Sunday, September 20, 2009

September Vacation: Part the Second

So, I believe that it was Monday when we decided to go to Dafoyen (I don't know if that is spelled right), the five-story mall to hunt for DVDs. Megan didn't go with us because she was meeting with some religious folk and was going to find out how to set up sacrament meeting and stuff. So the rest of us got onto bus 38 to ride to the mall. As we rode, we realized that we had been on the bus too long. Zhongshan is made up of about thirty-six cities or districts, and we had left ours. The bus ride would have been more pleasant, but Kristi had to, I don't know how to say this politically correct, pee. So we agreed that we would get off on the next stop. But the stops we were coming to were not the kind with bathrooms, squatters or otherwise. Finally we found a KFC and we got off on that stop. While Kristi and one of the other girls (I can't remember who) used the necessary, I bought some food. Everyone else bought something to eat, so we had a late lunch, then jumped back on bus 38 and rode it back to the fruit stand. When we arrived home, the girls went to dinner and I bought me some dumplings. Megan came home and asked how the mall was, and I told her what happened. She said that we were silly, because she told Kristi, Steph, and Mistey that we were supposed to take bus 13, not 38.

On Tuesday, we decided to tackle our China Bucket List, with Item # 2: Eat a whole watermelon. We bought our watermelons (which are smaller here) and were all laughing and saying how easy it would be. Ah, how foolish we were. When every single one of us hit halfway, we would finally feel the weight of the watermelon, and would have a harder time finishing. We watched Ocean's Eleven while we ate, and now I don't know how I feel about that movie . . .

September Vacation: Part the First

ILP requires that we receive two days off a month, except for one week-long vacation that we are getting in October. We are saving our money for Bejing, so we didn't go anywhere for the vacation (which was September 12-15). On Saturday, my flat (Megan, Kristi, Mistey, and I) went on a day trip to Shenzhen, which is a pretty big city two hours away. So we hopped on a bus and met up with Tom and Michelle, Mistey's family's friends. Michelle is Chinese, so she helped us bargain. More on that later. Tom and Michelle took us to a fancy restaraunt (that is like a hotel on the inside). We had to take a lift to our floor, then we walked down a hallway that looked like a hotel hallway. We had our own private room complete with a sofa, coffee table, eating table, and bathroom. In fact, Tom and Michelle paid for our lunch. It was very delicious. After we ate, we went to a clothes place where you go into a tarp thing into a building and there are about a hundred little shops where you can buy knock-off designer jeans and the like. I had no need for designer jeans, seeing as I don't really care about them and stuff, not to mention I've lost weight here, sweating like a freak, so I turned my attention to the one task that wo de mama gave me: buy a belt. I am sorry to say, that I didn't take Michelle with me across the way to the belt place, so I overpaid for my belt. I feel horrible about it, but I did get another awesome deal that almost makes up for it. Some of you may know that I wanted a Chinese dress. I can't remember what they are called. But one of the little shops was selling them. I found one that was pretty in pink, so I tried it on. It fit me perfectly and the lightness of the pink goes well with my skin. So, Michelle helped me bargain. The dress was 169 yuan and she asked how much I was willing to pay for it. I told her to try to get it for 90. So then the bargaining began. The sales lady tried to sell it to me for 135, then 120, saying that she's never shown that price and that she would never show it again to me if I didn't accept it. However, while I was thinking I was willing to pay it, I noticed some threads had come loose around the seam, so I pointed it out to Michelle. The dress lady was most displeased when she had to trim it off and give it to me for 100. I can't wait to wear it! We did some more walking around(which could have been better, if it wasn't for Tom smoking all the time. When you walk behind someone who smokes, you get a lot of second-hand), and when we decided that we needed to get going, we went back to the metro station to see the DVD store. Because Tom is such an avid customer, we got great deals on the CDs and DVDs we purchased. I bought an Elton John CD pack with 2 CDs and all five seasons of The Office for 138 yuan. So, that is roughly $20 American. What a deal! On the bus ride back to Zhongshan, I sat with Kristi and we bonded over music. She told me that I had to see a Coldplay concert and that they were expensive, but it's worth the money. So whenever the next Coldplay concert is, I'll be looking for someone to go with. In Zhongshan, we were dropped off at our least favorite place on the planet: the bus depot. We don't have any pleasant memories there from when we came back from Yong Shuo. I was starving and hadn't gone to Micki D's like I so desperately wanted to. Luckily, there is one across the street from the depot. We ate there, then we took a taxi home, seeing as good ol' bus 66 wasn't running at 9:30 post meridian.

