I got to go to Beijing with two friends and since then I’ve been playing catch up with my classes. I did want to share some photos of some spirited dances we happened on in Beihai Park. They’re dressed in Uighyr traditional attire. The Uyghurs live in Xinjiang, western China. They’ve been in the news quite a bit lately.
Their dancing was joyful. Such a pleasant surprise. China offers great serendipity.
Getting to Red Leaf Valley is no mean feat. It took us over 2 hours to get there. While that’s what our friends’ directions told us to expect, I thought we could do better since we had these directions. We weren’t expat pioneers, while they had been. I thought we were leaving early enough by going at 8:30 am, now I’d advise someone to leave at 7.
We met some students who suggested we take a different bus to the first bus, which I think we should have ignored. Anyway that second bus was packed by the time we got to it, so we wound up taking a cab, which helped us make up some time. As you’d expect from the name Red Leaf Valley was aflame with red and gold this time of year. Hordes of people go there to see the foliage at its peak. They have several trails, a couple temples, a pond, tree houses and play equipment for children. While it’s a bit built up for the likes of say, John Muir, I enjoyed getting out and breathing some fresh air. The entrance fee is 60 rm, which is pricey, but they have discounts for seniors.
Getting back we squeezed on to a packed city bus. In hindsight, I recommend walking to the bus stop before Red Leaves Valley so you aren’t standing for 90 minutes or more.
As part of the 10th China Art Festival here in Jinan, some friends and I got to go to the Murcia Flamenco Ballet Company’s Carmen.
It blew me away. Such passion! such color! Such dancing!
I’ve been thinking about it all day. I’d go back again if last night weren’t the last night. It was just perfect. Now I think all Carmen’s should have flamenco dancing. It just seems natural.
I’d forgotten how much I love Spanish guitar music. I don’t hear it at all in China, or much in the US. I’ve got to buy some CDs or sound files to have on hand.
The performance was so outstanding that it overshadowed the bad behavior in the audience. A lot of people, not just a few, a lot brought their toddlers. Some brought older children, but there were more kids under 6 then there were between 6 and 18. At $30 a ticket, a baby sitter would have been a good idea, though in China they don’t really have them. Grandparents watch the children – all the time. It’s their duty and joy, it seems. Down the row there was a tot with a dirty diaper for a good part of the show before intermission. In front of us was a 5 year old who squirmed and made noise for an hour before his father gave him a cell phone to play with.
I’m not sure Carmen’s good for older children, or not this production because there’s some very sexy dancing with Don Jose and Carmen. I wonder how the parents explained that part.
I hate sounding like a crank. I understand and support people introducing their children to the arts, but other shows are on during the festival. The Nutcracker’s a much better choice as would be traditional Tibetan dance. Both are part of the festival.
Today a “new” student came to my class of hooligans. He’s not “new” he’s just missed 18 classes because he stayed in his hometown to take driving lessons. He’s missed six weeks of all his classes. He’s retaking English 3 because he failed last year.
He came up to me with a mopey expression saying, “I don’t have a book.” Well, I don’t distribute the books so that’s not my problem. He lacked the foresight to bring paper or a notebook or any sort of folder to put papers in. In my class you’re allowed 4 absences. After that you lose a point off your final grade for each additional absence. So his current grade is -14.
Then another girl joined the class last week. She changed her major. In China, changing a major is just not done. Half the people in a major don’t want that major, but they stick with it. I have no idea why they let her change after the semester began. She sits in the back and doesn’t want to do anything with anyone.
Today I told them both to meet me at 4pm in room 608 to review what they’ve missed. By 4:05pm neither had shown up. I checked other classrooms that they might have gone to, but neither were there. I left by 4:10pm. If they want to catch up, it’s up to them.
Since there was no sign of Mary or Joseph, I think this is a Protestant church
Such simplicity, beauty
Let’s Hug It Out
Clear skies and warm temperatures made this the perfect day for a morning walk. I took bus 45 to Daming Lake and then walked around the lake and over by an area along a small canal with lots of shops and cafes. It’s like a smaller version of Suzhou or the Philosopher’s Walk in Kyoto.
The alleyway ends up all the way down by food street.
Hŭ tóu shé wĕ is translated “tiger’s head, snake’s body.” This Chinese saying describes how things can start out well with a project or partnership and then (all too soon) the quality fades. In the book Poorly Made in China, this saying is mentioned a lot as it is how the Chinese like to do things all too often.
I saw this at Xiang Jiang High School where I taught for Coastline Community College. They cut back on time spent teaching English, on resources, but not on tuition. It’s happened with the Australian program here and my program. When I first started teaching here students got 10 hours a week of English. Now they get 8. Next year some freshmen will get 4 hours with the others soon to follow suit as they did with the Univ. of Tasmanian students. When all the first years get 4, then all the other students will just get 6. They’ll have more time mainly for test prep with the Chinese English teachers, some are fine and others aren’t. The less skilled Chinese English teachers just talk about English in Chinese. It’s the best they can do. They use a lot of rote learning. As these hours with Western educators decreases, the students will be less prepared to take on the daunting task of business or technology classes in English.
The program becomes a Potemkin Village, with a high price tag.
The ever popular Hello Kitty beckons shoppers to this jewelry shop. She reminds me of a story I heard. A colleague worked with a woman in her late 20s who surrounded herself with Hello Kitty toys and images. Finally, the man had to ask. “What’s up with all the Hello Kitty paraphernalia?”
The woman explained, “She’s such a good role model.”
As i’m dealing with multiple computer problems: the disappearance of my Firefox, my computer’s refusal to let me download it or any programs now, an outdated browser that I can’t upgrade, not to mention the ever present warning “You may be the victim of counterfeit software” (I definitely am). I’m trying to straighten this all out, but was curious about internet speed. Many of my neighbors complain it’s sluggish and I don’t dispute it, though I do get Netflix fine so I’m happy enough.
A colleague shared a link that allows people to see their speed compared with others. I’m not surprised that this is slow, but was to see that we’re slower than 79% of China. Wow. That is slow.
Today I’m attaching the problem. I’m backing up files before I restore the system, download a new version of Windows and hop into the current era. Thank God being a graduate student allows me to download software cheaply if not for free.
If you need to stay near Beijing’s Airport, the Crowne Plaza is a good choice. It’s not as expensive as the Hyatt and offers a free shuttle outside gate 5, which leaves ever 30 minutes. I checked out the Ibis Hotel, but the photos shown online posted by guests indicated that the rooms had a lot of wear and tear.
I knew I’d be exhausted and wanted a clean, quiet, comfortable room. I got that at a good price, since I used my affinity club points ($40). All the non-smoking rooms were booked. I naively thought nowadays a smoking room wouldn’t smell. Wrong. The first room I was taken to had a cigarette stench. Yuck. I told the bell boy this was more than I could handle and I wouldn’t be able to sleep. A few minutes after talking to the front desk, I was in a bigger, more fresh smelling suite. I was delighted by their prompt service and ability to make sure I was happy and able to sleep well.
As a Priority Club member, I was entitled to a free welcome drink. Here’s a tip. Remember that China’s wine isn’t the greatest. Don’t order it as it just won’t match what a Westerner is used to. Get a beer or soft drink. It’s not the hotel’s fault, they aren’t in the wine business. Since I was leaving the next day for Jinan, the airport hotel made sense.
If you’re staying to sightsee, go into the city, the closer to Tianamen Square the better.