Here in my car...
Being a huge Gary Numan fan (yes, he's still going strong), my eyes lit up at the name of this noodle store which I spotted while driving past the other day! "NuMian" actually means "flint noodles" which leaves me none the wiser.
This writing I recently spotted on a pair of JD's trousers has some bemusing Chinglish. It so nearly makes sense, but the more you think about it the more confusing it gets. Is that meant to be "THE MOMENT" above or "THE WOMEN"? Is "DON'T COM SOLO" a Star Wars reference or something a whole lot ruder? And what has any of that got to do with "THE CARNIVAL". As ever, any thoughts would be welcome!
Reverting to type
I went to a restaurant the other day which was decorated by "recent antiques" including this typewriter. It brought back all sorts of memories from my childhood, when I used to spend happy afternoons typing out simple sentences about life, my parents and brothers. I still have some of them. Other memory-joggers included a 1.44Mb floppy disk drive which is something I used to repair when I worked in I.T. a couple of decades ago. How fast technology moves on!
It's that time of year again - a merry band of teenage volunteers arrived yesterday to complete a week of training before heading off to their placements for five months of English teaching. A small group of just half-a-dozen this time which should make it quite informal and fun.
Winning the poo
There's been a huge increase in the number of pet dogs in our neighbourhood over the last year, with an equivalent increase in the amount of dog poo plastered all over the grassy area where JD and other kids used to play. I've had a go at a few of the dog owners who make no effort to clear up after their pooches, but I just get shrugs or embarrassed smiles ("strange foreigner!"). So today I made a dozen signs and asked the management office if I could put them up. Shrugs from them. And this morning, JD and I went poo-hunting and labelled the stools, much to the bemusement and, in a few cases, congratulatory thumbs-up of the locals. I took some photos and went back to the management office to show them how much was there and what I'd done. Shrugs again. I doubt the signs will be still there in a few days or that the dog owners will show any more respect, but you can but try. It made me feel better anyway!
Yes, ta! Was in Thailand
While Ava was buying all sorts of crafts and ornaments in Thailand, I was looking after JD and trying to find something of interest for me. Then I spied a shop selling "in jokes" from various movies and I fell in love with this picture. So it now hangs in our bedroom and Ava has yet to fully grasp the underlying humour
Boys, noise, toys and joys
JD spent today with new friends Zaden and Kaiya. They are the daughters of Nancy (an American Born Chinese colleague of mine at my University) and her husband Nam Sung (an American Born Korean). We bumped into them on the plane back from China from Thailand and booked today's playdate. The kids played with JD's toys in the morning and then, after lunch, rode bikes to the swings and slides for a runaround and ice-creams. Then back to chill out in front of Bob the Builder [see photo]. A lovely day enjoyed by all.
JD kept going on about "clothes in the tree" yesterday and it wasn't until I looked more closely that I realised what he was referring to. People here hang clothes from their windows to dry and I suspect this shirt on a coat hanger had dropped from an upstairs flat and caught on a branch on the way down. It was certainly too high for anyone to have hung it there deliberately. I wonder if they'll bother to try and get it down again?
We had a nice meal at our friends, Catherine and LiZhen this evening. Their daughter, AiRan really hit it off with JD and they played together for hours (and she donated a boxful of toys to him too). JD also loved their piano. He sang the song he imagined he was playing and, whilst the notes weren't right, the timing was and he was in his own musical world!
We returned home to China today to find we still only have running water for 1-2 hours a day in our neighbourhood! The weather is still chilly, but there's no hot water for showering.
It was a good holiday overall, despite Ma-in-law's constant complaints and screwed up face at every new food, location or experience. I doubt we'll be taking her on future trips! JD certainly made the most of returning to his bed. Can it really be that much more comfortable to sleep sideways?
Rise and shrine
We're back in Bangkok. Jiajia has been keen to visit the Erawan Shrine; not the largest temple in Bangkok but the most famous. She said she wanted to pray to the Buddha there (despite me pointing out that it was actually a statue of Brahma, a Hindu god!). Beside the shrine are groups of musicians and dancers who will perform for a fee as you pray. It was fun to watch them, but they must get so bored!
I'd read that the Erawan shrine was the target of a bombing last year, killing 27 people so, when I saw an unattended backpack on a bench, I thought it wise to alert one of the guards. He rather sheepishly explained it was his bag and quickly moved it out of sight. Better safe than sorry!
JD is loving the sea, the beach and the swimming pool, usually in that order. If pushed, his favourite would be digging. The sea and pool are warm enough to swim in (just), though the beating sun limits how long you can stay out. But with our hotel room a few minutes away we can pop out and indulge whenever we like [Ava and JD below].
The Truth, the whole Truth...
We walked to this temple from our hotel this morning. It's easily visible from our beach. Called "The Sanctuary of Truth", it's more of a tourist trap these days and we quickly decided not to spend £10 (100RMB) each to go inside, taking our photos from a nearby viewpoint instead.
Before leaving though we did have a short horse and cart ride and let JD feed some goats, rabbits and a horse. I suspect that will be more memorable for him in the long run and our holiday is, after all, largely planned around giving him new and fun experiences.
Put up in Pattaya
We've travelled south from Bangkok to Pattaya. The centre of the town is a rather seedy, westernised mess but we deliberately chose a hotel some way outside and we've ended up in a nice double chalet with interconnecting doors and a view of the sea. The main hotel is a 2 minute walk away with a private beach and swimming pools. The only downside is that 95% of the people staying in the hotel are Russians and I've never met a grumpier and ruder nationality. Even JD's cheery smile and wave only gets a stare or a frown.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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