China; the name itself invokes visions of a far off land full of ancient wonders, rich culture and spiritual mysticism. It has an extensive written history with written records dating back about 4,000 years, and is considered one of the four great ancient civilizations of the world.
While China is a popular tourist destination, there is an even better way to explore its historical architecture and vibrant culture; by teaching English in China. China has the highest demand for english teachers in the world right now, more than any other country and is hands down the easiest place in the world to land a job teaching English. China is also a huge country both in terms of population and physical size and as such, makes it a great place to travel on your weekends and holidays off from the 9 to 5. Without further ado, the 5 coolest things to see while teaching English in China.
Located in beautiful Hangzhou in Eastern China, West lake is a sight to behold. Spread out over an area of about 6.5 square kilometres, West Lake is a serene and beautiful spot that is famous for its scenery and is a setting for many traditional Chinese romantic legends. A great getaway for the expat teaching English in one of the (many) more populated and bustling cities in China, West Lake offers a chance to relax and recuperate from the rat race of city life. There are many great activities to participate in including viewing koi fish at the flower pond, visiting the Leifeng pagoda and the mysterious “Three Pools Mirroring the Moon” section that produces an optical illusion making it seem as if one is surrounded by multiple moons.
Few animals are as closely related to China as that of the giant panda, and no experience teaching English there is complete without a visit to a panda reserve. Giant pandas are gentle and placid creatures that spend the majority of their lives eating and sleeping, a feat most of us can envy immensely. They live in bamboo forests (bamboo being their main food source) and even without the pandas, the forests themselves are a magnificent sight to behold. There are four main panda reserves in Chengdu and you would do well to visit any one of them. They all do great work, and it’s thanks to their efforts that giant pandas were taken off the endangered species list in 2016 (they are now on the “vulnerable” list). So take a break from teaching your students English, and see what other wildlife China has to offer! There are many different kinds of tours and activities involving Pandas, some involving simply viewing the creatures and even more immersive ones that last days where you can track wild pandas in their natural habitats.
Flowing 83 kilometres from Guilin to Yangshuo in Southern China, the Li River has been named one of the “top ten watery wonders” by National geographic. The scenery is picturesque and stunning with the view consisting mainly of wild Karst mountains. Like West Lake, it’s a perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of teaching English in a Chinese city. One of the most popular ways to explore the scenery is by river cruise, an activity that attracts millions of tourists every year. These cruises are about 4 to 5 hours and are extremely relaxed affairs with buffets and mini bars, and some of the fancier boats even boasting air conditioning and TV screens. The more adventurous can take a bamboo rafting tour that takes place much closer to the water offering a more authentic (albeit less luxurious) nature experience.
The terracotta army is a collection of clay sculptures that were made with the purpose of protecting Emperor Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife. The figures date back to the 3rd century BCE and are located in Xi’an, the excavation site which has since been turned into a museum. It is estimated that the terracotta army contains over 8000 soldiers, 130 chariots and 670 horses, the majority which are still buried in the pits nearby to main excavation site. There are also other non military figures buried to accompany the Emperor into the afterlife including strongmen, acrobats and musicians. The figures are life sized and vary immensely from one another in many ways including uniforms, hairstyles and even faces. The terracotta army is unlike anything in the world and make a great (even a little spooky!) little break from teaching English in China on a weekend or holiday.
Unsurprisingly, the world famous great wall tops the list of coolest things to see while teaching English in China. Spanning approximately 20,900 kilometers, the great wall was begun in the third century BC as a means of protection from barbarian nomads in the North. One of the factors that makes it so amazing is the fact that it was built before modern machinery and thusly, built entirely by hand out of brick, stone, sand, and soil. Millions of the workers building the wall died in the process and were buried under it lending it the nickname “The Longest Cemetery on Earth.” The most famous section of the wall is called Badaling and is also the busiest. For a less touristy experience, one can visit the wilder sections like Jiankou or Simatai. There are many activities one can do on the great wall like hiking, camping or even riding a rollercoaster!
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