Monday, October 30, 2006

Do I look as If I work for the Cats Protection League?!

So just following on from one girl trying to lumber me with a kitten, on saturday it happened again!

I was sat cheerfully in my room about midday, doing nothing whatsoever and then there is a knock at the door. Brock is stood there with 3 little Chinese Girls. I taught 2 of them so presume they were all around 12/13.'

Mr Charlie, Mr Charlie come quickly
What is the problem
We need your help, a cat is very poorly, come quickly; QUICK!
OK let me get some shoes, what is the matter?
A Cat, come on!

So I go down and find a skinny little runt of a kitten literally with the biggest cut I have ever seen across it's neck. It was deadly thin and obviously hadn't eaten for a while. I seriously did not know what I was meant to do with this thing. I havn't had my rabies injection so didn't want to touch it but I felt very sorry for the poor thing. I found a Chinese teacher and asked for her help, I asked whether there was a vets or someone around who could help it. She said in China that there are many cats without homes and owners and that people just throw them out. Which I can believe. It turns out that the kids have found the cat up the street and just thought they would bring it to me to help. Great.

I did all I could and tried to feed it. In China there isn't many places just selling Whiskers and Friskies. I asked two shops and the second basically said I feed my cat sausages. So I bought the cat 5 sausages and some milk and sent the girls packing.

I just hope the first girl, torn apart by my rejection, hadn't gone out and mutilated the poor thing. The girls have probably now fed the cat all 5 sausages and fattened it up sufficiently for it to be a wholesome family meal next weekend.


Halloween




In England it's just an excuse for chavs to throw eggs at houses, slash car tyres and dress up their disabled siblings in stupid outfits and drag them through the streets begging. In America its an excuse for a massive party. For once I think I prefer the American perspective on things- and I do mean "for once".

I chose the easy option and went as Harry Potter. Seeing as this has been an unofficial nickname for me for a few years I thought I might as well live up to it for a change. This meant purchasing a white shirt and a gryfindor scarf, borrowing a tie from brock, putting some cellotape on my glasses, drawing a lightening bolt on my forehead and parading around with a chopstick for a wand and holding my large broom between my legs. Easy.

Anthony our French Friend came as a Gay American and fitted into this role exceedinly well. Renea was a 1980's songstress or as we told her a liverpudlian female from year 2000. Brock was a Pirate, Zack a Ninja (wore same clothes as normal but put a teeshirt over his head), Hilary came as Marilyn Monroe or Audery Hepbern, Becky was a gypsie belly dancer, Wallace a Mobster and Meredith was some sort of Fairy Tree thing that resembled Fern Gully.

All in all it was a good night and to come there is a very very very embarrasing video of a exceedingly camply dresseds french man and a harry potter look a like dancing to "girls just want to have fun" on a sofa, resulting in hilarious consequences.



Saturday, October 28, 2006

Another Week Finished

After a nice little break in Qingdao it was quite hard to face up to the prospect of returning to work, but on sunday I planned my lesson and spent a few hours with one of the chinese teachers to get the vocab all sorted and I was looking forward to it. The lesson was on Jobs- Ni Baba Zuo Shenme Gongzuo - What job does your father do? We looked at a list of jobs vocab in english and chinese and then moved on to the children saying what jobs there parents do, what that actually involves them doing (they struggled with this and just tended to say what they enjoyed doing outside of work) , how long they have done the job for and do they enjoy the job. I then got 2 from each table to stand up and read their answers to the class.

This left about 10 minutes so we moved on to what jobs they want to do when they are older. I gave them a list of fantasy jobs such as football player,moviestar, singer and astronaut and I told them that when I was younger I wanted to be a football player. However, most of them still chose mundane jobs such as teachers and managers. Think that shows how serious the children are and how much they want to make their parents proud.

The lessons were all good. Thursday lunch time sat with Dave I said the words "I've really enjoyed teaching this week, it's gone really well". Thursday afternoon I had my last two classes of the week and they were terrible so I was back to indifferent again! I need to try and think of a way of sorting out those last two classes which doesnt include violence but does stopped me from giving myself a massive headache for two hours.

