Update: At the moment the store is offline but you can still contact me for any music-related enquiries. WeChat is probably the best way to keep in touch with me. Search for me using my ID: ramanderson. Until then, scroll down for the blog, about and contact sections. Social links might not contain many updates but if you contact me through any of them I’ll reply.
18/12/18 – So much has happened over the past 6+ months. The website went dark and I had to just get on with living life. To cut a long story short, I went to Chongqing, got an emergency travel document, unfroze the account, received a new visa, went to Hong Kong and eventually made it back to the UK via the Philippines. Thailand sadly did not happen but one day it will.
20/05/18 – Over the last 3 months I’ve been keeping my head down, getting on with business in China and looking for new opportunities in other parts of the world as well. Recently, though, things have gone a little pear-shaped. Here’s what it’s like to lose a passport away from home.
04/05/18 – my passport gets lost while travelling.
05/05/18 – I retrace my steps and speak to various people.
06/05/18 – I fill out a form and send an email to my consulate.
07/05/18 – I send off the form and call the consulate.
08/05/18 – I go to the local police and the public security bureau.
09/05/18 – I make an emergency travel document application.
10/05/18 – I complete the application and book an appointment.
11/05/18 – I begin preparing documents to take to the appointment.
17/05/18 – my China bank account is frozen.
18/05/18 – they refuse to unfreeze it until I get a new passport.
Here’s the plan, moving forward:
21/05/18 – travel to Chongqing.
22/05/18 – attend the appoint to collect my emergency travel document.
23/05/18 – go to the bank to unfreeze the account.
24/05/18 – go to the public security bureau to get a new visa.
04/06/18 – receive a new visa.
There is still more to do between these dates, which are simply main events covering the journey I’m on. I have to contact embassies of the countries I will be in over the next month and a half. I have to keep the people back at home updated. I have to continue teaching and running life. I’m still interested making plans for the rest of the year. It hasn’t been easy but I’m glad I’m not in any real trouble.
Upcoming: I’m working on some videos documenting and recording life in Chengdu. Watch this space.
02/03/18 – There’s been a slight change of plans. I completed the challenge but I’m not publishing it for now. Here’a s few pictures from last month’s adventures to keep you until there’s something more interesting coming up.
Locations: Seoul, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Philippines and Macau.
22/02/18 – Quick update: I’m currently in Manila looking out over the bay. It’s a sunny day and I’m feeling okay. I don’t know what else to say. I had an amazing time in Boracay.
04/02/18 – At the moment I’m working on a journal challenge which means I’m writing every day. It’ll be published soon. Everything’s alright so far though – I’ve been to South Korea and now I’m in Hong Kong. There’s a trip to Manila and Boracay coming up soon too. Watch this space.
11/01/18 – Here’s an email I wrote to my old workplace.
Greetings from China! Over the last 5 months I’ve been trying to settle in and enjoy life out here and it’s been an adventure to say the least. There have been lots of ups and downs but overall I can say I’m glad I’m here, having this amazing experience.
When I first arrived I was given a place to stay temporarily while I tried to find a place of my own. It was really difficult. This language barrier is firm. Translators and interpreters try to help but there are some things that just can’t be put into words in Chinese, as there are some things that just can’t be put into English words. Anyway the school I worked for saw that I was having problems so they offered me a small apartment on site. It was a school with dormitories and lots of teachers were there, as well as students. I snapped it up. However when I saw the place I was less than impressed. It didn’t look anything like it did in the pictures! As it goes, we had some sticking points with that school anyway so I ended up at another school. The apartment they provided was a lot better. I made sure to check it before I committed myself. It was off campus too. There are lots of opportunities out here but not many teachers so I had options. I’ve been here since September, teaching these children how to speak English.
I say children but I mean the equivalent of sixth formers. This school trains students in vocational courses from ages 16 to about 19. The courses here vary from accounting to tourism, including the likes of preschool education and mechanics, electronics, flight crew training and elderly care. I teach English to about 15 different groups spread across about 7 different courses and I love it. They’re students from poorer backgrounds and often they live in the countryside (so this college also has dormitories) but they’re really exam driven. Even if they do more practical subjects, they’re so amped up for the presentations and what not. You should see them. I don’t want to say Chinese students fit the stereotype because they’re all unique but when it comes to exam season (October, January and June) they’re exactly as I’d imagined them to be.
