November 2015’s posts

步步高昇 (bù bù gāoshēng): Onwards and upwards

9th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

One of my students from V.I.P. class in grade 5 has made the city-wide final of the English Speaking Competition.  Daniel will appear in the final ten on November the 15th at a hotel ballroom in front of hundreds of onlookers and many judges.  He had previously won the Houjie final and a qualifying round.  We tried to make a simple speech from my initial draft below about Dongguan Cuture.

Dongguan blends and mixes the many cultures and people of China.  All walks of life are thrown together into a wonderful tapestry of sports, music, morals, laws, customs and arts.People of various nationalities come from Australasia, Africa, the Americas, Europe and Asia to form a bright and vibrant city.  The people here learn from one another and further their knowledge by continually connecting together as one through celebration, ristuals and patterns of consumption.  The ways of life within Dongguan are simple yet complex.  Beliefs, values and symbols are respected from generation to generation as the city evolves.   Dongguan is built around many old villages, rivers and surrounding hills.  The landscape has transformed from farming to city lifestyles in a short space of time.  It is connected to the world and known for manufacturing.  The city is famous for dragon boat racing, lychee and lotus festivals amongst other things.  A blend of international and national influence is unique to this multicultural city.

 

Obviously the above is a tad difficult for even a naturalised English speaker or 11 year’s of age, let alone Daniel with his highly advanced second language skills.  So, Cherry (his class tutor) and I settled on the below speech (小学组 晁旭东 文化东莞):

“Hello, I am a robot.  I was made in Dongguan.  Now I want to tell you something about this city.  Let’s start with the fact that there are many libraries here.  Dongguan Library is made up of 36 branches of libraries that extend to every corner of the city.  People can borrow books from libraries at any time of day.  They may even enjoy digital reading at home.

Secondly, the city is famous for dragon boat racing, lion dancing and Cantonese opera.  In Dongguan, many students take English and cucurbit flute lessons. I can feel their happiness from those smiling faces.  I am lucky, because I have the chance to stand on this stage and show you the diverse culture of Dongguan.  Dear friends, in this unique and multicultural city, let’s learn and grow up together day by day! Thank you all!”

 

I really hope he does well.  He deserves to succeed.  I have helped a little but he has done all the hard work.  He has been very patient and one thing we often talk about is that his bike is too small.  If he wins it, he may get a voucher for a shop – and that’ll give him and his family the chance to buy him a new bike.

 

After my recent repairs to my bicycle and a puncture (yet again), I know what it is like to want to ride, but have limitations on being in the saddle.  On the subject of cycling, Hong Kong Velodrome at Tseung Kwan O, will host the third round of the 2015–16 UCI Track Cycling World Cup on January 16-17, 2016.  Tickets have been promptly purchased.  The other rounds are in New Zealand (at Cambridge) and Colombia.  Last weekend it kicked off at Cali’s Velódromo Alcides Nieto Patiño.  Cyclists such as Anna Meares, Laura Trott, Andrew Tennant [a Team Wiggins road rider], Katie Archibald, Elinor Barker, Ciara Horne, and Joanna Rowsell will mix it with more local-to-me regional cyclists (Hong Kong’s Chueng King Lok, Lee Wai Sze李慧詩 who carried H.K.’s flag at the London 2012 Olympics before going on to defeat Victoria Pendleton [now a horse riding jockey] in the semi-finals of a sprint event; China’s Zhong Tianshi, Guo Shuang 郭爽, and Gong Jinjie 宫金杰).  Looking at the local calendar of cycling events Japan [Izu, Shizuoka prefecture] is hosting some major events in Jnauary/February… tempting… it being an Olympic year in 2016, that could mean some big names stepping up…

 

Since I last wrote, I have been very busy.  Almost non-stop, with Halloween events, football (Murray’s FC has made a slight split to Murray’s FC Maine Road and Murray’s FC Aberystwyth in recent weeks), writing a novel and so on…  The local internet at school and in the apartment has been abysmal.  It has ruined my enjoyment of BBC Six music far too often!  The VPN (PandaPow) has been off more than on and barely gives speeds capable of viewing motion video.  Even images take aeons to load up!  As epochs of time slip away, I don’t feel the hunger to read news articles, let alone type anything onto a blog.  This is a shame because many interesting experiences, events and happenings fall by the wayside.

 

Friday, the 6th of October, night marked the opening of 万达集团Wanda Group (Wàndá Jítuán)) Plaza in 厚街HòuJīe.  The large shopping centre (mall) surrounds a lake (complete with light show), traditional Chinese moon bridge, and mega-living area.  The company that runs and owns the plaza, also has a 20% share of La Liga side Atlético Madrid, which is incidentally the only football shirt I spotted being worn by a shopper at last night’s opening evening.  The shopping centre (mall, if you must) is massive, it is on a par with Manchester’s Arndale and even has food court areas, restaurants, a skittles alley [one of only two in our city], mini-KTV booths, a giant cinema (Wanda Cinemas), and an arcade.  A few games of air hockey were had before evacuating to the safety of the apartment.  It was far too busy.

