Padd Solutions

Converted by Falcon Hive

Im on my break from Beitang, and totally don't have time to post about the bazillion days that I haven't blogged. I'll try find time ASAP.

I am however in a good mood, so this post was simply to inform you that China is Awesome.
(I'm writing this on my lunch break, so its super rushed. I'll let you supply your own image captions for some of the photos)

Tuesday 24th

Operation Pancake.
This is my plan to get rid of my grey cloud. Operation pancake. Went to the supermarket today and got the first wave of supplies. Notice the skimmed/chemical milk. It has a best-before date of 6months, and wasn't even refridgerated. There's no fresh milk in Weinan (a city of 300,000!) so... maybe they won't be the greatest pancakes ever. I still need to get flour and eggs, and then I'll see what they're like. NB: Washing up powder and mouthwash are not part of operation pancake. :P

^ The first wave of supplies.

After some shopping, we headed up to the university so that Tim could meet with his newly formed "band" for a practice session.

^ Tim on guitar and Coco on drums. Coco is amazing. A very small, quiet, polite Chinese girl, who is into Mariah Carrey songs and wearing pink... she then gets behind the drum kit and thrashes the heck out of it. Very cool!

^ This guy was awesome at drums, and guitar. He'd been playing drums for 10 years, and it showed.

We must have hung out at the uni for about 3 hours before heading home. In the evening myself and Tim skated through Weinan to get us some KFC. It was a good day!

Wednesday 25th

Went skating around Weinan. Me on my blades, Tim on his board.

^ Action photographer =D

^ Messing around outside our apartments, Tim with his borrowed skateboard, his own should arrive soon

^ The locals, kids included, were in awe at Tim's manualing skills.

^ My previously-shiny-white DCs are taking such a beating in China :(

^ Woosh

^ Kickflip

^ This was totally a 50meter manual. Not a 1 meter manual. Honest.

^ Heaven on Earth.

^ Tim agrees

^ Inside a Chinese McDonalnds

^ Nom nom nom

^ Meeee

^ not meeee

^ Skating through the roads like it aint no thing

^ Blasting down the center of a 4-lane road :D

^ Back to our apartments

In the afternoon / evening I hung out at uni, blah blah blah blah. Gotta go! Cya!
Sunday 22nd

An 8am start to the teaching Shenanigans, but with a 3:15pm finish. Went skating straight after school, skated for a few hours, finishing up at around 5:30pm. Grabbed some food in the evening, then just potatoed around my apartment in the evening. I've been in a foul mood the past few days, and don't know why. Feels like there's a rain cloud following me around, and it's 25'c and blue skies!

Monday 23rd

Met Tim and Dumi at 7:30am to grab a taxi over to Beitang. Taught the same 35minute lesson on body parts 7 times. By the end of it, the word "head" and "hand" sounded the same to me. Drilling simple words over and over all day really sends your brain's perception of them wonky. Throughout the day the three of us endulged in these yougurt-in-a-bad things. They're freaking delicious. We each consumed 7 of them throughout the day... so about a litre of yougurt each. Nom nom nom. Finished at 3pm, then had a Chinese lesson for an hour. The language continues to remind me of why I hated French and German at school. None of that stuff sinks in at all. After that, headed to the korean BBQ joint with Tim and Aya where my rain cloud temporarily dissapaited with the copious amounts of meat that instead appeared to fall from the sky. Feeling full, we walked home and stopped off at the arcade where I played some Inital D 3rd stage. After that, headed home accompanied by my metaphorical rain cloud, started to watch a movie and noticed I was dropping off, so retired to bed.

Expect boring blog posts to continue until this area of low pressure buggers off. I'm working on a plan to help that happen... details forthcoming tomorrow... or... ya know... whenever I write about tomorrow. :-p
Friday 20th

Friday is my hardest day of teaching. Classes of 60 kids, etc (see last weeks rant/post.) Anyway, this week I was prepared for them, so it actually went alright. That was finished up around noon, I grabbed some KFC with Rob at lunch (I've been craving western food lately...) and then headed home for a 30minute power nap. In the afternoon I went up to the university and met my friend who introduced me to another skater gang. Again, a bunch of really nice, selfless people who go out of their way to make you feel welcome.

