September 9, 2009
We have been busier than one-armed paper hangers recently! So many things are happening — it’s hard to know where the time flies, but it does! Preparing for the classes we are teaching and preparing for the Chinese classes we are taking uses up most of the time that we have, but we also have lots of friends who are so generous and kind to us that we are having loads of fun, too!
We continue to have delicious food! Apparently local grapes are ripe now, and they have one variety that is sort of purplish in color, and it is very similar to the muscadines and scuppernongs of eastern North Carolina. Very large, juicy, and delicious! Oh, and like everything related to food here (except walnuts) — very cheap. I’m enjoying them every day. We were introduced to rou jia mo sold at the little grocery store near the International Office, and that has become Deb’s favorite lunch — along with the grapes. Rou jia mo is ground, fried pork, mixed with green onions in a very tasty hamburger bun shaped bread. The sandwiches are 2.5 Yuan (元) each so, if we didn’t buy a juice drink for a yuan or two, lunch, with grapes, would be about $1. With the drinks, about $2 for two people.
On Sunday evening we had dinner with Richards who have been teaching in Shandong — by not Weihai — for a year or two. We went to the five star hotel near our house, and had a seafood buffet. It was good, but certainly the most expensive and least tasty meal we’ve had. On the way into the restaurant, we visited with a young woman (Ok, everyone looks young to me!) who hand paints the insides of little bottles. We watched and were wowed. She has to paint the pictures inside out, and they are dazzling! I’ve seen these things in gift stores in China for years, and they are always amazing, but this is the first time I seen then being painted, and I think these are the most beautiful I have ever seen. She said she spends all day — i.e., 10:00 to 10:00 — for three days painting one of the 3-4 ounce bottles, and she has smaller and much larger ones — so who knows how long to takes for some of the larger and more complex ones!
On Monday night, Yvonne and Lulu took us to the RT Mart, an absolutely huge supermarket near the harbor. We went there because Lulu was dying for a KFC hamburger (she did have a sheet of discount coupons for KFC food, so we had to take advantage of that!), and they have a KFC in the RT Mart. Her KFC Hamburger looked somewhat like the rou jia mo I described earlier, but it was not on a hamburger shaped bun and it had beef instead of pork. Deb and I had spicy chicken sandwiches (like U.S. KFC) and Yvonne — who wasn’t hungry — bought a bucket of chicken (after she smelled the food). We helped her eat it, which was very sweet of us! We then shopped for sheets, towels, a few groceries, and so forth. We didn’t explore the entire store it was simply too big for one visit!
Tonight, we had dinner with SDUW’s President Han. He wanted to welcome us and to celebrate the fact that an American English teacher, Mike, from Los Angeles just received the outstanding Foreign Expert Teacher Award for the entire province of Shandong. He has been in Weihai for 7 years, and I gather plans to live here from now on. He said he has fallen in love with Weihai, and has thoroughly enjoyed living here. Mild weather, beautiful environment, nice people, and serious students were some factors he mentioned.
We continue to hear from our old and new friends in Weihai wanting to help us. One of our newer friends, Zoe, remembers that I had mentioned in Kearney a couple of months ago that I would have a new suit made here in Weihai, so she wants to take us to a good tailor –only problem is, I haven’t lost the weight I was supposed to lose, and I may have found a few pounds along the way — or there is something in that little clothes washer that is shrinking my pants … (sigh!!! …)
For those of you concerned that China is a religion-intolerant state, several things I noticed in the past two weeks may be relevant. First, I was given two old bicycles, and I took them to a sidewalk bike shop for tune-up. The guy really knew what he was doing and was devoted to making it as low cost as possible — I don’t know how he makes any money at his rates; however, the point I wanted to make is that his partner, while awaiting his next repair job was sitting there on a tiny stool reading the Bible as he waited. Then a few days ago, two different groups came by the classrooms handing out gifts like a little notebook and a file folder that were overtly Christian, even with pictures of Jesus — as a blonde, long-haired European, of course! Nobody took any notice at all…
Elementary and secondary school run 11 months per year, apparently. Elementary kids apparently have to be at School at 8:00 because I see parents or grandparents walking their kids to school, the nearest to us is half a block away. I think they get to come home for the noon “siesta” — don’t know what it is officially called here, except in English — rest time. 12:00 to 2:30 PM. Then back in class until 6:30 PM. At 6:30, which is nearly dark here at this time of year, the streets and sidewalks are full of little kids going home from school. It is kind of nice because the kids and parents have a chance to be together during the rest time for lunch. High school is a little different. I think they start at 7:00 AM and run until 9:00 PM six days a week. They apparently have Sunday off and maybe every other Saturday. My friends tell me of getting home at 10:00 PM and having couple of hours of homework to do, then to bed, and then up again and on the way to school at 6:30 AM. In other words, just like in the USA … NOT! So, at 10:00 PM — not that Deb and I have been out at that time yet – we hear the hoards of high school kids coming home.
People work hard here, so the place, aside from school kids, seems to go to bed early — except tonight. There have been fireworks all day and continuing to this moment, and a lot of them. This is national teacher appreciation day. I don’t think the teacher gets any time off, but they get little gifts. In the USA, the apple is the symbol of teaching, but in China, it is the candle. Teachers, like candles burn (or use) themselves to cast light for others. Teaching is a highly respected occupation. Now that’s weird, isn’t it…? I also don’t know if the fireworks I am hearing are for teacher appreciation day — it may just be lots of marriages going on today for some reason.
Well, apparently the medical checkups we had in the U.S. aren’t good enough, so Deb and I and some others have to go to the clinic for tests tomorrow! This should be interesting. We have to fast in the morning, which will be a good thing — you know finding weight everywhere and putting it on is what I do best!