 

On Saturday morning, I went to see Everest at the Wanda IMAX movie theatre (cinema, really) and thoroughly enjoy it.  It is odd how things occur in threes.  One of my dreams is to see (but not climb) Everest.  Only last week a friend and teacher, Dannie, told me how she stayed in Nepal for a month and how comparatively cheap it is to live there, and we punctually discussed the need for education following a recent earthquake in the region.  Then, last night my friend Javier at Murray’s F.C. mentioned how he is going to Nepal from the 22nd of January to 20th of February.  He then invited me to tag along, assuming I can get the necessary permits and equipment.  The game of football finished 9-1 to Murray’s FC and I added a groin injury to my swollen right thumb (kicked in the previous weekend); suspected  muscle/inguinal/or an unlikely femoral hernia (to which I am trying to recover slowly and surely; there is an obvious swollen bump, it comes and goes – but I had a hernia operation as a kid, and I’m sure it is just the same area; there are no other symptoms other than a dull ache); bruised big toe on the left (shedding 50% of the toenail); swollen nose, strained calf, jolted knee and shoulder bruising (from the recent run-in with two rickshaws on my bike).  A game tomorrow night is too soon for me, so I’ll manage the squad and try to defeat Cavera FC (a Brazilian outfit) in the 2015 Dongguan Foreigners’ League.  We lost 5-0 to another Brazilian team last week and lacked a goalkeeper, depth or a centreforward to handle the fixture.  For most it was their first game together.  Tahir (U.K.), Chris Farman (Hartlepool, U.K.), Saad (India), Oggy Tadic (Serbia), Alex Ortiz (Spain), Tim Mileson (Leeds, U.K.), John Burns (Nottingham, U.K.), Ben Collins (Reading, U.K.), Weng (Dongguan, China), and Javier Felones (Spain) look like they can be a good team for me to learn from and play with.  With extra depth to enter the fray Juan Diego Mejia (Colombia), Ben Cherry (Melbourne, Australia), Alberto (Italy) and possibly Lai (a Chinese goalkeeper) will provide options to build on.  The Murray’s FC squad has provided Murray’s FC (Aberystwyth) with a stronger pool of players, capable of winning this tournament.  Our second string can challenge for the top spot but need maxium victories from the three remaining fixtures.  Anything is possible.  Onwards and upwards…  步步高昇 (bù bù gāoshēng)

 

Yesterday morning, long before the invite to Nepal, I’d purchased not one but three pairs of insulated, waterproof walking boots.  One pair cost me 150RMB (£15) and soon included not one, but two extra dusty superfluous pairs.  The wife of the shopkeeper insisted because they hadn’t sold them in four years.  They have a student at school too.  Their shop is an outlet for numerous mid to high end outdoor-wear suppliers, in this case for Sorel boots.  These boots (Men’s SOREL™ Paxson Tall Waterproof Boot: “This new addition to the Paxson line combines rugged stitching with supple, nubuck leather and nylon upper and seam-sealed construction to create a boot that’s warm, breathable and fully waterproof.”) retail for £140.00 in the U.K.  They’re a Swiss design, made in China, which copies pretty much the norm for high end products.  Now, I just need to wear them in… should I choose the pair of size 50.5 or the two pairs of size 48.5 first?!

 

And now (or then if you read later than now), I sit at school, forty minutes from my first class of the day, class 802… and then 804… lunch… class 803… home and dry with class 801.  And relax.  Tomorrow, I have classes 605-608.  Wednesday’s classes are cancelled due to exams.  Thursday we have a primary school trip to Shenzhen’s Happy Valley (欢乐谷Huānlè Gŭ) before no classes on Friday (in a way) because middle school have their school trip that day.  I hope the water park is open at Happy Valley!  On Friday, I teach class 601 only – the subject shall be penpals.  This is an open lesson class for parents and other teachers to attend.  More details to follow.  I intend to use the free time to learn some Chinese this week.

