Death Star to Finish
4200 pieces and bigger than a basketball - it took me over ten hours to complete, but the Death Star was a great project on which to finish 2022.
Look and cook
Nice family meet-up online today. Good to see everyone (plus a few others not pictured here) squeezed between Christmas and New Year! Wonder when we'll all be together in person next?
Plane and simple
JD and I received three Lego model presents between us this Christmas. The "787 Dreamliner" pictured here is a big model but wasn't too difficult to put together.
However, JD is now tackling a Lego typewriter with 30 moving parts, while I've started a huge 4200 piece Star Wars Death Star!
....we may have bitten off more than we can chew!
We had a great Christmas Day. JD opened his stocking presents in bed in the morning. Then, we opened our main presents after lunch. JD was delighted to get everything he had hoped for - Lego, drone, earphones, tent, cooking tools, Frazzles etc. We even had a surprise Christmas Spelling Test, where JD won cash prizes for every English spelling he got right! I got a Lego Death Star with 4200 pieces!
Then Jiajia pulled out all the stops with a traditional Christmas dinner - roast chicken with all the trimmings, plus crackers and mince pies!
These have gone up all over town (translated here) reminding everyone how lucky they are to have such a kind and caring Communist Party leadership (who don't think twice about paying a ton of public money to advertise how fantastic they are!). Sad, really!
Countdown to Christmas
JD is keeping track of the number of days to Christmas with a self-made Post-it Advent Calendar! It has no chocolates or nativity pictures, but at least he gets to rip something off each morning and savour the countdown! He has already opened one present, actually, since we are all in quarantine with COVID - using his spare time throughout each day to construct a huge Lego aircraft!
With JD's Primary School having been closed for a month now, his schoolwork is all assigned, handed-in and marked online. Up until last week, he has done this though the day at "Cleaner School" - his after-school club attended by 5-10 students, usually just to do homework but now doing classwork through the day too.
But with COVID ripping through the population now, since the removal of pandemic restrictions, "Cleaner School" has closed down too. JD has had COVID this last week but is now back to 90% health and so the schoolwork continues. Jiajia has to do the Chinese and Maths with him (90% of the total) while I pitch in with English and "generally keeping everyone less stressed"!! The holidays can't come quickly enough!
COVID - ain't over it
Nearly three years after China first "introduced" COVID-19 to the world, the Government here finally removed most pandemic restrictions last week. Not because the battle was won, mind, but because of the nose-diving economy and protests around the country from weary citizens fed up with daily queues for tests and the threat of being dragged off to a quarantine facility if they dared test positive.
But with the poor take-up of less effective Chinese vaccines, the overnight removal of restrictions was bound to lead to a huge wave of infections and inevitably a lot of deaths, even with the current milder strains.
And so, along with dozens of our Kunming friends, we all caught COVID this week. I started it early, and Jiajia/JD went down with it a few days later. Not nice, but bearable, and we are all coming out the other side now - just in time for Christmas! However, with predictions of over a million deaths to come in China, we've been lucky, I guess. Let's hope it the beginning of the end of this thing at last.
I flgured as much!
Eagle and tiger
Modern technology seems to get more and more unbelievable, year after year, month after month. If you had told me 5 years ago ago that I - sitting in South West China - would be able to have a video chat with my brother while he walks his dog in the British countryside, listening to me on speakers built into his hat, I would have said you'd been watching too much science-fiction!
And then tonight, I shall be watching England play football in Qatar on Chinese TV, streamed to my laptop, while simultaneously listening to BBC commentary on my phone (using a Virtual Private Network to get round China blocking the BBC) - and all LIVE!
And my university lessons are all online too! Crazy!
One to tree for ...Christmas!
Once my birthday is done and dusted, the pressure is on (from JD) to put up our Christmas decorations. This year he was keen to pitch in with his own ides of what to put where, and how to decorate the "showing its age" tree! We'll gradually add presents underneath it, over the next fortnight, to build up the excitement. Jiajia is already scoring the internet for cheap and cheerful stocking fillers, Christmas crackers, sweets, mince pies and presents!
Throwing the tower in
The huge water tower that dominates the view from the back of our house is slowly being dismantled. Goodbye tower - we'll miss you!
O camel ye faithful...
We spent a fun day out in the countryside today with one of JD's friends, Johnny, and his family. Seven of us squeezed into their SUV for a 45 minute drive to a famous vegetable market (closed because of COVID) and on to a farm/play area. The kids had great fun fishing for tiddlers, trying a shooting range, feeding a couple of camels(!) and digging up carrots. It was a hot and breezy day, despite being Winter, and we returned home with sunburn and fresh vegetables!
Paul Hider lives and works in Kunming (SW China) and regularly updates this blog about his life there.
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