Bitesize Episode 72 Shanghai Layover: Noodles, Noises, and Navigating Culture Shock

Join Charlie as he embarks on an unexpected journey through Shanghai during a layover, from boiling foot baths to noodle feasts, in this humorous and insightful episode about the surprises of Chinese culture and the reality of travel mishaps. Tune in to discover if 14 hours in China can truly offer a taste of the East.
Feb 15 / Charlie Baxter

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What's this episode about?

Join Charlie as he embarks on an unexpected journey through Shanghai during a layover, from boiling foot baths to noodle feasts, in this humorous and insightful episode about the surprises of Chinese culture and the reality of travel mishaps. Tune in to discover if 14 hours in China can truly offer a taste of the East.
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Transcript of Bitesize EP 72 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello, hello, hello or should I say ni hao? And welcome back to the British English Podcast with me, Charlie Baxter, who is currently recording this episode after having just quote unquote experienced China as I had a layover in Shanghai before continuing on to Australia in hope of finding some sun during the deepest, darkest days of winter in the UK. And I'm here to give you a quick episode on this experience as despite having been able to travel to numerous places in my life, I have never, never set foot in China before now. So this is a first for me to interact with Chinese culture in its native setting, and our flight allowed us 14 hours to soak up as much as we could going this way to Australia. We do have a 24 hour layover on the return flight, but this time was a real novelty for me. I mean, sure, I've been to a number of Chinatowns across the world, but I think we can all agree that that doesn't quite count as experiencing an authentic Chinese culture. And you might be thinking, well, Charlie, nor does a layover. How can 14 hours in one city even scratch the surface with one of the world's oldest cultures? Well, let me tell you about my experience, and then you can be the judge of that by the end of this episode.

Charlie:
So where to start? Well, it's, uh, it's also, I'd like to let you know that it's also the first time I've flown with a Chinese airline. And I've got to say, I was aware of two presupposed assumptions of the culture based on what I, as a Brit, have been brainwashed into thinking, which was 1) It's either going to be a cheap, poor quality experience based on all of the cheap things we buy that say, made in China on the underbelly, and then they instantly break or 2) And this is the one I hoped the airline would represent, this new age modernising superpower that is China. And by the way, it's definitely been promoted as a dangerous thing for Great Britain. You know, this new superpower that is China. I think, politically speaking, the British government want the people to be aware of our ties with the US and just the West in general, and how the East equals China and Russia. So to simplify it, when people hear China is a new superpower in the UK, they tend to think the West needs to protect themselves against this rising threat in the East. I'm generalising as always on this show, but I think it's useful to have this understanding that some people might have when interacting with them, and then you can judge on the individual basis in that moment. And again, just my opinion, but from my family and friends and acquaintances, this is the general vibe I feel that British people have about China.

Charlie:
But yeah, in my small mind, superpower simply means this Chinese airline will have razor fast broadband for me, ultra modern design, and an incredibly efficient passport control at the airport and the airport buildings themselves will be the cutting edge of new age architecture, etc., etc. but well, I guess for those Chinese listeners hearing that I flew with China Eastern, you'll already know that my initial experience wasn't the latter uber modern one. Starting with the online booking system, I nearly burst into a fit of rage after it crashed for the ninth time after trying to fill all flight details in, and this was directly after having attempted to meditate. Um, so that was a nightmare booking it. Then actually getting on the plane, I felt like I had stepped into a time capsule from the 90s and if I was being kind, maybe ten year old technology, but yes, far from modern. Usually when a Brit flies internationally, we get all excited for the viewing bonanza that we will be able to tuck into guilt free with all of the latest blockbusters to choose from. It's a big talking point. Oh, what did you watch on the plane? Um, because there's a wide variety of films and TV shows and media to choose from. Alas, I ended up rejecting all of them and settling with an attempted sleep.

