It’s been a busy week out here in China , but I feel that I am slowly settling in.

The most dramatic event of the week was my move into a new apartment. It’s pretty nice, right in the city centre, with views over the river if I lean far enough out of the bedroom window. It comes with resident cockroaches, but I think that they sort of go with the climate. There were only ever two, and one of them is now dead so they shouldn’t be able to breed. Before I moved in to the flat I was warned by the woman who helped me arrange it (one of the Ford engineers) that I would need an anti-mystical device. I thought this sounded quite cool, and proved that superstition was still strong in China . I cottoned on to what she actually meant when she said that without one the mysticals would bite me at night.

There’s loads of stuff going on for ex-pats, which means that I’m not bored very often. Went bowling last week (I was on fire, got 170 and should have been higher but the pressure got to me on the last couple of balls). Some of the people who work in the hotel came along, they’re about the same age as me, and I hope I’ll get the chance to meet up with them sometime soon. One of the girls is really pretty (as are a lot of them out here, I’m told that thinking like this is known as Asian Babe Syndrome), people are trying to get me to ask her out. I’m still pretty confident that my Dad’s prediction that I’ll come back married isn’t going to happen.

As you’d expect for the first week, there were a few cultural misunderstandings. A bloke on the street started talking to me about football, and specifically about the Chinese goals (I assumed during the World Cup). His English was pretty ropy, but I was doing my best to understand him. I finally worked out what he meant when he said that a Chinese goal would go to bed for 100Rmb (Rmb is the currency over here). I thought it was quite funny, but declined the offer politely.

The next misunderstanding was rather more embarrassing, as I gate crashed a funeral. There had been music playing in the square below my apartment all night, and I decided to go and have a look (there’s often bands playing in the street over here). Everything was decorated in bright colours, and people were sat around drinking. It was only after about 10 minutes (and shortly before I started taking some photos of this fun event) that I saw the coffin. To be fair, even Chinese people I have spoken to say the funerals here are unusual, and they have made the same mistake as me.

The weekend was also pretty entertaining. I got interviewed for Chinese TV who were doing a feature on the bar I was in. My answers were suitably inane, although when asked questions such as ‘Is Newcastle an important city in England ?’, and asked to keep the reply simple for the translators I think anybody would have struggled to sound intelligent. Ended up in a club, dancing enthusiastically (perhaps a little too much so, I got asked to stop by a policeman). It was a funny night

Going out here is wicked, because no matter how scruffy you are, everywhere treats you as a VIP. When I went out on Saturday night, I was on my own (although I met up with some Fordies later on), and all the management of this trendy new bar came to talk to me. While I disapprove of this discrimination by race for many reasons, there’s no denying that it’s a lot of fun.

Works much the same as ever, so I won’t bore you with details about this. I did get taken out for lunch by the supplier of our car seats today, but that’s been the highlight so far.

Hope everybody’s having fun in England , look forward to hearing your stories

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