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.
Irisha was out rather late the other night. In fact, she did not get home until
4am. So was she out partying? Another night out on the town? No, she had a “bit
part” in a film. In fact, Irena has now had quite a few modelling jobs over the
last couple of years, in Guanghzou, Hong Kong and Shenzhen. Some have involved
making films, while others have been photoshoots for various advertisements,
such as furniture. Occasionally she has been at the opening of an exhibition or
special event (as part of a sort of “rent-a-crowd”). The art exhibition thing
that she did in Hong Kong was all about trying to persuade people to “invest”
in some rather dodgy “artwork” and she did not enjoy doing that.
husband of an international model, I have learned a bit about what it is like
to do some modelling work. First of all, it is a completely unreliable and
precarious job, if indeed you can call it a “job” at all. You just never know
when or if you will have any work. Sometimes a month or more goes by without a
single agent calling her and sometimes Irena gets a couple of job offers within
a few days and she has to turn down one or two of them. Another thing that goes
against the glamorous image of being a model is the travelling. In China, this
is not simple and straightforward. Sometimes the agent tries to help with
trains and taxis, but often it all seems to go wrong. Once she gets to the “shoot”,
the main thing that happens is a lot of waiting and then some more waiting.
This person or that person has not turned up yet or else the shoot cannot start
for some other reason. On Thursday night, for example, Irena had to travel to
the end of the MTR line and then go all the way to Shekou for the actual
filming. Fortunately, they did her scene first. She was the elderly “wife” of
Chris, a rather handsome and glamorous French chap in his late 50s. Everybody
seems to know Chris because he has been in lots of films and advertisements
here in China.
nearly always plays the part of a granny, the makeup people usually slap on
lots of grease and give her plenty of wrinkles, as well as doing some horrible
things to her hair. Sometimes the models are given some takeaway Chinese food
and you might, if you are lucky, get a break when you can go to the bathroom. Finally,
when the shoot is over, she has to get home and try to catch up on her lost
sleep. And in case you are wondering, yes, the actual modelling is well paid
(maybe as much as 1,000 or even 2,000RMB an hour), but of course you do not get
paid at all for all of the travelling and the time that you spend waiting for
something to happen!
Of course, I
like telling everyone, “Oh, did you know? My wife is an international model.”
That usually makes her very angry and there will be threats of no lunch for
Simon, as Irena really does not want people to know about her modelling. (She
hardly ever reads my blog, so I am hoping that she will not find out that I
have written this. Please don’t tell her!) I cannot include any of her modelling photos, alas, but here is a picture of my dear Irena in the park.
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…
now 45 days to go, to the end of my teaching career. Well, it has been quite
interesting: the UK for about twenty years, followed by my misadventures in
foreign parts: Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Romania, Qatar, the UAE and now
China. On Thursday, 14th June, 2018, I shall be teaching my
last-ever lessons at Green Oasis School and then on Monday, 18th, we will be
flying to Bulgaria. As you may
have noticed, this blog is called “Bulgaria with Noodles” because Irena and I
are still in China, but in many ways our hearts are already in BG. But what
will we do, once we have settled down in Bulgaria? A lot of travelling is
fairly high on the list of priorities.
The truth is, we really do not know most of Bulgaria. Sofia, Kalotina and a Veliko Tarnovo: that is about all we are
familiar with. Whenever we come to Bulgaria for the summer, there is a long
list of things that need to be sorted out: the grass in the back garden is
about two metres high, the car will not start, the fridge i…
readers of my online ramblings will know that our apartment in Shenzhen is in
fact in Futian, opposite the huge and splendid Lianhuacun park. Another
advantage is that our apartment is located half-way between two MTR stations on
different lines, Children’s Palace and Lianhuacun. However, in this posting I
am going to take your, dear reader, into our apartment and show you round a
bit. This may perhaps be of some interest to anyone who is thinking of living
and working in China (and Shenzhen in particular). The
good news about our apartment is that it is cheap. All of the Bank of China
Towers blocks are clad in ghost-busting reddish-dark pinkish tiles. This is in
order to keep away the evil spirits of those who were executed nearby. (It
seems to work, as so far no spirits have appeared, although I do sometimes have
a glass or two of vodka when Irena makes some Russian-themed soup.) As a
result, a lot of Chinese people do not want to live in these blocks and so our
apartment is …