Large trucks are banned from Kunming roads during the day (though you should see them rumbling around at night!). So are horses. It was a bit of a surprise then to see this guy trotting his way down the bike lane outside my University last week!
It's nice to see JD so much happier about going to school these days and to see how many friends he has and how he is loved by all. Unfortunately he only has one more term to go before moving to Primary School and having to make all sorts of new friends once again. Oh well, enjoy it while you can JD!
I had a nice birthday a few weeks ago but it's true to say that the only actual physical birthday gift I got this year was this micro-Lego dog which I finally put together last weekend (thanks Vix!). JiaJia promised to pay for a (much needed) pair of new glasses whilst JD made me a card. Ma bought me a cake and my folks transferred some money which I plan to spend soon. We had a nice meal out as a family though and there were lots of kind wishes on email and Facebook.
Last week I got my new passport back from the University with my visa transferred into it. They then advised me I had to register te new passport and visa with my bank so that they could continue to pay my wages in. So we headed off to the bank where the account was opened, only to find it had closed and moved to a new location. We rang them and they gave us their new address but said that any branch would be able to register the new passport. So I went home and Jiajia and I went to our nearest branch. After an hour there, they said we would, after all, have to go to the original branch. 30 minutes drive to get there and another half hour queueing to be told they couldn't register it either, but that I didn't really need to anyway. I rang the University who insisted it did have to be registered. So after the Uni and Bank spoke to each other on my phone, the bank said that they could do register it after all but I'd have to queue again. 30 minutes later we got to a cashier who spent another half hour trying, and failing, to register the passport. So JiaJia and I finally went home after 5 hours of trying but still without a registration. I'll let the University try and sort it out - life's too short!
Every year, thousands of Siberian seagulls descend on Kunming's waters to spend the winter in the relative warmth. They are spectacular sight which many people travel from far away to see.
Visitors usually feed the gulls by throwing chunks of bread into the air or holding rolls gingerly in their hands for the gulls to grab while on the wing.
But this year saw something new - a local man donned a whole bread-covered suit and stood somewhat bravely amongst the flocks of birds as they grabbed and pecked him! Nobody knows quite who he is, but a few photos were taken as proof which have appeared on local media. After a few minutes he packed up his bread suit and headed off! Bonkers!
Today my University is coming to the end of 2½ days of Sports Meeting. It starts with marching and the singing of various patriotic songs. Then a selections of dance routines and leaders' speeches. Finally the athletic sports themselves take place, culminating in a tug-of-war competition. I've seen this sort of thing many times before, so I just enjoy the fact that my classes are cancelled and I get a few extra days off work!
Today, JD was added to JiaJia's registration papers to make him a full-registered Chinese citizen! He now has a "Hukou" which will allow him to get an ID card, access state schools and be insured. Most kids born in China do this within a few weeks being born, but JD's British passport complicated things and we delayed it. You see if you have a British passport, you can't get a British visa in your Chinese passport. And you can't leave China on your British passport because China doesn't recognise dual nationality (and being born in China makes JD Chinese as far as China is concerned). It was only in the last couple of months that these rules were relaxed, allowing JD to leave China on a temporary Permit regardless of him being fully registered. Confused? You're not the only one.
On arrival at school this morning, JD fixed me a stare and said, "I don't think I need a hug and kiss goodbye anymore. I'm a big boy now!". It is true that he is making friends more easily these days and is more likely to hop and skip into school rather than be weeping or making up reasons to stay home! Most recently his "best friends" have been Dada ("Big") and Xiaoxiao ("Small") - twins from his class [see above] who conveniently live just five minutes away. then But next week it may be somebody quite different!
What are you supposed to do when you get a text message from JD's Kindergarten at 9pm saying they want your child to do a science experiment (and take a photo of it) by tomorrow morning where you try to pop a water-filled balloon with a lighter? And you don't have any balloons. Or a lighter. And your child is already fast asleep in bed.
Answer? Grab an old photo of JD trying to blow out the candles on his birthday cake and superimpose a suitable picture from the internet. Thank goodness for Google Images, Photoshop and teachers who don't look too closely!
It was my birthday today. Once JD realised, he gave me a big hug and a kiss, and a "surprise" homemade card (which I'd helped him to make last week). It took the wife an hour after getting up to recall that this was my special day, but she is a bit poorly. We think she gave me an early present a few months in advance, but neither of us can remember what it was! Ma-in-law bought a cake. We all enjoyed a nice meal at a buffet hotpot midday and got the candles out in the evening. Add in a swim in the morning with JD and a bedroom den built in the afternoon and it was quite a fun day overall.
Another in my occasional series of "Flashbacks" looking back at blog entries made before this Weebly version started.
“So let’s see. After a month with a broken leg, how can we make Paul's final day in plaster just that little bit more annoying? I know, why don’t we paint the railings by the steps to his flat overnight? Then he’ll have to hop up the 85 steps without any way of balancing. And if we don’t tell him, he’ll get his hands and clothes all dirty before attending class. Silver shows up well, let’s paint them all silver. But maybe he’ll smell the new paint .... I know, let’s strike him down with a heavy cold overnight so he can’t smell a thing. In fact, the paint fumes might even contribute to his sore throat. Yes, that ought to do the job.”
About a month ago, JD decided he wanted to make a little shop "like mummy's" but for selling toys to his friends. So JiaJia went online and bought a variety of cheap toys (£4 total). JD and I decided on the prices and made boxes and signs for the various items.
Then, after school today, JD and I quickly set up shop outside the main gates. Within minutes a crowd of parents and children were surrounding us to have a look at the little foreigner showing his entrepreneurial skills! JD was quick to explain prices and give them the right change. By the end, 90% of the stock had been sold and JD made a tidy profit of just over £10!
JD and I went to a classmate's birthday celebration yesterday. We drove a little way out of the city to a large recreational area with restaurants, a sand pit, swings and these rather cool Mongolian yurts! The focus of the "party" was to climb a nearby mountain. 18 of us set off but only 5 made it to the top, including JD and I.
The views over Kunming were pretty impressive but emphasised once again, just what a polluted city it is - fairly clean by Chinese city standards, but still covered in a layer of smog.
By the time we returned down the mountain, we were pretty hungry. Undeterred by the goat carcasses and dead fish in the tanks, we really enjoyed a tasty banquet - 20 of us around a huge "lazy susan" rotating table. The kids then continued to play in the sand and on the swings followed by a birthday cake. JD is the youngest in his class - still 5½ while others are turning 6 - but he is still one of the "playmakers" when he gets together with his friends!
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