 

Here’s an interesting read on how Dr Watson of Sherlock Holmes became known as Peanut in China.  I found this whilst looking for TV shows to help me improve of further learn Mandarin.  Ten shows I should watch are as follows:

  1. 武媚娘传奇 The Empress of China [Youku: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XODcxOTMzNDc2.html
    Hunan TV: http://www.hunantv.com/v/2/103460/index.html ]

2.步步惊心 Scarlet Heart [Youku: http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzAyNDYzNjUy.html ]

  1. iPartment 爱情公寓 [Season 4 YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=goQzSuBwBa4 (Eng subtitles)
    IQIYI: http://www.iqiyi.com/v_19rrgzy5ls.html?src=soku ]
  2. The lady and the liar 千金女贼 [Viki: http://www.viki.com/tv/22845c-the-lady-the-liar ]
  3. 我是歌手 I am a Singer [Hunan TV: http://www.hunantv.com/v/1/103887/index.html# ]
  4. 最强大脑 The Brain [Youku: http://www.youku.com/show_page/id_za4969972631f11e4abda.html ]
  5. 奔跑吧兄弟 Hurry Up, Brother [IQIYI: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrhc0alp.html?vfm=2008_aldbd ]
  6. 何以笙箫默 Silent Separation (My Sunshine) [IQIYI: http://www.iqiyi.com/a_19rrhc3wk1.html ]
  7. 锦绣缘华丽冒险 Cruel Romance [Sohu: http://tv.sohu.com/s2014/jxyhlmx/ ]
  8. 神雕侠侣 The Condor Heroes [QQ: http://v.qq.com/p/tv/zt/xsdxl/index.html /YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5Fw9LZG0ps (Eng subtitles)]

I’ll write again soon…

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Wàn shì kāi tóu nán (万事开头难): “All things are difficult before they are easy”.

13th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

Open lesson completed.  The initial part of the lesson with class 604 was fairly muted.  Students clearly had the sights of their parents in their worried collective minds.  After heating up the class by a technique I like to call “deicing a classroom by picking on the louder students.”  A small student, round-faced and with ears reminiscent of the Football Association Cup called James, cheeky and a self-confessed “I am a troublemaker” happened to make a few comments that had both students and parents giggling in delight.  He is witty.  A few other students discerned the response and instantly upped the ante.  Game on.  And it was some game, lasting 40 minutes with great input overall.  I fought the pokerfaces of the parents – and trust that victory was gained.  The first class of the day, 08:15, the day after a cany-fueled school trip to Shenzhen’s Happy Valley (欢乐谷 – Huānlè Gŭ).  The park has nine themed areas, of which, 8 were open yesterday (Spanish Square, Cartoon City, Mt. Adventure, Gold Mine Town, Shangri-La Woods, Sunshine Beach, Typhoon Bay, and Happy Times.  The Playa Maya Water Park was closed.  Some rides remained closed for repairs like the long winding Bullet Coaster.  Failure is mother of success (失败是成功之母 / Shībài shì chénggōng zhī mǔ).  I guess with summer season behind, and autumn flowing close to the short winter, now is the time to repair things.  Most rides have an upper height limit of 1.9m.  It was embarrassing being turned away from one ride infront of 200 queuing onlookers, and 40 or so ride riders.  I did score a personal victory by entering one ride not fit for giants but the spinning ride could easily be marketed with, Dare you ride the anti-climax?”  Another Typhoon Bay twister ride should have had a height restriction.  I have brusing on both shoulders from the safety harness that lowers down onto you.  The log flume seats over twenty people per boat and is like riding a canal barge into the sea, off a waterfall before being sprayed by a firefighter’s hose.  Jolly good fun.  There was a rollercoaster I was allowed on, similar to Alton Tower’s Nemesis ride, where your legs dangle, it flips you upside down and twists, turns, swerves to heart’s content for a minute and a half.  It was bloomin’ good.  The restaurants on site were below average but opting for ice-cream proved fruitful.  Green tea and blueberry ice-creams on a delicious wafer base.  Throughout the theme park Halloween displays, shows and sculptures seemed to be almost everywhere.  Some far more gruesome than I have ever seen.  Overall the park is well landscaped, has variety, the usual stalls and colourful shows.  It didn’t appear to have any zoo animals or attractions that stank of animal cruelty.  It seemed very well ran and my school students enjoyed the thrills even if the teachers reacted as, “It is so boring.”  Maybe to raise their game, the theme park needs to do some market research and add proper thrills throughout the park, after clearly catering for younger riders.  I think if you’re used to western (U.K. and U.S.A. etc) style theme parks, you’ll be disappointed but if it is for the kids, this is a good place.  Anna and Albin joined me with Helen, Nicole and other teachers throughout the day.  Today, from our foreign language team Asger and Tess are at the theme park.  Sadly, it is raining.  That fine rain, that gets you soaked through!  I hope they have fun!

 

Following yesterday’s excursion I cycled to DongCheng’s Best football field (the rooftop of a local market, 蒗基湖综合市场), trained for nearly two hours with Murray’s FC before riding back and going to bed far too late.  44km of riding, for the third time this week…  this weekend our team travels to Zhuhai for a tournament.

