Published: May 31st 2010May 31st 2010
Summer!! Finally!! Aahh, and how nice it is after the long, cold winters here in inner Mongolia.
The trees flower and turn green within an instance (well, 2 weeks, really), people gather outside, small barbecue restaurants put tables and chairs outside and the main walking street here in Kunqu, Buxing Lu, is turned into a night market. Fantastic!
Funny story about all of these small barbecue places though; apparently most or even all of them don't have permission of the government to put chairs and tables outside. Therefore, periodically, the police will go around the city, drive up with their trucks, empty barbecues and throw them on the back of their trucks. A bit later, with the police out of sight, the owners miraculously take a replacement from somewhere and the party goes on...! Heard from locals, what they do next, is they head to the police office the next morning, pay a little fee, and they get their barbecue back... Ha! What a system!
Why get into the hassle of implementing new laws with fines that come with it for people who don't obey to them, if you can just get the money like this, whenever you feel like it.
Of course the question is where the 'picking up my BBQ fee' goes; to the local government in the form of 'tax'or 'fine', or in the pockets of the hard working police men that pick them up....
As an effect of the Sichuan earthquake 2 years ago, China is now working hard to check all middle schools for construction faults and so on around the country, mainly in cities where there is a threat of earthquakes.
Although Baotou is not in a major earthquake zone, a 6.4 magnitude quake struck on the 3rd of May 1996, left 21 dead and many thousands homeless. Therefore, all middle school students have been asked to go to school 6 days a week for a length of 2-3 months, in order for the schools to be able to have a longer summer holiday, which can be used to check and possibly work on the buildings. This meant all our teenage classes, which mostly are on Saturdays (or Sundays) had to be moved to the evenings during the week, which means our usually busy Saturday has now been reduced to a very easy, morning and evening, teaching day.
Last month, in fact, we
Me and some camels, Sahantala
With a stadium (?) being built in the background...
had a fake quake warning here in Baotou, with residents receiving text messages saying that an earthquke was imminent, that left them fleeing into squares. Here's a quote from the China Daily newspaper of the 17th of April, 2010:
Fake quake warning investigated
Police in North China have begun investigating malicious warnings of an imminent earthquake that prompted people to flee their homes into the streets on Thursday and Friday.
Residents of Baotou, Inner Mongolia autonomous region, flocked to the city square after receiving text and e-mail messages saying the city would be the center of a major quake on Thursday afternoon.
A spokesman for the Baotou public security bureau said police have launched a probe into the source of the hoax messages, which also warned that Beijing and neighboring Hebei Province would be affected.
"No earthquake forecast has been issued by the National Seismological Bureau and the the Inner Mongolia regional bureau after the earthquake in Yushu," said Bao Jiandong, director of the Inner Mongolia seismological bureau.
Furthermore, with the recent horrible events at Chinese primary schools, which no doubt you heard of in the international news, China has stepped up security at all schools around the nation. In fact, when I left the kindergarten this morning, 4 police were walking around the premises checking for any inconsistencies (as I imagine). The gate, usually unlocked, was now locked, and there were two instead of the usual one guard. Well, whatever it takes to keep these kids save from lunatics, I support it fully!
With the summer intensive starting early June, the few weeks in which there is plenty of time to enjoy this lovely weather are nearly over. Fortunately it's time for my holiday, Korea this time. 10 days, starting in Seoul and ending up in Pusan, will hopefully leave me well rested and ready for a summer long teaching.
Will be back with more from Baotou later this summer, I'm sure!
There are more photos below