Charlie:
I mean, I did watch from afar, Fast and Furious 10. Um, that was playing two rows in front of me on mute for me. He had the headphones in, but I felt like watching that on his screen was allowed. If I put it on my screen, I felt, I don't know, it's such a it's such an obvious film. I don't like to be seen watching it. Um, even Stacey said to me the other day that, you know what? I think I've given up on my favourite franchise. So finally, finally she's realised that they are terrible blockbusters, that they are incredibly bad films. The first few, amazing, sure. But the next seven. Hm. Uh, anyway, I don't want to yuck your yum if you like the Fast and Furious franchise. I have watched all of them, so I'm obviously a hypocrite. Uh, I just like to watch it two rows in front of me to be disassociated with the choice of that film, if that makes sense. Anyway, when I got off the first leg in, uh, Pudong Airport in Shanghai, I was again disappointed by the basic looking airport, which is apparently the largest one in Shanghai. And now, um, if you've yet to be disappointed by my choices on this podcast that I've shared with you, then here's one for you. Before we left London, I had collected a whole load of places to go to in Shanghai from one of my best friends who lived here for four years, but given we had been sat on seats that were far from being described as ergonomically designed and that we were feeling the jet lag, we had a rather short fuse when entering Pudong Airport.

Charlie:
So after being approached by some very dodgy looking taxi men, walking to the subway and then being informed we need cash to pay for things, I felt like a real idiot of a millennial then, traipsing around for an ATM that would accept visa and didn't look like a scam, because a lot of these machines looked very suspect. It could have just been, you know, they're they're different. They look different in China compared to the UK. But they felt like those ones that are rigged and ready to scam you somehow. And on top of all of this, we failed to access the Wi-Fi to add a data roaming package to our SIM cards because of the bloody great firewall of China. Ah, so we caved. Passport control, combined with the above, had already eaten in to a third of the time we had for our layover. So we looked at each other in the eye and said, Shall we just go sit down? Ah, it was a sad moment for me. But just after admitting defeat, we came across a timely sign for a lounge area by the hour with massages.

Charlie:
Oh, now I don't want to gross you out, but I love a massage. It's all innocent. I'm not Harry. I've never wanted to ask for a happy ending or anything. Sorry, Harry. But yeah, when I saw that, I thought, sod it, let's be express culture vultures in Shanghai on the return. But to my surprise, I managed to experience some, despite our attempts at giving up on it. Because as we entered the hourly lounge, we were greeted by the world's most successful hotel saleswoman, known to a Brit. She had us putting our bags down in a pretty depressing room, handing over 50 smackers before I could even say, do you have any green tea? But this did include a pot of herbal tea, some rather interesting Chinese biscuits, and a very generous massage. Again, no happy ending, just a lovely innocent massage that was given to me by a very sweet middle aged lady who, um. Well, yes, she was sweet, but she brought a bucket full of milky looking water in for me to put my feet into. And in they went. And oh, how I yelped as the flesh on the soles of my poor little hooves blistered before my eyes. The water was hotter than the sun, and there she was, just nodding innocently with encouragement for me to burn my little toes.

Charlie:
But after understanding that I am apparently a pansy in her opinion, she added some cold and off she went, tickling my feet like you wouldn't believe. I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that after the foot tickle. She did a stellar job to relax me, and given that I had some Chinese tea in my right hand and some Chinese biscuits in my left hand to tuck into, like some Emperor of China, I felt somewhat satisfied with my terrible travel choices I had just made. And after the massage, we then managed to get a good kip to catch up on the lack of sleep we'd had during the flight. Then we woke up, had a nice shower, and then got to the gate in time to grab some food, assuming there would be a load of good restaurants to choose from. But again, Pudong Airport really took us aback because I could count how many places were open on one hand and um, minus one westernised cafe that was open before going past passport control, they were all pretty basic, and a British traveller tends to think the businesses on the drop off or pickup side of the security, you know, like we've got the outer bit with a few businesses and then you've got the airport lounge, I'd say. Yeah, right. Yeah. You with me. So Brits tend to think, oh, we'll get the good stuff once we've gone through security.