 

Wàn shì kāi tóu nán (万事开头难):  “All things are difficult before they are easy”.  Chinese proverbs feature across the bredth and width of world cultures.  Many have translated well and often form everyday conversations.  Hǎo jiǔ bú jiàn (好久不见) is one such phrase, or “long time no see!”  Many have been mutated by time but stem from eastern origins, such as wúfēng bù qǐ làng (无风不起浪) – “There’s no waves without wind; there’s no smoke without fire.”

 

Some phrases are deep but appear comedic, like ài wū jí wū (爱屋及乌) – “Love me, love my dog.”  Some maxims look to taunt… jǐ jiā huān xǐ jǐ jiā chóu (几家欢喜几家愁) – “Some are happy, some have worries. Or one man’s disaster is another man’s delight.”

 

There are illustrative and informative phrases such as shū shì suí shí xié dài de huā yuan (书是随时携带的花园) – “A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”  And of course proverbs to suit myself, huó dào lǎo, xué dào lǎo (活到老,学到老) – “A man is never too old to learn.”  Some apply to a bad lesson at school like bú huì chēng chuán guài hé wān (不会撑船怪河弯) – “a bad workman always blames his tools.”  That’s why today’s open class could have been better.

 
One great phrase to remember is rén wú qiān rì hǎo, huā wú bǎi rì hóng (人无千日好,花无百日红) – “There is no person that has 1000 good days in a row, and no flower that stays red for 100 days.”).  In the west it is better heard as, “All good things come to an end.”

 

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

〇〇七 (零零柒) líng líng qī [007]

13th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

You Only Live Twice shown scenes of James Bond in Hong Kong; Tomorrow Never Dies featured a stealth ship in the South China Sea; The Man With the Golden Gun had a finale with Scaramanga on an island off the coast of China; Die Another Day pits the character swimming to the mainland whilst recent movie Skyfall (whilst heavily censored for the Chinese audiences) gives 007 a trip to Shanghai and Macau.  〇〇七 (零零柒) líng líng qī has been released today (under the name Spectre globally but here it is called 幽灵党- yōulíng dǎng [meaning ghost or spirit party, although 党 dǎng can mean political party too] in China) and audiences here are expected to see an uncensored 2.5 hours of Bond.  The local cinemas pretty much have blanket coverage in their IMAX (the local Wanda cinema东莞厚街万达影城is pretty much sold out) screens, 3D screens and VIP suites for this movie.  Not since Jurassic World has such clamour been seen in China for an English language movie.  Fast and the Furious 7, Transformers: Age of Extinction and other blockbuster records are expected to fall.  This last year has seen an explosion in exposure to western movies.  Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion is a little bit of a mouthful here in China and features too many controversial terms, often hidden from mass media.  Tonight, the odds for Bond sleeping with pretty much every woman that appears on screen (he’d probably have a go at Judy Dench’s M’s corpse given enough screen time), saying something sexist, passing on his name immediately, cliché after cliché but like Ian Fleming’s novels they grab your attention and simply entertain.  Don’t judge a book by said book’s cover and certainly don’t learn morals from within the subtext.  Like Israel and the continued conflict with the Gaza Strip, James Bond is a relic of the outdated aftereffects of World War II, something that needs peace and prosperity.

 

Fleming as a master wordsmith had an idea (influenced by experience), it grew, it became a cultural icon and a franchise.  Hats off to Blighty’s greatest cinematic export.  For me the iconic sound scores and menacing villains (even if very black and white) make the movie.  Either way…

〇〇七 (零零柒) líng líng qī will return…

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Stop me if you think you’ve heard this one before

20th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

After watching Spectre last week at the IMAX cinema, I can reflect and say it isn’t the best Bond movie but it is far from the worst Bond movie.  The opening theme tune isn’t the best but the classic style is growing on me.  Christoph Waltz was under-used and the backstory of Spectre filled in too hastily with a motive barely touching the surface.  There is a convoluted and sketchy link to Bond’s past – one I hate and would no doubt cause concern to his creator Ian Fleming.  That said the dialogue is raw and the opening scene is a rollercoaster ride with one of the longest single shot scenes in an action movie ever.  Former wrestler Dave Bautista is menacing but lifeless.  He never used his legendary Batista Bite / Beast Bite (Crossface/Scissored armbar combination) and in some ways met his end in the same means as Speilberg’s Jaws did.  Obviously a nod to a larger than life giant adversary previously featured in Bond flicks.  The movie ends oddly, for the first time with the lead villain being captured (a first in some senses, that one was captured before alleged execution in The Living Daylights; and Blofeld played hide and seek often earlier in the franchise).

