JD's best friend is a classmate called GuoDingGe, or "DingDing" for short. We've been helping look after her a bit recently as her parents are dealing with the death of her Grandfather a few days ago.
DingDIng and JD share similar interests and sense of humour. She is a little more sensible than JD, but he brings out the "silly" in her - so it's a nice mix and they love spending time together. They've spent 3-4 days playing together in the current holiday including sleepovers in a den they built in JD's bedroom!
Mid-Autumn Festival and Chinese National Day fall in the same week this year (the former being linked to moon phases). This means everyone gets an 8-day holiday (minus all the catch-up days before and after). JD is very excited at being off school for so long, especially as it coincides with his half-birthday!
The main tradition for Mid-Autumn Festival is eating little round pies, with various sweet or savoury fillings, and gazing at the full moon. We'll spend our holiday in and around Kunming with plans for a fishing trip with friends, spending vouchers at a huge all-you-can-eat buffet, R/C boat racing and a yard sale of JD's unwanted toys.
“Keeping up appearances at all costs” seems to be ingrained in the culture here and recently the space programme was caught out. Conversations between the Chinese astronauts currently in space and Mission Control were accidentally published online before their rocket even left earth! The publicists claimed it was a “technical glitch” but it appears that even routine communications are scripted for public consumption. Last night I watched President Hu congratulating the astronauts by phone from Mission Control. It seemed like he was reading the questions from an autocue, and the astronaut wasn’t even trying to hide the fact that he was reading his answers from a file of papers! At one point he even read out the wrong answer. Hu asked, “How did you feel doing the space walk?”, to which the astronaut replied, “Thank you. We can assure you all that we will fulfil our mission”. Hu then continued, “The people of China are very proud of your achievements”. A pause from the astronaut, followed by a sheepish, “Thank you. We can assure you all that we will fulfil our mission”. Ooops!
JD and I popped into a temple last weekend and saw some freshly-painted murals on the walls. Next to a Buddhist fire god breathing flames, were a selection of brave Chinese firemen, extinguishing the fires using the latest technology, including a search-and-rescue dog!
Needless to say, JD and I got the giggles and had to leave when the worshippers started casting annoyed glances at us!
When JD's school suddenly ask for proof that all students have studied Communist Party ideology over the holiday(!?) we have to be creative. So, with a little technical wizardry, we were able to hand in a photo of JD "attending an exhibition" about our wonderful leader, Xi JingPing. Just don't ask exactly when/where JD is supposed to have been there!
"Chase" is one of about a dozen private students I teach each week - some at home and some in an office or classroom. The youngest is 7 - the oldest is 62. Now that I now longer work for the University, I have more flexibility to fit these classes in. Also, JD's Primary School have now formally agreed to let him leave after lunch each day to have English (and a bit of Maths) lessons with me each afternoon, to get his written English up to scratch before he starts a UK Secondary school this time next year. Busy!
The five-star hotel even laid on some Chinglish for me...
MouDing County isn’t too far from here. Last month, they had their third confirmed case of rabies and the local government decided to take action. Dog owners were offered 5 yuan (30p) to kill their own dog or face the threat that, if they didn’t, the local police would do it for them! Over the next few weeks, 90% of the dogs in MouDing county were killed...
“...On Saturday, a woman was walking her dog - a small white animal she’d had for a long time - in an alley. Several men approached, talked her into handing them the leash and then beat the dog to death as the owner looked on in horror...”
“...Around midnight, men carrying clubs made noises to set the village dogs barking. Homing in on the sounds, the men would find their quarries, and the barks would be replaced by shrill yelps as the animals were dispatched. ..”
Sometimes you’ve got to admire the Chinese leaders, who simply brush aside any local upset to crack down and solve a problem almost overnight. But a lot of doggies died! How many? 500? 5000? ... Nope. China Daily’s conservative estimate was ... 50,000! Bet the cats are having a party!
Past blog entries