Charlie:
So we saw one or two okay cafes on the outside and we were like, God, there's going to be loads on the inside. Great. Um, but no, no, no, there was pretty much nothing, like almost. Yeah. I mean, as I said, I could count how many places were open on one hand. And I'm not being a gross tourist here. I'm not. I'm not just looking for a Starbucks or anything. It just really surprised me that they were they were just really basic, which made me want to research how this can be, because it's a potential gold mine for them. They've got a load of hungry people eager to waste their time and money before boarding a plane. Why wouldn't you fill it with irresistible fast food chains, gourmet restaurants, pubs and wine bars and painfully expensive high end fashion brands? But after reading through far too many ranty reviews on various online forums about the place and even asking AI if it had an answer, I didn't get much success unfortunately. The best I have is it's more of a western thing to drink in an airport. I think we can all agree on that. Um, maybe it was the pandemic that killed the businesses. Maybe this particular airport is an anomaly, and the other major ones in China do have lots of shops and eateries. Or maybe the best hypothesis I have is that the international terminals are less interesting for businesses than the domestic ones in China. Because they have such a big population and the country is, geographically speaking, rather large, um the domestic terminals are the more profitable ones because people fly domestically a hell of a lot more than in the UK or mainland Europe. My hypothesis does get challenged somewhat if we compare it to America, because I think they do have that for internationals. But you know, China is up and coming. Maybe they focussed on domestic first and now they will start to focus on international. I mean, I warned you, I didn't get much success going down this rabbit hole, but still with just some newsagents, slash convenience stores um open, I managed to find the most Chinese looking thing I could get my hands on, and I utilised the hot water tap that was at every water tap dispenser I had seen. And this thing caught my eye because I saw someone go up to it with a tea bag in a cup, and they were able to brew a cup of tea right in front of me for free. I was mesmerised by this simple yet brilliant concept. You don't get hot water like that in an airport in the UK. That's not a thing. Maybe. Maybe if you wave your hand in front of the toilet tap sensor and hope that there's a hot water feature and keep it on there for ages, maybe it would get hot.

Charlie:
But this this was new for me. This was new. This was a cultural experience for sure. And thinking about it, it made more sense why there weren't so many coffee shops. If everyone prefers tea and they can get it for free, why pay £5 for a crap cup of coffee? So what did I get myself? I bought some Chinese noodles, but they weren't just Chinese noodles, they were Chinese noodles packeted in what I can only describe as a suitable container for a giant. Um, I don't know if I'm saying this right, but apparently it is called Dàbēi Miàntiáo or something like that, which translates to big bowl noodles or large cup noodles, apparently. So I had my pot noodle for giants. I got some chopsticks, opened this huge bucket, filled it with piping hot water that was free at every water fountain across the terminal. And, um, I actually burnt myself. It did say. It did say children should only be using this with adult supervision, which was nice, but it did mock me a little bit. And it also brought back some nostalgic thoughts of the Chinese masseuse making eye contact with me whilst my foot skin peeled off. Once I managed to put the water in, I waited for five minutes and bought myself a can of Tsingtao, a Chinese beer. Oh, and some Yao Guo Bing. Uh, cashew cookies. Little buttery looking small cookie with a cashew on top. A bit like a cherry on top, but a cashew. Why not? Maybe their idiom instead of saying pretty please with a cherry on top, maybe it is pretty please with a cashew nut on top. If you know this, I'd like to find out. So yes, I got my dessert ready. But first I tucked into the cheapest and most flavoursome snack made for a giant I have ever consumed at an airport terminal. It was great. Just imagine a bucket full of noodles and me slurping away and the beer was quite nice. Yeah!

Charlie:
I imagine it's one of those, um, mainstream beers that is an okay lager. So fed and watered and feeling satisfied that I'd still managed to find something different whilst transiting in China, I got on the plane happy as Larry, and to my surprise, this plane was the second stereotype of China I had been hoping to experience. Greeted by a sleek and contemporary design of the cabin and an ambient lighting gently illuminating the space with a soft, calming glow, I entered and even spotted how the overhead bins were noticeably larger, merging seamlessly with the curvature of the cabin. And the aisle! The aisle was wider than the previous one I was struggling to get my bag down and I could go on. I could mention the carpet feeling plush yet durable, and my seat, well. The upholstery was stylish yet functional, and once I sat down, I could tell that this was an ergonomically designed chair that was going to do me just fine.

