Saturday, March 28, 2009

Company! We Have Company!!!

Finally, we have company from America! It is so nice to see familiar faces again. Four friends from Connecticut took a month off to visit China. They are considering moving here. So far, they love it. Now they have arrived in our city and we are having a wonderful time. They brought COFFEE! Starbucks no less. Sara is a barrister and used her guanxi in our behalf. Thank you Sara! We will travel together to a city named Guilin (gway lynn) tomorrow evening so we can spend more time with them. It means so much to have them here. Frank and Beau (Sara's husband) played basketball together and Sara, Brittany, Anna and I went on a shopping spree. At least, they shopped, I just took them to all the right places. We have introduced them to some of our local cuisine and exposed them to Frank's chinese clothing fetish. We will keep you posted as our motley crew discovers more of this strange land. Our visa run is coming up in a week and I am thrilled. Many here experience what has been pegged "I hate China" days. I have them several times a month. We have learned from the experiences of others that there is a point when a visit outside the country becomes absolutely necessary for mental and emotional health. You just have to get out of the country and have a vacation or your joy and stamina will come to an end. I am at that point. Thankfully, things have finally worked in our favor and we have been granted the priviledge of seeing Thailand and staying with friends there! It is almost too good to be true. Not two weeks ago, we were planning to step over the border into Hong Kong, have our passports stamped, and step back, an hour vacation! Whoever wants me to continue here is seeing that I get what's needed. Thank You!

Music In The Air

The park was full of music yesterday, entire bands of musicians competed for attention all around the park. There was an older couple animatedly performing an opera, ladies fan dancing accompanied by one strange man who knew all the moves but had no fan. There were even wind instruments other than the gourd flute. Two guys played a mournful Chinese rythym on their saxaphones. It was all beautiful and somehow harmonious as if only one song were being played by everyone.
Develop an interest in life as you see it; the people, things, literature, music-the world is so rich, simply throbbing with rich treasures, beautiful souls and interesting people. Forget yourself.
Henry Miller

Friday, March 27, 2009

Chinese Pets

I made a trip to a pet market recently. I was actually surprised how well kept the animals were. The dog cages were small but very clean and all of them were groomed to within an inch of their life, picked, painted and pruned. There were also cats, birds, mice, pigs, bunnies, spiders, weird squirrels and baby parrots, and they weren't being sold for food, really! I didn't see any Italian greyhounds or I might have come home with one. Interestingly, there are many little restaurants on the second floor of the market with skewered meat. MMMMM! Or is it Hmmmmmm? Here are a few pics, you decide. We have another visa run coming up, wanna come with? Follow us as we visit new places and meet new faces.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Funny Story

Ok, this is not my tale but I have permission to share:
A couple moved into town recently, found an apartment, cleaned it and headed to the antique furniture market with another couple. They bought enough to load a bike guy to the sky and told him where to deliver it. There was no room for them to ride with him and he did not want to follow them on their bikes so the guys went with him anyway and the girls headed for the apartment together. When the girls arrived at their building, the street had just been laid with fresh black asphalt. "We need to cross" they told someone. "Oh, no that is quite impossible".
"No, you don't understand, we have a truck coming with furniture right now, we have to cross!" The building manager came out, and again they argued, she saying they could come back on the 23, (this happened last week) and they demanding to cross now. "We already paid the rent and have been cleaning in the apartment all week!" This was a shock to the building manager who had already asserted that no one lived in the building. "Wo de dongxi lai xianzai!!!" That is broken Chinese for "Our stuff is coming right NOW!!!" Finally, one of the girls said, "You know, in America, we could cross on the same day it's poured" hoping that the respect for western everything would help them out. "Well, that's America, this is CHINA!" the building manager retorted. She looked at the street worker, hoping to impress him, "Zai Meiguo, women keyi tso lu"(In America, we could walk on it) "Keyi", he said. "Nimen keyi(you can)" At last! Permission granted! They called up the husband and asked what was taking so long with the furniture and where were they. "We're in the apartment, where are you?" "What! How did you get in, they're paving the street all around the building! We have been arguing with them for 30min just to get across!", she almost screeched. "No they're not.........where ARE you? The girls looked at each other and one said to the other, "Ok, don't say a word, get on your bike and ride away quietly." The street workers and manager are still waiting for a bike full of dongxi that will never come.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Second Time Around

