Founded in 1938, Tangshan is a major city in the North East. It is located 112 miles (180 km) SE of Beijing and 75 miles (120 km) North of Tianjin with a total population of 7.2 million including 3 million urban. Qinhuangdao with the Bohai Sea is located 78 mi (125 km) east of the city. Baidahe beaches are located just two hours away. This is a classic Chinese city with a vibrant atmosphere, modern downtown area, and numerous regional attractions. Although most of the population is Han, it is very common to see people from the Man, Hui and Mongol nationalities as well as western China.
The climate in this city is dry in spring, chilly and dry in winter, hot and some rain in summer with calm seas. Autumn is cool and pleasant. The average yearly rainfall reaches 30 inches (760 ml).
Following the great earthquake of 1976, the Tangshan of today has become one of the most modern metropolises of Northern China. The city continues to grow and is experiencing a boom following the recent discovery of oil, gas and coal in the outlying districts. The city has a progressive pulse, incredible energy and is also known as one of China’s ceramics capitals.
Tangshan offers traditional Northern Chinese food at its finest. Lying approximately halfway between Shandong and Beijing, the local cuisine here benefits tremendously from not only their traditions but also from the Man, Hui, Mongol and western Chinese nationalities.
The newly built Tangshan Aston English School has been in operation since 2003 and is owned and operated by Eddie Diaz (from the U.S.) and his wife Du Chun Yan (Sally) who is a Tangshan local. The combination of Chinese and American management styles has made it possible to create a harmonious and family-like environment for staff, students, parents and western as well as Chinese teachers. Before becoming owners in September 2008 both Eddie and Sally worked for Aston for a combined nine years. In December 2008 they moved the school to a new, more residential location just outside the city’s center. The neighborhood is quiet and the people are very friendly. There are many restaurants up and down the streets including barbeques where you can sit outside and mingle with the locals when the weather is good.
The school is conveniently located ten minutes walk from the teachers' apartment and fifteen minutes walk from the city’s center. There is a food market five minutes walk from the school where you can buy meals any time of day incredibly cheap. There is a department store with a supermarket and KFC one block away where you can not only purchase your basic needs but also purchase some western foods.
Currently the school has seven spacious classrooms with large whiteboards and air conditioners, a large activity room with a wide screen HDTV and a comfortable teacher’s lounge with internet access and a fully functional kitchen. The classrooms lead onto a courtyard where the children can safely play during breaks or before and after class. It is a single story structure and fully contained within its’ own property so all areas of the school are easily accessible to everyone.
The kitchen is equipped with a stove, microwave oven, rice cooker, refrigerator, bowls/plates/utensils, pots and pans and a sink. There is an outdoor patio connecting to the kitchen with a barbeque, dart board and a man-made fish pond. It is not uncommon for staff and teachers to get together and listen to music, barbeque, drink beer and soft drinks and have a friendly game of darts or Chinese dice. This has become a great way to have an exchange of cultures.
Our new member to the family is Milo. He has a tail, walks on four legs and loves to play. You guessed it. Milo is our school mascot and yes; he’s an American Golden Retriever born in China. Although he is very friendly and playful, he cannot be trusted around food.
Proximity to the ocean means seafood is also a very common staple. There are numerous international restaurants including North American, Italian, Korean and Japanese.
Scenic spots and places of interest within the city include South Lake where you can paddle boat, golf, eat local cuisines, ride bikes built for up to four or just enjoy walks in the open fields or quiet paths. Feng Huang Park (Phoenix Park) is located in the city’s center, where you can climb steps to the top of a mountain with views of all four poles of the city.
Day trips can be made to Eastern Qing Mausoleum. This is the most magnificent and well preserved architectural complex of Imperial Tombs of the Ming and Qing Emperors with 15 catacombs. Jingzhong Mountain is a religious mountain well-known for its combination of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian buildings constructed since the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Also The Great Wall under Water. This part of the Great Wall was constructed in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in northern Tangshan City with several passes submerged under the water of Xifeng Lake. Other sites include Puti, Jinsha, and Yuetuo Islets as well as Lingshan and Jiufeng Mountains.
Of course there is always Beijing only two hours away where you can see many landmarks, experience so many traditions and eat too many traditional foods from all over China to mention. Although available in Tangshan, Beijing is also a convenient place to shop for foods when you miss a little of that back home western cuisine. Western style nightlife and restaurants are more than plentiful.
Although the physical development of the city is new, traditions run very strong in this city. This is a great place for enthusiasts of Chinese culture to immerse themselves. There are great opportunities for serious study of language, martial arts, and traditional Chinese arts. Many of our current and past Western teachers have become involved in these pursuits and it is very easy for new arrivals to benefit from their experiences.
Tangshan has a number of resident ex-pats, and there is a Western style night life in the city. There are a number of clubs and bars around town which always make for interesting evenings out mingling with the locals and other ex-patriots. KTV is everywhere and is a very popular activity in the evenings after dinner.
Tangshan is in a well suited location for travel during time off from work. Beijing, Tianjin, and the beaches of Qinhuang Dao are all 2 hours away. Overnight trains head out to places such as Dalian, Zhengzhou, Shenyang, Hohot, and Shanghai, just to name a few.
Tangshan Aston English School’s apartment is located on the first floor about ten minutes walk from the school. The community is modern, clean and quiet. There is a 24 hour guard at the gate so it is also safe.
The apartment is spacious and comfortable with two large and one small bedroom. The floors are ceramic tile with plaster walls framed with light beige wood panel. The kitchen is large with a large connecting dining area and equipped with a water dispenser，gas stove, microwave oven, a small baking oven, rice cooker, glasses/cups, two refrigerators, pots/ pans, plates, dishes and all the necessary utensils. The living room is big and bright and the bathroom has a western toilet. There is a small enclosed patio that can be used to sit in the sun or dry laundry.
Included with these amenities is satellite TV provided by the school. There are six English stations including CCTV 9 International which is rich in cultural, historical and news shows about China and BBC news station. Many of the current top shows are shown on the other channels. Additional channels are available from the provider for an extra charge.
Also provided by the school for added convenience, each Tangshan Aston teacher is provided with a bicycle and lock.