I need to make a full blog post on the university (Weinan Teacher's College) because that place is just crazy. It's like a mini-city. I think there's something like 10,000 students living on campus. There 15 dorm buildings, each at least 5 stories high and block-of-flats sized. Each dorm room sleeps 6 people in a room the size of my living room. ( Maybe 10x5 meters? ) Then there's all the studying/teaching buildings, the library, the shops, the on-campus police station, post office, the two multi-story food-halls, etc. The whole place is one super-clean, self-sufficient city where 95% of the population are in their early 20s. Yeah... I'll have to take some photos and blog about it.

In the evening, I had my English corner. Again, see last week, but the general idea is an hour of just anything with my students. This week we had a general chit chat, then played "Room 101." Those back home in the UK will know the TV show, but basically the kids pick something they want to disappear forever, and try argue for/against it. People came out with some really funny answers, and in general everyone got into it. Then did a short exercise on synonyms and anonyms, and finished it up by telling them about "Eats, shoots and leaves." It was a bit complicated for some of them, but those who got it thought it was hilarious (being an English story about Chinese pandas seemed to amuse them.) Oh, and fun-fact... a "Black eye" here is actually called a "Panda eye." That made me chuckle.

After I wrapped English corner, I hung out with Rob and Cheer for a little while, then headed back to my place to grab some sleep.

Saturday 21st

Saturday is my longest day of teaching. Headed in 30minutes early to mark some homework, so started the day at about 7:30 and finished at 17:15. Somewhere in the middle I had lunch, and myself and Rob endulged in McDonalds. Damn a greasy double cheeseburger tastes good when you're taste-buds have been running on Chinese food for the past month. Don't get me wrong, I still love Chinese food... but the contrast just sends your taste buds wild. After two days of not skating, I decided I'd show up tonight. Saturdays are always super busy, and the amount of people stopping to watch is crazy. I have to constantly skate, if I stop to talk to one person, everyone else suddenly gets a sense of crowd anonymity and crowds around to listen to the foreigner. A few of my students came up to me to say hello, as well as some Chinese friends, every time I stopped, crowds gathered. Later in the evening I was practicing rolling around on just the front wheel of each foot, coming to a stop I decided I'd try to spin on the spot. I reached into my bag of talent and found nothing but air, followed by the comfort of cold, hard concrete. With such a crowd, I naturally jumped back up and skated around like it was nothing :-P but then I stopped and realised my two-day old trousers had ripped! So annoyed! I specifically bought them for skating, and they're pretty tough combat material. But... of course... made in China. Well... I guess it means I won't have to wash them. 

^ Grrrr!

After skating I met up with a kid I got talking to in the week who is into Kung Fu. We'd previously had quite a big talk about Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do, so we thought we'd talk about that some more. He bought his nunchucks (spelling?!) with him, and nobody was batting an eyelid. He was actually pretty damn good with them. However, more impressive was the surrealty of having a guy go crazy with nunchucks and everyone just walking by as if he wasn't there.

Finally I returned home to rant about my trousers. It's now 23:50 so I better go plan some lessons for tomorrow.
Wednesday 18th

Again, no school - w00t! It was a really, really nice day, so met up with my new friend from the university and walked around town and generally lounged around in the sun. It was 27'c and awesomeness. In the afternoon I met up with Dwayne, who had just bumped into one of his friends / fellow Aston teacher Maggie. We all went to eat until we were fit to burst. In the evening, more skating. It was far, far too hot to skate. I was sweating buckets wearing just a long-sleeve t-shirt. If this is March, June is going to be something else. After skating I took a cab up to the university to hang out with a friend, got home around 11:30pm. I think the whole of wednesday I spent less than 5minutes at my laptop. Anyone who knows me will find this shocking. :-P

Thursday 19th

Back to school, my two days off went so quickly. Taught the same lesson 8 times to 8 different classes of kids. At lunch Myself, Rob, Tim and Aya grabbed some food together. We went to the dumpling restaurant as they had various fried rice dishes on their menu, but then they said they didn't have any. *sigh.* I seriously wasn't in the mood for dumplings, so I ran down the road and grabbed a double cheeseburger meal, and took it back to the dumpling restaurant to eat it with the others. Best food I've ever eaten at a dumpling restaurant. In the afternoon back to Beitang for the final 3 of my 8 lessons. Then after that headed back to Aston for my first Chinese lesson. Oh my God, Chinese is just toooooo hard. Just when I think I'm getting the hang of something, somebody says it at full-speed and my brain just doesn't even bother trying to understand it, and a dumb expression just crawls across my face. Anyone who knows me, wont find this shocking, but please, don't laugh too hard. :-(
After that met up with Rob for a beer at his place, then him, myself and Dumi went to grab some food. Nothing fancy, just our usual small restaurant, but damn we practicaly licked our plates clean. Thursday...finally a day of no skating. :-O I ended up heading to the university to help my new friend study some English. I walked home from the university as is coming a tradition. The whole of Weinan's street system is an American-esque grid of blocks, but walking perfectly straight through a town or city just feels strange compared to England. I walked the ~1.5 miles in 30minutes, it was nice and warm with a cooling breeze. Very relaxing. Made it home just before midnight and managed to do some lesson planning before climbing into bed.


