Fuling: My site placement is in Fuling, Chongqing or more famously referred to as "River Town" via Peter Hessler's award winning novel. Fuling is a great site, the community is very friendly and the staff and students really need you and will do all they can to make you happy and comfortable. That said, it is a small town, and one that was closed off for many years and there is still a lot of dubiety regarding foreigners, which means a lot of stares and curiosity: this is all part of daily life.
Yongchuan: My husband and I teach mostly oral English in Yongchuan, a "small" city of about 300,000. Yongchuan has convenient transportation, lots of developments, and fairly clean air, though sitings of the moon are rare since the sky is most often cloudy. We think being a couple and being our age (67) has helped us make lots of connections in our community, including church and tai ji class. We are non-threatening and approachable; every bus ride is a relational adventure. As all of Chongqing, in the summer it is HOT; the winters are damp and chilly, settling around 40 degrees F. Fresh fruits and vegetables abound; you will love the outdoor markets. Dont' worry about the hot, spicy food; restaurants can cook very tasty non-spicy food on request. Just learn how to say "bu yao la jiao."
Zhangya: I live in Zhangye, Gansu, the northernmost assignment. It's a small city of about 250,000 and seems both larger and smaller than that number at different times. I have three awesome sitemates and a lot of amazing scenery. The Gobi Desert, Mati Si (Buddhist mountain temples) and Danxia Di Mao (painted rocks world heritage site) are all within a day's bike ride, albeit some long ones. I teach at the local medical college with one of my sitemates, while the other two volunteers teach at the larger Hexi University. I have had nothing but good experiences here and highly recommend this region. It is remote though and a 27-hour train trip to Chengdu. Money goes further here, but there are far fewer things to spend it on.
I am in a small town in Gansu province, teaching at a small college. I have one sitemate. We are the only foreigners here. The air is extremely dry, desert-like. The terrain is very barren. It gets quite cold in the winter,but we do have great heat which gets turned on around November 1. In my town there is no western foods or groceries available at all. There are some western food restaurants and some western food supplies sold in Lanzhou, about two hours away by bus.
Guiyang (贵阳): Guiyang is the capital of Guizhou province in southwest China. About ten volunteers are placed in and around the city. Some live right downtown and can frequent Walmart on a regular basis. Others live a 45 minute bus ride or so away. In Guiyang you can find the basic foreign essentials (butter, coffee shops, Pizza Hut) if you so desire. Some of the volunteers who live in the city have to take buses to their campus outside of the city. Others live and work in the city. Those who live in the suburbs live on college campuses. Everyone lives in apartment buildings with other university/college workers.
Kaili (凯里): Kaili is a small city in rural Guizhou--- close enough to the Guizhou capital of Guiyang that I can travel there and visit with PCVs, but I'm also happy enough here to spend weekends in Kaili with my sitemate or my students. The mountains in the area are gorgeous, and if you travel even just a half hour outside the city you feel like you've traveled back in time: people in rural Guizhou villages still make their own rice-wine, plough their fields with oxen, and celebrate their traditions through singing and dancing.
XingYi: My site mate and I are in a small city in South West Guizhou province, right by the Yunnan border. The weather is comfortable, it is never too hot or too cold. The surrounding country side is gorgeous, we have a place called 10,000 peaks (with mountains that go on for ages) and another place called Maling Gorge (with 100's of waterfalls.) One of my favorite parts of Guizhou is the rich culture. There are about 56 minority groups in China, and 18 have made their home in this province. There are only 3 foreigners in the whole city. That being said, we get a lot of attention. The local people are very curious about us, some of them have never met a foreigner before. The city is located roughly 6 hours from Guiyang, the provincial capital, and isn't as westernized as some other PC China sites. Some staples of westernization, such as American fast-food establishments and supermarkets (read: KFC and Walmart) haven't yet reached the city. A train station allows quick travel to neighboring Yunnan and Guangxi provinces, but as of early 2010 no railway exists to Guiyang. Chengdu is roughly 19-24 hours away by train and bus, dependent on layovers and ticket availability.
NeiJiang: NeiJiang a small city in Sichuan, about 2 hours from Chengdu and Chongqing City. The population is about 500,000 in the downtown area and 6 million in the county. Most of the students come from laborer and farmer families from around SiChuan, and their level ranges, but hovers around average. For me, the size and location worked out well for what I like. My campus is across the river from the downtown area, so its nice to be a little away from the hectic traffic but still close enough to get there whenever I want. My sitemate and I are 2 of the 6 foreigners in the city, so people are generally really curious about us. My school has been with Peace Corps now for several years so we have a good reputation with the staff and the students. There are two volunteers here with one rotating in and out every year, so whoever the new volunteer is has someone who can show them the ropes.
Mianyang: Approximately three hours north of Chengdu (Sichuan province), Mianyang is a medium size (+/-600,000) town that is primarily known for being a center of technical and electronic research/production. The current PCV is placed at the local teacher-training university on the west-side of the town.
Xindu: Suburb of Chengdu: Although my site is technically in Chengdu, it takes a couple hours to get downtown, and in most ways, I'm thankful for this. I was originally thinking I wanted to go to a smaller town, but now I have small town comfort with big city convenience and excitement available on weekends. The best thing about my town in The Village. This is the area right outside the school gate that sells fruit, vegetables, and dozens of kinds of street food from dawn til midnight. There are small convenience stores, clothing shops, restaurants, tea houses, sports stories--and all within the student (and PCV!) budget. I'm the first volunteer at my site, although there are three other foreign teachers here (two Americans, one Russian). The campus is characterized by colossal, grey Soviet-style architecture and traditional Chinese landscaping (think flowering trees and man-made lakes lined with willows and walking paths). The facilities are pretty modern and comfortable (lots of multimedia classrooms available; no white boards though), and the students seem to have more fashionable clothes than I do. Also, my apartment is great: two spacious rooms with fake hard wood floors, an AC/heating unit, small balcony, cute kitchen, washing machine, and Western toilet. In these superficial ways, my site doesn't feel very Peace Corps. However, when I started teaching, I see why this school needs volunteers. It hasn't figured out how to attract quality teachers, and the kids' learning has suffered as a result. In my first year, I already feel like I've made an impact at the school. In fact, there's a rumor another volunteer could be coming this fall... maybe I'll see you then!