Sorry for the lack of postings for this week but China appears to banned Blogger again. Whilst we can still get on to post things via a back door, we cannot view or read our blogs or anyone elses blogs at all. I was waiting to see whether this would sort its self out before posting as its always nice to have a look at the finished article, but it might be this way for some time now.

Its getting colder by the day, have had to resort to using the warm air setting on the air con and have now got a thicker duvet. You know its cold when the kids are coming to your lessons in Long Johns! I don't actually think its that bad and have still been wearing shorts and t-shirts most of the time but its a bit worrying that it can take such a sudden drop and one only wonders quite how cold it is going to get.

My Chinese phone is completely broken now so will have to purchase another one, not ideal considering the money shortage Dave and i are both going through. The phone resulted in me oversleeping and missing one of my lessons - it doubles as my alarm clock. But it worked out OK as instead of teaching 2 classes of 30 for 40 minutes, I just taught one big class of 60 for 40 minutes. If I could do that everytime I would only have 11 classes! Might be worth Investigating!

Another thing is starting to worry me. I appear to picked up a stalker. This girl is 17 and not one of my students (i teach 13 year olds) but she occaisonally just turns up at my lessons. This week she came at one break time, the one where I had overslept and missed my class and I was running around frantically trying to sort it out. She had a gift for me. I'm used to recieving little presents everynow and again- posters,stickers, chocolate etc are all readily accepted- but not this time. She had a little ginger kitten. The conversation went like this:
"Charlie, I have this kitten and my mum will not let me have it, So I want to give it to you"
"I can't have that"
"Why?"
"I will kill it"
"Haha, will you take it?"
"No seriously, I have nowhere to keep it and I will probably kill it. Thanks though"
"OK sorry to disturb you, the email you gave me was wrong"
"No it wasn't" (I had given her a fake address)
"Yes it was it doesn't work, can I have the correct one"
So I gave up and gave her my email and now receive emails from her, which I am trying to ignore.

This weekend should be interesting. The Americans, being Americans, love Halloween so we are having a Halloween party-costumes and all. Given my current appearance and lack of any haircut for some considerable amount of time, I'm biting the bullet and going as the easiest possible thing for me: Harry Potter. All I have to do is put on a shirt and tie and a scarf and I'm sorted. Embarrasing Photo's will be up next week. Hopefully Blogger will be sorted by then.

Take Care

Charlie

Monday, October 23, 2006

Rest of my Photos

As normal all the photos I took - a ridiculous 200+ - can be found here on Flickr:
Enjoy

Take Care

Qingdao




Our trip to Qingdao was a success. Despite initially not having a ticket for the train we boarded with high spirits and found ourselves a little corner near the toilets where we could park ourselves for the 11 hours and sleep if need be- not the best but you always have to put a brave face on things. About 5 minutes after picking our spot we were told to go to carriage 6. When we got there Dave was able, by a using mixture of hand signals and prompts that his students had prepared, to purchase us three beds. The only problem was that they didnt come free till 1am.

I discovered that there was a food cart, where for 20 yuan you got some food and could park yourself for the whole journey. Their were people in there who obviously only had standing tickets and so had paid for the food without any intention on eating it and just slept on the tables. I think we may do this next time if need be. We ate, we drank and we were merry. At some point we also managed to "acqure" a policemans helmet- and we don't remember how but somehow - it ended up in Brock's bag.



We got to the room, met and greeted the locals that we were sharing with and were impressed by the level of comfort in the dorms. This was a "soft sleeper", the most expensive normal class room you can get I think. It had a door and some storage space for your luggage. We went to sleep quite happily- after some 6 beers we were more than ready for a nap. 3 hours later I was "rudely" awoken by a hatless policeman. Blearey eyed and not knowing what was going on I was a little shocked to see a copper standing over me. All I heard was one of the Chinese guys in our cabin shouting "police cap". I tried to wake Dave. All 4 of the people there were trying to wake Dave in fact. 3 chinese people hitting him on the arse and shouting Dave in his ear and he still wouldn't wake up. It took a rather hefty smack for him to wake up. At which point he looked absolutely mortified and just started saying "Charlie, My Wallet, Give them my wallet". I explained what was going on and we sent them to Brocks room. He gave them the hat back and the copper walked past looking a little embarrassed that he had "lost" it in the first place. Ah English on tour!