I finally broke down and bought another bike. The market that is now torn down was still selling them so I went with a few friends to find a ride. After being reminded how big I am by every single person trying to sell me a bike, I was frustrated and angry enough to get in a guy's face and tell him how rude that is. I was immediately sorry but he didn't seem to care either way. They really need to find a different sales pitch. I settled on another hunk 'o' junk for 110K. I got them to throw in a lock and a bell for my pain and suffering. The real test was taking it to the same western restaurant where my other bike was stolen. I didn't buy a fancy extra wide seat and it had a low tire, so my bike was right where I left it when we came out. Oh well, guess I really have to ride it this time. I did find that all the walking I've been doing made it a lot easier to adjust to riding the bike again. No sore muscles, or other parts. It has definitely saved money. The first week alone I saved almost thirty kuai. When 100K ($13) is the same as $100 to you, then 30K is a chunk of change. So, the bike has already paid itself off. I still don't venture too far from familiar territory without taking the bus though. I'm just not comfortable with all the traffic, so its safer for me not to try it. I wonder if bike riding is becoming more popular in America with the economic crisis. Don't knock it, it saves money, improves health and gives you time to ponder things. Thanks again to everyone who reads our blogs, we really appreciate hearing your comments.
When the spirits are low, when the day appears dark, when work becomes monotonous, when hope hardly seems worth having, just mount a bicycle and go out for a spin down the road, without thought on anything but the ride you are taking.
Arthur Conan Doyle, Sr.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Class Time Fun

Welcome to class everyone! Let's see how much you remember, "sit on the chair, go under the desk, open the door". Great! "What do the wheels on the bus do?, Right, go round and round!"
My kids are making progress and I am very proud of them. They love the basketball game where, if they respond correctly, they get a chance to throw a paper ball at me trying to get it in the basket that I hold at odd angles and heights and sometimes rotate. We play with flashcards and drawings, sing and dance and even watch the Wiggles! This day we did colors and they had to find things in the room or on their clothing as fast as possible, saying the color as they pointed. It can get pretty noisy even with only four of them now, (sadly, Sandra and Steven moved away). It is a high energy class and keeps me hopping. I always plan more than enough exercises just in case they catch on quickly and lose interest. I am learning a lot from them and hopefully they are getting something out of it too.

超市 Chao1shi4 (Super Market)

Take a trip with me to the local foreign grocery store. It is basically a Super Wal-mart with a different name, Carrefour (out of France). We do have Wal-marts here as well. In order to enter, you must first go to the top floor even though the grocery section is on the bottom floor. They will not let you enter. You have to walk through the entire top floor, to remind you of the other things you need to buy, then take the escalator down to the grocery section. This is maddening and keeps me shopping at the local outdoor markets. Anyway, there are many fresh items to choose from, pork with tail, fresh fish heads, any number of organs, some recognizable, some not. The slabs of meat hang from racks for you to pick from. Whole gutted chickens lay on ice staring at you. You can pick your fish from the tank and have it prepared while you wait. Meanwhile, people and megaphones scream the weekly deals at you from all directions. In the produce section, you may have people at each fruit display yelling the price as they stand under a huge sign with the price posted on it. I think maybe they like the noise. All produce must be weighed and priced, so get ready to stand in a long line. And be prepared for people to cut in front of you at any time. When you get the counter, put your purchases on the scale as quickly as possible before someone else does and then squeeze your way back out of the line to head for the register to do it all again. I much prefer going to the Chinese grocery stores. They are usually not so crowded and the produce is much fresher. My favorite is an outdoor market near our home where I can wander around freely and find all sorts of fruits and vegetables. There is no yelling. They are even nice enough to tell you how to cook vegetables that you have never seen before. The produce picture was this week's purchases. We paid about 63Kuai total, about $9.20 This will keep the four us fed for most of the week. (We still have guests). Well, thanks for going with me to the store, it was much less maddening with all of you along. Where would you like to go next?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spring Forward

Spring has arrived in all its glory and splendor! Even the garbage bins are in bloom! China's famous cherry blossoms line the streets and fill the parks. With the arrival of March, the weather has cooled off and the wind has increased but that has not discouraged the flowers and trees from showing off. People have flocked to the parks and find time whenever they can for singing and dancing. These pictures were taken on Wednesday afternoon. Who wants to work when there is music in the air? For those of you still struggling through winter, here are some warm pictures to post up and keep your mood light until your own Spring Forward!
"Because I took a moment to speak and you took a second to smile, a tiny part of me will leave with you"-Notebook Quotes