Monday, June 30, 2008

Boxes, Shipped, Gone

Yesterday, Katie and I packed and sent all of our stuff to Yunnan. Thanks so so much to Shorel and Sandra and to Amy and Beth for all their help (I don't know what we would have done without you all)!!! We shipped 22 boxes, bags, suitcases and plastic tote bags full of stuff. We also have a whole room in our house full of stuff to give away. So much stuff after nearly 5 years of living in Yichang. Yesterday was such a long day of packing! It started at 6 a.m. with friends arriving early to help us send Marty and Selena's stuff to another place in China via train. Then we moved Katie's and my stuff in the afternoon. But the stuff is gone and I'm glad. Sending everything cost us 850 yuan (US$125 ) The movers came and helped us seal up the boxes, carried it out our front door into a van, and it will arrive in our new city of Mengzi four days from now and be waiting for us when we get there in August. Pretty good deal thanks to getting a discounted student rate since we live on campus and EMS is running specials for the students who are going home. Now there's just some cleaning left, giving away the leftover, unwanted stuff to the recyclers, arranging my suitcase to go home, and other miscellaneous errands to take care of today. Now that the stuff's gone, I'm really ready to just be home. I will miss this apartment though! I've really loved my home for the past two years.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

30 years

Happy 30th anniversary to my wonderful parents today!

Beijing Food Market

While with Joanna and Becky in Beijing, we sort of accidentally stumbled onto this crazy food market near Tiananmen. Don't get it in your head that this is normal Chinese food . . . even the Chinese people think this is a little crazy . . .

All kinds of crazy things on sticks.
Not really sure what these were but they were scary looking. Oh and those are silk worm larvae on the right.
Yes . . . bugs, scorpions, and various other creepy, crawly creatures that should never be even considered edible.
Me trying fried starfish which turned out to be gritty and gross.
Joanna agreed with me that the starfish was disgusting (despite the vendors assuring us it was delicious and healthy).Becky trying snake. We also two types of sea mushrooms.

Back to Blogging

Wow . . . I've really gotten behind on my blog! "So much time, so little to do . . . wait . . . strike that, reverse it." (to quote Willy Wonka)

Two weeks ago I listened to about 150 oral exams. I spend the weekend grading, entering numbers into the computer, and carefully filling in numbers in hundreds of little boxes on the school's grading forms. As of last Monday, grades were finished!

On Monday afternoon of last week I took a train up to Beijing. Some friends from back home, Joanna and Becky Straub, were visiting China for a few days and I decided to go up to Beijing to see them and show them around. Joanna teaches in Korea and Becky (her mom) decided to visit her in Korea and then they both wanted a chance to see China and the Great Wall. We had a good time together and, amazingly, the "China Variable" was kept to a minimum. I think I'm becoming a pretty good tour guide in Beijing. If anyone else wants to come visit, just let me know! More pictures to follow . . .

Katie and I had to ship our passports and other documents to our new city of Mengzi to get our new residence permits processed. We've (especially Katie since I was up in Beijing) been running around getting the right documents, stamps, photos, permits, etc. and trying to email, call, and message our Foreign Affairs Coordinator in Mengzi and work with our FAO here in Yichang. Please pray that we get our passports shipped back to us by next Monday. We fly to Beijing next Tuesday and we HAVE to have our passports then!! I'm nervous, but it's out of my hands.

This week Katie and I are packing and saying goodbye and running around doing all those little things that just keep coming up when you're trying to leave town. Yesterday I took all the things off the walls in the apartments as a way to start packing. I figured I needed some reminded that, yes, I am moving so I need to get moving. It's a little sad to take down all the memories, but I'm excited about the next phase.

Other things I hope to blog about soon . . . Amy's Indian birthday party, getting our favorite restaurant to give us a cooking lesson in our house, Katie and I throwing our own going away open house, and other happenings.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Blogging Neglect

I'm so behind on my blog! I'm swamped with exams and grades this week. Must keep grading . . .

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Plastic Bag Ban

As of June 1, China is supposedly enforcing a policy to reduce the number of plastic bags.

This informative article says that China uses 3 billion plastic bags every day!

Grocery stores and other shops are supposed to charge for bags to encourage shoppers to bring their own bags. The biggest problem seems to be the small shops, road side stands, and market stalls that use tiny flimsy plastic bags to put fruit, veggies and snacks in. The bags are too small to use again and tear easily that they end up being discarded immediately.

I guess the question now is how well the new policy will be enforced.

I did notice one of the grocery stores I shop at selling reusable canvas bags for a few yuan. I guess I should invest in one for my future trips to the store.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

2,008 Pianos Follow-up

So, I saw some newspaper pictures about the performance at the Three Gorges Dam to welcome the torch. There were two pianos. Only two. Not 2,008. My friend Clark (who really seems to know everything and everyone in Yichang) said that there were two famous pianist, one Chinese and one foreign, who played a piano concert at the dam. But there definitely weren't 2,008 pianos. So the moral of the story is that even "official" websites and newspaper articles are not immune from either translation errors or typos, whatever that was.

I also heard that Katie, Mary Beth, Mindy, and I made it into one of the Yichang newspapers but I'm not sure which one. I'm going to try to get a copy of it!

Edit: Today one of my students said she heard there were 1,000 pianos at the Three Gorges Dam.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Torch Relay

Today, the Olympic torch went through Yichang. Katie, Mindy, Mary Beth, and I (after much debating about whether or not it was really worth it) got up at 5:30 a.m. and got a ride with a friend with a car. We found a place on the road that runs parallel to the Yangtze to watch the torch pass. A little after 8:00, we got to see one of the runners jog her 100 meters with the torch and then pass the torch off to the next runner. The crowds weren't too bad at that point but when we tried to get another view of the torch, we couldn't see a thing. When we tried to head home, the city was insanely crazy! America just doesn't have crowds like China has crowds. People everywhere and no buses, taxis or cars allowed to drive anywhere. We hung out in a coffee shop for a while and then tried to go home but we ended up having to walk for about half an hour, fight our way onto a completely packed bus that took us in the right direction, then take motorcycle taxis the rest of the way home, finally arriving home a little before noon.

China support and patriotism is super high right now because of the Olympics, the previous problems with the torch relay in other countries, and the earthquake. We all got Olympic t-shirts. The "I love China" t-shirts seemed to be the popular favorite. The most interesting t-shirt I saw said, "Tibet in China, Torch in Heart."

Here come the guards to make sure no one messes with the torch.

When the torch passed, everyone started cheering, "Zhong Guo, jia you!" . . . Go China!

The word "crowded" just doesn't do justice to the situation.
Trying to get a better view!