Yanliang is located just to the north of the ancient capital city of Xi’an in Shaanxi Province and is technically a part of that city. It is a small city of approximately 200,000 people and one of the most pleasant communities in the greater Xi’an region. The town experiences a climate similar to Xi’an without the accompanying smog and pollution. Summers are warm and wet with occasional thunderstorms. Winters can get chilly with little snow. Spring and autumn are long, sunny and dry.
Life here has a simple rhythm and provides fascinating insight into the small town experiences of modern Chinese. Four times a day the wide, tree lined streets teem with thousands of bicycles as people travel to and from work or school - a wonderful sight often lost in the big and growing Chinese cities. At these times the streets are flooded with children, parents, hawkers, street food venders, and the elderly.
Yanliang Aston celebrated its opening in the winter of 2005. Since that time we have become the undisputed ESL leader of our town. We are located on the second floor of a modern building near the town center, down a tree-lined side road emanating from the main town square. We occupy the entire 2nd floor of our building. Our commitment to education quality, and the family atmosphere that we have created, are helping to generate a wonderful sense of community at our school.
Our newly renovated school has spacious classrooms and a wonderfully equipped and comfortable Teacher’s Lounge. Our proximity to the Xi’an and Xianyang Aston Schools enables us to be a part of their on-going trainings and development that provides excellent practical advice and support to our teaching staff.
The town is a manageable size and a bicycle is de facto form of transportation. Being several kilometers away from Xi’an proper the residents of Yanliang enjoy relatively fresh air and clean streets that the nearby urban residents no longer experience. Riding around the town’s shady streets will bring you into contact with hordes of locals engaged in all kinds of traditional activities. There are outdoor markets, old men playing endless games of cards and chess, woman selling their handicrafts, ear cleaning booths set up in the park, impromptu kitchens set up on the street for a quick lunch, and so forth.
The people are exceptionally friendly and foreigners are a very rare sight. It is common for our foreign staff to be invited into the homes of local people for dinner and making friends with these people is very easy. As the only visible resident foreigners in town, Aston teachers enjoy a rather high-profile lifestyle. People often want to make friends and engage in conversation.
The food of Yanliang had become legendary to those in the know in the Aston world. Many of the finest examples of Shaanxi cuisine can be sampled in the hundreds of family run restaurants around town and prices are incredibly cheap. The noodle dishes and Islamic food here no doubt rival Xi’an. Many of the best of the places offering these are only minutes’ walk away from Yanliang Aston. There is also a very good locally run restaurant offering reasonable Western food as well.
Yanliang actually has a handful of discos and bars around town, with a new bar selling foreign beer and playing western music opened across the road from the school. It is very easy to become well known in these places as the Aston teachers before you have established a relationship with the owners and proprietors. They make for excellent nights out after work or when the short hop into Xi’an seems ambitious. Most of the people in town spend their evenings entertaining in restaurants or at the numerous evening markets enjoying Yanliang’s excellent street food and atmosphere.
Yanliang is the perfect place for those interested in a relaxing environment for which to learn Chinese language and culture, and who also like occasional forays into the big city. While living here you will be totally immersed in a new environment and pushed to expand your language skills. When the time comes downtown Xi’an is less than an hour away.
The town’s bus system has destinations to all of the famous cultural sights of southern Shaanxi. Downtown Xi’an is less than an hour away and busses leave every 15 minutes. From Xi’an you have access to the nation’s rail system and Yinchuan, Lanzhou, Taiyuan, and Zhengzhou are all easy overnight train rides away. Xi’an also has an international airport with daily flights including Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Guangzhou, and abroad.
Yanliang Aston has one large modern apartment for foreign teachers’ accommodation. It’s located within short walking distance of the school and center of town. The house is located on the 5th floor of its building. The building is in a family oriented neighborhood and our teachers form part of a very accepting and welcoming Chinese community – one of the main reasons teachers are attracted to life in Yanliang.