 

The temperatures have been soaring lately, a staggering 33°C earlier this week.  By the weekend rain is expected and it should dip to 27°C.  The sunshine has been intense over the last week, superheating the top level classrooms and their flat rooftops.  Humidity has dropped and every now and then a cool breeze sweeps by in the evening.  Nights no longer require the air-conditioner.  The teachers here, and my co-worker Joy have been quoted as saying, “Winter is not coming.”  All rather anti-Game of Thrones.

 

Last weekend, I travelled to Zhūhǎi (珠海) with Murray’s FC for the 2nd Guangdong Foreigners’ Football Tournament at the Zhuhai Stadium.  The city at the heart of the Chinese Riviera has fresh air sweeping over from the South China Sea (南海 Nánhǎi), and the Pearl River (珠江; Zhūjiāng) joining the sea.  Our tough group stage allowed us to progress with games against Barazucas FC (Shenzhen), Winners FC (Dongguan) and Soccerhub B (Zhuhai) to the quarter finals.  Intern China (Zhuhai) [their website has many jobs] were defeated eventually giving us a tough semi-final where we bowed out… or so we thought… and then we faced a third-placed play-off against Soccerhub B, losing eventually, despite giving it our all.  We scored only 5 goals, but conceded 11 in our 6 games.  The winning team, Macau FC won the 1st Guangdong Foreigners’ Football Tournament held in Dongguan in summer and swept al aside here too.  In 2016, 港珠澳大橋will open.  That’s the whopping 50km Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge!  The longest part of the bridge itself will have 29.6 km (18.4 mi) span.  There are many smaller sections and tunnels.  The organisers of the Guangdong Foreigners’ Football Tournament are looking to create a pan-Pearl River Delta tournament to involve teams from Hong Kong, Guangdong, Macau and beyond.  Technically speaking Chinese Super League team Shanghai Shenhua’s once merged rival team started life in Zhuhai

 

Our digs, 7 days inn ( 7tiān Liánsuǒ Jiǔdiàn Jítuán/ 7天连锁酒店集团 ), located in 拱北; Gǒngběi, booked by Eddy sat at the location of Gǒngběi Kǒuàn (the port to Macau).  I’m sure Eddy has the CEO Zhèng Nányàn on speed dial.  Every time Murray’s FC travels, we stay at these, despite them costing more than most local hotels.  The hotel was slap bang in the middle of an unhidden and totally shameless red-light district.  Knocks on the hotel door during the night and offers of companionship were obviously directed at our entire football team as we returned in drips and drabs throughout the evening, night and morning.  We’d had food (eventually) at The Factory (工厂酒吧 at 珠海市华发世纪城新世纪广场) and headed to the designated bar street area (酒吧街; Jiǔbājiē).  88, and 18 club…

 

At The Factory, the music got me straight away, I’d fainally found a place that played The Smiths in their collection.  I was instantly warmed to the barrel-seated, spit and sawdust look.  It stank of false factory features but gave a realistic chilled ambience in a heartbeat.  The owner, a Belgian, spoke with me later on… and apologised about delays in food.  There was around 8 football teams visiting… so demand was high.  Nevertheless the food was quality and even my Italian friend was full of praise for the delicious pizzas.  There was great service for drinks but orders for food were confused, and information crosswired.  The pool table (billiards) and football table, amongst a plethora of board games made for a good touch.  The beautifully fronted and diverse house band covered many artists, pleasingly Cherry Ghost had some airplay.  Would I visit again?  Next time I am there, yes.  There is a large outdoor riverside area with decking to escape the inner sounds of live music.  The toilets feature sliding doors and odd-shaped trough urinals.  Overall The Factory is industrial, modern and welcoming, with just a touch of sport and hints at national flags etc.  I like it.

 

On the return journey our driver passed along the coastal road with majestic views of the highly active (万 山群岛Wànshānqúndǎo) Wanshan Ten Thousand Islands Archipelago.  The view of one island Dawanshan Dao 大万山岛looks amazing, with a clearly visible temple.  The minibus passed by the Fisher Girl Statue (viewable from 情侣路; Qínglǚlù/Lovers’ Road) slapped in the brown waters of Xianglu Bay, flanked by crowds of tourists taking a plethora of selfies.  As her hands are held up to the sky, I can’t decide if the symbolism intended is one of welcoming or “not another selfie stick!”  We’d previously passed a large concrete looking ship-shaped restaurant, that was frankly an eyesore.  Deyuefang Seafood Restaurant (得月肪海鮮酒樓; Déyuèfáng Hǎixiān Jiǔlóu) is not on my to do list.

