76. Public Transport
Is public transport expensive where you live?
No, it’s really very cheap. Here in Beijing, bus journeys usually cost 1 rmb, but only 0.4 rmb if you use a pre-paid travel card. Longer bus journeys can cost more. A journey on the subway costs 2 rmb, which is actually less than in the past. It used to cost 3 rmb. Trains and buses to other towns and cities are also quite cheap, but the new fast trains are a little expensive for many people.
Did you listen to the radio when you were younger?
Yes, I used to listen to it most days, especially whilst I was doing my homework. Some people might find that distracting, but I didn’t. I listened to radio shows that played contemporary pop music. On Sunday evenings, there was a radio show lasting two hours which had the top 40 hits, played down from number 40 to number 1. That was my favourite show.
Which time of the year is rainiest where you live?
Definitely the winter. It doesn’t rain every day, but it does most days. Usually the rain is not very heavy and falls in the afternoon or evening. During the summer, it doesn’t rain much. I guess it rains about once a week. However, if it rains, it rains very heavily. Sometimes it rains all day.
How important is reading for you?
I love reading, so it’s very important to me. I have to do a lot of reading for my job, but I also do a great deal of reading in my free time. I enjoy reading books and usually carry a book with me when I go out. I find that a good book keeps me occupied while I’m commuting or if I have to wait for some people to arrive at a meeting. I also like reading news stories on the Internet. I usually read them each morning while I have a cup of coffee.
What kind of restaurants are near your home?
I’m very lucky to have several good restaurants near my home, serving a wide variety of different cuisines. There’s a Chinese restaurant which specialises in spicy Sichuan food. Then there’s an Indian restaurant. I love curry! There’s a very expensive Japanese restaurant. They have an ‘all you can eat’ buffet available in the evenings. I usually only go there on special occasions.
Do you think you will study science in the future?
I doubt it. My job doesn’t involve science, so I don’t need to learn anything about it. I like reading articles about new scientific developments, like biotechnology, and I read a book about the history of scientific development once in a while. To be honest, I wasn’t really very interested in science even when I was studying it at school.
82. The Sea
Would you like to live in a seaside town?
I certainly would. In fact, I’ve been looking at the possibility of moving to a seaside town in the near future. I love the sound of the sea and I think that coastal areas are very beautiful. I like cliffs and sandy beaches, so if I lived in a seaside town I would prefer one that had both nearby.
83. The Seasons
What are the seasons like where you live?
Where I live, the summers tend to be quite hot – usually about 30 degrees – while the winters are a little cold – perhaps around freezing. However, if it is windy, the winter temperatures can be much lower. It’s not very wet where I live and most of the rain falls in winter. Spring and autumn have very changeable weather. It’s almost impossible to predict what a day will be like when you look out of a window in the morning.
84. Secondary School
What subjects did you study at secondary school?
I studied a wide variety of subjects at secondary school. As we got older, we could choose some subjects and drop others. At first, we all had English, maths, the three sciences – biology, chemistry and physics – French, geography, history, handicrafts and P.E. Later, I dropped biology and chemistry, but added economics and Spanish. During my last two years at secondary school, each student only studied four or five subjects. I did geography, history, economics, English and maths.
What kinds of shops are near your home?
I live in an area where there are still many small shops and no large ones. There are two small supermarkets, a fruit and vegetable shop, a newsagent’s, a ladies’ clothes shop and a shoe shop. These shops stock everything that people need for their everyday lives. The nearest large supermarket is about half a hour’s walk away – or a short bus ride or car journey.
Are there any sports you would like to try?
I would love to try table tennis. It looks like a very fast game, so I have been a little afraid of trying it.
I don’t want to look silly when I miss the ball with the paddle. I know a few people who play this game, but they are quite advanced players. I don’t know of any teachers in my area.
87. Sports Teams
Have you ever played for a sports team in a competition?
Yes. When I was at school, I played on the football team. Actually, I was usually one of the substitutes, so I rarely played a full game. Each school year, we took part in the city league. As a rule,
we didn’t do very well and finished near the bottom of the league table. The simple fact is that we weren’t very good!
Are there opportunities for people to swim where you live?
