Last Sunday, JD and I visited a lovely American family we are good friends with; Nancy, her husband NamSung, and their kids Kaiya and Zaden. Nancy teaches English at the same University as me and JD enjoys playing with her kids (especially as they speak English!). They set up a fun volcano experiment outside before treating us to a midday breakfast of waffles, bacon and eggs! JD loved every moment.
I gave a short lesson to JD's Kindergarten class this morning. There were 24 kids and we learned the names of six animals before playing some flashcard games and singing "Old MacDonald". It was quite tricky as they had no English at all, so it was all about body language and a little simple Chinese. JD was a bit bemused [see photo] to see Daddy out front and he burst into tears as the lesson ended. When I asked him later how he'd felt, he said "Dizzy"!
Jiajia, JD and I visited Kunming Zoo yesterday. I was pleased to see they have built new, larger enclosures for the elephants, lions, tigers and giraffes. The smaller animals fare less well (inc a miserable hippo who can barely turn around). Still, a huge improvement on say 10 years ago, helped by the removal of half the animals to a wildlife safari park outside the city a few years ago. JD enjoyed the animals but was most excited about the various rides. So we indulged in a few of those before heading off to a restaurant for a well-earned meal.
China isn't known for its Health and Safety record so, playing my "crazy foreigner" card, JD and I wandered into a random building site the other day. Nobody working there batted an eyelid and we got plenty of waves from the drivers of cranes, dump trucks, excavators and bulldozers. JD was in his element, of course, bedecked as he was in his toy builder's helmet!
I saw this photo in a gallery the other day, taken in Kunming some years ago (though it's a colour picture, so not that long, I guess). I was interested to see the lady on the left smoking. These days about half of all Chinese men smoke, but hardly any women. Maybe it was more widespread in those days? And how about the lady on the right? She must have had bound feet, and just look at how thin those legs are. She probably needs the walking stick to stop them snapping!
This huge crane is still prowling around our neighbourhood after two weeks, much to JD's delight. At the top of the boom is a precarious worker wielding a chain saw, chopping off the tops of nearly all the trees. Whether this is for safety, aesthetics or the health of the tree through the Winter I've yet to ascertain. The absence of leafy boughs certainly lets in more light to our flat, but the trees do look rather forlorn as a result. I'm just hoping now that more workers will arrive soon to remove the huge mountains of branches littering the area.
I've been promising myself a day by myself, doing my own thing, for some time now. So with Ava in Shenzhen and JD dropped at Kindergarten, I hit the buses. My aim was to get to Xi You Cave - a place I'd read a brief (and less than complimentary) review about many months ago and made a mental note to visit.
I caught the first bus easily enough but, after waiting 90 minutes for the connecting bus, I gave up and hailed an unlicensed taxi for the remainder. Most of the cave area was very tacky - plastic fake cave walls, shops selling tat and umpteen flashing lights. But the cave itself was quite nice, if overlit, and there was a fun train ride at the far end taking you up to another cave - GuanYing - decked out as a Buddhist shrine. From there, the most fun way down turned out to be a stone slide [see photo above] which was surprising fast with some tight turns as my bottom bruises will attest! A local minibus back into Kunming made for an easy return.
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