 

Zhūhǎi has some impressive buildings that are in their own league of world-class designs of architercture.  There’s examples of biomimicry in the RNJM Zhuhai Observation Tower.  The Zhuhai Opera House is simply a shell of pure grandeur.  It matches natural shells with the futuristic vision of Star Wars.  The completion date is due this year, so it should be open late next year.  For a dramatic animation click hereOpenBuilding.com have some info too.  It is definitely an amazing building.  One place of interest passed on the road back was China’s first Japanese-styled open air hot spring, Imperial Yuwenquan Hot Springs, (In Doumen District, take bus 609), ☎ +86 756 5797128.  I’ve clearly noted the details for a reason.  That’d make a good place to go and relax.

 

At school this week, open lessons have continued across the grades, classes have been either testing or very-testing (the heat hasn’t helped) and overall school has been fun.  Letters to penpals have been started with my grade 6 students and shall soon be posted to friends/relatives in the U.K.  In the midweek, I played football again for Murray’s F.C.  Our team had gone 3-1 to pull back to 8-3 before finishing at 8-5.  Not a bad win, and a stern test for our squad against Dongguan Arsenal Reds F.C.  This weekend we have a game in Houjie against a team we have played back in June.  It promises to be a good match.

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

The Houjie Percussion Ensemble

23rd November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

My chest tightened, excitement swept over my nerve endings.  A cool enthusiasm took hold of me.  I was eager to run outside.  My general demeanor changed at just one sound.  I was animated and motivated to go outside.  Where others are agitated and indifferent, I bounce forward like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh.  I am a pluviophile.  I love the rain.  As it lashed down for the first time in many weeks, perhaps months, I walked outside with just a rounded hat for protection.  I felt the cooler air and damp across my legs, clad in only shorts.  A football shirt and socks would not defend me against the elements.  I sought no guard.  Shelter was far from my mind.  I miss good rain showers.  Saturday’s short storm of an hour or so brought with it cooler fresh air, sadly soon replaced by sticky humid vacuumous air.

 

In the afternoon, Eddy of HubHao magazine and Murray’s FC joined me to go shoe shopping.  Exccept we weren’t shoe shopping.  Frank, a photographer of Australian-Cantonese ancestry, joined us too.  We pretended to shop and gained further information about a Houjie shoe-shopping area for a magazine.  After which we went to play ten-pin bowling at Wanda Plaza.  It cost under 37.5RMB [25 arcade coins, at 1.5RMB per coin] for two of us to play one game.  That’s 18.75RMB each.  Bargain.  That said the bowling alley is stumpy.  The lanes are short, which I get… but they’re also narrow.  Eddy scored 134 to my 97.  I could not quite titrate how to bowl in such tight confines.  Plus, a lack of bowling shoes made for a slippery unbalanced pitch or two.  Speaking of pitches, later that day Murray’s FC played BoYi FC (Houjie) at FengTai Guan Shan Bi Shui (丰泰观山碧水) – there are fantastic rainforest showers on site.  Max scored two, creating one.  Eddy bagged a brace, also creating one.  Dalatin “Barry” assisted one goal for Alain Zurcher.  Both Alex and Sidhant Sharma set a goal up too.  The home team’s goalkeeper escaped with a few hand ball shouts and some dubious overhead kicking.  Thankfully nobody was injured from those wayward kicks of his.  Kungfu should have been his game.  Following the game a meal was had at Munchalot’s after using the number 12 bus, which zigzags back to Houjie sluggishly.  A combination of Indian and Mexican food was consumed alongside some ales before heading to Irene’s Bar for one drink… and then sleepily and sorely (the groin injury I have, seems to have returned) to bed – for well-earned rest.

 

Sunday afternoon, followed on from a sleepy lazy morning.  The p.m. was spent with Mr Hyper Hu (a student’s parent), his friends, some Sichuanese cuisine, báijiǔ (a vile rice wine/paint stripper) and some beers.  The evening was sleepy and very little happened other than some tentative attempts at lesson creation.  A week has passed since Daniel (a grade 5 student) came 9th in Dongguan’s Oral English competition.  The school celebrated their highest ever finish.  Daniel had ranked number one in Houjie’s recent final, with Apple in grade 6 coming 2nd overall.  There has also been fire safety tests, drills and classes in recent weeks.  Other students have been involved in local sports days.  Our attention is fast turning to the winter art festival and Christmas.  Soon after that the Spring Festival and my first semester end date – which I was told is January the 15th by the school, yet my company advise Thurday the 31st of December is the likely limit.  That makes more sense as the previous three semesters have only been 18 weeks long.  Sadly that is one week too late to fly back to the U.K.  These 36/52 weeks a year of working in the past two years are actually proving costly.  I’m keen to fill in at least half of the time off in Spring to sustain some funds.  The cost of living here, etc is not so bad but factoring in repayment to the Student Loan Company, the cost of a long 8 weeked summer holiday and flights etc, I’m not making any money… something I am not interested in but yet require to live.