For the lack of posts. Skating every night is leaving me exhausted, so perhaps I will have to start blogging in the morning? I don't know, but i'll figure something out.

Saturday 14th

Saturday was an 7:00am wake-up for an 8:00am start to the teaching day, with classes until 5:15pm. The day went quite well, I think I'm starting to fit into the grove of teaching now. Predictably I went skating in the evening. At the weekend there are lots of people skating, I met some new people and saw some faces I hadn't seen since the previous weekend.

Sunday 15th

Sunday was another early morning, but this time finishing at 3:00pm. In the afternoon myself and Tim walked around town. 'Dwayne' was teaching lil' kids how to skate, so I hung around there for a little while, the kids are sooooooo cute. Snapped some pics.

^ Synchronised slalom skating - Looks better in movement!

^ More of the above

^ Hahaha, good to see even the pros falling on their ass!

^ You see quite a few people walking down the road in what look like Japanese karate Gis. Given the history of Karate Vs. Kung Fu in China, I find this strange. Although maybe they just wear Japanese-looking Gis for Kung Fu.

^ This little girl was awesomely better than me, and made sure I knew it. Whatever I'd try to perform, she'd do the same....backwards. In the evening however, Myself, Dwayne and Her had a race... I came first. Never too old to say "ner ner nerr nerrrrr ner!"

In the evening we went to a Korean BBQ place. OMG is was outta this world. Myself, Tim and Aya must have consumed about 2kgs of meat, hahaha. It was delicious!

^ BBQ heating up.

^ We were the only ones in the restaurant. It was a pretty clean / classy place for Weinan.

^ MMmmmmm.... Yes, it was as good as it looks.

^ Nom nom nom nom!

In the evening, I went skating :-)

Monday 16th

Monday was a 6:45am start, to grab a cab at 7:30 over to Beitang. Classes of 20 on a Monday, the same kids who I teach on a Thursday. I found out how absaloutely retarded my classes are. Basically the teacher before me (who walked out half way through his contract) was the worst teacher ever, and didn't teach the kids anything. Half of them don't even know their English names when you call out the register, and just look at you blankly when you say "What's your name?" Argh! A pretty frustrating day. Ended up getting through to a few of them though, so all was not lost. At lunch we infiltrated the kid's sports field and ended up having a 100meter race. Myself, Dumi and Tim. I won, Dumi finished second, and Tim came up last... but in the eyes of the kids, we were all Usain Bolt, seeing 3 westerners running down their track was probably the craziest thing they'd ever seen. When we left at the end of the day, a whole load of kids (too many for my camera phone to capture) were doing their end-of-day warm-down:

After this we had another 100meter race, Although some little kid wondered onto the track, I ploughed into him, and then into Dumi. I was gonna stop to check if the kids was okay, but Dumi was still high-tailing to the finished line, I tried to catch him, but couldn't. :( Myself and Dumi then had a 1-lap race ( it seems about 300meters ) Dumi won... :(

After that we headed back to Aston, and met up with Jenny to go play some ping pong. Dumi had been saying all week he was gonna whoop her at ping pong, despite having never played ping pong in his life. Predictably, Jenny kicked his ass, and mine. 

^ The ping pong table made of slab, and a metal net. Nice!

