When I tell many people that I live in China, they ask me questions about crowds, traffic, and other problems they’ve heard exist in China. I always then show them pictures of where I live — in a beautiful beachside community with no traffic and no crowds. They are always surprised and often follow up by telling me that they’d love to come and visit.
Here’s where I live, and where work is only a 15-minute walk from home.
Park Lane Harbour, China
As you can see, Park Lane Harbour is a far cry from the stereotype of a crowded and noisy city. It’s great! Teachers at our school have formed a running club, play beach and gym volleyball, have a book club, enjoy yoga on the beach, and more. We love where we live.
One of the best parts of being an international teacher is all of the opportunities that I have for travel. With lots of holiday time and affordable flights and accommodation, I’ve been able to explore all around China–there’s so much to see! This year alone I’ve been hiking, desert trekking, boating, and to the freezing land of the Harbin Ice Festival. China has every climate one could want, and getting around is made easy by translation and transportation apps. Even without knowing the language, it’s still very possible to travel around China. People in general are honest, friendly and helpful, and a smile and a friendly attitude go a long way if you are ever travelling and in need of directions or help.
I’d like to use this post to introduce you to some of my favorite places in China, all of which are a short train or plane ride from where I live. I do this to dispel misconceptions about China, stereotypes, and to give you a glimpse of what life could be like for you if you decide to say yes to a teaching job in China.
Yangshuo and Guillin: a 3-hour train ride from where I live in Guangdong Province.
In China, you will find travel groups run by foreigners that cater to foreign travelers and residents. One such group, Pacha Mama out of Guangzhou, took me and a small group on a hiking trip to Yunnan over the summer that showed me some of the most spectacular views I’ve seen in my life. It was truly an amazing trip and one that I would like to repeat some day.
Golden Week in October was a chance for myself and two friends from BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour to join a travel group out of Shanghai to explore Gansu province along the old Silk Road. This trip was spectacular and more than we could have expected with parts of The Great Wall, desert camping, dune hiking, and a helicopter ride over the desert. It was a great chance to meet people (and camels) and to see more of China.
Winter in China is the right time to head way up north to Harbin to go to the Harbin Ice Festival. Pack your warmest clothes–I’m from northern Ontario, so I’m used to cold–and even I found it absolutely freezing! It was worth the trip though. Three friends from BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour, a new friend from our desert trip, and I booked a private three night/four day trip which was just the right amount of time to see the sights. We explored ice palaces, enjoyed snow activities, and also had a great time exploring the Russian influence in the city. A must go, but also a must dress warmly!
China is an amazing, diverse country with so much to see and do! I’ve been all over the place, and I feel like I’m just scratching the surface. I’m looking forward to planning future trips both with travel groups and on my own. As I hope I’ve shown here, China is way more than stereotypes and perceptions repeated in the media. When you’re ready, come to China and see it for yourself!
Jennifer Gunter is a founding member of the teaching team at BASIS International School Park Lane Harbour. She is the English Department Chair and teaches AP Language and high school English Language Arts. To follow Jennifer’s travels in China and beyond, follow her on Instagram at @jenngunter_throughthislens .
For more information about careers with BASIS International Schools, visit our careers website.