This blog is supposed to be all about Bulgaria, but for five years we were in Shenzhen, in southern China. That is the reason for the weird title, "Bulgaria with Noodles". In June of 2018, Irena and I left China and retired to Bulgaria, to our villa 60km north of Sofia and to our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. This blog is really all about some comparisons and contrasts between China and Bulgaria, two very different countries.
The Bohol Bee
Farm is not on Bohol: it’s on an island called Panglau. Apart from a couple of
hives that are used for demonstrations for tour groups, there are no bees. It
also is not a farm, as there are no tractors, cows or pigs. Yes, they do have some
horticulture going on, as they grow on site the key ingredients of the
delicious salads that are served in the restaurants. During the Chinese New
Year, the main crop at Bohol Bee Farm is Chinese tourists. This is a bit of a
problem because I have the impression that the staff do not really like the
Chinese guests. An elderly Spanish couple, on the other hand, seemed to be very
popular with the Filipino staff.
The Bee Bakery
arrived in Manila, an internal flight took us to Tagbileran airport and then a
minibus took us to the Bee Farm. It was raining and the Bee Farm seemed to be
full of (yes, you guessed it) Chinese tourists.
greedy goose gobbling, we usually had a rest in our room for an hour or so,
before the morning swim.
there is no beach at the Bee Farm, there is a Dive Shop and a sort of wooden
jetty-cum-sundeck where you can lie on sunbeds. The sea was aquamarine and
turquoise, clear and fairly calm (most of the time anyway). Usually there is a
storm in the afternoon or evening, so the best thing to do is to get your
swimming done in the first half of the day. There were quite a lot of seriously
spikey sea urchins, so the new technicolour booties were needed. The coral was
pretty good and the fish were so-so. We did see a couple of sea snakes and a
few shoals of what were probably sardines.
A Room Without Much of a View
hour or two of swimming and sunbathing, we would go back to our room. It was a
“garden” room, so there was no sea view, but it was a big and airy room,
pleasantly decorated with lots of dark wood. Following our unsuccessful attempt
to get rid of all the excess breakfast calories with some swimming, we usually
had a rest and got changed before having a late lunch around three or four.
Our tour group
were staying at the Bohol Bee Farm, we had the official tour. The guide was a
great joker, with a polished patter of oneliners. We had a look at the craft
workshops, where the Filipino lady workers patiently smiled at us as they got
on with their weaving and stitching. The Bee Farm does provide a lot of
employment for local people and they seem to be very keen on “Reduce, Reuse,
Recycle”, with coconut shells being used as a building material. On the site is
also a small food factory, making ice-cream and various spreads and sauces, and
a large kitchen garden, growing all the fresh ingredients for those delicious
Blogger and Salad Factory
Last on our
tour was a visit to the bees. Yes, there are two hives at the Bohol Bee Farm,
but they do not produce any honey. The guide took out one of the “frames”, to
show us the bees at work. And how many bees are there in a standard hive? About
60,000, according to the guide-cum-comedian. That is an amazing thought. So
many bees working hard to produce honey for us lazy humans. And so many
Filipinos working hard at the Bohol Bee Farm to give holidays to lazy
really enjoy going back to England any more. Last year it was RTD’s memorial
service and last month I went back to try to sort out what to do with my lump
sum from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
Well, why don’t I enjoy going back to my
own country? First of all, I think that it is because I just do not belong
there. Bulgaria is my home and therefore, more and more, I feel that my roots
are in my adopted country. Bulgaria is “home” now. Secondly, there are the
practical issues of going back, as I have no place of my own in the UK, no car,
no nothing. My old friend Peter Adams was very hospitable, as usual, and we
certainly enjoyed some splendid scoffing: lots of roast beef, roast potatoes,
Yorkshire pud and all the trimmings! This was then followed up with the
inevitable crumble and custard. Then we also had a good lunch with Peter’s mum
(fish and chips), followed by a delicious Chinese meal. But food leads on to my
next anti-British moan: the outrageous cost of just about every…
Even though we left Qatar more than five years ago, many teachers still contact me through the TES and ask me what it is like to teach there. Hi Hippo
I hope you don't mind me pre-emptively sending you a conversation about my job
GEMS Wellington Qatar have offered 13.5k which I think is reasonable for three
years' experience qualified (five including unqualified experience).
However, they are not offering medical insurance for my family nor are they
covering flights for them. At the interview, the Director intimated that my
family might even have to stay here in the UK while stuff like permits got
sorted out. My gut instinct tells me not to accept the offer as a result.
Also, I've heard Qataris can be quite racist towards non-white people. How true
is this? I've always fought against this sort of thing in the UK as an Asian
man and don't want any trouble when I go out to work.
Is the cost of living higher than Dubai or London? Obviously, I'd not have to
In many ways Veliko Tarnovo, also known as V.T., is a much nicer city than Sofia. It is smaller, less polluted and the traffic is nowhere near as bad as it is in the capital. Every year, we go and spend a week or so in our apartment in Veliko Tarnovo. For I don't know how long, Irena and I have been saying, "When you retire, we will move in V.T. and that is where we will spend the winter, as it won't be much fun spending the winter in Kalotina." The main problem with this plan is that we have not retired yet. Well, I was retired for six months, but then I started working again and now we have started to put down roots in Sofia, not in V.T. This trip to V.T. was rather different, as it was dominated by the presence of Tina. Yes, it was a lot of fun to have her delightful company, but she was also seriously ill. Several trips to the Vet were needed, along with quite a few injections and a course of antibiotics. First she was vomiting and had bad diarroheia, followed by …