^ Jenny tries to teach Dumi how to hold the bat

^ Random old guy laughing at the foreigner trying to play ping pong

^ Jenny kicking my ass

^ Dumi with the eye of the tiger

^ That little orange ball is the new annoyance of my life

^ More people walking past and being amused

^ Jenny using the force to levitate the ball

^ All the kids from the school that we were playing at were going to the windows to watch us play. All but a few scatered when I aimed my camera at the window, but at one point there were 10 kids peering out of each window :-p

^ Action-shot

^ Dumi bowing to Jenny's superior ping pong skills

^ Myself and Dumi had dumb-ass looks of concentration throughout, Jenny however just smiled her way through the games

In the evening... I skated! :-p

Tuesday 17th

Which brings us up to today! No school today, woke up at 10:00am. One of the Chinese teachers, Fangfang came around to use my washing machine, she doesn't have one, and I thought I'd pluck her brain of how to actually use the thing, washing my undies in the sink was getting very tedious. Me and fangfang headed out for lunch, 'Dwayne' phoned me and said he wanted to go shopping. We were eating just down the road from his shop, so we walked there and I had fangfang translate. He wanted to go shopping there and then, but fangfang had about an hours more washing to do, so I left her in my place, and told her to close the door behind her. She said she was going to steal all my things :-( ... I didn't laugh.
Me and Dwayne went shopping. I bought some combat trousers so I could fit in with the cool kids when I skate. It was a really cool US-themed army surplus store, Dwayne is pretty good friends with the owner, so we were talking in there for a while. Then we headed to Popland where he treated me to.... some wierd slush-puppy-gel-sweet-thing. Really hard to describe... imagine jelly-baby-like sweets mixed in with Slush Puppy and served in a bowl with a tiny spoon. Very wierd, but pretty tasty. In the afternoon I met one of Dwayne's friends at the university, we walked through town for a while and grabbed some food. In the evening, more skating then came here, home.

Oh, and my house hadn't been robbed. That made me happy.

Oh my gawd.

Fridays have just become the hardest day of the week. While everyone else in the world says "T.G.I.F", I hold my head in sorrow.

Classes of 60, 7 year old students. 2 hour class length. Learning material that they already know off by heart. Trying to keep their attention is impossible. Argh! I started badly; I assumed all the learning material would be new for them, and would take us ages to go through. Instead they blitzed through it in 10minutes, leaving me with 110 minutes to keep them entertained. I played the hell out of Simon Says. I already had a sore throat, and the day totally polished it off. Thankfuly Tim and Dumi suffer too, so we can all bitch about it together.

Finished Batong at midday though, it was a lovely day, the sky was actually blue! I went for a random walk around the city, grabbed an ice cream and just wondered the streets. Came back to my place for an afternoon nap to try sleep off the cold a little bit.

In the evening I had my English corner. English corner is an hour-long "lesson" where you can teach the kids whatever you want. It can be about language, culture or anything. My English corner was open for the C6-C9 students (fairly advanced English) and it was a sell-out. I showed them a bunch of photos from back home, and answered questions about life in England. Finished it off with some tongue-twisters. Listening to Chinese people doing tongue twisters was hilarious.

P.S: Excuse the sloppy / boring nature of these recent blog posts. Normal service will resume when this cold subsides.
Still ill! :(

First day of teaching at Batong, the public school. Classes of 20 6-7 year olds. The class is CRAZY. A primary school bigger than my university. About 8 buildings, each 4-5 stories, a huge courtyard where every morning all the students amass ( a lot of students, in the thousands easily ) and raise the Chinese flag and listen to the national anthem. I'll have to get photos when I'm not leaking snot everywhere!

As for the teaching, I teach the same 50minute class 7-8 times! Every time a different bunch of students. It's pretty crazy! Its like you're stuck in some sort of groundhog day.

In the evening.... more skating! Then hung out at the duck shop with Dwayne & co. A good day.
Today, a revelation! Finally found out why my leg has been hurting for the past few days:

CAUTION: Photo contains copious amounts of inner-thigh flesh. Vegetarians / easily offended need not apply.

that said, click here to see my nice bruise.

For the less brave, my upper hamstring is sporting a nice 20cm-square Africa-shaped corned-beef-looking bruise. Some googling revealed this kinda thing happens when you tear a muscle, oops! I remember badly-pulling it about a week or so ago, and since then it's been playing up every time I've used it. I think the killer was Sunday night when I went to the gym followed by the street roller-blading. Anyway, it's not a part of the body you often see, so I hadn't noticed it until just. Everything I read says avoid using it for a few days... how the hell do you not use your hamstring?! Let alone when you've become fiendishly addicted to Freestyle Inline Slaloming.

With that out of the way, on with the day's events!

