One of China’s “Five Great Mountains,” Hua Shan holds religious importance, and various temples adorn its slopes and peaks. The hike includes steep stairways, a gondola ride, a wall-hugging walk on narrow wooden planks, a nearly vertical climb up a mountain wall (don’t worry, there are a few footholds cut into the rock), and a final steep pathway. The reward for reaching the top of the southern peak? A teahouse, resting 7,087 feet above sea level.
Méi bànfǎ, rén tàiduō. “There’s nothing you can do, too many people.”
In a country of 1.3 billion people, it only takes a small percentage of them to wreck your trip. When my Chinese husband and I traveled to Beijing during the national holiday in October, we spent half the day slogging through a mob that stretched across Tian’anmen Square just to get into the Forbidden City. I’ve also had to stand on crowded trains because I couldn’t get a seat and, while living in Shanghai, experienced my share of being sandwiched between anonymous butts and groins on rush-hour subway cars.
China is indeed a communist country, but you’d better believe your private language center is a purely capitalist venture. And you — the unmistakable, foreign-looking face — are their flagship product. You will be pampered with an amazingly modern apartment, a hefty salary, and light hours. It’s pretty awesome, if I’m honest.
This begs the question, though: Can you deal with the fact that your Chinese counterpart is making pennies for working twice as many hours as you? Can you stomach the wine you’re drinking over Christmas dinner, knowing your assistant is stuck at work, covering your half of the lesson? Many schools have the attitude that their Chinese employees are disposable. You’ll have more luck shooting baijiu without cringing than fighting the glaring inequality at your school.