Let’s talk about the food. It’s worth talking about not just because there’s lots of delicious things to try but also because your local Chinese takeaway doesn’t do it justice! There’s so much more than I thought there’d be! I live and work in the Sichuan (formerly know as Szechuan) province. This is the home of spicy Chinese food. There’s a lot of it! Now usually I’m not good with spice but these people are training me. They’re training me hard. I came out here for the satay flavours and the sweet & sour flavours but I have to go to Hong Kong for that. It’s nowhere to be found in these parts! There are spicy dishes but there are also mild dishes and even bitter dishes. The people in my part of China have soup if they’re thirsty and tea at all other times. Cold drinks are only for foreigners. Even their beer is served warm, so foreigners add ice. It’s so different out here but I appreciate the differences.
Happy New Year! I celebrated mine in Shanghai, which is the best city I’ve been to so far. Beijing is also right up there. I’ll tell you about Hong Kong (and the Philippines) after February. We have that whole month off as a holiday celebrating the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival). It should be really good. I’m 8 hours ahead, which is overrated, and I have restricted access to a lot of websites and sites, because the gov wants to give opportunities to Chinese technology companies or something along these lines. A few Chinese teachers tried to explain it to me. Tried. I have access to VPNs out here but they’re so slow it’s almost not even worth trying. Every now and then I fire it up and check my Gmail, Facebook, Twitter, and others but at least I have this email address working, irregardless. Keeping in touch is not my strong point, as you can see, but if you reply, I’ll reply. Please give my regards to the students I used to teach and feel free to let other teachers know I said hello because I’m sure I’ve forgotten some email addresses. Most importantly, let me know how you are.
01/01/18 – It’s a rare day off out here in China. Christmas Day was a regular working day, to give you an idea of how intense China is when it comes to work. January is the month for examinations out here so it will only get even busier. February and the Spring Festival brings some solace but after that, the finals are in sight and everyone gets super intense. There are plenty of celebrations for both Christmas and 2018 but there are no unnecessary days off. Even when there’s a day off, there’s usually an extra working day inserted.
03/11/17 – Here’s an article I wrote for the Enfly Education website blog.
One of Chengdu’s fastest-developing areas is Shuangliu, a district located in the south west of the city metropolitan area. It is home of the main international airport for the Sichuan province and, as it turns out, so much more. Shuangliu is the future, and also the present, of Chengdu. It is what visitors to the city have a good first impression of, when they touch down at the airport. There’s a lot to offer here, perhaps more than can be said of any district outside of central Chengdu, where some may find life a little bit too tight and fast-paced. With a healthy balance of rush and rest, Shuangliu is the choice of many people coming from abroad to teach in Chengdu.
One of the most striking features of Shuangliu is its size. Two friends, both located in the district, might still live a 30-minute drive away from each other. Chengdu may be one of the most populous areas in the world but it encompasses a very large area and the city really is large enough to hold over 10 million inhabitants. In comparison to Beijing airport, Shuangliu airport doesn’t feel like any less of a downgrade, with two modern terminals and connections to countries all over the world, including new direct links with London and New York City. This is very much an international region, setting up Chengdu and the Sichuan province for the future. It is well serviced by taxis, buses, coaches, trains and a reliable metro service. It has designer stores on both the ground side and the flight side of security. It has a state of the art security presence which lets you know that you are in a place which takes itself very seriously. When all of this was planned and designed, it was done with Shuangliu in mind as the home for such a development. Today, the airport and the surrounding area is far from capacity, comfortably able to deal with the ever-increasing influx of travellers and passengers.
Getting around is easy in Shuangliu. There’s very little traffic, even in the town centre, thanks to a few initiatives which help everything to keep flowing. Didi has a major presence here, as do the tuktuks and taxis which existed before the car-sharing service. There are several networks of buses operating out of two main bus stations, spanning across the district and beyond. It’s also worth mentioning that the bus services are incredibly cheap, especially with a metrocard. There are bicycles being introduced to street corners and residential complexes all the time, by both ofo as well as mobike – the biggest bike hire companies around. There are metro stations connecting parts of Shuangliu with the rest of Chengdu, with new stations being built across the rest of the district at this very moment.
None of these developments take away from the nature that one can appreciate in Shuangliu. Named as a national ecological county, Shuangliu has a lot to show for itself in terms of allowing people to get away from everything and be at one with the Earth. It boasts one of the largest greenspaces in the Far East. It is also home of Tanghu and Baihe Parks, which are must-visit spaces. Dajianshan is a beautiful scenic spot and walking area and of course, there’s Puma Mountain. Many people who settle in Shuangliu do so because they are in touch with everything central Chengdu has to offer whilst also having space and freedom to explore nature. The name itself, Shuangliu, means “double flow”, a reference to the two rivers which course through the district.
