A Travellerspoint blog

Doris' 4th Birthday!!

Sunday went to Vik’s local market and bought another puzzle for Doris, just a princess Disney thing with 12 cubes that make a picture and every side of the cube makes a different scene. She loves it but doesn’t help the single child syndrome as much as I’d hoped the other one would!! I also got her some cute little rubbers and one of those pencils with blue, red, yellow, and green lead that we all loved as kids…her not so much!
Caught the bus home and had a little while to relax and plan for next weeks lessons before a few of her friends arrived for a little party…to which I realised the parents including Jessica expected me to be the host, entertainer, babysitter, and “I’m enjoying myself so much” person because I’m the English teacher. I played a few games with them and just tried to interact as positively as I could but it just gets so draining when every child thinks they are the most important thing on this planet and every parent agrees!
They also had arranged vegetables in the kitchen to which I was asked to make the same salad my mum made when she visited! The salad was fine but I wasn’t sure about the measurements of vinegar, soy sauce, and sugar for the dressing so took a bit of mixing to get right and although they made a few faces when they ate it I’m pretty sure it was because they couldn’t believe they were eating vegetables raw rather then the dressing was poisoning them, because I thought it was great if I don’t say so myself!
After a huge dinner we had the cake that looked amazing with enough cream to clot 100 hearts. Jessica had bought a candle that no one knew really what to expect from it….hard to explain but 7 little candles leaning in so that their wicks met over a plastic fake mini cake with a string coming out of it like dynamite. What happened when they lit it I found hilarious. The candles all lit in a pretty flame then nothing happened for a while. All of a sudden the string caught fire and happy birthday started playing from whom knows where. At the same time there was an explosion from the fake plastic cake and the middle of the plastic melted and erupted in some form of sparkler to add to the one flame, the candles flew out to the sides and started spinning round with little flags coming off them and all I could focus on was the smell of poison burning plastic and watch it drip black drips onto the cake Hahaha, when it exploded all the parents cheered as if it was Christmas while all the children cowered in their seats so I’m still deciding who the candle was actually bought for!!!
After we’d all had some cake the children were allowed to massacre it and the more cake they got on the floor and their white dresses and the lounges the funnier it seemed to be for the parents with their happy snappy cameras, so I cleared out and let them be for the rest of the night, feeling sorry for the poor maid who had no idea what she was in for the next morning as it was her day off.

Posted by Lhillhouse 04:18 Comments (0)

