Welcome to Jiaxiang Aston English School, we are a thriving new school in the heart of the city. The school opened here in April 2018 and has flourished over the last few months; we now have over 150 students!
Location: 117 Ruyi Street, Shuiyinlanting, Jiaxiang, 272400, Shandong, China
The reception area where all the important business goes down!
GuaGua and library area is a wonderful place for students, parents and teachers to relax between classes!
The teacher’s office is a relaxed space where teachers can plan their lessons together and relax between classes.
Our classrooms are colorful, spacious and are all equipped with Interactive White Boards which lend to cutting edge teaching and learning experiences.
Our school is incredibly modern and decked out in the latest facilities. It is bright, positive and welcoming and you will right at home! Let’s do a little tour of the place, shall we?
As part of your contractual entitlements you will have a shared apartment in Jiaxiang. Your apartment is just around the corner from the school, about a two minute walk. The total area of the apartment is 120 square meters, with 2 bedrooms, a large living room, an open kitchen and a bathroom. The apartment is very bright and spacious and has been fitted with all the appliances you need; a Wi-Fi router, a desk and chairs, a large TV, washing machine, water dispenser, fridge, and… OF COURSE… a western toilet! The bedrooms have loads of cupboard space and big bed.
Jiaxiang County ( 嘉祥县) is a county-level city under the jurisdiction of Jining. It is located in the Southwestern part of eastern-China’s Shandong Province. Jiaxiang is a traditional northern county, with a population of about 990,000, and you will get a wonderfully authentic Chinese experience while you’re here. It’s a great place to learn Chinese and learn about local Shandong and wider Chinese culture. The school and your apartment are in the heart of the town and most things that you need are just a short walk away.
Jiaxiang stone carving, with a long history, exquisite carving, unique style, is a tribute to the imperial court past dynasties. China's earliest han dynasty stone lions and known as the world's cultural and artistic treasures of the wu family tomb stone carving, are out of Jiaxiang.
The cost of living in Jiaxiang is really cheap so if saving up or paying bills back home are on your mind then don’t worry. Daily expenses are very cheap to buy and recreational activities won’t cost you much either! Plus there is plenty to see around the region and with the combination of cheap public transport and 3 days off per week; you have plenty to keep yourself busy!
There are a few things to see in and around the city, such as the Temple of Zengzi, the Wu Family Shrines and Qingshan Temple. The Chinese staff can you give your more information and help you to visit these places. Fayun Temple (法云寺), a gorgeous ancient Chinese temple in the neighboring town of Zhifang (纸坊) can be reached by taking the local bus. It doesn’t have a number but the staff can write down the symbols so that you can identify it in the bus station and help you reach it!
There are also several scenic areas full of beautiful mountains about 15 - 20km away from the city. A good example of this is the Jiudingshan (九顶山) scenic area. To get here, you need to drive or a take a taxi. Again, the staff can help you arrange this! :)
Nature and Hill walking
Jiaxiang is a great city for hill walking and there a few routes through the hills of the city. Bring a picnic to the top sand get your camera ready to take some photos.
Jiaxiang is full of Chinese eateries and there are plenty of delicious restaurants on the street outside your apartment complex and on the street of the school. Luke will be happy to take you to some of his favorite restaurants nearby!
As a general rule, if the place is busy, then the food is good. If it’s empty, maybe it’s empty for a reason. Some great things to look out for are; beef soup (niu rou tang (牛肉汤), dumplings (jiao zi 饺子), hotpot (huo guo 火锅) and barbeque (shaokao烧烤) and jiabing (夹饼). You will also find multiple street vendors and food stalls all over the city with whom you can explore your taste buds!
If you are looking for a taste of home then The Jazz Steakhouse, on Guanya St. （关押路） is a great restaurant that serves delicious Western food. The selection includes steaks, pizza, burgers, pasta dishes etc. Beyond this, there is KFC on Zhongxin St. (中心街), the central street of Jiaxiang, and various Dicos fast food restaurants located around the city. There is also Sagongzhu (萨公主) on Zhongxin st., a pizza place with lots of options, and a few Western bakeries on Zhongxin st. Please note that Western food is a lot pricier than the local dishes!
China is a wonderful country for delicious food and you can be sure that you are never more than a few minutes away from another good place to eat in Jiaxiang! However, do bear in mind that some of the food caters to a local audience and may not be to your taste! Baidu Translate is a great app that you can use with a VPN. You take pictures of menus and it will scan and translate them for you – a true lifesaver for restaurants that don’t have pictures!
You can shop for most of life’s essentials without having to travel too far from home. If you can’t find what you want in this selection, just ask at school.
For food, there are plenty of large supermarkets which will be able to cater to your needs, most are located fairly close to your apartment and the school. Hualian (华联) is both close to your apartment and very economical, it’s a good place to find your bare essentials.
