When I returned from the UK at the end of January it was Chinese New Year, and the fireworks were exploding every other minute. This was fine -- until I had to start work. The celebrations didn't end after the one week holiday, they continued for more than half a month more. Bed time would come and all I could hear would be people playing Ma Jiang or cards while shouting to each other, and the fireworks of course. The talking (shouting) would sometimes last all night, and because the walls are practically made from paper they might as well have been in my apartment doing it. As for the fireworks, they would be set off at random intervals throughout the night, maybe a dozen at 1am, a few at 3:30am, and then a whole bunch of them at 7am. I would be sleeping in the quiet spots only to be woken up time after time. It got to the point where I just couldn't get to sleep sometimes because of the noise. It was driving me crazy.
After 15 days the noise did start to die down which was a huge relief, the talking stopped and the fireworks were stowed away for another year (or wedding or funeral). However, I still found it difficult to sleep just because of my previous experiences, I was continually waiting for something to wake me up, and it left me feeling restless (after talking about this with others I have found that all but two of the foreign teachers at Web have also experienced very similar things). After a couple of weeks more of so-so sleeps, I started to worry I wouldn't sleep properly again. Then my mum told me of a supplement called Valerian which isn't a sleeping pill, but a natural sedative. It has no side effects unlike the sleeping drugs, and is actually beneficial in many other ways. Surprisingly I found a bottle of the stuff in my local pharmacy. I started taking it and found that it really did work, I was feeling much more relaxed and started to sleep better.
This was a couple of months ago, and now I'm sleeping just like normal again thanks to the lack of noise and the Valerian. I've even recommended it to other teachers at Web and now three of them are all using it and have found beneficial results. The fact is, Wenzhou -- like so many other cities in China -- is developing so quickly that it is permanently noisy. For people like me who have been brought up in relative silence at night time, it can be difficult sometimes.
Another reason Wenzhou can be incredibly noisy at night is something I spoke about before (here): construction work. I had been living in my apartment for almost a year without any interfering work -- until March this year. Two construction sites suddenly began working throughout the day, it was loud but not a problem. Then one night I noticed the work didn't finish, it just kept going, all night. I was really quite angry about this and asked Kimi to complain. She called up the local government office only for them to tell her that they had given the site permission to work all night. Up until now it has happened on nine or ten occasions, two nights ago was the worst. It was so bad I had to sleep on the sofa in my living room with tissue stuck in my ears. It is completely unbelievable how common people have absolutely no rights whatsoever. If the government wants to do something they will, regardless of whether it causes hundreds of people to have a sleepless night. Can we do anything about it? Not a chance. Unfortunately this is cost of living in a country and city which is developing at the speed of light. In the mean time I hope I find an apartment which is sound proofed from head to toe.