The Government have announced that the most powerful e-bikes will soon be banned in the city. That would be a big blow to me, as my large 72v bike, nicknamed "Lecky", has been such a reliable workhorse for the last 8 years, getting me, JD and two heavy backpacks up and down our steep hill and to and from school and University every day without fail. My University has already banned entry to all but the smallest e-bikes (I have to park outside and walk in) and I suspect it won't be long before the police are out on the streets, issuing fines to anyone who hasn't switched to smaller e-bikes which, for us, are too underpowered to be much use at all.
We've all had various bouts of illness over the recent 5-day May Day holiday, and we weren't able to do quite as much as we'd hoped. So we decided to finish with an expensive, but delicious, meal out.
One of Jiajia's customers had recommended a restaurant in the south of Kunming which boasts authentic German food cooked by an actual German chef. So we took a taxi there to have a May Day blowout! Unfortunately, the chef was on holiday (JD wanted to try out his German) but they were still able to serve up various sausages, seafood pie, roasted pork knuckle, fries, mustard and sauerkraut which all went down very well. Yes, we paid 2-3 times what we normally pay for a family meal, but it was some of the best foreign food I've had in Kunming and a really nice treat.
JD spent his May Day holiday at a fishing pond yesterday, trying out all the fishing gear he's been buying with Christmas, Birthday and Chinese New Year money over recent months. I'm not sure where he gets his enthusiasm for angling from - certainly not from Jiajia or me!
I've spent most of this week marking my students' mid-term exam essays. For every half-decent one there is another which barely makes any sense at all. Each one takes me about five minutes to mark and so, overall, we are talking many hours of mind-numbing work!
The most commonly mis-spelled word?
"DESTROY" ...usually written as DESTORY!
JD has been maturing quite a lot in recent months. He seems to struggle a little less at school - finding ways to avoid the boredom and do enough to pass his exams (just). His class won the Year 4 Basketball Competition - JD was just cheering - AND the Year 4 Ethnic Dancing Competition (both out of 10 class teams). JD was one of the dancers.
JD's free time has been dominated by fish recently. His two aquariums teem with fish, big and small. But with 1-2 dying every day, we wonder how long it will be before he packs in that hobby! He also has aspirations to be an angler. He bought his third rod and line last week. I get really proud when I see him confidently interacting with "strangers" such as shopkeepers and neighbourhood folk with great confidence and politeness. And all in fluent Chinese, too!
Jiajia and I spent the other day at a crematorium and cemetery, saying our goodbyes to Druncle. Three of his friends joined us. It's a slow, complex and costly procedure - parts of which I've never seen before. Jiajia had to fill in lots of paperwork (and pay lots of money) before we were taken to identify the body. That was actually very hard to do, due to the decomposition (we now believe he was dead for a month before anyone found him), but we eventually recognised him from his clothes. Jiajia paid a substantial sum for him to be cleaned up and re-clothed. Then, after some Buddhist chanting from a monk, Druncle was cremated. An hour later, we were presented with his bones. Any foreign material was removed [see photo above] and then the bones were crushed and put into a ceremonial box which Jiajia had already bought [see photo below]. Cue more chanting...
We processed with the box outside to our people-carrier, which drove us a half hour to the cemetery. The box was blessed by another monk (for another fee) and lain in a small temple there for a month. We'll return later to bury it in a small plot which Jiajia has bought.
After a late lunch together, we all headed home.
Jiajia went off to another, local temple yesterday to arrange for more monks to perform a ceremony on behalf of her uncle ...for another fee!
And this evening, Jiajia was out burning various papers to wish Druncle well. He's certainly getting a top quality send-off, despite a somewhat sad and squalid life.
Druncle never managed to hold down a job, so JiaJia has been sending him enough money to live on every month for decades. Druncle was an odd guy - refusing to wash or change his clothes. He spent his days sleeping, drinking and smoking. I drove him home recently after he shared a (final) Spring Festival meal with us and his flat looked and stank like a rubbish tip. Overall, a sad end to a pretty sad life.
Last week, JD and his class spent many, many hours taking part in a basketball competition between the ten classes in his year. The teachers take it very seriously with girls, boys and mixed teams, and live-streamed matches. By the end, JD's "Class #7" were unbeaten and destroyed their opponents in the final, 21 v 5. JD didn't play at all, but was awarded "No.1 Supporter" for his enthusiastic chanting and encouragement. As a reward, the students in "Class #7" had no homework to do last weekend. JD got home by 7pm on Friday and slept until noon on Saturday - a well-deserved rest!
After school last Friday, Jiajia and I drove JD (and Ma) to a very posh 5* hotel near DianChi lake for a gourmet meal, courtesy of a free £100 VIP voucher from Jiajia's bank, and in celebration of JD's 10th Birthday! Ma hated it (of course), but JD loved it, chatting to our personal chef and experiencing Japanese WagYu beef, New Zealand lamb, squid, etc - all perfectly cooked in front of us.
The next morning, I was woken at 1am by flashing bedroom lights and spooky noises. I later realised it was April Fools Day and my scallywag son never misses the chance for a prank!
Past blog entries