A Travellerspoint blog

Gracious Beyond Measure

Chinese Kindness Abounds

As westerners in a city that seldom sees foreigners, we are often in unusual situations. People are curious...heads turn almost 360 degrees, especially since Brianna has blond hair. It is a miracle that we have not been the cause of car and motor bike wrecks as we walk the streets.
Yet everyone is unfailingly polite and greets us with smiles. One evening at the hotel restaurant we were dining alone. The waiter brought his 8 year old son over to take a picture with us. The boy joined us in the booth, began drawing on an art program on his dad's cellphone very intently. He paused to ask if Brianna's eyes were blue or green. After 20 minutes or so he had a masterpiece...a child's simple drawing of a head with big blue eyes, red lips and yellow hair.
One of my student's daughters age 10 makes beautiful paper cuttings. She has sat in on class a few times and is very lovely. she brought me some cuttings as a gift.
Our hosts, a rotating set of teachers, have been great fun and eat both lunch and dinner with us. They are very different personalities and each very enjoyable to be with. We've been to an incredible number and variety of eating establishments. In each place, the hospitality is warm and the food interesting and sometimes even unusual. The majority of places one has a round table with a large glass lazy susan. We are usually in a small room for just that table. This week we have eaten in a number of places that are described as "peasant houses" although they are modern homes in the middle of the city. Each has a bit of yard, and apparently if you live in the home and grow some vegetables you can have a room where you serve food and then do not have to pay taxes. The food is very fresh and prepared just for you. There is no sign indicating a restaurant. The dishes --a small plate, cup, soup bowl, soup spoon and glass come in a shrink wrap container. The logo says clean and healthy in Chinese. These are widely used in small restaurants since they do not have dish washing facilities. We find it pretty comforting.
The people at the hotel are lovely, this week we came in one day to find plates with bananas and cherrry tomatoes on the table. We sort of feel like gnomes as we go about the hotel peering in at wedding celebrations and birthday gatherings. The doormen are too polite to laugh at us in our elegant 2 yuan rain ponchos, but we did see a bit of a chuckle. When we return, they are at the ready with plastic bags for wet umbrellas...so we don't drip on the granite lobby floors. Each evening husekeeping brings by our China Daily newspaper, the breakfast ticket and a little slip noting the expected weather and temperature. We're waiting for one that does not have the rain box checked. Sixteen days in and I have yet to meet or encounter anyone who is irritable, rude or in anyway disagreeable...pretty amazing.[270_IMG_0501.jpgIMG_0449.jpg

Posted by annhcrowley 07:33 Comments (0)

LOST IN TRANSLATION

It is the small things that make travelling interesting

Inside probably every hotel room in the world is a notice of exits and information in case of emergency. Our hotel is no exception.
" SECURITY SCATTERING SKETCH MAP"
Declaration

  • Please don't worry if a fire is occurring, our hotel have owned succor scattering facilities to be sure you transmitted safely.
  • Please follow the direction route to the information corridor and there safeguards will take you out to the security belt.
  • Point profess your excellency seat.

Well that certainly puts ones mind at ease.

"Treasure your life" is another admonition we have taken to heart.

Posted by annhcrowley 07:04 Comments (0)

FIREWORKS

Everyday

In Yizheng fireworks are an everyday, anytime of the day occurence. People set off fireworks to celebrate weddings, birthdays, special events even funerals. Virtually every evening we've been treated to huge fireworks displays as we look out over the city from our ninth floor room.
A few evenings ago, while at a restaurant, we were treated to a massive barrage of percussion fireworks, only a tad startling. The people celebrating have the restaurant folks light them off right out on the sidewalk. Smoke billowed everywhere. Some mornings as early as 6:00a.m. we hear fireworks from nearby and farther away. In class we hear them. It is pretty amazing. Last night we had the best display yet. It must have been a super fancy wedding. The fireworks went on for a full 15 minutes sometimes 3 or 4 at once. It was like a display a city would put on for 4th of July. When walking along, passing restaurants, one often sees the spent cartridges stacked up from the prior evening. We're not sure if there are any regulations concerning them but it would seem not here in Yizheng. It's the Plum Rainy season so certainly no danger of fire here.

