• 26Apr

    What?!  Beijing?!?!  And you thought I lived in Kunming.  Um, well I do.  I’m just visiting Beijing for a few days on a spur of the moment trip.  My roommate Ruth needed a travel buddy to go to Beijing with her so she could go to a conference on creating libraries (her line of work).  So I volunteered thinking that a trip could help me find the time that I’ve been searching for to finally update my blog, answer several emails, and do some other things that have been neglected far too long.  So as far as Beijing goes, I could be in Mongolia for all I know, for the next few days my area of travel will probably be a two block radius (just far enough to find something to eat!).

    Goodness so much has happened in the past well I guess month!

    The biggest thing to have happened is that Ruth’s Mom, Dad and littlest sister, WeiWei, are now living in Kunming.  Ruth’s mom and dad both have a job at the old folks home that’s run by the local fellowship.  She’s helping with prepping the food for meals, tending to the field of vegetables that they have there and taking care of the 3 pig, 20 chickens, 5 rabbits and 4 ducks.  He’s helping with some of these things but also helping with taking care of the residents.

    It’s great to have them a little bit closer now.  It still takes about an hour to get from where I live to where they live, but it sure beats the 4 hours to get to their old house.  (And the 1 RMB bus fair is a whole lot cheaper than the 45 RMB!)

    The greatest part is that being in the city means that WeiWei can go to preschool!  As you can imagine their village of maybe 20 houses doesn’t exactly mean that there is a preschool there.  With the nearest elementary school being an hour hike down the mountain, I’m not sure where the nearest preschool would be!  In March WeiWei went to her first day of school!


    Here she is after her first day!  It was fun to pick her up from school.  We were all quite proud of her, she went without complaint on the first day.  The second day was a little tougher.  I think that the first day was a fun new experience but that evening when she realized that she would have to go back the next day, she started to worry about it.  So she announced that IF she was going to go to school the next day it wouldn’t be until AT LEAST until after lunch.  She wasn’t too much of a happy camper when she found out that despite her announcement she was still going in the morning.  After thinking for a little bit she figured out that there wasn’t really a way of getting out of going, so then she informed us, “Well, IF I HAVE to go tomorrow, then you tell the teacher that I do NOT need to take a nap, and that she is NOT to take my coat.”  Her mom agreed to inform the teacher of these new demands so all was well.  The next day upon their arrival at the school WeiWei tells her mom, “Well… bend down here.”  Her mom bends down and WeiWei gives her a kiss on the cheek and walks off.  What a funny kid.  She treats going to school as most of us would treat going to work.  It’s something that has to be done, so she does it.  She can now write 0, 1, 2 and ‘m’.  (Well the ‘m’ is a 3 that has kinda fallen over….).

    Since they moved down here, Ruth and I try to go visit them on the weekends and on special days I’ll go pick up WeiWei from school.  It’s been fun to have a little sister.  It’s cute to see the smirk on her face when she sees that it’s me picking her up from school.  On the walk home she’ll usually talk about something that I can’t understand but all she needs to hear are the little cues like “Uh huh… is that so… really?… where?” and she’ll keep on going.  I’m not sure how long that’s going to work, but hopefully in the meantime I’ll continue to learn more and more Chinese and their local dialect.  So perhaps by the time she figures out that I might not understand what she’s talking about she’ll be wrong!  Haha.  I can always hope right?

    One weekend we went down to the park by the lake (the really really green one from last year, although this year it wasn’t green!).  We spent the afternoon together just walking around the park, eating some snacks and talking.  I realized that this was probably the first time that they had been to a park together or even on an outing together.  It was a really pretty day and I even stood in the water (and I’m still alive with both feet to tell about it!).




    WeiWei’s first shoulder ride!


    First ride down a slide.  She only tried it twice and wasn’t willing to try the bigger one!

    I also went to the Minority Village with a few friends.  My roommate was helping to take a guy from fellowship to the minority village before he moved to a different part of China.  He’s blind (I think his retinas detached at age 16 or so) so he needed some friends to accompany him.  It was definitely good practice for my Chinese to try to describe some of the sites that were around.  The Minority Village is like the countries portion of Epcot Center but without the rides.  In China there are 55 different minority/ethnic groups so the Minority Village highlights several of them with displays of traditional housing, clothing, dance, instruments, etc.  It’s very educational… lots of signs to read (so really fun for those who like reading signs…).


    There was at least an interesting elephant show where they get elephants to do all sorts of crazy things that I’m sure PETA wouldn’t approve of.


