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Author Topic: Changchun, JILIN  (Read 15201 times)

Raoul F. Duke

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Changchun, JILIN
« on: June 17, 2007, 04:40:24 PM »
I lived in Changchun about a year. Came to love it, but it took a long time to get there. I was moved there in December and was pretty sure I had taken an assignment in Hell.

This town is not exactly a tourist mecca. It's not close to much...Harbin and some tatty ski resorts and a forest or two. Changchun only really has one "tourist attraction"...the "Puppet Palace" that was home to "Last Emperor" Pu Yi in the Manchukuo days. It will fill part of an afternoon with mild interest. Jilin city, the next wide spot up the railroad track, has a nice lake and is famous for its hoarfrost on the trees, if you are willing to brave the -40 conditions in which it occurs.

The city can be pleasant enough...nice quiet tree-lined neighborhoods and some very nice parks. Food is great and the girls are pretty and alcohol is dirt cheap. People are friendly. There is more than you might think for foreigners thanks to the long-term presence of Volkswagen and other companies, but it's going to be pretty dull and spartan compared to the Shanghai area. The city is gradually revitalizing and renovating. It still has a lot of that grimy brick Northeastern depressing ambience. The city was an industrial giant back in the heyday of the State Owned Enterprise, but the reforms of the last few decades have closed almost all of them. The economy was devastated and unemployment rates exceeded 25%. It's only just beginning to recover.

They burn a lot of soft coal there, leading to my one contribution to the Chinese language: Changchunde (adj): covered with 3cm of oily black filth. The air is not too good, especially in winter.

Weather is a major issue here. On the up side, summers are indeed great and the really hot part is about 2 weeks long. Fall is nice but rather short. Spring is rather long- hence the city's name- but marred by unbelievable dust storms. The correct answer to "How's the weather?" at such times is "Orange". Winters are looooong, dude, and brutally cold. There's nothing between you and Siberia but barbed-wire fences. I experienced a few nights of -50. The city seems eternally covered with a layer of hard snow and ice, blackened by coal smoke and peppered with garbage of all kinds. Having a good winter wardrobe is absolutely essential for survival here...this is definitely frostbite country.

Changchun is starved for water...if you move there make damn sure you are lodged in the few blocks of the city that get 24 hour water. Otherwise you get 2 short bursts a day- one at the crack of dawn and one about the time evening classes start. Local TV reports often covered apartment buildings that had been deprived of water completely for a period of months.

It may seem strange after this review, but I rather enjoyed my time in Changchun. I'd consider going back for a really good job, which are hard to come by up there.

Beware of the AES Aston School. A den of weasels. Columbia is, if possible, even worse. In fact Changchun, much like Dalian, seems to have a disproportionate number of ripoff schools for a city its size. Jilin University and Northeast Normal University seem to be good gigs although salaries are low. Might try a school called "Perfect English"...I didn't work there but I liked Jack, the American owner.

Ask around for a market called "Big Peace World"...it's right on one of the main drags of Changchun, whose name now escapes me. It's a multi-story indoor market with a million tables, showcases, and small-scale entrepreneurs. Much of my large collection of Mao badges comes from there.

This town loves its Hot Pot...all those long frozen nights. There's a place called "Spicy Girl Hot Pot" near Big Peace World; you'll know it from the girls standing outside in qi pao, even in winter, and the endless repetition of an incredibly stupid recorded song about "Ma La Tang" (Spicy Soup with Numb Peppers) that mercifully you can't hear from inside. I don't see how those poor girls endure it day in and day out. Anyway, this place has raised Hot Pot to an art form.

I'm not aware of a Carrefour etc. there but when I was leaving there was apparently a Wal-Mart coming in. Probably up and running by now. Best supermarket back then was Beijing Hualian, which isn't saying much. Poke your head into unlikely-looking small shops...I gradually found quite a galaxy of taco shells, cheeses, Dr. Pepper, etc. in the unlikeliest of places.

Insider tip- if you want the taxi driver to turn left, say "Da4 Hui4". Right turn is "Xiao3 Hui4". The drivers will like you...you talk like a local.

One small nice thing about Changchun...they speak a relatively pure form of Putonghua up there and are immensely proud of it. It's a good place to learn Chinese, and people there are relatively easy to understand when they speak.

Not too much to do and lots of long cold winter nights, so you'll definitely have ample opportunity to study.

I recommend acquiring a ski mask, a DVD player, and a girlfriend as quickly as possible.
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

jayban

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2010, 06:44:25 AM »
Since I'm looking to go to Changchun, which school did you end up working for. I might try a direct contact and see if they will hire.

Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2010, 02:07:09 AM »
I was at the Aston School there, and got badly burned by them. Never go to work for Aston! asasasasas

But, it wasn't Changchun's fault... bjbjbjbjbj
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Day Dreamer

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #3 on: February 12, 2010, 11:13:26 AM »
I recommend acquiring a ski mask, a DVD player, and a girlfriend as quickly as possible.

You are a sick fuck


Can I play?   aoaoaoaoao
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Raoul F. Duke

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2010, 04:54:42 AM »
Wow, it had never occurred to me to connect enjoying those three items simultaneously...and you're calling ME a sick fuck? ahahahahah uuuuuuuuuu
"Vicodin and dumplings...it's a great combination!" (Anthony Bourdain, in Harbin)

"Here in China we aren't just teaching...
we're building the corrupt, incompetent, baijiu-swilling buttheads of tomorrow!" (Raoul F. Duke)

Day Dreamer

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2010, 05:48:49 AM »
 rrrrrrrrrr   You started it   aeaeaeaeae
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El Macho

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #6 on: March 16, 2010, 11:21:25 PM »
Ah, Changchun.

The first place I lived in China. I still love the city.

First, Changchun is growing. Other cities in Jilin took off earlier than Changchun did, but it's now trying its best to catch up. As in much of the rest of China, "catching up" means bulldozing the old stuff. In the case of Changchun, that's not too much of a loss; mostly brick row houses and 1950's-1960's brick factories (that is to say they're made of bricks...though I suppose they could have produced the things, too). I went back to visit this January and was shocked by how much the city had modernized since 2007.

The area around the train station has lots of great Japanese architecture. Changchun has some very, very sad history having to do with the Japanese occupation. I don't begrudge them their racism towards the Japanese.

Big Peace World, as mentioned by our inestimable leader, is indeed a fun place to poke around. When I was there in 2006/07 it was the only place in town to get postcards of the city...and the postcards were from ca 1980. They were worth buying (¥5...she started at ¥50) just to see how much the place has changed.

I wasn't really a part of the expat scene there. There's a group called Changchun Friends (website seems to be down and facebook page is inaccessible) that set up quite a few events. There are the usual discos and bars. Many of these were around Guilin Lu, which is near Northeast Normal University.

Good restaurants are to be found everywhere, with an especially strong showing of muslim food. It's probably what I miss the most.

Nanhu Park is a real treasure – a great place to spend a full day on the weekend.

I had lots of very pleasant interactions with people there. Great conversations with taxi drivers, etc. As El Jefe points out, they speak very "pure" Mandarin there...though with a healthy dose of dongbeihua thrown in. My friends from other parts of the country constantly correct my dongbeihua until they realize what it is. Then they just think it's funny.

The winters are hard, yes, but worth it.

I think it's a great place to live...if you're not looking for anything exciting and don't care too much about cultural activities. I made great friends there and love the city for that.

Day Dreamer

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2010, 05:30:46 PM »
Ah, Changchun.

I wasn't really a part of the expat scene there. There's a group called Changchun Friends (website seems to be down and facebook page is inaccessible) that set up quite a few events. There are the usual discos and bars. Many of these were around Guilin Lu, which is near Northeast Normal University.

We still do, but now its through http://richardroman.ning.com/   Its a "facebook" type of site so we can still drink excessively socialise. The expats are a fairly close-knit group and we take care of each other. That's one thing that has made this trip very easy for some here as not everyone is at home a week after leaving mommy and daddy

I wish you would have looked me up EL when you were here.
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rollerboogie

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2010, 10:51:05 AM »
"I think it's a great place to live...if you're not looking for anything exciting and don't care too much about cultural activities."

That sums up Changchun for an expatriate. Nightlife there is a bit of a joke. If you find a decent foreign restaurant in Changchun you should enjoy it as soon as possible because they go down quickly. It has a plethora of heavenly chu'ar restaurants and an insanely large number of red light foot massage places. You don't need to frequent them to know this. Simply walk down most streets and you'll see about a dozen or more. There are some insanely ornate bordellos that pose as spas and health clubs in Changchun. The locals know this. Anyone considering Changchun needs to know that the city has to flush out its pipes for the long winter and starts doing this, block by block starting in October. you can go days without water. There are many parts of the city that still go dry for many hours a day, every week. It's the worst part of living in Changchun. Its sky train is far too small and you'll find yourself squishing into it during peak hours. It is basically two subway cars long. It should be four to accommodate traffic. The "happening" area is along Tongzhi Jie. Be wary of the used car salesman types (expatriates, of course) who are running around Changchun. If you end up accepting a job at a university there, be careful. Come winter you may very well be stranded on campus, and many of the universities are a good trek away from where all the action is.

