Day 12 - Tuesday June 10, 2008

I don't know why the date above says June 19th, and I can't seem to fix it ... this post is for June 10th. The date I created is was yesterday, June 25th, so it's some sort of glitch.

The restaurant we went to in Zhumadian (when we got back yesterday) was great, but when we came downstairs, they were pulling the fish out of their restaurant "fish pond". I had thought it was for a pleasant picture - it was pretty... but hey! they cook those fish for dinner!!

Time to say good-bye to Gua Gua ... .

Back behind our hotel room, business continued as usual. This morning, there were people peeling veggies ...

and some were supervising, I guess.

Oh, this fellow saw me taking his pic. I waved afterwards and he smiled and waved back.

This morning I got ready and had breakfast with Michael before I walked him to the bus stop for his full day of school. Michael checked the weather forecast and they said it was going to be rainy and cool (DOWN to 20C!). I just got back from the grocery store and it’s still warm... probably 26C at least, and it has not rained. Perhaps it’s raining somewhere in Henan Province.

Lots of people stare at me wherever I go, and not just when I was taking pictures - especially guys, suppose it’s because I’m cute? ... or could it be my bra size? I’m not even going to look for a bra in China!

A bottle of water at the grocery store is about 1 rmb (1/7 of a dollar) but at the hotel in Beijing, a large bottle of Evian could be 45 rmb if purchased in the room.

Your guess is as good as mine...

... don't know if you can see the prices, but this great stuff is inexpensive for a Canadian.

At the grocery store I took lots of pictures but a man dressed in some guard clothes came and let me know I was not supposed take pictures - it’s not allowed. I think I had been asked that a few times before here and there on the street and elsewhere, but I just always act like a dumb foreigner and keep taking pictures. Besides, that’s one of my main reasons for being here.

That's like, nineteen bananas on a bunch.

Everyone is always super nice to me. First they all stare and then when I smile or try to get help, they’re more than helpful and always smile back. At the grocery store, I didn’t know I was supposed to get the fruit weighed and priced, so when I got to the check-out counter and acted dumb, one of the young cashiers who was free, ran back to the fruit and veggie section and got my things priced. So helpful! Sometimes they giggle. This really must be a "small town" because people like me from other lands are a rare site here.

Before I went into the grocery store they were able to make me understand that I had to leave my purse at a place like a “coat check”. I got a tag with an elastic on it and put it on my wrist while I shopped. My purse looks like a napsack, maybe that’s why... but I took out my wallet and made sure to have my camera when I went in.

I bought 6 bags of that wonder tea that helps me have bms and thought the tea section was worthy of note. It seemed there was a bag of tea for whatever problem one might have. I really wished at that point that I could read Chinese. They had some beautiful dark clay tea cups with lids and I would have loved to buy a couple of them, but if I did stuff like that here, we’d have to buy another suitcase for the trip home and I’d have more to carry next week when we travel with all our stuff. I’ve already bought 3 pairs of shoes.

It seems as though plastic bags are the new fangled contraption here. Everything is wrapped in plastic or put in plastic bags. I’ve got plastic bags everywhere - am trying to at least re-use them... I know they’re working on the problem, they said so on a news report in Kaifeng (they had an English channel there).

Out of the 3 hotels we’ve been in over the last few days, I like the one in Zhumadian the best - maybe because it’s the biggest (twice the size of Kaifeng) and the ceilings are 10 feet high. It also has a huge window with interesting goings on outside the window - which is just as good as a view. But it doesn’t really matter.

Michael has prepared out train schedule for next week and we’ll ask Chunhong to get tickets for us. Here it is:
Train Schedule Zhumadian> Zhengzhou Zhengzhou>Kaifeng --- train 4714 dep. 13:50 arr. 15:10 Kaifeng > Zhengzhou --- train 1540/1537 dep. 08:37 arr. 09:25 Zhengzhou > Beijing train D124 dep. 11:07 arr. 16:11 Soft seat tickets for ordinary trains and first class tickets for D train.

On the way to the university... a wagon of wheat on the street.

You'd be as surprised as I was when I was told these places were stores.

On the university grounds.

Some students have motor bikes ...

One lecture of Michael's ...

I met Michael at school around 4 pm and around 5 he had a lecture - it was on the topic of "Fonts". He spoke for about a 1/2 hour (after teaching all day) and then played the movie “Helvetica”. I was content to see it again - it's a great documentary for designers to see. About 150 students filed into the auditorium before we started. And during the movie about 20 students slowly trickled out - not a bad ratio, I reasoned.

We headed back to the foreign experts office where we met up with the other Michael from Halifax. He was going to show us his apartment - so that my Michael would know what it was like and could choose to live there next time he comes to teach. It was about a 20-30 minute walk from the International building. I’m not sure if I would want to stay there - only the small bedroom has an air conditioner and you’d have to do your own laundry and your own cooking or eat in the student cafeteria (with plastic bags on the plates) (hmm ... does it sound like I’m spoiled?).

We walked there, and at the apartment I had some perrier and the 2 Michael’s had some “real beer” while we sat on the couch and waited for Frank so we could go for supper. I didn’t think it was polite to take pictures of the place, but it wasn’t much to look at; a very tiny kitchen, a small laundry room (with a squat toilet under part of the dryer), a shower room (where the sink gets showered on every time you shower), a toilet room (with another sink and western toilet), a small bedroom (Michael had a mosquito net on the bed - with lilac coloured lace trim), and then there was a small living room. Suitable for bachelor-type living I guess.

We took a taxi to the restaurant - a very unusual place with many huts and the kitchen no where in sight (maybe that was a good thing). The two other Canadians wanted us to experience the chicken... So when we sat down in this mud and bamboo hut, they brought in the chicken - to be approved (yikes!):

Then all the other food was brought out as we waited for the chicken.

Lots of food .. and pijiu (beer).

And, finally, the chicken. It looked better alive actually. "Unfortunately" I was full and the guys only had a smidge of it - what a waste!

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