Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Chinese organisation

There is a holiday coming up.

From Monday to Tuesday the following week (inclusive) for May day.

So we have to have make up classes on Saturday and Sunday for some of the classes we will miss.

But instead of making Sat and Sun the following Mon and Tues, we are having Thursday's classes on Sat and Friday's classes on Sun.

Then the following week we will have Monday's classes on Wednesday. Tuesday's on Thursday and Wednesday’s on Friday.

Do you follow?

If anyone in the world can find the logic in that can you let me know?

This is a classic example of Chinese organisation.

Oh - by the way - the other foreign teacher only found out after I told her that the students told me. She had to ask to get the details and then passed them onto me. The students know, but none of the Chinese teachers have told me yet. It's Thursday afternoon.

Friday, April 21, 2006


Sometimes people track me down and ask me to tell them stuff about China. A person recently asked me about the Culture. I think Chinese culture is odd and interesting, so I thought I would document my answer here as well.

• Compliments: People will be extremely nice to you. You are special because you are foreign. If your good looking (or even if your not) people will tell you how great you are all the time. You should reject the compliments or people will think you love yourself. People will just keep telling you over and over and over and you should keep rejecting them over and over.
• Staring: Staring isn’t rude in China, for you or for them.
• Personal space: you will most probably walk diagonally if you have a Chinese person walking next to you until you get used to the fact that your arms will occasionally touch as you walk, they just walk that close to each other.
• Eating: I haven't seen anyone throw up at the table, but it's perfectly okay to spit out a bone onto the table. People actually like chewing on bones when they eat and Chicken especially will have little bones everywhere. Can be frustrating if all you want is a nice big bite.
• Chopsticks: Don't stick chopsticks into rice so they stick up, this is what people do if someone has died.
• 4: Chinese think 4 is unlucky because it sounds like death if you use the wrong tone.
• Communication: Even if you learn a bit of Chinese, don't expect the Chinese people to listen to you. They will assume you are speaking another language and not try to understand your accent.
• Tone: Don't underestimate the power of the tone. There are 4 tones and if you don't get the right one, an average person will never understand you.
• Drivers: In Australia we always used to say that Chinese are the worst drivers on the road, and Chinese women drivers were atrocious. Well - every where I have been in China the traffic is pretty bad (with the exception of Hangzhou). Maybe where you are going the drivers will be better than here, but I have seen every kind of road law broken about 500 times and been almost killed a number of times too. They just don't care about rules.
• Law: Rules and laws in China are bendable by most people, in Guangdong a government official quietly told a friend of mine "China isn't ruled by law, it's ruled by people." This means that if you can get away with it, and if you have enough friends to support you you can do anything you like."
• Business: Being a good business man is akin to being a good swindler in the eyes of some.
• Useful: People here (especially students) will surprise you by saying "I want to be useful to society" something I would never have heard in Australia.
• Love China: The students will vigorously support China, and if you want to talk about China Vs the world they will have a great many pro China arguments.
• Students: Chinese students WILL talk and WILL become very competitive if you give them the right topic. Anyone who says that they could teach just lecture wasn't creative enough. Actually - I don't blame some people for feeling that way, to get them up and speaking, you do have to be friggin creative. I know it works because I can get them up and speaking in 1/2 of my classes. But so far I am not good enough to guess what they will be interested in 100% of the time.
• Social Structure: China isn't really communist, and it's not even really getting over Communism, it's over it. What it's not over are the emperors. China spent so long under the rule of an imperialist leader that they still take class and station very seriously and the kind of things people sometimes attribute to communism, I think in China they are left over from imperialism. That why communism didn’t work in this country; people just don’t think that everyone is the same. A worker will not question or disagree with his boss even if his boss is wrong and EVERYONE knows it. The workplace is very top down. And the migrant worker population are almost not considered citizens by some people. For example, when I first arrived in Wenzhou, the man showing us around the city told me the population. 700 thousand, but with the migrant workers that can increase to 1.5 million. Now that I have been here for a while I know that “migrant workers” doesn’t mean fruit picking, most of them don’t come and go, but they are still not counted in the population or residents. Another example, when they school was built they made dorms for the students and teachers, but the workers who do the gardening, cooking and cleaning don’t have dorms, they literally camp out in any free space that has a roof. Some have even built dividers with wood frame and plastic.

staying home

It’s half way through our holiday, and my leg really hurts. My head also still hurts and I can’t believe how possible it is to stay at home all day every day only leaving the apartment to have lunch or dinner.

