China II: Week 11

The days are flying by almost as quickly as the temperature is rising. My God it is hot. We have also been blessed with a bit of sunshine breaking through the layer of pollution above us, to go with the sticky humidity…

Aside from a very British introduction about the weather, what a way to start the week!; controversy at home, and a day of festivities outside in the sun…perfect. I woke up on the Monday morning to find Danny a little uneasy, or that’s the way she seemed. She gathered myself and Michael and told us that her family would be visiting over the Dragon Boat Festival and that we would have to leave her home. I understood but was in a temporary state of shock. I wasn’t too worried as I know there are several people who would put me up for a few nights (and have even told me so). As I began to stuff my bag full of clothes I never wear Michael took a shower. As he was washing Danny told me that I just had to make it look like I was leaving as she did not want Michael in her house and needed him out….’oooo very sly Miss Zhang’ would have been my response had it been appropriate. Instead I nodded and left for Guangzhou. I don’t think Michael is as bad as Danny says he is but he is a little odd (aren’t we all?).

Anyway, I eventually arrived in Guangzhou and met with Tony, Debby, Benny, Zoey and Cici. On my way to meet them I came to realise why the Chinese walk sooooo slowly everywhere….sweat!. I sweated bucket loads just walking the half mile to meet them, but cooled down on the way back as we walked at a snail’s pace. Time management has become an incredibly frustrating part of my Chinese life, they are never in a rush even when they are late. At first it was cute, now it seems they have no concept of time.

We strolled slowly along the river and enjoyed all the sights and excitement from the crowds of spectators. This was Dragon Boat Festival, a celebration of a famous poet who jumped and died in a river and then people dropped boiled rice in so the fish wouldn’t eat him and rowed dragon boats down the river (that’s what I grasped of the legend anyway). These stories fascinate me and I am a little disappointed that we don’t celebrate such things. At regular intervals a large Dragon boat would travel down the river banging a drum and chanting, which was fantastic! These were more barges than boats…bloody huge.

After the excitement of the Dragon Boats we took a walk around before Tony and Debby left us to eat lunch. It was then that my day of different foods began. Giving me no say in the matter my Chinese friends ordered Pigs trotter, eels and Chicken intestine for lunch. I really enjoyed the eel, the pigs trotter was a bit awkward and quite hairy and the Chicken intestine was a little too chewy…so chewy that I don’t think my chewing worked and I have a complete Chicken intestine in my very human intestine now, and potentially for a very long time.

After the strange lunch I made my way back to Foshan. Once I arrived I was asked by Danny to join her for dinner…more food? We met up with a woman called Rosie, her husband and her husbands parents, a girl named Cinderella and her boyfriend. It’s fair to say that Rosie’s mother-in-law was fascinated with me. I was also fascinated with the way she did not stare uncomfortably at me. o what these old Chinese people must have seen! This restaurant was a traditional Cantonese restaurant so we ate traditional Cantonese food including; cows Achilles and crocodile. I ate crocodile with Cinderella…not an everyday occurence.

The next day meant I was covering a lesson for Kiran but beforehand I had to re-apply for my lost bank card. Me? losing a bank card? nooo?. When I walked into the busy bank a woman on the front desk approached me and took me into the VIP lounge where I was offered tea, a leather chair and an empty kiosk. Being foreign has its perks. I was in and out in no time despite the cashiers incompetence (grumpy old man syndrome?).

Once again I gave in to Jacks advances and went for a meal with him and Lukas on the Wednesday night after work. This time we went to little Italy where I am quite friendly with the manager, Mike. He is also thinking about going to the Arsenal game in Hangzhou, so I may go with him as Tibet looks like its going to be ‘closed’ until the end of July (I am hoping the Chinese open it up again though). The meal was good and Lukas offered some suggestions for possible stop offs on the way to Vietnam, Detian Pubu looking the most fascinating. He also has an interesting idea that Guangdong will eventually break away from China and reform as Canton…and what a powerful nation that would be! I’m not so sure it is likely though. On the way home we stumbled across some Czech beer which Lukas made us try. Refreshing whilst walking home in the humidity.

I love Thursdays and Mondays as I only work in the Guangzhou kindergartens. And this thursday was even better as I went for one of my favourite things in Guangdong….a nice meal outside of a cheap restaurant. It’s actually perfection (until you get that first mosquito bite). Myself, Cameroon, Kat and Paul sat outside for about 5 hours with a few beers, plates of fried beef and rice dishes. At last it felt like Summer. All I need now is to finish work and I will always be as free as a I was that night. After a few drinks Cameron wagered the whole meal that I would not give one of my business cards to someone on a neighbouring table (I was heavily ridiculed throughout the night for my business cards, perhaps rightly so). I jumped at the challenge. I have it to a woman who turned out to be a parent of one of the children Kat teaches…at this point Kat was quite drunk and the mum can’t have been too impressed. She took it all in good heart though, and I took back my card (I only have 50, don’t want them wasted on people I’ll never talk to).

Luckily I had the following morning off. But, I had made the mistake of telling Danny this and she woke me up and dragged me to KTV. So it was morning, I was tired, but we were in a Karaoke bar. I guessed that there would be a party of people joining us, but there wasn’t. I spent two hours humiliating myself to Carpenters and Westlife (only options) while Momo interrupted with high-pitched chinese songs and Danny just watched. Torture but I secretly enjoyed it. Despite my tiredness I was invited along to Peasants by Kat after work and met a few others for a couple of hours. I am enjoying spending a few of my evenings outside now as the evening temperature is pleasant. Pleasant at Peasants.

On the Saturday I found out that Sally was leaving Guangzhou for good on the Monday so arranged to meet her and a few others after work. However, work was very annoying on that day. As i have said before, the kids a spoilt brats. On this day they would not behave even when I introduced games to them. So, quite uncharacteristically, I banned games for the lesson (I only have a week left sooo). Because it is a training school there is no way of disciplining the children as sending them from class means the parents complain about wasting their money. And, the boss has refused our suggestions of introducing a rewards scheme instead. As a result I feel like I am actually just a babysitting service to give overly wealthy parents a break from their spoilt children under the heading of ‘English teacher’. This is perhaps why I don’t like that job very much. One more week to go!

Anyway, I arranged to meet Iain, Claire, Vivian and Sally at Zhongshanba station as it was convenient for them. Instead, after a half hour walk from my station they called to tell me that they would meet me at Changshou Lu station (the station I had walked from). So as I trotted back apologising to Emily and Gillian who I had dragged all the way there I noticed that I was not frustrated by them going to the wrong station as deep down I had expected it. I had a little chuckle to myself. We ended up having a nice meal as a seven and Sally departed with Claire and Vivian back to the dorm, I am not sure if we will meet again. Myself, Iain, Emily and Gillian stayed for a while longer. Emily has become a good friend in my second visit to China. I think Iain enjoyed her company too. Gillian is a little quiter but also a nice person to be around.

So having spent most of the week working or eating strange food (having re-read this entry there does seem to have been a lot of eating) I wanted an early night before my 6am start on Monday. Of course I didn’t get this, and I am now quite glad. I had my first Chinese cinema experience. What film would fit perfectly….Kung Fu Panda 2. What entertainment! I really enjoyed myself with a little bit of escapism from real Chinese life into the cartoon version. If I am honest, they’re not too dissimilar.

My week in a nutshell…food, and lots of it.

On another note: The BBC news website seems to be obsessed with China!

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