There seems to be an awful lot of roadworks in Kunming these days. Some are due to the ever-expanding subway while others seem to be for laying drainage pipes. I had a bit of a giggle at these blue signs, reminding cars to drive on the road and pedestrians to walk on the pavement. Well, who knew?
We spent the last couple of days on a final holiday trip before JD returns to school next week. We had been invited to join four other families at a spa resort nestled in the mountains of LuQuan. It's a winding 2½ hour drive there and back, but the views are spectacular. The spa hotel was surprising nice and the various pools were clean and ranged from warm to piping hot. There was also a kid's water play area and an outdoor swimming pool.
And with a good restaurant/snack bar, new friends, dry weather and amazing surrounding scenery - what more could you ask for?
Yesterday, we went with friends to an island town on TangLangChuan (literally "Praying Mantis River") in the countryside, about an hour's drive away. We had home-cooked banquets with friends of our friends and took a pleasant afternoon walk down the riverside to the enormous DianChi Lake. Then, on to a farm where we pulled up fresh vegetables for the evening meal and annoyed a huge goose.
JD's favourite activity was fishing in the river with his new net. He managed to catch three little minnows. For me, it was nice to spend a little quiet time with the wife, with mobile phones turned off!
I saw this sign in a public toilet the other day. Apart from the confusion between "sweeping" and "mopping", I was bemused as to why they were asking the toilet-users to do the job. And what does the tagline bottom left mean? ..."Patriotic Health Seven Special Actions"?? What's patriotic about mopping a toilet and what are the other Six Actions?
So a new year starts in China. We celebrated with a big meal (cooked by Jiajia - Ma is "dying with cancer" again i.e. she has a sore throat), a visit from Druncle, and JD's fireworks. This time last year we were returning from our holiday in Vietnam and hearing news of a possible new pandemic in China. How things move on....!
We shared a nice pre-Spring Festival banquet with families of JD's old Kindergarten friends last week. The other fathers got gradually drunker through the evening and were loud and tactile when Jiajia told them I had got my green card ("You are us Chinese", they slurred in broken English, hugging me!).
But towards the end of the meal they insisted on lighting up, as usual, despite me pointing out the very obvious "No Smoking" signs behind them. A fume-filled end to an otherwise lovely get-together.
Last week saw Kunming's worst violence since the 2014 Railway Station terrorist attack. A crazy guy in his 50s stabbed students as they left school, killing two and holding one hostage. Police eventually shot him dead. it was the High School to which JD's Primary School is attached and the school gates where it happened are 200m from Jiajia's store. All very unexpected and seemingly pointless.
We spent a fun day yesterday at "Yunnan Colourful Paradise" - the biggest theme park in Yunnan, an hour's drive away. Joining us were JD's best school friend GuoDingEr and her parents. Together, we went on some rides, watched some shows, saw a big parade and ate some snacks. The day ended with a spectacular water display and firework show. As you can see below, I am not a fan of scary rides and regret being pressured into two of them! Nightmare! JD had a blast, though.
JD and I climbed a mountain near Kunming today for vegetarian lunch in the temple and some spring water.
JD's Primary School held their "End of Term Closing Ceremony" this morning and JD had a nice surprise, winning an award for "Most Improved Student" in his class! Admittedly this represents improving from last place to "5th from last" (in written Chinese anyhow, with a score of 85%), but all his other exam grades were 95-100% and he has indeed worked very hard this term. It's nice to have that recognised.
JD's Primary School have been ramping up the homework these last two weeks in preparation for the upcoming end-of-term exams. We pay for an "after-school club" to pick him up from school each day at 3.30pm and then one of their teachers goes through his homework, corrections and review with him until it's all finished. They also feed him. At first he managed to finish everything by about 7pm but more recently it's sipped to 8pm or 9pm and this week he hasn't left before 10pm. I get him home for a quick shower and then straight to bed, poor kid.
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