Charlie:
And while the entertainment system had been given a facelift, the options on there were still dog shit. Um, I should say though, they had a fairly substantial selection of Chinese films, so maybe I am being that gross tourist after all. But most Western airlines, they have the films that are currently in the cinemas. They could have had the Chinese equivalent there. For some reason though, I doubt it. The software was pretty old, that's why. But there we go. Oh, I wanted to add one more thing. I just want to be open. Apologies if this upsets anyone who's Chinese and doesn't like to be associated with this, but I'm just reporting what I experienced. Okay. Um, we did experience a bit of shock based on the behaviour of the guy that was sat next to my partner during the second leg, which was that he made very loud, like really, really loud throat clearing noises every 5 to 10 minutes. And then when the food came, oh my gosh. The slurps, lip smacks and crunches coming from this guy's mouth. They were jaw dropping in themselves.

Charlie:
Now, I'm aware that in China that this behaviour making sounds when eating, differs with the generations, uh the regions of the country, the type of food consumed and the formality of the setting. But yeah, this guy was... He was next level for me. And I'd say I have the need to clear my throat more often than most, but my golly, the audacity this man had to do what he was doing. Hats off to him. That's all I can say.

Charlie:
Still, I managed to nod off and nine hours later I arrived in sunny Sydney, where I will be for the next five weeks thanks to the kindness of friends and family down here that will be putting us up. Now, I've just got to tackle this jetlag and revisit an old myth. Does the water really swirl differently down here? Keep an eye out for my follow up episode, where I hopefully manage to actually see Shanghai on my return flight to the UK.

Well done for listening to the end of this episode. Thank you for choosing to improve your English with me, Charlie. See you next time. Or maybe I could say it in Mandarin, which I think is pronounced Zai Jian. Is that right? Zai Jian, Zai Jian. Shouting see you again, see you again, see you again. Anyway. See you next time on the British English Podcast. Bye bye!

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Transcript of Bitesize EP 72 - Transcript

Charlie:
Hello, hello, hello or should I say ni hao? And welcome back to the British English Podcast with me, Charlie Baxter, who is currently recording this episode after having just quote unquote experienced China as I had a layover in Shanghai before continuing on to Australia in hope of finding some sun during the deepest, darkest days of winter in the UK. And I'm here to give you a quick episode on this experience as despite having been able to travel to numerous places in my life, I have never, never set foot in China before now. So this is a first for me to interact with Chinese culture in its native setting, and our flight allowed us 14 hours to soak up as much as we could going this way to Australia. We do have a 24 hour layover on the return flight, but this time was a real novelty for me. I mean, sure, I've been to a number of Chinatowns across the world, but I think we can all agree that that doesn't quite count as experiencing an authentic Chinese culture. And you might be thinking, well, Charlie, nor does a layover. How can 14 hours in one city even scratch the surface with one of the world's oldest cultures? Well, let me tell you about my experience, and then you can be the judge of that by the end of this episode.

Charlie:
So where to start? Well, it's, uh, it's also, I'd like to let you know that it's also the first time I've flown with a Chinese airline. And I've got to say, I was aware of two presupposed assumptions of the culture based on what I, as a Brit, have been brainwashed into thinking, which was 1) It's either going to be a cheap, poor quality experience based on all of the cheap things we buy that say, made in China on the underbelly, and then they instantly break or 2) And this is the one I hoped the airline would represent, this new age modernising superpower that is China. And by the way, it's definitely been promoted as a dangerous thing for Great Britain. You know, this new superpower that is China. I think, politically speaking, the British government want the people to be aware of our ties with the US and just the West in general, and how the East equals China and Russia. So to simplify it, when people hear China is a new superpower in the UK, they tend to think the West needs to protect themselves against this rising threat in the East. I'm generalising as always on this show, but I think it's useful to have this understanding that some people might have when interacting with them, and then you can judge on the individual basis in that moment. And again, just my opinion, but from my family and friends and acquaintances, this is the general vibe I feel that British people have about China.

Charlie:
But yeah, in my small mind, superpower simply means this Chinese airline will have razor fast broadband for me, ultra modern design, and an incredibly efficient passport control at the airport and the airport buildings themselves will be the cutting edge of new age architecture, etc., etc. but well, I guess for those Chinese listeners hearing that I flew with China Eastern, you'll already know that my initial experience wasn't the latter uber modern one. Starting with the online booking system, I nearly burst into a fit of rage after it crashed for the ninth time after trying to fill all flight details in, and this was directly after having attempted to meditate. Um, so that was a nightmare booking it. Then actually getting on the plane, I felt like I had stepped into a time capsule from the 90s and if I was being kind, maybe ten year old technology, but yes, far from modern. Usually when a Brit flies internationally, we get all excited for the viewing bonanza that we will be able to tuck into guilt free with all of the latest blockbusters to choose from. It's a big talking point. Oh, what did you watch on the plane? Um, because there's a wide variety of films and TV shows and media to choose from. Alas, I ended up rejecting all of them and settling with an attempted sleep.

Charlie:
I mean, I did watch from afar, Fast and Furious 10. Um, that was playing two rows in front of me on mute for me. He had the headphones in, but I felt like watching that on his screen was allowed. If I put it on my screen, I felt, I don't know, it's such a it's such an obvious film. I don't like to be seen watching it. Um, even Stacey said to me the other day that, you know what? I think I've given up on my favourite franchise. So finally, finally she's realised that they are terrible blockbusters, that they are incredibly bad films. The first few, amazing, sure. But the next seven. Hm. Uh, anyway, I don't want to yuck your yum if you like the Fast and Furious franchise. I have watched all of them, so I'm obviously a hypocrite. Uh, I just like to watch it two rows in front of me to be disassociated with the choice of that film, if that makes sense. Anyway, when I got off the first leg in, uh, Pudong Airport in Shanghai, I was again disappointed by the basic looking airport, which is apparently the largest one in Shanghai. And now, um, if you've yet to be disappointed by my choices on this podcast that I've shared with you, then here's one for you. Before we left London, I had collected a whole load of places to go to in Shanghai from one of my best friends who lived here for four years, but given we had been sat on seats that were far from being described as ergonomically designed and that we were feeling the jet lag, we had a rather short fuse when entering Pudong Airport.

Charlie:
So after being approached by some very dodgy looking taxi men, walking to the subway and then being informed we need cash to pay for things, I felt like a real idiot of a millennial then, traipsing around for an ATM that would accept visa and didn't look like a scam, because a lot of these machines looked very suspect. It could have just been, you know, they're they're different. They look different in China compared to the UK. But they felt like those ones that are rigged and ready to scam you somehow. And on top of all of this, we failed to access the Wi-Fi to add a data roaming package to our SIM cards because of the bloody great firewall of China. Ah, so we caved. Passport control, combined with the above, had already eaten in to a third of the time we had for our layover. So we looked at each other in the eye and said, Shall we just go sit down? Ah, it was a sad moment for me. But just after admitting defeat, we came across a timely sign for a lounge area by the hour with massages.

Charlie:
Oh, now I don't want to gross you out, but I love a massage. It's all innocent. I'm not Harry. I've never wanted to ask for a happy ending or anything. Sorry, Harry. But yeah, when I saw that, I thought, sod it, let's be express culture vultures in Shanghai on the return. But to my surprise, I managed to experience some, despite our attempts at giving up on it. Because as we entered the hourly lounge, we were greeted by the world's most successful hotel saleswoman, known to a Brit. She had us putting our bags down in a pretty depressing room, handing over 50 smackers before I could even say, do you have any green tea? But this did include a pot of herbal tea, some rather interesting Chinese biscuits, and a very generous massage. Again, no happy ending, just a lovely innocent massage that was given to me by a very sweet middle aged lady who, um. Well, yes, she was sweet, but she brought a bucket full of milky looking water in for me to put my feet into. And in they went. And oh, how I yelped as the flesh on the soles of my poor little hooves blistered before my eyes. The water was hotter than the sun, and there she was, just nodding innocently with encouragement for me to burn my little toes.

Charlie:
But after understanding that I am apparently a pansy in her opinion, she added some cold and off she went, tickling my feet like you wouldn't believe. I'm sure you'll be glad to hear that after the foot tickle. She did a stellar job to relax me, and given that I had some Chinese tea in my right hand and some Chinese biscuits in my left hand to tuck into, like some Emperor of China, I felt somewhat satisfied with my terrible travel choices I had just made. And after the massage, we then managed to get a good kip to catch up on the lack of sleep we'd had during the flight. Then we woke up, had a nice shower, and then got to the gate in time to grab some food, assuming there would be a load of good restaurants to choose from. But again, Pudong Airport really took us aback because I could count how many places were open on one hand and um, minus one westernised cafe that was open before going past passport control, they were all pretty basic, and a British traveller tends to think the businesses on the drop off or pickup side of the security, you know, like we've got the outer bit with a few businesses and then you've got the airport lounge, I'd say. Yeah, right. Yeah. You with me. So Brits tend to think, oh, we'll get the good stuff once we've gone through security.

Charlie:
So we saw one or two okay cafes on the outside and we were like, God, there's going to be loads on the inside. Great. Um, but no, no, no, there was pretty much nothing, like almost. Yeah. I mean, as I said, I could count how many places were open on one hand. And I'm not being a gross tourist here. I'm not. I'm not just looking for a Starbucks or anything. It just really surprised me that they were they were just really basic, which made me want to research how this can be, because it's a potential gold mine for them. They've got a load of hungry people eager to waste their time and money before boarding a plane. Why wouldn't you fill it with irresistible fast food chains, gourmet restaurants, pubs and wine bars and painfully expensive high end fashion brands? But after reading through far too many ranty reviews on various online forums about the place and even asking AI if it had an answer, I didn't get much success unfortunately. The best I have is it's more of a western thing to drink in an airport. I think we can all agree on that. Um, maybe it was the pandemic that killed the businesses. Maybe this particular airport is an anomaly, and the other major ones in China do have lots of shops and eateries. Or maybe the best hypothesis I have is that the international terminals are less interesting for businesses than the domestic ones in China. Because they have such a big population and the country is, geographically speaking, rather large, um the domestic terminals are the more profitable ones because people fly domestically a hell of a lot more than in the UK or mainland Europe. My hypothesis does get challenged somewhat if we compare it to America, because I think they do have that for internationals. But you know, China is up and coming. Maybe they focussed on domestic first and now they will start to focus on international. I mean, I warned you, I didn't get much success going down this rabbit hole, but still with just some newsagents, slash convenience stores um open, I managed to find the most Chinese looking thing I could get my hands on, and I utilised the hot water tap that was at every water tap dispenser I had seen. And this thing caught my eye because I saw someone go up to it with a tea bag in a cup, and they were able to brew a cup of tea right in front of me for free. I was mesmerised by this simple yet brilliant concept. You don't get hot water like that in an airport in the UK. That's not a thing. Maybe. Maybe if you wave your hand in front of the toilet tap sensor and hope that there's a hot water feature and keep it on there for ages, maybe it would get hot.

Charlie:
But this this was new for me. This was new. This was a cultural experience for sure. And thinking about it, it made more sense why there weren't so many coffee shops. If everyone prefers tea and they can get it for free, why pay £5 for a crap cup of coffee? So what did I get myself? I bought some Chinese noodles, but they weren't just Chinese noodles, they were Chinese noodles packeted in what I can only describe as a suitable container for a giant. Um, I don't know if I'm saying this right, but apparently it is called Dàbēi Miàntiáo or something like that, which translates to big bowl noodles or large cup noodles, apparently. So I had my pot noodle for giants. I got some chopsticks, opened this huge bucket, filled it with piping hot water that was free at every water fountain across the terminal. And, um, I actually burnt myself. It did say. It did say children should only be using this with adult supervision, which was nice, but it did mock me a little bit. And it also brought back some nostalgic thoughts of the Chinese masseuse making eye contact with me whilst my foot skin peeled off. Once I managed to put the water in, I waited for five minutes and bought myself a can of Tsingtao, a Chinese beer. Oh, and some Yao Guo Bing. Uh, cashew cookies. Little buttery looking small cookie with a cashew on top. A bit like a cherry on top, but a cashew. Why not? Maybe their idiom instead of saying pretty please with a cherry on top, maybe it is pretty please with a cashew nut on top. If you know this, I'd like to find out. So yes, I got my dessert ready. But first I tucked into the cheapest and most flavoursome snack made for a giant I have ever consumed at an airport terminal. It was great. Just imagine a bucket full of noodles and me slurping away and the beer was quite nice. Yeah!

Charlie:
I imagine it's one of those, um, mainstream beers that is an okay lager. So fed and watered and feeling satisfied that I'd still managed to find something different whilst transiting in China, I got on the plane happy as Larry, and to my surprise, this plane was the second stereotype of China I had been hoping to experience. Greeted by a sleek and contemporary design of the cabin and an ambient lighting gently illuminating the space with a soft, calming glow, I entered and even spotted how the overhead bins were noticeably larger, merging seamlessly with the curvature of the cabin. And the aisle! The aisle was wider than the previous one I was struggling to get my bag down and I could go on. I could mention the carpet feeling plush yet durable, and my seat, well. The upholstery was stylish yet functional, and once I sat down, I could tell that this was an ergonomically designed chair that was going to do me just fine.

Charlie:
And while the entertainment system had been given a facelift, the options on there were still dog shit. Um, I should say though, they had a fairly substantial selection of Chinese films, so maybe I am being that gross tourist after all. But most Western airlines, they have the films that are currently in the cinemas. They could have had the Chinese equivalent there. For some reason though, I doubt it. The software was pretty old, that's why. But there we go. Oh, I wanted to add one more thing. I just want to be open. Apologies if this upsets anyone who's Chinese and doesn't like to be associated with this, but I'm just reporting what I experienced. Okay. Um, we did experience a bit of shock based on the behaviour of the guy that was sat next to my partner during the second leg, which was that he made very loud, like really, really loud throat clearing noises every 5 to 10 minutes. And then when the food came, oh my gosh. The slurps, lip smacks and crunches coming from this guy's mouth. They were jaw dropping in themselves.

Charlie:
Now, I'm aware that in China that this behaviour making sounds when eating, differs with the generations, uh the regions of the country, the type of food consumed and the formality of the setting. But yeah, this guy was... He was next level for me. And I'd say I have the need to clear my throat more often than most, but my golly, the audacity this man had to do what he was doing. Hats off to him. That's all I can say.

Charlie:
Still, I managed to nod off and nine hours later I arrived in sunny Sydney, where I will be for the next five weeks thanks to the kindness of friends and family down here that will be putting us up. Now, I've just got to tackle this jetlag and revisit an old myth. Does the water really swirl differently down here? Keep an eye out for my follow up episode, where I hopefully manage to actually see Shanghai on my return flight to the UK.

Well done for listening to the end of this episode. Thank you for choosing to improve your English with me, Charlie. See you next time. Or maybe I could say it in Mandarin, which I think is pronounced Zai Jian. Is that right? Zai Jian, Zai Jian. Shouting see you again, see you again, see you again. Anyway. See you next time on the British English Podcast. Bye bye!

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DOES ANY OF THIS SOUND FAMILIAR TO YOU?

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1. You struggle to understand British people, their humour and accents!

2. You find it hard to measure your progress when learning English?

3. You want to learn to speak with confidence in front of British people?

4. You find it hard to keep up with multiple speakers in a conversation.

5. You’re looking for an easy to use step-by-step plan to help you improve your English?

If you answered yes, then you already know how challenging it is to keep improving your English after reaching a conversational level!

Don't worry! There's a solution and I think you're going to love it!

Now listen to why members of The Academy think you should join.

Here are some individual reviews.

I'd like to recommend the academy because...its contents are very interesting and authentic so, you learn a lot about British culture, be it in respect of society, habits and traditions and all with a touch of humour, which I really appreciate. 
Julie, France. Joined in August, 2021
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My big problem has always been fluency but now I can tell proudly that I'm much more confident and I'm not more afraid to talk.

Eight months ago when I started this amazing journey I never imagined that today I would record this video and put myself out there without feeling pure cringe.
Caterina, Italy. Joined in February, 2021
"Charlie's podcast and academy is easy to follow and helps me remember every word he teaches by following the quizzes and exercises. He is such a good teacher with specific plans for his own lessons who knows the difficulties of a non-native english learner like me."
Hsu Lai
Pharmacist, Myanmar
"It's evident that Charlie has put so much effort into The Academy and I will definitely recommend The British English Podcast to anyone wanting to improve their English and to my subscribers on Instagram! The Academy is really easy to use and it has a lot of useful tasks."
Anya
English Teacher, Russia
Charlie is very good at showing people when the new words and phrases can be used. It helps me to really apply the phrases in the future. The rise and fall of his voice also makes the content more interesting as I can feel the different emotions from him.

Judy
Taiwan
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What I like most about The Academy is the live classes where you can apply what you learnt from The Academy.

He breaks down difficult concepts easily but the best part is that he teaches English in real life that you can easily use in your daily conversation.
Phong, Vietname. Joined in February, 2021
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The academy content hones, not only on the vocabulary from intermediate to Advanced but it also packed with humour, as the host, Charlie really breaks down the expressions in every video of every episode, helping their vocabulary sink in and be used, actively in your speech.
Julia, Russia. Joined in July, 2021

Learn more about The Academy

FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE CHARITY THAT
CHARLIE IS DONATING 1% OF ALL SALES TO:

The Life You Can Save

A charity that makes “smart giving simple” by curating a group of nonprofits that save or improve the most lives per dollar. They aim to create a world where everyone has an opportunity to build a better life and where there’s no suffering or death due to extreme poverty.
If you are already a member of show as a Premium Podcast or Academy member please know that Charlie is forever thankful that you are helping him to contribute a modest yet stable amount to the people, he believes, who really need our help.

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FREE Resources

All you need to do is to sign up for FREE and all the resources below are available for you to enjoy!
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About Your Teacher

Charlie Baxter

Teacher, Podcast Host, YouTuber
Charlie is the host and creator of The British English Podcast & Academy. He has also been an active YouTube English Teacher since 2016 but after seeing how many of his students wanted a more structured, carefully designed way to study he decided to create The British English Podcast Academy.

It focuses on British culture, informal expressions, accent and history that is all unique to the UK.

Charlie has spent 6000+ hours teaching intermediate-advanced students since 2014 privately on Skype and has seen a lot of different styles of learning and while he believes there will never be a single CORRECT way to improve your English there are a large number of methods that people use that do waste people's time and prevent them from improving quickly.

So Charlie decided to create The Academy because he believes he knows a VERY effective way to improve your English quickly and enjoyably.

What do I get when I join?

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  The FULL TRANSCRIPT of every single episode

  Access to ALL INTERMEDIATE & ADVANCED PHRASES with contextualised definitions in the EXTENDED GLOSSARIES

  EXCLUSIVE VIDEOS that breaks down the best expressions from each episode.

  QUIZZES to check if you understand how to actually use the expressions in a sentence.

  PRONUNCIATION PRACTICE audio files are included for the 'hard to speak' expressions.

  WRITING ASSIGNMENTS, LISTENING COMPREHENSION & VOCABULARY TESTS

  BONUS video or audio content for some episodes

  A NEW episode released every single week!

  Weekly Speaking Classes - BRAND NEW!
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