Monday, September 29, 2014

"Food" In China

I have learned in my travels that you have to be open-minded to other people's food when you're in their country. Ireland: blood pudding. Like, seriously?? You eat food with blood in the title. That's just weird for me. China: a shit-load of stuff... 

Chipmunks... I've seen them at a few markets and I gotta wonder who eats these adorable little guys. 
Mmmm... Chipmunk... 

So do they buy them as chicks then raise them? I hope so... Although, I was at KFC the other day and had a chicken breast and wondered how old the chicken was that gave me that breast. It was TINY. So maybe I'M eating these little chicks disguised as delicious fast food! I tell ya, China is a good place to turn you vegetarian. 

How about some toads? At our local grocery store they're actually all just sitting in a tub with no top. They're not jumping out. Why....??? Are their legs like, cut?? Anyway... Frog soup? Frogs legs?? 

Turtles of various sizes and breed. I've seen babies all the way up to these huge dinner-plate sized guys. And yes, they're alive and staring you in the face. 

People pop out the seeds of the Lotus flower and eat them. This is just weird... I would like to try it though! 

So we're going into Shanghai for a few days where I'm sure I'll snap a lot more interesting eats! 
We are going to do some touristy things, but we're also going to a bunch of malls and haggle/fake markets. I cannot wait I am so excited!!! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Shanghai Shopping Trip

So I was so excited when my friend Maria said she woud take us to Shanghai because 1) we needed someone to show us the route (taxi - bus - subway - and back again) and 2) I was ready to see the big city!! The travelling there wasn't so bad because transit is quick, cheap (about $10 round-trip) and easy, but the subway has about 12 different lines, so we just needed to be shown the ropes, so to speak. 

The bus terminal/airport terminal/subway terminal... It was huge! 
We headed to a street where a lot of the stores sell art supplies (mainly traditional calligraphy brushes and papers) but there were a bunch of stores that had some "western" art supplies too, and I was EXCITED!! One of the most shocking things I encountered were the alcohol markers (like Copic, except I didn't actually find Copics per se) were about  ¥3 each, which is about $0.60!! If I didn't already have a couple of different sets of markers I would have bought a bunch. I bought a set of Faber-Castell watercolor pencils, some Stabilo pens, a paint brush, some palette paper, a couple of canvases and that was about it... 
Note: bamboo scaffolding (scary!!!), animals in cages NOT for adoption (for consumption.. awwwww...), crowded subway, guy harvesting Jackfruit - I gotta try some!

We then headed to an underground market and that was fascinating! Everything was "fake" and the salespeople were something else... They grabbed you, they called out to you, and if you dared to look in their booth they would haggle with you until you were convinced you got a good price! lol... I have to say that between Ian, Phoenix and I we are a family of good hagglers. We were willing to walk away from the items and that was key - if you go to walk away they'll give you your price! I didn't take any photos in there (you weren't allowed) but I'll try next time. It was a trip!! 

So... I wanted to go to the Apple store to pick up a doo-dad for my iPad and I just didn't know how crazy the Chinese were for Apple... 

There was a crowd waiting outside the store to get in, and the funniest moment was when the store finally opened, the staff stood at the entrance and clapped for all the customers as we walked in. The royal treatment!! We walked by the Apple store a few more times that day and the crowds never lessened. Having an Apple product is a MAJOR status symbol in China - all the kids have all the gadgets in my classes... 

That's all for now! Zaijian! (prounounced tsai-tsee-en)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Update: School 'n Stuff

So firstly, I know you all want to see what our place looks like and what our school looks like, but you're gonna have to keep your pants on!! I have some pride (yes I do, and I bet you didn't know that...) and I have to pick up some essentials for our apartment that will make our place a lot more organized, but presentable too... Know that we are pretty happy with our near-free accommodations and we won't be moving off-campus any time soon. There are a lot of teachers here that have lived in "Zplashes Resort" the whole time they've been here... So it's really not that bad!!

School: Phoenix is doing well in school and loves all of his teachers - yes even his evil drama teacher ;) - and he's actually doing the grade 9 curriculum. That's right, he skipped grade 8. If we go back to Canada he would go back to his normal grade, but just because his English is so high he can work at a higher grade level competently. He will have some holes because "English" is actually ESL here, and I am not sure how much of the grade 9 English curriculum is going to be covered, but the rest of the classes are on-par with Canada... Ian is teaching ESL and cultural studies to grades 4-6 and like we've been saying, kids are kids no matter where you are. He works with a full-time Chinese aid in the class and she's helping him know how far he can push the kids and where they're coming from. It's tough for a lot of the kids because it's a boarding school. Can you imagine dropping off your grade 1 child in September and saying GOODBYE to them? For like, a week or two?? Crazy... So some of the kids act out, some of them are grumpy, but they are all kids just like at home. I am doing well, I have 4 drama 10 classes, and one Drama: film and TV class and they're all great. Just like at home kids are like, "What? I have to get up in front of people and ACT?!?!" Ummm. That's right! In a couple of weeks I will be starting an after-school club/class: Vocal Performance with another teacher at the school who is a singer. This school is ON FIRE for singing and dancing and we already have our first competition under-way. I can't wait to get started with music!!

Now I'm going to leave you with a photo... Before we got to China we were warned about "wild dogs" and in my head I pictured rabies-infested mutts covered in shite and fleas. I never pictured something like this:

She was just wandering around the bus station. She was one of the happiest, friendliest little puppies we've ever seen and just wook at dat widdle face!! It was SO HARD to walk away from her. She needed cleaning up and good flea bath and she was running around near a busy street, but there are so many cute dogs just like her around us. It's heart-breaking... 

Anyway... I've got some photos of Shanghai loading up (it takes a LONG TIME with the slow internet here) so I'll probably have something tomorrow for ya! 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reminder: To Also Rush! To Punch!

We had to go into the city of Suzhou (Soo-joe) today for a medical exam and this is what greeted me in the bathroom stall:

Huh?! I guess it's one of those lost in translation things... I was warned that in China the stalls do not provide toilet paper and they were right!! Good thing I had a tissue in my purse! You also can't flush it down the toilet - you have to throw it in a garbage can next to the toilet. I guess with billions of people in the country you have to think about that kind of stuff...

After our exam we went downtown to find something to eat. As always with traffic in China, there are millions of little electric scooters zooming around. (Gas scooters were just made illegal over the summer so they're all the slow, quiet kind which is nice)

It was a fun little trip but it was too short. Suzhou is a huge city and I can't wait to get back there and explore soon!!