It's been a while,
Let's just suffice it to say I've been really busy. And really happy!!
I visited a friend's university, went to Serena's hometown for a few days, had a night on the town with the new foriegn teacher Jeremy, had a walk on part in a TV show, threw Daniel the best birthday party ever, played guitar and sang on stage at a bar, renounced Sands Bar as the best place ever, went bowling, a few different kareoke nights, became a groupie for an awesome band, and hmmm... what else?
oh yeah, and some teaching ;c)
So here's some highlights:
One Thursday, I went to visit Champ's university, Jilin. Champ, by the way, is a waiter that I met in August at the Sands bar and have since become really good friends with. He's a really amazing guy and the more time I spend with him the more neat things I find out about him. He's really hardworking, has really really good english and amazingly enough seems to understand my sense of humor. Which is hard for most native speakers :) Anyways, so Jilin University...
It's out near the Zhuhai airport, maybe an hour or so by bus outside of the downtown area I live in. He invited me out there to visit because there were having a welcome back freshman kind of event. He sang in a large choir. It was pretty funny because he also had to wear make-up. I was teasing him saying that he'd make a pretty girl. Hehehe. But the university was really nice. It felt just like a college back home really. I mean, minus the people staring at me because there are no foreigners there. But we visited the dining hall, and walked around the campus a bit. I didn't get to see in any dorms or classrooms. Maybe next time? I also saw Lucky and Jane out there. Two other chinese friends of mine. And I met a few cool friends of theirs as well. So we all got to sit around and just be bored college students until the program started. Which was interesting, I might add. It was basically a showcase of students and entertainment. I remember a magician, a hip-hop street dance group, a fashion show, some atrocious saxophone duet type thing, weird chinese dancing in beautiful costumes, occasional fireworks, and lots of shouting and screaming from the crowd of 8,000 students with those plastic clappy hand things and glow sticks. I spent the night out there with Champ at his friend's apt who lives right next to campus. Sparsely furnished and very masculine to say the least. But I suppose the friend (who's name I can't remember to save my life) is very smart and he looked to be running some sort of computer business. Not sure. There wasn't much conversation going on. At least not that I understood in english. Then there was some upset with the friend's roommate coming home drunk or something. I'm not sure because I was so tired I just crashed on the bed and shut the door. It was a neat trip and good expierence.
Daniel's birthday was Sept 28th. He'd been reminding us of it for weeks and weeks since it was the birthday that marked his transition between "teenage-ness" and adulthood. While I didn't lavish him with many gifts (just some of the best ice cream in town) I did organize one of the best parties since I've been here. I carefully planned the guest list to avoid obvious awkward situations, made sure everyone was well informed (instead of the notorious last minute scramble everyone together tactic) and I think everyone had a really enjoyable time. We started with dinner at the Indian Kitchen, many people's first time, and in the photos you can see the dancer that periodically came out and would dance some nice Indian dances. Other than the waiter forcing the nasty Kingfisher Indian beer on us, dinner was really nice. There were many 18 people there. And while we didn't move around a lot socializing, most people enjoyed getting to know someone they hadn't met before while also being with a few people they did know. After a bit of time and a lot of food, we headed down the street to Cohiba. It was a little loud and crowded inside, but it worked out for the best as more and more people showed up after they had to teach. Here's where everyone started having the first few drinks and getting to know more new people and of course, playing the infamous "dice" game. Which I finally figured out, and mostly enjoyed! We stayed there until the mood for dancing swept over everyone and we decided to go and check out the newest club on the block Teng Wai. (I have no idea if that's how it's spelt) It was an ok place, however we pretty much were the party. No one was there or dancing really, even though the music was really good. So we had some (relatively) cheap drinks and started the dancing. It was great because so many people there had never really had a chance to go out and do this, and those that had were having a great time. Funny moments were when people that don't ordinarily dance were being drug out onto the dance floor. I'm sure the pictures speak for themselves. We eventually got bored dancing without all the blatant Chinese onlookers and since we all know how much Daniel loves Red Bar, we headed across the street. It was really good fun. Not too much drunkenness, no injuries, no crying, and no fighting… and when we got back to Daniel's he got to finish up the night by talking to C.N. on the phone, so he had a great nice. Mission Accomplished! He's still thanking me for such a great time.
