Wild of the mark
JD and I visited the Kunming Zoological Museum again today. We've been 20-30 times before, but not in the last 6 months or so. They had some new exhibitions and, whilst the English was generally fairly good, there were a couple of howlers...
I'm sure that the "WILD animals" would be pretty wild after being referred to as "WIDE animals". Time to go on a diet, perhaps?
Make no bones about it
JD's been a bit ill over the weekend with a cough, sore throat and temperature, but nothing was going to stop him from attending yesterday's Halloween Party with me. Great fun.
I want my Mummy
A Halloween-themed English Corner at my University this week, with three teams wrapping one of their number up in a toilet roll to produce a trio of scary mummies. We also played "Guess the Monster" (not so easy in the dark) and then ran out of time before starting, "Call my Bluff". Once again, JD came along and the students kindly took it in turns to take him away somewhere for a play, to stop him getting too bored during the 1½ hours of chat.
JD's after-school Art classes are producing some really nice paintings, such as this "stained glass" picture. Very cathedral-like!
Peter and Judy spotted a cool glasses case the other day. The connection between flamingos and the Christmas story is, in itself, bewildering, but surely it was never a HOLLY night, was it?
Den dare was one
With ongoing rain here, JD and I spent today inside and built a huge den for him to populate with teddy bears and, eventually, sleep in.
The entrance is on the left [see above], under the blue box, and you can eventually crawl right round to the wardrobe in the right. JD has big plans to sleep there tonight, but I suspect I'll see him creeping back into my bedroom before the morning.
Now we have to make sure it all gets tidied up before the wife gets back from her travels....!
At a floss for words
KIA is Kunming's only real international school, catering for foreign kids (often of missionary families) from a wide variety of countries. Despite the odd splattering of rain, it was well attended and thoroughly enjoyable. JD played about a dozen fairground games including bursting balloons with darts, bow and arrows, catching goldfish, throwing balls into a monster's mouth and giant skittles. His favourite thing, though, was eating a big candy floss!
Enjoying the view
I was asked to be one of the judges for the finals of a University English Speaking Competition this evening. Some of the other judges are shown in the photo above. There was no chance for me to daydream as I was one of two teachers asked to come up with supplementary questions based on what the contestants said in their speeches on the topic of "China: A Global View".
The results were ...confusing, to say the least [see above] with all ten contestants being placed in the top three, and the best two beating them all into "special" place!? Nobody loses in socialist China!
It was Ma-in-law's birthday the other day. We celebrated it along with our UK friends, Peter and Judy, who are visiting Kunming once again.
JD thoroughly enjoyed the event, having chosen a present for his WaiPo from a shop, drawn her a card and gleefully tucked into her special Mahjong cake that Ava had ordered. We think Ma-in-law probably enjoyed it too, though a lack of smiles or thank yous always leaves one guessing!
A friend of ours gave us a "spore bag" the other day and told us to add a little water and stand back! Two days later, this monster had grown out! We've since cut off all the toadstools and eaten them, but now yet more are growing out again. The speed of growth is just phenomenal - we are a little afraid to leave the house in case we can't get back in again!
Clocks and tracks
My e-bike clocked up 15,000 km yesterday. Quite some distance. It has needed a few sets of batteries in that time plus a new front fork and brakes. But otherwise it's been a very reliable workhorse, getting JD to school and back every day, myself to work and then more demanding trips up mountain paths and forest tracks. Impressive machine.
We have come to the end of our National Holiday week off and managed to squeeze in the second stage of our house redecoration and remodelling. Having boxed up all our worldly belongings (apart from those we are using on our small temporary flat) we arranged for two burly workers to carry them all and our furniture down to the garage.
With about 15 large pieces of furniture and about 50 boxes and bags, it took most of the day to move it all down and we shared lunch together at a nearby restaurant. The afternoon session wasn't helped by an idiot who parked his car in the access alley where our van was going in and out (ignoring the "No Parking" signs). When he finally returned, he and his wife started cursing everyone and refusing to move. That was until five frustrated drivers from five different cars all being blocked by him started threatening physical violence! He moved.
Our workers have amazing levels of energy. I was "helping" for about 10% of the lifting and moving, but they were doing all the heavy stuff and barely stopped for a breather. Jiajia was chatting to them about what they do when one or both of them are ill, or as they get older. They claimed there just aren't any better jobs out them for them, and maybe that's true. For a day and a half of work, they get about 500RMB (£50) between them. They are certainly reliable though and we will use them again to move everything back in 6-8 months when all the building work is finished. Meanwhile, our house is a shell and our garage no longer has room for a car. Maybe just enough for my electric bike...
All the trimmings
Julian had pulled out all the stops for ingredients - half kilo of prime beef, bacon, shallots, mushrooms, cheese, lettuce, fried onions, BBQ sauce and sesame seed sprinkled buns. JD had a blast and, after initially scaring "Bootsy" (their son's nickname) to tears with his over-enthusiastic greeting, slowly started bonding and playing with him. The burger-making and later eating was thoroughly enjoyable too. A lovely visit.
Green drag on
JD, Jiajia and I joined the families of two other of JD's classmates for a trip to Green Dragon Mountain today. JD felt uncharacteristically carsick on the 1½ hours drive there, but managed to hold it together.
The climb was a lot less "natural" than I had assumed, with tickets to get in, paved steps. man-made waterfalls and a variety of kids' play areas and assault courses on the way up. But it was a fun morning and, although we didn't actually get to the mountain top, most of the parents were puffing by the end. Then a late but tasty lunch in a restaurant that boasted a lake, craft shops and kids' sand pits. In the evening we decided to watch a film together at a cinema back in Kunming - "Ultraman III (3D)". Simply awful film! But a great day overall.
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
Past blog entries