Posted by annhcrowley 18:38 Comments (0)

FOOD ADVENTURES

Everyday a new surprise in Yizheng

We've mastered breakfast at our hotel, an expansive buffet. We have a yogurt, coffee, a bread of some sort, sometimes a "bacon" or a fried egg, sort of drowned in oil and yangzhou rice. Since the rest of the day is always a dietary adventure we are sticking to the basics. There are many other choices but we have given ourselves permission to be boring at breakfast.
Lunch is another matter altogether. Our hosts provide all our meals. Initially we had lunch at the school canteen. Now we are taking lunch with one or two of our hosts at a restaurant. Every meal has hot water as a beverage because the water must be boiled. Sometimes plain, sometimes tea. Then come the courses. We are never sure how many but usually at least four. Today a large bowl with a cooked whole fish,eyes in tact, arrived first It was just the meat of the fish not the insides this time. We plucked the meat off the bones with our chopsticks. It was very delicious and had quite a bit of spice. Next a very large pot of soup arrived. It contained bits of ham, some kind of white fish, pork balls, some sort of dumpling balls, many green vegetables, red peppers in a yellowish broth. Might have been happier not knowing the pale brown items were skin of pork, it is really harder than one might think to not ask. The upside is one can pluck out of the vat the items that seem identifiable. It was also very good. Then a small triangle platter arrived with perhaps cooked chives or onion stems of some sort mixed with prawns. I ate the greens, Brianna attempted a prawn. Next a large bowl of greens in a quite pink sauce..beet maybe...hard to tell. Then we each were given small individual bowls of rice.
Dinner tonight was at a restaurant known for its boiled duck. Brianna and I had a Tsingtao in addition to hot water. They cook the duck in very large ceramic pots over gas cookers outside at the front of the restaurant. Before the main course we had a platter of fresh cucumber
sauteed in garlic. Then a spicy platter of eggplant cooked in oil arrived. Next a plate of deep fried small pieces of chicken cooked with pineapple and red pepper came. Then with a flourish the cook, a small, totally bald, muscular fellow brought the huge ceramic bowl of boiled duck. The pot had lots of dumplings as well as duck parts. There were also dark brown things which we thought perhaps were tofu or bean curd. The dish was very fragrant and tasty. It was only after the meal we learned the dark brown items,which we had enjoyed, were a delicacy--duck blood. Who knew...

Posted by annhcrowley 07:43 Comments (1)

Feeling at Home

Daily Life in Yizheng

Although we have only been here a short while we are feeling very much at home. Our hotel is most accomodating and we are the only westerners staying here. Everyone seems to know where we are and anticipate our needs. We live about a 5-10 minute walk through some paved alleyways to our school. It is an easy trip and probably impossible to get lost. Wending our way to school we go by many small garden plots and see lots of people on motor bikes, scooters, bicycles and all kinds of contraptions.
The past two days we have had some heavy rains, the upside is much cooler weather. From our ninth floor vantage point we can watch the chaos that is typical China traffic. The rains have made it even more amazing. Horn honking is a bit of an art here and we are trying to figure out what it means. All types of conveyances toot and honk...sometimes in lieu of a turn signal, sometimes as a warning like I'm not stopping. Bikes, scooters and motorcycles apparently do not have to obey traffic signals, so even though the crossing light is green for pedestrians they do not have the right of way. Dodging small motorized vehicles is a constant state of being. They are everywhere and not just in the street.
Our hosts have been terrific.We have breakfast at the hotel. We eat lunch at the school each day and someone meets us for dinner at 6:00 in the evening. Susie is our main host. She has excellent English, is married with a 3 year old daughter and is vivacious and very fun to be with. Tonight we went to a HOT POT restaurant and then the three of us went shopping and strolled around the city center. Before we knew it, it was 9:30 so we hopped into a taxi and headed back to the hotel.
The hotel staff leave us an English newspaper,a slip with the next day's weather forecast and our breakfast ticket in the room every evening while we are out.
After class each day we get back to the hotel, have a bit of refreshment and prepare lessons for the next day. Our students are lovely mostly in their mid to late 20's. All of them are teachers in either Primary or Middle School. After just a couple of days we have a real sense of community with them. They are curious about everything and have lots of questions. IMG_0275.jpglarge_IMG_0274.jpg

Posted by annhcrowley 07:27 Comments (0)

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