ACIC Exit Meeting, Tianjiu Park, and Kung Fu

Saturday we were meeting Jessie and Jimmy from the company to have our final exit meeting. None of us were looking forward to it as we’d basically written over 4 pages of all the things that hadn’t happened or had happened that shouldn’t have that we needed to tell them. So pretty much a day of complaining and saying everything that was wrong with the company. By coincidence we were meeting at the same street we went to the night before as the Tibetan café had been recommended by Tom who was meant to be coming but had been forbidden to say anything so basically was just there to have a laugh with the rest of us at the companies bad points. But the day before he had torn something in his leg so couldn’t make it.IMG_6128.jpg
It ended up being a 20 minute individual interview with either Jimmy or Jessie. I fortunately got Jessie who’s been there from the start and understands (a little) of here were coming from. Vikki and Rosie copped Jimmy who for one can’t take a word of criticism about either himself or the company, and there were lots as he was the one who had agreed with the principals that our accents were wrong and should be more American!! And also the one that has been taking video’s and photo’s of our classes even though we’ve told him over and over not to. So by the end of it Rosie and Vik had gotten absolutely no where as he couldn’t even understand enough of their English to write answers to his questions, but my time with Jessie was really good, and although I said everything that I had written down and wanted to say it ended happily enough (I think) because she admitted that there were a lot of issues with my kindergartens principal and Sally so that made me feel better that I wasn’t the only one who thought she was a serpent woman who doesn’t know how to treat employees let alone foreigners…haha
We had a yummy lunch there then we left to go to a park we’d heard about with a fake beach and a big wave pool (sounds much more impressive then it actually was…) IMG_6130.jpgbut Rosie felt really sick so she stayed in the taxi and went home. The change room reminded us of a gas chamber with 100 naked Chinese women of all shapes and sizes in far to close a proximity for me to remain comfortable so we got changed at lightning speed and headed for the water.
It was hilarious how many Asian men there were that spent no time in the water rather standing on the edge in swimming attire far to revealing and small for anyone’s liking lathering themselves from head to toe in what I assumed was oil…like they don’t have enough in their food already they have to put it straight on their skin!! The waves were nice but in no way a model of real waves and seeing the majority of them being unable to swim I realised 2 things. No wonder we hear of so many Chinese tourists drowning in Australian beaches every episode of surf rescue, and an inflatable tube business would make a motza in this country as everyone appeared to be too scared to stand on their own two feet even though the pool barely came up to our ribs…IMG_6129.jpg
After having over a month of practically endless sunshine the clouds (or pollution) came over in a huge wave and it got quite cold bobbing up and down in the water so after chatting to one of Pip’s American friends who lives in her community that we bumped into we opted to go again in search of the crepe man before our kung fu show later that night.
He was open!!! We got a delicious nutella and banana crepe (far too small to fill any hungry human) and grabbed a taxi to the Yashow markets because I wanted some more DVD’s to fill my case before we leave China. I also ended up buying 2 handbags (so did Vik) because I gave my old one to the maid along with a few t-shirts I didn’t want as she loves looking through all the fashion magazines Vik’s family brought for her and left behind.IMG_6132.jpgIMG_6133.jpg
We had dinner at Sanlitun at a place called the Blue Frog, now definitely one of our favourites. It’s owned by a lovely Pommie guy and had a great menu. It also happened to be happy hour and seeing it was hot Vik and I each got a 2 for one cocktail that were huge! We got apple and mango frozen margaritas. We we’re about to leave when they asked us if we wanted our second drink and we said no well just split the price of this one. The suckers that we are got told you can’t split the 2 for one deal with friends so there was a free drink waiting for us anyway. Already feeling very cool and happy we were brought our new drinks. Strawberry and peach frozen margaritas (they were the best I’ve ever tasted!) but realising we were late for the Kung Fu and knowing we wouldn’t be able to skull them down for more reasons then just brain freeze, we put them in plastic take away cups and felt very classy as we rushed down the street to get a taxi.
The ticket lady rang who I’d booked them through but we ended up getting there with perfect timing. We were second row from the front on the balcony but no one sat in the front row so we hopped down and it was an awesome show!!IMG_6136.jpgIMG_6137.jpgIMG_6143.jpgIMG_6145.jpg
It was much more of a story then the acrobatics show and was about the life of a boy coming to the temple to study the art of kung fu. They had fighting, those rope things people twist themselves up in, people balancing on sword tips, a guy lay across three sharp sword blades, then had a palate of nails on him and another guy lie on him then a concrete slab on him then broken with a mallet…( a little overboard haha but still impressive), and just amazing things done with the body in general and some of the boys were so young!
Afterwards we sent Pip home in a taxi and I went back to Vik’s because I’d bought a birthday present for Doris the day before and left it there. It was a really cute domino style set of rainbow wooden dols with the alphabet and numbers on the that you set up in a row then they all knock each other down….I thought it would teach her some patience and get some of her destructive nature out so she’s not so violent…(and I thought she’d like it) haha. Unfortunately I couldn’t find it anywhere and think we must of left it at the markets somewhere.

Posted by Lhillhouse 22:16 Comments (0)

