Leaving China: Exit Strategy

The time has finally come to leave China having been here since February on the i-to-i TEFL Internship with ImmerQi. Our exit strategy was something we could never have planned in advance due to not knowing our placement location or final working date prior to our arrival. However, with the last working day now gone and our final pay date confirmed it’s time to decide, how and where we will leave China.

Possible exit routes we considered

Before arrival in China we discussed a number of exit routes after our placement was up and just prior to our visa running out:

  • Mongolia – only a possibility if we were placed in the very north of China as we would be able to make our way to the capital Ulaanbaatar via train from Beijing. Once we were not placed in the north we crossed this off our list but after reading Savannah’s book about her family’s adventure from China to Mongolia I haven’t crossed this off my list of places to visit just yet.
  • North Korea – this was a very unlikely option but we left it on the list just in case. However, the Ebola virus epidemic meant that all foreigners were being kept in quarantine for a minimum of three weeks – certainly not worth it. It still remains on the list and with the recent news that they want to increase their numbers of tourists then who knows what the future will hold?
  • South Korea – so maybe North Korea was a little ambitious. How about the south? It wasn’t so hazardous, we wouldn’t need to be quarantined or go as part of a tour group. However, the opportunities for work in the TEFL industry meant that we could realistically get work here at a future point in our lives. Getting paid to live and work in a country, engaging in slow travel and experiencing another educational system is something we were extremely interested in. South Korea therefore is on our list of places to potentially TEFL in the future.
  • Phillipines – this was a pretty popular candidate in our initial planning stage as we entered China after travelling in South East Asia. We felt this would be a great way to visit another yet to be explored area of this region. Who wouldn’t want to end up on a tropical beach or even after seeing an advert on AirBnB, their very own private island?
  • Japan – after hearing so many misconceptions from my UK students on the differences (or in their case, lack of differences) between Japan and China I realised that I didn’t know all that much about Japanese culture. However, after some careful research and a few emails back and forth we found that as with South Korea this would be a potential area to find TEFL opportunities in the near future so added it to that list instead for the reasons mentioned above.
  • Hong Kong – typically the most obvious exit route if we were placed in the south was considered last and as you’ll see below, this is one of the many places that will feature in our final exit from China.

Our exit strategy

All things considered including our placement location, final date of completion and the areas we wish to leave for TEFLing (a new verb!) at a later time – here follows our final exit route:

  1. Taipei – hilariously (but not surprisingly if you know us well) the first destination was a late entry. On trying to decide the best way to head south on the way to Hong Kong, we were undecided between going straight to Guangzhou or going via Xiamen. Both seemed like equally pleasant places to go for a day or maybe two. As Anthony was umming and ahhing between the pros and cons of each, I flippantly said: “Or we could just sack off both and go to Taiwan instead?” That was it, it was decided there and then with just a knowing look – we were off to Taipei, the capital of Taiwan. As Taiwan is a country in its own right it doesn’t feature in our China Lonely Planet guide, nor can it be found in our South East Asia Lonely Planet guide. Therefore, we will be relying on a great number of online sources including some excellent responses via twitter when our followers rose to the challenge of our enquiries of what we could do or see there.
  2. Macau – as soon as we had decided to fly from Hong Kong (more about that below) and been told by our school we were finishing earlier than originally planned we knew we needed to go somewhere else. Originally we were going to make our way down south and cross the land border from the Guangdong province into Macau by bus. Macau is a SAR (special administrative region) and therefore once we had passed across the border there would be no going back. Macau was not somewhere we had ever considered previously, our only knowledge of it (and this was until quite recently) was that it was a gambling mecca for the Chinese. However, once again our Lonely Planet guide came to the rescue, highlighting everything but the gambling and stressing the Portuguese colonial past which was still very much evident. We shall therefore we taking a flight form Taipei straight to Macau for a few days exploring what this SAR has to offer.
  3. Hong Kong – having been placed slightly closer to the south of China and once ruling out the destinations above we made the choice to leave our China Internship via Hong Kong after several days there to explore. Hong Kong is another SAR but unlike Macau it was the British who ruled here and not the Portuguese. We had our final date provided by the school and thus bought our tickets early to avoid the ever increasing airline fees. We also needed to plan a particular route via Malta (which meant a change of planes in Turkey) to see family. We were set on this plan knowing that we could easily get a train from Shanghai (our nearest large transportation hub) to the border at Shenzhen to cross into Hong Kong. However, when our school informed us that we were finishing earlier than planned and with no way to change our flights out of Hong Kong, we then set on adding in those destinations mentioned above. We shall therefore take a ferry to cross from Macau to Hong Kong where we will resume our original plan.

The choice of exit strategy is partially due to location (all destinations are relatively close together) and partially due to savings made on our internship by not spending recklessly (all transport, accommodation and spending money will be covered by the money we have saved). However, more importantly the choice of destinations will allow us to explore another side to Chinese culture in places that have historical connections to the mainland.

Thank you for keeping up with our adventures by reading this post. If you never want to miss an update then please consider adding your email and subscribing to our blog. Stay tuned for what we get up to in Taipei, Macau and Hong Kong. We will also be posting videos on our YouTube channel. What’s next? Read our full plan here.

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