I would have been going batty if I was in Australia. Here, I am happy to say inside, away from ogling and crowds.

My left leg is actually really badly hurt, much worse than my right. It’s puffed up and sometimes standing on it just hurts. My head too is still painful and I can’t sleep on that side or chew easily. I wish you could get helmets in China, but I haven’t seen any I would consider proper helmets, just those plastic hard hat things that you get in toy kits. I think I might go and do some looking in bike shops when I feel up to going for another ride.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


Ouch, originally uploaded by erinyesmystwalker.

Top - Monday's Fall
Bottom - Wedensday's Fall.

Falling Down

Okay, this is just getting ridiculous! I fell off my bike AGAIN yesterday. And as my mother taught me, bad things always come in threes, so what next world??? What the hell next?

I will admit, the Monday fall was entirely my fault. Entirely my fault! But yesterday wasn’t MEEEEEEEEEE!!!

I was riding along the road with heavy traffic (as is always the case here). This was just at the beginning of a long ride where we were intending to see the river for the first time. I was trying to pass a lady on a bike; my front wheel was just next to her back wheel when she decided to turn into me without looking. We both fell off but as I went down I hit the side of my head against a passing motorbike. OUCH! Dammit, now both of my legs are all scratched up and my head hurts a lot. GRRRR

I got up quickly and picked up my bike, then her bike and then went back to her. She barely had a scratch on her, but we lying on the ground at first yelling and screaming. When she realised that it wasn’t a Chinese but a foreigner who she had run into she got up. Then when she realised that I was the one bleeding she decided to admit it was her fault (yes she could speak a little English).

So she rode off and I cleaned my leg, poured water on my head and then rode home slowly.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

For the past few weeks we have been doing little more than going to class, eating and coming home. A few nights we have gone out for a jog or a ride, but life here is mostly routine. Mostly.

The bike accident
Something interesting did happen yesterday. I fell off my new bike. I was trying to keep up with Brad and ride along the ridiculous side roads that bikes are relegated to.

In Aus bikes can ride on the road, and are pretty much expected to follow the same rules as cars, but the highway the runs past our school has a road, a bike road and a footpath. No one takes any notice of the difference between the footpath and the bike road, and anyway, we have to share the bike road with 3 wheeled bikes that barley go faster than pedestrians.

Anyway – I riding along this bike path and I was trying to squeeze past a guy who was walking close to the 90 degree gutter. Anyway, the bike slipped down onto the road and I slid along the tarmac for a bit.

When we got to the “Gain Full Mart” we looked all over for some band aids or dettol but they had NOTHING. Absolutely nothing I could use except for water. When I went outside to clean off a group of Chinese stood around and watched me poor water down my leg. Seriously, they made a semi-circle around me and were having a good old chat commenting to each other in Chinese about what I was doing.

Positive Feedback
On a lighter note, we have been getting very positive feedback from the school and the teachers. They are really happy with our work, and our lessons and the students (at least the students in number 1 middle school) seem to really like us too. So, as long as we keep it up we will be able to get some very positive references when we leave this position.

made in China

The second time I had a coffee in this mug, I had filled it with coffee and milk and sugar, I was just about to add some more hot water. I picked it up but the base of the mug didn't acomany the rest of the mug.

Less that a week old, never been dropped. Only in China.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Cannibalism foetus style!

For everyone calling me ignorant for posting a hoax: I asked my Chinese friend (living in China as we both do) to read this for me and tell me what she thought. She also siad that this is real and she has heard about it in China before. So, I would suggest that your inibility to accept things so far outside your own morality is your own problem.
To the racists: The person who wrote the orgianl article was Chinese and felt the deepest discust for the practice. Obviously only a tiny miority of Chinese would even concider partisipating in this.

The news article is written in Chinese
So I have included 2 computer translations below, but for ease of reading, I have fixed up the language...