Then Saturday people started leaving for their vacations. It was the National Day/Mid-Autumn Festival/Moon Day, where (nearly) everyone got a week or so off of work to travel and visit family. I wasn't scheduled to leave until Monday morning, so I went out that night with some of the new teachers that just came. Or maybe that was Sunday. Hmmm, it all starts to blend together after a while.
But I've come to some conclusions about being "popular." I mean this is really my first stint with being friends with so many people. I didn't really realize it at first, I just thought of myself as having a few good friends and knowing a lot more strangers that wanted to start learning English from me. I'm actually growing closer to people and getting to learn about them. And while it feels like a good thing, I'm also scared that it's going to be a bad thing. With the foreigners it's ok because everyone here is so transient. The first battery of questions you ask someone upon first meetings are "where are you from" "how long have you been here" "how long are you staying" that way you can get a feel for the person. If the answer to the first question is different from your native country, stereotype jokes kick in. If the answer to the middle question is less than 1 year or so you can be pretty sure people are going to treat you like a baby. And if the answer to the last question is less than a month or so, you can be pretty sure you're just going to be cordial in public and not really form any sort of bond, perhaps not even remember their name.
Most of the foreigners went to exotic locales such as Thailand (Daniel & Julie, Kevin), Tibet (Sue & Wayne), Sydney (Amanda), and others. But I had the fortune of visiting the hometown village of my friend and former Teacher Assistant (TA) Serena.
I'm sure everyone has had a look at the pictures. I'm going to work on putting captions up and trying to explain some of the things. I had a really great time depsite the fact there was no western toliet the entire time. Also, all the wonderful chinese I've been learning is mandarin, and her family speaks cantonese, which I only know about 10 words, half of which are only useful in restaurants and the other half you wouldnt say in front of your grandmother, if you know what I mean.
Other interesting things of note: I'm taking Latin dance classes from the security guard here at TPR. I'm starting yoga classes hopefully as well next week. And due to financial and diet reasons I'm cutting back on gratuitous alcohol consumption. Ok, well that last part is still up for debate :)
I'm still working on the band, however, due to those same anti-alcohol financial reasons, I still won't have a saxophone for another month or so. I sold my bike because I wasn't using it as much as I'd planned. The schools I'm teaching at are a lot further this semester and when I get done in the evenings the last thing on my mind is a solitary bike ride. Lately, I've been relaxing at home with my cat and watching Lost. Stupid addictive American TV shows. I finished the first season while doing lesson plans (well, sorta doing lesson plans) this weekend. Now I think we're going to make it an after work occasion at Daniel's house on Saturday nights. TV shows and dinner.
Oh! And speaking of dinners!! I almost forgot. This is for you mom!! I had a great night of cooking Chicken Alfredo for my friends. I learned a few years ago how to make my own alfredo sauce, good thing, since they don't exactly sell it on the shelves here and if they did I couldnt read the label anyways... but yeah, it was the most amazing thing I've ever cooked I think. I had to improvise a bit, like instead of sprinkling the chicken with prepackaged lemon pepper, I marinated it with fresh lemons and finely ground pepper. The garlic bread was fresh and well it was just really good :) Everyone enjoyed it except for Daniel, who apparently just wasn't ready for the shock of oil, cheese, and butter. We don't really get that a lot in most of the chinese food here.
Ok well I'm about to go out (yet again) going to go introduce Lenny the guitarist with Carlos the chinese one. Should be a good night.
But yeah, I've been having a really really phenomenally good day today for no apparent reason. These days have been increasing more and more as well. It's strange, this... happy... thing. I've never really dealt with it before and that's been the most interesting part about China thusfar... learning more about myself each day.
Much love to everyone, I'll try to get to personal emails soon enough!!!