We don't get as many visitors here in Kunming as we'd like, so it was a very real pleasure to welcome Josh and his two friends Maisy and Eve to our city yesterday evening. Josh is the son of an old College friend of mine and is currently studying Chinese in Beijing as part of a degree from Newcastle University. The girls are doing similar studies, but in Hainan, in the South of China.
JD and I met them after JD's school (and term) finished today and we shared am meal of cross-the-bridge noodles. Unfortunately, the girls turned out to be vegetarians, but we managed to find some extra vegetables to add to the mix! We then had a wander around Green Lake Park. Josh looks Chinese enough to be ignored by the locals (his Mum is Chinese heritage) but the girls were quickly dragged in to dancing with the locals! It was lovely to meet them all, albeit too briefly - they take planes and trains to new places within a day or so.
JD was sent home from school last Friday with a temperature (and an official form telling us he was seriously overweight!?). His fever continued over the weekend but his main complaint was stomach pains. He had a poor appetite too but no other symptoms. By Sunday the fever had gone, but he had started a cough and was still saying his tummy hurt. The cough is now less, but he is still not eating well and gets very sleepy for no real reason.
So we took him to the hospital yesterday to get him checked out. After an ultrasound and a blood test the first doctor we saw diagnosed him as having, "an infection and bubbles in the stomach" while the second doctor said, "no infection and mild constipation". So we're still none the wiser, to be honest...!
Ma-in-law has been weeping and screaming this last week, "unable to get out of her bed" due to a bad back. I've made multiple trips across town to her 7th floor flat in response to phone calls requesting, "a glass of water from the kitchen" or "help to walk to the toilet" etc. She seems somewhat improved now since Jiajia returned from her business trip and a couple of her friends visited and gave her some attention. I'm sure she has some pain but Jiajia and I are both convinced she makes the most of it. There are clues such as the medicine she says she has been taking being on the table in the living room (how does she take that if she can't leave her bed) and signs of cooking in the kitchen. My five-year diary shows this is the third year running she's "gone ill" at this exact time, perhaps knowing that I am off work (term is over) and Jijaia is away. Suspicious timing!
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
It was supposed to be simple 1½ hour bus trip to Ganden Monastery - the second of the big three Tibetan monasteries - albeit a bus trip starting at 6.30am. Being so far West, but having to use Beijing time, Tibet doesn’t see the sun rise until about 9.30am in the Winter. So when the bus suddenly stopped after an hour it wasn’t immediately obvious why. But once we disembarked we felt thick snow underfoot and the bus driver made it clear that the road got too steep from here onwards. The pilgrims seemed keen to set off on foot but then they would, right? For them it was a religious mission...
I quickly hooked up with two Tibetan teachers (brother and sister) who were able to explain in mutually clunky Mandarin that they’d been here before and it wasn’t too much further by foot, “....just 29 hairpin bends, but we can take shortcuts”! Because of Tibet's altitude I was gasping for air before we started. It was pitch black with slippery, ankle-deep snow. But thanks to the encouragement and helping hands of teachers “Jin” and “Zhuo” we made the two hour climb together in time for a steaming hot breakfast of dumplings in the monastery canteen. What a start to 2009!
One of JD's ex-teachers gave him a choice of Christmas presents - a dancing robot or a 180 piece coloured pencil set. Pleasingly, he went for the latter. So this last weekend he and I together drew a huge picture of an aircraft carrier (JD's latest obsession) complete with sharks, tanks, octopus and flower pot!
After over a year, our renovated and redecorated flat is now 95% finished (just a washing machine to buy and the staircase to put in) and we hope to gradually move back over the next month or two. No great rush. It helps that the Winter holidays are upon us - JD and I have 6 weeks off. So we make make multiple trips in the car to take over the few bits and pieces from our current flat that we need to move back (toys, clothes, crockery, computer etc).
It sometimes seems a little strange to watch my son carrying the Chinese flag so proudly and singing the Chinese National Anthem so passionately. Of course he is Chinese by birth, and yet so British in his thinking and language. I wonder how he will look back on his childhood here when he is an adult?
My students finished their final exams last week and I've been doing the consequent paperwork ever since. My University has such an "efficient" system - they give you spreadsheets to record the marks. Then, after printing this out, you have to transcribe all the scores onto a blank printout by hand. Finally, you give this in to the University admin people who then type it all back onto the University computers! Some forms have to be done in black ink, some in red ink and some in fountain pen. It is all so archaic, confusing and prone to error! 150 students, 12 separate marks each - you do the maths!
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