The rest of our adventures are covered in the next blog post September Vacation: Part the Second.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

China Girl: Not Just A Song By David Bowie

There is much that I must catch my readers up with. I know that ended in a preposition, a practice I am very much against, but I am tired and I couldn't think of another way to phrase the sentence. Anyway, Facebook and other social networking sites are indeed blocked in mainland China. My head teacher, Megan, has found a free proxy site that we can use, so here I am. For those of you who have Facebook, you are aware that I can access it now. Mi padre did suggest to update my blog for me, but that is unnecessary, seeing as I have the power now. Here's how it's going down: I last left you at the ferry station-port-thing. I had a vanilla cream frappicino at the Starbucks there and it was pretty good (Seinfield reference). Then we boarded the ferry and it was the only time I have ever been seasick. The reason being (I don't know how to say this politically correct and all) I was currently being visited by a monthly friend and I was nauseous. When we arrived in Zhongshan, we were taken to our complex. Literally, that is what it is: a bunch of apartments all gated in with guards at the gates. We live in a suburby kinda area call "Kaiyin". This is where the plot thickens; our apartments are not in the same building. Sarah, Sydney, and Stephanie are all in D5. Megan, Mistey, Kristi, and I are in F10. This is good, because we paid for the internet only for F10. We were taken to dinner that night where we ate many things including duck chin. Throughout the past month and a half, I have eaten many things I never imagined. Most notably, baby pigeon. If only PETA or Shaleia could have seen how it's served. Basically, it looks the same as when it's alive, but there are no feathers and it's cooked. It was surprisingly tasty. After teaching the summer classes, we started our new ones. The real semester. We not only teach ILP, but Cambridge, which is completely different. But whatev. We went to Yong Shou (where the Dr. Seuss mountains are) two weekends ago, before starting the new semester. It was the ghetto; the real China, if you will. There were lots of people with hunched backs and chickens everywhere. I've never seen so many chickens in one place in all my life, including the scene of the castle past the goblin city in the middle of the Labyrinth. We went to the mud caves, and hiked up to Moon Hill with old Chinese women following us. They fanned us and tried to get us to buy water. I caved in because I was dehydrated. I paid too much, but I did negotiate the price down from the original asking price. We rode on bamboo rafts down a river. We also saw the rice terraces. All-in-all, a good vacation. However, on the night bus (HP reference) there was a gentleman in that back with us smoking. He barely cracked the window open, so we were getting an unhealthy dose of second-hand smoke. However, every time he hocked a loogey, he would open the window all the way. Very classy.

Nighttime Shennanigans

Teaching children has it's ups and downs. They are cute. An up. They cry a lot. A down. They alternate between "Teacher Teacher!" and "Laoshi Laoshi!". An up. Some cry when you look at them. A down. For instance, there is one little girl who's English name is Julia. She is a doll. When she's happy. Today (Today is Tuesday, September 8th) Mistey and I were sent out to greet the children and their parents as they got to school. When Julia and her mama came, I said (with a smile and in a little kid voice) "Hey Julia!" Julia responded by bursting into tears and saying something in Chinese to afformentioned mama that I can only assume means "Please stop beating me!" (a line borrowed from Kristi). I can only hope that there is nothing personal in that, seeing as I am a kind-hearted individual, but it is a bit of a downer when you smile at children and they break down into hysterics. I also have a new best friend (sorry guys). His English name is Joe. He stuck right by my side through the whole time I tought with him (I am teaching Cambridge this week). He kept grabbing my hands and when we went on our walk around the school, he kept pointing out various objects and asking me what they were called. He is a little cutie.

Mistey went running this evening. Megan, Stephanie, Kristi, and I were all sitting in our living room chillaxin'. Kristi finally notices Mistey's gone and comes up with a brilliant plan: we turn off all the lights and hide. When Mistey comes in and turns on the lights, we jump out and yell "Bah!" Somehow, the plan evolved to us lying on the floor as though we are dead. Then Steph has the brilliant idea that someone should lay across the table to make it more realistic. I volunteered for the position. After we all got settled into our various poses (a sort of lame Top Model assignment), Steph askes "So are we still yelling 'bah!' when she comes in?" The answer to that, my dear readers, was no. Dead people don't yell "bah!". Anyway, so we are all feeling pretty good with our brilliance when we hear a door close in the hall. Thinking it's Mistey, we all get really quite. It was Sarah. Sarah walks in the door and, when we realize it's her, we all yell "Get on the floor and act dead!" After a few more minutes, we decide it looks really lame with all of us on the floor. Seeing as Steph was the most legit looking, and I was in the funniest position (lying across the glass coffee table), Megan, Sarah, and Kristi run into the kitchen. After a few more minutes of excruciating pain to my hip bones, Mistey comes in. She apparently sees Megan running to the side of the kitchen, then turns on the light and asks "What's going on?". The girls in the kitchen jump out and yell "bah!". And so ends the story of tonights adventures.