We are amidst a very busy week. Jiajia came back from Shenzhen yesterday so she is very busy selling her new batch of clothes. Meanwhile JD starts his third year at Kindergarten, sporting his larger uniform [left]. He hasn't been looking forward to the return after a fun-filled holiday, but has managed to avoid any tears so far. One of the things he hates most about school is the requirement to nap for an hour or so midday. At home he never has a nap, preferring to go to bed early (8.30-9.00pm) whilst Chinese kids still seem to be active after 10.00pm. It's just one of many cultural differences he has to adjust to. And for me, it's the 6-monthly Lattitude training this week plus my first week back at University, so plenty of shuttling between locations and classes.
I was asked to come into my University a day early today, along with the other foreign teacher. Apparently, "educational experts" from Beijing are doing an inspection of our College and were not happy with some of our exam marking from last term. I was wondering if my marking scheme was faulty or whether I was too lenient or strict. But no, they just didn't like the pens we had used! So I had to amend all 150 essays today using a red pen instead of a green pen, add more ticks and then counter-sign the changes in black pen (but not a ball-point pen!?). Also, I had handed in each class's summary of marks as a computer printout. Shame on me - they will only accept hand-written documents!? Thankfully (and this is where it goes from plain crazy to totally bizarre) my boss's husband works at a Kunming prison and had made all the prisoners do the rewriting of the summaries for us! Unfortunately, they had then signed the documents in ...you can't make this stuff up ....black ball-point pen. So we had to cross that name out, write ours in black ink pen, and then add a College stamp to show it was an authorised change. I'm so pleased these "educational experts" have so much time on their hands! I just wish I did.
We've been living in our new, temporary flat for a couple of weeks now. It's starting to feel like home, despite occasional days without water or electricity. My little office in the corner of the living room is compact, but has a new printer to compensate. JD's got used to doing 40 minutes of "homework" with me each morning - reading and writing numbers and simple words, doing simple maths and playing educational games. He is back to Kindergarten tomorrow and I start University and Lattitude training on Tuesday.
JD and I got up at 6am yesterday in order to catch the 7.30am train to WangJiaYing and back. We've taken the 10.30am train to ShiZui and back many times - a shorter journey with a more convenient start time - so this one was something of an adventure. There were only about 20 people on the whole five coach train, so plenty of seats to choose from. It took us just over an hour to get there, through city, suburbs and countryside. Then a 50 minute wait while the engine decoupled and moved to the "back" of the train [see below]. And then the hour journey back. The highlight for JD was the many construction sites along the way.
JD and I went to a circus in Kunming at the weekend, which has recently opened in Kunming Zoo. It's 90% humans (acrobats, jugglers, clowns, trapeze, magic, dancing etc) with just some dog tricks and fancy horse riding representing the animal kingdom - so no complaints of animal cruelty here (unlike the zoo, perhaps). Although expensive, it was actually very good value with a full 90 minutes of entertainment. One of the acts seemed to have dry ice formed into the shape of JD's name [see above] which was bizarre.
A lake in LuoPing County in Northern Yunnan made international news last week after a Chinese tourist took a short video of an unknown object or animal surfacing and then diving under the water again. Many are claiming that it is the Chinese Nessie. Sceptics point out that LuoPing County doesn't even have a lake...
I'm now the proud owner of a brand new Epson L380 printer/scanner/copier. My old printer didn't survive the move to the new flat and, when I took it to a shop to see if it could be repaired, they just laughed and said it was an antique! I tried to set up the new printer today but, despite following the instructions to the letter, it was a full hour before anything printed came out and that was all in red! Another hour of trying different suggestions from online help websites and I finally got it to print properly. And to copy. But not to scan. As yet, anyhow!
JD spotted this monster on our window yesterday and we coaxed it inside for a look before taking it out to a hedge and letting it free. JD named it "Dave"! Some investigation on the net revealed it to be an "Asian Long-Horned Beetle (ALB)" - our first new flat visitor! Apparently they are something of a pest though, relentlessly destroying trees and other vegetation. Any spotted in the USA are reported and eradicated. Maybe releasing it into the wild was not such a smart move after all...?
It's exactly eleven years to the day that I started my "Ocean of Morality" blog. It was originally on a Yahoo platform but in 2009 I switched to the much superior "Weebly" site-building program. Since then I've managed to add entries at least every other day, trying to find a balance between home life, China information, work and Chinglish. The site gets around 50 unique visitors a day. If you've only ever been here for a look, I'd love for you to leave a short comment in the Guestbook.
It's taken the best part of three days. but our little flat is finally ready to move into. Everything is unpacked and tidied. JD and I have already spent two nights here, actually
We deliberately built in as much storage space as we could and, so far, it seems enough. I just wish I could stop banging my elbows and head on the various furniture and cupboard doors. It's "cosy" to say the least!
Having taught JD to ride his scooter last week I was not about to pass up his challenge yesterday to ride the scooter down a rather steep hill. "Just watch," I told him. But, as the hill got progressively steeper, I momentarily blanked on where the brake was and jumped off the scooter in a panic at a rather high speed. Cue bruises, lumps and grazes on my arm, shoulder, head and wrist! As I sat on the ground pondering whether a hospital visit was necessary, JD trotted up and said "That was so funny"! Hmmm. I'm achy, but recovering slowly, fortunately without the need for a doctor!
We've spent the last few days packing boxes and bags, deciding which furniture to move to the new flat and which to store in the garage, and helping the removals men to load and unload three van's worth of stuff. The new flat is a bit of a mess, but slowly coming together. Hope to post a short video of it soon to give some idea of where Ava, JD and I will be living for the next 6 months.
The day has finally arrived. Over the last year and a half, Jiajia and I have been saving, planning and preparing to move out of our house into a small flat for half a year, so that our current house can be transformed. This weekend we will move our packed belongings into the new flat or our garage, and then over the next six months workmen will move two internal walls, extend JD's bedroom over our balcony, put in new floors, double-glazed windows, central heating, bathroom, kitchen, cooker, microwave, washing machine, dishwasher, built-in cupboards and stairs. Quite a project. We bought a new, small flat a couple for years ago in preparation and have been getting that ready (wooden floors, plastered walls, beds, furniture, kitchen, etc). It's half the size of our current house, but Ma won't be living with us which saves space, and it's a little closer to JD's school and Jiajia's store!
JD and I spent a half day at the EXPO Horticultural Exhibition recently (followed by a cable car up the mountain to the Golden Temple and an "alpine slide" down the other side. Despite the immaculate gardens and colourful flower displays, JD's favourite sight was three mobile cranes jointly removing a huge statue! I was gobsmacked to see one of them apparently floating ...until I realised why/how!
Past blog entries