 

Monday mornings aren’t always great for everyone, teachers and students alike seem to moan about manic Mondays and miserable mornings.  If Friday and Saturday are the party, Monday is the day left to tidy up after the mess.  I actually like Mondays, for me they have as much significance as every other day of the week.  You can begin afresh in any moment, not one that society deems the beginning.

 

Today’s classes in grade 8 have been mostly about Manchester and student’s hometowns.  What are the people like?  How long does it take you go to go to your hometown?  Some students gave their answers ranging from 4 hours by car to 20 hours by train and even as much as several days by car.  China is stupendously gargantuan.  I simply say if you drive 2 hours west of Manchester, you end up in the sea, and not far from swimming if you drive equally as long to the east.  I tell the students that many people can run from the northern tip of the U.K. to the southernmost and distally most points often, and it takes a few days.  A long train journey in the U.K. shouldn’t take more than 6 hours, but that is because British trains are comparatively slow.  In the minutes prior to class Adele’s 25 album [in massive contrast to Nightshade‘s gig last Friday night at the new Brown Sugar Jar venue – see one of their videos here] has had the odd airing much to the enjoyment of the many listening ears.  Inbetween classes I’ve whacked on Thomas Newman’s Spectre soundtrack.  Several tracks feature the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble fashioning a comforting buoyant ambience in the old headphones.

 

News has circulated that on Thursday a professor from some university nearby shall observe my period 3 class, class 601.  Tess, Asger, Albin, and Anna also have class observations throughout the week.  There is no mention of last year’s thanksgiving events being repeated [see previous blog:  All that and Play-Doh.].

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Why are you thankful?

26th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

Wèishénme nǐ xīn cún gǎnjī? 为什么你心存感激 (why are you thankful?)

I am thankful for my past (I wouldn’t change the parts I have played in it, not even the bad times).

 

Yesterday, middle school held a ceremony for Thanksgiving Day (which is actually today).  I was invited, alongside every teacher in our section of the school to attend.  Here we were praised, marched onto the running track and given a gift of flowers.  The students sang a song and did many actions to another song.  It was most touching.  Like many western culture occasions, Thanksgiving seems to have been emulated here in China.  Last year my foreign teacher colleagues and I were invited to a primary school meal and had to attend local school events.  This year my colleagues are teaching about the event in classes.  I’m avoiding it, partially because I’d already planned my classes and somewhat due to my lack of understanding of the occasion.  It features turkey, a street parade and everything jolly about family instances that I miss, but I won’t be adding more to my cluttered clash of chosen cultures captured on my calendar.  China may have copied valentine’s day, Halloween, etc but it doesn’t mean I have to.  No thank you.  The less religious events, the less commercial clutter the better.  But, for students, it is important they have an understanding of the world around them.  Everything is possible and with freedom to choose, everything should be open to the younger and new generations.  Turkeys are seldom found as menu items here.  If we in the west have to suffer turkey-themed meals for many days after Christmas and Thanksgiving, I’m sure the Chinese can blend some amazing leftover meals.  Look for the positives in any clash, even if it is a different Turkey being regarded by the world.

 

Last night, I concentrated on questions in Mandarin.  I really want and need to knuckle down to learn more.  I have been far too lazy and distracted of late.  After Tuesday’s 10-0 defeat for Murray’s FC Maine Road against Murray’s FC Aberystwyth, I need a rest and to recovery from my collection of niggling injuries.  Being 6-0 down at the break and coming on for the second half was a bad idea.  Now back to work…

 

·         Why – Wèishénme

Wèishénme nǐ jīntiān chídào?
Why are you late today?
为什么你今天迟到?

·         Where –Nálǐ or Nǎr

Nálǐ and nǎr have the same meaning.  Nálǐ is commonly used in Southern China and Taiwan, while nǎr is heard in northern China, including Beijing.

Nǐ zuówǎn qù nǎli?
Where did you go last night?
你昨晚去哪裡?

·         When – Shénme Shíhòu

Lǐ xiǎojie shénme shíhou huì dào?
When will Miss Li arrive?
李小姐什么时候会到?

·         Which – Nǎ

yīge pí bāo bǐjiào hǎokàn?
Which purse looks better?
哪一个皮包比较好看?

·         Who – Shéi/shuí

Tā shì shuí?
Who is he?
他是谁?

·         How – Zěnme

Zhègè zì zěnme niàn?
How do you pronounce this character?
这个字怎么念?

·         How Many – Duōshǎo or Jǐ

Zhè jiàn yáng zhuāng duōshǎo qián?
How much is this dress?
这件洋装多少钱?

Yǒu jǐge rén huì lái?
How many people will come?
有几个人会来?