Unlike the core districts of Chengdu, Shuangliu is full of people that live there, as well as work there. This means that people have more of a caring nature and look after the area more so than might be found in the centre of the city, which is full of tourists and people there for work. The kind-hearted nature of the people in Shuangliu means that it is easy to settle down in the district. It is easy to find support and find whatever is needed. Small things can make a difference, and a lot of signage is found both in Chinese and in an English that is good enough to be understood. Even the soldiers and security at the airport are willing to help lost travellers and passengers. Locals are warm and welcoming, and seem to smile rather than simply stare. There’s also a relatively large international presence, considering the fact that tourists are drawn to other parts of Chengdu. Safety goes without mentioning, but this is down to Shuangliu being home to a people that are hard working and determined to making sure this is a desirable place to live and work in.
With the developments taking place in Shuangliu, more and more working opportunities are emerging. The demand for a growing workforce is met by a range of schools and educational options being available throughout Shuangliu, from experimental schools to training centres and technical schools. The Jiang’an Campus of Sichuan University is based in Shuangliu. Southwest University for Nationalities also has a campus in the district, easily accessible from the airport. Children and young people have lots of opportunities to further their knowledge in Shuangliu, meaning that there are lots of opportunities for English teachers to get stuck in, able to contribute to an area that really wants to learn an international language and be ready for the world. Students pursue traditionally academic subjects but there are also many studying on courses to become flight attendants, tourist guides and managers in these areas. English is important, here.
With the government move to ensure that all property sold is new, there is a modern outlook and landscape to Shuangliu. Apartment complexes and neighbourhoods are state-of-the-art, with the best and most practical features. Despite the rising cost of property and of living, Shuangliu offers very affordable options to people coming from other countries, with presentable conditions that might not be found as much in the core of Chengdu. Shuangliu is a more realistic area to consider living in than most because it has conveniences set up and run by residents, with residents in mind. There are some who have moved here from other cities or provinces but most people here seem to call Shuangliu home. The small businesses and the large companies are run by people who are Shuangliuans, whether born or adopted.
Shuangliu proves to be a district with everything a person could need want, to enjoy life in China. There are built up metropolitan areas as well as spacious greenspaces. Transport and infrastructure is strong. People are friendly and welcoming. Entertainment is in plentiful supply. Working out here is a doddle and living, in general, is comfortable. No wonder most English-speaking expats are based here and across the south and south west of Chengdu. Shuangliu is what Chengdu and the Sichuan province presents to people arriving from elsewhere. It’s important that they get a good first impression of this part of China, so if Shuangliu can’t provide that, what other area can? Shuangliu makes the rest of the city and the province look good at first glance but it also stands the test of time, proving to be a district for the long-term, for the future as well for now.
18/10/17 – I am sitting in the conference room of my school with other members of staff. We are watching a live broadcast of one of the CCP Congress sessions. The general secretary of the central committee of the communist party of China is speaking. He is also known as the chairman of the central military commission, and ultimately, the seventh president of the people’s republic of China. There are many dignitaries and leadership figures in attendance, watching on and taking notes. Most of the teachers here are taking notes and I happen to be doing the same, but these aren’t notes about what the man is saying – they’re notes on what is happening. There are people of many different backgrounds in the audience at the event taking place in Beijing. Yes, they all look similar in terms of ethnicity – they all have a similar colour of skin, fairly similar eyes, close-cut hair for men and shoulder-length hair for women and more – but the way they dress have variances. Most men are in suits or military uniforms but there are representatives of different faiths, clearly shown. Some wear robes, and there are many different types, at that. Some have simple headwear, like skullcaps, whilst some have more extravagant, feather/plume-wielding headgear with jewels and patterns. Everyone in the auditorium follows along on what the president is saying as they have copies of the speech he is giving. Perhaps he adds more to it but perhaps not. He seems very calm, composed and collected. He glances up, often. There are many cameras up in the rafters but only a few, designated broadcasting cameras in the aisles. They switch between shots of the president, shots of the auditorium and shots of the hammer and sickle sign up on the wall, front and centre of the huge room. Every now and then everyone breaks into rapturous applause. They begin and stop at exactly the same time, as if conducted. There is a lady shown on screen at all times, providing sign language interpretation. There are red banners with statements displayed across the top of the stage and across the front of the balconies. There is a red star in the middle of the ceiling. This is clearly a very serious event. There have been many security measures taken, including banning hot air balloons and large groups of people meeting in the Beijing area. Fires are not permitted in the local vicinity of the event, meaning that some restaurants have been temporarily closed. Suddenly I’ve just remembered that I’m supposed to be teaching another lesson in about 50 minutes. I truly hope he’s finished speaking by then because I don’t want to offend this school/country.