Recently a Guangdong Factory Owner from Taiwan was discovered partaking in an appalling new trend; eating babies. For 4000yuan a person can order 7-month-old baby stewed for 8 hours with Chinese herbs. This dish is thought to boost the “yang” (as in yin and yang).

The Factory Owner who was interviewed for the story is 62 years old and was having trouble keeping up with his 19 year old wife in the bed room until he found this miracle stew. He says that he depends on the soup to "keep it up" each night for his randy bride.

The restaurant in Foshan, (Guangdong Province, Southern China) code names the dish “ribs”. The chef collects girl babies from the surrounding poor villagers; sometimes an aborted foetus, sometimes a still born, sometimes the unwanted (and unlawful) second baby. The restaurant pays depending on the size of the baby. Sometimes they would pay a full-term mother 2000 Yuan for her live baby.

Only fresh babies are used, no frozen babies.

When the Chinese reporter was offered a bite of the prepared baby he either was sick, or acted like he was a got the hell out of there, not being able to eat anything for some time afterwards.
There are also more photos of this, but if I post them all on blogger, I think they might revoke my account, I have tried to post the least offensive of the photos.
--- this is the link to the original article in Chinese which is half way down a page with other articles. Since it is hosted on a Chinese web site, it might be taken down soon.

---Article translated from Chinese by Google---
Guangdong's businessmen spread of a recent trend in infant appalling tonic soup. Spend 4,000 yuan, a good cup six of the seven-month-old baby stew slowly into fill Tang, Taiwan is described as boosting - yang winning materials. In the case of factories in Dongguan to Taiwan, boasted that she was the infant Tang, months-old baby, joined Baji, red, angelica, medicine, ginger, chicken ribs join, stewing were eight hours, can be very useful, Yang Xie. He side Jinlou side Hunan least 19 years old, the side complacent he said : I am 62 years old, every night can be a return to (ML), not rely on this. Seeing a sour suspicion that he himself, with a wide vision. First stop, he took reporters to Guangdong Foshan, a restaurant to eat a baby Tang, on May 15 in charge of the Li chef said : ribs (their code word that the infant) is engaged in, no cash, placenta would have fresh, not frozen things, fresh good. Li masters tell us that really want a field to working couples, and now more than eight months pregnant, due to two births are daughter, gave birth in a few days to prepare saline, if her daughter is, when the time comes to eat. Reporter or skeptical about this, the survey interviewed a few weeks, or listen to more, no personally seen that here, Who would have thought a few short days, the case of Taiwan businessmen call : things found, the cold weather, several friends going tonic. He took reporters came to Taishan, find restaurants, the high-chef with us for many, the kitchen step forward. See, however, that the number of infant and found little more than big cats, lying on the chopping block, more than five months big, a little. Seems somewhat regret that the high-masters. High-masters said the baby's body was found friends from the countryside, where he refused to disclose the purchase price of this baby, only saying that the price is based on the size of the month, live births and stillbirths. Taiwan also named said that this measure should eat 3,500 yuan, and other details that he ignored. They talk to journalists, abortion or abortion stillbirths, intermediaries on hundreds of pieces of red packets offered midwife, so close to the maximum induced abortion live births, it must pay 2,000 yuan red packets to the baby's parents, when is the adoption; For babies referred restaurants, have died before death is a live, have no detailed examination of this Woods-Tang reporters gutless try, the kitchen incident, unable to eat for some time, while sick leave. The baby is eating, is a son policies victims, or the habits of Chinese people good tonic, has cursed to the point where the !!!

