A few years ago in Kunming "shared bikes" started appearing. For 5 Jiao (5p) a day you could use any of the thousands of public bikes parked around the city, unlocking them by mobile phone app where you find them and leaving them wherever and whenever you've finished with them. It proved very popular at first and there are certainly a lot of good things about it. But popularity has waned a little since the early days and an increasingly noticeable problem are the "bike graveyards" - piles of unwanted bikes which you can see dumped all over the city. In theory, the people who run the system should be picking them up and transporting them to subway stations, bus stops and other places where people need to use them. But it's clearly not working very well!
Uni da job
Back to work this week after my two month Winter Holiday. I'm teaching Academic Writing to six eager (I wish) classes of students.
Today was the end of what will almost certainly be my last training for "Lattitude". Volunteer numbers have dwindled over recent years and the In-Country Training Course has been gradually whittled down from 8 days to 2 days. Lattitude seem to have sidelined their work in China and, if I'm honest, my passion for the work has lessened too. Just three volunteers attended this time, all from New Zealand, on a very rushed and "less than professional" course. I feel this part of my work has come to a natural end.
We returned to Snow Park yesterday to see the attractions we didn't get to first time round - Robot Park, Beluga Whale Show, unlimited bumper cars (the guy in charge let JD ride alone) and ice slides.
The indoor ski slope was fairly gentle, but I was still surprised at how keen JD was to have a try. Even getting to the top and donning his skis was quite a struggle for him. But he needed no encouragement to slide down the slope and wasn't fazed by falling down at high speed. After an hour or so he was exhausted. I did a couple of fairly tame runs by myself before we headed back into the "winter warmth" outside!
Slogans on Chinese clothes never fail to make me laugh but they
are often an interesting barometer of Chinese social values too.
I guess if you have to put up an ugly telecommunications
tower, you may as well disguise it as a tree!
These boxes of medicine had me scratching my head last week. It's some sort of infant's cream, but I have no idea where exactly the "Bill" and the "Hoves" come from...?
Jiajia. JD and I went to an amazing theme park the other day, along with two other families from JD’s school. The attraction has an "Ocean Park" (large aquarium, plus dolphin, seal and beluga whale shows), a "Snow Park" (huge indoor -8ºC building with slides, aerial walkways, train, skating, skiing, "live snowing", igloos etc), fairground rides and a circus! And all this just a few hour's drive outside of Kunming!
Balance of terror
Since we decided not to make any trips away this Winter holiday, my main targets were to get everything ready in our redecorated flat to move back in, and to teach JD to ride his two-wheeler bike without stabilisers. He was very nervous at first but persevered and, despite a couple of minor crashes [see above, right!] can now circle the neighbourhood without my help. Something of a rite of passage!
Spring has sprung
Yesterday was the big annual celebration here of Chinese New Year, otherwise known as Spring Festival. We had the obligatory family meal, (including Druncle) and JD enjoyed some fireworks and sparklers.
This is ƧiT
I've been giving JD daily homework during the Winter holiday - mostly English and Maths - much to his annoyance! But today I got this sheet of paper slid under the bathroom door while I was taking a shower. It's his first ever written message to me (asking if he could get off his seat). Something of a breakthrough!
JD and I joined our Vietnamese friends to investigate a new (to us) park the other day. The large lake in the middle gave us the chance to hire a boat (complete with machine gun for JD) and there were also many funfair activities, such a a digger for JD. Around the lake were lots of nooks and crannies, nice walkways and some tasty snacks.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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