Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Ich bin ein Tianjiner

I cannot quite believe that two months have passed since we first stepped foot in China and completed our induction course in Beijing. We have been living in Tianjin for nearly 7 weeks now. Time has flown by really! Tianjin is very big and the city goes on for miles. We have done a little exploring and visited some of the attractions that the city has to offer. We have been up to the top of the TV Tower which is 368m high. Luckily it was a beautiful day and we could see the whole city. Tianjin has some beautiful parks but you are never allowed to sit on the grass!

Tianjin is home to a beautiful house made out of pottery….my favourite part of the house being the porcelain cats neatly placed around the door frames.

The city has some interesting themed areas dotted around including the Italian Style Town (containing Italian and German Restaurants, and of course a Starbucks) and Ancient Culture Street which is full of market stalls and beautiful traditional Chinese buildings bursting with colour. However it is also the most touristy area of the city and we are often papped by Chinese tour groups while we are there.
Painted shop front in Italian Style Town
Being papped by a Chinese tour group in Ancient Culture Steet
There is a lot of street food to choose from and they prepare it for you as you wait.
The street stalls are perfect for any meat lover!
Hot Pot restaurants are also very popular and it makes for a ‘fun and interactive’ dining experience (especially when the dancing noodle man makes an appearance!).
Our Tianjin family in a Korean hot pot restaurant...complete with stylish red aprons
If you want to baggsie yourself a bargain then the best place to head for is Da Hutong – it’s a crazy mish mash of shops and market stalls in what looks like a disused multi-storey car park. You can buy almost anything there but you have to get your bartering head on as well as have the patience to navigate yourself through the maze. But, if we need some home comforts then there is always Tescos....

It is quite nice wondering around the centre of Tianjin in the evening as you see all sorts going on. People often sit around with their pets in the middle of the street which is a little odd but great when you get to cuddle the cutest dog in the world….I was so close to taking him home!
There are also outside gyms in a lot of the parks in Tianjin, which may be the secret as to why I never see any fat Chinese people…
There are not really a lot of places to hang out in Tianjin and the nightlife is not fantastic but we have found a few expat bars including Helen’s (good western food, old school music, lots of random notes and messages written all over the walls), AJOs (a sports bar, but on the plus side it does have a dart board and amazing apple pie so I’m happy!) and Alibaba’s (an entire wall is painted to replicate the entrance to No. 10 Downing Street).

Out and about in Scarlet Bar (conveniently situated above a KFC)
We still have a lot of Tianjin to explore but now we have some wheels (only 299 Yuan/£30 courtesy of Tescos), it has made it a lot easier to get around (I must admit though, I am very proud of myself every time I get home in one peace!).

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