---Article translated from Chinese by
Guangdong's Taiwanese businessmen, recently spread shockingly to eat food supplements the tidal current baby soup. Spend 34,000 Yuan, eats to a cup cooks with 67 months big babies makes up the soup, the Taiwanese businessman described is fortifies yang winning. The king runs the factory which in Dongguan is surnamed the Taiwanese businessman, bragged is the baby soup patron, several months big babies, join the melinda officinalis, the codonopsis pilosula, the Chinese angelica, 杞 sub-, the ginger piece, joins the chicken spareribs, cooks for eight hours, very can restore vital energy, raise the blood. One side him tightly hugs nearby the body 19 year-old Hunan two milks, at the same time self-satisfied saying: By I 62 year-old age, each late all may come (ML), but also depends on this. Saw with own eyes reporter full face doubt, he volunteers, leads reporter to experience. The first station, he leads reporter to Guangdong Foshan, found eats the baby soup the dining room, who knows the host principle Worker Li actually said: The spareribs (their code word, refers to baby) to do not not well, the on-hand merchandise does not have, the placenta but actually has freshly, this thing cannot freeze, fresh good. Worker Li tells us, really must eat that, has husbands and wives which outside areas works, now is pregnant for more than eight months, as a result of two embryos both daughters, again crosses several days preparations salt water to expedite childbirth, if also is the daughter, when the time comes was allowed to eat. Reporter or is doubtful, the investigation interviews for several weeks, or listens many, has seen not with own eyes, thought stops in light of this, who knew several days, the king has been surnamed the Taiwanese businessman to come the electricity: The thing had found, the weather transfers coldly, some several friends want to eat food supplements. He leads reporter to arrive Taishan, had found the dining room, responsible Worker Gao leads our numerous people and so on, OPENS MIND to the kitchen. But saw that infant corpse slightly compared to cat greatly how many, lay down on the block, more than five months big, was a little small. Worker Gao said as if a little the apology. Worker Gao said the female infant corpse is the friend looks from the countryside, he is not willing to disclose this female infant searches for the purchase price, only said the price is a basis month of size, the still birth live embryo decides. The king is surnamed the Taiwanese businessman also to say that, eats this cup to take 3,500 Yuan, other details, he paid no attention. Reporter listens to them to chat, miscarries or the abortion still birth, intermediary person on package for midwife several hundred red packages, if approaches the live embryo which full-term directs to produce, then must pay 2,000 Yuan red packages to give the female infant the parents, when is the adoption; Hands over the dining room when as for the baby, all had died, before is dies is lives, thin has tested without knowing where to begin this has made up Reporter Tang not to have the gallbladder as soon as to taste, after a kitchen service, is unable to eat the thing for a very long time, feigns ill departs. Eats all is a female infant, is evil of the sub- policy, or the Chinese good eats food supplements the habit, arrived the day 谴 situation! ! !

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The Sunday Night Party - a tale of joy and destruction

Hi All,

We are still here. About 283 days to go.

On Sunday night we had a great time at a party we were invited to. A couple (English man and Chinese lady, who by the way have a great apartment) held a party for no particular reason and a guy we met a little while ago invited us along. We went with little hope that it would be a good party and left feeling like we had made a bunch of new friends. I am so happy.

At the party we met two cool Canadians who are studying Chinese and teaching at the university. I thought and they confirmed that teaching people your own age would be a little bit daunting.

Michael the host of the party has a fantastic book collection and we spent a short time talking about the books and how interesting they were. An interesting mix of heavy going and light hearted.

I spent a while talking to Glen and Gary, the 2 guys we met at a dinner a few weeks ago, and we had more chance to have a good chat and get to know them a little better.

I told some jokes to an American bloke who seemed to appreciate my style (I did my two classics, the Indian Lottery and the Elephant in the Pub – incidentally my brother’s classics, but that’s another story).

The end of the night however took a peculiar turn, it’s a bit of a long story, so let me start from the top.

Brad was talking to the Wenzhou-nese about the crazy way they tell someone’s age here. When you are born here they call you 1 year old. You come out and your instantly 1! Then they add one year to your age at spring festival. So a baby who was born on Jan 15 might be considered 2 years old after just a month, but his friend born 3 weeks later will still only be 1 year. Anyway – so they were talking about people’s age and Brad leaned over to me and said “How old am I?” There had obviously been some drinking that night.

I told him that in about 10 minutes it would be his 24th birthday since it was 11:50 on the 9th of April. Well, it got around and pretty soon Brad was undergoing the sheer torture of having people sing him a hearty, loud happy birthday song, at 10 past 12 on Monday morning, complete with the hips the hoorays and the jolly good fellows.