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

P.S. here is the latest HubHao article… “Our city is full of cyclists. Be they locals riding beaters trying to find a way to beat the rush hour jams to get to work or foreigners taking their mountain bikes into the park on a weekend. With so many bikes available, it’s hard to choose where to buy from. John Acton visited one of the oldest bike streets in Guangcheng.”

Thoughts

27th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

 

Is life a millpond?  Or is it a sea with tides and waves?  What is the wind and is it positive?  A drop in the ocean or plenty more fish worth tasting at the banquet table?  If the sea is turbulent, under threat and rising, are we doomed?  How many ships can navigate the ocean without a captain?  Are we the makers of our destiny and doom?  Life is beautiful and the world is full of optimistic light, yet do we cling to desperation and the past?  Times gone by, have befell, yet we hope for more of those times.  Ever wanted to escape but been too cowardly to know how to?  Changes are for the better, or are they?  When one hand wants something else, and the other is no longer joined to your’s, what do you do?  Am I like those before me?  Do I bury my head in the sand?  Pray and it’ll all go away?  Fight?  Argue?  End of the days, but beginning of the weeks?  I’m not who you think I am, I am what I am.  You must do things for you sometime and not for others.  If you regret something then maybe it was never right.  I have no regrets, do you?  Everything happens for a reason, why not choose the reason?  Not everyone will understand and nor do they have to.  There’s turbulence ahead.  A storm is coming.  Get on the boat and ride it out.  All will be, what will be.

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Wèishénme zǒnɡshì wǒ? [Why always me?] 为什么总是我?

27th November 2015

Ní hǎo / Nín hǎo / Hello / How do,

Wèishénme zǒnɡshì wǒ[Why always me?]

Subj. + 为什么 (wèishénme) + Predicate?

Nǐ wèishénme xué Zhōngwén? [Why do you study Chinese?]

Yīnwèi wǒ zài Zhōngguó gōngzuò. [Because I’m working in China]

Nǐ wèishénme bù hē kāfēi? [Why don’t you drink coffee?]

Yīnwèi kāfēi hěn kǔ. [Because coffee is bitter]

Tā wèishénme bù lái?  [Why isn’t he/she coming?]

Yīnwèi tā hěn máng.  [Because he/she is busy]

Nǐ zǎoshang wèishénme bú zài? [Why were you not here this morning?]

Yīnwèi wǒ chūqù jiàn péngyou le. [Because I was out meeting some friends.]

Zhèxiē wàiguórén wèishénme bù xǐhuan Zhōngguó? [Yīnwèi Zhōngguó rén tài duō.]

 

Zài jiàn / Bài bài / Ta’ra / Goodbye

Si Shi, Huh?

27th November 2015

Shī Shì shí shī shǐ

Shíshì shīshì Shī Shì, shì shī, shì shí shí shī.
Shì shíshí shì shì shì shī.
Shí shí, shì shí shī shì shì.
Shì shí, shì Shī Shì shì shì.
Shì shì shì shí shī, shì shǐ shì, shǐ shì shí shī shìshì.
Shì shí shì shí shī shī, shì shíshì.
Shíshì shī, Shì shǐ shì shì shíshì.
Shíshì shì, Shì shǐ shì shí shì shí shī.
Shí shí, shǐ shí shì shí shī shī, shí shí shí shī shī.
Shì shì shì shì.

石室詩士施氏,嗜獅,誓食十獅。
氏時時適市視獅。
十時,適十獅適市。
是時,適施氏適市。
氏視是十獅,恃矢勢,使是十獅逝世。
氏拾是十獅屍,適石室。
石室濕,氏使侍拭石室。
石室拭,氏始試食是十獅。
食時,始識是十獅屍,實十石獅屍。
試釋是事。

In a stone den was a poet with the family name Shi, who was a lion addict, and had resolved to eat ten lions.  He often went to the market to look for lions.  At ten o’clock, ten lions had just arrived at the market.  At that time, Shi had just arrived at the market.  He saw those ten lions, and using his trusty arrows, caused the ten lions to die.  He brought the corpses of the ten lions to the stone den.  The stone den was damp. He asked his servants to wipe it.  After the stone den was wiped, he tried to eat those ten lions.  When he ate, he realized that these ten lions were in fact ten stone lion corpses.  Try to explain this matter.

 

This is similar to the above The Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den:

四是四,十是十,十四是十四,四十是四十。

sì shì sì, shí shì shí, shísì shì shísì, sìshí shì sìshí. (some northern dialects of Mandarin)

sì sì sì, sí sì sí, sísì sì sísì, sìsí sì sìsí. (some southern dialects of Mandarin)

Four is four, ten is ten, fourteen is fourteen, forty is forty.

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