After a four-hour flight from Tokyo, I arrived at Guangzhou late last night. (The dinner offered by Japan Air Lines—teriyaki mackerel, sushsi, assorted Japanese delicacies, and maple pudding, was likely the best meal I've ever had in main cabin, compensating for the two near-inedible ones served by American on the way to Tokyo.)
I was met by representatives from the two departments from which I'll be teaching, Foreign Languages and International Business, for the drive to Zhuhai, which took nearly two hours. By that point I'd been up for well over 24 hours, other than a brief bit of fitful dozing on the Tokyo-Guangzhou flight, but I felt compelled to maintain my chattiness for the final leg of my journey; after all, I was brought here to speak English, so I figured I might as well start earning my keep.
This morning I got an informal tour of the campus—the Zhuhai branch of Jilin University, the provincial university in Ling's home town of Changchun—which is only about four years old. It consists of two huge classroom buildings (I believe I heard that the student population is 17,000), maybe a dozen dormitories, several faculty apartment buildings (one of which I reside in), a gymnasium and a sports arena, a large dining hall, and three man-made lakes. It closely resembles other campuses of similarly recent vintage in the west; I'll try to post some photos in the coming days, technology willing.
Driving through the darkness last night—it was nearly 1 a.m. by the time we arrived—the campus seemed isolated, with nothing around but forests, farmland, and the South China Sea; but a few hours ago we went for lunch to a nearby town, San Zao (about a 10-minute drive), where I enjoyed what I hope was the first of many fine Cantonese meals in the weeks ahead: steamed fish, garlic-stuffed shrimp, crystal chicken, and fresh greens.
I'm sure the coming weeks will be full of surprises, but one thing I wasn’t prepared for is the steamy climate here. I knew Zhuhai was tropical (well, subtropical), but somehow I'd overlooked the fact that just because it's October doesn’t mean it can’t be oppressively hot and humid. I’m back in my apartment now until dinnertime (when I get to try out the dining hall), and apparently they turn off the residential air conditioning during the day(similar to the way they treat hot water); so I guess I'll just have to try to lay low and keep cool until tonight.