Si Mao

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #9 on: November 17, 2013, 03:21:15 AM »
Sorry for bringing back this thread from the world of dead topics, but I need to ask ;  Could I make it with 5000 RMB per month in Changchun ? I'll have free accommodation, but must have to pay for water, electricity bills, transportation and such. I usually prefer to cook for myself and I'm not the kind of people who goes clubbing/drinking. I rather go shopping a bit or visit places. How much do you think I will spend per month with this kind of lifestyle ? I'm especially curious about transportation costs as I will have to travel between different schools...

Day Dreamer

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #10 on: November 17, 2013, 05:40:12 AM »
First of all, nowadays, most schools even in the cesspool backwoods nice city of Changchun pay more than that. Some schools offer some kind of transportation. Sino-Denver (your school) used to have their own vans, I don't know if they still do. Transportation is cheap; buses are mostly 1RMB, taxis start at 6 and the light rail / subway depends on distance but not bad. The subway wasn't open when I was there.

One thing to get used to is sharing cabs. I've been in some with 3 other different people, i.e. the driver had 4 fares at once. There is very little discount for the shared journey, just more cash for him. Sometimes due to a shortage of cars, this is your only choice. Be careful of travelling around 4-5PM, that's shift change. Also, they are slow as dry shit. Always give yourself EXTRA time to find a cab, detour for the other passengers and possibly go roundabout if he thinks you don't know where you're going

Buses are always crowded. The worst part is that most routes stop working early in the evening. There is no 24 hour service and very few run past 7-8PM

The LRT services many universities. Changchun has about 40 unis not including branches or other campuses. It is a school city.

Amenities are super cheap, water/gas/phone/internet/power will run at most a total of 300per month.

There's an increase in foreign style restaurants and stores but pales in comparison to better contemporary cites like Dalian, Harbin, etc. Food is cheap, and the gouche area is Guinin Lu. You're going to love "gubero" (sp?) Sweet and Sour Pork! F$%#$ing Awsome!!! Oh, restaurants are really, REALLY LOUD, get used to it.

Women love to fight, both verbally and physically, beware. Anytime, anywhere, about anything

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Day Dreamer

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #11 on: November 17, 2013, 08:12:03 AM »
Let me tell you about the weather  aoaoaoaoao

Changchun means long spring. What it should really mean is it takes a long flicken time for spring to arrive. The winters are cold and dry. I ooze olive oil yet have never had such dry skin in my life before. One winter, my heels dried to the point of cracking, I had trouble walking. It doesn't snow too much though the temperature can sink quite low. Once when I was there, it hit -35. Doesn't matter if you use C or F, they're both Arctic.

Since this part of the country juts out further east, the sun rises early and sets quickly. In Summer, sunrise is around 3:30 - 4AM. In Winter, sunset comes at 4:30 - 5PM.

Late Spring is the rainy season. One day it will start to rain for 3 months non- stop. You might get a few sunny days mixed in. Then the heat begins. And it becomes stinking hot. So in a nutshell:
Jan - May: Cold and Miserable
May - June: Wet and Miserable
July - Sept: Hot and Miserable

Believe it or not, I enjoyed it because I suffer intolerably in warm-hot climates. I think I was conceived or born in Antarctica. Once the damp stops and warm sunny days commence, girls go from 3 pairs of long johns to short-shorty shorts. I mean short (butt  cleavage sometimes).

And that's when the street food opens like an onslaught.

If you like, I can give you some people who help to organize the expat group. There really is a good core of folks there and the camaraderie is par excellence. The city doesn't have all the thrills and chills of a western modern city, so we made our own entertainment.

You can find the social scene through two different sites
http://richardroman.ning.com
This is the original and better of the two. ChangcunFreinds
 
http://changchunstuff.com
This is not bad (too commercial for my taste) ChangchunStuff
For you to insult me, first I must value your opinion

Si Mao

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Re: Changchun, JILIN
« Reply #12 on: November 17, 2013, 01:57:42 PM »
Thank you very much for your help.
I suppose my salary is low because I'm a non native speaker. I would like to negotiate for 6000 RMB but I don't have many arguments on my favor. As for the transportation they didn't say anything about it... I'll ask them. Thanks for the tip.
I knew winter was quite harsh in this area but wow... I suppose I will try to fill my travelcase with many more thermal clothes and stuff to put under my everyday clothes.

I would love to make contact with expats there ! As much as I'm excited to go live in China, I fill lost at the same time.