The cough and cold I had last week didn't improve and a CT scan a few days ago confirmed a diagnosis of pneumonia. So I'm currently on a course of antibiotics. And they're not cheap! £7.50 for a box that looks fairly substantial but only contains three tiny tablets. I need to take nine! The timing is really annoying too, with Halloween weekend being the busiest of our school year. I usually give it 100%, dressing up, screaming and shouting in the corridors and scaring the pants off all the students. I've already prepared my outfit and lessons for this year, but I'm starting to realise I won't be able to go in (and my students will miss all the fun). I still have a hacking cough and I'm getting exhausted after climbing a flight of stairs or standing up for too long. Really frustrating, but I think I need to go with head over heart. It's an infection that kills 4 million people a year around the world, after all!
Sitting at a table outside a restaurant the other day, I actually witnessed a cat catch a mouse ...well, more of a rat, I'd say. I've seen them do that on cartoon shows many a time, but until this week I've never seen it in real life. All I need now is to see a dog chasing a cat and an elephant scared by a mouse and my wishlist of cartoon caricatures is complete.
Ava and I had to visit the hospital together this week, her for a possible thyroid problem, me for my failing eyes! Hospitals in China are a particularly grim place to be but, as ever, our good friend "DL" helped us bypass the queues and get seen in an hour, rather than the usual half a day. Plus these Chinglish examples on the hospital's information board left me chuckling.
Some of the best Chinglish in town is to be found at the many "Carrefour" stores. This supermarket branch is French-owned, but somehow manages to mangle the English on their signs even more than most Chinese-owned stores. Or maybe it's just that they actually do have English translations, whereas Chinese stores often don't bother? Or, perhaps most likely, it's the French owners feeling aggrieved that they have to use English and not their own language?! In any case, it always encourages me to bring along a camera and see what nonsense they've come up with this time!
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
My toilet exploded today! As I showered beside it this morning (they are in the same place), I did notice there was an unusual build up of water on the floor - but it was early and I was tired! So after a quick “No.2” I made the fatal mistake of flushing!! Kerboom!! And now I’m awash in things you don’t want to know about! The school arranged a man to sort it out “by noon” but, by my 3pm lesson, there was still no sign of him. My lesson was cancelled though (someone had double-booked the classroom) and he finally made it at 4ish. He had a look, hammered 14 nails into various walls (while waiting for someone to bring the right tool for the loo) and promptly disappeared...?
He came back a few hours later with his wellies on! Worrying! After a couple of hours wading around at the back of the flat I was told it was safe to shower and do number ones but, alas, no number twos for 4 days (is this a little too much information for you?). They want to “dig a hole and line it with concrete”!? I fear after 4 days it’ll need to be very thick concrete!!
I took my first trip on Kunming's new(ish) subway this week, along with JD, Ava and our Nanny. At the moment it only runs North-South under the city, but a more useful (to us) West-East line is already under construction and, sometime after that, we are due to have a station built quite near our house on one of the further lines planned. I have to say it was clean, modern and cheap enough (3RMB, 30p for a 20 minute trip). With traffic congestion getting worse by the day here, it might provide a travel solution of sorts as more stations open.
On a recent trip into the countryside, we saw this old building which still has signage showing that it used to be a storage facility for the People's Liberation Army (PLA). The face on the left would be instantly recognisable to any Chinese person. Lei Feng was a common soldier whom Chairman Mao highlighted as being a particularly selfless and tireless worker for the PLA. Chinese children have, ever since, been encouraged to "follow the example of Lei Feng". I sometimes throw his name into my classes, to the giggles of the students who take a lot of their school's moral education with a large pinch of salt. Actual historical facts about Mr Lei have proven very hard to pin down, however, and some think he was just picked at random to be a poster-boy and role-model for the masses. An early reality star, of sorts.
A nearby city in SW China recently introduced special walking lanes for people who want to dawdle along, playing with their mobile phone, while other people who actually want to get somewhere can use the express walking lane. It makes a lot of sense to me, as slow, aimless pedestrians are one of my pet hates. What do you think?
We flew home today, minus Jiajia who is staying in Shenzhen for a few more days to do her normal work there. The Shenzhen airport have child-friendly luggage trolleys, and JD loved pretending to fly us home before the plane actually left! He has coped really well again with being in a new place, with different weather and routines and without key people at various points. He had a bit of a cry on the plane, but was cheery enough once we landed and got home.
[...and that's the last JD-centric blog post for a while, promise!]
We were really disappointed to find out that our Shenzhen neighbourhood's swimming pool had been drained "for the winter". JD loved it last time and with daily temperatures of over 35ºC we'd hoped they would have stayed operational for a little longer! Not to be deterred, we let JD loose with a hosepipe on the flat's balcony leading to all sorts of chaos.
And then today, he had even more fun. We discovered a newly-opened shopping mall complex surrounded by huge cranes (JD just loves cranes!) and with a helicopter zipping overhead (JD screaming with delight). And ...dancing fountains! well, he got so excited we didn't have the heart to restrain him and within five minutes of arriving he was soaked through, much to the delight of a growing crowd of onlookers! Who needs a swimming pool, eh?
Jiajia, JD and I have been joined by Ma-in-law for a week to Shenzhen - only the second flight Ma's ever taken. It's a chance for her to see somewhere new, spend more time with JD and for our Nanny to have a break from JD (...and Ma!)
The weather here is hot and humid, but expected to dry off and cool down within a day or two. The flat we use in Shenzhen has air-conditioning anyway; one of the many remote controls that JD eyes jealously, loving to press all the buttons to see what happens. We met up with friends in Shenzhen for a welcome meal. JD's preference for self-service eating always ends up as a huge mess, so it's best done on a restaurant where someone else has to do the cleaning!
When I visited the Kunming Train Museum a while ago with JD, one of the exhibits caught my eye, namely because I used to take the Mengzi to Kunming train when I was a volunteer working in Mengzi in 1996. The 12 hour overnight journey was by far the most convenient way to reach the big city. Now, the new trains do it in 6 hours, with a drive down the expressways taking 4-5 hours. It seems parts of my life are quickly becoming museum-worthy history!
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