Posting Home A Meter Long Sword

Today was the day we were attempting to send back to Australia everything we couldn’t fit in our bags. Luckily for Vik and me, everything had fit apart from my sword. I woke up early and got a bus to their place. So I would be allowed on public transport with a huge sword I had to wrap it in something…after finding no newspaper the best I could come up with was my towel so I sacrificed the next three weeks of drying myself with a hand towel and wrapped up the sword and mummified it with not very sticky, sticky tape. The bus was packed so I stood for over an hour sardined between sweaty Asians and my “towel wrapped hockey stick” until I arrived at Rosies place. She had a full big backpack and a huge garbage bag full of excess stuff so with that in hand we trudged off to find a taxi that knew where the international post office was.
Although our driver agreed to know the way, 20 minutes later we pulled up out side of the completely wrong China Post, though we decided to give it a crack anyway. Rosie ended up with 17kilo’s of stuff and had to count every item that she put in the boxes, It got all packed up and eventually paid for but just as we we’re about to leave realised they hadn’t included insurance! So spent ages with Tom translating via phone to workers that were clearly getting angrier and angrier, that we needed insurance. We eventually were told you can’t get it here and we’d have to go somewhere else!
While Vikki and Rosie were busy dealing with that I was told plainly that I couldn’t send my sword…I had already received an email from Australian customs saying if it was more then 40cm long it was allowed in as it wasn’t classed as being a concealable weapon…but in my poor Chinese and their ridiculous English this was unable to be understood… during all this a little man was hovering around from who knows where and he beckoned me next door which was another postal service EMS. After he spoke to a worker there and they had their fill of laughter at my expense stuck in the country with a giant sword I was again told it wasn’t possible. Back in the main area I was deciding if I could handle carrying a sword for 3 weeks of backpacking and weather they’d let me on trains and busses when the little hovering man came over again and beckoned outside. I followed because we’ve learnt in china you can always get what you want; you’ve just got to keep trying, and found myself down a dingy alley way and into what seemed to be the back packing area and offices of the post office. A boss fella came out along with about 10 workers on their lunch break all offering their opinions to my hovering friend. “Box” was about as much as I could get out of them but I think they wanted me to take it on the plane with me. I was getting sick of telling them I had already thought of this and would be a fantastic idea…if I wasn’t trekking the country for 3 weeks before hand!
Making my escape I thanked them for their time and searched for an exit. So after over an hour there we were standing back on the road hailing a taxi with 17Kgs of boxes and my sword on the way to another post office recommended to us for sending swords and selling insurance!
This post office was much bigger and after finding the packing table got all of Rosies stuff sorted and sent away. The sword wasn’t even looked at or asked what it was before it was wrapped (very securely…) by sticky taping about 10 mini boxes end to end to make a box tube! I insured it for more then it was worth because it was so cheap so if what little faith I have in the Chinese postal service fails I’ll at least get the cost of the sword plus the postage costs back in insurance!IMG_6119.jpg
We walked out of the post office and down the road till we found something to eat. Being our luck it was probably the street with the least amount of food places we’ve ever seen so we went in the first thing we saw which happened to be a hugely expensive hotel restaurant. Luckily they had dim sum for Lunch so we just got a few little dishes of that plus a 30 Yuan bottle of water to Rosies disgust haha!
Made our way back to Vikki’s (via silk street for some shopping) to book a few hostels for our July trip and after dinner with her family, went out to the street with the Aussie bar IMG_6125.jpgwhich took 3 different busses to get to. We didn’t even make it into the bar because of all the nice little stores along the road. We bought some note books from a really cute book store and some leather bracelets from a guy who was getting sick and tired of our indecision, and I bought some coasters with paintings from farmers during the revolution on them. IMG_6121.jpgThe streets a Km long so by the time we’d walked up and back we were ready to go home but not before we’d found a crepe man I’d seen before near Hou Hai. We walked for probably another km to find him before we realised we hadn’t actually looked at the time…it was 1am but that didn’t stop us voicing our annoyance at him being closed when we did find him! We opted for star bucks to fill our late night hunger and had some quiche and muffins looking over the river, before getting a taxi back to my place.