Woke up about 10am, and phoned Tim to go get breakfast. No answer. Left it an hour, phoned again. No answer. Noon came around, phone him again - no answer. So I phoned Aya, no answer. This continued until about 3pm, neither Tim nor Aya answering. ( aside: It's now midnight, and they still haven't returned mine, Rob's or Dumi's calls. ) So, come 3pm I was about to pass out from starvation, so I headed to the mecca of full-stomaches; KFC. Like everywhere in China, you get lots of attention going into a restaurant, but especially on your own. However, you can make from it what you want. Instead of lowering my cap and burrying my head, I ended up speaking English with one of the guys who worked at KFC, I was speaking to one kid from the primary school where we teach, and there was a tiny 2-3yr old girl (who had probably never seen a white person) who was waving at me every 30 seconds for the entire time I was in there. Stomache full I decided to see if Dwayne was at his skate shop. KFC is basically next door, and I wanted to kill time for the rain to pass.

^ and he was!

I hung out in his shop for maybe 2hrs. We talked about all sorts, as we had Google translate helping us through. I showed him a bunch of my "life" through various photos I have online. Friends, Family, Pets, Home, Cars. We got onto a pretty big talk about cars although I was probably doing most of the talking on that subject. :D

Everyone in China plays "CS" (Counter-Strike), a game I used to be hugely into. I hadn't played in about a year, and then it turns out everyone in China plays the old version of CS... a game I first played in 1999, and that got out-dated by the latest version in 2004. It was undescribably bizarre playing a game I hadn't played in 5 years, hearing Chinese voice-commands over the in-game radio, being in the middle of a skate-shop, and being in the middle of China, but, I'll stop talking about Counter-Strike as about 2 people who read this blog will know what I'm talking about.

^ I'm thinking about getting me one of those pink helmets. ;-)

^ and maybe I should trade my skates in for some of the pink ones too? Alas - apparently they don't do my size. :( Chinese people have really small feet. I had like the 2nd biggest pair of boots in his shop, and I'm just a size 8 or 9 in the UK.

After a few hours at the skate shop we headed to the duck shop! Quite the entrepeneur is Dawyne. We met up with his GF and headed to grab some food. A very nice dish of mixed chicken and prawns, I ate prawn bodies but left the heads. Then I found out also in the dish were chicken-heads (with eyes and beaks clearly visible!) and chicken feet. Needless to say I avoided those too, but the pieces of non-descript chicken I ate were quite tasty! Food eaten we headed to the duck shop and hung out for a few hours. Dwayne's girlfriend had bought a Chinese -> English phrase book which provided much entertainment. Feeling quite cold without my coat, I headed home relatively early at 7:30pm. Got home and Dumi invited me to the gym, so we went to the gym for an hour where I was lifting 180kgs with my legs.... in hindsight - Oops!

Back home for some lesson-planning-by-Skype with Dumi, then an evening of internet procrastination; including this blog. I bid you all good-night!


So, Woke up, still with my cold so had a lay-in until about 11 to try sleep it off - didn't work. Headed into school to pick up my pay, then headed to the duck shop to meet up with the guy I've dubbed "Dwayne" (his Chinese name sounds like Dway - ne) As well as owning the duck-shop, and instructing skating, he also co-owns a skate store in one of the malls. We headed down there so I could pick up a pair of skates. China has it's own 'brands' of skates, which are all wierd immitations of western brands, but with the relative popularity of Freestyle Slalom Skating over here they've grown into their own. I'd done a little research on the t'internet before going down there but Dwayne knows his stuff and he wasn't trying to take me for a ride. He sold me this pair of skates for 15% less than the tag-price, and even gave me a free bag to kart them round in.

With my purchase complete, me and Tim headed to Xi'an to meet Aya (who is returning after what seems like only 3-4 days away!) We met up and tried to find Tim a skateboard in Xi'an, but there weren't really any decent ones around, other than the usual junk you'd find in the Argos catalogue or whatever.
Tired and still sniffling and sneezing, we headed home. We arrived home at about 20:30, and I walked through the door to find my skates staring at me longingly. I had to try them out, so a quick phone call to Dwayne asking the question "McDonalds?" I heard the answer I was looking for- "Yes." I donn'd my skates and headed down to the area outside McDonalds where we usually skate. I was exhausted from the day, but managed about 60minutes of skating. I headed home to get some rest and hopefully get over this freaking cold!