The supermarkets are a great place to go grocery shopping, but for a more Chinese feel, try the fresh food market. The prices you see quoted are per ‘jin’, which equates to roughly one pound, or half a kilo.
There are lots of places to find clothes and other amenities around the city. Zhongxin street is a great place to explore and no boubt you will make some discoveries here! Jiaxiang also has 2 big malls Inzone (银座) and Dawning St. (唐宁街), that can also be found on Zhongxin St. Both have them plenty of cheap, wonderful shops and plenty more to check out!
Looking for a cool beer? No problem. Every stall / restaurant in China sells beer. You will have no problems finding a drink. Most teachers enjoy a few beers in the restaurants in any one of the many bars in the area close to school. Luke will definitely be keen to have a few bottles with you to relax after work!
The Western restaurant Jazz Steakhouse that was mentioned earlier also has a selection of Western beverages; be it coffee, juices or something stronger! ;-)
There are a few gyms in the area. The aforementioned Dawning mall has a very good private gym; a year’s membership is just 1000rmb! There is also a big public gym next to the public library located Chengxiang Avenue (呈祥大道), about a 20m walk from your apartment. The gym’s facilities can even be rented out on an hourly basis and you can play sports such as basketball, badminton and ping-pong! The staff will surely love to join you! The gym is close to the big public square, Shidiao Square (石雕广场), which is always buzzing with music, dancing and activity at night!
There many public swimming pools around Jiaxiang; Danfengshan (丹凤山) is the biggest and is very nice! A great way to cool off in the summer!
Banks (Bank of China, Construction Bank, ICBC, etc.)
Banks are quite easy to find in Jiaxiang. The school will help you open a bank account and show you where your nearest branch and ATM is. Don’t worry, it will be very visible and close to you apartment!
Hospitals and Pharmacies
If you get sick and need to see a doctor then please inform somebody at the school. Someone from the school can go with you to Jiaxiang No.1 Public Hospital on Yingfeng St (迎风路). It’s about a 20m walk from the school / your apartment. Dentist’s surgeries are easy to find, but best to go with one of our Chinese staff; they can even help negotiate a better price.
The nearest pharmacy is on the same street as the school, a member of staff will point it out to you buy it’s on the same street as your school. behind the fresh food market. where you can find something to help sore throats, coughs and colds. If you need something that’s difficult to describe using only the power of mime, try asking a member of the school’s Chinese staff to write the Chinese characters for you to show the pharmacist!
Should anything unpleasant happen to you during your time here then you can always call on the Aston staff for help or advice. If it’s a serious matter then we can send a member of staff with you to help you communicate with the local police. The police station is a 20m walk away from the school / your apatment, on Zhongxin street.
Entertainment (cinema, internet cafes, pool halls, arcades)
There is plenty in and around Jiaxiang to keep you satisfied. If you enjoy a game of pool you could head to one of the bars with a free pool table, there is one next to the main entrance of Dawning mall. Don’t be surprised if the locals want to challenge you though. Dawnning even has a roller-skating rink on the third floor! It’s 12RMB for men and 10RMB for women.
If video games are your thing then you are well catered for in Jiaxiang. Aside from the internet cafes for all your online gaming needs, there are a few amusement arcades to be found too.
There are a few cinemas in Jiaxiang, the biggest ones can be found in the city’s malls. These cinemas even show the latest American action movies in English! Be sure to ask before you buy a ticket!
You could also head to KTV with the Aston crew and impress them your singing ability. The team loves a good KTV and they are a few hidden singing stars hidden among them!
They city is small and everything is generally within walking distance. That said there are some metered taxis that you can take o places are a bit further away, such as the train station. The meter usually starts at 5RMB and 10RMB should get you anywhere you need to be. Occasionally, particularly in the area around the train station and Zhongxin street, the city’ central street. The driver might try to bargain with you about the price instead of using the meter. If this is the case, find another taxi – you are not going to get a good deal!
Tuktuks and motorcycles
These are a really nice way to see the city, but not any cheaper than the taxis. Usually they will ask for a minimum of 10RMB no matter the distance – you can be lucky and maybe get one for 5rmb. Don’t push it though, Jining is probably a little far for them!. There are many of these waiting outside the bus and train stations and random street corners.
Although you won’t need to take many buses in Jiaxiang, it is a very economic way of getting to places that are a little further away. The fare is usually 1RMB, which is either put into the box near the driver when you get on the bus, otherwise there will be someone on the bus that will come to you to collect payment and give you a ticket. Drivers and ticket sellers usually don’t speak English, so make sure you know when to get off the bus before you get on it. Buses are often crowded, pushing and shoving is to be expected. Passengers enter at the front of the bus, exit at the back. Remember to keep your valuables safe.