Posted by Lhillhouse 03:07 Comments (0)

Tom's Housewarming Party

Friday I packed up all my bags apart form what I was taking backpacking and the mask and sword that I will have to post home and jumped in a taxi to where Vikki’s parents were staying for the week. Had a sneaky hotel breakfast with them then headed upstairs to swap bags. Vikki’s sisters both brought backpacks and hardly any stuff so the plan was to do a complete bag swap and bring the backpack home with what ever couldn’t fit and I would ship it home. By some miracle all of both mine and Vikki’s stuff fit in easily with room to spare so Vikki and I made a trip back to my place to pick up my mask and added that to the bags. So now the only thing I have to post home is a whopping great big sword that I’m not sure how it’s going to go just yet.
We all jumped in two taxi’s and went to Hou Hai for a Pizza lunch that I am still unfortunately paying for severely two days later, then made our way through the streets to the Drum and Bell towers. Vikki, Liz, and I didn’t want to go in again so we waited outside while the rest had a look. After being swamped by requests of a rickshaw ride just 5 minutes earlier you would have thought I’d have learnt my lesson but while I was bored standing round waiting I thought it’d be funny to put my hand up and yell out “Does anyone know where I can get a rickshaw ride?” haha Liz and Vikki did not take it as humorously as me. We were then attacked by a swarm of drivers who spent the next 15 minutes trying to break our little circle of defense and were standing so close to us and were so excited to get a ride that their spit and B.O just became to close for comfort. I don’t think I’ll be using that joke twice.
Vik said goodbye to her parents and we came back to my place where we were met by Rosie and got ready to go out to Tom’s place. He’d just been on business to Australia and while he was away even though he had a contract his landlord had sold his apartment. So he’d just got a new one right near Sanlitun and was having a house warming party.IMG_6064.jpg
Got to Sanlitun around 10pm and thought we’d have a drink and something to eat before arriving. The chocolate cake was amazing however small it might have been haha.IMG_6075.jpgIMG_6076.jpg
Tom’s party was fun we only knew Tom but there was one other Aussie guy, unfortunately a lot of Americans. A Jew along with a sprinkling of Chinese made up the rest. It was a pretty nice and trendy apartment and we stayed till about one. He had an Aussie flag over his TV which we took a photo with him and the other Aussie guy to show our patriotism then left.IMG_6077.jpgIMG_6087.jpg
This guy was just plain hilarious to watch breaking out some very original dance moves that unfortunately I didn't capture!IMG_6106.jpg
After a night with the three of us on my bamboo mat we had a pretty lazy day Saturday of movies and a walk down the street. Today I was meant to be going to a water park with Jessica and Doris but it’s overcast so looks like another lazy day.

Posted by Lhillhouse 20:58 Comments (0)

National Children's Day

Monday 1st of June in China is National Children’s Day. The Kinder has been very busy practicing a performance for the parents and organising a games night. It started at 6pm and had a few dances and the boys did a Kung Fu dance. I spent the majority of that time giving death eyes to the kids who were just standing there picking their nose or trying to make their parents laugh by not joining in! after the dances it was just game after game which they organised very well under the screaming and watchful eye of the principal.IMG_6027.jpg
There were normal games like the three legged race and sack races where the parents joined in with their children, but also there were some obstacle courses and a hilarious one where the kids had sticky tape all over their backs and they had to roll across mattresses and try to pick up as many pieces of little laminated fruit pictures as they could, - very funny to watch.IMG_6034.jpgIMG_6047.jpgIMG_6054.jpg
This little boy is in the baby class and cried every time I came in for about the first 2 months. Now he loves me haha but he has an obsession with stickers and putting them on his face. He saw a piece on green sticky stuff on the ground that had been put there to mark a spot and, thinking it was a sticker proceeded to pull it off and after sticking it on his shirt and not being satisfied he whacked the disgusting thing on the side of his face! Haha Very cute though in an Asian kind of a way and he has the whitest skin.IMG_6039.jpg
Wade and I escaped as soon as Doris had done her last game and on the way back we had a beautiful view of the sunset over the park.IMG_6057.jpg
I was given this by the family to use on my bed…I assumed you put it under everything not really knowing its purpose but was told its for summer to help keep you cool so you put it over everything including the doona and just sleep on top of it…I was not looking forward to my first night on it but now although the novelty of the wooden bed has worn off and I can’t wait to be on a soft mattress I am loving the bamboo mat, it’s extremely comfortable with my 3 doona’s underneath haha and its great on the really hot nights.IMG_6021.jpg

Posted by Lhillhouse 20:53 Comments (0)

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