Pained and feeling resentful towards me, Brad endured the *ahem* “singing” and then Sue (the hostess) remembered “we’ve got a cake!” Someone had brought it to the party. A few minutes later and Brad was cutting the cake and placing the pieces on extremely small paper plates. It’s useful to note here that most Chinese cakes are a simple sponge with a great deal of fake cream covering them, usually about an inch thick.

Now just here is where the story becomes a little strange. One of the people (lets call him Mark although I am unsure if that is in fact his name, but for the purpose of the story, Mark will do). Anyway, Mark and his girlfriend were 2 of the first people to take a piece of cake. Mark’s g/f was in the middle of eating her piece when Mark pushed the cake into her face without provocation. Being a playful Chinese girlfriend (not a western girlfriend who probably would have lost it!) she retaliated by wiping the cream from her face and attempting to smear her boyfriend any way she could. Mark began to defend himself and cake cream started flying everywhere, hitting the floor, the table and - much to the horror of our hosts - the couch!!! “Anywhere but the couch!” They yelled. The words were covered over by strained politeness, but you could tell that underneath our hosts where concerned about the prospect of a food fight breaking out in their lovely, clean apartment.

Then randomly and without warning Mark began attacking the other guests. It was one man, trying to insight a food fight among some bewildered onlookers. Every wave of violence was met with defence and stunned indignation. I was struck a painful blow to my hair (okay, not painful – but it sounds dramatic don’t you think?) and Brad finally succumbed to a facial attack narrowly missing his right eye after defending me from a second blow. After Mark had finally realised that no one else was joining his war he chuckled a few times like semi-drunk people do when they realise they have made a major gaffe. Then, with no one wanting to call him on his behaviour, polite conversation resumed. A few minutes later (after washing off) Brad and I made a hasty retreat because birthday punches were being suggested.

Anyway – apart from that, it was a great night, one of the best parties in a long time and we completely enjoyed ourselves.

Apart from that it’s business as usual. Next week we have a long holiday because of mid-term examinations. Brad will have to fly to Hong Kong to sort out some visa trouble and I might go to Shanghai with L (the chick who works at our school) to pick up some cheep overseas stuff!

Cheers everyone, enjoy your life.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

After a month in Wenzhou...

It’s been too long since I posted anything here. WE have been here just over a month now, and with less than 10 months to go, I believe this will be a short year.For the most part the school is turning out fine, and the students are pretty nice, but sometimes it’s a bit daunting choosing a topic to teach each week because they say we can do anything we like. So… what to choose? There are so many possibilities.

This week we are in the middle of listening to their first assessment. We organised a debate, and asked the students to prepare for the following week. I forgot how imperative it is for students to see what they got as soon as they got it. They are looking over my shoulder so I can’t concentrate on listening to the other groups. I had to hide the marks from them!!!

In the next few weeks I’m going to give them another task which involves changing an old Chinese story into English and performing it.

Another idea is to get them to put together a community action project and get them to do something in their local community. Perhaps just present a proposal.

The city is worth exploring and it’s going to take up the whole 10 months to find everything there is to find. We still haven’t gotten down to the river or the ocean, but it’s good to leave these things for times of boredom.

One thing that isn’t pleasant is the air in the afternoon. The school campus seems quite clean, but the highway next to the school is surrounded by dust and muck. It’s totally disgusting to ride through and one feels as though they better not breathe too heavily lest the muck accumulate in ones lungs. If only I had a gas mask.

That’s about the only thing that Gaozhou is better for – the air. The weather is probably going to be milder, but who knows.

In other news we went riding because we got two new bikes!!! Hooray. They were about 700 each, and they are so shiny! People have warned us the bike theft is at epidemic levels, but we managed to leave them outside Gain Full Mart (the local supermarket) without loosing them, so it couldn’t be that bad.

So, all in all we are happy again. Happy to be in a new city, happy to be at a school that doesn’t treat everyone like shit, happy to be teaching small classes and happy to be together. Our new friend Miss L (to remain nameless) is pretty interesting too, but I can talk more about her later, I have to do some paperwork!!!

Ciao everyone, if you want our new number send us an email!


P.S. This is the picture taken on the famous mall in Wenzhou "Wu Ma Tiar" or 5 horse street.
These 2 were taken in a famous water village about an hours drive outsdie Wenzhou.