The rest of the journey was thankfully pretty uneventful, although we were worried that at any moment we may get thrown off-it never happend. We got to Qindgao, purchased our return sleeper tickets and made ourway to McDonalds for Breakfast. We got a taxi to the hostel, settled in and headed out. Our first impressions were that Qingdao was amazingly European - due to its German Heritage- and would be lovely in the sun , unfortunately it was raining. We grinned and beared it, walked to the pier, looked at the beaches and some sights then went back to the hostel for a nap. When we woke up it was Glorious Sunshine, it stayed that way for the remainer of the trip!

Whilst we were there we visited St Michaels Cathedral. A Large catholic cathedral that is beautifully decorated inside. A television tower that is 440m above sea level, and we took a cable car from the base down to ground level again. A former German communications building that looks like a set of Spaceballs and also a beer factory- where we sacked off the tour for being too expensive (£2)
and instead headed to the bar where for £1.50 you could buy 1.5 litre jugs of fresh Tsingtao- In our opinions that represented a much better investment. We also managed to see a little of the nightlife- Dave now has a new Alias; David Stdices, as the bar managed to mess up his membership card. We also managed to get invited to a house party for someones birthday that we had only ever met
for 10 seconds. It was good house party but unfortunately some of the people there- sad to admit it but they were the english - were too annoying so we left after a few hours, but we'd already managed to have a free meal,free punch and free beers from the night, so I think we were quite successful!

The rest of the time was spent taking in some of the beautiful scenary and relaxing on the beaches. It was a great way to spend a few days and we all felt alot better for it- wish we could have stayed a lot longer!


Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Bet




A few weeks ago Dave and I had a bet on the outcome of the Formula season. Dave was certain that the old head Schumacher would out smart the young pretender Alonso. I therefore bet him 100 Yuan that Alonso would claim the title for the second season running, and Schumacher would retire empty handed.

When the bet was made there were 4 races remaining and Michael Schumacher was catching up with Alonso very very quickly. After the Chinese grandrpix he had caught Alsono and both sat on exactly the same number of points, with Schumi's nose slightly in front because of having won one extra race.

Things were getting very interesting.

Then came Japan. Schumacher had led for the majority of the race after Massa pulled aside and let him take the lead. However,despite only qualifying in 5th place Alonso had raced well and found himself in 2nd and catching Schumacher. It was with 12 laps to go that the ferrari engine gave out and handed Alonso the first place.

So with one race to go Alonso of Renault is 10 points ahead of Schumacher and only needs to finish in a points position to claim the title. The race takes place in Brazil on Sunday, so maybe monday morning here. Lets see if Michael or Massa have any plans to stop him from finishing and stop me from claiming my 100 Yuan!

Sea, Sea, Seasiders!

All the children have exams this week on thursday and friday. This means that we have been given an extra long weekend. So tonight we are leaving for Qingdao.

Quingdao is about 700km south east from Shijiazhuang and the train ride will take us about 11 hours. We are going there as our students say it is absolutely beautiful and that the air will be much much fresher and the weather warmer than here. This is probably going to be our last chance to go anywhere until our break in February, so we thought we'd get the last of the warm weather in. It will be nice to walk along a beach and take in some fresh sea air-maybe even take a dip!

Formely a German controlled city, Quindgao still has a european feel about it and thanks to the Germans is home to Tsingtao- Chinese most famous and internationally exported beer. Unfotunately we missed the august beer festival but think that we may be *forced* to have a tour of the brewery. Should be interesting.

Theres 7 beaches, a pier, a museum and some churches to keep us busy as well. So next week the posts on here should start getting interesting again - if they ever were.

Cheers to Dave for the Map.


Sunday, October 15, 2006

Triads?





*Mum, Dad, Granny don't get too worried about this story. Sure it's all just fiction and the result of Dave and I being quite drunk at the time, but this is what we have managed to remember.*


Friday night, the end of a long week teaching, where the novelty of returning to work after a week off had worn off after 1 day. Dave now finishes at 12 on fridays, which is good for any travelling we might want to do later, so we'd spent the day watching the west wing, going to the gym and bumming about town. In the evening we downed a few cans of Newcastle Brown Ale, A bottle of local Beer and a bottle of fine Great Wall White Wine, and this set us up for our evening. We headed out to hotel bars for a more sophisticated night out, and also to check out where my parents would stay when they came to visit.


