Spotted on a bag last week. Aren't you supposed to replace "Sample Text" with the text you actually want to have?
Ma-in-law won't be entering Masterchef anytime soon. Today's lunch [from top right, clockwise] was pig fat, fried pig fat in breadcrumbs, week-old chicken (reheat 'til you eat!), dried chilli and lotus root soup (with added pig fat). I couldn't stomach much to be honest. So guess what's for dinner later...
Tonight was my school's "Christmas Show". It was held in a 700-seater theatre, filled with screaming kids and their parents. The two hour programme featured carols, Santa, a pantomime, disco numbers, a conga, a lottery, a short play and ...err ...ballet ...of which I was a part. Six strapping blokes dancing Swan Lake went down surprisingly very well with the rather shocked audience. Before that, I was in the Foreign Teachers' play, too. So, after 5 hours of teaching, it was a very busy day and I returned home exhausted and sporting a rather large bruise on my knee from a mis-timed overhead lift/drop! I think I'm getting too old for this sort of lark!
As is Hider tradition, we let JD open one of his presents early yesterday, Christmas Eve, to spread the joy out a bit. He loved the little cat organ, grabbing his favourite chair and belting out a "tune" or two whilst ensuring nobody else was able to have a try. Within half an hour he'd worked out what all the various buttons do and gradually lost interest! I'm sure he'll be back with enthusiasm later
Christmas in China is gradually becoming more popular (though it's still
a normal working day). Yesterday's taxi driver wished me "ShengDan KuaiLe!", (Happy Christmas) though had I been Chinese she probably wouldn't have bothered. Still, we had presents under the tree to unwrap this morning and our hotpot lunch will have brussel sprouts in, courtesy of a friend who has connections with a local organic farm. Then there's the school Christmas Party production on Saturday with an audience of 700 watching, amongst other things, I and five other blokes dancing our version of Swan Lake in tutus. Vaguely Christmassy!
I took JD to EJ's birthday party this afternoon - the 2-year old son of a colleague - despite "the women of the house" insisting it was too far, too cold and too wet. It did take us 1½ hours to get there, but JD enjoyed the bus and loved the underground train. He had a play with some of the other children there (one was my namesake, "PJ") and ate some yummy birthday food before heading back. It took another 1½ hours to return, this time on one long bus ride, but overall it was a fun trip out. Happy Birthday, EJ!
On our final morning in Guangzhou, Jiajia and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Mausoleum of the Nanyue King. The 2000-year old tomb contained many artefacts on discovery, including the king himself dressed in thousands of small jade pieces. In the afternoon, Ava took the train to Shenzhen while I flew back to Kunming to catch up with my very own "jadey"!
Does the scene above look a bit nativity-like to you? I spotted it in the Chen Clan Temple in Guangzhou yesterday. It's a Buddhist Temple, but famous for its western influences and quite unlike any other Chinese temple I've seen. It's "only" 120 years old but the ornate and coloured decorations have survived really well and the courtyard is full of ancient and more modern artwork. Jiajia and I visited it during a free half-day we had here in Guangzhou following our visa application visit.
We are staying with a lovely couple whose empty flat in Shenzhen Ava uses when she is buying stock there every month. It helps (me) that they both speak great English, so I can converse easily with them. Yesterday evening, they took us on a walk from their flat to an amazing pedestrianised area on the banks of the Pearl River. The surrounding skyscrapers were beautifully lit. The central one below is the "Four Seasons Hotel" and, pretending to be guests, we took the elevator 70 floors up for a free look-see. A very memorable evening.
Jiajia and I have flown down to Guangzhou to apply for her UK visa. Britain doesn't make it in any way easy for Chinese tourists to visit. First, there's the 3000RMB (£300) visa fee for just Britain (or substantially less for a Shengen Visa which allows you to visit all the 27 other European countries!). A ten page online application form must be accompanied by 40-50 pages of supporting documentation (printouts of 6 months of bank transactions, business certificates, tax receipts, ID card, birth certificate, passport, property ownership documents, family passports, a creditworthiness certificate, a letter of invitation, flight ticket scans, itinerary, translations of all of the above, a letter from the translator, etc, etc). And then a two hour flight to the nearest Processing Centre to hand it in, be interviewed, have your fingerprints taken and eyes scanned. And all with no guarantee that they will give you a visa, even if you have followed all the guidelines to the letter. And no refund if not. Hardly a warm welcome. We get to hear the result in three weeks.
Kunming has such a temperate climate that the weather - typically warm and sunny with a cooling breeze - barely gets mentioned in polite conversation here. But if the temperature dares to drop below about 20ºC, it becomes the subject of various moans and groans. Admittedly there is little or no indoor heating in Yunnan and our school Teachers' Office, with no windows and a high roof, gets particularly chilly over a weekend. But, as a Londoner, I don't seem to feel, or worry about, the cold in the way that others do. Ava, in particular, really fears colder weather and is already starting to panic about our trip to the UK in February. We are actually both flying to Guangzhou tomorrow, which should be significantly warmer, to apply for her UK visa. Fingers crossed for that. Meanwhile, JD is snug enough in his Mr Blobby night-time onesie. Sumo, anyone?
I spent an hour decorating our living room yesterday, with ma-in-law hovering in the background complaining that it was all too early and it would mean higher electricity bills (not that she ever pays any bills). I then made it clear to JD and our nanny that, whilst there were various soft decorations around the room which JD could have a little touch of, he was forbidden from touching the tree at all, as it could easily fall over and had electrical lights on it. Less than an hour later, JD walks into the kitchen with a fistful of tree decorations. "He climbed onto a stool to reach them", laughed the nanny. Cue another talk with JD and the nanny about the dangers of grabbing tree decorations AND the danger of climbing onto stools to do it. Never thought I'd end up being the Health and Safety bore!
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