Building construction – seen from the elevated bus route, Chengdu
The reconstruction of the Second Ring Road 二环路 with an elevated expressway / bus lane has caused dust, pollution, and hideous traffic congestion for about a year. The mammoth project is now complete; visually, it’s not a success, since what was once a wide thoroughfare is now jumble of concrete posts beneath a gray concrete canopy. Crossing the road on foot now feels like entering another country.
Still, I couldn’t resist the urge to spend a rare free day circling the entire city on the new express bus system, occupying its own dedicated lanes on the upper level of the Ring Road.
escalator to the bus stop platform
The trip took about an hour and 20 minutes. The experience of the city from the upper level, I must say, was panoramic. The limited-access roadway functions to move traffic quickly around and through the city, and to ride a city bus without having to sit behind traffic, stop for traffic signals, or dodge pedestrians was a change for the better.
That’s a little too high.
At times the trip is like a roller-coaster ride, especially when the bus lane zooms up to a dizzying height somewhere in the northwest corner of the city. In every direction were high-rise apartments and construction cranes. When passing through my old neighborhood near UESTC, where I taught for three years, the area was unrecognizable. The small shops and neighborhood restaurants that I knew have all disappeared, and my old apartment building near the Shahe River wasn’t even visible behind a new apartment tower.
My circumambulation of the city finished, I retired to my apartment for an afternoon nap.
My online masters degree course in Teaching English for Academic Purposes is keeping me busy. The first module, EAP Pedagogies, is divided into ten units of one week each. We have a rather prodigious amount of reading to do, but the articles are easily accessible online and downloadable. Bound together in book form, they provide easy textbook-like references. My friend Elisa and I are doing the course together; we’ve been colleagues at Sichuan University for several years now. Going back to school after teaching for eight years is a change of pace, and the study lets me reflect on what I’ve encountered in my teaching and how I can improve. At this point, two years seems like a long time. Concurrently, I will be working toward the Cambridge DELTA certificate starting in September.
I’ve renewed my apartment lease for the next year, and the next couple of weeks will be spent registering for Chinese classes for next fall, so I can obtain my new student visa, and assembling the necessary documents for this.
Once I have internet connected in my apartment, and I don’t have to depend on coffee house wifi, I will share my thoughts about starting my M.A. program by distance learning.
My current plan is to stay in Chengdu for one more year, until I’ve completed the three core modules for the M.A. in Teaching English for Academic Purposes. At that point I’ll be halfway through the degree program. At the same time, I plan to complete the DELTA certificate online, which will give me qualifications to pursue higher-level teaching jobs beginning in 2014.
Sunday antiques market, Rome Plaza, Chengdu
A 6.6 earthquake struck Sichuan at 8:02 this morning, centered in the Lushan area near Yaan, which is 90 minutes by car from Chengdu.
My 15th-floor apartment started shaking just after 8 AM this morning – the dog panicked when the tremors grew stronger. I was just getting ready to go out, but instead we escaped the apartment and walked all the way down using the stairs. I saw other people crowding into the elevators and thought – what idiots, that’s the last place you want to be in an earthquake.
People stood around outside, in the streets and on sidewalks, for about an hour, until the fear of strong aftershocks subsided. I watched a TV mounted outside the gate to an apartment complex, to find out where the quake happened; it was initially reported as 7.0.
There were no live pictures on the TV news after I got home, so I went to my IELTS job to mark writing exams for a couple of hours.
As of now, 56 are confirmed dead, and there’s extensive damage in the quake zone. You can read more here: