Welcome to the Taiyuan Aston website. Taiyuan is situated some 400Km south east of Beijing and is in Shanxi Province. It is situated on the Loess Plateau to the north end. It is a very old city and has a 2500 year old history. Marco Polo during his exploration of the country referred to Taiyuan as a “prosperous city”. Taiyuan is still prosperous it is also changing rapidly and this can be seen everywhere every day. The city is surrounded by mountains and on a good clear day, if you stand in the centre by Wu yi square you can see the mountains in two directions. Some say Taiyuan is the birthplace of the Han people. This maybe a little disputed.
Taiyuan is noted for being central to some of the most extensive coal fields in the whole of China. Thus Taiyuan’s economy is based on coal. Also, there are many companies and colleges scattered over the city, with coal in mind.
In the past five years the city has took on a transformation. Thus it is growing at an astonishing rate. With new parks being established and high rise buildings, growing everywhere.
Taiyuan Aston opened its doors in October 2005 and is becoming the most respected home of language and culture exchange in the city. We have both Western and Chinese management staff and a dedicated and professional team of teachers in our classrooms. We now account for about 450 students.
We are located in the heart of downtown Taiyuan. The newly remodelled building is spacious and professional in its décor. Facilities include large reception area, numerous classrooms, and Teachers’ Lounge with extensive resources available to our staff. There is internet access with wifi too.
There some historical sites to see in and just outside the city to explore.
The twin towers. These can be seen by taking a city bus and within 30 minutes you can explore, old Taiyuan. The twin towers (double pagodas) were the scene of quite a battle during the Sino-Japanese war (1930/40s) took place. So is you do go and visit this lovely historic place, you will see holes that were made by armed fire. During this battle. Apart from this there are gardens and in the spring time, which incidentally is very short lived due to Taiyuan’s micro-climate. The flowers and gardens are lovely.
If you have a little more time you can visit Jingsi (Buddhist) temple. This is really a must if you haven’t seen a Temple complex before. The Temple is an hour from the centre of Taiyuan and can be reached by taking a Taxi for about 50RMB about 8 dollars.
However, the best way of seeing old China is to visit Pingyao (historic World heritage site). This is a wonderful play that escaped the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. You can just turn back the time here and imagine what China was like in the past. This is just a fours by train to the south of Taiyuan.
Going north from Taiyuan some six hours by train is Datong and the spectacular Yungang Grottos. Very nearby are some of the landscapes of Inner Mongolia and the Gobi Desert which are also similarly accessible.
Taiyuan is also on a stone’s throw away from Beijing in Chinese terms. With the new installed high speed link to Beijing you can have an early morning ride to the capital sightsee or shop and be back to Taiyuan by about 09:30pm the same day. Cost is about 160RMB. Also, the high speed train link will be finished to Xi’an and as such you will be able to get to Xi’an in about 5 hours. The thing is if you want something a little different from Shanghai or Beijing and want to live a more Chinese life. Then I suggest you come, work and make friends here in Taiyuan.
The weather in Taiyuan is very static. It very rarely rains but when it does it can poor. Being on a plateau surrounded by mountains (Shanxi province is an extremely mountainous region) it has it’s own micro climate. It is extremely cold in the winter and the spring/autumn seasons are very short indeed. Spring and autumn can be as little as three weeks each. Summer is hot and long.
The city centre has some bars and night clubs where you can spend a good night relaxing, meeting other foreign teachers and making new friends. Taiyuan people are some of the friendliest of folk. They always want to chat to a foreigner and find out where you are from and why you are here.
There is the children’s park adjacent to the school where you can have an hour between classes. Here you can mix with the Chinese. The Chinese use their parks far more than people do in the west and they treat their parks as real recreational places to come. Here they may cards, sing opera (Taiyuan was were the Shanxi Opera started and still carries on to this day), play badminton, go boating, fishing or just relaxing. There are other parks in the city as well worth visiting. You can join gymnasiums and go swimming. There numerous museums with some that are free to go into.
Shanxi cuisine is unique in China and famous for its noodles and use of high quality vinegar. Being at the crossroads of east and west China the region has benefited from the best of both of these styles. Taiyuan is the culinary epicentre of the province and its street markets and family restaurants are the best places to try this style of Chinese food. Cooking styles from the rest of China and Mongolia are also represented here, as are a limited number of international fares. Taiyuan is soon to have it’s very first fish and chip shop (English style) too.
As stated in the contract that you will need to sign, you will be provided with the usual things, a DVD player is also provided in each apartment as well. The bathroom has a western toilet, washbasin and a Chinese style shower.
However, unlike a lot of schools. Aston Taiyuan tries it’s best to give each of their foreign staff members their own apartment where possible.
The school feels that it is nice for the foreign staff to have a place to go home and have time to themselves.
Sometimes you just want to get away from China even though Chinese life is fun. The apartments are nearly always very close to the school. No more than a five minute walk at most.