Sunday, January 29, 2017

And I Wait...

Be the type of person that remembers to remember -- Joshua Foer

Over time I have worked very hard to develop a sense of patience for many things and during various situations. It is a slippery slope that you have to manage and even the nicest persons patience has a limit. "patience is not the ability to wait, but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting." It is a virtue that I am learning and it has been a tough lesson.

What I do not like to do, no what I hate doing, nope, what I detest doing it waiting. I am well aware of the contradiction but patience and waiting are two different things. I have taken care of everything that needs to be taken care of for my move to Xi'an China, but now I wait.

Working Visa Approval Letter
The good news is I have received my working visa approval. It has been a slow process but this is China and who knows the bureaucracy that goes on there. The next step in this process is that all the documents I need, including the one in the photo, need to be sent to me from my employer. They will be sent via DHL and normally arrive in 48 hours although they say 24 hours. Regardless, I then take them to the consulate in Toronto and the Visa processing centre where they add my Z-visa, stamp my passport and I am good. I then pick a date, book my flight to Xi'an, pack my bags and prepare for the brutal 24 hour flight. The bad news is it is the Chinese New Year and my employer has the week of. So now I wait.

A quick check on Orbitz found a 20 hour flight with Hainan Airlines is US$495. On the Air Canada site it is C$680. Pricing is quite reasonable and my employer is paying as a part of my employment deal but part of being a bit of a vagabond is the bizarre obsession with playing around with trip and travel websites.

I had quite a few things to take care of while I have been back in Canada. This list included a new passport, health card and drivers license that were all set to expire. A physical with my doctor and a quick check on my shoulder. My blood work shows a bit of high blood pressure and both my cholesterol a bit out of whack. Both are manageable with better food and a bit more exercise. I had an ultrasound on my shoulder and there is no tear but it does show a bit of fluid build up and scar tissue from my previous issues. I have been doing my exercises and taking it easy and there has been some improvement. A few financial arrangements were taken care of, a new DSLR was a gift to myself for a job well done in Latin America and a few things from my packing list were purchased so I am now good to go. So now I wait.

My future meals
When I was staying at the Granada 6 Hotel in Cancun I met Olivia, a Chinese National who was living a working in Bogota Colombia for 2 years but now was heading XIAN!! What was the chance of that happening? Here I was in Cancun and I met a girl who lives in city that I was moving to in China. We were both stunned. During our conversation the talk of irony quickly turned to excitement as she talked about China, Xian, food, people, customs and all good things China.  This goes right to the heart of traveling. Look up from that screen, open up and talk to those around you. You will be amazed at what can happen.

Olivia left the day after our meeting but we agreed to meet in Xian. She had me download the WeChat app which is all the rage in China. With that done she was off and I enjoyed the rest of my time in Cancun.
* There is no Facebook, Google, Blogger and many other websites that we in the west use available in China. They are all blocked and as Olivia casually and logically stated, "when I use WeChat not everything is shared with the world". I love the logic. I can and probably will get a VPN while in China. Using IPVanish for $7 a month will lift all Chinese web restrictions. I love the idea of not using Facebook any longer and find myself no visiting and wasting my time on the site any longer. I have no desire to delete my account because I do find it useful at times.

Once back in Canada for a few weeks I sent a random message to Olivia and we quickly chatted about my process and timeline. That conversation turned to my need and desire to start learning Mandarin Without missing a beat she said " I am a Mandarin teacher and I will teach you using WeChat". This app like others has a voice function where you can speak to each other using your cell phone. I have since downloaded the app for windows and use both my cell and laptop now. I now have an hour of Mandarin every night with a language teacher in China who in exchange I help with her English but to be honest most of the tutoring is coming my way. The world really is filled with kind people.

Pinyin Chart
I have been learning the 4 basic tones (there are 5) and what is called Pinyin which is the Romanization or Westernization system for Standard Chinese. It is critical to learn pronunciation and tones as the beginning building blocks to learning, understanding and speaking Mandarin. 

I also found good resources on You Tube so there are no excuses no to learn and practice. The first is YoYo Chinese with Lang Lang Cheng. The others include Chinese Pod and Mandarin Made Easy with Fiona Tian and Learn Chinese with Emma. All provide free videos with instructions and explanations and Lang Lang and Fiona are pretty funny.  Here is a fantastic link to being learning Pinyin. It includes audio and video explanations.

YoYo Chinese has an online course for $16 a month that I signed up for. It expands on the Free YouTube lessons. I am also using a free phone app called Hello Chinese. Now I have a live tutor, web resources and a phone app to work with. There are no excuses to get keep going with learning Mandarin. This is patience.
So I wait for the DHL driver to deliver my package from my employer in China. I think I will be on a plane mid February. In the mean time I have Olivia, Lang Lang, Fiona, Emma and Hello Chinese to overload my brain with basic Mandarin. 

I still have no patience when it come to waiting.