10/10/17 – Within a few days of my last post, I found a piano showroom and played there until they kicked me out. They said something about having to buy it if I wanted to play anymore. On a serious note though, I’m on the lookout for keyboards and the sooner I find a decent one, the sooner I can get into a routine – a good, complete one. School is back now so there are lessons every weekday until February. If that’s not rhythm I don’t know what is. As for teaching, it’s interesting to see just how different, yet similar, education is. Please note that teaching in a technical college doesn’t automatically allow ,e to speak about schools everywhere in China. China have students who are bad at maths and they even have students that are bad at education. There are plenty of students who are not studious. I was told that they would be shy but I did not find that to be true. I was told that they would be afraid to be chosen to stand up and speak, in class, but I did not find that to be true – at least, not so more than in England. However I have noticed that they like to help each other and effectively cheat, if there is a way and the context isn’t too serious. So, for example, if I say I’m going to give students a spelling test, and I say a word, they start discussing it in pairs, rather than just writing it down. If I say not to discuss it then they opt to think out loud, stil speaking but to nobody in particular, hoping to hear someone else’s opinion on the matter, checking if they’re right. They would rather be correct than anything else. These generalisations aren’t applicable to everyone but they are common and I notice circumstances that show me these conclusions fairly regularly. On we go.
27/09/17 – It’s been over a month since I left the UK for China. There’s been a lot to take in and adjust to. It hasn’t been easy at all. Anyway, life is more settled now. Now I just need to find a piano, or a keyboard at least. QQ Music has been keeping me calm but I need to start making music again. I need to progress. I came all the way out here for space and time. Even before I left, I knew life would be different – but now that I’m here I can definitely say it’s different. There’s an interesting ebb and flow to people out here. Some actions are so swift and some take a lot of time. People care about some aspects of life far more than we do back home, while other aspects of life seem to be far less important. It’s interesting and it’s making me question views I’ve never really even thought of, before. Anyway, now the real hard work begins. Here come a tough 3 months, followed by a mild 3 months, and then another tough 3 months. On a more editorial note, there will be less updates from social media as it’s all blocked out here and I’m not trying to find myself behind bars. VPNs are being closed down everywhere so I stick to free ones – that way I lose nothing if they’re taken offline – and as you can imagine, free usually means poor quality. So, please, enjoy the content shown below, as well as the updates posted in text format, above. By the way, I hear Esperanza Spalding is doing amazing things (but don’t take my word for it).
There’s something remarkable about multi-instrumentalists. Their ability is not diluted. This is just one of them and trust me – he’s just as good on bass and drums. Look at the poise. This is what lands opportunities with the likes of Emeli Sandé and Nicole Scherzinger.
View this post on Instagram
✨ super excited about this #newartist @viramusicofficial tht im working with 🤘🏾🎶She got bars 🍫🎙#swag #dope #vocals #chords #rhodes #lyrics #alanismorisette #avrillavigne #session #nellyfurtado #gwenstefani #fergie #roland #pop #madonna #rhythm #jewel #alternative #drinning
Today was going fairly well until the evening, when I realised that my flight isn’t until minutes to 4 in the afternoon tomorrow. I will be too late to get my application started until Friday, which means that I will not be able to pick up the visa until Monday at the soonest, which is …
This is the second and last time I try to write about day 27. If there’s anything I hate, it’s having to redo things. I put a lot of effort into what I do, the first time round, so if I end up losing it or being told to do it again or make changes …
Today didn’t exactly go to plan, but in many ways that’s a good thing. It means that I saw how I perform and how I behave in these circumstances. It was really poor. I need a LOT of training. Right now I just want everything to work out, in the long term, so that I …
This website is just a place to put everything from across the web. It also has a lot of content not found elsewhere. To be honest it was supposed to be a gateway to a store but that’s closed, for now. Anyway, keep up to date with posts right here but feel free to follow on Facebook and all the other social media links, too. I don’t post much content elsewhere but they’re great ways to keep in touch.
Use this form or connect with me on social networks.