Yes, there are two swimming pools in my area. One is a public swimming pool. It is cheap to go to, but usually very crowded. Actually, it has two pools – a small, shallow one is for parents with small children. The other swimming pool is in a hotel. It is only supposed to be for hotel guests, but it is possible to sneak in by pretending to be a guest. The pool is hardly ever crowded. There are usually just a few people there.
Were your teachers strict?
Most of my secondary school teachers were strict, but a few were not. Generally, I liked the strict teachers, because they made sure we learned the material well. Because of this, I found that I could do the homework faster and have more free time in the evenings. If any students were disruptive, the teacher would simply send them out of the class and the rest of us would continue learning.
How often do you make or get calls?
I usually make and get phone calls every day, but not very many. I usually get about twice as many calls as I make. Most of the calls are work-related. I almost always uses text messaging to contact people for social reasons, because then they can reply when they are free or when they know their plans. Of course, sending texts is much cheaper too!
Do you often talk about television programmes with other people?
Yes, I do. I like watching reality TV shows and so do most of my friends. We often talk about them when we are together – at lunch or having a coffee. We talk about the crazy things that the people have said or done and we discuss the clothes that the ladies wear. There are so many reality TV shows nowadays that there is always something new for us to talk about.
Do you always wear a watch?
No, I rarely wear a watch. I generally use my mobile phone to see what tie it is. However, I do wear a watch on special occasions, especially if I’m going to a social event or to a function and switch my mobile phone off. I think that a nice watch makes a man look elegant.
Which types of transport do you use most often?
I most often use my bicycle and the bus. I use my bike for short journeys. I like it because it gives me the chance to do some exercise at the same time. However, I don’t use it when it is raining or it looks like it might rain. I use buses for longer journeys or when I’m going to a meeting with clients. I don’t want to arrive at meetings after a sweaty bike ride!
Do you ever read books, magazines or newspaper articles about travel?
I read newspaper articles about travel online at least once a week. I like to see which locations might make suitable holiday destinations for me. The newspaper articles are very useful because they provide tips on places to visit and things to do. However, they usually only refer to more expensive accommodation options, so I have to do a little research online to find out about cheaper possibilities.
Do you like people coming to visit you at home?
I’m afraid I don’t. I much prefer to meet people – like my friends – at a cafe, bar or restaurant. If people come to visit me at home, I feel that I have to keep the place especially tidy. In addition, they might come at inconvenient times, while I am busy doing something else or perhaps preparing to go out.
Is the weather ever unusual where you live?
In recent years, there has been some unusual weather. One summer we had a big dust storm, which left everything covered with sandy dust from the desert. It lasted a whole day and I was very lucky that I did not have to go out at all that day. Last winter, we had a terrible blizzard. It snowed all day and the wind was howling. Again, I didn’t need to go outside, luckily.
How many weddings have you been to?
I have only been to two weddings in my life. The first was when I was a teenager. I remember being very bored. The second was when a friend from school got married. That wedding was much more fun. I didn’t get drunk, but I drank most of the day and ate a lot of delicious food. I met some really nice people I had never met before as well as some old friends.
Which is your favourite part of the weekend?
My favourite part of the weekend is Saturday evening. On Friday evenings, I am often too tired to go out with my friends to a bar, but by Saturday evening I am refreshed. There’s no work on Sunday, so I can stay out very late. I generally spend Saturday evenings with my friends. There are a few bars we enjoy going to. Sometimes we meet for a meal beforehand.
What do you find difficult about writing in English?
I always worry about making too many grammar mistakes when I write in English. I know that my English grammar will never be perfect, but too many mistakes – especially basic ones – can create a very bad impression on the reader. I almost always reread my writing to check for mistakes. If it is especially important, I do this twice or ask someone else to check it too.
100. Your Country
What industries are there in your country?
There are several important manufacturing industries in my country. The biggest are car manufacturing, electronics, clothes and textiles, and heavy machinery. Together, these industries employ about half the working population and make up most of our national exports. In recent years, there has been more competition from abroad, but the companies have improved their efficiency to deal with this.
101. Your Home town
What would you like to change about your home town?
I would like there to be better sports facilities in my home town. At the moment, there are some sports facilities, but they are old and often do not cater for younger people who prefer different sports to those that were popular in the past, such as basketball and tennis. It would certainly be expensive to construct the new facilities, but I think that the investment would be worth it as people would participate more often in sport and the construction would create some jobs.