Two very useful routes are the C606 and C608 that run all the way from the Jiaxiang bus station to the Jining North bus station (C606) and railway station (C608). The Chinese staff are very helpful and knowledgeable with bus routes and can help you navigate them with ease!
Travel to and from Jiaxiang is relatively easy for most cities. With Jining only 17minutes away by train or 30 by bus, Jinan about 3 hours away by train and other cool spots like Qufu, Zoucheng and Taishan under 3 hours away, you will have plenty to explore during your time off. You can take both trains and buses to various other cities; however the trains don’t run as regular as the buses do. The Chinese staff can help you book tickets if needs be!
Jining (济宁): The nearest big city with a thriving expat population. Here there are lots of cools bars, malls and parks there for you to explore and is definitely worth getting in touch with the Jining Aston crew! You can take a train (3 – 9RMB, depending on the time) or one of the local buses, 606, 607 and 608 (3RMB), directly from Jiaxiang to Jining.
Yanzhou (兖州): This city is about 90mins away from Jiaxiang by rail and has one big attraction, a beautiful Buddhist temple complex with towering pagodas, statues and temples. More importantly, if you wish to travel by train to other destinations in Shandong, Yanzhou will very often be your changing station as it is very well connected to other railway lines. You can take a train directly from Jiaxiang to Yanzhou (4 - 11RMB, depending on the time).
Qufu (曲阜): The birthplace of Confucious and a UNESCO culture heritage spot. This walled city is both beautiful and interesting and well worth the visit. There are loads of attractions are around the city but the big ones are Confuscious’ temple, mansions and graveyard forest. You can take a train (12.5 – 14.5RMB) or bus (30RMB) directly from Jiaxiang to Qufu.
Taishan（泰山）: Probably the most famous spot in Shandong province, the beautiful holy mountain of Taishan should be at the top of your must-sees in Shandong province. The mountain has over 6,500 steps to the top but the views from the top are definitely worth it! Try hiking overnight like a local to be there in time for the gorgeous sunrise in the morning. If you don’t want to hike the full thing then you can get a shuttle bus half way up and a cable car to the top! To get to Taishan you can take a train (18.5 – 21.5RMB) or bus directly from Jiaxiang to the town of Tai’an where is Taishan is located.
Jinan（济南）: The capital of Shandong province, this city is buzzing with life and is gorgeous in sunny weather. The famous spring city has lots of areas to explore, such as Black Tiger Spring, 3 dragon pools, Bautu spring and Qianfoshan mountain. To get to Jinan you can take a train (29.5 – 32.5RMB) or bus directly.
Zoucheng（邹城）: The birthplace of Menicious and a UNESCO culture heritage spot. This city is surrounded by beautiful mountains and contains Mengmiao temple and mansion. Yishan, a beautiful mountain with lots of scenic spots can be reached by a local bus / taxi and is well worth the visit! To get here take a train to Yanzhou and then change and hop on the train / a local bus to Zoucheng. You can take a train (12.5 – 14.5RMB) or bus (30RMB) directly from Jiaxiang to Qufu.
Qingdao (青岛) : Qingdao is a big city on the western coast of Shandong province. It is famous for its beaches and, of course, Tsingtao beer! There is a lot see in the city centre, the famous Laoshan isn’t too far away from it and, of course, it is wonderful place for a beach trip! Qingdao is quite far from Jiaxiang so it’s best to save it for a long weekend. That said, reaching can be very achievable by taking an overnight train from Jining. Take the train or bus to Jining and then take a train directly from Jining. The fare depends on whether you want a hard seat / bed.
Zaozhuang and Taierzhuang: Taierzhuang is a beautiful ancient water town in the south of Shandong province close to Zaozhuang. It’s full of cultural wonders and beautiful spots. To get here take a train to Yanzhou, change in Yanzhou station and take another train to Zaozhuang. You will arrive in Zaozhuang West station and from there you can take a taxi or 2 local buses to reach Taierzhuang (5RMB in total).
Zhengzhou and Dengfeng (Songshan): A bit further away but very achievable in 3 days! Songshan is another one of China’s holy mountains and it is not far from Zhengzhou, the capital of the neighboring Henan province. Getting to Zhengzhou involves taking a train from Jining or Heze (both near Jiaxiang) but very achievable to do if you take a night train and sleep throughout the journey! Zhengzhou is cool city with a bustling centre and the Chinese Mt. Rushmore an hour away from the city centre in the Yellow River scenic area. Dengfeng is an ancient town 2 hours away by bus from Zhengzhou that is beside Songshan (27RMB).
There are, of course, lots of other places in the region that are still worth the visit, for example Liaocheng, Linyi, Rizhao, Weifang, Weihai, Yantai, etc. Do some research and make some discoveries of your own!