Anyhow after a few hours of fine dining and drinking we ended up back at The Scotland. Stayed there for a while and got a taxi home about 3.3oam. For some reason the taxi driver dropped us off quite a walk from home and we stumbled down the street. We decided we were hungry so stopped off at our favourite 24 hour cafe/bar at the end of our street-which you've heard about many a time now. Things were going well. We ordered our food and sat down and were making our best drunk attempts to talk to the waiters and the owner. When 3 guys all dressed in black sat the table opposite.

At this moment the atmosphere died, everyone stopped talking and there was definite a mood of uneasyness in the air. I'm not sure if they ever did order anything to eat or drink they just seemed to sit there and stare at us. After a while of us occaisionally glances over in their direction, they start making some sort of hand signals to us. This turns into them making clenched fists and motioning us to go over into the street and have a fight. We laughed it off and thought that they must be as drunk as we are. It wasn't until closer expection of their clenched fists (i don't mean up close, I mean that we were actually able to focus on them) that we realised that they all had the same black scorpion tatto in the exact same place. At this point we realised they might be more than just drunk taxi drivers.

Dave therefore decides to deflame the situation by going up shaking their hands and shouting hello and nihau at them, whilst grinning inanely. They didn't really respond. Dave returns to his seat and they leave shortly after. We tried to establish from the waiters who they were and what they wanted, but we couldnt get a response.

The next day we walked past the resturant again, and the cooks who are usually extremely friendly and love to greet their western drunkard teacher friends, bowed their heads and ignored us as we walked by.

I think Dave and I might avoid that particular late night establishment for a while.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Beijing Zoo

















What with it being National Week in China last week, Beijing was extremely busy. After seeing how busy Tianamen Square and the areas around the Forbidden City were we thought it would be better to leave those to another time when there were less tourists. Therefore we went to places more suitable for a sunny day. After Behai Park we headed on the tuesday to Beijing Zoo, supposedly the biggest in Asia and home to some 6000 different animals-all of which seemed to be sleeping whilst we were there. The zoo itself was in nice surroundings but the tiny enclosures that the animals were given to live in were not particularly nice, and I doubt that (for example) London Zoo would get away with similar.


We mainly went to see the Panda's. They were in a seperate enclosure to the rest and they had a little more space. There were about 10 in total. But all of them were either sleeping in doors in their enclosure or curled up in the corner or their outside area, so it was hard to get a good view. We have been told (by Mike and Gaz) about a Panda sanctuary somewhere so we hope to go there and have a look for proper at some point.

The best thing at the Zoo was undoubtedly the Aquarium. Its massive and you could spend easily as much time in there as the Zoo itself, especially if you made sure you took in all the different Live shows that were being offered. We managed to see one with the dolphins but, due to our not being able to read chinese, missed the Killer Wales. The rest of the exhibits in the aquarium were also amazing-but probably not a scratch on wet the Sea Life Centre at Hunstanton has to offer.

All in all it made for a very nice day out.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Behai Park











After going out on Sunday night to Bar Street we were all rather hung over on the Monday morning. We therefore had a Starbucks to wake ourselves up and then headed somewhere where we could relax and recover.


We went to Behai Park. In the centre of the city, just up from The Forbidden City, it was a paraidise. We hadn't seen so much grass or as many flowers and trees since we arrived 6 weeks ago.



The Park itself is home to the Bai Ta - a huge white Pagoda that stands 36 meters above the ground. Entry to the park included entry to Qiong Island where you can make the hike up to the top of the Pagoda and look over the city. This provided some spectacular views, which only would have been bettered if there wasn't quite so much smog in Beijing, as it was quite hard to see over some distance.



The park was a great place to relax and was nice to take in some scenary and Chinese culture. The only point that I would like to make was that a lot of it has been rebuilt. Whilst their explanation for this is "earthquakes" which sounds quite legitimate and it looks very nice all restored and brand new. But why restore? Surely to have the original, no matter how damaged would be better. It got on our nerves after a little while, especially when we found that one of the white bridges was made of plastic!