. The fish is really fresh here – we had tuna and salmon mostly with some eel and other bits.
The day didn’t end after that. We ended up going out on a big night out. It started as a few drinks for Anna as it was her last night. But we joined with the frenchies and the alcohol and conversation didn’t stop! We plays a game called ‘werewolves’. I’ve played it back home with a pack of playing cards but Michael has the official pack of cards for this game. Essentially, the game rules are: you’re either a wolf or a “villager”. You have to find out who are wolves and eliminate them from the game to win. If the wolves wipe out all the villagers, then they win. There are also special cards such as the ‘witch’, ‘cupid’ etc. It’s quite amusing.
We played three rounds before deciding to head out. We went to Laowaitan first, to a bar called Candles. We weren’t there for long as the music isn’t great, the drinks are pricey and it was already two o’clock! Then we headed to Ever Club and it was great! This time I noticed that the playlist is the same more or less to the last time but it was still fun. We were a big group, were given watermelon and beer and danced the next few hours away. Of course it ended with a trip to McDonald’s across the street. And eventually, at five am, in bed.
Tuesday 26th May
It was a right off. I didn’t feel hung over at all. However I was shattered from only abut five hours sleep. I even tried to nap and failed badly. The curtains don’t keep the light out very well at all. I ended up helping Michael sort all his packing out because he was having a stress about how to send things home without it costing over £400. I felt like a mother but we got through all of his mess and soon were ready to go for dinner. He ended up staying but Riina, Heather, Christoph and I went to the Indian restaurant Ganesha once more. Ohmygoshitissodelicious. The night then took us to a party happening in a hotel in the northern part of Ningbo. When we first arrived we all thought it looked a bit dodgy. It was a weird set up for a hotel because each room was like an apartment with a garage underneath it.
We found Room 707 and went up the stairs to find a very posh hotel room. It was a long thin room, the double bed looking tiny down one end of it and a big jacuzzi/bath in the other. There was a lowered seating area and a big open space in between. There was also a sauna, massive shower and a long thin (cold) swimming pool outside. It felt pretty awesome! Almost like something you see in a movie. It was a fun party, I ended up going home a lot earlier than the others (who didn’t get back until half past four at the earliest) with the aim of getting a good nights sleep. This lasted only a few hours as I woke to say goodbye to Michael at six o’clock… Once I’d booked him a taxi on the app on my phone, I happily retreated to bed to sleep for a few more hours.
Suddenly it was my final day already. Again. Gah.
Michelle, Jisoo, Sooguen and I went to the ‘宁波海洋世界’ i.e. the Ningbo Aquarium. it was really good actually!
I saw a few more types of fish I had never seen before. For example, the Dragon fish which is a important symbolic fish in China. I also saw big turtles really close up and the white whale. Although the giant Chinese salamander gave me the creeps. (Google it, I bet it’ll give you the creeps too…) Sooguen was the opposite to me and was excited to see a real one whereas I was standing as far away as possible from the tank. I just had this shiver down my spine that at any moment I was going to be eaten. Crazy right?
We also watched a dolphin show, a seal show and a mermaid show. The latter being a bizarre and amusing one. It was genuinely two girls dressed in mermaid outfits swimming about in a fish tank with fish for five minutes. No more, no less.
We didn’t understand the Chinese but still, I don’t think it would have added to the spectacle… Only on China! We left at five o’clock and found that our stomachs were rumbling a little for food. We decided to go to InCity and ended up going to this really good Japanese restaurant called Akasakatei.
It had an all-you-can-eat menu which costed 228¥ per person (about £30) and it was so worth it. We spent three hours there eating really fresh and delicious sushi, well-cooked and good quality meat (including lamb 😍) and having unlimited drinks. Michelle and I stuck to raspberry juice. Sounds boring but raspberries are really hard to come by in China and I love them in a juice! But the boys had an Asahi beer and throughly enjoyed the sake. I did have some sake but I do find the taste a bit too strong for my liking. Once full to the brim and happy, we headed home. We walked for a while to let our food start to digest then caught a taxi back to campus. I finished packing and we sat and had a drink with Collin and Luis before going to sleep.
The next morning I was up at quarter to six ready to catch a taxi at quarter past. Ergh early mornings are starting to take the mick! I dragged myself into the shower and knocked on Luis’ and Jisoo’s doors to say goodbye to them. Sooguen came with me to the gate then surprised me by coming to the airport to see me off. I guess now is the point to just divulge the fact that Sooguen and I have been a bit more than friends before my first goodbye and it became even more so when I came back this week. I am sad to say goodbye because I am really happy in the bubble of Ningbo with him. However, you know what they say: “what happens on exhange, stays on exchange”. Doesn’t stop me tearing up as I wave goodbye from the queue to go through security. Dammit.
Once again I feel more than blessed, lucky etc. for having such a fantastic time. I’m now utterly ready to travel and cannot wait to see Lisa and Becky. We’re going to the Tiger Leaping Gorge!! Yay!! (I’ll write all about this when I go in two days.)
Lots of love to my homeland,