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
Okay, so it is 5.30am on a Monday morning. It is time to get up. Showering, getting dressed and having breakfast are usually slow-motion action replays, only not so fast. Then, after a twenty-five minute walk along the street and through the park, I arrive at Green Oasis School, also known as GOS. It's a good school in the centre of Futian, the posh central district of Shenzhen. I am now in my fifth and final year as a Year 5 teacher. Of course I cannot speak much Mandarin and I cannot read any at all, but fortunately I have the wonderful services of my assistant or "teaching partner", Miss Yanee.
Friday, 15th of June, 2018, will be my last day in the teaching profession and then my wife and I will be returning to Bulgaria for our retirement. We will be leaving just after my 59th birthday, so I will still be a whisker away from being an OAP.
Teaching Chinese students is a delight. The nine- and ten-year-olds in my class have Mandarin as their first language and that is a b…
You will, I am sure, be glad to know that I am
not an estate agent. Yes, I have done some silly things in my life, but I have
never worked for a real estate company and no, I am not sponsored by the
Veliko Tarnovo is more or less in the
centre of Bulgaria and it was the old capital, before Sofia became the capital.
Greece is just around the corner and there are overnight trains to Romania and to Turkey, so you can go to bed in Sofia and wake up in Bucharest or in Istanbul. In Bulgaria, the main language that
most people speak is – surprise, surprise – Bulgarian. This is a Slavic
language and there are many similarities between Bulgarian and Russian. Bulgarian
is also quite similar to Czech, Ukrainian and Serbo-Croat. The Cyrillic
alphabet is used throughout Bulgaria
and, for some people, this can be a bit strange and confusing at first.
Actually, learning Bulgarian is not quite as difficult as it looks, once you
get over the shock of learning a different alphabet…
Yesterday Irisha and I went to Lianhuacun Park, just opposite our apartment
in the Bank of China Towers. There are supposed to be 16 or maybe 18 million
people here in Shenzhen and most of them seemed to think that going to the park
would be a good idea. The temperature must have been in the high 20s and it was a pleasantly sunny day, maybe the
last day of the summer. Well, that was how it felt, even though it was
the middle of November. (Why do boring Brits always go on about the weather so much?)
After a walk up to the pagoda, we looked at some
special flower displays and then, like everyone else, we took lots of photos.
Irena was singing in the worship team on Sunday morning, so we had to get to church a bit earlier than usual. Our friends Bill and Julia arrived later. After church, we went back to Futian by bus (I hate the buses in Shenzhen, as all the drivers think they are at Silverstone) and then lunch, followed by writing this blog. Why is it so hard to add photos to a blog? I s…