to find typos and Chinglish!
So if you can't afford a shop front on Kunming's busiest street, how can you sell your stuff to passers-by? Simple - buy a nearby house, knock a hole through the back wall, install glass doors and add a ladder down to the street. Is it legal? I doubt there is a law that covers that sort of thing. This "shop" is just one of the many obstacles you have to walk around, under or over on the pavements of WenLing Street - ebikes, stalls, cars, open manholes, you name it!
The last couple of months have seen our school entrance completely refitted, and a cafe installed in what were previously two classrooms, now knocked together. It's not finished just yet, but looks increasingly smart and modern, I think. Our classes last Friday were cancelled due to a dizzy-inducing paint job, but we were back at the chalkface on Saturday and Sunday. Let's hope it leads to an influx of new students.
Four more great examples of mangled English, spotted recently:
[From top left, clockwise]
"Spring garden hands of mercy. Green grassy with careful foot."(!?)
"Aids Seal" (who knew they got the illness too?)
"The Queen never bargins" (true, but can we spell bargain right?)
"Imported Beer/fotdrinks" (I want a fotdrink!)
This is now my way of getting to work every weekend. My new little e-bike can do 60kmh and zips past traffic jams and through closed off alleyways like there's no tomorrow! Ava bought it for me last week, nominally as a half-birthday present (...plus main birthday and Christmas!). The gaffer tape is to put would-be thieves off trying to steal it, as are the TWO wheel clamp locks and built in lock and alarm. E-bike theft is a huge problem in Kunming and barely a month goes by when you don't hear of a friend or colleague having had one stolen. It means I can scoot to work in ten minutes instead of the normal 30-40 minutes by bus and I don't have to walk up the 200+ steps of our neighbourhood to get to our flat. I may be putting on weight rather soon!
It's my fifth weekly visit to the hospital for the "shockwave" treatment on my elbow. Regular readers may recall that each visit entails receiving 3000+ ultrasonic shocks to my right arm, of the kind usually used to pulverise kidney stones. It takes place in the aptly named, "Pain Clinic". The idea is that the blood vessels regrow stronger, eventually overcoming my aching "tennis elbow". So far, no real improvement, to be honest. But this is the last session before a 2 month rest to allow for some healing. Then, the doctor says, maybe more treatments will be necessary.
These posters have gone up around town, advertising the "Kunming Defense Hospital". At first I thought it was a military hospital (though a very small one, from the photo), but the name apparently comes from a poor translation of the road where it is located - "Defense Road". For me it is still something of an oddity that hospitals in China feel the need to advertise to attract patients!
I was loitering in a toyshop today and was intrigued to see this set of war figures which included two flags. The American one was obvious, but I wondered who the other one belonged to. Could this be a little insight into the Chinese way of seeing the world? Who do they think America will be fighting next? Off the top of my head it reminded me of the North Korean flag, but later a quick Google revealed it to be Russia. So no big shock there.
I spent a few hours yesterday with three Lattitude volunteers from the last intake, visiting Kunming over the May Day holiday. I took JD and we met them at Green Lake Park on a warm, sunny day. One area was plastered with photocopied signs and photos. It turns out they were all advertising for a girlfriend/boyfriend, something I'd not seen in Kunming before. There were, as you'd expect, some surprising and amusing things; firstly, almost equal numbers of men and women, secondly all the pictures had been photoshopped with candidates standing by Big Ben, on Bondai Beach, in front of huge butterflies, hovering above the Great Wall, etc! Thirdly, I was initially amazed to see adverts for people aged 86, 89 and 92, until I later realised that these were birth years, not their age! And lastly, it seems your height is the one factor that is vital to include. Most signs had no photo, but all had their height displayed prominently. But not their weight. Odd.
In conversation with our new nanny, Molly, last Friday she mentioned that she was from a town called Eshan. I told her that I had visited the Minorities Middle School there a few times to check on the Lattitude volunteers I had trained. "No way!" she exclaimed, "I was taught to speak English by Lattitude volunteers ten years ago". Small world.
The journey starts from Kunming's North Station, a bus ride away for us. Although 2-3 other trains leave the hardly-used station each day, the one to ShiZui starts at a convenient time and is only 40 minutes each way. ShiZui itself is an area in the outskirts of the city which few folk have ever heard of but, once there, the engine simply decouples and toots its way to the back of the train to make the return journey. So, apart from a few train buffs, the vast majority of passengers are parents and grandparents taking their children for a cheap (2RMB/20p return) trip out. JD was fascinated and didn't stop talking about the trip all day. We must go again soon.
Ava and I took JD for a trip on the local train once again yesterday. The last time we went was about 6 months ago but, despite Ava spotting that JD was wearing the same jacket as last time (has he stopped growing?), the trip itself felt quite different. Last time, JD was more largely oblivious to the train and more interested in his snacks and begging for sweets from fellow passengers. This time though he was really excited about the train from start to finish. So excited, in fact, that he needed three trips to the toilet (thankfully with sufficient warning each time).
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