A dozen workmen (and women) have been digging huge trenches around our neighbourhood roads over the last few days. Nobody seems to know why. JD asked one of the workers and he said he thought it was to drain excess water. But we live at the top of a hill and never get any flooding. Jiajia declined to ask the workers saying, "It's none of my business"!? There seem to be trucks down the hill carrying large plastic pipes, so it may well be a water thing!
The Secret Forest reopened again yesterday and so, with some trepidation, we went to check out the den. It looked fine from the outside [above], but a check inside showed that the roof had basically collapsed [below]. So, while JD and Jiajia made mud bricks (for reasons I have yet to work out), I spent three hours rebuilding the roof. It's by no means fully repaired yet, but the main beams are back up again and I now have another job added to my holiday list of things to do!
There's recently been a big storm of controversy in China about some pictures found in a Primary School maths textbook. Parents apparently complained that some the cartoons of the Chinese children were, "ugly, unpatriotic and even pornographic"! Examples included pictures of students having "western wide-set eyes", wearing shirts with (American!?) stars on them and "bulges in boys' trousers"!? Bizarre!
Now this moral panic has spread to all educational institutions. Thus, yesterday, I was summoned to my University to submit all my recently used textbooks for vetting. My boss [right] flicked through the books for pictures of an inappropriate political, cultural or religious flavour. Of course, he found nothing. These are, after all, textbooks produced in China, chosen by the University themselves and which the teachers are forced to use. So they now need to check if they are appropriate? And they don't even have their own copies? It's all very Chinese!!
After four postponements due to China's zero-COVID policy, the UN had finally lost patience with Kunming and moved the COP15 Biodiversity Conference to Montreal, Canada. Delayed for over two years, the conference will still be run by Chinese officials, but now in a place which doesn't still insist on a 2-week quarantine for those entering the country. Kunming has, for two years, been plastered with signs, displays and slogans proudly displaying the upcoming COP15. So, it's somewhat embarrassing to have finally lost it!
Yesterday I took a little trip out to a park I've not visited before. The park itself was nothing special, but en route I did walk past a cat-petting café! I've heard about them before - you buy a drink/snack and while you sip and nibble you can stroke the dozens of cats there - but I've never actually seen one before now.
I'm actually allergic to cats, so I wasn't tempted in the least. And with the café looking very empty, I'm not sure many other folk are either.
JD went to the dentist with a couple of wobbly teeth last week. The dentist said they would come out by themselves if he "...ate some sticky candy". JD duly ate some sticky candy and they duly came out! But, whilst there, the dentist also said that JD would probably need some sort of braces within a few years, as there isn't enough space for his teeth to come out straight. Laster, we went to a specialist children's dentist to get another opinion. They confirmed that he would need 1-2 years of braces, and sooner rather than later. But their preferred solution would cost 160,000RMB (£2000) which seems extraordinarily expensive (especially in China). So we are going to get a third opinion/cost in the Summer holidays, before deciding what course of action to pursue. That's one expensive child!
My term finished today after a week and a half of exams. As usual, some of the students tried their luck at cheating - such as this tiny essay hidden under a student's desk, spotted by me within two minutes of the exam starting. In the past I reported this sort of thing to the University authorities. They reluctantly made the students concerned take a resit exam the following term (which I was told they "had" to pass). And this meant me having to write a whole new exam for just a couple of lazy miscreants. So these days I just dispose of the cheating evidence and make the student continue to write the essay unaided. A lot less hassle for everyone. So now, after I've marked about 150, holidays beckon.
JD went out to play on his scooter the other evening. After failing to come home at the agreed time, I spent over an hour searching for him around our neighbourhood while Jiajia rang her Mum (phone turned off), the guards at the main gate (not seen JD) and - almost - the police.
Ma eventually rang back and confirmed JD was with her, "helping her play mahjong" in her friend's house. Neither had thought to let us know. Both got a telling off once they returned!
So, for now, JD is taking care to let us know where he is at all times. Hence the note above, left on the office door sometime last night, in case we wondered why he wasn't in his bed this morning!
We had a very hot half-day at Kunming's Botanical Gardens today, courtesy of Jiajia's VIP status at the Bank of China, who invited us to attend a Children's Day activity there. It started with a treasure trail, followed by light refreshments. Then an hour's guided tour around the large greenhouses (the world's first greenhouse was built here in 200BC!). And finally, a craft activity, sticking and labelling botanical specimens. JD's was deemed good enough to be framed as a prize.
Jiajia, JD and I had a further explore of the park by ourselves for an hour before taking a taxi to a newly opened noodle bar for a late lunch, and then back home for a well-earned rest!
Carnivorous plants (pitcher plant, venus fly trap, sundew)
YongFeng Zen Temple is small, but quiet and colourful - a ten minute e-bike drive from my university. I spotted it on the map a few months ago and took the chance to find it and have a little explore during my lunch break last week. The only people I saw there were a few women having a chat while they ate snacks. No sign of any monks, though they may have been eating or napping. I've spotted another Temple not too far away too, which I'll try and take a look at next week sometime.
Well, after my favourite team Everton spent most of this season bumping along the bottom of the Premier League table, yesterday was a must-win game to secure us a place in the Premiership.
We were losing 2v0 at half time, but a stunning comeback in the second half resulted in a 3v2 win and a pitch invasion from the amazing fans! I'm so pleased. It's been a really nervy few months!
Past blog entries