    Here we all are at the entrance.  It was a very very cold day.  Brrr.  I think when we took this picture I had lost all feeling in my feet and hands!

    Last weekend Ruth had organized a “play date” between two 5th grade schools.  She has been working at a migrant school for the past 6 months plus putting in a library for the kids so she also took that opportunity to start a pen pal things between the 5th graders at this school and 5th graders at a government school (Ruth knows a 5th grade teacher there so they were able to set it up pretty easy).  So this past weekend they arranged for the other school to come to their school for a play date.  The kids were pretty excited to get to actually meet their pen pal face to face.  It was also a great opportunity for these kids with extremely different backgrounds to come together.  The kids from this government school are on the wealthier side because it’s connected with a big university in Kunming.  From an observers perspective it was very interesting to see all of the differences with the kids.  You notice right away the significant height difference, the style and quality of clothes, the hairstyles… but then you also notice the similarities that seem to cross through the classes.  The classes played some games together, had a basketball match and then shared a snack.  Hopefully this experience will help give the kids in both classes perspective and will help them be better people for the future!


    As I’m sure you’ve guessed, the kids on the left are the kids from Ruth’s school and the kids in green are from the other school.  They arrived in a charter bus accompanied by most of their parents.


    They played a Rock Paper Scissors game where the loser has to go behind the winner.  The heads of each line battle until it’s just two lines left to battle for the championship!


    The two schools competed in a friendly basketball game.  The gov school has 2 basketball coaches that come from the local university to help teach them technique and skills.  The gov school often competes in matches against other schools (hence the red jersey).  Ruth’s school well….. plays street ball.  But this kid was quite good!  He kept his team fairly close.  It would be really neat to see this kid’s potential if he too had a basketball coach come to his school.


    The girls also played, only the girls from Ruth’s school have never played before.  It was great to see the gov school girls help teach their opponents some of the rules and techniques.


    Here’s the whole gang!  Hopefully it was an eye opening experience for not only the kids but maybe some of the parents too!

    I also went on an retreat with all the foreigners (non-Chinese) people working at the non-profit that I’ve been helping out at.  There were about 50 adults or so plus tons of kids.  It was definitely strange to be around so many non-Chinese people for the 4 days.  I really started to miss speaking Chinese!  The retreat was really good.  It was nice to be able to worship in English again, plus the talks were really great!  I brought my football and got to toss it around too!  Finally people who knew what a football was!

    I’ve been keeping up on my studies amidst all of these activities.  Still studying 10 hours a week in classes and all the time at home.  English is slowly vanishing from our household.  I’ve noticed the need for the dictionary has significantly decreased and the few times that it’s needed is for really complicated words!  I’m really excited that our conversations are starting become deeper.  It’s not just surface questions anymore.  So I guess language is really starting to come along!

    And finally for the part you’ve all been waiting for…. funny picture of things in China…


    How much is this guy willing to buy this bag of hair for?  What kind of hair you ask… human hair.  Ruth’s mom’s hair to be exact… when she decides to cut it she puts it in a bag.  Why would you put it in a bag?  Well because this bag of hair sells for 10 RMB/100 grams.  So this bag went for 64 RMB.  When I asked the guy what he does with the hair… he responded he sells it to someone else.  When I asked what they do with it… he replied that he didn’t know.  Ruth’s dad said they make shoes out of it.  Not sure the accuracy of that… but next time you get a haircut maybe you should put it in a bag… you never know how much it’ll be worth!


    Syl (and any other Calvin and Hobbes lovers) this one is for you.  Apparently Calvin (and Hobbes) are bilingual.  Guess you never thought they could speak Chinese.  Does the voice in your head change for Calvin when you look at it?


    When there is an emergency seek shelter in this tree?  This sign is in the middle of a park.  There are no “shelters” that I could see, well other than the tree.


    Is that a pylon in the road?  Oh nope… just a baby.  I guess I would think to put my baby in my car or have my “baby on board”, but to put it on the road… seems well… irresponsible?  But I guess that’s the way it goes here.  At least they gave it a bottle.


    Talk about losing your independence as a senior.  Guess it’s rougher over here for seniors.  This sign would be funny just on it’s own… but to make it even greater… it’s above an escalator to the supermarket.  So seniors can’t even go down an escalator unaccompanied.  Bummer.  Don’t get old in China.  Or count your blessings that you when you’re old in the States that at least you have the freedom to go up and down escalators unaccompanied.

    Fun stuff.  I really wish that there was a way to capture more of the crazy things that I see everyday, but even getting out my phone isn’t always quick enough.

    That’s all for now.  Hopefully there will be time to post again soon!



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